Tech Education

Dan's Experience - What's a day at Northcoders like?

Dan's Experience - What's a day at Northcoders like?Preview: Dan's Experience - What's a day at Northcoders like?

The Northcoders Coding Bootcamp is an intense experience, each day is unique and presents a different challenge. The following features are aspects that are common to the vast majority of days I have experienced so far and is as close as can be to a 'typical day' at Northcoders. If you are not familiar with Northcoders, I hope this can shed some light on what a day in bootcamp is like...

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Getting to Federation

Northcoders starts at 8:30 am which means that my morning ritual will have to start at around 7 am. I am rather fortunate in that it only takes me about 50 minutes to get to Federation House. There are coffee and snacks provided (which are basically essential after a week or 2) and the classroom itself has a great vibe, It only takes a few minutes to get settled down after the commute.

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Kata hour

For the first hour of each morning, all students are tasked with completing a morning 'kata'. In short a kata is a problem that you have to solve with code. These help not only the routine of the day, but allowing everyone to get settled and tune their brains to focus on coding and problem-solving. They also help with your overall coding skills in general. I normally really enjoy these tasks, they fly by and lead very nicely into the proceeding lecture.

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Morning lecture

After the kata, we begin with a morning lecture on whatever topic is on the day's agenda. These lectures vary in style but are always presented in a very practical way. Groups are small enough that everyone can ask questions as they go along. Many lectures end up being more like workshops and when I look back after a week it is amazing how much progress has been made. For me, the lectures are what I look forward to most about the day.

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Morning sprint session

Once the lecture has finished the sprint for the day is released to all students. For the uninitiated, a sprint is essentially a group of developers working on a project for a set amount of time. The sprints here are essentially learning exercises designed to build on your knowledge. Each sprint not only uses the previous content covered throughout the course but builds on it with material covered in the lecture. These exercises are normally conducted in pairs which really helps, it is always nice to have someone to bounce ideas off and it keeps you focused. The morning part of the sprint is generally heavy on reading around online and experimenting with the techniques and software of the day and then moving toward something practical in the afternoon. The tutors float around the room and address any major issues that pairs come across.

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Offically, lunch starts at 1pm but people tend to start breaking for lunch between 12:30-1:15. Being in Manchester city centre a fair few students (including myself) end up walking around the Arndale centre or Market Street for lunch. However there’s no shortage of things to do in the office, be it just chatting with fellow students or playing a selection of board games.

Dan's Experience - What's a day at Northcoders like?Preview: Dan's Experience - What's a day at Northcoders like?

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Kata solution workshop

After lunch the tutors quickly run through the solution to the previous days morning kata. These sessions don't normally last long, it is mainly just to address any pressing issues with the problem. It is really interesting to see other approaches to problems that you didn't think of initially. 

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Second Lecture/Afternoon sprint session/sprint review session

This is the most variable part of the day and changes very frequently. On some days, there are no lectures and you are expected to carry on with the sprint task you were set in the morning. If there's a solution lecture then at 5 pm we all meet to discuss the project and the tutors explain how they would solve sprint, these are similar to the kata solution lectures only much more in-depth. Occasionally there are additional lectures during this time if the concept we're covering is particularly difficult or that there's just a lot to learn. At 6 pm people tend to start leaving the office but some stay and do a bit of extra work or help out at one of the events at Federation.

While the course is challenging and intense it does not feel like something that is a slog or something that completely drains you of all energy. 

If you're in a job like that (which I was) and have an interest in technology and can think through problems logically then you will love every second of the bootcamp.

Dan King - Bootcamp Week 8 Student