| ||Sarah ||Doing Makers Academy was one of the best decisions of my life. My experience was personally and professionally rewarding and I cannot speak highly enough of the Makers team and their program. Of course nine months ago I didn't know any of this. Like many of you I had a million questions and didn't know if this journey would be right for me. I hope the following helps answer some of those questions.
What's the program like?
Intense: I was trained as an academic-track historian yet this was by far the most intense and intellectually challenging educational experience. It's a full-time job and then a bit more. But every minute was enjoyable, even when you're completely lost on a problem, because there's an incredible support system around you. The teaching staff, alumni, senior cohort, and your cohort are all there to support you. There was a strong emphasis on peer-learning and pairing on top of all the class time, tutoring, mentoring, and course work. The program requires time and dedication, and in many ways it's like any intensive language program: the more you put in the more you get out of it.
Fun: Balancing that intensity is a constant spark of fun and enthusiasm. You share a classroom with incredibly bright, fun, quirky people who are just a curious and eager to learn as you are. The Makers team is adept at creating time and space for fun, creativity, and relaxation -- everything from meditation and yoga to group ping-pong and legos.
Rewarding: As a historian I never really considered myself a 'science/math' person. I even struggled with math in high school. Gaining a new skill in a field I never thought I could enter, in addition to finding something that I both loved doing AND was rewarding has been one of the greatest gifts of my life.
What's the curriculum like?
As a former educator I was impressed with the curriculum. The pre-course material was useful and the course progressed at a pace that in retrospect was challenging though steady. It mirrors most curriculums that start with the foundations and grow in complexity. They cover a tremendous amount very quickly and even though there were times when I felt a bit out of my depth I just kept swimming (you must), and like other language courses you often surprise yourself on how much you know.
I've heard colleagues say that 'lost' feeling is part of being a developer; it doesn't go away for a long time. I've met developers who have been coding for ten or more years and freely admit they're stumped. As a developer it's important to know how to handle that sensation of intellectual helplessness and vulnerability - Makers mimics that environment and gives you the tools to learn how to handle it.
Looking back at the curriculum I'm also grateful for and impressed by Maker's early emphasis on best practices and Agile methodology. Like Nico says, the team live and breathe Agile and you will too. I have lot of respect for the way the instructors think and discuss code as if it's a craft because I believe it is. This early emphasis has helped me so much in my first career steps.
What's coding like?
I had no idea what software engineering involved, it was all a mystery to me. I didn’t know it meant I could work with a team of bright, curious, open-minded individuals to create something with a tangible impact. To me coding is like craft-making, figuring out puzzles, even experimenting in the kitchen - activities I enjoy doing but would never have thought could be related to software engineering. It requires team-work, imaginative thinking, and curiosity. It's language-learning, problem-solving, communication all in one and I love it.
What's finding a job like?
The job support I've experienced has been invaluable. The team work very hard to help you find opportunities, to practice interviewing or pairing, and to prepare you for a career as software engineer. When my post-graduation traineeship suddenly ended due to lack of resources Makers guided my towards a new opportunity and I was able to join a great software development company.
What if I don't have a math/science education?
Coming from a humanities background meant some aspects of programming were more challenging for me than for someone who had studied a STEM subject. But I have other skills that balanced that. It's important not to underestimate the non-coding skills you bring, from knowledge about a particular industry to an intuitive understanding of how people relate to each other.
I now view my experience in the humanities as a strength. Learning to approach problems differently was part of my education at Makers, and I can feel myself improving with every bit of code I create. I wasn't born a historian or writing - both came with years and years of practice. Coding is similar, it takes practice. |