Dev Bootcamp

This was previously 4 posts that have been combined into 1.

The Application - January 18, 2013

I just submitted my Dev Bootcamp application! If you don't know what Dev Bootcamp is, click on that link and have a look around.

I'm hoping to make a strong case, and with a little luck, get accepted into one of the fall/winter 2013 cohorts. I'm sure most applicants have thought to themselves "What if I shell out $12k (now 14k) and don't get a job after the program is over...?" I know I have. But that's a risk I'm willing to take. This is an opportunity for me to exponentially increase how much I know about web development, meet some great people, and hopefully land a job as a developer after it's all said and done.

Yeah, I'm willing to take that risk.

So, about the application. As of now, it consists of two parts. The first part is a series of questions about you, your background, and why you want to join Dev Bootcamp. For the second part they ask you to submit a video in which you A) tell a little about yourself and B) teach them something.

I don't know how Dev Bootcamp feels about me going through the full application (although anyone can sign up and see it) so I'll just tell you about one question. I changed my answer to this 3 or 4 times and eventually settled on this.

Q: "Tell us something surprising or amusing that you have discovered."

A: "Never tell a restaurant in Thailand that you "like spicy"...

Quick back story: We went to Thailand and Malaysia over the Christmas holidays. Thai food is all around pretty amazing. One night we were at a restaurant and I asked our server if a dish was spicy. The server cocked her head to the side and said "a little spicy". Well, I like spicy food and I didn't want them to think otherwise. So, nodding my head with a big smile, I said "I like spicy." Bad idea. Two bites in I was crying, sweating, and cursing myself all at the same time.

Anyway, on to the video.

The video was shot over two days. I went to Kyoto to film the first part with a friend. We went to Nanzen-ji Temple which is a great little spot. If you are ever in Kyoto, it's worth checking out. My wife helped me film the second part in our apartment and at a restaurant down the street. We got there early and the place was pretty empty. I wanted to stay and catch more of the vibe but when every take you do costs you a beer, it gets expensive.

Here's the video.

The First Interview - March 15th, 2013

The day after I applied, I received an email to set up a time to interview. Sweet. The first available time slot was a month away, but unfotunately I had already made plans for that day. I ended up snagging a spot on March 5th, a little over 6 weeks later. I can be patient. No worries.

February flew by and my interview arrived shortly thereafter. I was pumped. The interview was set for 2:00pm PST which was 7 am the next day for me. I woke up at 5:30 to make sure everything was in order and working properly. I decided to use my wife's computer as my webcam occasionally decides to give me the finger and not cooperate.

The appointed time rolled around and I found myself staring at Karim Bishay on the other end. I'm not positive, but he might have been on a treadmill. He was definitely standing. Anyway, a quick hello, how are you, and we were off. We started with questions from me. The ones I had prepared all of a sudden seemed ridiculous (Hint: they weren't). I picked a select few and decided to skip the rest. Next, Karim gave me a puzzle to work through. The exact question doesn't matter, so I won't share it here. He was more interested in my thought process than the actual solution. I made my way around to the right answer after a few nudges from Karim, but in hindsight I should have done better. Just nerves I guess.

Next, Karim typed a short code snippet into the Skype chat box and asked me to take a look at it.

"Bear with me a second, I'm using my wife's computer and can't pull up the message." I said, later realizing how dumb it sounded.

He kindly reminded me that I could click on the bubble next to his name. You know, the spot where it notifies you in BRIGHT ORANGE when someone has entered a message. Oops.

The code snippet itself wasn't difficult, but it was the first time I had ever analyzed a piece of code with/for someone. I thought my answer was correct, but I should have been more confident in expressing it. At the end we talked about a few other things and he recommended that I work through a Ruby tutorial to get a feel for things.

Total time: 20 minutes

The Second Interview - March 15, 2013

After I completed the Hartl tutorial, I received an email to schedule a second interview. Nice! There was an opening the following week and I jumped on it. That interview was today. Well, it was supposed to be.

Anything that can go wrong, will—at the worst possible moment.

That's Finagle's corollary to [Murphy's Law][1], and I know it's cliche. I wouldn't even bring it up if it didn't perfectly describe the situation in my apartment this morning. Short of a natural disaster, everything that could go wrong, did, and at the worst possible moment.

20 minutes before the interview was scheduled to start, I fired up my computer and tried to log into Skype. I couldn't connect. I tried my email next and quickly realized that our internet connection had gone south.

"Not now.."

The wifi in our apartment goes out on a semi-regular basis. I went back and forth with our internet provider when we first moved in but it didn't help. Switching providers isn't an option either. When it happens, I can usually get online with a wired connection. Not today though. I can recall that happening two times in the last year. Today makes #3. With time dwindling, I frantically tried to reset the router and modem.

As our scheduled start time neared, and a solid internet connection was still no where to be found, I turned to plan B. My phone. I logged in to the Skype app and tried to shake the past 15 minutes off.

A few minutes later, the call came in. I accepted, and the Skype app instantly crashed.


I opened it back up and found a message from Karim.

"Are you there?"

I told him I was having some internet problems and I was on my phone. He replied, asking me to give him a call on his number. I tried calling his number from Skype, but I needed to have Skype credits. I didn't have any. I resorted to calling him from Google Talk. Two rings and he answered. A glimmer of hope. I finished my first sentence.

"Sorry, Andrew. I can barely hear you."

I asked him if we could give Skype another shot. A last and desperate attempt. We got connected. I could hear him on the other end.

"Hello? Andrew? You there?" He couldn't see or hear me. Game over.

He sent me a nice message suggesting we reschedule for another day. I apologized for wasting his time and he sent back a reassuring message that everything was ok. At that point there was nothing more I could do.

As you might surmise, my internet connection came back to life 5 minutes after we decided to reschedule. Go figure. Sometimes these things just happen. We've rescheduled the interview for April 5th. I've also purchased plenty of Skype credits to call him, should things go awry again.

I'll let you know how it turns out.

The Real Second Interview - April 5th, 2013

The night before my second interview, I resolved to make sure that things would go smoother than my last attempt. The interview was set for 7:30am, my time. I woke up at 5:30 to make sure our internet was cooperating and I didn't need to come up with a back up plan. Fortunately, things went off without a hitch.

The call from Karim came in a few minutes early and what I thought was just going to be a 'fit' interview, was not. He asked me if I had any questions. I asked a few that I had skipped over in the previous interview, and then we dove into 3 or 4 small code snippets. I stumbled to express myself clearly one spot, but after I settled down, things went fine. I was a little surprised there weren't any questions about me or my background. I don't know if it's the same for all interviews or that is just how mine went.

Total time: 15 minutes

The Result - April 5th, 2013

Throughout the application process, I felt fairly confident about my application. I can't say that is the norm for me. Six hours after the second interview, a new message from Karim popped in my inbox. My confidence wavered.

We're San Francisco bound! I paid my deposit and was promptly placed in the October 2013 cohort. I can't wait to meet my fellow aspiring devs. It's going to be a great ride.

Now, about that $12k...

Update - September 2013

I've decided not to attend Dev Bootcamp. When I first applied, I had one project under my belt, and this blog was only a few months old. I didn't know very much, but I knew I liked what I was doing. I would write some code, break something, Google it, and learn about it. Rinse and repeat. My initial thoughts about Dev Bootcamp were something along the lines of this:

"I'll go in as a beginner, come out with some chops, and then maybe I can get a job."

Dev Bootcamp started the programming bootcamp movement. It's the most reputable, well-established program out there and I applied there for one reason: to get a job.

I've come a long way from the day I first applied, and I'll be the first to admit that I still have a lot to learn. Despite that, I'm leaps and bounds ahead of where I was when I started. I've been doing this, day in and day out, for the last 14 months. Before that, I had also made a couple of one-off websites. I think the optimal time for me to go through the program was probably 9 months ago. I'm sure I would still learn a lot, but the risk/reward has shifted in favor of me going forward on my own.

Things I know going forward:

I love to learn, and I'm constantly striving to become a better developer.

I've been writing code every day for over a year. I can count on two hands how many days have gone by where I haven't written a single line of code.

I need a job.

Things I don't know:

If anyone wants to hire me.

Lots more stuff.

What's next?

I don't know. We've rented an apartment in San Francisco for the month of October. If we like it there, we'll stay longer. If we don't, then the options are limitless. I couldn't say that before.

See you in San Francisco.