I read somewhere that the best way to decide something is to flip a coin. Not because you should leave your life up to blind luck, but because you’ll know, once the coin is in the air, which side you’re hoping to see. When you know that, the decision makes itself.
From the moment I heard about Dev Bootcamp, I knew I wanted in. Everything about the place seemed phenomenal. Brilliant instructors with real world experience? Awesome. Mindfulness as an engineering tool? Incredible. Intensely fast pace? Bring it on. Limitless opportunities to learn and grow? Yes please.
Plus the limited experience I’ve had programming was exciting and fun. So I applied.
One of the application questions asked me to share something I found surprising or amusing. I talked about how building an exciting hip hop set list is just like walking a date around a bar or club while you talk: the more locations you visit, the more memorable you are. Who knew this musician had so much in common with skeevy PUAs?
There was also space to leave feedback about the Dev Bootcamp site’s design. I loved the visual style and blog, I didn’t love the tuition popup, I told them so, I checked my submission for typos, I took a breath, I sent the thing in.
The next day I got an email inviting me to a video interview. Sweet, the ball was rolling! I picked a date a week out so I’d have time to digest the interview prep, which consisted of a 30-minute YouTube video and nine chapters of online Ruby lessons at Code Academy.
Before I play a big show, I get really nervous. Afterwards, when I’ve played well and everyone enjoyed themselves, the nerves seem silly. But they still return for the next big show. On the day of the interview, I was big show nervous. Based on my first impression, I’d either become a Boot or I wouldn’t. The coin was in the air. And I knew more than ever that I wanted in.
The interviewer asked me why I wanted to be a programmer, and I feel like I froze, but I remember words coming out about wanting to create things to help people and loving puzzles and enjoying working with computers. Ice broken. We discussed my programming experience (“barely any to none”) and then dove into what George Michael Bluth would call an Amazing Mind Puzzle.
It wasn’t complex, but it was tricky. The goal wasn’t necessarily for me to solve the puzzle, but I was instructed to demonstrate how I thought through the problem. I wasn’t sure of the rules at first, and I got stuck a couple of times, but we talked through to the solution and I got a little nudge at the end that helped me arrive at the right answer.
We also talked code for a bit, working through a few things I’d seen before on Code Academy and one concept that was new to me. Again, my interviewer stressed that the “right” answer was less important than clear communication and cogent thinking. It all felt pretty low pressure.
The whole process was less about testing my coding proficiency and more about seeing how I process information and checking my excitement level. Dev Bootcamp accepts around 20% of applicants. If they can successfully help place you in a job, they make money from the hiring company. So they have a vested interest in picking prospects they think will flourish.
Once the formalities were over, I had time to ask a couple questions. I was curious about what separated successful boots from failures (curiosity) and whether boots actually made good use of the Engineering Empathy portion of the training (absolutely). I disconnected from the interview feeling like things had gone really well.
Sure enough, I saw an acceptance email in my inbox well before the 24-48 hour waiting period was up. Now comes the hard part: getting past wanting to do this and getting into actually doing it. Thanks to my fear of being underprepared for the interview, I’m about a third of the way through the Phase 0 prep materials already. But now I’m playing for keeps.
I want more than the minimum out of this, so I’m putting more than the minimum in. I’ve been doing a ton of online research, which is why I started this blog in the first place. Other Boots’ blogs helped me get this far, and I want to add to that pool of knowledge.
And blogging is recommended by pretty much everyone who’s given advice about their DBC experience. It helps organize thoughts and gives prospective employers an extra insight into the graduate/programmer/job candidate.
So hire me please, Fall 2014 background researcher! I’ve got all the right stuff.
Everyone else, stick around and hear my story. I’m about to go get all the right stuff.