When I was working toward Hackbright I spent time hunting down blog posts written about the experience. It was very helpful to read about the experiences of others as I worked toward admission, in part because I still had reservations about whether this was the right choice for me. It was those blog posts that helped me feel confident about my path toward a coding bootcamp, and now that I’ve waded into Phase 0 of Dev Bootcamp I’d like to do the same for others who are asking the same questions of themselves and their program of choice.
In The Why and How on Dev Bootcamp I covered the switch from Hackbright to Dev Bootcamp as my coding-bootcamp-of-choice, but I didn’t talk much about what Dev Bootcamp actually is and what parts of their particular approach are appealing to me. Dev Bootcamp (which I will refer to as DBC for brevity’s sake) claims the title of the first short-term immersive coding bootcamp program. There are hundreds of these bootcamps across the United States now, and as you dive into reviews and anecdotes about them you’ll find a wide range of opinions about their worth and efficacy. A lot of people think that these bootcamps exist as part of a tech-industry bubble and that this boom of quick-fix “Make $100,000/year With Three Months of Training!” opportunities will pop, and I don’t disagree with them. I made the decision to attend based on two factors though – (A) I’m betting that the bubble doesn’t pop before I graduate and land a job and (B) this $13,000 I just spent will get my foot in the door to companies that would never consider me otherwise. The $500 scholarship I got from DBC just for being a woman is another indication that the market is uber-hot right now for females like me. If I enjoy coding (and I do) I would be a fool to pass this moment up.
One of the things I’m pushing really hard to get better at is non-defensive reflection on the feedback I receive. Blogging for almost a decade now has given me plenty of opportunities for subjective feedback from a variety of sources, but the comments I’m receiving from my fellow Bobolinks (that’s our cohort name) are largely free of any personal agenda on the part of the provider and have been incredibly helpful thus far. To give you an example of how the DBC feedback loop works:
First, we peer pair on an assignment. This involves calling someone up on Google Hangout and working through a coding problem together. Once the call is finished I personally reflect on what I did for the assignment. Then I give feedback on person I paired with and my experience with them. When I’m on the Feedbackinator site giving feedback to the peer I paired with I also look over four submissions of feedback that other people gave to their peer pairs to make sure that the feedback they gave is Actionable Specific and Kind. And then at the beginning of every week I’m assigned the task of giving feedback on the reflections that other did right after they did their peer pairing (sentence three of this paragraph references me doing my own personal reflection).
I take that back, that’s not a feedback loop. It’s a feedback maze! If I didn’t have automatic reminders coming through telling me what is due each week I don’t know that I could keep up. And there are many days where this feedback feels tedious and frustrating. But I believe in the principle behind it and so I keep reading and writing and rating, looking forward to the day when my ability to give and receive feedback is something my superiors cite as a strong asset that makes me a crucial part of their team.
Do I like it? The coding and the pairing and the reading and the watching and the sometimes-feels-like-busyworking? Yes. Yes! I like it enough that I think that yes needed an exclamation point. The learning and trying and the stressing I’ve been doing has been pushing me outside of my comfort zone and showing me how much potential I have. That makes it worth all the nights where I’m watching videos about Ruby on my laptop while making pbj sandwiches and applauding something the kids have done and unloading the dishwasher all at the same time.
I think a lot of readers who find this post are going to be women, mothers, who are curious if they should look into something similar. DBC cites the workload as something better 20-25 hours, but I talked to alumni who said it was more like 30 hours. And when I say 30 hours, I mean 30 hours of your hands on the keyboard and your neck arching toward your screen. I’ve declared weekly massages a necessity during this course because of the pain I consistently deal with in my neck and upper back. I couldn’t figure out why 30-hours felt so intense and stressful, after all, that’s considered part-time work hours. And then I realized that a lot of people who are at work for 30 hours are not “working” for 30 hours. They’re chatting with their coworkers and sitting through presentations and taking lunch breaks and other such things (not everyone works this way, but some do – see here, here, here, here, and here (if you have a sense of humor)). 20-30 hours hunched over a computer each week is a lot, and I gave myself permission to feel a bit of shock at the transition from my past life. As a self-employed person I could push off and move around deadlines as needed which is something that isn’t an option with a program like DBC. Each week a new round of work is released at 10am on Monday morning. The rest of the week feels like a sprint to get everything done as quickly as possible so I can focus on other areas of my life and be prepared for the next batch at 10am the following Monday. I quickly realized that I hadn’t outsourced enough for the remote portion of the program (which lasts until mid-October) and I’ve both relaxed my standards for cleanliness and organization in the household and turned the cleaning and laundry over to someone else. Getting the kids out the door in the morning and caring for them after school/care in the evenings uses up about five hours of my day, and this half-time remote portion of the program has helped me see that I’ll need to outsource absolutely everything once the program starts asking for 80 hours/week onsite in mid-October.
Sleep is one area where I won’t compromise, and I find that focusing so intently throughout the day has me needing more sleep than ever before. Eight hours plus some coffee in the morning usually isn’t enough, and I’ve been using an app called Sleep Cycle Power Nap to give myself 20 or 45 minute breaks in the afternoon to let my brain reset. The ultimate combination is drinking an espresso shot, laying down for a 20-minute nap, and waking up with the brain reset and the caffeine jolt all at the same time. I once heard a sleep expert refer to that as a Nap au Latte. DBC has nap stations onsite, something I plan on utilizing every day once I’m there.
I was hoping to write one post per week for the duration of the program, but at this rate I can assume that I’ll get to one more long post at the end of Phase 0 (the remote portion) and then 2-3 short recaps once the onsite 80+ hours/week section begins. That’s when I suspect you’ll hear me talking about how I’m so tired all the time, but the good kind of tired that comes from personal growth and hard work. And voicing out loud reminders that this part of my life only lasts for 9-weeks, and then 2016 rolls around and I have a yet another new exciting stage of life to look forward to.