Nicole fell in love with coding when she took some C++ and Python courses during her math degree. She attempted to teach herself the basics of software development, but wasn’t sure which topics to focus on, so enrolled in nearby coding bootcamp LearningFuze in Orange County, CA. Nicole tells us, how she balances her full-time job with studying in the evenings and weekends, what her schedule looks like, and how much support the LearningFuze staff and instructors provide to keep students on track!
What is your education and career background, and what led you to want to learn to code?
I am a recent college graduate from the University of Southern California, where I majored in Applied and Computational Mathematics with a minor in Natural Sciences. For my math major, I was required to take some coding courses, so I took “Intro to C++” as well as “Intro to Python.” During these classes, I fell in love with coding and wished to pursue a career in the tech industry when I graduated.
Did you try to learn on your own before you thought about a coding bootcamp? What types of resources did you use?
Definitely! I utilized textbooks and online resources, some of which were free. At first, I leaned towards studying on my own because I saw coding bootcamps as more school – after graduating from college, I did not wish to go back to school. However, I eventually convinced myself that a coding bootcamp was my best option because, at a bootcamp, instructors teach you the key concepts that you need to know to land a job as a software developer. If I had continued studying on my own, I would not have known which topics to prioritize.
Did you research other coding bootcamps? What specifically made you choose LearningFuze?
When researching bootcamps, my priorities were location, instructors, graduation rate, price, networking abilities, and part-time availability. Other bootcamps required me to move to another city, without an opportunity for remote learning. LearningFuze was the closest coding bootcamp to me, it was one of the only bootcamps in Orange County, and it offered the option of remote learning. LearningFuze was also one of the few bootcamps I came across that offered a part-time program. An added bonus was that LearningFuze offered a discount for their part-time program!
Through my research, I also discovered that some instructors worked part-time at LearningFuze while also working a day job. I saw this as an advantage because it meant the instructors would have first-hand knowledge about which topics were actually utilized in the industry and what trends were rising in software development.
Overall, LearningFuze checked every box for my ideal bootcamp. Even after my decision to enroll, the staff at LearningFuze continued to help me figure out what steps to take to make sure this program was for me.
Why did you want to do a part-time coding bootcamp?
I became interested in a part-time program because I did not want to depend on anyone to help fund my academics and because I did not want to rush my education in just a few months. I’m currently working as a Biostatistics Apprentice in a pharmaceutical company’s research and development department, so I am able to pay for my own education at LearningFuze as well as all my other bills. Also, I was never in a rush to switch job industries, so the part-time program’s learning pace was perfect for me; I could still enjoy breaks in-between modules.
Did you consider doing a 4-year Computer Science degree? Why or why not?
I did not consider a computer science degree. During my undergraduate career, my colleagues in CS advised me that obtaining a CS major is meant to prepare you for any industry within CS, including Machine Learning, Software Engineering, Artificial Intelligence, etc. However, I knew that I simply wanted to pursue software development, so obtaining a computer science degree did not seem productive.
I did consider pursuing a graduate degree in CS to open my range of job opportunities. However, after calculating the cost and time investment, I decided that attending a bootcamp was my best option.
How did you pay for the tuition? Did you use a financing partner? Did you get a scholarship? Any creative tips you can share with our readers?
LearningFuze is great with discounts, even for the part-time program! Whether you register early or pay for several modules at once, LearningFuze was never stingy about money.
No financing partner was offered for the part-time program at LearningFuze, though it is offered for the full-time immersion program. So finance was a concern for me. My solution was to open a cash-back credit card to pay for the tuition. I felt this was my best option because:
What was the LearningFuze application and interview process like for you? Any tips for our readers on acing the interview?
LearningFuze does not require any experience with coding when you join the part-time program so there is no interview/application other than payment and registration. During my first module, I had classmates who had no coding experience. Just contact a staff member and they can help decide if LearningFuze is right for you!
How is the bootcamp going so far? How far through are you, and how are you finding it?
The bootcamp is going great! I am currently in Module 3 of 5. I finished the “Front-End Programming” course and am hoping to move onto the “Back-End Programming” class within the next couple of weeks. These courses were made based on the full-time immersion program, so the instructors and the project assignments are not lacking in any aspect. The staff at LearningFuze are experienced enough to predict when a student will struggle and they aim to help every student get through the course. Every day there is something new to learn or work on.
How many people are in your cohort at LearningFuze? How diverse is the class?
When I enrolled in Module 1, my class started off with 15 other students. Students came from all different backgrounds and experiences. As an Asian-American female, I did not feel out of place. Students’ ages ranged from 20s to 60s and gender was split 50/50, which I believe is rare in a bootcamp. LearningFuze is diverse in all aspects, including staff, instructors, and students.
What is the schedule like for the LearningFuze part-time coding bootcamp? How does it fit in with your job?
The part-time program at LearningFuze is definitely manageable for those who are motivated to study. Each module has 8 hours of lectures every week, usually 2 hours for two days during the week and 4 hours on a Saturday. Students are recommended to come on-site and are expected to be able to keep up with the pace of the instructor. For those who are ahead of their peers, there is an unlimited amount of practice projects or assignments available. I usually spend one or two hours every day coding outside of class to finish projects.
The program is not too overwhelming for me, personally. During the weekdays, I have a schedule that I religiously follow to make sure I stay on track. My day job does not require that I work overtime, so once I finish work at 5pm, the rest of the day is used to study, relax, or go to class. Homework or projects are given with the consideration that most students in the part-time module have day jobs, so if you keep up with the lectures, the assignments are not too time-consuming. I had classmates who were parents of young children who were able to keep up with the class without a problem.
During the weekends, I give myself a break from studying and relax with friends or family. Rather than only coding, finding a middle ground between class and my day job as well as enjoying free time allows me to really appreciate this part-time program.
What’s the LearningFuze part-time learning experience like? What does a typical day look like?
For Module 3, we met up on Mondays from 7pm to 9pm, Wednesdays from 7pm to 9pm, and Saturdays from 9am to 1pm. On Mondays and Wednesdays, I would go to my day job until 5pm, have dinner, head over to LearningFuze, and begin class. Class normally begins with any questions we have about any previous assignments/lectures. After that, we move onto new content. If there is time after the lecture, we continue with assigned projects or go over more examples of the content we learned that day. On Saturdays, the class schedule is pretty similar, except we dive deeper into more difficult concepts during the lectures and work on larger projects if we have free time.
How many instructors or mentors are there for your class? How often do you interact with them, and can you contact them outside of class hours?
Usually for each module, we have one instructor and another person who acts as a teacher assistant (TA). This TA could be another instructor or someone designated to grade assignments and answer questions when we are not in class. I interact with my teacher and TA very often. I was instructed that if I am stuck on something for more than 2 hours, I should reach out to my instructor or TA. Because I am enrolled in the part-time program, I complete a lot of my assignments outside of class. Therefore, I tend to have many questions when I am completing assignments. The instructors are definitely are very good at responding to questions online at any time of the day. I have sent messages late at night and early in the morning, and have received responses for both times fairly quickly.
LearningFuze is great because not only do we have two people who can immediately help, but we also have many other staff members who are willing to assist us when we have questions. We use Slack to communicate and if an instructor or TA is not available to respond to a question, another staff member often answers the question.
What is your favorite project that you built at LearningFuze?
In the part-time program at LearningFuze, we have an ongoing project that we build upon throughout each module called “Sweet Corner.” Essentially, we are each building an online bakery. We begin Module 1 by setting up the basic layout of our shop with HTML. Right now, at the end of Module 3, I created an interactive menu and implemented a shopping cart where people can put their desired cupcakes, using API calls. I’m enjoying building the Sweet Corner project because I get to put into practice what I’ve learned in class in a project that applies to the industry.
How is LearningFuze supporting you to make sure you can balance your studies with your job or other commitments?
LearningFuze supports us to make sure we can balance our studies with our other commitments through great communication about assignments and lectures. Whenever a project is assigned, they give us several weeks to complete it. Whenever a lecture is completed, they give us enough time to review the contents at home so that by the next class, we are all caught up. Everything is paced out, so as long as the students keep up with the course (which is not difficult), there are no issues.
What are your plans after you graduate?
I plan to find a junior level software engineering job when I graduate, which was my initial goal when entering LearningFuze. I am currently not working in the tech industry, so once I graduate, I plan to switch job industries.
How is LearningFuze preparing you for the job search? Or what career advice are they giving you?
The 5th and last module of the LearningFuze part-time program is solely dedicated to building our resumes and creating personal projects. In the other 4 modules, instructors consistently give us career advice and practice interview questions that they, themselves, or their peers had to take. So I am confident that LearningFuze will prepare me for my job search.
LearningFuze also has job fairs where companies come in to recruit LearningFuze graduates. From my perspective as a student, the staff members at LearningFuze are very dedicated to the students and try their best to make us the ideal candidates for software development jobs.
What advice do you have for other people who are considering doing a part-time coding bootcamp while balancing a full-time job or other commitments?
Go for it! This part-time program at LearningFuze is solely meant for those of us who are balancing full-time jobs and other commitments, so having a full-time job cannot be an excuse not to enroll. The part-time program, as well as the Root JS classes, do not require commitment; you can leave if you feel like you got what you needed or just don’t think the program is a match for you. If you want to code, there really is no reason why you shouldn’t!