My Journey with YPracticum Bootcamp: The Beginning

I was lucky to win a cohort (a.k.a. student) spot at YPracticum's Web Development bootcamp through a Twitter post. If you're not familiar with coding bootcamps, they are essentially like trade-school for coding. YPracticum also offers bootcamps for Data Scientist and Data Analyst roles, and other organizations offer other specialties. I will be documenting my journey through this process to outline what I've learned and help you decide if a bootcamp is a good decision for you.

Overview of the Program

Pre-Registration

Before you can join the bootcamp, you have to complete the "Basics of HTML, CSS" course, which is free. It gives you a sample of how the course works and introduces you to it's online coding platform. If you complete the course and you enjoy it, you can register for the full 10 month course, which includes access to many other resources.

Note: YPracticum's 10 month course is the longest program I've personally discovered; most are 3 - 6 month programs. YPracticum's cost (depending on the program) ranges from about $1200 - $2000, which is significantly less than the average price of $13,500, as documented by Course Report.

Post-Registration

After you register and pay for the course, you will be put into a group with other cohorts; the groups are small (10 - 15 people), and new cohort groups start bi-monthly. You receive welcome information via email, and gain access to the "How the Educational Process Works at YPracticum" course, along with an invitation to join your group's Slack channel; there is also an optional Discord server you can join. Going through the "Educational Process" course was (for me) a little overwhelming because it contains a lot of information. However, there is also a scheduled introductory virtual call with your tutor and cohorts where they again explain the process, rules, and requirements, which really solidifies everything in a secondary format.

Sprint Schedules

Sprints start on a specific date. The coursework itself is self-paced, but there are both soft and hard deadlines. If you miss a soft deadline, you can still progress in the course, but must work to submit that project in congruence with meeting the hard deadline of your next project. While you are able to finish a sprint early (yay!), you cannot start the next sprint until it's specific start date. If you miss a hard deadline, you must take an academic break and are placed in the group of cohorts who are on the same schedule.

Personal Note: I won the bootcamp with a cohort date that was scheduled to start a few days before a cross-country move. I was concerned, because that meant I would not be available for the days we were driving. I reached out to the YPracticum team, who assured me that I could work on my own schedule as long as I was able to meet the deadlines. This was a huge relief, as I did not want to pass up the opportunity to join because of a huge life-change. It truly is a self-paced program, as long as you meet the deadlines! Live video calls are done throughout the course, but they are all recorded so you can watch them later if you cannot join (and even watching the videos is optional).

Sprint Process

Each sprint starts with several hands-on tutorials using YPracticum's coding platform (as mentioned earlier, you can get a taste of the process by completing the free "Basics of HTML, CSS" course). There are several chapters one must complete using the platform before moving on to the project portion. Each project contains a brief (specifications) to follow before submitting it for review.

The review process has 2 steps - the first is an automated review to make sure your code meets the basic requirements. Once it passes the automated review, a real person checks your code and makes detailed notes on required and suggested changes. You may have to submit your code two or three times before it is approved by the personal code reviewer. Once you pass, you can move to the next sprint (when it opens).

Resources & Tools

One big benefit to YPracticum students is that they gain access to tools used in professional environments. Slack is used widely by development teams, so you get the opportunity to learn how to communicate with it (if you don't already have experience). The optional Discord server is a great feature, as it is used by professionals, but also many developers for personal enhancement (there are MANY beneficial coding Discord servers available to join for free in the "real" world). If you are a complete beginner, they introduce you to VS Code, command line, Git (and GitHub), and many other free online resources that will help you ensure you write quality code. As stated before, you also receive detailed code reviews (which you must ultimately pass to move forward in the program).

Overview

I can thoroughly say I am enjoying the program. It is like a well-oiled machine. There is a sense of community (especially on the Discord server), and as a self-taught developer who has never been through a code-review, it has been eye-opening.

I was excited to join the bootcamp because I know there are holes in my knowledge, and this program has started filling those holes during the first sprint (post-registration). It is NOT an easy program, even for those who already have coding experience. The program includes covering: HTML/CSS Web Design JavaScript React Basic Backend (databases)

The work you create will also help you build a portfolio for potential employers/clients, along with a certification of completion.

I am currently progressing through the third sprint and I will create additional detailed articles for each completed sprint soon.

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