It’s been almost a year since I enrolled and started down the path to change my career with the Firehose Project. While I’ve talked about my experience finding my first developer job, I haven’t talked about why I chose the Firehose Project.
Back in early 2015, I knew I wanted to transition my career into the tech industry, but I didn’t know exactly how. I had just completed my CompTIA A+ certification, a process that made me realize I would prefer being a developer to being an IT professional. The only problem: developers need to have a degree in Computer Science, right? I couldn’t afford to go back to University for another 4 year degree in either time or money. Shortly after desparing that I could never become a developer, something amazing happened: I was introduced to programming bootcamps.
I attended an info session for Bloc in April 2015 that really pumped me up. I could become a developer without having to spend 4 years in Univeristy and tens of thousands of dollars on tuition! My son was just 1.5 months old at this point, and he needed the time that I would otherswise have to spend working on bootcamp curriculum. I promised myself I would join a bootcamp in September 2015, when my son would be 6 months old. I spent the intervening months researching the bootcamp I would join. The Most Epic Guide to Online Coding Bootcamps, Ever by Laurence Bradford coupled with Course Report helped me make a difficult call. While many other bootcamps seemed like they were good, the Firehose Project stood out because they taught algorithms in addition to the regular Rails curriculum. In the end, I chose Firehose because:
- The curriculum covered computer science fundamentals in addition to web development, keeping the changing framework material grounded in unchanging fundamental material and giving me a deeper understanding of how the frameworks work;
- The time commitment (15 weeks, at that time) was shorter than other bootcamps, but didn’t skimp on ground covered; and
- The price ($4,000, at that time) was more affordable than other bootcamps.
During my 15 weeks, I learned a ton at a surprising pace: literally drinking from a firehose. Some of the best moments include:
Building the first tutorial application, Splurty. Firehose is set up to give you quick wins, providing motivation to continue learning. It felt so good getting my development environment set up, generating a new Rails application, writing my first MVC code, typing
rails server, and seeing the results instantly in my browser. Even more so when I could share what I built after getting it running on Heroku.
The sessions I had with my mentor, Jeff, were informative, challenging, and really, really fun. I prepared questions throughout the week as I went through the course material, and Jeff would go over everything with me on Sunday evenings. He went out of his way to be helpful to me, often going over the alloted 1 hour time period we had. Jeff is a really great mentor and developer – he never ceased to amaze me with his deep knowledge of practically any question that I could throw at him. I can trace many of my major successes to our sessions. I’m sure that the other Firehose mentors are of equal caliber.
The group project at the end of the program was worth the cost of the entire course. Being put into a group of 4 other developers and told to build a chess application from scratch together was an awesome experience. From going deeper into the Rails API and building out a database structure (including using single table inheritance), to pair programming with multiple members of the team using Screenhero, to solving complex problems and testing our solutions with TDD, this project had it all. It really gave me the opportunity to stretch my new developer wings and gain the confidence necessary to be able to go out into the world and present myself as a capable junior developer when it came time to look for jobs. Our team mentor, Travis, was a fantastic teacher and obviously very passionate about coding, and the weekly standups we had with him were great.
After graduation, I was supported by both Jeff and Travis, receiving feedback and advice about building my resume and how to ace the interview. Just a few months later, I achieved my goal and became a professional developer.
In the months since starting my job, I’ve learned a ton more and have improved my skills a hundredfold. And because of the fantastic foundation that the Firehose Project gave me, I’m confident that I’ll continue to learn more and grow to be a better developer.