My decision to join Makers Academy!

It took a lot of consideration before I finally decided to join a coding boot camp, which in my case turned out to be Makers Academy.
Each person has an entirely different reason for attending a software bootcamp, potentially to upskill, change industry entirely, or for a handful of other reasons. Overall it’s a huge decision to do a full-time intensive course, one that requires your full focus and undivided attention over the course of the next few months.

Going back somewhat, my interests have always been technical, even prior to my teenage years. From video games, to a budding interest in computing through studying ICT and self-taught digital graphics, at first to create signatures for users on computer game forums, back in the day. This interest built up over time and more recently, developed (excuse the pun), into all things code. In the past I spent time tinkering about with websites using HTML, CSS and gained an understanding in how the front-end of a website works.

The next hurdle was to figure out the inner-workings of the back-end of an application, including what makes it tick. Until then the back-end was a mysterious part of software development I didn’t fully understand. Making it difficult to understand where to learn, or what for that matter.

Over the past few years, I have worked for a company who offers a SaaS based solution. Now that’s not to be mixed up with the word ‘sassy’, it’s not quite the same thing, it’s web-based software and it doesn’t tend to come with an attitude. The definition is Software as a service, there’s a nice little article here, with a more in-depth explanation in the introductory section. Working with these types of products really improved my understanding and gave me a keen desire to learn to develop software. With the need to start learning ASAP!

And the next question crops up…Where do I begin?!

credit: Victor Garcia https://unsplash.com/photos/_qXjdWm8YEo

Going down the self-taught path there are a familiar set of hurdles each person faces at one stage, or another in their journey.
Now hindsight is a wonderful thing and I think if you ask any self-taught programmer, what would you have done differently?
There would be a myriad of answers, an on-going list, one that maybe isn’t too healthy to think about!

When I first began my journey, I jumped between a number of different languages, encountering many obstacles. Initially I spent a considerable amounts of time on a few of the more popular resources, such as Codeacademy. In my opinion, this style of interactive learning is beneficial, however it’s important to find a format that suits your learning style, or even to mix things up. I eventually preferred Udemy for it’s video format and Codewars for it’s learn by trying approach. Another important point is to practice what you learn. Trying to remember countless concepts without actually writing any code is a guaranteed way to set yourself up for failure.

In the beginning I picked up JavaScript as my first language. As Makers Academy tends to outline, this isn’t one of the easier programming languages to learn at the start of your journey, which is why Ruby is taught first. I think this point would go to the top of my list in regards to something I would have done differently. Coupled with the new concepts and the strange syntax, JavaScript didn’t help ease my introduction into programming.

Eventually I decided to switch to Ruby, partly because the SAAS application I mentioned earlier was built on Rails, which is a web application framework that is built in Ruby. This was the best decision I could have made.
It helped improve my confidence, reduce imposter syndrome and actually allow me to begin to focus on learning the fundamentals of the language, rather than confusing syntax. I believe this also helped improve by confidence to learn another language, or even to go back to JavaScript again in future.

All of this said, I still felt like there was a gap in what I required to actually get to the stage of becoming a fully-fledged junior developer. Tired of reading Medium articles with titles like, “How to become a full stack developer, self-taught in under 3 months”, yet feeling like this wasn’t going to become a reality due to time restraints. Realistically, even dedicating a few hours each evening, I still found that I wasn’t building up my knowledge quick enough. This was due to a lack of project work to add to my portfolio, not finding enough time with personal commitments, or simply losing out on benefits I would gain in a bootcamp, such as pairing with other juniors who are in same boat.

After many discussions with a work colleague, who happened to be a Makers alumnus, it became clear that a bootcamp would help speed up this process tenfold. This wasn’t something initially on my radar, it became clear that the reviews for Makers were Sterling, based on my colleagues merit and those I read online.

I started to research part-time remote bootcamps. I figured it might be quite a challenge moving from the North East to London. And I don’t think my partner would appreciate me vacating for a few months, leaving her, our puppy and a mortgage! Due to the autonomous nature of my job, I have always worked remotely in my recent role and concluded if I was to-do a bootcamp, it would need to be remote to accommodate my personal life. At this point I found the Makers part-time course, realising it would be perfect to do alongside my job.

After watching some Q&A’s, doing some more research I decided to apply. I sent in my application and eagerly awaited someone to get back in contact to discuss the camp further. Shortly after I ended up attending a Zoom call with one of the recruiters and went through a coding challenge. This reminded me a lot of the challenges I had completed on Codewars, very similar to that format and definitely a resource to check out if you haven’t already! On the same call I was told that I passed and received an offer to join the course.
I happy accepted and eagerly awaited the course start date!

Curveball!

credit: Chris Chow https://unsplash.com/photos/BhwRQr08PcM

Due to unforeseen circumstances the part time course was cancelled!

This presented me with a new decision.. Wait until the course resumes, or join the full time course and take a leap of faith! This decision wasn’t easy and involved weighing up all the pros and cons. To put things into perspective, as someone who’s motto may as well be, indecision is the best decision.. you can begin to imagine it wasn’t going to be an easy one!

Eventually I came to the conclusion that my personal life is too busy to accommodate a part time course and although my day job was 9–5, it would often roll into the evenings with overtime, eating into potential study time. This brought me to the decision to partake in the full time Makers course, starting April 2021. To allow me to fully focus on the goal I have set out. This goal to become a junior developer.

I’m not disillusioned to the fact that it’s going to be a challenge and at times extremely difficult. However I know through commitment and hard work this will be achieved over the next few months, with thanks to Makers Academy.

All in all, I’m looking forward to the Journey ahead and keen to see what is in store during the Makers pre-course.

Aspiring Junior developer, avid runner, dog father and nerd by nature