From Journalism to Coding Bootcamp

What happens when a journalist decides to become a software developer? The most obvious thing: not only does she start learning how to code but she also writes about it. This is the first article of a series that will document my journey along a career change into the IT world. My goal is to publish an update every two weeks. Ready to come along? Let’s go!

Let me start by introducing myself… I am Diana, 30 years old, from Portugal. I have a degree in communications and have been working as a journalist for the past decade, having gained experience in Portugal, France and the UK. In the past couple of years, I worked mostly on a freelance basis, location-independent.

I like journalism, I do. But I am an explorer. And I was never one of those people who study Humanities because they are terrible at math. I’m ok. And I like logical thinking. And solving problems. And I have friends who are passionate software developers and tell me about the wonders of the job. So, my curiosity started growing. I read about the subject. I did some courses on Codecademy. I enjoyed it. And then… I did nothing else about it.

This was about three years ago. I went on with my journalistic career and kept programming in a corner of my mind. Until I got to a decisive point in my life and I figured that for me and code, it was “now or never”. I chose now.

Let’s be real… At 30, after a decade of work, going back to university for a BA is not the most exciting thought. I do not want to wait three years to go back to work. Luckily, there is no shortage of programming bootcamps out there! And, even better, I know they can achieve very good results. One of my friends, also a former journalist, completed one in Lisbon, Academia de Código, and he is the happiest he has ever been in his career, working as a software developer.

So, I decided I wanted to do a bootcamp. But, like I said, there is no shortage of offer out there. So, which one should I choose? I looked at a few factors: employability, reputation of the course, syllabus, location and price.

I looked at two different ones in Lisbon: Academia de Código and Le Wagon. But when I made my decision to study, I had just finished a three-month trip across central and eastern Europe (perks of the location independent journalism job), during which I spent some days in Budapest. I had been there before and had loved it. I loved it again. I had experience living abroad and I was craving for some more. My heart was telling me: Budapest.

Green Fox Academy

So, I started looking for bootcamps there and I found Green Fox Academy (GFA): a four-month course with a common base to all students, that allows us to choose a specialization for the further parts of the bootcamp. The duration seemed good, better than some that offer only two or three months. The price was good — half of the cost I would pay in Portugal and around one third of the average prices in the UK or the US. The employability also seemed great: 90% of graduates get a job and the school keeps us in contact with partner companies, who also keep track of students’ progress during the course. I decided to contact a few IT recruiters in Hungary on LinkedIn to ask them about the reputation of Green Fox Academy and I got very positive reviews. Decision made!

I applied and the whole process went quite smoothly. First, I filled out a form and sent my CV. Then, I had a video interview, followed by a logical thinking online test. Having passed these phases, I was invited to Green Fox’s offices in central Budapest for an interview with a psychologist and for a technical test. Two days later, I got an email saying I was admitted!

This was around two months before the beginning of the course, so I had some time to prepare myself. I did online courses on Codecademy and Udemy, which, I am hoping, provided me with some useful background for when I start the course at GFA. This also helped me making my decision about the specialization I want: full stack.

The course is intensive: classes run from 9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday, and are complemented with 1–2h of homework every day. On weekends, studying will probably have to happen as well. From what my friend who did a bootcamp in Portugal told me, during the months of the course, I should expect to fully dedicate myself to it, with very little free time. I am up for the challenge!

It has been six years since I finished my Masters, so one of my biggest concerns is that my brain is a bit rusty when it comes to studying. My other main worry is that I will fail to follow along what is being taught since I have not studied mathematics in 16 years and might not have the sharpest logical thinking. Finally, my other concern is a very biological one: will I have time to sleep?

Then, as the course approaches its end, I will start worrying about the next step: will I be able to find a job in this area? But I will leave that concern for later. For now, I am going to enjoy my last free day in the super cool city of Budapest. See you in two weeks!


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