Day #3 — Pressing On
It’s now the third day attending the boot camp, which has now truly taken a military dimension just like its counterpart within the barracks. Time is ticking so fast but progress not that much. Someone can mistakenly end up believing that boot campers have their own separate clock system that is much faster than the universal one during this boot camp period, or that fate has deliberately conspired to ensure that they don’t deliver on the expected objectives on time. Despite the enormity of the challenge facing most of the boot campers, everyone seems to have stuck to their guns and not ready to yield any time soon, I included because we had initially trained our sights on making it into the fellowship.
Aside from the stress of completing the algorithmic challenges in the various labs and mini-assignments, I can say that a lot has changed in this virtual boot camp of ours. Home is now the new workplace, thanks to sophisticated applications that foster collaboration among individuals working remotely. Notably, Slack, the online messaging tool for teams has really enabled not only me but also every other boot camper to get clarifications on all matters relating to the boot camp, from help with assignments to when they will be expected back on site. The only thing that sometimes seems to spoil the “party” for me is a slow internet connection that disconnects me from our virtual workplace, leaving me unable to track how the whole process is proceeding. Sometimes it gets real bad to the point where I’m unable to submit my work to my online repository for review. This seems to happen especially when time is almost up, leaving me thinking it is another conspiracy from fate.
As the boot camp progresses, most boot campers have now “broken ice” and can now openly relate to each other, thanks to the soft skills training session that emphasized relationship building as a pillar to career success. But the technical angle of the boot camp is enough to force even the most introverted person to reach out to a total stranger and ask for help about connecting to a RESTful API, get data in a format not very readable to the human eye called JSON and transforming it into something that is making much more sense. This is especially for people like me who equate REST with lying around lazily after eating the equivalent of a 4-man strong quantity, in order to give way for the body’s metabolic processes to have their way. REST means work, that is if you are an Andelan, and much more work if you are a boot camper who is still trying to master the ropes working by RESTing like me. Truly, the Slack messaging tool has really helped us bond by enabling us to familiarize with each other’s “problems” as they try to accomplish different tasks on the Andelabs platform.
Despite the uphill task of accomplishing the assignments in our home study clinic, our teaching assistants and other Andela fellows who are not necessarily supervising the boot camp process, have come in with all manner of help. From quick links to help sites, to clarification on what is expected as an outcome of a particular task, and many other forms of help, some of which are not necessarily technical but more of advice on the mental attitude with which to approach the entire process. Without their untiring help, I have to boldly state that none of us could have even made it past the first day when the concept of unit testing and version control seemed to have thrown all, even those who had put up a picture of being seasoned developers, into disarray. It is their helping hand that managed to keep the boot camp head-count intact even before the dreaded elimination period begins.
So far, my greatest experience in boot camp has been working remotely and being able to beat the deadline just like someone who is physically present in an office. I personally tend to think that by saying we are to work remotely during the first few days of boot camp, Andela is preparing us in advance to become remote software developers once we join the program.