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1 June 2020 - 4 minutes

Alumni Story: The bootcamp experience of Abi Summers

Ironhack - Changing The Future of Tech Education

I was an Ironhack student in August 2018. Prior to this I’d done almost no coding  - I tried to learn on my own but would always become stuck/unmotivated. In March 2018, I attended a WeCode workshop where I learnt the very basics of HTML, CSS and JavaScript. After the event and speaking to Ironhack staff/alumni I applied for the course and was given access to the prework.

I spent a lot of time doing the prework and online code challenge on codewars because I wanted to be prepared. I also attended two hackshow (where students who have just finished the bootcamp present their final projects) prior to starting the course to see what was possible. After both of the hackshows I was so excited to start - it was incredible getting to see what students could build after nine weeks of coding.

Ironhack Student

I LOVED my time as a student. It was really tough, and some days were tougher than others. Knowing that everyone else in the class was going through the same thing, really made it easier to keep going and having an amazing teaching team helped so much.

During class, there would be a mixture of lessons and exercises. Some exercises would be individual, but most exercises would be paired. Each paired exercise everyone would be assigned to work with someone different. Everyone at Ironhack has a different background so everyone has their own strengths.
During the bootcamp, there are three projects. Project one is a browser based game that is created using HTML, CSS and JavaScript, project two is a full stack application (using Node.js) and project three is a full stack application using Node.js and React.

As a student, project two was my favourite project. I really enjoyed learning about the backend and how everything linked together. It was interesting to cover the basics of security, learning how data was stored and how to retrieve it.


Teaching Assistant at Ironhack

I started as a TA one week after finishing the course - and imposter system was real. I wasn’t sure where to start helping and wasn’t sure if I would be able to explain concepts. But after three cohorts, I’ve learnt a lot and accepted that it’s ok to not know everything.

Here are a few things I’ve learnt as a TA:

  • Everyone is able to code. It doesn’t matter what your background is or how old you are. If you’re dedicated and willing to put the time and effort into coding it’s possible. You don’t need a fancy computer and it’s possible to learn from home if you can’t commit to a bootcamp or course.

  • Building things is the best way to learn. Building something that you want to build is important because you’re more likely to go back to it. You’ll constantly be learning meaning you can constantly improve what you’re building.

  • Don’t be afraid to break your code. Breaking your code is one of the best ways to learn and understand what is happing. Trial and error is an important part of knowing how to solve a problem

  • Explaining a complicated concept in a simple way really helps you understand it

  • Learning never stops - you’ll always need to look up how to solve a problem. There will always be things that you don’t understand and asking for help is encouraged

  • You have complete freedom over what you learn - if you’re interested in something specific then find some articles, build something to practice it or attend events. Programming is a really broad field and you’re never going to know everything so take the time to pick what you’re into

  • Taking a break is important. If you’re blocked and unable to solve a problem, taking a break from the computer can be really helpful. Coming back to it after 10 minutes with a clear mindset can really help

  • Using github is a nice way to track your progress. You’ll be able to review the code that you’ve done previously to see how much you’ve improved and if you’re looking for a job it will show to employers what you’re capable of doing. You can even host a static site on github for free

  • Attending events is a cool way of getting to meet people who are working in the industry. You’ll meet people of all levels and can learn a lot from them

I’ve seen so many people go through the Ironhack bootcamp. It’s not always easy, but it’s worth it. You get to meet some really cool people who all have different backgrounds and people you normally wouldn’t get to meet. You get to build up a support network from not only the people you learnt with, but with previous students and future students. There is no right way or wrong when when it comes to learning to code, it just takes time, effort and dedication.


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