Bootcamp Life

The Northcoders Bootcamp Experience: Embrace Challenges and Celebrate Victories

The Northcoders Bootcamp Experience: Embrace Challenges and Celebrate VictoriesPreview: The Northcoders Bootcamp Experience: Embrace Challenges and Celebrate Victories

We recently spoke to our current student, Eda, to talk about how the Northcoders Bootcamp has impacted their life and forced them to embrace challenges. 

Before Northcoders I was a Vocal Coach/Repetiteur in Opera, coaching opera singers and working as music staff in opera companies or opera theatres. I have also been a stay-at-home mum since 2019, the most challenging job I could imagine on this planet, 100h-weeks with no holidays or lunch breaks. My Masters is in Music, I trained at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester and then went on to the National Opera Studio in London, then stayed in London for a while freelancing before I had my first child. 

Victory Dance

It all starts with a Victory Dance! Have you heard of that one? It looks like a slightly overfed duck trying to hop across the road when it's way too hot to check how many degrees exactly over your top limit, and the pavement almost melts and sticks to the soles of your feet. 

The Victory Dance! You have been accepted on the Northcoders bootcamp! Is there anything in this world that could sound more satisfying? Well, 'You've been gifted 5 000 000 pounds to buy your dream cottage in the cotswolds' and being able to play catch-me-if-you-can with your great-great-grandchildren is way up there with the best, but you know what I mean. 

Well, actually, it starts with switching from a full stop to a question mark in the "you're not cut out for tech" sentence, the one that just stuck to the back of your mind, so what I should be doing is refactoring my writing and presenting you with a journey from the beginning - but it just sounds so much more glorious with a victory dance. So we shall not wander off to the beginning, since we are now right here. 

!On Men & Mice

A few months ago, before Northcoders became my main occupation in life, I never knew that simply writing something that does not return undefined or does not throw a capitalised "FAIL" message IN RED when you press Save could be as enjoyable as a week in the Caribbean. Or two. Morale of the story? Enjoy the pleasant side-effects of suffering. You see, I believe that the (positive) side-effects of suffering carry much potential for personal transformation (see how mushy my brain already is?). Recently, me and my partner in crime misunderstood the kata instructions so profoundly, we were convinced we had to construct an entire JS object method from scratch without actually using any existing methods. Since help was all busy with other important tasks, we spent probably an hour suffering both mentally and physically from the seeming impossibility of this task and literally pushed our current intellectual abilities to the limit, just to find out we were allowed to use an existing method in recursion. Life at CodeCamp was suddenly (and very briefly) lemon-squeeze. But more importantly, we had actually invented (and I must stress the pain with which these inventions dawned upon us) not one, but TWO possible solution scenarios using very tangible tools from our still limited arsenal in JavaScript, and were ready to implement them. And as the positive side effect of suffering (or a byproduct if you like), solving recursion was suddenly a blessing and we felt like total winners. 

Aaaaaaaaand cheese!

There is no overcoming of obstacles. You should live the obstacles! Like transforming waiting for the next bus (45 minutes) into an excursion to learn about the amazing flora and fauna surrounding the bus stop. And why is this worm green but the other one is brown. My kids taught me that! (If you think I remember anything from elementary school biology and worms in specific, you are really overestimating my then-willingness to ponder on the perspective of actually needing that knowledge at one point in my life and making an effort to pay attention).  -alongside with: eating off the floor is super-healthy as long as there is no visible poo on your crumbs. Rule of thumb is, if it smells alright, eat it. You can always spit it out. Why live the obstacles? Because that's what's going on with your life at that very moment - and because you have all the time in the world to start overcoming them later if you feel like it. If they're still there. 

To be honest, I've never been an either or type. Whenever there's an either or situation presented, I'm thinking at the back of my mind, I'll bet you the gooiest most scrumptious vegan brownie this side of the great river Thames, I can have both. So, when you're asking yourself, so what DO I do when I want to cry on the course,  just cry. I mean, when I'm on Zoom with my mentor discussing how come my mysterious and unfixable (my version of reality) error message is just due to the fact I've failed to find the "on" switch for the rational part of my brain and have literally called the name of the function instead of calling the actual function, I'm not trying to decide whether I should now cry or stay tough and just code on. I do both. I sob on with the feeling of total failure and Gloria Gaynor singing at me from the past, all the while just coding whatever I can at this moment. If it smells alright, eat it.  

A word of yes

It does start with a Victory Dance. If you don't fancy hopping around your bedroom in the morning scaring the odd bird flying by, do it in your mind. Especially if you have been dreaming about executing a push method on an object and your partner is already used to hearing "implicit binding" or "if it's not not a number" mumbled through sleep, do a Victory Dance on the inside - because if you're interested in code enough to have made it up to reading this, you are as amazing at asking questions as my little dinosaurs. Why does my code not work? Will I be kicked out of bootcamp for being stupid? How come everyone else gets it and I don’t? Does this worm really only eat broccoli for breakfast or was mommy slightly off the tracks with that one? Am I going to make it? Honestly, I have no clue. But there is a really important one to ask: am I willing to live in the moment that feels horrible, when hope and light are off somewhere else having a blast and all my resources seem to have run out? YES. Do it with a victory dance to celebrate your ability to say yes. Yes, I cry when I'm desperate. Yes, I swear like a sailor when Terminal just refuses to display my console.log. Yes, I sometimes think I'm the stupidest (unbelievably scrunchy word) person on the course, yes I often don't ask a question on zoom  that could help me save hours researching, because I firmly believe I will be ridiculed for not grasping the most basic concepts and then immediately asked to leave the course,  yes I am terrified of the review day and of failing because what I really really want is to be such a kickass Cloud Engineer that with my work I will be able to positively impact not  only individual lives but entire societies (I'm thinking, if I work for either CIA or NASA, or the local grammar school, that's a nice scope of an impact), yes I have been told I write long sentences, yes I constantly doubt that this whole mission is going to be successful and YES I have no plan to give up. 


That one is a true diamond among the precious stones of programming. If you don't need it, return it - like fear. If it's not serving you anymore, return it - like self-doubt. If it saved you, return it - like the absolute conviction Northcoders seem to have that we are all really doing our best and will get where we want to get! 

But what is it really like on the bootcamp, I hear you ask. Really? It's demanding, exhausting and frustrating, it brings your biggest fears to the surface and pushes the limits of what you think you can learn, achieve or survive (never forget Gloria Gaynor). It also has massively beneficent side-effects of transforming you into what you want to be - and if someone ever told you programming is a walk in the park, they were right! The forgot to add, with a stop-over on Jupiter. 

Just return yes