Straight From the Programmer’s Mouth: 5 Grads Share their Experiences

By: Fullstack Staff

So, here’s the thing. We can give you our spiel all.day.long on why Fullstack Academy and our Grace Hopper Program are best in class—but we also know it holds way more weight when you get an honest take on the experience from someone who’s physically been through it. The people who actually sat in our classrooms (nearly) every day for 13 weeks and then went on to secure fulfilling, well-paying jobs are the ones you really want to hear from, right?

Lucky for us, the sense of community that’s come to be synonymous with the Fullstack name means that our grads are not only hardworking, exemplary students, but they’re also generous and service-oriented—and one of the ways they consistently give back is by sharing their perspectives on coding bootcamp with not only us but you, too.

Here are five alums dishing on why they chose Fullstack, what they learned during their time here, and why they recommend you take the leap and apply. We promise we didn’t bribe them in exchange for these testimonials, either—unless you consider delivering a world-class education and helping them find their dream gigs a bribe. ;)  

“They. Were. Amazing. How had I never, in my entire experience, been in a room with so many diverse, brilliant women? They came from all over the country (and even outside the country), from all walks of life, all to do the same thing I wanted to do: change the direction of their lives and take control of their futures.” -Shannon Kendall

After realizing she’d hit a flounder when it came to pursuing her dreams as an actress, Shannon set about investigating how to build a new career in code. She was referred to the Grace Hopper Program by a woman engineer she respected and as she explains, “That was it: Grace Hopper or bust.” The sense of community she found within her female-identifying/non-binary cohort sustained her throughout bootcamp. We say this all the time, but we’re invested in our students and want you to succeed, and Shannon knew this to be absolutely true because of the deferred tuition model Grace Hopper employs.

“Since I started my journey to become a Software Engineer in August 2018, I, personally, have dedicated over 1,700 hours to learn and master JavaScript. This includes going over all the programs at Fullstack Academy, working on my projects, preparing for job interviews, solving whiteboard problems, reading the documentation, writing about JavaScript, and even dreaming about code.” -Nathan Avilez

Nathan Avilez, who graduated from Fullstack’s Chicago campus in December 2018 and had a job the very next month, wants to shout it from the rooftops: Companies should hire Fullstack grads. He backs up his sentiment using his own experience and aligning the time investment spent at bootcamp with the Pareto distribution. In a nutshell, time spent on bootcamp and bootcamp-adjacent activities puts you pretty close to the amount of investment you need to acquire 80% expert level knowledge—which is a prime place to be after just a few months of intense work.

“I could not be happier with where my life is heading, but it wasn’t easy. I faced many obstacles along the way, and that is the reason why I decided to get out of my comfort zone to write about my personal experience with learning to code. I hope by me doing so I can encourage others who are just starting out or have been learning for a while, and show them (you) that you can do it too.” -Xifeng Jin

Originally from China, Xifeng Jin came to the United States after high school and spent years in the service industry, struggling to navigate life in his new country.  After choosing to pursue coding bootcamp, he persevered through multiple setbacks along the way and was eventually accepted to a program we’re very proud of—the Web Development Fellowship, in which we partner with the City of New York to offer eligible New Yorkers tuition-free education. Jin became a teaching fellow after school and is presently employed as a Software Engineer at ADP—but as he says himself, the road wasn’t easy, and it’s important to maintain faith in yourself as you meet with challenges along the way.

“In the last year (and a bit), I went from Hello World in Javascript, to deploying fullstack webapps, to getting freelance jobs, to interviewing at top tech firms including Google, and receiving multiple six-figure offers as a professional software engineer. Here’s how I did it.” - Shawn Wang

Fullstack grad Shawn Wang was no stranger to programming before bootcamp, but he was new to JavaScript and web development. He believes anyone can learn to program if s/he is dedicated and focused, and he lays out his journey over the course of one year to show you how exactly he accomplished what he did. One tip he offers up is “No zero days” — basically, you do one thing, no matter how infinitesimal, toward your goal every single day, and it all adds up over time.

“Sure, elite bootcamps are stricter on admissions requirements and evaluations. This means more time and energy spent on preparing for an admissions interview. But I promise you the result is rewarding and life-changing. You will feel well-prepared after graduating to explore job opportunities with great skills.” - Allison Zhao

Prior to attending Fullstack, Allison Zhao was a Music Business graduate with a minor in Web Programming and Applications. Her Medium exposition goes into great detail about her bootcamp experience, covering what she learned in a thoughtful way and answering the questions: What can you bring to the workforce as a non-traditional programmer? Does the curriculum actually align with what employers are looking for? We don’t want to spoil the read for you, but we’ll say this much: Allison is now comfortable building an entire web app solo, she learned much more than coding while in school, and she highly recommends the experience to anyone thinking about it.

Can’t get enough alum stories? Check out two of our favorites, featuring Noelle Laureano and Will Jacobson. And remember: every day, people from all backgrounds and walks of life choose to pursue their dream of coding—and we want to help you take that step, too.


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