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Alumni Spotlight: Jasmine Nguyen of Coder Camps

Lauren Stewart

Written By Lauren Stewart

Last updated on September 20, 2016

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Jasmine was a junior college student studying elementary education before she took a semester off to attend Coder Camps’ 12-week full-stack bootcamp in Houston, Texas. Coming from a family of programmers, she decided to leave university to see if she would enjoy learning to code. Check out how Jasmine enjoyed learning alongside lots of other women at Coder Camps, find out about the baking app she built, and why she’s shifting her goals to become a front-end developer.

What was your education/career background before you decided to go to Coder Camps?

I was a junior at the University of Houston studying elementary education and decided to take a semester off just to see where things would take me. During that semester off, I took a leap of faith and decided to try out Coder Camps. My boyfriend went to Coder Camps, so I had been familiar with coding bootcamps prior to going.

What made you decide to learn programming?

I come from a family of programmers and developers, and was raised around a tech environment. I knew basic HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, but I'd never worked in programming or even thought about it. So during that semester off, I really took time to figure out if it was something I'd actually want to do. I figured out that it was, so I decided to do Coder Camps.

Did you teach yourself basic HTML and CSS skills?

I learned from family. I never really did any self-guided learning prior to Coder Camps, it was more so me picking up things when I was with my family. Sometimes, I would go with them to work in order to learn.

Did you research other coding bootcamps before you decided Coder Camps was the one?

I looked into The Iron Yard, which is another bootcamp here in Houston, but they only teach Ruby on Rails, which isn't necessarily in high demand here. I knew I wanted to go somewhere that was teaching high demand skills, somewhere I could find a job afterward.

What programming languages are in high demand in Houston, and what were you looking to learn?

.NET because there's a lot of oil and gas over here, so I was looking for that.

Were there any other factors that you were looking for in a bootcamp?

I definitely wanted something that wasn't all online. Coder Camps was a big deal for me because it was a class that you could take in person. You actually could choose online or go into the class. I also liked the student-teacher environment they had. I heard great things from my boyfriend who went to Coder Camps.

A lot of readers on our site want to know how people paid for their coding bootcamps. How did you finance your tuition at Coder Camps?

I ended up getting a 0% interest credit card, and putting my tuition on there.

Could you walk me through the application process for Coder Camps?

For me, because my boyfriend was actually working at Coder Camps at the time, I was able to speak to a few people at Coder Camps and then enroll in classes.

It’s nice to have a coding bootcamp connection! Could you explain your cohort demographics?

Yeah, my class was very weird and odd. Not many people have this, but it was four people in my troop- we called them troops in my group. There were three girls and one guy, so us women outnumbered the guys. The only guy came from petroleum engineering and quit his job because he wanted a career change. One of the girls worked at NASA, and then another one of the girls was a horse trainer. Everyone in my cohort had completely different backgrounds.

Did you feel like those different backgrounds helped you get through the course together?

Yeah, I felt my cohort size and cohort career backgrounds at Coder Camps helped my learning.  It helps with being close with one another and learning from each other. I appreciated having that small intimate class.

Since the women outnumbered the men in your situation, how did you feel about being a woman and learning to code?

I felt like it was really powerful. I loved it, and it was just a different aspect being surrounded by women every single day because we focused on things our male classmate didn’t. He didn't care about if the product was pretty, he just wondered if it worked. It was a great experience.

How did you enjoy the learning experience at Coder Camps? Describe a typical day.

Class hours are 9:00am to 5:00pm, with an hour and a half lunch break at noon. Everyone pretty much gets there on time, and for that first hour, we would go over material from the day before and any questions we had.

Then we would go over a new lesson. We'd be assigned an individual project that matched the lesson to see if we understood it or not, and then we’d do pair programming. We also had an individual project we had to finish by the end of the course, so we had a lot of free time to work on that. With learning new technologies each day, we could add more to our individual projects as the days went on.

Did you have a favorite project that you worked on at Coder Camps?

My individual project was one of my favorites. It was pretty much an application for baking using .NET and full stack. You could enter in what ingredients you have in your pantry and your fridge, and it tells you what you could make with just those ingredients.

And then we had a group project with all four of us, and that was something I hold very dear to my heart. We created a conference scheduling app on the admin side, Simple Symposium using Angular. The admin can see the conferences they have available, what speakers are speaking, their bio, and other information listed out in a neat calendar form. It’s organized so you don't overlap conferences or speakers, or meetings.

How did you feel about Coder Camps’ teaching style and instruction versus what you were experiencing at your university?

We had one instructor and one TA and I really liked the way they were teaching because it was very hands-on as opposed to my learning in college. We would learn something and then we would have to perform the task about what we were just taught. It kept me very engaged because I knew I had a project coming up after the lecture.

Although it's very fast paced, it was a lot of fun because we had so many little projects that we did every single day. And if we had questions, we just let our instructor or TA know because it was such a small class, we always had the opportunity to receive feedback.

Since you were previously studying education, do you feel like it's important for certain teachers to learn how to code?

I think coding is a wonderful thing to learn because it can only help you since technology is constantly growing. If learning code for a teacher means you can personalize each lesson plan and assignment to make it more interesting, then why not learn it?

What was your biggest challenge at Coder Camps in terms of learning code?

I'm a perfectionist, so it was hard to learn one thing and then just move on to the next subject very quickly and not be able to perfect the skills I had just learned. It moved really fast, but at the end of it all, I understood why I was learning what I was learning.

What are your next steps now that you’ve finished at Coder Camps?

I want to find a junior developer role. The whole reason I stopped school for a little bit was because my mom is a single mom and couldn't really afford tuition for both my sister and I. So my main reason for leaving was to work, but I definitely want to go back to school eventually.

I finished Coder Camps in July and I'm currently looking for a position. I'm able to do .NET, but I'm looking more at front-end developer roles because I like front-end work much more than the back-end. I want to do something at a startup, and I would love to work with other front-end designers to build different web and mobile applications. I've been interviewing with a company, and I’m waiting to hear back!

Did Coder Camps help the cohort in job search and job preparation and things like that?

Yeah, they helped with resumes edits, and interview preparation.

Do you have any tips or advice for someone thinking about doing a coding bootcamp?

Definitely do it. Especially look at Coder Camps because they have a one to two-week free trial where they teach you basic programming. I think people should also look at Udemy, Code School or Codecademy just to see if it’s something you’re interested in before paying. There are many resources out there online, try something to help you learn the basics.

Read more Coder Camps reviews on Course Report and check out the Coder Camps website!

About The Author

Lauren Stewart

Lauren Stewart

Lauren is a communications and operations strategist who loves to help others find their idea of success. She is passionate about techonology education, career development, startups, and the arts.

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