Bootcamp Life

Meet Our First Java Development Cohort: Their Journeys So Far

A group of programmers looking at code in the officePreview: A group of programmers looking at code in the office

As our first ever Java Development cohort heads towards the midpoint in their programme, we caught up with five of our students  to find out a little bit more about their journeys, how they got here and how they are finding it. 

What were you doing prior to joining Northcoders?

JR1: I was working part-time in a supermarket.

SK: I have worked in retail for over a decade, in the luxury jewellery industry. I started as a Sales Consultant and have most recently been a Branch Manager. I am lucky enough to have become a father recently and have had some time away from work to adjust to Dad Life!

JR2: I was working mostly as a Circus performer/creator, and also as a bicycle mechanic.

AS: I was working in the Food Research & Development industry.

JM: I was an education based recruitment consultant.

What made you want to join a bootcamp?

JR1: I wanted a way to help me enter the tech industry, as I already had a passion for coding and developing programmes from A-levels. I couldn't take the standard approach and do a Computer Science degree. Upon research, I saw bootcamps as another approach to becoming a junior developer which persuaded me to join Northcoders.

SK: I have always lived and breathed tech, but during the pandemic I spent my time whilst furloughed exploring code properly - tinkering with projects and tutorials online. I loved the idea of a bootcamp for the structure and a professional tutor for guidance, but it felt risky coming out of Covid. Now things are "more normal" it seemed like the perfect time to jump into something new, exciting and intense!

JR2: I have taken a couple of self paced online courses in computer science/software development and data analytics, and was keen to commit a solid chunk of time to furthering my coding skills. I was learning well on my own, but felt that having an external structure to encourage perseverance and provide feedback, and a cohort to work alongside to develop skills in collaborative work and bounce ideas off would be a much wanted accelerant.

AS: I was looking for a provider with good references and high learner success rates and Northcoders ticked those boxes.

JM: I decided to join a coding bootcamp mainly because of its structured learning environment and expert support, which have made the daunting task of learning to code much more manageable. The opportunity to learn from experienced instructors, follow an organised curriculum, and engage in project-based learning also greatly appealed to me.

What was it about Northcoders that made you want to join?

JR1: Honestly, the sheer amount of good reviews, and also an entry challenge to see if you were serious enough stood out to me. Also the option of scholarship from DfE!

SK: My best friend works in the tech industry professionally. When I spoke to him for advice he told me his company employed a Northcoders graduate, who has been very successful and highly recommended this specific bootcamp. I am quite a "browser" and spent time looking at a lot of options, but Northcoders always stood out as the highest quality and most down-to-Earth. There were so many positive reviews from real graduates that found success following the bootcamps. It ended up being a no-brainer.

JR2: I had read good reviews of Northcoders across the internet, and was also keen to be part of a course based in the north of England, to increase the possibility of in person collaboration. I chose the Java cohort as I was interested in building a solid foundation in a strongly typed language, with Object Oriented Programming a central part of it.

AS: I have always been interested in Java and learned some of it myself. It just happened to be that Northcoders were offering this bootcamp for the first time. I looked at the syllabus and the fact it aligned with today's field requirements interested me.

JM: I opted for Northcoders as my bootcamp choice due to the pre-course work they offered. This feature enabled me to explore coding and assess my interest, aptitude and ability before fully committing to a career transition. What truly stood out to me during the pre-course was the remarkable support and responsiveness demonstrated by the Northcoders team. Their assistance made the decision to enrol in their bootcamp an easy one!

What have you been enjoying so far?

JR1: I am enjoying learning the content, especially because of the emphasis on pair programming. It helps you understand and tackle problems more easily.

SK: I have loved working with my cohort and being able to program in pairs everyday. We all bring out the best in each other and it's very rewarding. The content is challenging but fun, and the tutors are so supportive but never overbearing. You are encouraged to continually learn and each day is so fresh and exciting! The lecture/sprint/seminar/sprint format means you get proper coaching but real practice too and is such a great way to help consolidate all the new concepts.

JR2: I have been enjoying the emphasis given to collaboration, and pair programming. It has been great to meet so many people all on the same path.

AS: The spring and pair system is great. There is always something to learn from your partner and having different approaches to the same issue is a great way to learn.

JM: I've been really enjoying the supporting exercises that follow the lectures. They start with basic aspects of the content and gradually become more difficult and complex. The end questions are perfect for stretching my understanding and problem-solving skills, leading me to expand my topic knowledge and overall comprehension.

What's surprised you most about the programme?

JR1: The level of support and teaching, even though the bootcamp is fast-paced when you’re learning all the content in 13-weeks.

SK: How much I have learned in a short space of time. I spent the best part of a year learning solo before joining this bootcamp, and have progressed further in 3 weeks than I ever could have done alone. The accountability, collaboration and support from experts takes you to a new level very, very quickly!

JR2: I've been surprised by how skilled everyone on the cohort is! I thought there might be a bunch of people for whom this bootcamp was their first experience of programming, but it seems it has attracted a group of people with varied exposure to different aspects of computers and computing. Or maybe this perception is just testament to how good the course is at very quickly training people.

AS: How supportive and committed the teaching team are with the cohort and I. You can tell there is care and passion!

JM: I was pleasantly surprised by how effective the program's learning structure is. Initially, I anticipated feeling overwhelmed by the volume of content and worried about grasping each topic thoroughly. However, the program's design quickly negated these concerns. Each topic is comprehensively covered through lectures, seminars, and exercises that not only reinforce understanding but also encourage research skills development. What's more, I was impressed by the program's emphasis on preparing us for our first roles. We delve into best practices for the workplace and engage in paired programming sessions, equipping us with practical skills we'll need on the job.

What are you looking forward to on the programme?

JR1: I am most looking forward to the project phase of the bootcamp, when we can create a program that fully functions.

SK: I cannot wait to get to our project phase. I have such an amazing cohort and I know we will all build something special and work well together. Taking a real application that's been a team effort to interviews fills me with confidence post-graduation!

JR2: I'm really looking forward to the group project at the end of the course, and the opportunity to start putting all the concepts we have learnt to use in a functional piece of software.
AS: I want to dive into Spring Boot to deploy some great web apps, as well as Android development which seems very promising.

JM: I'm really excited about the project-focused sections of the course, both the solo and group projects. The chance to build an app from scratch by the end of the course is really exciting, offering a fantastic opportunity for hands-on learning. I also appreciate the collaborative aspect of these projects, as it provides invaluable experience in working in a team together towards a collaborative codebase.

Looking ahead, where do you see yourself in a year's time?

JR1: I would like to be able to create programs or features for operating systems, for companies like Microsoft and Samsung.

SK: The dream would be to be thriving in a junior developer role (or, even better, not a junior anymore!) I am super open minded so I honestly think I'd enjoy anything - as long as I'm putting all these amazing coding skills to work in real life scenarios! I will definitely continue learning all the time, perhaps looking into something like C# / .NET that has similar syntax to Java.

JR2: I feel I am learning so much about the world of tech that I am unable to aim for a specific role at this point. I would hope to have found some work using the skills I am developing, in a workplace that has lots of opportunity for advancing my knowledge. I would like to explore scientific computing and machine learning libraries in Python. I would also like to become comfortable in a lower level, non garbage collected language

AS: A Junior Software Developer and having expanded my proficiency in Java. My goal is to become skilled enough to help others get started with it.

JM: Looking ahead, I can see myself still deeply immersed in coding, finding joy in problem-solving and the endless learning it brings. As for specific roles or sectors, I'm open to exploring different opportunities that resonate with my interests and skills. Whether it's contributing to exciting projects in a startup environment or adding value to established companies, I'm excited about the potential for growth. In terms of technologies, I'm always keen to expand my knowledge, whether it's mastering familiar languages or venturing into new ones.

Lastly - tell us an interesting fact about yourself!

JR1: I enjoy adrenaline-filled sports!

SK: My love of tech extends to music production as well. If I'm not practising coding, you'll probably find me experimenting on synths or making melodies on piano!

JR2: I can put my tongue above my soft palate and have never met anyone else who can do this.

AS: I love to translate open projects to Spanish so if you ever used Bitwarden, or Pterodactyl, I helped translate it!
JM: I wouldn't say it's too unusual, but I love making bread. The unusual bit is the sheer amount of plain bread I have made searching for the perfect recipe!