The big 12 week recap

It’s been two weeks since the WDI course finished and I thought I’d take the time to write a recap post.

Looking back, WDI was an amazing and life changing experience and I don’t regret a single day of it. I think it was possibly also the hardest thing that I’ve ever done. Yet I would recommend a dev bootcamp to anyone who is thinking about becoming a programmer. Ideally a bootcamp with Michael as the instructor because I can’t emphasise enough what a fantastic teacher he is.

I think my most important take-aways from WDI weren’t Ruby or Rails or JavaScript but it was learning how to think like a programmer and how to teach myself new programming languages or frameworks.

And I met some amazing people who were all willing to give up their lives for three months to go through this crazy process to come out the other end a full stack developer.

And the even more amazing people who were willing to teach some total n00bs what programming is all about. Who didn’t get annoyed when they got blank looks, were shouted at (“what’s the point?”), constantly asked about the next coffee break or hipchatted from students in despair over their homework on a Sunday evening.

I made some great friends. Only they understand what I’ve been through because they did it themselves. No one else can truly understand.

The first weeks were the hardest as the pace of the course was incredibly fast while I was used to a cushy 9 to 5 life. But there was no time to slowly adjust my brain to this flood of information or to go over the notes again in my own time because the next challenge was already waiting. No breathing time, just sink or swim.

I wasn’t sleeping very well because my brain was constantly active. I woke up during most nights with error messages and Ruby code spinning around in my head and struggling to go back to sleep.

For me personally the height of the struggle was project 1: Tic Tac Toe on Rails. I picked this project because I couldn’t even begin to imagine how to do it and I wanted to learn. Well, now I know how to do it. But it was a painful process. Not only was I not getting anywhere with my code but the instructors were putting the pressure on by setting goals that I wasn’t achieving, so I was really stressed. But looking back, I think this was a really important week for me, where I learnt an incredible amount. The wonderful Jarkyn, one of our TAs, sat with me and we figured the Ruby game logic out together. It helped me so much to see how a developer approaches a problem like that and her incredible display of tenacity and determination to get this working was a real inspiration for me.

Then it was time for Christmas holidays and I was so proud of my app that I added more features and showed it to everyone. A lot of my friends actually signed up for it and played! Bless them. And my work on the app won me an exclusive lunch date with our careers advisor. Double win!

Coming back after Christmas it was JavaScript week. Once again the speed at which we were taught was extremely high. And so was the confusion for a lot of us.

The next highlight was the week long group project where I had the opportunity to strengthen French-German relationships and build a Dog Dating website. It was fun and although I had been using Git and Github for a while, this was the first time that I truly understood the purpose of having different branches and how to collaborate on a code project.

Then came the 24 hour hackathon during which I built what is still my favourite app out of all of them: the Deutschen Ipsum Generator. OK, it has a bug but who cares. You get German Ipsum! For free! Use it!

When we learnt AngularJS in week 9 I finally felt that the pressure was easing off. The homework didn’t really seem so important anymore and the lessons weren’t as challenging as in the beginning. I don’t know if I felt less stressed because I was used to everything now, because I was understanding things better, because the course was designed like this or because the instructors had run out of steam as well. Apparently we were ahead of schedule and learnt faster than they had expected, so maybe they stretched the content out a bit.

During this time I had also started going to Codebar and other networking events and was learning a ton about the big world of code out there that I hadn’t been exposed to at WDI. It made me realise how carefully curated the first few weeks must have been so that we were able to really only focus on Ruby, the frameworks and the gems.

I started to teach myself the Meteor framework in about week 9 or so and decided to hold a lesson on it during our “students teach students” week. It was super exciting to learn a new framework by myself. I started getting bored of Rails and was craving more new information. I definitely think that this learning experience has become somewhat addictive and I get antsy when my brain is not being given new input.

So creating yet another little Rails app as my final project didn’t sound like the most appealing prospect in week 10 but I decided to stick to Rails rather than using other frameworks as I knew I would get the best support from the instructors if I had any questions. Which I did of course. Many.

Since we finished two weeks ago with that day of emotions and karaoke I still haven’t really had a break. I built my personal website during a few days from scratch using Meteor and once I had that up and running at www.rabea.co.uk, I worked on my CV and various online profiles. I started applying for a few jobs this week and I was also approached by a recruiter on LinkedIn. I even have my first ever technical interview next week, so that’s all quite exciting (and slightly frightening).

Next week we have our meet & greet event where all WDI graduates will be presenting themselves to potential employers. I’ve still got a bit of work to do with polishing my apps but at least I’ve got my CV and business cards printed.

We’re all getting support from our very helpful careers advisor (she even designed my business cards as a favour and they look super cool!) and hopefully the meet & greet will be a success.

And I think after the event it’s pretty much over. We were initially promised that we could come back once a week and get help with our projects but that doesn’t seem to materialise, just like the elusive Monday breakfasts that never happened.

Nevermind. I’m happy with what I have achieved and once I get a job offer, I’ll be even happier.

I think (hope!) that we’ll all stay in touch and I can’t wait to programme all day and actually get money for it. Wouldn’t that be amazing?! Talk about turning a hobby into a career.

So fingers crossed for everyone and onwards and upwards!

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