For those not in the know, I’m a student at Lambda School’s Full-Stack Web Development program (Read more here). In short, Lambda School offers 30-week programs in web development, data science, and iOS development, all of which are free until you get a job. If you don’t get a job, they don’t get paid.
From minute one, we were bombarded with concepts, theory and demos, interspersed with the occasional practice assignment. After a while, you become oh-so-grateful for a quick five-minute break. Trust me on this one. Honestly, I feel for the people who are brand new to programming. Some concepts or theory would pop up that I genuinely had never heard of before. Google, MDN, and I became fast friends over the course of the week.
If I were to summarize Lambda's approach to learning, it would be ‘Practice Makes Perfect. So Practice A F*ckton'. And if practice somehow doesn't make perfect, at least it doesn't produce errors. Which is good enough for me. I feel like a monkey most of the time when stuck behind the keyboard, so I might as well make sure that I'm a damn good code monkey. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I personally enjoyed the change of pace compared to the first two weeks. The immediate gratification of having your algorithm return the correct result or your function returning the desired array is amazing. After the countless hours spent on HTML and CSS during the first two weeks, it felt great to actually be programming and working through proper algorithms.
As I mentioned last week, my current laptop was not up to the task. It was struggling to keep up with even the most basic functions. Opening a code editor would take the better part of a minute. No bueno.
Lambda School actually loaned me a MacBbook Pro! Sure it's refurbished and has a couple of dents, but who the hell cares? Honestly, I'm not in a position to shill out $1,000+ for a laptop right now. One of the Student Success Coordinators, Kevin, reached out to me. He explained Lambda's loaner-policy and he encouraged me to apply. I hesitated for a couple of days. I didn't want to take the opportunity away from students that might need it more. As soon as it was clear the situation was untenable, I accepted and Kevin was right there to help out. Thanks Kevin - if you ever do make your way to the Netherlands, I owe you a beer!
Perhaps now's a good time to mention that I had never used a Mac in my life up until last week. But what a change it's been. For the first few hours, everything felt alien and clunky to me. The weird swiping-motions, the pop-up toolbars, and the keyboard layout all took some getting used to. One tutorial and four Apple fanboys helping me out was all it took to get me up and running.
Now that I've had it for a couple of days, I can definitely tell what the hype is all about. Once you get the hang of it, the entire operating system is really intuitive and sleek. Not to mention that it makes dealing with the terminal infinitely easier.
As most people are curious about the exact curriculum at Lambda School, I’ve listed most of the topics down here. I guess it also makes for a good roadmap if others try to do something similar by themselves.
In Week 3 we covered:
In addition, I did some studying of my own, covering the following topics:
This week was a definite change of pace. Even nostalgic. In a way, Lambda almost resembled a university in their approach this week. We actually had exercises to make and homework to do - a great change of pace from another design-project!
You’d better pay attention during the free bootcamp or, God help you, you're going to have a tough time. Especially if you're completely new to coding! Four two-hour long instruction sessions barely managed to cover the topics listed above, without having to cover basic data structures, syntax or conditionals.
This week, the challenges and assignments definitely became more difficult. During the first two weeks, I finished the morning code challenge in fifteen minutes or so, giving me plenty of time to lounge around for a bit. This week, not so much. I spent a good fifteen minutes solely reading the challenge requirements during a particularly-tricky challenge.
Starting this week, I'll also be making a list of topics I want to check out during the next week. As part of Lambda's curriculum, we'll mostly be focusing on the DOM (Document Object Model), classes, and prototypes. Since I'm familiar with those already, I want to push myself a bit. For Week 4, I'll look into:
If you have any questions regarding the student experience at Lambda, hit me up on Twitter! I’ll try to answer some of them every week.
Is it possible to attend classes in-person?
Not at the moment. Perhaps in the future. There have been some rumors of Lambda buying a campus now that they've raised $30M in venture capital. Building out their remote learning-environment seems to be the highest priority. Every month, Lambda hosts what's a Lambda Meetup Day. They encourage students to meet up and collaborate. Taking the classes together during these meetups is the closest you can get to in-person collaboration and learning. For the European cohort, no plans have been made yet. The entire European student body is only some 20-odd people after all. Maybe later
Do you know what courses Lambda will start teaching in the future?
Unfortunately not. The founders and staff are tight-lipped about future plans. It seems sensible not to broadcast your future plans to a Slack channel with thousands of people. Lambda School seems convinced about their ability to apply their methodology to most types of vocational training. Recently, scuttlebutt has it that Lambda is looking into cyber-security, design, and nursing. Not sure how they're going to pull that off. I'm curious to see what the future holds!
This week was entertaining. It felt good to stimulate the left side of the brain for a bit. I know; left-brain/right-brain is just a wive's tale, but it's a good analogy, no? A lot of students struggled this week and I wondered at times if everyone would make it. However, most people seem to have pulled through and gotten a thorough understanding. There were quite a few cheery faces after successfully completing this week's Sprint Challenge. I personally did get bored a couple of times but I distracted myself with plenty of extra reading and courses.
Finally, if you’re interested in signing up for Lambda School yourself, please consider using this link. With it, you’ll receive $250 after you attend your first day and Lambda will give me $250 for sending you there! Win-win!
And remember, the average pace is for chumps!