Surviving Bootcamp.

It’s coming to the end of week four at Enspiral Dev Academy (EDA) and everything is coming to a head for all involved. I’ve learnt quickly but the pressure has been on for the entire four weeks and it’s not looking likely to reduce. To go from learning basic HTML, CSS and JavaScript in the preparation phase of the course to being able to say I can create a fully functional backend Server with front end rendering is an amazing feeling. I’m proud to say that the technical skills that we have been learning have been sticking quickly thanks to plenty of repetition, practice and very long days.

I think its safe to say that the Dev Academy family have managed to pull together a hugely diverse group of people who are all joined in a common goal of changing their lives for the better. With an age range from 20 to 65 and a nine to seven women to men ratio the space is buzzing with a range of views and life experiences. Of course, this diversity can create tension at times but most of the time it helps to produce an environment that’s perfect for learning, not just code but also human skills which are essential for the growth of the current tech space. EDA is at the forefront of the push towards a more diverse workforce within tech which is proving to be highly sort after. I’ve been lucky enough to meet graduates who have gone into a wide range of fields like the block-chain and social enterprise as well as creating their own start-ups both solo and in collaboration with other graduates. I’ve found the learning environment to be both productive and challenging but the challenge is half the fun.

Technically the last three and a half weeks have been a whirlwind as we have been churning through content and working late into the evenings often spending up to 75 hours on campus per week. Funnily enough this hasn’t dampened our spirits and I think that’s the best part of the learning environment – its designed to be self-directed, and enjoyable. We don’t have to spend all our time here but we are all passionate enough about changing our lives that we do. I would like to think that I was well prepared technically coming into bootcamp but the first few days of bootcamp proved that I was never going to have been fully prepared for what was to come. With a nine-week program and content covering developments from the last 20 odd years of programming it’s almost impossible to come into week one without getting a bit of a shock. Quick enough, however, we all have managed to get into the flow of life here at EDA and have usually been able to pick up the concepts in time for the next one to be forced upon us.

One of the most rewarding experiences the cohort has been encountered have been our weekly one day group projects. In the previous post, I chatted a little bit about the importance of GitHub in creating an effective group workflow. This has been well and truly proven over the last few weeks as our four person groups have been experiencing the benefits of the platform. Working on multiple files at the same time our groups have been able to navigate through projects at pace although I definitely wouldn’t call us experts at git with plenty of issues with conflicts when merging repositories back together. We are often told that this is all part of the learning, however, and I would have to agree – anyone who has overwritten an hour’s hard work with a blank page will no doubt attest to the speed of that learning. The group work hasn’t only been effective for learning to work in teams but has also produced some awesome end results from little games to dynamic quizzes and blogs.

In bootcamp so far we have learnt how to use Vanilla JavaScript, Express servers and the Express-Handlebars back-end framework as well as learning how to create and use databases effectively using Knex and that was just the first 3 weeks. Things took an abrupt step up this week with the introduction of React – a client-side framework which renders content on the browser. To have learnt so much in such a short space of time hasn’t been a simple task, but it’s been incredibly rewarding. Being able to see how my ability has progressed from creating static HTML and CSS based pages to fully dynamic pages which change completely at the click of a button has made everything worth it. For anyone thinking of entering a coding bootcamp I couldn’t recommend it more – once you’ve learnt new things at such pace you’ll never want to go back to a three-year learning programme again. The future is looking brighter, even through my tired, square eyes.

Until next time,