What I learned from the Maker’s Academy pre-course

It’s official. I have completed the Maker’s Academy four-week pre-course and am about to start the full-time bootcamp. Safe to say, I am very pleased to have got to this stage, but this also means things are about to get real..

From tomorrow — I will be spending 10–14 hours a day programming, 7 days a week, for 12 weeks. Crazy. But so exciting. It actually feels similar to the first day at school … except this will be about 10 times harder. But new challenges is what keeps life interesting and I have a feeling this one will be memorable. But first, a couple of words about the pre-course.

So what have I learnt throughout the pre-course? I think it’s important to reflect on my highlights, struggles, what’s gone well and most importantly how I can improve and become a better learner.

Highlights

  • Solving the Command Line Murder Mystery in Week 1: The feeling of satisfaction when finding the murderer, is one of the main reasons I’m on this course!
  • Installing Atom: Never realised the importance of a good text editor. Life-changing.
  • Codewars: Makes programming feel like one big game — super addictive, so much fun and I’ve learnt a huge amount!
  • Pairing: Pairing has been super helpful when I’ve been stuck and I’ve learnt so so much from other students.

Struggles

  • Got really stuck: When making the Student Directory app in Week 3, I got really stuck a couple of times. As in stuck for hours. This was so frustrating… but we managed to solve it through pairing!
  • Reading from the terminal: I will admit, that reading instructions on the terminal sometimes drives me insane. iTerm has improved the situation but if I could add a bit of colour, highlighting and user-friendly fonts to my terminal — I will be over the moon.

What’s gone well

  • It’s been so much fun! The pre-course has reinforced my decision to attend Maker’s Academy and made me realise how much I want this.
  • Self-discipline: I’ve been a lot more disciplined than I thought, which has helped and I’ve often managed to finish the challenges before the weekend and been able to take time off as a result!
  • Code Life Balance: I’ve managed to maintain a very good balance between coding, exercising, eating well and socialising.

Learnings / What I can improve

  • Pair more: Wish I would have discovered this sooner!
  • When stuck, take a break, and come back to it: Often when I’ve got stuck I get obsessed with solving the problem and get stuck on it for a long time instead of moving onto something else. But I learned towards the end of the course that the best way to find a solution, is to take a break, do something else and come back and see the code from a fresh perspective.
  • Ask for help: I need to stop being ‘proud’ and start asking for help sooner because I end up wasting a lot of time.
  • Look for other solutions: It’s easy to stick to certain methods and not consider new ways of doing things, so I’ve started looking at other people’s solutions more which has helped me improve my code.

That was all for today. Now I’m about to enjoy my last evening before starting the adventure of Maker’s Academy.