What is bootcamp like during lockdown? [Q&A]

August 24, 2020 | Graduate Profile, Industry, Student Life, Updates | Dev Academy

In March, like many other businesses, we had to move quickly to ensure the continued safety and wellbeing of our students, team and community. As a software development school, remote working and online collaboration were well within our reach, and our curriculum, content and assessments are already online. Our community and the industry have indicated that working well in a remote environment will be an ongoing challenge for many — that is the environment that our remote Bootcamp reflects.

In June, I sat down with a handful of our lockdown graduates to talk about the biggest lessons they learned, and the experience of remote Bootcamp.


After the first year of her Business Management degree in Scotland, Ellora made the decision to change paths and follow her passion for coding. She completed Bootcamp remotely and graduated during lockdown. Ellora is now a Junior Engineer at Actionstep. Read her full story here.

Ellora on campus in Tāmaki-Makaurau

Kirsten: Tell me about some of the biggest challenges you faced on Bootcamp.

Ellora: I have two. One would be on a personal level, and something I’ve dealt with before but especially coming into the tech sector. I had a lot of self doubt and found it really difficult to feel like I was learning enough and not compare myself to others. It is all so new and some people will pick it up really quickly while some people will be slower to pick it up. I still have some imposter syndrome — it’s definitely gotten better but that was a challenge all the way through, just being confident in my own abilities and that I was learning enough for the stage that I was at.

The other one was the physical challenge of going remote with such short notice, and EDA were great in the way they helped us, lending us monitors and stuff, I couldn’t have done it on just my laptop. It was a real mental shift for a lot of us in the cohort, and we were worried that we wouldn’t have the same experience, or get as much out of it or have that connection with each other. But once we got into it after a few days, it was so easy and smooth.

K: What was it like doing Human Skills remotely?

Ellora: Doing it remotely didn’t change much for me to be honest! Obviously I don’t have a lot to compare it to, but our deep dives felt pretty much the same as on campus. It was still quite interactive, we could still jump off into our own groups. Of course there were teething issues with technology but it actually went really smoothly.

As for Human Skills check ins, I’ve been living overseas and I was used to Skyping family a lot (and I think a lot of people are these days), so it didn’t feel unnatural to be talking to Carolyn over Zoom. Both Carolyn and Dougal seemed really available throughout the whole course, we could see their timetables and they were super flexible I think because of the unexpected nature of going remote. It was a really positive experience for me.

K: How did you find the human connection with other people in your cohort?

Ellora: That’s an interesting one, because I do feel like if we’d been in person maybe we would have had the opportunity to do more things like go for lunch, grab a coffee, get drinks on a Friday and things like that. We did have our virtual end of phase drinks and I did feel like I was connected to my cohort, maybe even more so because when you go home from campus I don’t know if you’d talk as much. Whereas being remote we didn’t have that differentiation of being on campus or being at home.

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. There was definitely a good connection there and I think EDA facilitated that.


Alice had worked with software tools as part of her job in early childhood education, and completed a web development diploma at NMIT prior to EDA. She had done everything from build a computer from scratch and get them running, to creating full blown websites. At EDA she learned about software developers’ love for problems and how to embrace challenges.

Kirsten: Can you tell me about the challenges specifically around connecting with people remotely, and what that was like?

Alice: Well when we went into lockdown we knew each other, we had those relationships and those connections and warmed to each other so much more. There was a great bunch of people who had a lot of respect – everybody was so polite, caring, friendly and endearing to each other. When somebody wasn’t coping, other people in the cohort were really understanding and helpful and patient. I really admire the soft skills that everybody brought, it was a great bunch of people.

Something I particularly enjoyed was the pair programming. I was in an apartment on my own, isolated from my family, and I needed to talk to people so I would ask people to code with me.

There was this undercurrent of COVID which was extremely stressful and weird. You know, we could go “woohoo, Javascript” but we were also going “what…is going on right now?” But we became very close and I think Human Skills helped enormously. That was something that a lot of people said brought them back, having that check in with Sarrah, with decent time to talk. We really missed the kitchen at EDA so we created this [Discord channel] called ‘the Kitchen’ and we’d hang out there and chat and share funny links and jokes and music… and that was really needed.

K: What would you say to someone who is thinking of learning to code?

Alice: Be kind to yourself, be real gentle because… it’s so intense, the apprehension and the build up between Foundations and Bootcamp. People really beat themselves up, but like – don’t worry about that. Kindness to yourself, that’s #1.

K: Is there anything else you would share with a prospective student?

Alice: I just love the kaupapa and the manaakitanga, EDA is really welcoming and hospitable. I feel like EDA is my family, my whānau. You’re really different, in the way you want to see tech in the world. It’s about stewardship for the earth and where we’re going, rather than just ‘tech, tech, tech’. Some of the teachers have really seen a lot in tech, in their work lives and they don’t like where some of it’s going, and fair call. The conscious awareness of what you’re making, why you’re making it and who you’re making it for was really put forth by EDA. That’s important.