My Experience at FullStack Academy Thus Far

As the title suggests, I’m currently enrolled at FullStack Academy. It’s a Javascript focused 13 week long coding bootcamp. As of right now, I’ve completed eight weeks in the program. Below I reflect on how the past couple months have gone.

Back in March, I was still working in the construction industry as a mechanical drafter. Unfortunately, both the industry and my position bored me to tears. Since it was my first position out of college, I accepted that I had simply made a mistake when I accepted that shiny first full time job offer.

So I began to search for other types of work and programming came to mind. I had completed several computer science courses but had never pursued the interest until recently. So I scoured the internet for free programming material and stumbled upon freecodecamp.com. I was hooked from that point on. I found myself coding every day after work and on weekends. There was something satisfying in solving logical coding problems and understanding what I was doing.

By April, I had made the decision to transition to software engineering. At this point, I had three options for making the leap to software; self-study, going back to school for computer science, or a coding bootcamp. I was not willing to spend the next several years working on a second bachelors degree and I was definitely not disciplined enough to self-study my way to success. Therefore, I went with the bootcamp option. Long story short, I applied to a bunch of bootcamps in NYC and ended up attending FullStack Academy. The admissions process was somewhat strict. They gave us coding problems to solve before they interviewed us over Skype. The interview itself was a technical interview where we were given problems to solve in real time with an interviewer.

It has been eight weeks since I began this program and I have to say it’s an amazing experience. I learned many web programming and computer science concepts. In terms of technology, we worked with NodeJs, Express, SQL, Sequelize, jQuery, SaSS/CSS3, React, Redux, HTML/JSX, and PassportJS; an instance of everything we need to build a complete full stack web application.

The most important thing I’ve learned in these past eight weeks is to learn concepts and not to memorize syntax/frameworks. There seems to be an endless amount of new technologies/updates coming out every year. To understand what you’re coding helps immensely when learning new technologies later on. On the other hand, there is always documentation available when you’re struggling to remember syntax.

At this point, would I recommend someone to join a coding bootcamp? Most definitely if it makes sense for you. For many, the bootcamp model makes sense; it’s a large commitment for a short period of time. Many people can’t afford to spend 3–4 years attending college again. Before you apply though, keep in mind the following:

(1) Not all bootcamps are created equal. Check the quality of their program first.

(2) Understand you’re not going to have time to always see friends and go out at nights anymore. Bootcamps take attendance and tardiness seriously. If you come in late often from staying up the previous night, they will probably remove you from the program.

(3) You will be coding for the majority of the day. Make sure you’re comfortable with sitting in front of a computer for several hours on end. But also remember you can (and should!) take small breaks.

(4) Programming is NOT a solo task. You’ll be working with others either directly as a pair or on a team collaborating. Get used to working with others.