Two Years since GA: a Reflection on my Coding Bootcamp Experience

It’s hard to believe, but exactly two years ago I took leave from my company to attend General Assembly’s Web Development Immersive (WDI) program. Previously, I had hopped around with different web-related roles, learning coding on my own and picking up on best practices along the way. Since I didn’t have a background in Computer Science, I really wanted to get a better foundation, thus I decided to attend a coding bootcamp.

What was Great about General Assembly

WDI was an amazing experience in many ways. I’d have a say that I really appreciated the following:

  • Meeting a wonderful group of aspiring developers that came from all different backgrounds.
  • Being a part of an amazing community, and feeling much more confident about my abilities as a coder.
  • Having hands-on experience by building applications for labs, as well as creating four different projects (although I have to say I wasn’t proud of one of my projects, so it was more like having three different polished projects).
  • Getting introduced to new frameworks like Angular JS and popular libraries like React JS.
  • Having many “ah ha!” moments, where things would click and I realized that I had a much better understanding for different programming concepts and patterns.
  • Getting the tools I needed to become a better learner.
  • Feeling passionate again about technology and web development – prior to joining their program, I was feeling burned out at work. WDI helped motivate and inspire me again.

What Could Have Been Better

  • I wasn’t thrilled with their Outcomes programming. I enjoyed the panels they had and an interview workshop, but overall I felt like too much time was spent away from working on projects while focusing on things like resumes and cover letters (which I felt like I already knew enough about). I’d say it would have been better if there was less mandatory Outcomes programming, with the option to participate in some of their activities.
  • Technical interview prep would have been nice. We barely scratched the surface when it came to technical interviews, and I didn’t feel at all prepared for technical interviews once I started interviewing for developer jobs.
  • Better communication about how difficult it is to land a dev job earlier in your career. It felt like they kept saying it was easy if you worked hard enough, which is a bit vague and not terribly helpful.
  • More focus on frameworks and libraries. I had a different background than a lot of my peers in the program, since I had a bit of experience with programming. The first few weeks felt a lot like review for me, and once I started working with new frameworks and libraries, it seemed like we rushed over the material. I would have preferred less basics for HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and Ruby, and more detailed work with React JS.

Other Thoughts

Overall, I thought General Assembly’s WDI was an amazing experience. I think it was an excellent idea that I went through their program, and I definitely don’t regret it. Was it perfect? No, but it helped me in just the right ways. I enjoyed the people I met and the community that I was a part of. I kept referring to it as being like camp for grownups. It was a lot of fun, was incredibly challenging at times, but was well worth it.

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