By Keval Shah, Moringa School Student
I come from a very traditional family background, where many people in my family create brick and water businesses. Because of this, a lot of the friends and people I hung out with in Kenya expressed a lot of skepticism and cynicism regarding programming boot camps in general before Moringa School. At that point, I had also been reading many articles and opinion threads and listening to many people saying Moringa School is not worth it because $2,000 is a lot of money to invest in something that may be a scam. That’s right- in Kenya, we’ve heard a lot about scams with schools. After having weighed the pros and cons of the bootcamp and arguing with everyone who was against the idea, I decided to do it. And let me tell you this- it was one of the best experiences I have ever had.
After completing Moringa School, one of the most frequently asked questions I received was: “How did I get the most out of my time there?” Thinking about the question, I realized that going into the boot camp with an entrepreneurial mindset gave me an advantage.
Looking back at my experience, a major part of Moringa School is group work. I met many hard-working people and like-minded people who want to be in the technology industry. When starting a boot camp, I learned not to interact with my computer only. It’s so important to get up from the chair and be social – make new friends and work together (even when the instructors say it’s an individual assignment). Remember, there are going to be people in your cohort who are definitely better developers than you are. Instead of being competitive, see if they are interested in working with you, or at least try to get them to help you build your project. I found one of my co-founders from this bootcamp, so anything is possible.
At Moringa, we are responsible for creating a final project by the end of the 12 weeks. The reason behind this is that we can apply what we’ve learned. Be an entrepreneur or be a job-seeker as a software engineer, you already know what you need to build from the first day you enter Moringa. I liked the fact that from day one I let my instructors know why I am doing the boot camp and what I needed to be able to build. That way, the lecturers tailored their time with me, helped me develop the skills needed to build the project I desired. I highly recommend using UI and UX lessons to your advantage by building a wireframe during those classes. This will definitely give you better insights from your lecturers.
At the end of the boot camp, we were all extremely proud that the lessons instructors taught us allowed us to create a product after starting out with no coding knowledge. When you leave, they will want to continue to help you in any way they can. Don’t be shy–ask for help! Personally I feel students will quickly move on to a first job or begin dwelling into their company ventures from the products they built during the boot camp. But this could be a huge error, because you tend to neglect some of the best resources available to you.
So as most are probably asking: “How did you progress and how did you improve your skills?”
Very simple, I was working closely with other students to solve problems and get feedback. Looking back at my time, it was certainly the fastest and most effective way I learnt. I gained knowledge each time we pair programmed, in which many times I copied a partner’s coding patterns or styles I noticed. What was interesting with our cohort was that we were all exposed to meta-skills, or observing how one collaborated with a designer or how well we used git. When I was not in a pair, I broke the rules and sought constant feedback be it the lecturer or student next to me. This helped me clarify things that I did not understand.
So before you enter Moringa School or your job as a software engineer, I highly recommend honing down on the following:
- Design collaboration – Start a small project, and have somebody design a feature. Work with them to complete that feature. Make sure they are invested and take note of what it’s like to collaborate.
- Git – Start using git branching model to build features and fix bugs. If you can, work with others so you can learn how to navigate conflicts. Ask developers around you for advice on how to best avoid conflicts and safely merge code.
- Pull requests – Learn how to use pull requests effectively as a step between code completion and merging.
- Debugging – Work with different developers and you will see different methods of debugging a problem. Using a debugger to logging to just plain ripping out large chunks of code are just a few of the methods you’ll find out there.
- Tools – Text editors, gems, rake tasks, git clients, command line tools, and apps can be useful things to optimize. Know how to effectively use your tools!
- Be resourceful – I was always told, ‘Google is your friend.’ Learn how to navigate yourself using Google, but also, take all internet advice cautiously.
But remember while you learn how to write code at coding bootcamps, being able to read code is just as important. When entering a new job, one of the hardest parts about being in that environment coming from Moringa School is reading code that somebody else wrote in which you will not be familiar with. I highly recommend pairing up with someone and dive into some gems while learning Ruby or some open source libraries while learning Android. Pick a piece of the library you are curious about and start digging into how it works. Even figuring out how a single method works can be challenging in larger libraries!
You don’t leave a programming boot camp with all the skills and knowledge you’ll ever need. But it’s a start. We have the building blocks to continue the path of learning. To get a job as junior developers or be a kick-ass entrepreneur.
Remember if you plan to pursue Moringa School, you are paying for a developed curriculum that’s undergoing constant iterations to make it even better for you. You are supported by amazing teachers or instructors who are putting in full time hours to make sure you understand everything you are taught. One of the best benefits for me when paying this lump sum of money is a community. It can be incredibly isolating seeking answers on your own. When you’re learning by yourself, the internet seems to be full of people smarter than you. At a bootcamp, you have peers struggling next to you. The value of having people learning at your level is that you’re not just learning and taking, but you’re also giving back to them. It’s hard learning things by yourself. It’s easy to feel stupid and question yourself. Sometimes you just need a support network. Having people who are really committed and invested in your success is almost worth the money all by itself and having patient lecturers who stick with you throughout the course.
“You are all crazy people, you are trying to learn 3-4 years of computer science degrees into 12 weeks of immersive learning!” Alvin Kato JR – Moringa School Ruby Guru.