''I have a whole new life now'', says Andrew Snelling from England. He was an English teacher before he came to Coding Bootcamp Praha during the Winter Batch 2021. He felt the need for big change during the second year of the pandemic which gave him the final push to combine his personal interest in programming and switching lifestyles. Andrew now works as a web developer at Pipedrive, cloud-based software as a service company. Why did Andrew choose programming and is he happy that he decided to make the change?
Were you already into coding before, and why did you decide to go for a bootcamp?
No, not really. I started coding a month or two before I started the bootcamp. And why? Because it was time for a change. I had been teaching for a long time. There was a pandemic and some changes in my family, so it was time for a new career. I'd always been interested in technology, but never really involved in it. So it kind of gave me a way to combine my interests with professional pursuits.
How did you prepare for the bootcamp?
How has the bootcamp changed your life? And did it live up to your expectations?
Yes, definitely. I have a whole new career, a whole new lifestyle, as much as we can have a lifestyle in those days and age. But work is a lot more flexible, and working from home is a lot easier, even when you don't have to. So I definitely think it's lived up to my expectations and had a positive impact on me.
What was the biggest challenge when you were studying in the bootcamp and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge was, I think, going through a lesson, for example, and then doing one of the problems or one of the activities afterward, and just failing. How to get over it? Just keep trying, especially in the early stages, you only have so many tools that you can work with, so use all of them. And as you progress, you'll get more and more tools. Still a year on, it's a lot of debugging and a lot of fixing old code, but it is what it is.
What have you enjoyed the most?
I think the hackathons were the best. Because it gave us a real opportunity to experiment and play, and do it more or less on our own, even though we also had the support of the mentors. We had a general assignment, but a lot of freedom in what we could do with it, especially in the later hackathons, as far as design and stuff like that goes.
Can you describe your experience at the bootcamp in a few words?
In a few words: it was definitely a roller coaster. There were good days and bad days, days where I thought I had made a big mistake, and some days were like “okay, this is good, I can do this.” It's not easy, but it pays off in the end for sure.
How was the teamwork going?
Um, as good as it could have, I think. I studied entirely online, so that obviously poses some challenges. But I think that the instructors and the mentors used the Zoom space well.
Could you describe your job hunting process?
Can you tell me more about what you do during your job, and what a typical day looks like?
How would you say the bootcamp prepared you for the real world?
How do you keep learning at work?
We do have a mentorship programme. It's a little bit informal, which is nice. It's kind of ad hoc, so that's helpful when you need it. Otherwise, we have a huge training budget every year. So we can buy books, or courses, or go to conferences, whatever. So I've used that a lot. For juniors, they're very flexible with how much time we take to deliver certain tasks. We can take time at work to study and learn more. And last year, we hired a bunch of juniors, so we all kind of worked together, collaborated, and checked with each other.
When you started as a junior, is there something you wish someone had told you?
I think the biggest thing would be working with larger projects and larger code bases. The first time in the bootcamp when you bootstrap, like a React project, that's big, or a Laravel project, that's big, but it's tiny compared to what you see when it's an actual web app used by paying customers and stuff like that. So just the complexity of deployments, working with Git and continuous integration, continuous deployment, stuff like that. All the basics are there during the bootcamp, but a little disclaimer: it'd be a lot bigger.
Do you have any tips for web developers starting their careers?
Learn Git, it seems really simple, and for how it's used in the bootcamp, it is. But it's a really, really powerful tool. And it's something you use all day, every day. Otherwise, it's really dependent on the language or the technology that you want to work with. Take what you learn, take the basics, and never stop learning.