Back in Coding Bootcamp

I’m going back through coding bootcamp. Well…kind of.

I’ve been wanting to improve my Javascript skills, since my original experience learning Javascript was…how to describe this…like having a pie thrown in my face.

My first experience with Javascript was around week 6 of coding bootcamp. I was just starting to understand the basics of Rails when–SPLAT!–Javascript! and then SPLAT!–Jquery. I ducked in time to dodge AngularJS.

It was a poorly-timed introduction, so I ended up initially hating Javascript. I mean, come on…does any language really need that many parenthesis? And don’t get me started on semicolons. (And yes, I have heard of LISP but I will continue to complain about Javascript’s parenthesis until I learn LISP, which I am penciling into my calendar for “never”.)

Javascript and I got off to a bad start, but I’m not one to hold grudges. Javascript, I forgive you for the pies, and I will try to accept you, semicolons and all.

I have decided to start again from scratch, as if I had never seen a line of Javascript code in my life.

Besides wanting to relearn Javascript, I had also become very curious about FreeCodeCamp. I wondered:

Does Free = low quality?

Could you really get an education equivalent to a full-time bootcamp from an online course?

How does one go about making a coding bootcamp free, when every other one charges Harvard tuition?

That curiosity brought me to sign up for FreeCodeCamp, and so far I am very impressed!

I hadn’t expected to learn anything in the first few lessons, since I already knew HTML and CSS quite well. To my surprise, they were much more than a great refresher.

For starters, HTML5 and CSS3 have a lot of major changes. Come to find out, I had not picked up on all of the important ones, despite reading an entire book on it.

Much more important than the additional practice and a deeper dive into the syntax changes, was the quality of the exercises.

I should mention that FreeCodeCamp did not create the exercises. They are simply a curator, serving up the best free resources on the internet, saving you the time of figuring out which resources are worthwhile.

The exercise that impressed me most was an exercise in General Assembly’s Dash program, which teaches you to make an animated robot using only HTML and CSS.

It’s an incredibly creative use of the tools–I never would have imagined that such a thing could be created without Javascript or pre-made images. The exercise really broadened my idea of how I could use HTML and CSS.

FreeCodeCamp has me hooked. It appears that I am once again in Coding Bootcamp.

6 thoughts on “Back in Coding Bootcamp

  1. Hello Julie,

    I stumbled onto your blog from the Iron Yard website. I am taking a Ruby class starting in February, and hope to apply to the Iron Yard later this year. Can you tell me about preparing to go to code school? Did you study beforehand to familiarize yourself with the material? When did you find the time to study after class? I have two kids as well – 6 and 3 – and they take up a lot of my time. What advice would you give to someone like me who desperately wants to do this, but is terrified I may be in over my head?


    • Hi Daisy!

      Great questions!

      Yes, I spent several months prepping beforehand, and even then I wished I had prepped more.

      Time is a huge issue as a mother, and it meant that I was not able to devote as many hours to studying as the non-parents.

      It was an exhausting 3 months, and I spent every minute either studying or taking care of my kids. What kept me going was the knowledge that it was only for 3 months.

      You can survive almost anything for 3 months, but make sure you build in time afterward to recover.

      It was absolutely worth all the sacrifice.

      That being said, I think you get much more out of the experience if you have had enough time to prepare.

      I recommend you read my post “How to Prepare for Ruby on Rails Bootcamp”. I’ll also try to do an additional post soon with more details and some updates based on my work experience.

      My Twitter handle is @JulieTorero. Send me a message with your email and I will reply. Then you can contact me with any other questions you have.


  2. I’ve been interested in FreeCodeCamp, but haven’t really seen anyone that has shared their experience.

    As a Jr. Dev. and someone who went to an actual coding bootcamp, so you think FCC would be a good resource for someone who is just starting to learn to code, or does the curriculum make for a lot of knowledge gaps?


    • Hi Lissa,

      In my experience, every curriculum leaves knowledge gaps…CS degrees included. The knowledge gaps are just different from one source to another.

      The most important thing is to build a base of knowledge that you can build on, and I think FreeCodeCamp does that as well or better than any paid program I’ve seen.

      The one gap I see in FreeCodeCamp is command line skills, but those are much less critical for front-end work, and like everything else, they can be filled in later.

      I think that if you work through the entire program, you will definitely be job ready.


      • Thank you so much! I’m going to try to spend the next few months using other resources and then moving on to FCC when I have the time to commit to the entire thing. It’d be wonderful if between what I’m doing now and completing FCC, I could be job (or apprenticeship) ready.

        I really appreciate your perspective, as someone who went through bootcamp and is now working as a dev!


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