Victor Mmulah: Looking Back On my 6 months at Moringa School Coding Bootcamp

As I glance at the calendar, I realize that it has been almost six months since I started a Coding Bootcamp at Moringa School. All I can say is that time flies! In January 2023, I will be joining Edutab Africa, a month after my graduation, but before then, let me share my experience as a student.

My interest in coding

Working through my Diploma in IT in 2021 at Maseno University was not only an interesting learning experience, but it also introduced me to basic programming skills. After graduating, I got a software development internship at INNODEMS. Before this position, I had worked as an IT assistant at Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) in Kakamega, Kenya. Among my tasks were software installation/maintenance, network device maintenance, and computer tech support. So this was my experience joining an industry software development team.

My first days at work were daunting tasks. The skills I possessed were insufficient to contribute significantly to a software development team. I needed to be at my finest at coding. This was a lot of pressure on me since I needed to show my best at work and contribute to the team. So I decided to make a change and take coding seriously. I had already looked at coding resources on the internet on platforms such as FreeCodeCamp, w3schools, and tutorials on YouTube. During my internship, we had a coding sprint, which was a one-week intense software development event with all members of the software development team together. The main objectives of the sprint were to fast-track delayed GitHub issues we were working on, improve productivity and have a constructive relationship with members of the organization. While on this coding sprint at Kakamega, Kenya, I learned a lot within a short time from more experienced software developers. This convinced me I could significantly improve my skills. 

Through the partnership between Edutab Africa and Moringa school’s Coding Bootcamp Access program scholarship program, I was accepted for the Moringa school access program Bootcamp. In a blended learning approach, professionals at the school help learners achieve growth and results through market-based courses, mentorships in the classroom, and an engaging, open, and transformative learning environment that encourages creativity and job readiness.

The Moringa School Access Program

My experience at the Coding Bootcamp was challenging, if not frustrating. Does that sound terrible? Dropping out is still an option (which is an easy choice), but what if everyone does it?

Throughout the seven months, every day from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. consisted of classes, independent study, and extracurricular activities. That’s a lot to do, especially since there’s always so much information to learn and understand. Even though it was so difficult, it was also one of the most rewarding experiences of my life because of the experience, knowledge, and skills such as the problem-solving process, teamwork, collaboration, and research I gained during the Bootcamp.

Every day, you strive for more knowledge and learn new things to keep up, and you do it all night and on weekends. Prepare to have very little free time and to be drained out. Remember that you are not alone in this; you attend the Bootcamp with fantastic like-minded people that encourage each other and push forward together. The teamwork we practiced helped us overcome challenges we were not able to solve alone. The classes consisted of people with diverse backgrounds. Some were absolute beginners\novice while others had years of experience in programming. Nevertheless, we all worked through it together and even the most seasoned student in the class learned something from the beginners.

The structure of the Access Program

They split the Bootcamp into seven stages, each lasting four weeks. In the last week of each stage, we needed to develop a project to demonstrate the skills we had acquired. 

The first four weeks were dedicated to the introduction to coding. In the first stage, we learned HTML, CSS, and vanilla JavaScript. These are programming languages for web development. We had to create our websites, which was difficult because everything seemed unattainable. Everyone was striving to do their part.

The second stage covered the ReactJs framework, a JavaScript-based framework also used in web app development. Every day, like in the few weeks, a new chapter was dedicated to a different aspect of React development. As per the notion, I had daily chores to complete during the evenings and nights. 

The third stage covered Ruby back-end development. This was another challenging point in my life because it was my first time learning the language. The problems I faced in the first and second phases gave me drive, and everything fell into place because the majority of the functions were repeated. We had to combine both our front-end (React) and our back-end(Ruby) for this phase’s project. To complete the website, we learned how to integrate the front-end and back-end sides of it.

The fourth phase of the Bootcamp was dedicated to Ruby on Rails (a ruby framework). Things were finally falling into place, and for the first time, I was not overburdened with new information because coding is supposed to be simple and fun. This was one of the simplest and most enjoyable phases we had encountered, as my colleagues would say. The teachings were a rehash of the prior phase, but they were much more capable in terms of scope/functionality and uncomplicated.

The fifth and final phase was the final project, which will incorporate all the knowledge that we have gained all this time. In groups of six to seven people, each of whom had a project to complete. We divided our team into two sections, front-end and back-end, based on the strengths of individual members. We utilized Slack for communication and announcements, Figma for design, Google Meet for meetings, and Trello for task management. We used JavaScript, ReactJs, Ruby on Rails, and Redux for this project. In a team, staying up to date with the correct version of your program might be difficult. Each individual modifies the code, then commits their modifications so that they are merged with the changes made by their partner. This frequently results in a slew of merge conflicts. After every person understands how to accomplish their task, the journey becomes more enjoyable. Teamwork was one of the most crucial aspects that individuals should be aware of.

I can only say that this has been an incredible experience for me. It’s been an intensive experience, and I don’t think I’ve ever learned so much in such a short period. It is imperative that you remain mentally prepared throughout the entire process. Being able to produce something, no matter how small, is a remarkable accomplishment that is well worth the effort.

I want to use the skills I’ve obtained so far in the Bootcamp to empower and mentor people who are interested in software engineering. Additionally, I am studying more in order to improve my skills. This is simply the beginning of my learning and demonstrating my ability. The final lesson I’d like to convey to everyone is that,

“The entire goal of education is to transform mirrors into windows.” – Sydney J. Harris

Written by

Victor Mmulah