Northcoders Bootcamp: The First Fortnight

Finally the big day had arrived, I was officially a Northcoders student! Having resigned from my full-time job some 5 weeks prior to commit to this 14 week coding bootcamp, the first morning was finally here. Was I excited? OH YEAH!

After what felt like a long weekend of being added to numerous Slack chats with the tutors and other students on the cohort, and ensuring all the relevant software and programs we’d be needing were installed correctly, it was finally the first instance of meeting my new peers face-to-face (over Zoom of course, thanks Covid). It was the most exciting moment getting to see who else I’d be learning alongside!

We got to hear how the course would be structured and the weeks would flow: daily starts at 8:30am with challenges to get our brains switched on ahead of our morning lecture, before going off to tackle yet more challenges (either solo or in pairs, I’ll get to that shortly) ahead of our compulsory lunch break at 1pm. Compulsory so that we had time away from our screens to truly relax and refocus to avoid burnout, ‘an important quality to remember we’re told’. 2pm meant either more challenge time or perhaps a lecture (then challenges) depending on the day and the topics at hand. 5pm meant laptops down (and this was almost a hard rule) so that we would properly rest and recover ahead of the next day’s learning, and so resisting that temptation to go over the work from the day was difficult, but alas the rest was well appreciated. This new daily structure and personal contact with others was exactly what I’d been missing after a year of working from home. I loved it!

Having so much time and opportunity to hear other humans speaking and collaborating together once again was something I had really missed! As the days of the Intro Week rolled on we had more chance to use pair programming to work alongside other students (via Zoom again, obviously) to put into practice the new material from the day and solve the challenges presented to us, (I’m told 2 heads are better than 1, though sometimes a third was required to help us out which the tutors were more than happy to provide!). It was refreshing to get to know these people and their stories; how they’d gotten to where they were, what made them choose this bootcamp, and how they were feeling about the course in general.

As Intro Week ended and we jumped into Week 2: Javascript Fundamentals, we had more opportunities to mix and as the slight feeling of both information overload and imposter syndrome arose we quickly realised WE ALL FELT THE SAME! Of course we were all in the same boat as newbies to Javascript and this entire world and so once we realised we were all feeling the same, it was greatly reassuring to know we had each other to rely on. Thankfully the tutors were wonderful in this regard too, all of whom had gone through the course themselves and so they knew first hand how we were feeling and could relate directly, which was invaluable and inspiring!

The pace of the bootcamp is purposely fast-paced and potentially overwhelming to some, but also well balanced and well designed in a way that the majority of the tools and techniques we’d be learning would become second nature to us within days or weeks through pure repetition and practice. Having spent 2 weeks at Northcoders now and rattled through almost half of the Fundamentals topics so far, I have to say it is mentally exhausting but in the best way! For someone who has been looking to use that critical thinking part of their brain for so long, I am very very relieved to say it’s now thoroughly worn out!

The plethora of cohort students and tutors was amazing to see and the support we all provided and received was honestly wonderful to witness. The culture and values being shared and demonstrated each day are building a great little community we’ll all be better for partaking in.

I am truly excited to see where the remaining 12 weeks take us all, and what we can develop and build along the way! Stay tuned!…

A young, aspiring Software Developer taking a leap into the unknown and documenting the journey, among other things!