What was Ashley Nowakowski's experience at Bloc?By: The SwitchUp Team
I'm Ashley Nowakowski, and I am from a suburb outside of Los Angeles, California. I went to a 4 year private university in LA and had no idea what I wanted to study before enrolling in the school. Upon graduating and spending 4 years as an ESL teacher, I realized it wasn't for me. I came across Bloc and decided I would love to try a completely different path and am proud to call myself a web developer!
Can you tell us how you made your way from teaching to web development?
I had always been interested in how web pages come to be. I was obsessed with HTML in high school when MySpace was all the craze. I kind of fell into teaching, and I think it's because I didn't know what I wanted to do. I didn't love it. I thought about changing careers and tried to consider what I love/used to love. Web development was an easy choice!
What inspired you to attend a Bloc?
I wanted to learn web development on my own terms but also rather quickly (ie not in a university/college setting). Bloc seemed to allow flexibility for a promising career switch.
How did you get started in web development? Is it something you always wanted to do?
I didn't always want to do web development but I realized it was something I enjoyed doing and wouldn't mind trying to switch careers to.
There are quite a few bootcamps to choose from - what made you decide to attend Bloc over other programs? What were your goals for the program?
Honestly, I loved the website! I also liked that they seemed to want to get women involved in the tech community. I wanted to take my time with the program but also have the security blanket of mentors and the Slack community.
For you, what were the pros and cons of attending a bootcamp?
The biggest pro would be the length of time it takes to learn everything- it is so fast compared to traditional schooling. Cons would probably be that you do learn everything quickly, so it is important to stay focused and keep practicing. Don't expect to master everything and be a senior level developer in 4 months.
Tell us a bit about your experience and the day-to-day during the course: How were courses structured?
The curriculum starts out with front-end development modules that include projects and then proceeds into the back-end computer science stuff.
What was your cohort like?
All career switchers! A great group of friendly people.
What was an average day in the program like?
Well, I worked a part time job in addition to the program, so I basically worked in the mornings, came home and did my home duties, and then hopped on my computer for 3-4 hours a day to complete assignments or practice what I learned.
What was most helpful about the environment and teaching style at Bloc?
I can't talk enough about the flexibility. The program is so accommodating and people at Bloc (and other students) are so quick to help you. Doing a bootcamp online can feel daunting, but there's support for you when you feel stuck.
What was your cohort like? Did you feel like it was a diverse place to learn? Tell us a bit about the instructors and culture at Bloc?
The mentors/ team at Bloc are a diverse group of people- all ages, all backgrounds. You're bound to find someone to relate to who can help you.
Can you tell us a little bit about what you have been doing since you graduated from Bloc? Or are you still a student?
I am still a student and am almost finished! I started about 4 and a half months ago.
Did your bootcamp prepare you for the job search, and if so, how?
Yes! There is support on the Slack community, through student services, and there is also a job search module as well as practice interview modules in the curriculum!
Tell us a little bit about what you do in your current job. What motivates you in your career?
I am currently still in the job search stages. I recently moved out of state a couple weeks ago and have networked a bit in my new town. I am so hopeful for the connections I've made in such a short time here!
What challenges have you overcome to get to where you are?
One of the biggest things is I've had to let my friends and family know I had to focus a lot on the bootcamp and couldn't be as social as I used to be. Everyone was understanding.
What advice do you have for people making a career change through a coding bootcamp?
Get ready for a rollercoaster of emotions. Some days you'll feel like a genius and other days you may feel regret. From what I've experience and heard from others, that's normal!
Any advice for recent graduates looking for a job?
Don't give up. There is bound to be a company or someone out there who is looking for you. Also, don't be afraid to tell people you are a web developer! Everyone knows someone else who works in tech and can help you with networking!
And finally, is there anything else you'd like to share?
I'd do Bloc again if I had the choice! :)
Want to learn more about Bloc? Check out their alumni reviews on SwitchUp.