Faith Oladele is a multi-tasker to the extreme. She balances being in the Air Force Reserves while working part-time in sales and pursuing her Computer Science degree at the University of Utah. Now she has enrolled at Utah coding bootcamp DevPoint Labs during her summer break! We talk to Faith about her DevPoint Labs scholarship, the difference between her CS degree and a coding bootcamp classroom, and her exciting plans for the future.
Tell us about your life pre-DevPoint Labs. What were you up to?
I’m actually a Computer Science major at the University of Utah (I also already have my Associate Degree in Computer Science). I’m in the Air Force Reserves, so I’m committed to that one weekend per month, and I’ve worked in sales at JC Penney for two years as I go to school. I’m on my summer break, which is why I took DevPoint Labs.
Woah! You’re busy! If you’re already studying for a CS degree, why take a coding bootcamp?
I took the course to get the real world experience that you just can’t get in school and through classes. When I looked at job postings, I noticed that there are newer technologies out there that I need to learn as well. That's why I chose to take a bootcamp and learn more.
DevPoint Labs has also been good for my own growth, actually. I’m on summer break, but this keeps me from being lazy and taking a break from programming.
You’re halfway through the Full Stack Rails class. So far, what have you learned at DevPoint Labs that you couldn’t learn in a CS degree?
In college, I've learned languages like C++, Java, and C#, but here at DevPoint Labs I'm learning React, Ruby on Rails, and the current Web Engine- the frameworks that are being used in the industry. My plan is to become a software engineer, so I need to know those relevant languages. To me, this prepares me for the real world, as well as land me a job while I am still in college. You have to have some experience, and that is what I'm trying to do.
So by the time I graduate with my degree, I will have studied CS theory, and have developed things at DevPoint Labs, hopefully with a potential employer.
Did you research other coding bootcamps in your area before you decided to go to DevPoint Labs?
I did look at other schools, but I loved the opportunities at DevPoint Labs. As a woman in software engineering, I could apply for a scholarship, which was awesome because bootcamps are really expensive. I liked that they recognize women in the technology industry, because you don't see a lot of us. That was one of the biggest inspirations for me.
DevPoint Labs is also close to home and my work. I looked through the curriculum, I came in and spoke to the DevPoint Labs team personally. I actually visited three times, and each time I visited, I learned more until I said, "Okay, I really want to be here.” I was looking for a broad curriculum, and that’s what I saw here.
Congrats on winning the scholarship! What did that scholarship entail?
The scholarship I received paid for half of the tuition. I got a loan to pay for the rest which is like getting a grant from school. I'm still paying that second half of tuition, but it's a good deal.
Did you have to do coding challenges during your interview?
No, because the point of DevPoint Labs is not to attract experienced people. They want everybody, so they're trying to train people across all experiences. They want to make sure you're willing to put in the work because you're going to be learning new things and you have to be willing to learn. That was the main thing they were looking for in the interview. Dedication was way more important than your level of programming or industry knowledge.
Tell us about your cohort at DevPoint Labs? Is it large? Is it diverse in terms of gender, race, and backgrounds?
There are about 15 people in my class, including six women – DevPoint Labs tries to keep classes small. And it is very diverse. We get projects generated for us randomly so we get to work with other people and see their style of coding. People never do one thing the same way; that and group projects also help me learn more about working with other people. It's a good learning environment if you ask me.
That’s awesome! Tell us about the learning experience at DevPoint Labs. What’s a typical day like?
A typical day at DevPoint Labs starts at 9:30am, then our instructor lectures on a subject for about four hours. He introduces us to a new subject, we code along to understand the concept, and then we get to work on our projects. We're given bonuses to challenge ourselves as well, like going beyond the scope of what was taught that day. The next day, you can expect to go over that bonus challenge to make sure that everybody understands. Every day we get challenges and start new concepts, which is awesome.
How does that compare to the style of learning at your university? Is it quite different?
It is definitely different. DevPoint Labs is only 11 weeks, so it's more fast paced compared to a full semester course. At university, I have an assignment every week, and I have a whole week to finish one project. Here, I have new projects to work on every day, and then you have to keep up with the pace of the class. It is a fast learning pace, but I've met people that haven't coded once in their life, and they're doing just great.
A CS degree gives you a solid background, but sometimes I think people don’t need a formal degree to be “smart.” You just have to have the right tools. I'm sure there are amazing developers who were not CS majors; but for me, doing the bootcamp alongside my degree will give me experience on the whole spectrum.
How many instructors or mentors do you have at DevPoint Labs?
We have two main instructors who teach us, but we also have TAs (teachers’ assistants) who assist us with our projects, our labs, and questions. There are about five TAs, so we have a lot of help around here to make the course easier to understand. And I like the fact that we have two instructors because it shows that no two programmers are the same. You learn more when you’re learning from two different teachers, and you can gravitate towards the teaching style that you grasp more. I like that learning process.
What's been the biggest challenge so far at DevPoint Labs?
My boss at JC Penney was really awesome, and she lets me work 6am to 9am and then I have to be at DevPoint Labs at 9:30am. But still, the biggest challenge for me is working and going to the bootcamp. It helps that I like the learning environment here. I like the fact that you sit in lecture for four hours and then the rest of the day is spent doing your project and trying to catch up on anything you don’t understand.
Wow we’re so impressed with your commitment. Do you have a favorite project that you've worked on so far at DevPoint Labs?
Oh, my favorite project so far has been a group project where we built a “bucket list” app. Users can create a bucket list of events to do. It took us about a day to finish it, and I was really impressed with what we came up with. It was well styled, and that process made me understand working with people much better. I was impressed with myself and with my group about what we could do in such a short period of time.
Does DevPoint Labs prepare you for looking for a job?
They’ve been training us for that since the second week. We started out with our resumes- how to build a resume, and how to polish your LinkedIn. We have one day in the week to talk about job hunting and resume building. They also put time into introducing us to the right employers. We’re going on a field trip soon, so I'm excited to see what developers actually do in the real world. I think it's exciting.
Do your university classmates consider doing a bootcamp? Is that common amongst your class?
No, it's not common, actually. I have questions from my classmates asking why I don’t just do an internship. And I could do an internship, but to me, I feel like I still need to broaden my knowledge.
What is your ultimate goal when you graduate from both DevPoint Labs and from college? Do you have a dream job?
Right now, I plan to use my skills to become an officer in the Air Force. I want to do programming for fighter jets- that's one of my biggest dreams. Aside from that, after I finish with DevPoint Labs, I want to immediately look for jobs and start developing so I can have that experience under my belt by the time I'm done with my degree. I love my job right now, but I want to move on from sales.
And what kind of work do you do for the Air Force?
I'm a Traffic Management Officer. That sounds like I control traffic, but I actually control personnel, helping them with travel and Military goods.
What advice do you have for future coding bootcampers?
Like I said, determination is huge. And remember that learning these skills at a bootcamp is not going to be cheap, but you’ll get a job that can pay for it in no time. Tuition might sound really expensive right now, but if you are determined, and you feel like this is what you want to do, then you shouldn’t think about the initial cost.