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My experience of Bootcamps

Written by Tim Smith

Tim Smith, Course Director at Tech Educators on how he found his coding bootcamp

I started a bootcamp when, after 6 years of experience working for web agencies, and 3 years working as a SQL dev… I couldn’t find a job that matched my skillset, and that I felt passionate about.

I didn’t (still don’t) have a degree, and my portfolio was from working with agencies who primarily catered for people who wanted Wordpress websites, or just portfolio websites. This was nothing fancy, so I cut my teeth on fun projects in my spare time, working on learning new languages such as SCAD, a 3D modelling language or working on a few silly web based games. Unfortunately this wasn’t enough to impress the powers that be in the Norfolk web scene.

While I was with previous agencies I had done some really noteworthy projects, things like a refuse collection company who needed a calculator to work out the best type of machinery to be used on their routes. But again, this wasn’t enough to impress the people I was sending my resume to.

In hindsight I was looking in the wrong place for jobs. There’s only so much the likes of Reed and Indeed (I chose these 2 because they rhyme, I mean no ill towards them) can do for you.

This brings me to my first major lesson of my bootcamp. Finding a job is not as simple as sending someone your CV. Its so much more! But I’m getting ahead of myself.

So I told my friend I was having trouble finding the right role and he suggested I take a bootcamp. So I googled “coding bootcamp” and clicked on the first link (I didn’t stop looking, it just so happened that the course that was right for me was the first link). A 3 month intensive course to become a Full Stack dev. This would fill all my knowledge gaps and give me some key new skills!

The first 2 weeks of the course were foundational, basic HTML and CSS, and I thought it wasn’t going to learn anything… oh how wrong I was!
I had grown to rely on frameworks such as Bootstrap, which are excellent, but a big crutch for a lot of devs. Learning Flex changed the game, and that was in week 2 when I thought I would be twiddling my thumbs.

After that we got into the good stuff, JavaScript fundamentals, again, I knew most of it but going over it again and hearing people ask questions I hadn’t thought of was an invaluable experience.

Moving on to react and node, learning so much so fast, and being given the opportunity to put my new skills to practice right away is something I attribute massively to the success of the alumni.

The career success part of the course was so eye opening and invaluable. Just simple things like how to format a good, readable and eye catching CV, and building an engaging LinkedIn profile. Ultimately in my case, neither of these things had any impact on the job I landed in, but I’m still glad these are things I know, and can help others with in the future.

The thing that was on my mind throughout the course was the huge barrier of entry they have for so many people.

I am incredibly blessed to have family who could support me while I went on this 3 month course (read as not earn anything for 3 months) as well as help me pay for a bootcamp until I start earning. But not everyone has this, in fact I am in a very small minority.

When I heard about what James was building with Tech Educators, I could hardly believe how amazing it was, and I knew I had to be involved. Giving people the opportunity I’ve had to grow my skills and become a better developer, people who would otherwise never be able to afford this was something that spoke to me, and seeing James speak so passionately about it as well was like music to my tiny little ears.

After the course finished, I went from applying for any job that might be what I wanted to do, to turning down roles because I knew what I wanted to do. It was a major life change, and I wish more people could have this opportunity. That is why I am so excited to be involved in what James is building, and so incredibly excited to get started on helping to be a part of shaping Norfolks future devs!

Here is a short list of why Bootcamps are such an incredible resource, and why I will recommend to anyone who will listen:

  • Having real world devs there to help you when you get stuck (and not just in the building, its their job to help you)
  • Being around others who are learning. Hearing other peoples questions get answered is an underrated resource that I’ve come to rely on!
  • Learning from people who have industry experience. Even though I have been in the space for 8+ years, no one has the same experience, so any insight is such a blessing
  • Building a community with your cohort is a great jumping off point, and having peers who can help each other find work

Even if you have no experience in the dev space, a coding bootcamp like CodeFellows (oh and it just so happens that is the course we offer) will open SO many doors for you, and give you new skills that you can take to so many different workspaces!

About the Author

Tim is the course director at Tech Educators and brings with him almost a decade of experience working in various tech sectors, as well as the added benefit of being an alumni to a Full Stack Bootcamp.