Is Attending Fullstack Academy Worth It?

My answer? YES.

Intro

If you are a career changer and want to learn the fundamentals of building a full-stack application to be one-step closer to becoming a software engineer/developer, I strongly recommend the courses offered at Fullstack Academy.

Please note, I am not being sponsored by Fullstack Academy to write this article. I am just a recent grad of Fullstack reflecting on the experiences I’ve gained from their program. With that, the opinions of others might differ from mine, and that’s okay — because when we speak of personal experiences, everything’s relative.

So relatively speaking — based on my own personal experience, would I recommend courses at Fullstack Academy for individuals looking to change their careers, and possibly transition into tech? Absolutely.

Will everyone benefit from the course? Absolutely not. Why? Because it depends heavily on the individual. Look, if you are a recent college grad with a CS degree and internship under your belt, and have innovative ideas that you can apply to your personal projects post graduation, you are already in a good spot and have leverage over those who’ve taken the non-traditional path to become a software engineer. Work on building your portfolio, get yourself noticed through different mediums of social platforms, network like crazy, develop your interview skills and you will be fine.

Now, if you’ve never been exposed to programming or the only code you’ve ever written was “Hello, World” on the console (like me!) and would like to get yourself on the right path of becoming a software engineer, I present to you;

#1 — Curriculum is well-structured

The curriculum is highly organized and well-thought-out. The subjects that were taught each day built upon the knowledge that I had gained from the previous lectures and preceding materials. A typical day would start off with a lecture followed by programming exercises to apply what I’ve learned previously or the day of. This method of teaching personally worked for me because it gave me an opportunity to process and use the information I’ve gained while it was fresh in my mind.

The full course is divided into 3 phases — Foundations / Junior Phase / Senior Phase — (checkout the link here for more details!). Foundations cover the basics of web development to get all the students equipped and ramped up for 5-weeks of intensive training during Junior Phase. Best metaphor that I can come up with to define the word “intensive” here is by comparing the Foundations phase as the 30min window given to you to finish 1–2 appetizers, while the Junior Phase is the 60min allocated for you to finish 100 entrees. After surviving the Junior Phase, you are given opportunities in the Senior Phase to apply everything you’ve learned to build projects from scratch individually and as a group while being trained to interpret algorithms, data structure, and systems design.

Hearing how rigorous the training is, you might be incredulous about the whole process. Heck! I was a skeptic too at first. But the way that Fullstack Academy have structured their curriculum, if you immerse yourself in the process, you will learn everything required to fully develop and deploy a full stack application by Senior Phase. Just remember — everything will click at the end! (you will hear this a lot from the instructors)

#2 — Instructors are friendly and knowledgeable

Speaking of instructors — all of the Fullstack instructors that led the lectures were friendly, experienced and readily available to assist me when needed. Unless my questions were something that a TA (aka. Fellow) could answer, instructors were fully engaged in providing me guidance to find answers to specific coding problems.

Before joining Fullstack Academy, I had researched and read numerous comments on various coding academies. And during my search, I read reviews about unqualified course instructors being hired to teach at certain coding bootcamps. That definitely wasn’t the case at Fullstack. Majority (if not all) of the instructors had prior work experiences as a software engineer. No matter how simple or complex the question was, they took time to listen and made the effort to simplify the solution to the best of their abilities. These knowledgeable instructors were what made finishing 100 entrees in 60mins achievable.

#3 — Enhances your network

For a career changer like myself, taking the course at Fullstack provided me opportunities to expand my network beyond the industry (hospitality) that I was coming from. The other students that I met in my cohort were from all walks of life — chefs, analysts, photographers, actors, program managers, college grads, servers, carpenters, musicians, etc. — and we all had a mutual goal in mind: to challenge ourselves to learn and change. Being surrounded by these like-minded individuals with diverse backgrounds not only presented me a chance to absorb different perspectives of life, but it allowed me to experience “cohesive diversification”.

After completing the course, I realized that I am now part of a bigger picture, and I am not in this alone. I am now a member of a community that will continue to evolve and be strengthened in knowledge together. Because if there’s one thing that Fullstack Academy has taught us, it’s this — “Knowledge is power. Knowledge shared is power multiplied” — Robert Boyce.

#4 — Opportunities for pair programming

Before joining Fullstack, I never knew what pair programming was and had never experienced it in a coding environment.

Pair programming is an agile software development technique in which two programmers work together at one workstation. One, the driver, writes code while the other, the observer or navigator, reviews each line of code as it is typed in. The two programmers switch roles frequently. — wikipedia

During the Junior Phase, I was required to pair-program with another student to solve coding problems based on the topic covered the day of. Honestly, every day wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns. There were awkward and unproductive moments that I had to endure. Nevertheless, the pair programming exercises reinforced my comprehension skills of reading other people’s code and intumesce my understanding on how to approach certain logics effectively.

#5 —Real-World XP

Finally, here’s the main reason why I feel Fullstack Academy is worth the investment.

You cultivate real-world experiences.

There’s definitely much more to working in the real world, especially in a corporate environment. Just to name a few — financial literacy, ability to take ownership and make executive decisions, ability to protect the interest of the stakeholders while steering them to the beneficial path, managing your superiors and subordinates, skills to articulate how your business decision will positively impact business growth, and taking calculated risks to prove your business strategy — are skill sets that I acquired over time in leadership roles and individual-contributor positions that I held at Marriott.

Are the real-world experiences provided at Fullstack Academy enough for individuals to succeed in a corporate setting? No, but it’s undoubtedly a strong foundation that an inexperienced person can build upon and use as a stepping stone.

In addition to experiencing certain real-world situations, you also gain experience building web/mobile applications from start to finish. You acquire knowledge about front-end and back-end development. You obtain understanding of how the four basic functions — create, read, update, and delete (CRUD) — work in a persistent storage. You become accustomed to independently executing medium size features on your team projects. You learn to test your work and to debug as needed. You become proficient in different tech stacks. The list goes on and on.

Final Thought

The truth is — in spite of everything that Fullstack Academy or any other coding bootcamps has to offer — what you learn and obtain from it depends on you.

It comes down to your willingness to immerse yourself in it. Looking for your ROI? Show up everyday, and be ready to listen, to engage, and to make what you’ve learned applicational. It is a choice of whether or not you allow the course to benefit you. And since it is choice — make the educational experience work in your favor.

Hope this helps!

Hotelier turned Software Engineer.