Hello! My name is Dioni Ugalde and I’m going to tell you about my experience as an Ironhack student, attending a web programming bootcamp for nine weeks. I decided to write a few lines about what this project has done for me because I think it can be very interesting and relatable for those of you thinking about signing up for a bootcamp.
So, let’s go step by step!
Before joining the bootcamp
The first thing you need to know is that Ironhack provides you with everything you need to prepare for the program. Before the beginning of the course, there is an entrance exam to prepare you for it. After that, you have the pre-work - this took me about two months to complete, given the fact that my previous programming knowledge was zero.
A week before the start of my Bootcamp, another course was ending, and with it came the “HackShow” - a great event where the best projects of the recent graduates are presented. I loved many of the presentations, but they seemed impossible to me as I thought to myself: “how the hell was I going to make such a website in just nine weeks?” That thought, instead of backing me down, motivated me and I put in my mind, "Dioni, you have to have one of the best projects, the final project presentation of your course, whatever it may take."
The remote, in-class Ironhack experience
Due to the COVID-19 situation, the course had to take place remotely via Zoom. If you choose the remote bootcamp, you’ll have the same experience.
However, because of this unusual situation, they offered us a week of testing: if we didn't like it remotely, we could drop it and wait for a new on-site version of the course. I knew I was going to miss the social contact with people, but still I recognized the great effort of Ironhack to make everything work perfectly. We learned to work in a remote environment, managing tools that we would not have used as much if we were in-person.
On the second day at around five in the afternoon, the teachers sent us a bunch of problems meant to be solved for the next day, and I naively found myself asking the classic question from kindergarten: "How many do we have to do?" The professor answered straight away: "That depends on you, depends on the effort you want to put into it” I finished my “homework” around midnight and only then I started to understand what awaited me ahead.
Going from project to project
In the third week, we did the first project (individually), which is a video game. I like to push myself and so I tried to do something that was not so simple. I had to ask a lot of support from the assistant teachers Markus and Alfonso since what I wanted was a game that had several levels of difficulty, so it could get addictive. Several friends played it and found some shortcuts in the game, reaching the highest scores.
On the day of the game’s presentation, my game was awarded the most playable and fun! This not only gave me a boost of encouragement, but also made me trigger my usual competitiveness. The next day, Saturday, I was already looking at what the second project would be like, and I thought carefully about who I would team up with to compete against Yosra, the girl who had won the best game. She is a true genius and she has already some years of experience programming in other languages. For me, being able to measure myself with her projects would prove a great challenge.
The second module goes for three weeks - perhaps the craziest of the course - because we started to focus on making a website from scratch. Frustration began to show up in the class, and even some tears were seen on the other side of the Zoom cameras. There were days when I thought I didn’t understand anything.
For the second project, my group - me, Manu, and Agustina - went with an idea by Agustina: a social network that was a recipe directory. We loved this idea, so we worked very hard for it. As usual, I wanted to keep a very high standard, even though it became a bit overwhelming. In the end, we achieve a good final product that we were proud of!
Working on the final project: Console.log Ironhack
For the last module, the difficulty was already enormous; even the most advanced of the students were beginning to struggle as the speed of the course was incredible. For the final project, I ended up working with my colleagues Tim and Nate. I was totally determined to have a great last project, so I based the concept of my idea directly on the most voted concepts of my teachers and other fellow students in my class. I thought about what are their needs and what would they like to see as a tool that could allow them to:
Find a job after the Bootcamp;
Show the projects they have done during the course;
Have a directory with the links to the class notes.
I was looking to surprise them, to see the "wooow" face in the audience in our presentation. Our project was a website where all class students could compile everything learned throughout the course, a page with their names, their projects, their contact details, and other useful information. This platform would also be very useful for future students because they could access this information to get inspired and see what can be done in terms of projects. Also, we wanted to add a section for notes and even a job-search engine. We got down to work, sketching the entire project in Photoshop first to have it visually.
A great team makes all the difference
It's time to talk about Tim and Nate. Tim was by far the one who controlled the programming the most - humble and very hard-working; with him everything was super easy. Nate started the course like me, with no background on programming, and the way he works is amazing - if there is a problem, he doesn't stop until he fixes it.
I had thought through the idea well and I had a very clear concept in my head, with my marketing/business approach, focused on giving something to our classmates they really needed. Tim and Nate saw in me the capacity to see everything from that point of view and put in their great ability to develop, adapt, and materialize everything. That’s how we made a dream team.
We started to work every day from 8.30 AM until 2:30 AM - we would sleep six hours and repeat. Usually, around midnight, we would simply work together on a single screen, solving complicated things together, in addition to making jokes non-stop like five-year-old children. I remember going to bed with a big smile on my face.
Finally, the day came to showcase our final result - we had it very well prepared, everything measured in detail. Our presentation went great and we had our wow factor: we chose facial recognition to access the accounts, using machine learning (analyzing 127 points of our face). It is somewhat rather complicated, but we got it with the help of Markus and in the end, it worked wonderfully.
The final result makes up for all the work
When it was time to vote, there were three categories: project with the largest sales projection, the best design, and the best overall project. In the end, our project - Ironhack Console.log - ended up being awarded as the project with the highest possibility of acquisition and actually the best Ironhack project 2020.
We exploded with joy! We had succeeded: three guys with no experience in programming websites had done it. It was definitely a great moment for the three of us. When you work for something that seems impossible, competing against programmers with great experience, in just nine weeks, to go so far...
I will always thank Tim and Nate for trusting an unknown geek with crazy ideas like me. I am sure they will succeed in their professional lives! I'm glad they had fun with this too and I’m sure it’ll serve them in their careers.
“I found it all an unforgettable experience.”
For my part, I love the competition and doing new things, so I found it all an unforgettable experience.
Ironhack has not only taught me the programming tools, but also how to take big problems and break them down into smaller ones, organizing and prioritizing each one of them.
Their course helps you to be a tidier person, have clear steps of what you do, and make difficult things seem easy.
I can totally recommend it. I think their work philosophy is very effective at teaching you how to manage yourself in a short time in a sector where there will be more work than ever before: all this and more makes them a great school.