Code is Coming…  

 Week One at Enspiral Dev Academy

It’s real. It’s a thing. It’s a real thing!

I’ll provide some context.

 Bootcamps?

Earlier this year I signed up for Dev Academy; New Zealand’s first programming bootcamp. It follows the curriculum of Dev Bootcamp, the original coding bootcamp based in San Fran, USA. If you don’t know much about the coding bootcamps, they’re pretty big in the States and this is where I was planning to move to in order to attend one. They’re known for their intensity, demanding nature and successful alumni. A lot boast very impressive placement rates as well as tidy graduating salaries.

 EDA

Enspiral Dev Academy is the spawn of several motivated and experienced Enspiral members and the academic model Dev Bootcamp (DBC). It’s one approach to not only fill the shortage of programmers in New Zealand, but also offer those interested in programming a structured learning environment that isn’t as rigid or theoretically focused as a four year Computer Science degree. As well as offer DBC’s language of choice Ruby, EDA also offer a C#/.Net stream as this the language of several Wellington businesses such as Xero & TradeMe. The choice was a hard one, I settled on Ruby, but that’s a whole other blog post.

 Phase Zero

The first formal learning began what is known as Phase Zero. Think of it as prep work. It’s a 12 weeks long overview of Ruby (or C#), JavaScript, HTML & CSS, SQL and other bits like git etc. The 12 weeks is distance/online learning but I was able to meet 7/12 from my cohort in person during Phase Zero and talk to all in some form. You’re expected to take control of your own learning, asking for help from tutors when required and pair code as much as possible. I feel I was able to establish a pretty good base in the 12 weeks. Starting from no programming experience I did find it a lot of work, and had to be vigilant to keep on top of it all. I was lucky to be devoting myself to it full time, I don’t think I would be in the same place had I been splitting my time with work. That said, majority of the cohort were juggling course work with jobs and were not disadvantaged by this.

 On Site

I was itching to get started in person by the end of Phase Zero. I felt like I’d come as far as I could on my own and needed to be in an environment with like minded people who I could absorb knowledge from. Monday couldn’t roll round soon enough.

 Phase One.

It’s probably easier to give a quick overview of what a day at EDA looks like:

AM

8:45 accountability buddy meeting

9:00 announcements

9:05 aha! moments

9:20 daily direction

9:30 booster session (optional)

10:00 morning activity

12:30 - 2:00 LUNCH (YOGA)

PM

2:00 reading hour / geek talk

2:45 EE practice session (except Tue)

3:00 afternoon activity

6:00 end of day (so far I’d say I’m averaging 8.30 finishes, but am aware this finish time will most likely increase)

  • Wednesdays are solo days, choose your own pair or work alone

  • Teacher-student pairing sessions are 3-5 pm Tue - Thu

The days take a flipped classroom approached. Lectures are more a discussion in which one of the lead teachers guides the topic and the breath of experience in our cohort means constant contribution from others. We have some people with years of experience, some re-entering the industry and the few “black jellybeans” like myself as Tim put it so brilliantly (Pick'n'Mix analogy).

Not only do we code, we also try to Engineer Empathy (EE) and be mindfully aware. This learning is based around research done by Goggle and adds a depth to the whole experience that is invaluable. We obviously haven’t don’t too much yet, but an accumulation of nine weeks of EE I’m sure will make me a better programmer and more importantly, person.

 Challenges

I’ve paired with four member of my cohort during the week and got some solo time in on Wednesday. I’m really proud of what I’ve made and also of my progression in pairing. I found pairing quite hard at first as it’s constant communication and the acceptance of other (often opposing) approaches. The more you do it, the better it gets though and by Thursday Andrew and I were able to get our Ruby Racer humming - color and all!

I found I didn’t get through all the challenges every day. It was hard for me to leave a challenge unfinished, or untouched, but I’m working on realizing that it’s not about total completion, but total comprehension. That said I took some time out on Saturday to tackle a Boggle Board Challenge and was happy to get a working solution.

 Closing Thoughts

It’s Sunday night and there’s still two more challenges I want to complete, five readings I want to do, three videos to watch and I’m not even mad, I’m excited.

I really feel like this week has validated my decision to leave a stable career in business advisory and pursue a real passion. I hope that this blog will help others questioning what they want to do, contemplating a switch to programming. I intend on posting a minimum of once a week and welcome all questions about my experience.

 
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Kudos
 
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