An Outside Point of View

So what is it really like out there?

For a bootcamper, a career shifter, to find his place in the tremendously competitive world of software engineering, in the world’s major tech hub?

This is what our special guest talked about, when he graced us with his presence last August 3, a week before the Batch 5 students graduated.

Ricky Rizal Zein lives in San Francisco, USA and has been working as a software engineer there for about four years. He started off like many of our students now: had no background in programming, and all he had was his resolve to change careers. He has worked his way up since, and currently is at a new crossroad— going back to a startup after working for a large company.

Ricky held a 30-minute talk at the bootcamp, followed by nearly an hour of question and answer from him and the students. He told us his whole journey in this career— from what he did prior to programming, to cementing himself in the industry.

The Journey Begins

“I studied Anthropology in college,” he said. “I didn’t grow up thinking I wanted to code.”

After college, he moved to San Francisco to work as a community organizer for the Red Cross. But working for a non-profit in one of the most expensive cities in the US was hard, he remarked, and he was running out of money. So one day, after a bad day at work, he decided to quit and join a study-now-pay-later bootcamp. There is huge demand and competition for engineers in San Francisco, and his bootcamp provided the gap.

App Academy was the second bootcamp to open in Silicon Valley, and the first to apply a study-now-pay later scheme. He was at the second-ever batch, and at the time they were around 30 people. There, he studied mainly Ruby on Rails among other technologies.

Ricky said he had to rent out his apartment in San Francisco because he couldn’t anymore afford to pay rent without income. He bought an air mattress and slept at the bootcamp for the whole duration of studying there— also three months.

“So I’d wake up, go to the gym at 6am, workout, and well, a huge reason for my going to the gym was that so I can take a shower,” he quipped. “Then I’d be at the computer by 8am to 12 midnight.” He added some of his fellow bootcampers did the same thing.

Ricky admitted that his initial reason to go into software engineering was because he needed the money. “It was either I make it in SF or I go back to my parents’ house, in Virginia,” he shared. “But when I joined the bootcamp, I settled into a mindset that this is what I’m going to do for the rest of my life.” And he said, that since then, he gave his everything.

Bootcamp Experience

“Being at the bootcamp was like being in a new country, an immigrant,” he observed. “You don’t speak the same language, and you’re in a new place where you have no sense of orientation whether you do right or wrong.”

Ricky noted that some of his classmates had background in engineering, and some didn’t, but overall he still considered himself being “at the bottom of the rung”. There were many times he questioned his capabilities.

His key takeaway from this experience, he maintained, was how important it was to adjust himself to the engineering language and culture. “On one hand, it’s important to learn how to code, but on the other, you also have to learn to walk a certain walk, talk a certain talk.” He surrounded himself with everything tech-related, like reading tech news and blogs, or getting lunch with his classmates and making nerdy jokes with them. It is through these, he said, that he learned to get a sense of how engineering works.

Job Hunt

Ricky considered this experience harrowing, sharing with us how much rejection he had to face before making it.

He identified the companies he was interested in, then made a running list of the qualifications they were looking for. He stated, that for the most part, “you’ll only be aware of two to three out of the many technical skills they are looking for, and that’s completely normal.” And this is why, he told the students, that they should take it upon themselves to study more technologies outside of the bootcamp. Ricky would do small online tutorials of these new technologies, or make one project out of it, so he would be prepared when interviewers ask him about it.

He also said he sent about 15-20 applications to companies a day, and had about 4-5 interviews a week, “and a lot of them were terrible”. He was even escorted out of company premises more than once. “But you eventually learn to build a shield around yourself and you just get better.” He mentioned that he and his classmates also helped each other a lot, sharing and discussing interview questions.

He finally got into his first job, at a startup called Teespring, after they gave him a challenge to create an “Unbeatable Tic Tac Toe”, which he spent a lot of time doing.

Getting a Job and Impostor Syndrome

Another completely different journey.

Ricky said there were about six of them when the company started, with three engineers, including him. He exclaimed that his boss intimidated him then, and many times thought that “them hiring me was a mistake”.

“That’s what happens when you make a career change. You might always think you’re not good enough, that you’re a fraud, that people will think you’re not as good as you actually are, and fire you.”

Impostor syndrome is pretty common among engineers, he professed. “But this motivated me, to just ask even the most stupid questions to my manager.” 

He and his manager pair in day in and day out, where his manager mentored him on a lot of things. He commented that “a year of asking stupid questions to my mentor helped me become familiar with the tools and get the job done.” He attributes much of what he knows now to his mentor.

Teespring grew from six to 300 people, with 15 engineers, and Ricky became its senior principal engineer. “It is very rewarding to think about how I was able to take part in building projects that brought the company millions of dollars.”

Early this year, Ricky left Teespring to join a larger company, that had about 80-90 engineers. But he soon realized he preferred startups over big companies. His former mentor recruited him to join him in his new venture, which Ricky accepted.

Advice to the Bootcampers

Ricky capped off his talk with three points of advice to the bootcampers:

  1. Never be afraid to ask stupid questions. Think of it this way: In your job, if you act like you know what people are talking about, and let people think you know them, a couple months past these things you don’t know will come up again and you’d be more embarrassed to ask them.
  2. Find a mentor. Find someone you want to emulate and don’t be embarrassed to ask him or her to be your mentor. You won’t be alone in your journey. You’d be surprised by how many people would be willing to do this; many people do enjoying teaching!
  3. Avoid cargo cult programmingCopying codes without knowing how it works, and pasting them on your work, is a recipe for disaster. It is important that you understand things at a deeper level: read documentation, figure out what functions, the technology, design, and theoretical aspect of what you’re doing.

After his talk ended, questions from the students came flooding in. The whole talk ended after more than an hour. And then, that was it!

Thanks Ricky, for these insights. And shout out to our alumna, Regine, for bringing him in!


Graduation and First Mixer

August 8 was the graduation day of our 4th Day Batch who have completed Tuitt’s 3-month web development training. It was also the first time we hosted a mixer event for alumni and recent graduates. Needless to say, it was a day filled with triumph, fun, laughter and food!

You can watch this recap video below to know about the day’s events.

It was around 10am when the graduation program started. Opening remarks was given by Sir PeeJay Saracho, followed by a keynote speech by Allister Alambra, one of Tuitt’s directors and consultants. Next up was the awarding of certificates for all trainees, top 3 achievers and special awardees, respectively. Some students were also game to give short messages once they received their awards.  The graduation capped off with Sir Billy giving a closing remark.

In the afternoon, we held an event that allowed alumni, recent graduates, as well as staff, to mingle, form bonds and strengthen connections. We call this event a “mixer”. It was the first time we tried organizing an occasion like it and thankfully, it was a success! Although not all alumni were present, we were still able to realize the event’s goal and that’s what matters 🙂 Next time though, we’ll try to schedule events like this on a weekend so that even more people can join.

That is it for this fourth batch! We are truly proud of them. As they say, no goodbyes, just see you around! 🙂

 


Visitors, Singers, Programmers

July 14, 2017

Today is the second demo day of our Batch 4 (Day class) campers! This time, we invited representatives from FFUF Manila Incorporated, where one of our alumni also works, to check out and observe the students’ presentations as well as see potential hires.

Trainees together with FFUF representatives

Prior to the presentation day, Sir Peejay, one of the instructors, helped determine the 11 projects to be presented. The factors for inclusion were the trainees’ quality of output, time dedicated to the project, and their confidence to present.

The Furious Eleven

So after several days of less than 4 hours of sleep, several cups of coffee, and a ton of hard work, let’s go ahead and take a look at the projects crafted by our aspiring developers. To check out the actual sites, simply click on each heading.

Book Musketeers

Created by Joan, Book Musketeers is a minimalist and serenely designed web application for sharing ebooks online.

My Ragnarok DB

Created by Nar, My Ragnarok DB is an online database of Ragnarok Philippines game with real-time chat system for site members.

Wooden Hanger

Created by Pidz, Wooden Hanger is an e-commerce web application for clothes, bags, watches, and accessories.

The Bacon

Created by Mark, The Bacon is an e-commerce web application for buying and selling custom-designed t-shirts.

Original Sin

Created by Paul, Original Sin is an e-commerce web application for a physical pastry shop.

Chocobo Hut

Created by Jaekz, Chocobo Hut is a web-based mobile-friendly application intended for information sharing about the game, Fantasy.

Bookstogo

Created by Julie, Bookstogo is a web-based library system wherein a user can maintain records of borrowed and returned books.

Online Learning System

Created by Benedict, Online Learning System, as the brand name implied, is an online learning system for any academic institutions.

Monoposto

Created by Nico, Monoposto is a web application crafted with subtlety in mind for Formula 1 racing history and data visualization. He utilized the Ergast Developer API and The Guardian Open Platform for the application’s main source of data.

Karauke

Created by Emman, Karauke is an online version of Karaoke but using song lyrics with ukulele cords with the option for users to create his/her own entry.

When In Naga

Created by Kevin, When in Naga is a personal custom-made blogging platform and CMS.

 

On a fun note, this second capstone presentation made a mark in Tuitt history because of one presenter’s unique performance. Emman, the person who created Karauke, treated us to a ukulele number as demonstration of his output.  You can see his awesome Despacito cover in our Facebook page. Check it out! 🙂

Moving on, this set of web applications were absolutely amazing considering that only two months ago, the trainees had very few and minimal experience in terms of web development and programming. The effort, hard work, and countless hours of coding definitely did not go unnoticed.

One milestone more and we are ready for this batch of future junior web developers to dive into the world of software and web development. We expect yet another challenging milestone ahead for the third capstone project, but I believe that we can all do this!

Once again, good job guys!

“You do not need to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” — Zig Ziglar

 


Day 4, Capstone 3 Instructors’ Verdict

Our recently concluded Day class (Batch 4) campers, if not already hired, are already on their way towards employment in the Web Development field. But before that, in this post we will share our instructors’ thought on their last capstone projects: websites created using Laravel framework while applying all that they’ve learned in our boot camp.

Criteria:

  • Content and Information flow – Are the information across the website well structured? (From 1 to 5)

1 – I feel lost in this website
5 – The site is well structured; Information and content are placed in their proper pages/sections

  • Visual Design and Functionality – Pleasing to the eyes and other cool things (From 1 to 5)

1 – Looks like a malicious site to me (meh)
5 – Done professionally

 

The landing page gives the user a clear idea that this website is an office tool. Despite the simple design and layout, the calculations being done and automated by this project is quite complex. Possible room for improvement is to make it possible to import a csv file instead of manually inputting the employees’ timekeeping records. 

Content and Information Flow: 4.5/5

Visual Design and Functionality: 4.0/5

 

The ticketing CRUD system works well, and the use of AJAX when choosing departments is a welcomed  addition. Changing ticket status also works fine.

Next improvements should include sorting the tickets by status, then sorting by any of the table columns, ascending or descending.

Content and Information Flow: 4.1/5

Visual Design and Functionality: 3.5/5

 

A social media site with the basic functionalities: friend requests, posts, comments, and likes. A lot could still be improved with the design though, and the use of AJAX is recommended, if not necessary, for projects such as this.

Content and Information Flow: 4.3/5

Visual Design and Functionality: 3.5/5

 

A straightforward, uncomplicated, simple to navigate bed and breakfast reservation website. There is an interactive floor plan where the user can click a room and then see its details on the right side of the screen, and pictures of the room at the bottom. Reservation can be done effortlessly. Being easy on the eyes, most users will find themselves reserving a room once they visit this website.

Content and Information Flow: 4.6/5

Visual Design and Functionality: 4.0/5

 

Much like the previous social networking site, this is complete with the basic functionalities: follow, posts, comments, and replies. AJAX was incorporated when posting comments. This could be improved by using AJAX as well when editing comments. We also noticed that anyone can delete comment replies, so this is another room for improvement.

Content and Information Flow: 4.5/5

Visual Design and Functionality: 3.7/5

 

A complete system for leave filing that can be used in a company. A staff can be registered and issued with leave credits via an admin account. Once registered, the staff can log in the system and use it to file / schedule a leave, which in turn will be reflected in the admin dashboard, subject to approval. Admin can approve, deny, or cancel a leave request. The dashboard can be improved by removing the button for the current status of the request (i.e. If request is already approved, the approve button should no longer be visible.). Another possible room for improvement is to automate the update of available leave credits every time leave requests are approved.

Content and Information Flow: 4.4/5

Visual Design and Functionality: 3.6/5

 

 

Growth Hack Philippines is a blog site for young professionals, business leaders, startup owners, or just anyone who wish to hack their way to the top of their respective industries. The blog site is complete with account registration, blog creation, tagging, and commenting. Each blog entry can be categorized under business, startup, career, or leadership. Each entry can also have multiple tags which makes it easier to find these articles using the search box.

Possible improvement is to list down the tags at the bottom of each article so that these tags can be clicked to be redirected to other related articles. Or just make sure that the right panel for “most related articles” is working.

Content and Information Flow: 4.5/5

Visual Design and Functionality: 3.7/5

 

The top panel gives us an idea of the main sections of the website. While the left navigation panel lays out the categories of the items that we can find/buy in the website. These two panels with the addition of the search box at the top makes it really easy for the users to find exactly what they are looking for.

Other categorizations such as hot offers, top products, and popular brands are also available. Overall, very professionally made and almost ready for market deployment.

Content and Information Flow: 4.6/5

Visual Design and Functionality: 4.2/5

 

A blog/review site that covers all the latest music releases, reviews, and articles by respected writers throughout the music industry. CRUD functionality is working seamlessly. The use of vinyl with black and white theme works. But we can still definitely see more improvements with the layout, for example, by eliminating most of the white/blank spaces which gives a feeling that the page is incomplete or lacking in details.

Content and Information Flow: 4.1/5

Visual Design and Functionality: 3.6/5

 

An Online System for students and instructor where grades can be uploaded and accessed. This is a very useful tool for educational institutions. Instructor/admin accounts can enroll students to their respective courses, and then give out grades, from first to fourth grading. The complexity of how all the grades can be given out in just one go, with the help of AJAX is applaudable. Just some more layout edits to help improve user experience and this project will be ready for release.

Content and Information Flow: 4.3/5

Visual Design and Functionality: 3.7/5

 

This is a sound re-implementation of an already existing system. The steps from registration, logging in, finding a match to making a bet are straightforward. Live, upcoming, and already done matches are sorted accordingly. Necessary match information, as well as coins wagered, are readily available. Just a few more minor tweaks and we can already see this deployed for wide use.

Content and Information Flow: 4.6/5

Visual Design and Functionality: 4.2/5

 

A site for sharing and indexing skate videos. There are no default categories but users (video owners and viewers alike) have the freedom to tag videos with info like: skaters involved, locations featured, tricks performed, brands represented, etc. This feature makes it a dynamic and organic website that depends solely on the community in caters to.

A painless search-and-watch experience for skate enthusiasts, this project is complete and very well developed, with its own unique identity.

Content and Information Flow: 4.7/5

Visual Design and Functionality: 4.5/5

 

Another Social Networking Site that gives its users a platform to vent and rant their frustrations away. As of presenting, only the CRUD for posts and comments are working (apart from user account creation), and a lot can still be improved. Page load and reload will be greatly improved with AJAX. Likes for posts and comments is a welcome improvement. There are also not much role restrictions, which enables other users to edit parts they usually shouldn’t.

Content and Information Flow: 3.8/5

Visual Design and Functionality: 3.5/5

 

Useful website, making it easier for users to find information about requirements for official IDs and documents, and then a blog site for important government news and announcements. Despite the seemingly uncomplicated layout, the database relationships used for the government documents and their respective requirements is pretty intricate. The gamification of this part of the project makes a rather tedious process more fun, so thumbs up!

Looking forward for this to be deployed!

Content and Information Flow: 4.6/5

Visual Design and Functionality: 4.6/5

 

A Social Media Site where the user can post their plans and connect with friends. There is a users page which lists down and categorizes all users, friends, and pending requests. The news feed part is well implemented with the likes and comments functionalities done with AJAX.

Functionalities are pretty much complete, and most improvements are needed on the design part.

Content and Information Flow: 3.9/5

Visual Design and Functionality: 3.6/5

 

A forum website inspired by Laravel.io. Forum thread creation, and categories are working fine. The CRUD functionalities are enough, and the tagging system eases the user experience. Relatively easy to navigate but could be improved by mimicking hierarchical structure of existing forum sites, as well as the placement of the web elements.

Content and Information Flow: 4.4/5

Visual Design and Functionality: 3.7/5


And that’s it! We wish you all the best in your developer careers! And don’t forget to continue learning and continue improving on your skills.

 


For The Love of Codes and Basketball

Software and web development are very challenging and brain-draining but totally worth while activities. As a professional developer, you need other hobbies or activities to focus on from time to time to avoid burnouts and unwind.  Luckily for some of us, basketball is one of those excellent activities which we can do to take our minds off of things.

Players

The Batch 4 Day class is composed of 17 boys and three girls. Having this many guys in a room, we could already create a whole basketball team. And so we started asking them if they would be interested in a friendly basketball game just to unwind. Fortunately, just enough of them said yes and we were able to come up with two teams.

Our first roster and pioneers of the weekly basketball games were campers Rey, Pidz, Paul, Mavs, Jaekz, Kevin, mentors PeeJay and Billy, and alumni Gerard and Vince.

But later on we invited four more additional players: Lex and Vince (Yes, we have two Vinces!) from Tuitt Inc., Tuitt Philippines’ sister company focusing on software product development; and Mark and Benedict, Batch 4 Day class campers.

First Game

Upon having an agreement with all the players, Billy immediately contacted his friend and bootcamp batchmate, Vince, if it was possible for him to schedule a game and reserve a court at Valle Verde 3 and he did so. Though it was a late notification to reserve the court for us, luckily the schedule was still available and we were able to grab it.

Follow-Up Games

After the first game, it became our weekly habit to play friendly games every week, which is a good thing for our players as well, because this will give them time to refocus their minds, help them prepare for upcoming challenges in the bootcamp and avoid burnouts.

Courts

We played in two different basketball courts. The first one was at Narra St., Valle Verde 3 and the other one was at Sacred Heart Parish Shrine, near Tuitt’s headquarters.

New venues will be considered for our future basketball games. The closer it is to our bootcamp, the better it will be for everyone.

Post Game Activities

After every game, we hangout somewhere in a place that’s near the basketball court to grab some food, and talk about anything and everything that’s related to web development, what went on during the game, or even life in general.

Uniform

We also had an idea to create our own uniform with light and dark versions depicting Tuitt’s brand name and the batch’s number. Sad to say that for now, we were not able to implement it. Maybe for the next batches, we can make it happen. This is a win-win idea anyway.

Final Game

Our last basketball game with Batch 4 Day class was special because it was the first time we mixed and match players against each other, as opposed to our original team setup that is usually mentors and alumni versus students.

Some more campers actually went with us as well to play badminton. They were Emman, Ruel, Darryl, and Julie.

Future Game Plans

We are hoping to continue this weekly habit of having basketball games for the upcoming future batches of campers as well. This will definitely help us create a sense of camaraderie among our students and be able to work as a team outside the bootcamp.

Inviting alumni who are currently working or will be working here in Metro Manila companies to play against new trainees, we think, is a sound idea. This can help us get to know them more and provide an avenue for fellow web developers, who love to play with codes and basketball at the same time, to connect.

It has been a wonderful experience playing with you, guys! We are looking forward to our future games with you as Tuitt Coding Bootcamp alumni.