Going Beyond the Fundamentals with Coding Fundamentals Graduates
At Rocket Academy, we are committed to launching you towards your goals, software engineering-related or not. This is why our basic coding course, Coding Fundamentals, is designed to be a software engineering taster for anyone, regardless of background or experience.
Our students come from many walks of life with a host of different purposes — some seek to supplement their skills, others see the course as a stepping stone to a programming career, several are simply curious. Their diversity is a telling sign of the wide-reaching applications of software fundamentals.
We invited four graduates of Coding Fundamentals to share their stories, from their journey with Rocket Academy to personal goals and future plans.
“I'm currently a full-time student in the totally unrelated field of theological studies. And in my pursuit of this field, I've come to a point where I'm wondering if I should make a switch. I’m not sure yet if software engineering is what I want to do — I’m still exploring. But it’s something I’m more used to because I have a diploma in aviation engineering. That required some form of logical thinking in terms of computer logic, and a bit of coding here and there. So these are things I know I can do well in.
During this entire period of searching what I want to do next, I started coding on my own and picking up basic skills through free online means. Rocket Academy was amongst the few companies that came up in my search for coding bootcamp, especially particular to Singapore. There can be many online courses, but they don't deal specifically with the Singapore market.
Coding Fundamentals was a good introduction to the bigger things to come, so I wanted to use it to see if things fit with me. The course was a great introduction and exposure to what coding looks like, on top of everything I had learnt on my own. I managed to code well also because of the setup Rocket Academy had. There's a lot more one-to-one face time, and closer interaction, which really helped. The many interpersonal relationships involved was the thing that had the greatest impact for me. It was something unique that I saw in Rocket Academy and Kai. Right now, I'm waiting to make that transition into Coding Bootcamp, while slowly reading and brushing up on my own knowledge in preparation for that.”
“I'm a user experience designer and I wanted to learn backend coding to better understand what the developers I work with feel. As a designer, you always want to have the most perfect design. But developers are always at the losing end because they are at the end of the process and have the most work to do. Learning basic coding was useful in showing me the things someone should be thinking about when developing anything, which really helps put things into perspective when it comes to creating designs that are useful to everyone, including my team members.
I’ve done some frontend development before, but the backend stuff is what kills me. I actually began to feel overwhelmed as the course progressed. I'm a complete beginner, so sometimes I was like: how come everybody knows all this? Am I supposed to know this? The first project took me half a day, even though it was supposed to be super easy! But I told myself that I had to fight through it since I already decided to experience being a developer. That made me work harder, ask more questions, and be more prepared during classes.
Kai was my instructor, and he was really understanding and helpful. I'm not very good with sending messages and emails, but he was very empathetic. He walked me through the things I had to do and the other resources I should be looking at. He kept reassuring me too that it was normal to feel overwhelmed and that I shouldn’t think I wasn’t doing well. While Akira wasn’t my teacher, I knew him from a previous course that he did at General Assembly. One of the things I really felt about him was that he loves teaching, which is why he’s able to make all his classes really digestible. I actually decided to enrol in Rocket Academy because I trusted his knowledge and his experience in teaching, and that paid off.
I think the workflow of the course was especially memorable. All the materials and videos were really accessible. If I didn't understand or forgot something while working on something new, I could always go back to the previous course and look it up again. You get a cheat sheet. A lot of the other courses don't really do that. They give you a lecture and the things you can practice, but it’s not guided. With Rocket Academy, if I could compare it to anything, it’s like playing the actual game of Pokémon where you have to go into the world and find things. If you get stuck, you can just go online and look through a walkthrough that tells you exactly where that thing is. So it's almost like having a game guide, and I found that very useful.
Pair work was also really interesting because we get to work with people with different abilities. So we could lean, particularly me, on peers who were better. From my experience with a lot of developers, they’re not particularly great at communication skills too. So pair programming taught me how to interact better with them and the questions I should be asking. It was also nice to see people who were just beginning and having a tough time work things out together. Even if we couldn’t finish every task, the triumph was actually just being able to finish one thing. We would even say, do you want to continue working on it after this? And then we would get to know each other’s backstory as well and build bonds.”
“Coding is always something I've wanted to do, but I just never got around to it because of work, life, and whatnot. I did learn it in school way back when I was a business student, but it was very basic. To be honest, I didn’t quite like it then and I can’t remember anything now either!
Akira and Kai did a very good job in making sure that we got all the help and resources we needed in Coding Fundamentals. The time commitment was quite demanding, but for the ones who managed to put in the effort, I think the course is an effective way to teach. Because by the time we get to class, we are expected to have prepared and gone through the materials, so we can discuss what we've done.
I think coding is one of those things where you just have to learn by doing and discussing, and seeing what approaches everyone takes. The pair programming and peer interactions were very useful because there are so many ways to approach a problem and solve it. I don’t always consider all the different methods and may just find the one that works. So it's interesting to be able to hear how people approach it differently, but still somehow end up with the same results.
Akira, my instructor, was also really helpful and patient. He’s had quite some experience in teaching coding and that shines through. He's able to spot the type of mistakes we're making fairly quickly, sometimes even before we know it. Ultimately, in a class like this designed for beginners, having the right teacher is extremely important. And I think both Akira and Kai made themselves very receptive and accessible. They're extremely prompt in responding whenever I have questions, even if it was way past office hours in the middle of night.
At the moment, I’m a recruiter who hires mostly for software engineers. So knowing programming basics has helped me better understand who I'm speaking to almost daily. It’s a bit easier for me to, say, comprehend what’s written on a CV and go about discussing their work experiences with them. Since graduating, I'm also working on very small side project of mine, which is to come up with a board game using what I’ve learnt. I think software engineering is a good skill to have, and scoring a paid gig for coding is one of the things in my bucket list. But as for where that takes me, I don't know yet.”
See Al’s LinkedIn profile here.
“Before taking Coding Fundamentals, I already had some interest in coding because of my job as a product manager in a tech company. I manage software products, but I don't have any background in software engineering. Although it’s not completely necessary, it does help. So I've played around with some other classes before, like Harvard’s CS50.
While CS50 is very comprehensive, there's no teacher there. That's the good thing about attending a course like Coding Fundamentals where there are instructors, because if you're stuck you can always ask someone. CS50 was purely online. They did have a community where you could ask others questions, but you don't know for sure whether the answer you're getting is correct or not.
Coding Fundamentals also helped in solidifying the knowledge I already had. Eventually, it’s still a beginner’s introduction to coding, but it does make coding more approachable and gives you a good idea as to how working with other developers might feel like. The structure of the course is such that you have to do self-learning before you come to the class. And during class, it's really just working in pairs on a simple project. Everyone works differently and thinks differently, and that was useful to experience.
For me, I interact very frequently with software engineers at my job, so I wanted to learn to communicate better with them and understand their lingo. Some product managers don’t know the ‘pain’ of engineers. But now that I’ve been exposed to coding myself, I can get a sense before I even propose a particular workflow about how much work needs to go into it.
My next step after this is actually to take the graduate certificate from NUS in computing foundations. I'm still applying, so hopefully I’m able to get in! But I think Rocket Academy's course will set a good foundation for it and more. Kai has also been really great as a teacher. He helped a lot during the course and now, even after graduating, we’re still keeping in touch. He’s always trying to find new opportunities for me, which I'm really, really grateful for.”
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