After a month or so of putting in 20 hours of work a week in the evenings, I was hooked. I loved the gratification of building things and problem-solving. One of the biggest down falls I felt from my online learning journey was the learning silo I lived in. Yes, there are some forums and Udemy does a great job of providing project feedback but in the end, I was learning from pre-recorded seminars and not interacting with others. At this point of my coding journey, I started looking at coding boot camps as a potential solution.
Researching Code Schools
My research for code schools looked like this:
Read Course Report. Deep dive each of the top 5 coding schools in Denver and online.
Look for 3rd party information like reviews, videos, blogs, and users with Twitter accounts that say they are attending.
I did this for hours upon hours. Course Report is helpful but I feel like the programs that do a good job pushing their current students to review them are the ones that are top ranked. All the video interviews or discussions on Course Report are also wonderful but again – I felt like they were practiced scripts. The two best resources I found were 1. networking to find actual people that had attended, are attending, have hired graduates or are mentors, 2. Harass the schools. Some are really canned in their responses. They host mostly pre-recorded webinars and their contact doesn’t know much about the field.
In the end, I was torn between a prestigious code school, Turing, and one of the first online code schools, Bloc. Turing is local to Denver and I know several graduates and teachers. Their non-profit structure seems legit and they have a great reputation in the market. Bloc had one of the best advisor programs I dealt with for online options (the offline versions like Turing or HackReactor were far superior to the online versions.) I never felt pushed and they were happy to introduce me to actual mentors or students instead of feeling like everything was behind a black curtain for online learning.
Choosing Bloc for Coding Boot Camp
In the end, I decided on Bloc because of the online platform with a flexible schedule. Depending on what type of “track” you are attending there are different paces you can pick from. You can go full time or down to 10-15 hours a week. Due to being online, the platform is very flexible other than scheduled meetings with your mentor. Most traditional immersive boot camps require you to basically live and breathe coding for 12 weeks to 6 months. As a mom to a young child this simply wasn’t feasible for me unless we hired a full-time nanny (again not feasible.)
A change in course
This is where things got interesting for me.
I originally was looking at the Software Engineering or the Web Development courses. I researched these options A TON. I contacted recruiters, software engineering friends, etc. I finally was on the call Bloc and the advisor asked if I had looked at their design course. My jaw dropped and I was dumb founded.
Let’s Rewind for a Moment
One thing I failed to mention before now is that I originally went to school for Graphic Design and hated it. It was too fluffy. I couldn’t imagine pushing pixels to create something that my client or boss requested. Often these requests had no reason besides a “gut feeling.” It seemed boring and a waste. I left design school and went into sales/marketing, never looking back other than knowing how to use Adobe products better than most.
I never looked at Bloc’s design course for that reason. Little did I know it was more about USER DESIGN. The concepts of strategy, user research, planning, testing, and front-end development.
After my call with that advisor, I literally had to take a break for a day to absorb the conversation and my thoughts swirling about it. A simple call with an advisor somehow felt like someone had shifted my career plates that have always been slightly off the groove and snapped them into place.
I could reignite my passion for creating things with my background in marketing, analytics, and usability testing? Sign me up!
Then I Received an Amazing Job Offer
I wasn’t looking for a job but an old friend ended up looking for me in a perfect position of managing marketing, design, and brand for Bike Law – a network of independent bicycle lawyers. (I’ve worked around the bike industry most of my life and a bike nut.) I wasn’t really sure how I would balance throwing myself head first into a design boot camp while starting a new job. I ultimately decided to take several classes with Treehouse while I settled into the new position for about 7 months. All of this brings us to today and when I have signed back up with Bloc Design Boot Camp. Starting in September you’ll find me at my computer every night as I get through an intensive few months!
Goals for Boot Camp
In a future post, I plan on setting my intentions (now posted here) but I think my two overarching goals for the next 12 months are 1. A balance between family, work, and school. Each will have their own place that will push and pull at different times, but I need to find happiness in that and feel fortunate that I have the opportunity to continue my education. 2. Trust the process. This won’t be easy and I need to trust that if I put the work in the results will follow.
In closing, I haven’t found a ton of documentation on Design Boot Camps so I will be trying to update weekly on what I’m working on and the outcomes. Let me know if you have specific questions I should cover!