Development Dabbler to Programming Pro: Levelling up at Juno College of Technology
My decision to change careers was inspired partly by the realization that if I were a character in a video game (or book, or movie, or TV show), I would be a very boring character. I seldom made decisions of the “bold” or “risky” variety, and I had little to show for it. In other words, I needed to level up. Once I concluded that web development was the best path forward for me, I began researching where and how to acquire the necessary skill set.
There are more options for learning web development today than ever before, but since I live in the tech hub of Toronto, I narrowed my focus to the specialized coding bootcamps that have sprung up here. For three main reasons, I ultimately chose to apply for and attend Juno College of Technology, formerly known as HackerYou. The primary reason I chose Juno is, to be frank, a financial one. At the time of my application, Juno was the only coding school that offered an Income Share Agreement as a payment option: pay one dollar upfront, and pay the rest of the tuition in monthly installments calculated as a percentage of your salary once you get a job. This made the decision to quit my stable job as a call centre agent much easier, as I knew not only that my savings were more likely to last until I got a job as a web developer, but also that the school was heavily incentivized to do as much as possible to help me get that job.
The next reason I chose Juno College is due to its reputation and results. Founded in 2012, the school has continued to grow, expanding both its classroom space and its course offerings. Through my research, the bootcamp appeared to be respected and well-known in Toronto and the industry. I spent a lot of time on LinkedIn searching for Juno graduates, and confirmed that the vast majority of them did indeed find employment in the industry within six months of completing the program, often sooner. These factors reassured me and made my decision even easier.
The final reason I chose to make my career change through Juno College in particular is the general feeling I got when I read about the school’s mission, direction, and experiences of its alumni. Other coding schools in Toronto have good reputations, certainly, but I got the sense that some of them have dollar signs in their eyes as they aim to churn out as many graduates as possible. Juno, on the other hand, seemed to be focused on advancing the quality of education offered, and doing right by its students. My experience so far has validated this perception, exemplified most recently by how Juno College has handled the current COVID-19 crisis. Three weeks into the nine week bootcamp, cohort 26 was told that our class would be conducted remotely for at least the next three weeks as a precaution to prevent the spread of the virus. As with all aspects of life at Juno, feedback was encouraged and welcomed. Many of my classmates expressed concerns that the remote class would not be of the same quality as the in-person class. After an internal discussion between staff and teachers, Juno concluded that the best option for the time being is to pause bootcamp for three weeks and then continue on in person, provided that the COVID-19 situation has not worsened by that time. In short, when faced with a crossroads, Juno chooses the option that most benefits its students, even if it means completely reorganizing the course calendar.
Quitting my day job to attend coding bootcamp full time felt like a bold and risky move, but I’m so glad I took the plunge. My experience so far at Juno College has been nothing short of amazing. I would argue that the course materials themselves are almost themselves worth the price of admission: cutting-edge, constantly updated, and accessible even after graduation. The teachers and staff are fantastic, and the bootcamp itself is structured in such a way that students are prepared for every aspect of the subsequent job hunt. Speaking of the students, they come from every background imaginable, and there is very much a culture of supporting one another, even between different cohorts. I will be spending the next three weeks studying and working on coding projects, but I can’t wait to be back in class with the rest of my cohort.
To levelling up!