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Paul B Kim
Paul B Kim

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My first 2 months in a Korean Programming Bootcamp

I am in a bit of unique situation.

Since my high school graduation, I've been in the states for my entire life and have not flew out of the country ever since. While I had an interest in software engineering, I couldn't have imagined that I would change my career and programming would be my next career choice, as I was doing just fine in my old job. Long story short, South Korea (NOT North!) became my new home.

What's even more unique about this whole situation, is this circumstance led me to attend a programming bootcamp in South Korea. I was working in finance industry, and this particular field was vastly different between the two countries. I had some money saved up, so I did not have a problem staying without a job for quite a while. But I realized I need a new skill set that I would be able to land a job regardless of where I am living. So I decided I'd give a shot at software engineering.

Luckily for me, I had two very important skills that I took them for granted and never considered to be valuable. Korean and English. Korean is obvious here. For instance, the whole bootcamp interviewing process was conducted in Korean, as... the bootcamp is in Korea! Well, jokes aside, what struck me as a surprise was my English skill was just as valuable. This particular bootcamp that I am attending has ISA(Income Share Agreement) program. And as someone who worked in finance industry, it seemed oddly, very American. The truth is the founder of this organization attended a bootcamp in the U.S. He thought the business model was also viable in South Korea, so he took the whole system to South Korea.

Before I go into detail, I'd be very careful here because I don't know about the legal situation. But it seemed as though the the system is not the only thing he brought with him (well, besides the outrageous price tag). Majority of the course material were in plain English. Well, I digressed a little bit here. All in all, these language skills played a big part in my survival at the bootcamp. I will go in further detail of other stuff in my future blog posts, but let's focus on what I have learned last two months.

The whole course runs for 3 months. And 0 programming experience was required. After that, we will spend last 2 months in building projects as a team. During this time, attendees at the bootcamp are expected to have solid grasp of HTML/CSS, Local Storage / Cookies, JavaScript, Algorithms & Data Structures, Server(Node.js & Express), React and Redux, OAuth2, MySQL / Database, MVC Design Pattern, and React Native. Additionally, we were expected to complete 50 leetcode-like toy problems along with 100 basic algorithms questions.

On the very first day of the bootcamp, everyone was friendly and easy going. There was no lecture or anything and just just good old orientation, and course preview sessions. In that same week, I had to solve algorithm questions like decryptCaesarCipher. Into the second week, I had to write my own lodash.js library in pure JavaScript. Then we quickly transitioned into making Hash Table, DFS, BFS and finally solving N-Queens. I still remember the night when my pair and I finally were able to take down the evil queen. I don't know if this is normal, but I was rarely able to have any bed time thus far. Then the real fun began as we moved onto server side. In the exercises, we made chat servers. Even then, I felt like I only had maybe around 70% of understanding on the topics. It may be that I am just a slow learner. I've always known career change was not easy, but this was absolutely brutal. So kudos to those who have made it to their careers.

Since, this is now thanksgiving in Korea, I have a few days to catch some breath, and go over the materials that I have learned so far. I am worried for next few weeks as we now only have around 3 weeks to learn React, Redux, Authentication, Database, and Design patterns. Then we are expected to build something like e-commerce website.

One of the real values I found in this entire program actually has nothing to do with the bootcamp itself. It was the People. I was able to group up with a few of smart people in the cohort, and stayed all night studying the topics we have learned. It would have been very difficult for me to keep up with sleepless nights if it wasn't for the teammates.

There are still some details here and there that I missed out, but this has been the story of my first two months in the bootcamp. If you have any feedback on learning process or some other tips, I'd very appreciate it if you leave one on the comments. I will comeback once again after I finish the bootcamp!

Discussion (3)

dance2die profile image
Sung M. Kim

Shawn "Swyx" Wang has changed his careers and also attended bootcamp.

Check out his nice Q&A on his blog - to follow up.

He's quite active on Twitter & GitHub.

paulbkim profile image
Paul B Kim Author

Thanks for the reference. I will look into it!

dance2die profile image
Sung M. Kim

You're welcome and have fun, Paul~