I attended a coding bootcamp about a year ago and am now a happy developer at Interfacewerk. There are many articles about bootcamps, but very little is written about what comes after.
So I'd like to tell you a bit about my first year after graduation. Was it exciting and thrilling? Yes. Was it difficult and frustrating? Absolutely. Just keep in mind that my first year as a programmer may not look like yours did or will.
Simply become a developer
Like many others who choose one of these programs, I was dissatisfied with my job at the time and was looking for a career change. I have a degree in economics and have worked in various industries, but the area that captivated me the most was the world of software development.
So at the end of 2019, I decided to give it a try and signed up for a bootcamp at Ironhack. A friend had already done it and had great results, so I was confident I could do it too. My bootcamp experience was textbook: I worked 60 hours a week (including many hours of hopelessness), I ate a lot of takeouts from Uber Eats, and I forgot the importance of sleep.
The first steps were not easy, as I didn't understand many concepts and felt a bit stupid all the time. But every day I understood a little bit more, I started to have fun, especially working on the different real projects we had to do during the bootcamp. I started to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Finally, after two and a half months, I felt ready to start my career as a developer.
After the Coding Bootcamp: How do you actually find a job?
Here comes the reality check: the dreaded job search. I prepared as best I could. I made sure my LinkedIn profile looked good and my GitHub profile was full of green dots, I set up a portfolio website, and I signed up with various recruiting platforms. In short, I did everything I could think of to get my foot in the door.
The reality is that finding that first developer job is probably going to be extremely difficult. Especially if you want it in the midst of a global pandemic. I started to question everything: Was it just the fact that I had no experience in this field? Or maybe the fact that I had applied for jobs in Amsterdam and only had a basic knowledge of the Dutch language? Or maybe there was something wrong with my resume? It wasn't very encouraging, but I kept applying for jobs, and lots of them.
An arduous start
After many efforts and frustrations, I managed to get my first IT job, an internship at a digital agency. The job wasn't supposed to be remote, but due to the exceptional situation caused by Covid-19, it was for the most part.
The first few days were overwhelming: I realized that while bootcamp had prepared me for finding a job, it hadn't necessarily prepared me for how to do the job. Even simple things like data structure looked complicated in this real-world environment, miles away from the safety of bootcamp.
The simple seemed difficult, the complex impossible. There's nothing like a Git error message to put the fear of God into a new programmer - on her first day on the job. And I got to deal with mild bouts of impostor syndrome. To make matters worse, four months into the adventure, I was told that due to the difficult situation with Covid-19, there wasn't enough budget to keep me and the other interns busy. Long story short: With a bit more experience under my belt, I was on my way back to the job market!
The second job search: Not every agency is the same
After reaching the final round of interviews with a few companies, I decided to take a remote job with another agency: interfacewerk. At first I was a bit skeptical about working for another agency, but I quickly had confidence in the team (at least the ones I met before starting) and they convinced me to work with them. It was definitely a good decision and the right place.
I get to work on really interesting projects and features (and not just basic CSS and HTML), with knowledgeable and friendly colleagues who are always there when I need help. I feel like everything I've worked hard for over the past year is finally paying off.
Now, after 3 months, I am still excited to work at interfacewerk and curious how much I will develop here. I'm learning new things and improving my coding skills every day. And I can say with absolute certainty that I am a better developer now than when I started.
Stop comparing yourself to others!
Of course, there are still many concepts in my everyday life that are completely new to me and things that I still have to learn. For example, what I've only recently realized is that you can't be as fast as everyone else. When I look around and see other people completing tasks in half the time it would take me, it can be very discouraging.
But these are people who have been in the industry for years, so it doesn't make sense to compare myself to them. As I explore this world, I'm becoming more aware of how huge it is and all the things I don't know yet - which can be quite overwhelming at times. As a junior developer, one of my problems is that I have too many open fronts and don't know what to learn next.
And now, a year after I finished my bootcamp, what did I learn?
It was absolutely worth it! It was an extremely challenging adventure, sometimes daunting and frustrating, but at the same time an exciting and positive experience. It also helped me to progress both professionally and personally. It gave me the confidence to take on tough challenges and make it through!
If my former self from early 2020 saw me writing cryptic lines of code today, she probably wouldn't believe what she sees and would be pretty proud. It's crazy the progress I've made!