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Leslie M
Leslie M

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How I Chose the Best Web Dev Program (For Me)

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I believe if someone is interested in learning new tech skills, there is a learning path out there that will be the right fit for them!

Exploring and then choosing the best web developer program for me, was a bit of a journey in and of itself. I first heard about coding boot camps from a sponsored ad that ran on my local NPR radio station for the last few years but didn’t believe I could do it until I was ready for a career change.

Being a former teacher, I’ve always valued continued education and have explored learning yoga, coaching, sewing, knitting, electricity, how to play a favorite song on the piano, and even roller derby! (Learning how to properly stop and fall on quad skates made me fully prepared for my kids’ school skating parties.)

There were so many options from free resources to bootcamps, that the decision was overwhelming at times. I didn’t want to invest time and money if it wasn’t the right fit. I decided to start with some free resources back in March of 2022 and ended up quitting when I got a new full-time job in May, that maxed out my bandwidth.

While I enjoy my current job and have grown so much in a year and a half, I kept coming back to what I like about web development, including the creativity and absolute satisfaction of figuring something out that is challenging. I want to transition into another new career, as a Frontend Web Developer by learning in a way that allows me to maintain my current job, parent, and go to concerts with my partner.

It came down to these six factors that made my choice of learning at Skillcrush, an easy one!

Deciding Factors:

Time commitment
While learning web development is a priority of mine, as I shared above, there isn’t very much “extra” time in my life for learning coding. Realistically, I have about an hour per day, give or take, that I can devote to it. On some rare days, I have several hours available, but I still find that learning in small chunks and then turning it off, like with a nap, gives it time to marinate.

At Skillcrush the lessons are all OYO with optional, live office hours, so it really works for me. I’m thankfully, intrinsically motivated enough to keep showing up and doing the work, and even in times when I travel or am sick or something, I’m not missing out or playing catch up.

My favorite quote is,

“Everything changed the day I figured out there was exactly enough time for all the important things in my life.”

by Brian Andreas

This is a continuation of the time commitment options but also pertains to the flexibility of the program options.

I’m just not at a phase in my life where I want to have assignments due on a deadline (unless it’s for work) or to feel overwhelmed by the requirements.

Currently, Skillcrush offers two tracks for the full program: web development or UX. At any point in time, I could decide to go into UX or learn some of it to complement my development skills. There are optional add-ons as well as mentor coaching calls and office hours. I can be fully on my own or seek out a lot of support. I’ve needed each of the paths at various times!

Learning Style
What I noticed about some of the free trial lessons I tried at some of the programs I tried was that they were pretty dry and boring. The things I was coding out were just words on a page and not interesting.

At Skillcrush, I noticed immediately how engaging the content was from the very first HTML codes that included inspiring quotes and fun, motivating images to the instructional videos that were vibrant and even funny.

Like, if I’m going to spend hundreds of hours devoted to this, I want to enjoy it!!
I also benefit from multi-sensory learning including a combination of reading, listening, and watching videos, as well as actively practicing the skills. This program has it all.

Who the programs were recruiting makes a difference. We are all different, so I could tell if a program was speaking to me or not.

Skillcrush values diversity and is especially oriented toward women, welcoming older folks and those who are looking for a career change.

They created it just for me. ;)

Disrupting homogeneous spaces is important to me. I also want to work with lots of people who bring other life experiences I have not had.

OYO vs Live Support
I already mentioned both of these, but it was an important factor to me to not have to learn solely on my own, yet to also not be tied down to needing to live all the time. I like the variety of options for this at Skillcrush. I can learn the basics independently, but when I have questions or get stuck, I have people to turn to either through Slack or during office hours. Mentor coaching also helps keep me accountable.

This blog was one of my goals and I sure enough wasn’t going to show up to my next mentor session having not completed what I said I wanted to!

Dropping everything and taking 12+ weeks without work, just isn’t practical for me at this time. I looked into loans to cover the tuition costs and living expenses, but it would have been a major risk that I couldn’t responsibly take at this phase in my life.

Skillcrush was a fraction of the cost of a boot camp.

I’m glad I didn’t rush into a choice and waited for my intuition to say, “This is it!”

Exploring options, researching the companies, prioritizing my values, and listening to my intuition have landed me in a place where I am enjoying my learning, while not putting the rest of my life on hold. I’m excited about what’s to come and remind myself there are many paths to where I want to go, which is also integral in coding!

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