Stevan Popovic

General Assembly WDI - Thoughts For Prospective Students

5 Jan 2019 | Code, Learning

Since graduating from General Assembly, I’ve spoken to several friends and acquaintances about my experience. They generally message me to ask something like “I’m thinking about doing the course, how did you find it?“. Below are some thoughts I would share with any prospective students.

What To Expect

  • Up to date curriculum.
  • Great teachers.
  • Diverse class (in comparison to industry standard. My class of 17 had 7 women).
  • Lots of work.
  • Homework.
  • That at some stage you will get stuck and be really frustrated (so be emotionally ready for that).
  • Fairly regular pub visits/socialising.
  • A very active outcomes team.

What Not To Expect

  • That you will magically become a web developer. It’s an active process and requires effortful participation.
  • For teachers to give you all the answers. Part of being a web developer is finding the answers yourself and the teachers encourage that.
  • That everyone will want to hire you as soon as you graduate1.

Tips For Success

  • Sleep well.
  • Ask questions (from both your teachers but also other classmates. You’ll be surprised how different people pick up different parts of the course more quickly).
  • Minimise all other life commitments for the duration of course. It seems extreme but is worth the investment.
  • Work with your classmates on homework, preferably in person, on campus.
  • Build relationships with your classmates. An effective way to build your engineering ‘network’ and likely they’ll be more diverse than the company you go into.
  • Use the outcomes team, they work as quickly as you do, so get things to them as soon as you can.

To anyone thinking of doing a code Bootcamp, rest-assured that you can learn to code. But it is a long-term commitment. Whilst the Bootcamp is 3 months, you can expect the process of becoming a software developer to take much longer2. With a long-term horizon, a Bootcamp can be a great entry point to a career in software development and a kickstart to a rare and rewarding learning experience.

You can see further posts from my experience during the full-time General Assembly course here.

  1. I targeted my applications specifically at high-growth startups. I was a bit surprised by how many (7/23 applications) replied with a flat "sorry, we aren't hiring graduate developers".

  2. One of my favourite essays on this topic is Peter Norvig's Teach Yourself Programming in Ten Years.