During the process of applying to Makers Academy, I found current and ex-students’ blogs really useful in a number of different ways.
Firstly, and most importantly, I found them better than any ‘course review’ website or press article for forming an idea of what life at MA would actually be like. Sure, there were great articles posted all over the internet and heaps of really useful information to be gleaned from their website, but I also wanted to hear it from the people actually living it – give me the grizzly bits too.
I also picked up some handy tips for the general application process and words of encouragement in preparation for that looming interview – this is what I hope to give back in this post!
The first part of my application process (after weeks of bootcamp research and considered life planning) was submitting a written application. This consisted of two simple questions designed to draw out your motivations for applying to MA. Quite obviously, this is very personal to each individual, so there’s not much I can say here other than be genuine and take your time. Obviously, spelling and grammar mistakes are big no-nos so get someone who doesn’t want to sabotage your chances to have a read through.
If you’re successful at this stage, you’ll be invited to interview! These are some of my dos and don’ts for preparation:
- You’ll be sent a couple of things to do beforehand (ours included completing the Codecademy Ruby course and Chapters 1 – 8 of Chris Pine’s Learn to Program) which you should obviously… you know… do.
- Don’t go overboard – you don’t want to become a frazzled mess before the day comes. Do do a little something every day to keep it fresh.
- Don’t focus on memorising syntax – this will come with time! Do think about how you tackle tricky problems. The interviewer will want to see that you approach things in a sensible way and can overcome stumbling blocks, not that you’ve remembered every array method in the documentation.
- Do take a look at this MA blog post on applying the ‘scientific method’ to programming. Absorb into your conscious.
- Do check out Codewars – they’re scary at first, but really help dispel ‘blank screen panic’ and give you a sense of what it’s like to solve bitesize problems from scratch. It’s also terrifyingly addictive. MUST LVL UP.
During the interview
From what I understand the interview process is has evolved over the years, so I can only share with you what I experienced. For me, my interview consisted of:
- a friendly chat about life at MA and a bit about myself, my life and why I wanted to change things up
- a couple of ‘ice breaker’ style logic games
- a short pair-programming exercise using Ruby
Please, please remember this could be different for you. Don’t hate on me if it is. But do hate on yourself if you don’t think about the following:
- Do be yourself! They want to see that you have the motivation to succeed and a thirst for knowledge. MA is not about being spoon-fed answers to exam questions; there’s no pass or fail marks. Show that you have the drive to keep going through the sticky patches (of which there will be many) and emerge a better programmer.
- As in all interviews – do ask questions and be curious. Interviews are always a two way deal. It’s as much a process for you to make sure MA is a good fit for your learning style, as it is for the interviewer.
- During the pair-programming part, do talk through your thinking. This sets out for your interviewer the logical steps your mind is taking – even if those steps haven’t quite yet materialised on the screen… They can’t help you if you don’t communicate.
- Do have fun! I realise it’s a difficult thing to imagine, but my 45 minute interview was honestly pretty enjoyable and heaps less terrifying than I had built it up to be.
After the interview
- Do shake yo booty and pump those mitts – you ARE the awesome chicken you always knew you were.
- You’ll soon be sent some ideas of things to practice before the pre-course gets under way. Do these things. Please, just do them.
- Do start imagining how great your life is gonna be now and spread that sickening enthusiasm everywhere. People will hate you for it, except your mum. Yes, she’ll think you’re slightly unhinged, but love you nonetheless.