A Different Kind Of Bootcamp, Part 2

Andrew Pohl
Mar 5, 2015 · 2 min read

During the first week of my coursework at General Assembly, one of the key points that the instructors made to us as a class was that there is an emotional curve that we would experience. This curve essentially takes you from feeling normal, with a gradual move towards feeling pretty good about what you’re learning, and then a sharp drop where you feel overwhelmed, followed by a gradual climb back to feeling semi-normal. This emotional curve would repeat on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis throughout the course. They were absolutely, 100% correct about that. There were even times where that curve could be felt multiple times in a single day. Just as you’re starting to feel like you might be getting it, BAM!, here’s a new factor to keep in mind. Oh, and guess what? Everything that we just did… we can actually do that faster, more effectively, and with 1/4 of the amount of code that we just had you write. Whomp whomp!

Over the next few weeks, this was the cycle that we went through. For the majority of us in the class, this material was either brand new or we have only been exposed to it briefly, so needless to say we were genuinely feeling like we were in over our heads more than half the time. For those of us that did have experience, there was plenty of material to throw a wrench in our gears. It was actually a good feeling to know that even though there were clearly some folks that had more experience, at the end of the day, we were all collectively feeling like there was just so much to learn, and that we didn’t have to feel like any one of us was singularly doing any worse or better than the rest of the class.

Another key point that go brought to our attention by our instructors was that as a class, we store information in each other’s brains.

This could not be further from the truth. Through every exercise, nightly homework lab, weekend lab or major project, our collective consciousness was made to good use as we would ask each other for help or advice. Some of us were able to pick up particular aspects of a lesson, while other times we were finding ourselves stuck. This ebb and flow was pretty standard, and we were happy to tap into each other’s brains when we needed to.

The first four weeks introduced us to working from the command line, Git, basic JavaScript, writing functions, working with databases, understanding how APIs work, built client-side Tic-Tac-Toe and Memory games, were introduced to working with Node.js, Express.js, Twitter Bootstrap, and on top of all of this, worked on algorithms mean to help us prepare for technical interviews and white boarding sessions. Needless to say, our brains were overflowing by the end of week four… but now we had to start our first major project.

Next time, Project Week.

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