I’m Mell, and I’m a web development student here at CareerFoundry. My journey with CareerFoundry started 4 months ago and now that I’m halfway through, I want to share my experience with you on what it’s like to be a part-time student with CareerFoundry—and what you can expect from the experience. I’ll even share some of my favorite resources!
Whether professionally or in private, learning and trying new things have shaped my personality from a young age. This also reflects in my rather diverse career experience, working different jobs from research, teaching English, client success and social media. These days, with technology advancing around us, the internet has become my favorite place to learn, and I discovered my passion for online courses and video tutorials, which eventually led me to where I am now.
A little about me
The first time I heard about online career change programs in more detail was when I worked as an English teacher, and my colleague was enrolled in the UX design program at CareerFoundry. I’ve taken a couple of Udemy courses in recent years just for the fun of it, but little did I know that I would also be enrolling in an online program, and in web development, a field that was completely foreign to me!My interest in web development came from having friends who are in the field and who got there through an online program. And it inspired me to see that people from diverse professional backgrounds were able to succeed in changing careers and becoming professional programmers. Since I never really followed a certain career path, I knew I wanted to find a secure and stable job, which I’m also passionate about. I then started learning more with simple online tutorials and coded my first simple personal website, which I enjoyed and it only felt natural to explore further. So when I saw the opportunity to enroll in the program and create content about it, I thought to myself: “I have to try this!”
My journey with CareerFoundry started 4 months ago and now that I’m halfway through, I want to share my experience with you on what it’s like to be a part-time student.
What to expect from the CareerFoundry Full-Stack Web Development Program
Imposter syndrome at its finest.
As a career changer, you’re in a process of rebranding yourself for the professional field you’ve chosen. It’s a big step and it can feel scary. I think most of us will experience feeling insecure and inadequate along the way. In fact, this is even common for professionals with years of experience. I have had many moments where I felt like I have absolutely no clue what I am doing. But as time goes on, you’ll start to gain more understanding and confidence. I often struggle with imposter syndrome and my advice is: When you don’t understand something, learn to be patient. Make mistakes to figure out what you can improve for the next time. And most importantly, be kind to yourself and understand that nobody can know everything. It’s all about reflecting and accepting your thoughts, but also changing your perspectives with compassion towards yourself.
You get what you put into it
An online program is intense, with a dense curriculum, and a steep learning curve. And you will get what you put into it. You don’t have to study everyday, but your motto should be “learn by doing”, so my advice is to get some coding practice everyday. Give yourself small coding challenges to apply the concepts you’ve learned to different situations. Find ways to motivate yourself and keep going, no matter what.
One more thing that really helps is a method called “rubber ducking”, which is the practice of explaining your code out loud, enabling you to break the problem down into steps. With this method, you’ll be able to more easily identify the error in your code and get back to the problem at hand. It’s also very useful to get used to the technical lingo and become articulate and confident in the field you’ve chosen to pursue a career in.
The word patience will gain a whole new meaning
I thought I was a patient person, but getting stuck with programming tasks has made me experience the famous frustrations that so many web developers talk about. It’s absolutely normal to get stuck and feel incredibly discouraged. But it’s also the job of any good developer to learn how to fix the problem and that requires not to give up, even if you’ve been stuck on a problem for several hours. This is an aspect I didn’t expect I would affect me, but it did. Luckily, there is lots and lots of documentation out there and you will learn how to solve problems step-by-step as you gain more experience.
Support network and a lifetime of career services support
Although the program is remote and you’re fully responsible to manage your own time and study, there is a big support network making sure to help you from start to finish, from student advisors to the student Slack channel, where you can get task help and find a study buddy, a tutor and a mentor, as well as a lifetime access to career support. Upon completing the program, there is a job preparation course and the opportunity to get coached by career specialists in order to work on a personalized career and job search plan. You will also receive training for job interviews as well as negotiating job offers. The program is made to assist you all the way from start to getting a job.
Time management is a crucial aspect of keeping up with the pace of the program, especially if you’re doing the program part-time while working a full-time job. This is something I underestimated in the beginning, as I was focused on trying to understand absolutely everything before moving on to the next task. This has led to me making a slower start and falling behind in schedule to complete the program within the foreseen time frame. But as with everything else, you learn as you go, so it’s always good to try out different routines to identify which works best for you. I went from having 2 long study sessions per week, to studying everyday, to studying only in the evenings, then in the mornings, in order to find my ideal study routine. This also includes creating a daily plan and giving myself weekly goals.
Tips and resources
For good time management, I highly suggest you use a project management tool to keep track of your tasks and progress and setting weekly study goals to avoid procrastination.
If you’re following our Instagram account, you may have seen that I’m a big fan of Asana, I not only use it as a study planner, but as a daily planner to make sure I reach my weekly study goals. What I love about Asana is that you can easily get an overview of all your projects and break down bigger tasks into subtasks, so it’s easy to keep track of your progress.
And to ensure I stay focused during study time without getting distracted, I use Forest, an app I highly recommend for those of you who also struggle with distractions. The app was created based on the Pomodoro technique, an effective studying technique to help stay focused. The benefits of using this app are that it really helps with keeping away from distractions and after a while, you also get a feeling of how long you need for certain tasks. This has really been a game changer for me and keeps me motivated to continue with the program at a steady pace.
Don’t be afraid to try new things and fail. That’s the only way to learn
This has been very useful for me, as I realized that learning to code isn’t the difficult part. Writing clean code that is understandable for other developers is the difficult part. As someone who was a complete beginner, receiving feedback and insight from my tutor, an experienced professional that guides me step-by-step through each exercise, is invaluable. For me, the best part about having a tutor is that I am learning things that I couldn’t have known by myself, such as bad practices in coding.
During the course of this program, you also get assigned a mentor, who is there to give you final feedback after each project. I remember several times where I felt overwhelmed by the amount of new information in a particular exercise and got quite frustrated when I didn’t understand immediately how to solve the task at hand. Sometimes I would feel completely lost, even after trying to find solutions by researching the problem on Stack Overflow or reading documentations. When I asked my mentor what I should do when I’m stuck and unable to move forward on my own, she simply said: “Don’t overcomplicate things. Read something, then break the problem down into several steps and ask yourself: What is really required?” It’s important to stay patient, not getting stuck in your head by focusing on not understanding the problem, which is something that I’m still learning.
Another great piece of advice I got from my mentor is to not be afraid to try new things and fail. We learn best when we learn from mistakes. This program contains a lot of reading material, and even if you write code and do your projects, it is vital not to neglect the practical aspect of consistently writing code. There is a big difference between reading about new concepts and practicing code, so it’s always best to apply what you learned to several different projects. You can work on your own side projects and give yourself little coding challenges to get more practice.
My favorite resources
When it comes to learning new concepts, I also really enjoy video tutorials. Some Youtube channels I recommend are Programming with Mosh and Web Dev Simplified. FreeCodeCamp also has a Youtube channel with in-depth tutorials on a variety of topics, so I definitely recommend it too.
And for those of you who have discovered their passion for the frontend, like me, and long to dive deeper into advanced CSS with flexbox, responsive design, grids etc., this Udemy course by Jonas Schmedtmann is a great additional resource.
To conclude, I’m glad that I decided to enroll in the web development program at CareerFoundry, as it teaches you skills that are extremely valuable in the tech field. Even if you don’t end up being a programmer, having coding skills can open doors for other really exciting jobs, such as product management or web design.
With the benefit of hindsight, I would have liked to be able to focus fully on the program, rather than working alongside it. It can be difficult to juggle my time and switch between contexts. But I am also aware that for most of us, dedicating yourself fully to an online program is not possible for a variety of reasons. That said, I’m sure the discipline I’ve acquired to maintain both my studies and my work will stand me in good stead for the future. In this sense, if you really take the time to dedicate yourself to learning the skills necessary for a career change, these types of part-time online programs provide an opportunity that otherwise would be missed by many of us.
I look forward to learning more in the coming months and completing the program successfully and I am excited about what the future holds for me.
Want to learn more about our Web Development Program? Get in touch with career advisor today!