Since the pandemic struck in mid-March 2020, NSS has been operating remotely, moving all classes and career development events online. We’ve since graduated 16 cohorts virtually, 6 of which were fully online. We caught up with Emily Hartzell, a graduate of Web Development Cohort 42, who’s now a working junior developer, to ask what her online experience was like at Nashville Software School (NSS).
WHAT DOES A TYPICAL REMOTE WEEK OR PROJECT LOOK LIKE?
Emily: Depending on where we were in the course, we would have a few live coding sessions where we all met in the main room of Zoom [to] hear from the senior instructors, see some examples, and have a conversation about [what we were learning]. From there we could go into breakout rooms with other students, and work through the projects on our own while being able to bounce ideas off of each other and get help from TAs and senior instructors as needed.
HOW WOULD YOU INTERACT WITH CLASSMATES AND INSTRUCTORS VIRTUALLY?
Emily: We used Slack primarily. We could DM our peers and TAs and Instructors to get their attention that way. Our cohort had a “Help Thread” [in the class Slack channel] every day, so we would just comment on a help thread and tell them which breakout room we were in and an instructor or TA would be in there afterwards. Using Zoom and Slack in conjunction with each other was great.
WHAT CONCERNS DID YOU HAVE ABOUT STARTING THIS BOOTCAMP ONLINE?
Emily: Being Introverted, and jumping into this as a completely new thing - I’ve never done anything like it. It was kind of nice being remote because [I could be] in the confines of [my own space.] It helped me that I was in a comfortable environment trying out something for the very first time. It did feel like it took longer to get to know my classmates, whereas I feel like with the benefits of being in-person, you can sense when you’ve clicked with someone right away. When you’re on Zoom, you have to relearn how to read social cues again, so that took a little bit longer, but I had the patience for it so it was okay.
WHAT WOULD YOU WANT SOMEONE WHO WAS CONSIDERING ATTENDING NSS TO KNOW ABOUT THE ONLINE BOOTCAMP EXPERIENCE?
Emily: There is a support system. I think that might be a #1 concern with how isolating it might be, and I think it’s only isolating if you make it. I know I had to step out of my comfort zone a few times just to be the first person to reach out to people, but everyone was more than willing to respond, always encouraging, always had a good experience talking with Alumni or my other classmates who are going through the same thing you’re going through.
HOW WAS IT WORKING TO ON GROUP PROJECTS VIRTUALLY?
Emily: I enjoyed it for the most part. We work with different people for each project, so I really got to see a different variety of group environments and group dynamics. I know I was one of the more talkative group members, so I loved hanging out in a breakout room with just the whole group and that way we could kind of just talk freely whenever we got stuck on something. But I was also in a group where I had group members that needed that silence [while they worked]. That’s where [I learned how to] really communicate with the group upfront about what would work best, about what you and your teammates need, and communicating about those things openly.
WHAT DID THE JOB SEARCH LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?
Emily: I was lucky. The job I have now, I met the VP of Technology at a Mock Interview event [arranged by NSS] in December; I graduated in January. Because of that connection I made, my now team manager came to my Demo Day, so it was another interaction with that company. Before that, I had been going to meetups just trying to connect with people on LinkedIn, just to put my name out there.