A coding bootcamp will allow you to finally learn to program.
We’re in the software age. The software engineering market reaches more demand every year, and as of today (2021), the workforce is still scarce (and for years to come). Marc Andreessen said it 10 years ago, but could have been yesterday:
Fortunately, you don’t need to go back to university to study computer science anymore (if you don’t want to). Tutorials, online courses, programming books… there are tons of free (and paid) resources to learn to program nowadays.
Did you tried learning that way? I did.
My Year Before Taking a Coding Bootcamp
During one year, I followed books, tutorials, and courses to make the best apps ever. I was working as a salesman, but I dedicated every free hour I had.
I started with technical books. Reading technical books was a whole new universe in front of me. There were so many layers I wasn’t aware of and needed to understand ASAP. I started analyzing every new concept, looking online for more answers. But as I was advancing, I realized it was taking too long to understand the fundamentals before I was able to write a single line of code.
So I went for tutorials. Learned how to copy-paste code and mimic apps, and this gave me some hope for a while. But I wasn’t able to customize my apps. I did not know how things were related outside the given examples. On top of that, if I skipped a week of training, I did not remember how to do things.
I was a coding monkey. I wasn’t familiar with the tools or knew how to use the documentation. There was such amount of knowledge gaps, that it was really difficult to keep focused in one direction. It was difficult to keep my willpower. I was in charge to learn, motivate myself, supervise my work, look for answers, track my progress.
I missed every deadline for being a programmer in “x” time. The year ended, and I was still a salesman with programmer dreams.
A Leap of Faith
One day, I found coding bootcamps. The idea was crazy good! I almost could not believe it was possible to learn programming in such a tiny time span.
Given my previous experiences, I did not think it twice. I was working by then in an Apple Reseller, so I knew which ecosystem I wanted to learn (iOS). Found a bootcamp and enrolled in less than one week. All the money I made during that year (except for four months’ rent) went to the course. It was a full-time bootcamp.
Unfortunately, my family was against it. They love stability, and since I had a job in Spain during the crisis, that’s all they were seeing at that time. My gut was telling me I wasn’t done to be a salesman, so I prepared for “I told you”, but made a backup plan just in case.
I had a good relationship with my boss at that time, so I told him I really wanted to learn to program, but I did not want to leave the store. My selling point was that the course was “just” three months. After that, I would be back to the store and keep in charge of my duties. Surprisingly, my boss told me he was ok with the deal. My plan worked! We would meet again to polish the details. I had a safety net in case everything went wrong.
After some weeks, the bootcamp was almost starting, and we had the final meeting. Guess what? The deal was off. Either I stayed or I knew the path to the door.
So I resigned.
My First Day at the Coding Bootcamp
Before starting, I met one of my peers in the course. He came back from the US to do the bootcamp. We had almost the same level of experience. We were for two weeks doing coding exercises and we were ready to start.
It was a rough start for us. We were the only two without previous solid coding experience. At the end of the first day, the only thing we learned was to transcript the code from the teacher’s screen. Meanwhile, the rest of the group was already doing advanced problems.
That night, when we ended the class, I went straight to the front door of the building to talk a bit with the other peers. Everyone was there, except for my colleague.
Some minutes later, he came out. He wasn’t smiling, so I thought something was off. I asked him how had been the day. He told me it had been a pleasure to meet me. He was quitting!
The big picture disappeared in front of him in just one day. I tried to convince him, but he already made the decision. I had to assume there would not be anyone to whine with from now on. As of that moment, I was the least experienced in the class. I would need to do always the extra mile. But I could not afford to look back. Everything I wanted was in front of me.
My main mission Monday to Friday was learning how to code iOS apps from scratch. The deal was clear: No couple. No friends. No distractions.
But obviously, that wasn’t enough. I did not know a bit of coding, so I needed to dedicate weekends as well. Luckily, I leveled up a bit during the first two weeks and met a greek colleague in class that was staying in Barcelona for all the bootcamp. We teamed up and dedicated all our free time to practice.
The weeks passed by while we were learning how to do simple apps. Teachers passed from explaining us design patterns through “dog and human” stories (thanks Marin) to enter into the programming woods.
We presented our final project and had a couple of interviews; one with recruiters and the other with the digital head of Spain of a well-known french supermarket chain. I still remember his words: “I would never hire you because you don’t have previous coding experience or a computer science career”. Luckily, I also did not want to work with someone like him. This man didn’t understand that software engineering is not a hermetic career field.
At some point, the bootcamp ended. A lot of things happened, but among them, I passed from being the last of the class to be in the top 3. I received a first contract to make an iOS app that would let me pay the bills for four months. I did some average interviews, discovered consultancies, and ran away from them. Finally, got interviewed in a startup where I have been working for 5 years.
I multiplied my salesman salary by two in less than a year (6 months) and kept gaining seniority during the next years. Little by little, I got approximately four times more salary than I originally had at the store.
I have been able to choose where I live and where I work. Develop my ideas if I want, or just work for someone else and enjoy my weekends. I got much more freedom, and I don’t need to stand up for more than 8 hours doing something I don’t like.
This is my bootcamp story; There are thousands of them, each one has its own. I just wanted to show you how life perspectives can change in a short time just by doing a coding bootcamp. For me, it wasn’t easy, and before I got hired by a good company I had to take risks and sort all kinds of obstacles (which I will let you know here if you stay long enough).
After I completed my cycle, I have helped out a lot of friends that wanted to take the same path. Most of them are successful engineers now. They thanked me to open their eyes, but they’ve put all the effort to be where they are.
That’s why I’m here today. Because you are about to make the leap. And I want you to know everything I have learned so far so you don’t make the same mistakes that I and the others did.
Are you ready to let go? Are you ready to be an engineer?