We caught up with current student, Chris Wilson, to discuss the changes that led him to starting a Northcoders bootcamp at 51. As well as the benefits of making a change later in life, Chris discusses making the most of the bootcamps intensity and how he is looking forward to the future.
Q: What prompted you to consider a career change?
A: During the COVID lockdown, my trade as a self-employed subcontractor was severely impacted. Rising materials costs and scarcity led me to reevaluate my future. Remembering my love for coding since my youth, I wanted to find a career that I enjoyed and could make my workdays more fulfilling.
Q: How did you decide to join Northcoders, and what was your application experience like?
A: The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) suggested considering a bootcamp, and after some research, I found Northcoders. The reviews were positive, and I had a smooth experience with the application process. I completed the required preparation, including 'free code camp,' in just seven days and passed the entry challenge.
Q: What were your initial impressions when you started the course at Northcoders?
A: Excited and ready to learn, I initially felt confident. However, my long hiatus from a traditional classroom setting had left me unprepared for the intense learning pace. By week six, I started facing challenges with my mental health and grasping the concepts.
Q: How did you handle the difficulty of the course and the fast-paced learning?
A: The learning curve was steep, and I found myself struggling to absorb the vast amount of new information every day. To cope, I reached out to the mentoring, tutoring, and pastoral care teams, who were incredibly supportive. Ultimately, I decided to take a break, use the time to focus on my mental health, and deepen my coding knowledge.
Q: What is a typical day like for you at Northcoders?
A: My day starts at 6:30 am with physical exercises, coffee, and breakfast. At 8:30 am, I read the morning notes to prepare for lectures at 8:45 am. The morning is dedicated to lectures, seminars, and sprints where I engage in pair programming. After a decompression seminar, the day ends at 5:00 pm. On Wednesdays, the afternoons are for solo exercises called "Kata afternoon."
Q: How did you adjust to remote learning and how has it affected your experience?
A: I chose 100% remote learning, and it has been a blessing. Zoom facilitates lectures, seminars, and pair programming from the comfort of my home, saving me from a lengthy commute.
Q: Can you share your thoughts on the "Imposter Syndrome" you mentioned during the course?
A: Imposter Syndrome is very real and can be debilitating. Many students, including myself, experienced it during the course. However, realising that others felt the same way helped us cope with it. The course is challenging, but if your brain doesn't hurt at the end of the day, you're not pushing yourself enough.
Q: How do you feel about your second attempt at the course, and what are your future career aspirations?
A: As I write this, I'm in week 3 of my second attempt, feeling more confident and happy. I'm excited about working in pairs, admitting my mistakes, and understanding concepts better. I look forward to securing a coding job, even if it means a temporary decrease in salary compared to my previous role as a plasterer. This career change is a dream come true, and I only wish I had pursued it sooner.
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