Brandon Travis

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My experience with a coding bootcamp

Last updated on: Wednesday, December 29, 2021

After I graduated from high school, I attended Coding Dojo, a programming boot camp in Washington state. The curriculum consisted of learning three separate programming languages of your choosing based on what's offered, after an Initial fundamental crash course in basic HTML, CSS, and Javascript.

When I first applied to get into Coding Dojo, there was an initial phone screen which in my belief was to gauge my interest in programming to see if I was an okay fit. After the phone screen there was a basic algorithm test which you can do multiple times in case you did not pass the first time you went through it, I for sure did not pass and had to do it multiple times. They called it at the time the basic 13.

During my first day at Coding Dojo, we had a brief introduction to everything and we got acquainted with the online learning platform that all of us were going to use for the next three months. The online platform was designed beautifully and was a streamlined set of videos that taught you what you needed to learn to complete the challenges that were scattered throughout the learning sets. While all of this knowledge is freely available online on different parts of the internet, the main key factor here is that it's all available in one place to streamline the learning experience for you while also putting you in a like-minded group of people who were all focused on learning the exact same thing.

When I met more and more of the people in my cohort, there was a definite skill disparity between all of us. Some people were veterans in the industry who were there because their job was paying for them to refresh them up on certain skills while on the complete opposite end of the spectrum, some people were there and it was their first time seeing and writing code. Me personally, I am just a bit above the latter having some but very little experience with programming.

Every morning before we started on our lessons for the day we all huddled up for a daily morning algorithm challenge. During these daily algorithm challenges we got together in groups of about three to four people each and each group got assigned the same algorithm to try and create. We were given about 30 minutes to an hour to develop these algorithms and at the very end, we had to write our algorithms on the board in front of the whole cohort and present to everyone on how it worked. We were also asked about the time complexity of our algorithms which I initially had no clue on how to answer.

After our daily algorithm challenges we went on with our lesson on the platform and it was self-paced so several people were ahead, the majority in the middle, and several people were behind. Thankfully the majority of the time I was in the middle of the pack but I fell behind occasionally and had to stay behind or work on it at home to ensure that I did not fall behind even more. I believe that I kind of struggled with everything and I definitely did have impostor syndrome not believing that I was cut out for this and was not able to do this. But I just kept going and trying to get better each and every day, at several points during the three months of the program, I was studying personally 12-15 hours a day to stay up to speed with everyone. It really did feel like a mental boot camp.

The stack that I choose to do was Python (everyone was required to do Python), C# with ASP.NET core, and MEAN (MongoDB, expressJS, AngularJS 4+, Nodejs). It was definitely a soul-crushing, demoralizing, and ultimately rewarding experience at the same time. My favorite stack out of all of this had to have been MEAN which I would ultimately replace with MERN in the future because Angular is annoying at least for me to work with. While you can say you will definitely not be an expert in any one of these languages, you will experience with multiple languages and you will be able to make at least in my opinion decide which language in the future that you would like to specialize in or at least a language you would like to learn and dedicate more time to.

The grading on the normal assignments that were scattered through each lesson felt kind of half-assed. This is one of my main complaints about the current system that they have in place. I am not too sure if it was the current instructor that was teaching the stack to us or if the grading was offshored to another company. That is one thing to consider if this is a deal-breaker or not with you at least with this specific boot camp. But I do believe you can always ask the instructors or the teaching assistant if they would do a code review with you, they are friendly people.

At the end of each stack, you will be required to do a test on which you will be graded on and you will have to have passed before you will be able to move on to the next stack. The test is a programming project which in my case was usually building a web application with specified features that you will be assigned. If you dedicated your time to learning what you can and didn't slack off, you will be able to pass the test guaranteed. On the chance that you did fail though, you will be required to repeat the stack with the next cohort.

Other coding boot camp programs generally have a focus on one specific language and delve more in-depth on them such as a sole primary focus on javascript, but in my specific case, I wanted to experience a variety of languages so that I was able to better decide languages in the future I would like to learn more about and possibly use in a future job.

Overall, I did enjoy my time during this coding boot camp and I believe that I became a better programmer. Without doing it, I am not too sure where I would be right now, maybe still being lazy while trying to learn to program. But I definitely would not have been able to build this blog that I am using right now, I probably would be using WordPress like a peasant, I'm kidding please don't hate me.

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