Newbie’s Guide To Jumpstart!

If you are anything like me, you are a busy individual! Between working full time + juggling life, the thought of devoting an entire weekend to learning the basics of coding was rather daunting to say the least. I’m happy to report that Jumpstart was actually a refreshing break from real life. I’ve always known that I love to learn, but forgot how restorative it can be to spend a few days immersed in a fun learning environment. The fact that you are taking the course with others who possess a similar skill set (in my case, zero programming experience, although you never know what the experience level of your fellow students will be) only helps! It was great to see how we helped each other out as we made our way through the weekend.

Maybe you’re wondering what you should do to prepare for Jumpstart, or what you should bring. You can always take some free online classes on the subjects that they will cover, but having personally gone in blind, I can tell you that it isn’t required! As far as what to bring to class, you don’t really need to bring anything. LEARN did a great job of providing all of the materials you will need – including FOOD! That’s right, folks – dinner the first night and three square meals on Saturday and Sunday.

One of the topics that is introduced quite early on is pair programming. The idea is that you work in pairs to complete tasks. This was my first experience with pair programming and I can’t imagine going through Jumpstart any other way! It’s a really great tool for a few reasons. You get the chance to work through tasks together, so neither one of you feels the pressure of trying to figure it out alone. It is a fairly common technique in the workplace, so it’s valuable to know how to work in that environment. It’s also really effective at helping you retain information, since you split time between explaining things to your partner, and learning from them, as well.

At the beginning of each day, you can find the schedule written out on the whiteboard. Friday we covered HTML and created a website. Saturday we focused on CSS and used it to make our basic HTML site look a lot better – check it out below! Sunday was all about making our HTML come alive with Javascript. I will suggest that you come adequately caffeinated on Sunday – Javascript is not to be taken lightly! I think all of our successes on Friday and Saturday left me a little overconfident and Sunday was a great reminder that I’m still a beginner with plenty to learn.

The instructors did a thorough job of explaining what we were going to work on, and then they would set us free to start working through the tasks they gave us! Most of the time, we were successful in using trial & error to find our way through each task. If we did get stuck on something, the instructors were readily available to come take a look at our project. I think one of my favorite aspects of the weekend was the teaching philosophy that they ascribe to. We asked many questions over the course of those two and a half days, but I don’t think we were ever given a direct answer. Which sounds odd, I know! The instructors have a great way of looking at the situation and asking you questions that help you find the answer independently. It was something I needed to adjust to, since I usually don’t ask for help unless I’ve been wrestling with something for quite some time, but I can see that it was a much more effective way of teaching me how to look at a problem from a different angle to find possible solutions.

If you are considering attending LEARN’s full time program, the Jumpstart weekend is a great introduction to the teaching & curriculum. Speaking as someone who jumped headfirst into an accelerated, non-traditional schooling experience in the past without working or getting experience in the industry first, I would encourage anyone who is experiencing uncertainty about attending a web development bootcamp to consider the Jumpstart weekend! It offers you the chance to ensure that you are truly interested in pursuing this path. If you decide to go forward with the full time program, the fees for Jumpstart go toward your tuition costs, so it’s nice to know that it isn’t money wasted!