The Firehose Project – GRADUATION

12 weeks ago, I had no idea where I would end up. I had no idea what I was doing. The only thing I knew that it was going to be a start of something new and exciting.

12 weeks later, I find myself obsessed with coding. I code 5~10 hours a day and wake up everyday excited about learning more and creating more. I often times find myself not wanting to sleep because I want to code.

Learning how to code has changed my life in a great way that I never thought was possible. It has given me not only a useful skill, but also an identity.

My initial motivation to start coding was complicated.

I spent my sophomore year thinking that I wanted to be a business man, maybe a consultant of some sort, eventually create a business, and basically invest my time and energy for going that super “ideal” route. I declared as a Business and Economics double major and I thought I was going to be right on track.

Meanwhile I was interning at a small consulting firm and also doing some translation at the company as well. I saw a gap in the translation market, decided to test the idea out, and it worked. I started up a business and within 6 months I was making $3,000 a month in profit a month, which was pretty good for a college kid.

And within 6 months, I was exhausted. I realized having money was nice, but I wasn’t passionate about money. I liked translating because I was creating something and helping other people. I liked giving my friends jobs because it gave them money.But could I continue this for a lifetime? Did I wake up excited about my business?

The answer was no. You might say, “Well that’s the way it is. You barely even know business anyways, you’re still a college kid.” Which was probably true. But instinctively, I knew that even if I went out into the “real world”  of business, I would still be more passionate about creating things.

I learned a lot about myself during these times. I learned that I love supporting people and helping people, but I suck when it comes to aiming for higher profit just for the sake of getting more money (if there is a mission I would be passionate about it), or anything along those lines. On the other hand, through translating, I learned that I really liked creating things for people.

I thought deeply about what kind of career would make me happy. I always thought that it would be awesome if I could code, but I thought it was too late to learn it.

In my freshman year, I tried CS50, the online Harvard introductory computer science course. It taught programming in C with pointers and memory allocation, and I was just confused out of my mind. It gave me the impression that coding was this super difficult skill to obtain.

But one day in July, I saw some kind of article talking about “coding bootcamps”that train you to become a coder in a span of 3 months.

At first, I was skeptical.

Coming from a slight economics background, I thought to myself, how could this be? If programmers are so high in demand and so short in supply, this must mean that programming is a highly specialized skill which is so hard to obtain that there is a supply in shortage. If it were that easy to learn coding, then the gap between the demand and supply should have closed by now, therefore it is probably a scam. Right?

Wrong. I first looked at the statistics and realized that there was still a HUGE gap. Then I looked at some of the blogs of graduates of these so-called bootcamps. Some of them were indeed getting jobs after graduation.
Gradually my trust towards bootcamps increased and I decided to take a look at the options.

There was hackreactor which looked promising, but then I looked at the tuition: $17,780. Intriguing, but impossible.

There was bloc which was also promising, but then again: $9,800. Still impossible.

Then there was The Firehose Project. I did a lot of research about them and didn’t see any negative reviews at all. I read the blogs of students and graduates, and they all seemed to be super satisfied. The price? $4,500. A lot, but possible.

This was the bootcamp I wanted to enroll in. I signed up for the 2 week prep course and finished it within days. I then had to persuade my parents which I wrote about inthis blog post.

Since then, a lot of things happened in my life.

  1. Changed my major from Business/Economics to Business/Computer Science
  2. Got my first job as a web developer at a local start up (Week 7)
  3. Won 3 awards at my first hackathon (Week 9)
  4. Selected as a finalist for the Capital One Software Engineer Summit (Week 10)

The way I spent my time, the people who I hang out with, and the way I see things have completely changed.

I realized that with the power of coding you can do and create so many things. If you have an idea for a business, you can now create it. If your friend needs some help for a website, you can help him.

For a professional coder, this may seem like old news. But for me, it is still an amazing feeling to have the skills to create something cool.

The Firehose Project has been an amazing experience for me.

My mentor pushed me to learn things beyond the curriculum and I couldn’t have asked for anyone better. The curriculum went through the solid fundamentals of programming. The coding challenges involving advanced computer science algorithmic problems were extremely difficult, but through the office hours, I was able to receive amazing help and support that enabled me to solve them. I’m still on my team project (they allow you to continue on the team project even if you have graduated), but I know this will also be another learning experience as well.

Here are three things I loved about The Firehose Project

1. An active and welcoming community
The community at The Firehose Project is very active, with people constantly asking questions on the Slack channel and posting valuable information on the Google Plus group. Alumni still hang out in the community (many of them working as a web/software developer) and they help out in solving advanced problems. I’ve made a couple of buddies in this communities and we sometimes even work together on problems and pair program as well.

2. 1 on 1 Mentor Sessions
At The Firehose Project, each student will have a 1 hour mentor session every week. How you choose to spend your time with your mentor is completely up to the student. For me, I always listed questions I had during the course work, or other advanced topics that I couldn’t figure out. I couldn’t ask for a better mentor. He gave me extra meaningful work/exercises and really cared for giving me the insight to improve as a programmer. Even after the program is over, I want to keep in touch with my mentor because he was such a great educator.

3. Coding Challenges
The Firehose Project provides many coding challenges which students will go through. These challenges are common interview problems or computer science problems and are very difficult. As a computer science major, I know that just learning Ruby on Rails isn’t enough to become a good developer. Logical thinking skills are essential. As I am developing a complex website for a local start up, I find myself being able to solve problems and obstacles faster than before because of the countless hours spent banging my head against the wall trying to solve these challenges.

The Firehose Project has given me the knowledge to learn coding on my own. It has given me a skill that I can turn into a profession. And mostly, it has given me a lifelong passion.

I highly recommend this bootcamp for anyone who wants to become a programmer and join a community of enthusiastic and friendly people.

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