AV's Blog

Fullstack Academy Foundations Experience

January 29, 2018

I finally committed to a coding bootcamp. After going through a bootcamp prep, I decided to go to Fullstack Academy. Here, I write my experience so far. I will be updating this blog as I go along the foundations part of the bootcamp (pre-bootcamp).

First week, January 19 - 26

My first week in the Foundations part of the FullStack Academy bootcamp went by just like that. One of the things I’m liking about the pre-immersive part of the bootcamp is structure. There is a set topics of what I need to accomplish this week and there is a checkpoint (timed exam or quiz) I need to take that someone will look at. Also, there is a readily available support through online discussions and a helpdesk that’s available at scheduled times within the week. And I have already met with a mentor (online) for the Foundations class.

I have actually been in the pre-immersive part of Hack Reactor and definitely, there are differences. Fullstack didn’t make me feel like I was on my own, though it was independent work. I had been doing self-studying for a while and I didn’t feel like this at all. Help is available and it is clear where to get them. I didn’t experience this in Hack Reactor’s. Another difference is the material. Fullstack has actual videos of instructors teaching the material while at Hack Reactor, there were a lot of slides, and it took a lot of self-motivation to navigate through them. Fullstack materials were more stand-alone though it is beneficial to check out other materials on your own. I do, however, liked Hack Reactor’s material on higher order functions very much. I think my foundation on this concept was made stronger by the slides at Hack Reactor! But the concept of this and object oriented programing and closures were great at Fullstack Academy.

Second week, Jan 29 - Feb 3

Slowly but surely is what I feel like this week. I took the checkpoint on Monday, fearing that I’m not prepared until then. I tried as best as I can to catch up. But the checkpoint was challenging. It wasn’t like a test that I overly prepared for which I felt sometimes in online courses. I used up all the time I was given. Though I passed and did good, it tells me to work harder, because I struggled.

The topics for the week are functional programming (higher order functions), recursion, and object-oriented programming (constructor functions). I think my foundations on HOFs are pretty good, so I didn’t have a hard time with it, but recursion was a little challenging. I need more practice on that. Object-oriented programming was also quite challenging. I find it more confusing than Python’s OOP, even if it was just looking at the basic concepts of it. Creating an object in JS involves a function, while in Python, it’s by declaring a class (note: this is going to be introduced in ES6, was not aware at the time).

Aside from these topics, there was a small project on HTML/CSS. I don’t have a lot of experience on this part, so I had to go over some other materials. I somehow survived and was able to finish this project.

But the second checkpoint was deceptively simple. The first few items were easy but it got challenging towards the end. I still used up all of two hours for this simple “quiz”. And my code for recursion didn’t work. I’m still figuring out what is wrong with it. This checkpoint clearly showed I am weak at recursions. I also still needed to get used to the concept of function.prototype.call() function. This concept is just not in Python at all (or I have not encountered something like it in my limited knowledge of Python).

Third and Fourth weeks, Feb 5 - 16

These two weeks were a blur. I tried going over the materials from the start, making sure I have the theories down. I actually just started to understand the concept of this and how to use .call() and .apply(). I guess I didn’t really understand these the first time I went through the videos. By going through the videos more than once, I was able to realize some points that I missed the first time around. I actually didn’t go through the videos the first week, but with the mounting pressure of the final checkpoint, I felt that I needed to go through them again. As a result, I now understood concepts like the call stack, runtime environment, lexical scope and closures, aside from what I’ve mentioned above.

However, I still needed more practice coding, which is what I kind of didn’t give more time on. In short, despite my experience back in 2017 on coding in Python, it is not enough. There’s a lot to learn and not enough time. I just have to get used to that fact, which is what I should I already should be used to by now. It’s the same in any other field. In chemistry, that is a fact. The final checkpoint was hard. Though it was fair. I barely passed, though I passed! Ha! I guess that’s what’s important. If I had more time, I probably would have gotten it all. But it’s a fact of life that some things are under time pressure and that’s that!

One thing I am also preparing for before the bootcamp is my mindset. I have been reading about blogs on how to survive during and even after. I needed to change some of my notions and expectations so I don’t get disappointed. Some of the topics I have been reading are on impostor syndrome and on resilience.

There is a great blog on the Fullstack academy website about impostor syndrome that I think is helpful.

On resilience, I like this Harvard Business Review article by Diane Coutu.

There is only a week left until the start of the bootcamp. I still have a lot to go over. I will try my best to cover much but if I can’t cover them all, I’m not gonna kill myself!

I would also like to mention that I sprained my ankle on Monday of the fourth week, while exercising! I got scared because I couldn’t walk. So I had to nurse myself back to health while preparing for the final checkpoint and taking it. I’m happy to be able to walk properly again by Thursday.

Fifth week, Feb 19 -

I finished my first project, an app on guessing a number. It’s deployed on GitHub.

Notes: I need to catch up on my HTML/CSS knowledge. This is really shaky as of this time. :-)

Why did I choose Fullstack Academy over Hack Reactor?

Number one was I felt like I am going to get my money’s worth in this program. I noticed that the interview was a lot harder and the free prep materials were impressive! It’s a pity that I didn’t find out about the paid prep before. I also heard from one of the incoming students that he had a great experience in the prep course that he thought the bootcamp must be good. From my experience so far, I would like to think there is more “spoon-feeding”. But isn’t that the reason for going to a bootcamp and paying the high price rather than going it all alone, which you can? Also, Fullstack has some on-going promo for discounted tuition. Another factor was the “No a-holes” rule. That to me is really important!