Bootcamp Life

Fundamentals complete - not once but twice...

Fundamentals complete - not once but twice...Preview: Fundamentals complete - not once but twice...

Ready to get started on my NC journey

After being accepted on the Northcoders skills bootcamp, I was faced with lots of pre-course material. This enabled me to get set up with my new development environment, which I had no idea before that this was all open source and free, and continue learning JavaScript basics, Github (how could I have not known about this amazing version control software before) and the now familiar codewars katas. I also had an introduction to HTML and CSS, which was all great to give a taster of what was coming prior to starting the course and get me into the mindset of full time studying.

I was incredibly nervous about starting the bootcamp with the usual gremlins flooding my mind:

How will I cope being a middle aged Mum with limited coding working experience in (my then perception of) a young male environment?

How will I ever get a job in software development and explain my backstory?

How will I fit in a full time course on top of caring for my family and running the house?

How..? Why...? What...?

So many questions and thankfully the lovely Northcoders slack channel is always on hand with tutors and students (past and present) to put all these fears to rest and share their own anxieties. Every student that I have met has such an inspirational story and the openness and honesty on the slack channel is truly refreshing.

Joining October Cohort

I officially started the coding bootcamp on 18th October 2021. First week was intro week, so a great start to orientate myself with the new world of coding, meet the lovely tutors and fellow students and also re-visit all the JavaScript basics that I had learnt on pre-course. A fantastic week and I knew straight the way that I had made a great choice in Northcoders as a learning provider. So far so good.

The second week saw the start of JavaScript fundamentals 3 week block. I love learning and meeting new people so with the quality of the lectures and the curriculum split between self study and paired programming meant that I was having a fantastic time - at least up until half way through this block.

I have never been on such a steep learning curve and there were days where little made sense. However, with my fellow students and our amazing tutors/mentors, help was always on hand.

Half way through fundamentals block, I wasn't feeling well and with the ongoing brain stimulation, I was struggling to switch off at night so returned back to my insomnia of old - I could sleep for a few hours but then wake in the night and unable to get back to sleep as my mind was so active.

I was also starting to worry that I wasn't keeping up with the pace of the course - it is incredibly demanding and fast paced (I guess that's why it is called a bootcamp!). I tried to catch up in the evenings, but with a family and 2 children to support, then this just wasn't realistic.

I also had my new motto of slow down and health and family first in the back of my mind. I was starting to doubt my ability and if I was even cut out for the course after all. i have later learned that imposter syndrome is quite common amongst developers so I was not alone.

The next week and a half went downhill as I got into a vicious cycle of sleep deprivation and then starting earlier in the mornings to try and catch up. In the final week of fundamentals block, we had some bad news about my Mum's treatment and that just derailed me further.

I now feared that I was so far behind and would have to spend a lot of the Christmas break to try and catch up. However, there was light at the end of this first tunnel - I am with the best learning provider in NC that I could ever wish for after all!

NC ask the students for feedback on a regular basis and also encourage us to raise any concerns or suggestions for improvement (along with the positive feedback of course). On the back of this, one of the tutors asked to talk to me about my feedback.

I explained my concerns and shared some of my background and was offered to re-start the course with a new cohort the following Monday . After talking this through with my husband and re-assurance from the NC staff, I decided to make the move and say goodbye to my fantastic cohort and start again.

This did mean a 4 week delay to finishing the course. A small sacrifice for the extra tuition and support from Northcoders, and additional time to reflect on where this course will take me with my future career. This decision was also completely aligned with my new slowly slowly approach and I recognised that prioritising my health was still very much work in progress.

All Change to November Cohort

I joined the 15th November 2021 cohort and now had 4 weeks head start. This allowed me to reflect on what worked well and not so well for me in round one. I changed my approach as I completed intro week and fundamentals block for the second time. The main change for me was to work during the core course hours and finish on time every day to ensure that I allocated sufficient time to my health, family and got plenty of sleep.

I have now met many more great teachers and lovely students so have no regrets and managed to take the full Christmas holidays off to dedicate to my family, without worrying about catching up with any code.

A new year and time to look forward to the future

After a much needed break over the Christmas holidays with my family and friends, I am now rested and ready to start the next 3 weeks backend block. I now have 9 weeks full time on the course so know it is not going to be easy but I couldn't be happier to be back studying with Northcoders.

Happy 2022 and here's to a happier and healthier year for all.

Read more of Katie's blog pieces: