4 Reasons Why Winter Session Coding Bootcamp is Worth It

By: Nick Tucker

Editor’s Note:
Nick Tucker is our NYC Campus Director. Below, he shares why he thinks that the winter session cohort starting in November is the best time to attend Fullstack Academy’s Software Engineering Immersive bootcamp.

In my nearly 5-year career at Fullstack Academy, I’ve had the privilege to work on many different teams and in many different functions: campus operations, admissions, academic operations, and now as the campus director for all of our New York City based programs.

My friends and family will frequently ask, “I’m ready to make a shift...but is now the right time?”

And my answer to that question is simple: “If you’re thinking about transitioning into tech, it’s time to make the move!”

Less frequently, I’m asked a much more insightful question: “If you had to choose, which cohort would you pick for yourself?”

My answer often surprises those who ask: I would choose the final cohort of the year.

At first glance, our final cohort of the year (which starts on November 8th this year) seems like an odd choice—there’s a forced break right in the middle of the curriculum for the winter holiday, ensuring another few weeks without income and delaying the students’ eventual graduation.

How could I possibly recommend that for anyone?

Well, here are 4 really good reasons why you should give our November cohort a shot:

1. Graduating in February is an ideal time to start your job hunt.

Graduating in mid-February is a particularly good time when it comes to job hunting. Students graduating in our November cohorts are met with a variety of favorable circumstances: businesses are either actively interviewing to fill their open headcount for Q1 or gearing up to interview for their Q2 openings starting in April—meaning graduates of our November cohort will be poised to take advantage of both opportunities.

The opportunities don’t stop there, though. February is also the ideal time to take advantage of established internship programs offered by several companies.

Unlike the unpaid internship horror stories that may haunt the message boards of Reddit, tech internships are normally well-paid, full of mentorship opportunities for early career coders, and a pipeline for future engineering talent. Unfortunately, formal internship programs are still tied to the typical college on-campus recruitment cycle, so these opportunities are mostly not available until January and gone by April, so many candidates will either have to languish for months before the internship starts or move on to more immediate opportunities.

But if you’re a member of our November cohorts, you’re ideally placed to pursue both internships and more traditional roles—so no need for you to choose or wait.

2. Winter break gives coding bootcamp students more time to add projects to their portfolio or get a jumpstart on networking.

Fullstack Academy’s curriculum and immersive program can be broken down into 2 halves: which we refer to as the Junior Phase and Senior Phase. But to those unfamiliar with our programs, a more apt description might be the “Learning” phase and the “Building” phase.

In the first 6 weeks of our curriculum, you’ll learn our core stack for building an entire, full stack web application all on your own. In fact, just before the cohort breaks for the winter recess, you’ll build an entire application on your own during the Junior Phase Final Project.

Normally, students only have a week between the Junior Phase ending and the Senior Phase beginning. This week, which we call “Async Week”, is used to complete some solo workshops and get students prepared for Senior Phase while providing them some unstructured time to rest.

Students in our November cohort, however, will have two extra weeks between the end of their Junior Phase and the start of their Senior Phase.

That’s three total weeks that can be dedicated to building more personal projects to add to a portfolio, practicing algorithms, working on technical interview preparation, exploring new technologies, or networking with other industry professionals. Motivated and focused students can take advantage of this extra time to set themselves up for more success post-graduation.

3. Winter break gives you a chance to catch your breath.

Let me put this bluntly: we don’t call ourselves a bootcamp just because it has a nice ring to it. Bootcamps can be strenuous: physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Fullstack Academy is a marathon and an uphill race for virtually the entire program. So, while having an extended break isn’t necessary, it definitely helps when managing the pace and rigor of the bootcamp.

Students coming back from winter break have additional time to refill their tanks and hit the ground running hard and ready to work. Beyond the additional time, the winter break also gives students a chance to visit friends and family and celebrate the start of a New Year. Which brings me to my final point:

4. The best way to keep a New Year's Resolution: start before the New Year.

We’ve all been there before: we have lofty ambitions about everything we’ll accomplish in the new year, only to completely give up. Over half of all resolutions end up failing and over a third don’t even make it past January.

Time and time again, friends or family will tell me that learning to code and changing their career is their New Year’s goal...only to completely peter out before they’ve even learned to write a for loop.

And I get it—learning a new skill takes time, energy, and dedication.

So my recommendation? Don’t wait until January to start the journey!

Instead, use January to finish the journey you’ve already set in motion and set different goals for your New Year: make an amazing capstone project, work through 50 algorithmic problems in a month, or land your dream job. Like Newton’s First Law of Motion states: objects in motion will stay in motion...or in our case, a journey you’ve already started is much easier to complete than a journey you’re just beginning.

If you were on the fence about taking the next step, I hope you’ll listen to the little voice inside of your head and take the plunge. Here are the ways that you can get started on your goal::

  1. Schedule a conversation with one of our Student Advisors
  2. Attend one of our live events
  3. Sign up for our free online Intro to Coding course
  4. Sign up for Bootcamp Prep to gain the skills you need to apply

I hope to see many of you on our (virtual) campus soon, especially in the November cohort!

More about Nick:
Nick’s story is an inspirational example of finding success after a major career change.

A native Arkansan, Nick moved to NYC to pursue a career as an orchestral bassoonist. After being described as “always behind” by Maestro Kurt Masur, he decided performance was not the career for him and instead pivoted to his true passion: education. Nick spent nearly 4 years working in the K-12 public school system in NYC before joining Fullstack and working with the Admissions and Operations teams. To continue to grow his career, Nick recently completed his MBA at Columbia Business School, where he was a Columbia Fellow, a recipient of the Mark Hinckley Wiles scholarship, a member of student government, and was voted “Most likely to be injured by a cactus” by his CBS classmates. Nick is excited to be back at Fullstack and to continue to make Fullstack Academy’s NYC programs the best educational experience in the world.

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