After trying some online courses, Suzanne decided an immersive coding experience was for her.
I studied MA Classics at University of Glasgow. Before I came to CodeClan I was the International Services Manager for Edinburgh College, but I became unsatisfied in my line of work.
I spent a good year or so thinking about what type of things I was good at, narrowing them down to things I actually enjoyed. It all boiled down to logical thinking, problem solving, and most importantly, making things.
Researching what kind of work would let me do all that, I arrived at coding.
I tried some online coding challenges, but was totally demoralised when I got to the end of one course and couldn’t even begin to attempt the final project. I failed at the first hurdle, which was understanding how to write and run actual code using the terminal/a text editor.
It suddenly became blatantly clear I didn’t actually know any of the fundamentals of how to code.
Heading in a new direction
While I had zero interest in returning to university or college, I chose CodeClan because the method of learning is immersive and hands-on from day one, which appeals to me a million times more than book study. Also, the sheer number of tutors you have access to on the course.
Another huge factor is the focus on employability. I had to quit my job to enrol at CodeClan, and it was comforting to know that CodeClan has its own incentives for getting me into employment at the end of the course, and would offer me a huge amount of help, advice, and connections with employers.
And finally, the fact it was an SQA accredited programme of study was very reassuring, as other ‘bootcamps’ I looked at didn’t have any accreditation.
I already lived in Edinburgh, so luckily I didn’t have any relocation costs to consider. Eventually I settled on starting CodeClan as part of their January 2017 intake, which gave me quite a lot of time to save up funds (and do plenty of the pre-course work!).
Life as a student
It’s hard to pick a favourite part of the course, but I think it would be the group projects, as this felt like the closest thing to working as part of a development team.
I learned a huge amount by working as part of a group, from the practicalities of using Git effectively (and dealing with git-astrophes!), to getting an insight into how others approach code and being able to learn from their skills.
It was also very rewarding to start to get a sense of what some of my own strengths were as part of a coding team, and to see how I might fit into a team once I managed to get a job.
I don’t think there’s any replacement for having a human sit and explain something to you, and CodeClan’s style of teaching means you have a lot of discussion with tutors throughout the course.
It’s not just that you get help when you’re stuck, but talking things through either as a class or one-on-one really helped me understand why things worked in particular ways, and the sort of motivations you might have for choosing particular approaches to your code.
Rather than my attempts at self-study before, where it was really a case of “this is how you do X”, without any of the deeper understanding.
Starting a new career
Within 10 days of leaving CodeClan, I started working for Bemo, an agency focusing on mobile applications and emerging technologies. I’m currently a QA Engineer, and training to become an Android developer.
For anyone else considering taking up the course, I recommend doing as much pre-course work and extra practice as you can. CodeClan gives you guidance up front on what the essentials are to learn in advance, but also pointers for where to find more practice.
The more you do before day one, the easier you’ll find the transition onto the CodeClan classes.
Practice really does make perfect, and even after starting (or finishing!) the course, websites like exercism.io and CodeWars are really great for keeping in the swing of things, or getting a taste of another language.