blog article

Student Spotlight: Emily Davis, Turing School

By Liz Eggleston
Last Updated October 15, 2014


Former teacher Emily Davis was looking for a career change and knew Jeff Casimir would be a great educator in her journey to code. She is now a student at Turing School in Colorado and talks to Course Report about the application process, how she pushes through burnout and challenges, and what's next for her!

Remember, the Course Report community is eligible for a $500 scholarship to Turing!


What were you doing before you started at Turing?

Before Turing I was teaching seventh grade Language Arts.  I taught for six years, and was on a quest for a way out for five of them.


Did you have a technical background before you applied?

I had almost zero applicable technical experience before applying to Turing.  I took an HTML/CSS class at a local community college (less than fruitful), and had participated in one Railsbridge workshop.


Why did you choose Turing?

I applied to and was accepted to both gSchool & Turing. Ultimately I ended up choosing Turing for two reasons. First, I wanted to work with Jeff Casimir because his passion and excitement were contagious.  Mostly though, I simply had more faith in their educational practices and thus my chances of finding success. To be honest the length of the program didn’t really play a role in my decision (gSchool is six months and Turing seven), but I did really like the idea of intermission weeks in between modules.  I was right in my assumption that the intermission weeks offer a great opportunity for new knowledge to marinate and be absorbed.


What was the application and interview process like? 

I really enjoyed the application process for Turing.  The application itself involves a writing sample, a video response, and a few logic problems. The interview is equal parts get-to-know-you & get-to-know-how-you-think.  The first half is simply a conversation about what you’ve been doing in life up to this point, how you discovered a desire to become a programmer, how you found Turing and why you think it’s the program for you. During the second half of the interview you solve a logic problem with your interviewer. The point of this is to discover a couple of things: 1. Can you think logically and problem solve? 2. Can you collaborate while problem solving?


What was your cohort like? Did you find diversity in age, race, gender etc?

I think my cohort (right now there are three) is the least diverse of the bunch. In the two other cohorts the diversity seems to be growing which is really exciting. My cohort ranges in age from 23 - 39, we’re mostly white, and there are three women. That being said, my cohort couldn’t have been more diverse in regards to our skill levels when we started out.  I for one had never written any backend code, while Jonmichael had a bit of professional experience.  Our cohort filled in the rest of the range.  Somehow though we’ve all managed to learn together, collaborate on projects together, and help each other problem solve.


Who were your instructors? What was the teaching style like and how did it work with your learning style? 

When I started Turing there were only three instructors and now there are five.  Most of my instruction has come from the original three: Jeff Casimir, Josh Cheek, and Jorge Tellez. All the instructors have a different teaching style, but I learn well from each.  I think the entire instructional team at Turing has worked really hard to fine tune the learning process for the students. Ultimately we learn by doing, which works best for me. I think the best example of that is Jorge’s teaching style. Jorge uses the workshop model a lot.  We build a small piece together, he sends us off to build it independently or with a partner, then we come back together to build the next small piece, and he sends off again.  I’m always amazed at how much I learn in a few hours with Jorge.


Have you experienced burnout during your time at a bootcamp? How do you push through? 

I’m almost three quarters of the way through, and I’ve just started feeling really tired. I’ve been able to avoid burnout because I try to take off one full day each weekend. It’s easy to feel as though you must dedicate every waking moment to coding, but I’ve found that taking one day off makes me a far more productive programmer the other six days of the week.


Can you tell us about a time when you were challenged in the class? How did you succeed?

 For me nothing was more challenging than the first project. I let myself become overwhelmed by how much I didn’t know, and I stupidly isolated myself instead of reaching out for help.  Halfway through the project I finally reached out to peers and started collaborating on the project with them, and that was a major turning point for me.  I also narrowed my scope of what I was trying to do.  I was looking at the entire picture instead of the individual building blocks.  Once I redirected my focus to each little block, I was able to find my way through the project and ended with a really successful final product.


Tell us about a project you're proud of that you made during Turing.

Right now I’m one week into my first self-directed project.  It’s been humbling, but incredibly rewarding.  I’m building an app that aggregates daily snowfall amount for all ski resorts across Colorado from the PowderLines API, and then determines the travel time based on current traffic using Google’s Distance Matrix API. User’s will sign in via Twitter, and then will be able to search based on snowfall amount, travel time or to search for a specific resort. We have three weeks to build our apps using Ruby, Rails, JavaScript, JSON, APIs, OmniAuth, and other pieces I’m sure I haven’t discovered yet. (Link to Github here)


How does Turing approach job placement? When do they start focusing on it and how much emphasis is put on getting a job?

I haven’t gotten there just yet. The focus is on the learning during the first three modules. I do know that the third intermission week is dedicated to preparing for the job market.


Want to learn more about Turing School? Check out their School Page on Course Report or their website here!

About The Author

Liz is the cofounder of Course Report, the most complete resource for students researching coding bootcamps. Her research has been cited in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch, and more. She loves breakfast tacos and spending time getting to know bootcamp alumni and founders all over the world. Check out Liz & Course Report on Twitter, Quora, and YouTube!

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