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Applying To Fullstack Academy

I’m currently a teaching fellow at Fullstack Academy in Chicago. I applied to Fullstack in May of this year, attended four weeks of remote classes and then moved to the city at the beginning of June to begin the immersive program. My cohort spent three months learning a JavaScript-driven curriculum of Node.js, Express, React and Redux before graduating together at the end of August.

I applied for the teaching fellowship because I think you learn best by teaching and I enjoyed my time in the program. So far it’s been an excellent opportunity for me to review the more difficult parts of the curriculum and improve my communication skills while discussing code. It’s amazing how much my skills have developed since the beginning of the year when I began studying.

I was looking through my notes in Quiver and found a copy of my application to Fullstack. Reading through my answers reminds me of how afraid I was to take the leap into a brand new career in an unfamiliar city and also how much grit and passion it took to get to where I am now. I’ve chosen a few questions to include in this blog post to reflect on what I’ve accomplished so far this year!

What’s some information about your educational background?

I was homeschooled until high school, which gave me the opportunity to learn how to learn on my own. In collaboration with my parents, I set educational goals for myself and developed the motivation and self-discipline to achieve them. Being homeschooled naturally encouraged me to develop a growth mindset. I was encouraged to pursue my passions and taught that I was capable of accomplishing anything I wanted with dedication and hard work.

In college, computer science wasn’t even in the realm of my awareness. I loved English, not math. I didn’t realize until after college that programmers were just learning a different type of language. I may not be the quickest at solving algorithms, but my strengths also require the ability to think critically and analytically! Writing a paper is not exactly the same as coding a web application, but both tasks require a thoughtfully designed structure and the use of strict syntax. I actually enjoy the process of refactoring and catching bugs. It gives me the same quiet thrill as editing or fixing a spelling mistake.

What have you tried so far in learning to code?

I became aware of what coding was when I saw a video called What Most Schools Don’t Teach by Code.org on Youtube. I started out using Codeacademy and Treehouse, and dabbled in Python and Ruby before falling in love with JavaScript. At that time I had graduated from college and was still living in Hawaii but I realized that Seattle had a much more vibrant tech industry so I transferred my job and moved there. While living in Seattle, I attended local coding Meetups and completed introductory workshops at Code Fellows, General Assembly, and Epicodus while evaluating bootcamp options.

In February I began keeping a structured timeline of what I’m accomplishing each day. I’ve taken three free online bootcamp prep courses - yours, Hack Reactors, and Flatiron Schools. I’ve completed introductory courses on JavaScript, AJAX, and Git on Udacity, and Gordon Zhu’s course Practical JavaScript. I’m halfway through Harvard’s CS50x on edX and I’ve completed a majority of the front-end developer certificate on freeCodeCamp. I’m currently reading Jon Duckett’s book JavaScript & jQuery and I enjoy listening to the Code Newbie and Learn To Code With Me podcasts for extra inspiration/motivation.

Tell us more about each position you’ve held in your employment history. How did you get where you are?

I was hired to work full time at the Hard Rock Cafe in Hawaii while I was still in college. I enjoyed my job and was very successful with the company, but I began to feel unfulfilled after I finished my degree because my role did not require a lot of critical or analytical thinking. When I became interested in web development and realized the island I was living on did not have a very established tech scene I decided to transfer my job to Seattle.

I worked full time while continuing to study online, looking at bootcamps, and attending Meetups and workshops. After a year I became frustrated that I wasn’t making enough progress so I set a personal savings goal for myself. When I reached that goal in December I quit my job in Seattle and moved into my grandparent’s basement in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. For the past month and a half I’ve been able to wake up and study online all day with no distractions which has made a huge difference.

Tell us more about your plans after Fullstack.

I will become employed as a developer in Chicago before the end of the year either by studying on my own or with the support of attending Fullstack. I’ve been gradually working towards achieving this goal for the past three years - this is the year I achieve it. I find myself most drawn towards working in health tech but I’m open to all possibilities. The most important thing is I find a company which will support my continued growth as a developer after Fullstack, because I’ll still have a lot to learn. I’d also really like to become more involved with organizations such as Girl Develop It or Women Who Code. If I’m accepted to the program I plan to move to Chicago before my cohort starts.

Why do you think Fullstack in particular will be a good fit for you?

I’ve carefully researched dozens of bootcamps in four different locations at this point, and I feel confident that Fullstack is the best fit for me. I want to attend a competitive program that has a proven curriculum focused in JavaScript and offers support specifically for women entering the tech industry. As a Women’s Studies major in college, I loved being in classrooms surrounded by other smart, talented women. Right now I’m studying by myself all day which is excellent for my concentration but is also isolating and lonely.

I plan on staying in this basement until I achieve my goal of becoming employed as a web developer or until I get into this program. I want to attend Fullstack because I believe it will help me get to where I’m going faster. Right now, I’m out here by myself wandering around in an online JavaScript wilderness - your curriculum will give me a map to follow and experienced instructors to guide me through. I’ll be able to accelerate my own learning by spending less time figuring out what topics are important to focus on or how to get unstuck.

Why would you be a great student at Fullstack?

I will be a great student at Fullstack because I am passionate about learning this material and I’m willing to work very hard. I’m fully committed to achieving my goal of becoming a developer and I’m confident I can handle the amount of dedication this program requires. I promise to fully participate in creating an enjoyable learning environment for everyone involved by supporting my fellow classmates in whatever way I can and showing up each day with a positive attitude. I’ll even keep a smile on my face after staring at my code for three hours and realizing I was missing a bracket! Hypothetically.

Anything else about you we should know? What differentiates you as a candidate?

I have grit. I took a two hour bus ride from Milwaukee to Chicago to attend JavaScript 101 and look at the campus. And then on my two hour ride back I worked on filling out this application, which also shows I have good time management! My original plan was to spend a few more months studying before I applied to Fullstack, but when the #ItsQuittingTime email arrived in my inbox I knew I had to take advantage of the opportunity for a scholarship. I figured the worst possible thing that can happen is I’ll get rejected and then I’ll know exactly what to focus all of my energy on improving before I reapply.

Published 8 Oct 2018