Web Developer at Explore Learning:
Without doubt the best thing about working at SPICED is being a part of our students’ journeys, and seeing them grow from beginner developers to being capable of some pretty amazing things. Maggie joined us in July. She was a teacher before she decided to change careers and join a coding bootcamp in Europe. Now she’s graduated, she looks back on her experience learning to code at SPICED.
What made you want to take the plunge and learn to code?
I knew that I wanted to get out of the classroom, but I still wanted to have a positive impact on the world. My favorite part of teaching was integrating technology and I saw a great need for better tools and resources for teachers and students. I thought I could build them if I learned how to code.
What made you decide to learn to code with a coding bootcamp, specifically an international one?
I had been studying on my own, before and after work and I made some progress, but it was slow. I knew that I needed a mentor and someone who could scaffold the learning for me so that it was easier to progress There’s a lot of information out there – some of it digestible and some of it not. With a bootcamp you get a curriculum, a solid path and person to whom you can ask questions. I knew that I was going to quit teaching at the end of the school year so it seemed like a great opportunity to go live abroad for some time. Both my husband and I have always want to live in Europe. I thought the best way to keep studying and get the European experience was to attend a bootcamp in Europe. So we looked for an English bootcamp that had the right curriculum and the right timing. SPICED was it.
What was your typical day here at SPICED?
My typical day at SPICED was to arrive between 9 and 9:45 am, grab some tea or espresso in the kitchen and then start by reviewing notes or code we’d be working on. At 10 am we’d usually have a lecture by one of our very knowledgeable teachers followed by a set of exercises that we worked on until lunch time or until our next lecture at 1:30. Some of us would go out to a cafe for lunch and some would bring their lunch and eat together in the SPICED kitchen. After the afternoon lecture we had the rest of the day to finish exercises or continue to work on projects that were assigned. There is a family atmosphere at SPICED that makes being there so much fun. We all collaborate as we attempt to solve the exercises on our own. We can review everyone’s code to see different approaches. A camaraderie builds up amongst the students and teachers. Everyone knows everyone, we eat lunch together, we hang out after school. It was a great experience!
Did you have a favorite project?
My favorite project was the petition project because it was the first time I’d built the entire site from database to server to browser-side scripts and styling. It gave me a lot of confidence and gave me the drive to build more full stack projects! The concepts we learned doing the petition project really unlocked a lot for me. We learned how to configure and perform queries on a database, how to build an API, how to use Amazon Web Services to store data, how to set up caching and store session data, how to handle vulnerabilities by preventing cross site scripting attacks, SQL injections, and CSRF attacks, and how to deploy our site to production on Heroku.
What was the biggest challenge for you in learning to code?
The biggest challenge is not really knowing what you are doing, getting stuck, and trying to read unintelligible documentation! The teachers at SPICED break it down into manageable chunks, are aware of what you don’t know and teach you all you need to know so that when you need to use documentation to figure out how to use a library, etc., the vocabulary is not so foreign.
Now you’ve finished at SPICED, what are you up to?
I graduated from SPICED and got a job in the US within 1 month. I have been working as a software developer for a company that makes math and science simulations for schools. The company is called Explore Learning.
What advice do you have for people who are thinking about making a career change and thinking about attending a coding bootcamp?
My advice is to study a bit before you take the plunge. Make sure you know the basics and enjoy creating simple programs. If you love it, than definitely go. A bootcamp is sooooo much easier than learning on your own. You’ll learn faster and better and will get to your dream job that much faster!