A Different Kind of Bootcamp, Part 1

Andrew Pohl
Feb 26, 2015 · 3 min read

In mid-November of last year (2014), I began a 12 week learning journey, tackling the Web Development Immersive Program at General Assembly’s San Francisco campus. I was equally excited and nervous to get this underway as I had spent the last 6 months learning about development and coding in my bedroom. After having spent a year driving for the TNCs Uber and Lyft, I had given rides to countless tech workers, most of whom I discovered came from varying backgrounds prior to landing jobs in tech. I found this fact to be the final push I needed to dive into the development world.

All of my life, all I wanted to do professionally was be a performer, specifically a musician. I’m still a musician, but I’ve accepted the reality that being a professional musician is just not in the cards for me… yet (hahahaha). Through and after college, I was able to maneuver my career life around being an active musician, but along the way I never really found an occupation that I really felt was a “good” fit all the way around. I always viewed work as work, and let my passion lay in my music. Retail jobs always left me feeling empty, and didn’t provide enough depth. Working with children in non-profits filled me with an incredible amount of purpose and joy, but unfortunately, that does not pay the bills. I considered going back to school to become a therapist, but ultimately decided that I would happier in a more creative role. I had always considered graphic design or development, but thought I didn’t have, or couldn’t learn the skills needed in time to be viable in that world.

While conversing with many of my tech worker passengers, I learned about the developer bootcamps that had been popping up over the last few years. I drove an instructor from Hack Reactor first, and he explained why they were a good option for people, even with a cost of $18,000 for 3 months of training. He suggested that I look at some at home learning options like Codecademy, Code School, or Udemy, so I did some research and got started.

Through the next few months I ended up giving rides to DevBootCamp instructors, current students at various bootcamps around town, and many alumni. All of which spoke very highly of the experience and how the job market was hungry for graduates. I was sold.

I was no longer happy with driving for the TNCs, and the thought of having a profession that could tap into my creative side was very appealing. I applied to two bootcamps, DevBootCamp and General Assembly. Both were in my price range (about $12,000) and seemed to have equally high ratings across the board. I was accepted to both, but ultimately chose General Assembly because I had a few friends that had attended their campus. Between the warm interactions I had with the staff I had met and his thumbs up, I was in. DevBootCamp seems like a fantastic option by the way, but General Assembly just felt right to me.

Right out of the gate, I felt like I was in a good place. My cohort was made up of a diverse group of people, male and female, all from various ethnicities, and backgrounds ranging from former Brew Masters, Administrative Assistants, Field Engineers, Sales People, and students. The age ranged from 20 to mid 50's. Based on the first few days, it was clear that none of us were really more well-versed in development than anyone else, which was reassuring.

Next episode… we get to work

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