Developer Bootcamps: Taking the Plunge

This time last year I was spending my days working in a cafe, my nights going to class, and any time in between wondering when or where I would finally start my “career”. I clearly recall telling a friend that I wished I could just quit my job and focus all of that extra time learning the ins and outs of web development. And although it were true, it came off as some sort of joke at the time. After all, what "20 something" who is responsible for her own bills could just up and leave her only source of income and dive into something completely unknown? Little did I know, the opportunity to do such a thing was soon to fall directly into my lap.

When I first heard about Covalence I honestly had no clue what I was walking into. To be honest, I hadn’t heard of “developer bootcamps” at all. There was a quick info session held at Saturn in Avondale, and a friend of mine suggested that I go see what it was all about. For those of you that still haven’t heard, Covalence is a 10 week developer bootcamp headed by Platypi, a software development company here in Birmingham. They teach aspiring developers the basics needed to start a career as a Front-End Engineer. So the more I learned about the program and talked with the staff, the more convinced I became about signing up. Job ready in 10 weeks? I thought to myself, this HAS to be too good to be true. So I started to ask questions. How many days a week? What are the hours? Maybe I could take off a semester of school and do this at night instead. The rug was pulled out from under me when I realized that this “bootcamp” was exactly that. This wasn’t a few hours a day, a few days a week kind of gig. This was serious. 9-5, Monday through Friday. And to an extent, it seemed out of reach. But deep down I knew that if I didn’t take the risk, I probably never would.  So after an extremely convincing talk with my fiancé, I filled out my Covalence application and she said, “Hey! Who knows! Maybe one day you’ll be working for Platypi.” 

A few weeks later I sat down for my first day of class. Like anyone else, I had no clue what to expect. After a tour of the Innovation Depot there were a couple of things I could be sure of. 

  1. This is exactly the working environment I’ve been so eager to be a part of.
  2. There was absolutely no turning back now.

The following weeks would be a roller coaster, and I think I speak for all students when I compare it to “drinking from a firehose”. There is so much information being thrown at you all at once, and it’s impossible to hold on to everything being taught. By week 3 or 4 I started to see just how short the 10 weeks actually were. We were almost halfway through the course and I was convinced there was no way in hell anyone would trust me to work for them. This 9 to 5 started to turn into a 9 – until. I found myself in a perpetual state of soaking up any and all information that I could.

Once we reached the downward slope of the course, I looked back at old assignments and topics and realized that maybe I knew a thing or two after all. I didn’t know everything there was to know, but no one does. I had to remind myself that the one thing that I loved most about this career path is that there is always something new to learn, room to improve, or a different way of accomplishing the same goal. Programming languages and technical skills aside, the course taught me that although I may not always know exactly how to do something, I am completely capable of going out and achieving it anyway. The information is out there, you just have to be willing to dig for a solution. 

A quick 6 months later, I’m proud to say that I did end up working for the company that started it all. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t all cake and ice-cream. It takes dedication, hard work, and a passion to keep learning. But if you truly want it, the ability to start something entirely new in a short amount of time is 100% achievable. Your goals and dreams aren’t always as unrealistic as they seem. Sometimes you just have to take the plunge.

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