We usually talk to bootcampers shortly after they’ve graduated – and while it’s so cool to see how quickly they get jobs after bootcamp, we wondered, “what are these bootcampers up to 3 years later?”We caught up with four bootcamp alumni to see how their careers have grown! Hear from Frances Coronel (Fullstack Academy), Pedro Martin (General Assembly), Alon Robinson (Hack Reactor), and Jennifer Sardina (Flatiron School) to see how coding bootcamps helped them achieve their goals (and set new ones)!
Catching up with Frances of Fullstack Academy
When we last talked to Frances, she was a Hampton University student studying computer science and was just about to start an internship at Accenture Labs.
Bootcamp Alma Mater: Fullstack Academy’s Summer of Code, New York City, in August 2015.
Current Company: Slack
Frances’ Job: Software Engineer on the Customer Acquisition Team
How my career has grown since Fullstack Academy:
My first job was with 80|20 Software Consulting (now Array Digital) which I got in November 2015. Later, I interned with the Accenture Liquid Studio in Redwood City, helped out Fullstack Academy through an ambassador position in NYC, and then I ended up working for Accenture again. Most recently, I started at Slack as a Front End Software Engineer in early June.
I’ve also mentored a lot of folks outside the Fullstack Academy community via organizations like WiTNY, Thinkful, Code2040, The Last Mile, Out of Office Hours, Code.org, CodeNow, etc. Slack offers a generous stipend each year to all its employees for both professional and personal development. I've taken full advantage of this by organizing a React Training workshop for Slack employees and enrolling in a Women in Leadership course that aims to develop my leadership capabilities so I can take positive risks for my career growth.
What I do at Slack:
My team is in charge of Slack.com as well as an array of other public-facing websites that are separate from the client itself (the mobile, web, desktop versions of the Slack app). Typically, I get assigned multiple projects related to Slack.com that I need to deliver within a certain number of sprints, depending on the complexity of the project.
I'm in the process of learning React and I actually shifted away from using Angular.js at Fullstack Academy to using Angular 4+ with TypeScript at my previous job. Something I've gotten a lot better at, which wasn't really taught at Fullstack, is SASS and VanillaJS. My favorite language right now though is TypeScript.
On growing as a developer...
I've gotten much better at networking and learning to not be afraid of asking the tough questions. Before, I used to resent the idea of having to grow my social abilities at networking events because I was just so focused on developing my technical skill set. This was actually a very naive mentality to have and I believe now that the best engineers can communicate exceptionally well. I also used to be afraid of asking newbie-like questions to more senior level engineers. However, I've since mitigated this concern by having a higher self-confidence and understanding that no question is a dumb question. If one does not ask, one shall not receive.
On Coding Bootcamps in 2018...
Whatever your perception is of coding bootcamp grads, the reality is that the number of grads from coding bootcamps is growing and most of these grads are learning the skills that are in demand and will help them break into the tech industry.
Rather than focusing your hiring efforts on a few elite schools, I think it would benefit any company to look into these alternative CS programs and be happily surprised at what they find.
Advice for future bootcampers...
If you can afford it and are 100% certain this is something you want to pursue, I would definitely go for it! If you can't afford it, I would apply for a bootcamp that has an alternative tuition model that requires no money up front which most likely means it operates with an ISA and takes a percentage of your salary instead.
If you're not 100% sure you want to make the deep dive yet, I would first try and explore all the free resources available on sites like GitHub or Codecademy. You can also attend Meetups in your local area. I would get used to the feeling of wanting to learn more and recognizing that the more you learn in this field, the more you will realize how much you haven’t learned yet. Once you've got a real taste for it, I would apply for a high-quality bootcamp that specializes in the tech stack you are most passionate about. Most folks have this incorrect impression that coding bootcamps just focus on web development but there are actually so many "bootcamps" across the world focusing on an array of different fields like digital marketing, UI/UX, product management, iOS development, etc.
Checking in on Pedro of General Assembly
Pedro was a political rights advocate imprisoned in Venezuela, an environmental science teacher, and a rope-access technician before finding his love for code.
Bootcamp Alma Mater: General Assembly’s Web Development Immersive in London in April 2015.
Current Company: Red Badger + General Assembly
Pedro’s Job: Software Engineer Consultant + Associate Instructor
How my career has grown since General Assembly:
I’ve worked at:
- Made Tech as Support Engineer
- 33 as Junior Web Developer
- Space Bar Media as Web Developer
- General Assembly as an Associate Instructor for part-time courses.
On teaching coding at his alma mater, General Assembly...
I still can’t believe I teach at General Assembly! My former instructors are now my work colleagues. I remember the day one of them asked me my thoughts and recommendations on how to teach SVG animations – it felt so nice.
As an Instructor at General Assembly, I facilitate lessons about front end development to students with little technical background. My degree and background are in Education, so to be an instructor in a subject I am passionate about is such a joy. In the last three years, I have been exposed to different projects, teams, ways to work and technologies that have turbocharged my skills and helped me to approach problems in pragmatic ways.
One of my career goals is to be in a position where I can coach/mentor other developers in new technologies to deliver better digital products. I am glad to say I am accomplishing this goal.
On learning new programming languages after bootcamp...
I’ve had to learn how to deal with uncertainty. It’s always challenging to learn and apply new things, but that’s the fun. I love to learn and be challenged, and I am passionate about teaching. I have learned PHP, Laravel, React, TypeScript, Terraform, Serverless, ORM technologies, Redux, CI/CD, PostCSS, Sass, SVG animation, and Canvas animation. And at the moment I’m learning about Kubernetes and Swift.
Pedro’s advice for future bootcampers...
Bootcamps are not for everyone. It’s one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done, but if you have the right attitude going through this rigorous process, your professional life will restart for the better. But if you feel that you cannot shape your attitude to embrace a bootcamp, please don’t go.
Alon’s Life After Hack Reactor Remote
Bootcamp Alma Mater: Hack Reactor Remote in the Fall of 2015.
Current Company: GE Digital
Alon’s job: Software Engineer
Alon’s career growth since graduating from Hack Reactor:
Right now I mainly work on the front end on a project for GE Aviation. We track and predict the maintenance schedule of GE aircraft engines. The New Orleans hub of GE has a ton of Operation Spark graduates working here and they continue to bring more on.
I have gotten a performance-based raise at GE every year and recently got a promotion!
On the importance of humility in engineering...
I think the biggest way I have grown is realizing how much I have to learn. Coming in to GE, I knew I wasn't the greatest developer, but I had a lot of confidence in my abilities (and some cockiness). I am still confident in my ability to contribute and bring value, but there is a level of humility that comes with experience and working with other more experienced professionals.
On learning new technologies after Hack Reactor...
On the first project I got, there were only three developers – two frontend and one backend – but I was the only one with a lot of front end experience. We chose to use Angular 2 right after the first production release. Being thrust into a position where I had to lead the design and architecture of the front end, while figuring out best practices of a new framework was definitely a challenge but something that really helped hone my skill set. Another project was on a Java/Spring Boot/Hibernate back end and it took a lot to understand what was going on, but I just made sure to ask a ton of questions.
How side projects help me learn new things...
GE provides access to things like Pluralsight and Treehouse and has another service that provides training videos. However, I’ve grown most from working on the job and through side projects. My current manager is extremely supportive of growth in my learning and career, and I can always go to her to express any learning issues or goals I have. I don't have any mentors in the field at the moment, but that is definitely something I should work on.
Advice for future bootcampers...
Hack Reactor was one of those defining moments in my life, and it has opened so many doors for me. If you enjoy programming and can see yourself doing it, do your research and go for it! I still feel extremely connected to all the people I went through Hack Reactor with because of the shared experience and the hours we spent working together. I don't think that will ever fade – I still post in the alumni Slack channel.
Jennifer’s Engineering Career After Flatiron School
Jennifer was as a foreign language teacher, a chemistry lab technician, a health coach, and a full-time mom before learning to code.
Bootcamp Alma Mater: Flatiron School in New York City in April 2015.
Current Company: XO Group Inc.
Jennifer’s Job: Software Engineer
Biggest promotion since Flatiron School:
When I was promoted from Associate Software Engineer to Software Engineer!
A day in the life of a Software Engineer at XO Group:
- Morning standup – All team members communicate accomplishments from the previous day, today's goals and current blockers. The goal of this check-in is to plan, ensure everyone's is in the loop of everything that's happening or needs to happen, and to unblock one another.
- Conduct code reviews – Engineers are assigned a subset of pull requests to review. The goal is to validate the integrity of the implementation.
- Code – I spend the majority of my time working solo. I normally gravitate towards the harder, more interesting front end problems.
Lately, I've spent most of my time working with React (currently leading the migration away from Backbone). As with anything else in life, learning things on the job can be challenging when there isn't an established framework to follow. This is especially true with technologies like React (and Redux, for state management), where there aren't very many clear conventions, but I actually prefer when frameworks don't make too many assumptions. It keep things fun and interesting! :)
On overcoming setbacks as a developer...
My growth as an Engineer has been evident and unquestionable, but I believe my biggest gain has been overcoming imposter syndrome.
There are specific individuals I admire whom I believe are great resources for discussing anything related to my career. My immediate supervisor is by far the greatest resource I've had to help me find opportunities to have an impact on the team and across the tech organization at XO Group.
On accomplishing ever-evolving goals...
My goals are always evolving. During my time at Flatiron School, my only career goal was to be able to find work as a developer. Once I started working as an Associate Software Engineer, my goal was to feel competent enough to tackle larger bugs and user stories independently. As I progressed into a more seasoned Engineer, I continuously looked for ways to have more presence at the tech organization by taking roles in cross-team efforts. As I get closer to becoming a Senior Software Engineer, my goal is to become a technical leader. I continuously put myself in uncomfortable situations where I am required to implement critical thinking and independent judgment.
Jennifer’s advice to future bootcampers...
Assuming you're certain that programming is your dream career, go for it! Once you do, remember the following:
- Push yourself. If you're comfortable, you're not learning. Put yourself in uncomfortable positions and you will maximize your learning potential.
- Ask questions. You're not going to know everything, and that's OK, but asking questions will unlock more learning opportunities, which will be critical to finding great solutions tomorrow.
- Be skeptical. When you're a junior developer, it's often easy to think other people have the solutions to everything. Don't make this assumption. Be skeptical about solutions; comment on design, not just code style. Question the assumptions of the more senior engineers. This will result in one of two things:
- you'll uncover a critical shortcoming in the implementation
- you'll have a better understanding of the problem and of the solution at hand
I honestly haven't experienced any specific attitude from the engineers at XO about coding bootcamps. It doesn't matter where you learned the basic skills; what matters is how you apply your skills and your continued growth as a developer.
We’re so glad to see that these bootcampers are doing well after bootcamp! If you’re interested in learning more, check out Fullstack Academy reviews, General Assembly reviews, Hack Reactor reviews, and Flatiron School reviews.
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