What follows has been my journey to help you understand what my experience at Lambda School has been like. The following opinions expressed are solely my own and not supported by Lambda School.
I heard about Lambda School through a friend who had seen an opportunity to promote women in tech. It was called Summer Hackers and it gave 40 women scholarships and living stipends to attend Lambda School. It was created and funded by Jessica Livingston, a co-founder of Y Combinator. This helped reinforce value and confidence in myself and I feel incredibly grateful for such a generous opportunity.
Starting Lambda School
My first days at Lambda were an exciting, uncertain and momentous time for me. Lambda is a nine-month program, unlike other programs that cram the same massive amount of material in twelve weeks.
Lambda is completely remote which wasn’t initially a draw for me. This means that meetings and interactions heavily rely on Zoom and Slack. Building strong connections with others is hard unless you already effortlessly express yourself online.
As a newly established institution, I could tell there were still a lot of kinks to work out. At first, it was confusing as to what was supposed to happen and what forms I had to fill out. They encouraged feedback and I felt like my voice was heard. I would see changes made quickly in response to students and hiring partners.
The tech stack they teach at Lambda is very modern and gets updated often. I found the course material quality in-depth and impressed with how easily they laid out the fundamentals of web development.
A typical day at Lambda
My cohort was the largest Lambda had seen starting with more than 300 people including students and administrators. We were also assigned a smaller group of 5-10 students and a ‘Team Lead’ to check on our progress.
My day to day as a full time student started at 11am EST:
- Review pre-class materials for 1 hour
- Lecture for 2 hours
- 1 hour for lunch
- Work on a daily assignment for 4 hours
- 15-minute meeting with my Team Lead
- Meeting with my Team Lead group.
I enjoyed being able to meet in a smaller, more personal group with my peers and was able to make some meaningful connections even though these new friends were physically very far away.
Project time is mostly done in isolation so self-discipline and motivation are essential. I’m a believer in pair programming but it was more rare than common. I think talking about your code well and being able to brainstorm solutions is important and a useful exercise.
At Lambda, after three weeks of learning, students then have a “build week” to work on a collaborative project with students in later parts of the program. These week-long projects allowed me to test and show my ability to deliver within a short time frame. Later on, there is a longer 2-month long project that allowed us to experience real-world circumstances like user research, adopting an existing complex app with unfamiliar tech, working with a stakeholder, testing and managing SEO.
I found that these project times were extremely beneficial to my maturation as a developer. I learned to work collaboratively on a team dealing with different communication styles, skills, and opinions.
Community and acceptance
I was lucky to be part of a special tight-knit group of women with the Summer Hackers. We pair programmed together, encouraged, welcomed and made each other feel valued. It allowed us to create an environment for us to learn together and relate as women with goals. I am continually impressed by them and everything we were able to accomplish. It was a very profound time for me that I will never forget and will forever be grateful for.
If you have never experienced imposter syndrome are you even a real developer? I struggled with it before I even knew what it was. Imposter syndrome is when you experience self-doubt in your abilities and feel like you don't belong. I felt it comparing myself to other talented Lambda students. Finishing assignments quickly and producing epic projects seemed to stream from them effortlessly.
It can be incredibly daunting to face your own shortcomings and weaknesses. I had to acknowledge my strengths, let go of perfectionism and learn to be kind to myself. Having a community that was encouraging and even being able to mentor and support other students helped me feel like I belonged.
The opportunity to be better
Seeing people grow and what we’re capable of is profound for me. I have met some of the most amazing and talented folks in Lambda. I have had an incredible opportunity to grow and learn myself as a web developer. Feeling like part of a community that supports, shares and encourages each other is truly inspiring. I’m excited for the future and all the new great teams and tech I'll be a part of and contribute to.
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