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About six months ago, I decided I was going to take the leap and apply for a coding bootcamp. At this point, I knew what JavaScript was, but if you asked me to code anything more than "console.log('Hello World')", I'd be lost.

I had been interested in programming since I built my first website just out of college. It was a blog that I built from scratch using Wordpress and it gave me my first glimpse into the world of technology.

Shortly after my blogging experiment, I landed a job at a tech start up in New York City where I got to work with product teams and software engineers. I became fascinated (and somewhat envious) with their day to day tasks, and after speaking with one of the engineers, I learned about coding bootcamps.

After some research and advice from my software engineering friend, I signed up for Codeacademy Pro, a $40/month subscription that taught me the basics of JavaScript. At this point, I was doing Codeacademy lessons for about two hours each day.

I quickly learned that my knack for problem solving and desire to be challenged meant that a career in software engineering was a perfect fit for me. If you're in the same boat and are interested in applying to a bootcamp, keep reading to find out what I did to prepare for the technical interview and secure a spot in one of the top coding bootcamps in New York City.


Studying for the technical interview


I had done enough research up to this point to know I wanted to apply to Fullstack Academy. I won't go into too many details of why I chose their program over others, but this video was helpful when making my decision. There are three things I recommend doing before applying to a bootcamp:

  1. Learn JavaScript fundamentals (variables, functions, loops, arrays, and objects) before taking any bootcamp prep class.
  2. Take a bootcamp prep class.
  3. Practice coding challenges. A lot. The more you do this now, the better you'll be at writing algorithms down the line.

Learn JavaScript fundamentals


The very first step before you should even think about applying to a bootcamp is teaching yourself the fundamentals of JavaScript. This is important because a) you need to make sure this is something you enjoy doing, and b) you will need this knowledge for the technical interview.

Here's what I did to teach myself JavaScript fundamentals:

  1. Sign up for Codeacademy and take their "Introduction to JavaScript" course.
  2. Take Udacity's Intro to JavaScript course.
  3. Take Hack Reactor's free online prep class.

NOTE: I spent 3 months doing 15 - 20 hours of studying per week (this is counting the time from when I first signed up for Codeacademy to the day I was accepted into Fullstack Academy). Not everyone will need to take all of these courses and some may feel the need to do more than this. I am simply documenting everything I did to prepare for the Fullstack Academy admissions interview.


Take a bootcamp prep class


I highly recommend taking a bootcamp prep class. Although I had a great understanding of JavaScript fundamentals, I learned so much during bootcamp prep and it gave me the confidence and practice I needed to ace the admissions assessment and the technical interview.

I took Fullstack Academy's online paid bootcamp prep class which ran for 5 weeks. During this time, class was held remotely 4 days a week for 3 hours each day. Class consisted of a lecture which lasted about an hour, then a pair-programming workshop for the rest of the class. This is a great chance to practice your communication skills, which will come in handy during the technical interview.

The prep class moves very quickly, which is why I was thankful I had a good grasp on the fundamentals. It was apparent that the students who were brand new to programming struggled with the pace of the class. At the end of the course, you'll have access to practice assessments, which very closely mirror the coding assessment needed to secure an interview spot.


Practice coding challenges


I left myself about two weeks between finishing Fullstack Academy's bootcamp prep and actually applying to give myself time to practice more coding challenges. I wanted to ensure I was 100% ready.

Here are some sites I'd recommend to practice:

  1. Codewars - try to get to Kata level 6kyu! These questions get challenging but it's important to stick with it and try to work out your own solution before looking at the answer.
  2. Coderbyte
  3. HackerRank

Fullstack Academy application, timed assessment, and technical interview


I'll keep this section brief, but what I will say is that when I got to the point where it was actually time to apply, I was freaking out. I kept asking myself, "Am I ready?" But the answer is, you'll never fully be ready. There will always be something new to learn, so here's my advice: If you've done everything above and feel like you have a good grasp on the concepts and coding challenges, just apply.

I received my invitation to take the timed assessment immediately after submitting my application, and the next day I took the timed assessment and was able to submit it with all test specs passing. It was either that afternoon or the next day I received my invitation to take the technical interview.

This was the part I was really nervous about. I had coded in front of people before, thanks to the prep class, but the pressure of a techical interview was intimidating.

My nerves immediately faded to the background once I started chatting with my interviewer. She was a recent graduate of the Grace Hopper Program at Fullstack Academy, so it was comforting knowing she had been through the same process. It honestly felt like I was just having a normal conversation with a peer. She asked me a couple behavioral interview questions which took roughly ten minutes, then we jumped into the coding section.

The coding part of the interview was much easier than I thought it would be, much to my surprise. I'd say the difficulty of the technical interview questions were similar to the more challenging questions on the timed assessment. If you found these tricky the first time around, keep practicing until you feel comfortable working through them. During the technical interview, I was asked three coding questions, one of which required recursion - so be sure you understand this concept.

All in all, it was a really pleasant experience and it went by so quickly. The next day, I received an email letting me know I had been accepted!

It can be difficult to go through this process, and I certainly put a lot of pressure on myself. If you are getting ready to apply to a bootcamp or are thinking about it in the future, just know that all your hard work will pay off in the end.

If you found this helpful or have any questions about what was discussed in this article, feel free to send me an email at andrea@andreaplummer.com, and good luck to everyone in their bootcamp applications!