Next stop: Moon — Full Cycle

My adventures through Dev Academy’s web development programme

Maddy King, our Marketing Manager, recently completed Enspiral Dev Academy’s intensive web development programme. She shares her journey, continuing on from the “How to turn cyborg” blog series. Check out the first bootcamp blogs, Next Stop: Moon, Phase 1, Phase 2 and Phase 3.

So, what’s happened since I graduated Dev Academy’s web development programme?

The four weeks since I graduated have moved quite quickly. We were fortunate to have the end of our course coincide with Tech Week, a nationwide series of tech events that provide the perfect opportunity to do some “networking” and try to get a foot in the door of the industry! We went to a bunch of events and pitched the AR app we had built for our final group project to a number of parties who were extremely interested in seeing whether we could take it further. So we applied for a small grant to work on it. AR development is a very new area and throughout the week we managed to connect with a number of businesses working in the area, and put the feelers out there, letting them know we were looking for jobs.

At the end of the week I went down to Christchurch for the NZ Act in Space Hackathon. This was a tech business competition where you worked with a team over 24 hours to produce a business concept that would solve a problem facing the space industry. 70 countries participated in the challenge simultaneously around the world. We joined with a team of scientists and engineers, and chose an idea based on using Virtual Reality to operate robots over long distances. VR is very similar to AR in its development, so we were able to apply what we’d learned in our final project to build a business concept.

To our utmost astonishment, we won! We won the national hackathon. This meant that at the end of our first week out of bootcamp, we were going to France to compete in the World Finals at an international space show where all the world’s largest space companies would be present. We. Were. Flabbergasted.

maddy king ben tairea web development
Hearing that we’d won

In ten weeks I had gone from not knowing my front end from my backend (lol) to having enough knowledge to propose technical solutions for space — an area and an industry I had never ever ever considered I would find myself in. I did an English degree! It wasn’t just proposals either — we chose the idea because we knew we could build it. Can you imagine? Ten weeks.

So we fleshed out the concept and tied up loose ends and packed our bags and got on a plane! We landed in France a week ago and participated in the finals. It was amazing. We met so many cool people working on incredible ideas. In the competition we lost out to Australia by a nose, but we were proud that we’d proposed an ambitious project with a solid development plan to follow it through. And the French Embassy of New Zealand were kind enough to organise us a bunch of high level meetings with people in the industry who were interested in our idea and the possibility of supporting us to build a prototype in France. So this is only the beginning.

The rest of our cohort went through careers week and started hunting for jobs. They are facing the challenge of 17 people going out and applying for the same jobs at the same time in a small city, but are having leads, and several have already had technical interviews. They’ll get jobs soon. Looking at the listings it’s clear that there’s more work for juniors in Auckland than Wellington, so this might be a good thing to keep in mind. Everyone has cleaned up their Github accounts and continued working on personal projects to develop their skills. Some of them have used this down time to develop their knowledge of other languages like Ruby on Rails and React Native, so they can apply for more jobs.

The free flights to France have given me the ability to continue my adventure where it started — working remotely from a beach in Spain, thinking about how great it is to be in tech. I’m back to working for Dev Academy part-time remotely, and am keeping my ear to the ground for web development contracts that I can complete in the other part of my time, to continue strengthening my skills. It’s a bit challenging to set up from overseas however, so I’m working on my own websites in my spare time and aware that I might have to wait until I’m back in to New Zealand to turn it into paid work.

So, that’s the story of how this poet picked up programming. I’m not going to conclude it because it feels like it hasn’t ended, but please get in touch if this resonated with you, or if you have any questions about the course and whether you could do it. Spoiler alert though — I’m going to say that you can.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s very hard. You need time, and you need to know how you learn best so that you can up pick new, complex ideas quickly. If you don’t, then you need even more time to go over things. You need a support network to do your washing for you. You need to pack your own lunches and dinners so you don’t spend money you don’t have on food. You need resilience, because without it you will lose faith in your abilities at some point — you need to be able to tackle difficulty without seeing it as a personal reflection of who you are. “This is hard” means “I need to work harder”, it doesn’t mean “I am stupid.” And above all you need commitment — you need to be dedicated to doing this, to getting into tech, to seeing it through, and to changing your life. Because that’s the only thing that will get you through the hardest bits. But it’s worth it. It will open up doors to a world you didn’t know existed, where you’re having lunch with an astronaut in the South of France, discussing the physics of using thrusters to simulate gravity in space. That was me last week. What.

In Toulouse with two-time astronaut Leopold Eyharts

If you’d like to take the leap and build a better future, do it. Apply to Dev Academy today. Diversity scholarships now available.