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Coding Bootcamp Retrospective

kcarrel profile image kcarrel Updated on ・4 min read

As a recent coding bootcamp graduate in the midst of her job hunt I have fielded quite a few questions regarding my experiences at Flatiron's Immersive Software Engineering program from prospective students. As such, here is a blog post detailing my experiences as well as suggestions I have for future students!

My Experience

I had a largely positive coding bootcamp experience! For context, I was lucky to be in the first Seattle campus cohort (all of whom received a $5,000 scholarship) and was able to experience some of the "gold standard" instructors that are sent out to open new campuses.

That being said - it was exhausting and emotionally draining. 15 weeks initially did not seem like a long period of time but it quickly felt like a never ending sprint that I was deeply out of shape for. The commonly used phrase "drinking from the firehose" was accurate and never felt more true than when life events happens simultaneously as you are also trying to cram new information into your brain. The below are some school/life balance resources that I heavily leaned on throughout the program.

  • Mindfulness and Meditation Apps (Calm and Headspace are personal recommendations)
  • The Youtube Yoga community is wonderful to combat all the sitting and coding you are going to do. My cohort started a weekly yoga group, .to_s(tretch), and followed Yoga with Adriene's Yoga for Back Pain series.

I found that maintaining my normal social life while being in this learning environment was unsustainable. I had countless pre-planned events that had to be skipped because of exhaustion or to prepare for the next phase of the program. I don't know too many people in my cohort that could say otherwise either. For me, finding balance (or as close of an approximation as I could find) did not afford much outside of sleep and occasional exercise.

Overall, the program was a great fit for me and I am confident in my decision to have attended. The structure of being on campus learning, making great connections/friends in my cohort, walking away with projects for my portfolio and the career services post-graduation were worth the risk of quitting my job to pursue. I would do it again but what would I do differently or suggest for future students?

Future Student Suggestions

Project Weeks

Project weeks during the Flatiron School programs were consistently looked forward to by my cohort and myself. It is a time where you really solidify what you had learned in the previous two weeks and could build something tangible. With that in mind - as a graduate I would highly suggest that you approach the paired and solo project weeks with the mindset that this is something you would like to put in your portfolio (eventually). Being in the middle of the interview and networking process of post-grad it has been endlessly helpful to have projects hosted on Heroku or demo ready that I could speak to.

Do you struggle with coming up with project ideas? Walk yourself through the below:

  • Is there a problem that exists that I could solve or approach in a new way with my current skill set?
  • What is something I am passionate about? (Example: I love makeup! I have made a makeup API and makeup collection/inspiration app)
  • Is there a public API existing that I could incorporate into my project to add functionality? (My Mod3 partner project utilized the BreweryDB API and Google Maps API to generate brewery crawl routes))

Portfolio

Start thinking of creating a portfolio website early! My first portfolio website wasn't live until a week after I had graduated from Flatiron School but has helped me immensely when networking or getting initial interest from jobs.

Data Structures and Interview Prep

If I could have done my Flatiron experience over the one thing I would have changed is beginning my solo studies for Data Structures and Interview Prep at least a month out from graduation. Technical interviews are tough and require a decent amount of preparation. Familiarizing yourself with common concepts (Big O notation, dynamic programming, etc) and problem approaches (sliding window, pseudocoding and testing) is helpful for the transition post-program.

Prep resources

-Cracking the Coding Interview
-Base.cs
-Leetcode - Try out a new problem each day!
-HackerRank
-Intuitive Guide to Data Structures and Algorithms

Do you have any questions? Feel free to reach out! I am happy to field any questions you might have as a prospective student. You can find me on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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kcarrel

@kcarrel

Rails dev that is passionate about personal projects and Guy Fieri memes.

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