Student • Web Development • Chicago
Jan 04, 2022
My experience at Actualize was life changing.
It was such a stressful, arduous process to find the right bootcamp for myself. I would even go as far as to say, that finding the right bootcamp was and will probably be the hardest part of my coding journey. I researched over 10 bootcamps, and I learned very quickly that most of them have the same business/education model. Which is either being scammy by not properly evaluating students for their program, ...
My experience at Actualize was life changing.
It was such a stressful, arduous process to find the right bootcamp for myself. I would even go as far as to say, that finding the right bootcamp was and will probably be the hardest part of my coding journey. I researched over 10 bootcamps, and I learned very quickly that most of them have the same business/education model. Which is either being scammy by not properly evaluating students for their program, because they just want your money— and then kick you out when you can’t keep up (Ii.e. App Academy, Coding Dojo), OR are 10-12 hrs a day, 6 days a week, with very little instructional/teaching assistance and absolutely no mental health support. (I.e. Hack Reactor, Hackbright Academy)
Being someone who has OCD, ADD, and Complex PTSD— I was freaking out about how I would be able to do a coding bootcamp. All of these schools had educational models, that set up people like me to fail. I finally found Actualize when I decided to venture outside the west coast for schools. They have been running a remote program way before the pandemic. I was immediately struck by their curriculum, in that it’s 3 months long but half the hours of a traditional bootcamp (normally 12 hrs). After speaking with the school’s Dean Peter Jang— I was beyond inspired to attend this bootcamp. Their education model is revolutionary, in that they prioritize ‘learning how to learn’ first— and coding second. The school is filled with faculty that have educational and mental health backgrounds. And their emphasis is teaching you the skills to teach yourself, which is vital in the tech industry.
Amanda was the AMAZING, and the best teacher I’ve ever had. I reached out to her pretty early on in the bootcamp, because I was really struggling— and we ended up meeting every single week to check in. She helped me outline study habits, concepts to focus on— and always always encouraged me to take care of myself first, not go into burnout, and prioritize my mental health (something you WILL NOT find at any other bootcamp). It was honestly very difficult to reprogram myself to work in this way, after being conditioned since childhood that the only way to succeed is to work 78372 hrs a day/ 213421 hrs a week, and be a slave to the miserable, endless grind to the top. Far more valuable than the coding education I got, which was excellent— the most valuable things I learned from Amanda was: getting a framework for how to learn, realizing I can work in a way that supports my wellbeing and still be successful no matter how hard or ambitions the job, goal, or task is— and learning that I don’t have to do everything perfectly in order to accomplish my goal. This was life changing.
I also want to take the time to mention the job support team at Actualize, which was OUTSTANDING. First of all, the career support was an active part of our curriculum from day one. This is very unusual, as ALL the other bootcamps I researched do not begin job counseling until the last 2 weeks of bootcamp, and in some cases after graduation— and it’s a short-lived process. Lisa and Sarah conducted class with us every week, working with us on everything from resumes, to our LinkedIn pages and personal summaries. They were also accessible throughout the bootcamp to meet one-on-one. I really utilized this resource with Sarah, who I met with frequently during the bootcamp. She went ABOVE & BEYOND to support me not only with my job search experience, but helped me to organize my time at bootcamp in a way that took care of my mental health. In fact, Sarah prioritized my mental health, and every solution we created started with this as a foundation. What’s remarkable is the job support hasn’t even ended… I’ve graduated bootcamp, but this week I begin 3 job hacking classes , and then 4 successive weeks of interview prep classes— all to support and gear me up to secure a job in the new year. In addition, Lisa and Sarah are also making themselves available again to meet one-on-one as needed. This is the first time in my life that while feeling overwhelmed to begin this process, I feel fully comforted in the support I know I have— and will ultimately emerge successful in the job hunt process, because I have passionate, brilliant, caring people to help me through every aspect of it.
The last thing I will say, and this is for anyone researching a bootcamp— the support I got from Actualize was fully contingent upon my ability to reach out, advocate for myself, and ask for help. I’m sure that my experience would differ tremendously from a student who didn’t do this. In my opinion, succeeding at Actualize requires a keen level of self-awareness, the ability to communicate that, and reaching out to faculty for help when needed. Do not expect to get this level of support from Actualize or any bootcamp for that matter, if you don’t ask for it. This is one of my biggest pieces of advice to anyone looking to do a coding bootcamp.
I could not recommend this school enough, I am so grateful I found Actualize— and believe will forever be reaping the benefits of this choice.