From Ancient History to the Future of Code: A student’s story

Enspiral Dev Academy trains beginners into work-ready Junior Web Developers through 5-15 weeks of remote study and a 9 week intensive in-class bootcamp in Auckland or Wellington, New Zealand.

coding new zealand
Tim and Maddie at Dev Academy’s Auckland campus

Tim Tolley is an Ancient History and Classics major, who started bootcamp at Dev Academy in January.

“After I graduated from university I didn’t know what to do with my life, I didn’t have many practical skills coming out of University. I applied for some jobs at galleries and auction houses but didn’t have the skills required to get them.”

“I wanted to be able to use my Ancient History degree in a more practical way. For example, being able to work for a museum and make an augmented reality platform where people could look around the museum and see different artifacts in 3D, when they might’ve just been pictures on the wall, would be kinda cool. So I was motivated by the idea of being able to get into the field in which I studied, without doing a Master’s or another degree.”

“Also, the opportunity to work and travel has been quite a big motivator for me.”

“I’d love to go live in Europe and work for a big European museum. I was in Naples last year, and just loved their museum. But there was one space that was a bit more advanced in terms of tech, with videos and a little almost-hologram. Whereas the rest of the museum was just paintings and walls but technically not very advanced. It would be amazing to be able to expand that.”

“So the idea of being able to travel and fund myself was what prompted me to sign up for Dev Academy. And I’ve loved it as well, so that makes a difference.”

“My highest point on the programme was my personal project. I managed to start from scratch, literally an empty folder, and get to the point where I had a server and a full front end using React.js, and a database. To be able to see that and say ‘I built that’ is really awesome.”

“I’m making a travel blog for myself. And I haven’t got any content yet but to see the actual structure of it is really cool. I’ve got login, I’ve got authorisation implemented as well, so I could add other users later, and a Mongo database. It’s like a teeny tiny WordPress.”

“Learning Mongo was a really big thing. It’s a different type of database — in bootcamp we learn Knex.js, which translates JavaScript to SQL, and then uses SQLite to build a database that can be deployed using Postgres. Whereas Mongo is a different type of database which is NoSQL, so it’s a different type of structure. If you imagine it as a big table, then each row has completely different headings, so it doesn’t have a set schema like in Knex. In bootcamp we do a Thundertalk where we learn a technology and explain it to the class, so I did my Thundertalk on Mongo. Doing that Thundertalk was another highlight, because I was able to build an app just to show it to the class, 6 weeks into bootcamp. I never thought I’d be able to do that.”

“My lowest point? Just some big days of struggle. It’s been a case of having very tired days, and coming in and just struggling, absolutely struggling. But then you have that triumph, that eureka moment at the end of the day that makes it all worthwhile.”

“Stepping into Don’s codebase, that was one of the hardest days. Don is our teacher, and obviously works in this way that’s completely different to how we work because he’s so advanced. So we stepped into that, struggled, got to the end of the day and I don’t think we’d done anything. Everyone else was presenting and we were still doing it, we hadn’t achieved anything except making some numbers appear, and a button which broke. So that was a long day. We chose the hardest thing and we learned a huge amount, but it was just one of those days.”

“Now, looking forward, if it happened again, we’d probably remember that day when we couldn’t do anything, and now we’re three days in, we’ve built an app, we’ve had some big triumphs, we’ve done some testing and all the tests have passed. So I think we’d remember that we could push past it.”

“I’m looking forward to finding work. I feel prepared. I don’t feel like I’m immediately going to be able to do whatever they ask of me. But I’m going to be able to learn. That’s the job, and Dev Academy has prepared us extremely well for that.”

“For example, when we started our personal projects we talked to Don about it, and he thought I should use Mongo. And we’d literally had a discussion about how hard Mongo was and how different it was to what we’d done, but he said ‘Oh it’ll be fine.’ And I learned it. And I thought, well that’s cool. I can learn stuff that quickly. I learned it in 4 days, and can happily say that I know how to implement it into a basic app. So that gives me confidence going into a new job. You’ve got to keep learning. On bootcamp we’re using stuff that doesn’t exist yet, like we’re learning a version of JavaScript that hasn’t been implemented into browsers yet. We’re ahead of the browsers at the moment. So we’re going to have to keep learning to keep up with that.”

“I think my biggest takeaway from Dev Academy is being able to go away and say that I can pick up something off the side of the road and think, ‘Yeah, I can learn that in 9 weeks.’ That’s incredible.”

“I was talking to Naeri, our teaching assistant, saying I don’t know if I’ll be able to work for myself straight off the bat, and she said, ‘I did’. That’s so cool. She said, ‘Just take jobs that scare you, and just do it and figure it out and ask people.’ I thought, that’s what I’ve been doing for the past 9 weeks, I can totally do that.”

“I’ve been talking to my parents who had assumed I would go into a company first to get some experience and some support. That’s fine, that’s the way they’ve done it. But I thought, the way I’ve learned is just to keep learning, so why not just do that?”

“Learning a lot very quickly and realising that you can keep learning, and you don’t have to know everything to start with, that’s made a real difference. It’s definitely set me up for the future.”

We look forward to checking in with Tim and seeing where in the world he ends up!

If you’d like to learn the skills to begin your journey into technology, upgrade your career, and open the door to more creative, well-paid work that you can do from anywhere in the world, apply for Dev Academy today.