From Business Degree to Bootcamp

July 7, 2020 | Employment, Graduate Profile, Industry | Dev Academy

Ellora Virtue travelled home from Scotland for a Bootcamp at Enspiral Dev Academy’s Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland campus — only to have COVID19 send her whole cohort into remote study.

She had spent 6 years working overseas, and even began a Business and Management degree at the University of Glasgow. “I started a travel blog, as a lot of people do, and I was curious about how I could personalise it so I wasn’t just using the template. That’s how I first started looking at code.”

The real turning point came when she started a free evening course, offered through the university by an organisation trying to encourage women into tech. For one semester, she learned the basics of HTML, CSS and Javascript. “I found myself coming home at the end of the day and prioritising that over my uni work. Even when I finished what I had to do, I would still be looking into it more!”

When her first year was up, and with three more to go, she had to reassess. Her passion for coding far outweighed her passion for what she was learning in her degree. While looking into coding bootcamps, she made the decision to return home to New Zealand and a quick google brought her to EDA. From there it was “a really clear path”, and she moved back in November to start the nine week Bootcamp in March.

Ellora on campus in Tāmaki-Makaurau
Ellora on campus in Tāmaki-Makaurau

In week one of nine, disaster struck. Just days after a practice round with remote teaching software and tools, the nationwide lockdown was announced. Staff and students began to move off campus, some borrowing monitors and keyboards to set up at home. Despite the challenges of lockdown and unexpectedly remote study, Ellora still had what she describes as a “positive experience”.

“Discord was such a great way to do the bootcamp remotely, we had all of our different channels where we could talk about different things. Our Human Skills deep dives were still interactive, we could jump into our own groups [on Zoom].” She missed the spontaneous moments of going for lunch or getting a coffee with others, “but we did have our virtual end of phase drinks and I had a good connection with my cohort.”

Ellora recently joined software company Actionstep as a Junior Engineer. “Careers Week was so unbelievably helpful for me. It was great to have someone from the tech recruitment sector to give us really good advice.”

“One of my concerns coming into this was, is this going to be enough to get me a job? I didn’t really want to go to university, I wanted to just do something and get into the workforce because I was ready to go!”

She was pleasantly surprised to find that there was no mention of needing a degree in any of her interviews. “In fact, one of my interviewers said he was never going to hire someone with a computer science degree again! Being able to learn a whole lot of technical material, while also being taught those critical skills to communicate and navigate through the tech industry, really gives you an edge.”

Ellora noted that other factors also gave EDA graduates an edge — like the simulated work environment that prepares students for what it’s like to work in the industry.

“You get so much hands-on experience at EDA: in pair programming, using Agile practices, having standups and retrospectives, working in teams…It’s all stuff that happens in the tech industry, not just little things we do for fun! It means you can go into interviews and say you’ve had experience being a scrum master, or front-end lead, and you’re able to talk about it.

I’m seeing now that it is enough, especially these days.”

Ellora also learned some lasting lessons. She particularly loved seeing how people used different approaches to solve the same problem, a common programming phenomenon.

“This taught me that there are many different ways to do and think about things. There’s not necessarily a right and wrong way — but there might be a more elegant way, or ‘dry’ as they say. You can decide how you want to think through it, how you can make it work.”

Through Human Skills, she also learned to tackle self doubt and comparison to others to become more resilient. “It was quite eye-opening for me, mentally shifting my thinking to know that — just because I can’t do it the first time, or the second time or third time, doesn’t mean I’m never going to be able to do it!”

“Being able to learn a whole lot of technical material, while also being taught those critical skills to communicate and navigate through the tech industry, really gives you an edge.”