Dev Bootcamp had us build a personal/resume site throughout the remote portion of the program, and once I built my initial draft I knew I would be reworking the entire thing in the last week. I was able to take it live at my domain, www.JennaAndersen.com this morning and I haven’t felt this proud of my work in a long time. I’m sure I’ll rework it entirely in January when I’m 300% better at all the things I know now, but I’m thrilled to see my HTML, CSS, Bootstrap, Javascript, and JQuery working together in this way that feels like a very apt representation of where I’m at right now.

If I can manage this after 9 weeks of 20-ish hours/week, imagine what I’ll be able to do after 9-weeks of 80 hours/week! (And now are you wondering when I’m going to finally give That Wife a makeover? I’ve been thinking the same thing.)




Dev Bootcamp Weeks 1-4

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.

The City Club, San Francisco
Portra 800, Pentax 645 with an adapted Zeiss 2.0. Taken in the library of The City Club of San Francisco.

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. Continue reading

The Why and How on Dev Bootcamp

If you didn’t already see the post on Intagram announcing it – I was accepted in the Dev Bootcamp 19-week web developer education program this week!

For months I’ve been talking about my efforts to get into a coding bootcamp in the San Francisco Bay Area called Hackbright (*see below for a list of blog posts related to my bootcamp application process). I applied in February of 2015, was declined, and submitted another application in May. While I waited a very long two months to hear back from them, I signed up for a prep course from a different bootcamp program called Hack Reactor. I enjoyed the Hack Reactor prep experience, and I started to wonder if Hackbright might not be the best fit for me.

Currently there are hundreds of bootcamp programs in the Bay Area, with new ones popping up all the time. I wanted to keep things simple, and I really liked the idea of a program geared specifically toward women because I think it’s important to have supportive and safe environments for women to train in as they prepare to enter the often-hostile world of tech. I talked to several Hackbright alumna who were very happy with their bootcamp choice, but the amount of time it was taking to get to my application bothered me, and I talked to several people who urged me to reconsider an option that, in their opinion, would lead me to an internship but might not lead me to the sort of full-time work I would need to recoup my costs as quickly as I’m hoping.

San Francisco Abstraction

Canon AE-1, Fuji Superia 800s

The more I talked to the alumni and instructors from Hack Reactor, the more it sounded like something I wanted to go for. It’s somewhat known as “The Harvard” of the bootcamp programs and the admissions interview is very difficult, making their students some of the elite out there in the race to redefine the software engineering profession. I knew it would be an incredible commitment, with six days/week of in-person instruction instead of the usual five, but it felt like it would set me up for career options I might not have otherwise. Just as I was about to make my move and commit to the application I asked one more alum who responded to my query about what makes the program special with “You’re going to feel like you’re the least intelligent person there, and everyone status until almost-midnight every night.” I want to be challenged, yes, but that’s not the environment and mindset I’m looking for as a mother of two young children living an hour train-ride south of the city. I realized if I attended Hack Reactor I would never see my family. I would barely have time to sleep!

On Thursday morning, July 30th, I had my second interview with the Hackbright program. Continue reading

What is Coding? (And what I like about it)

las Vegas taxiYashica Mat 124-g, Ektar 100 rated at 400 and pushed two stops

When I started researching software engineering back in January, I didn’t know much about what coding was past fiddling with <p> and <img/> tags in html. I’m still getting questions that lead me to think a bit more exploration of this topic would help. And maybe get some more people to try it, because coding is really fun! Even better, it’s a really important skill to have as technology progresses and we inch towardThe Singularity.

Software engineering/coding/hacking/computer programming/etc are all terms used in a variety of ways to refer to the act of using a language to make stuff happen using a computer. There are a lot of programming languages being used out there, and the industry is shifting toward new ones all the time. Facebook recently introduced a new one called Hack, ios and android each have specific languages used for development, I’m hearing rumors that Python is out and Javascript is in, but I’m sure next week that will all be old news. Once you know one language there is enough crossover to start picking up others, the way Romance-based language speakers can pick up Italian or Spanish or Portugese more easily than a first-language Chinese speaker because there are similarities between the way the different languages work.

Want to know what it’s like to work with one of these languages? There are so many free resources out there by now that deciding which one to use is probably the hardest part of beginning to learn. Some of the most commonly-referenced resources are Khan Academy, Codecademy, Udemy, and YouTube. I’ve actually had several important breakthroughs watching different YouTube videos, because sometimes a concept needs to be explained a certain way before I can really grasp it. I think you can’t really know what it means to code, or if you’d like to code, unless you try it. Continue reading