For Nikole (Nikki) Bellock, the key to getting ahead in your career is simple: never stop improving. And she would know. Aside from an MBA and years of experience as a product manager, Nikki has been a program director at FranklinCovey, the renowned consulting company behind the best-selling motivational book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, since 2015.
“I try to upgrade my skills or learn something new every couple of years,” Nikki said. That’s why she became interested in the University of Utah Coding Bootcamp.
“I’d finished my Project Management Professional training (PMP) two years ago, so when a friend sent me an email asking if the boot camp would be worth it for him, I thought, ‘Hey this is a great next step for me.’ Coding will be a great skill to add to my professional wheelhouse to help me at my current job.”
And the boot camp paid off. Nikki was promoted from Senior IT Program Manager to IT Program Director within two months of finishing the coding course. But her success and valuable new skill set didn’t come without a lot of hard work and planning.
The tough road learning to code
“[At boot camp], we hit the ground running on day one,” said Nikki. “We literally started coding that first night.” And that steep learning curve and aggressive pace never let up throughout the 24-week course.
“Everyday it was something new—and something over your head—at least it felt that way!” Nikki said. “We even had one week where everyone fell behind. Luckily, the instructors were really great—supportive, funny, and they kept everyone’s spirits up, because it’s such a hard class.”
The coding boot camp intends to push students through an extensive library of programming languages and full-stack development technologies in a compressed timeline. The curriculum is designed to be challenging because in order to succeed in the modern workplace, students need to rethink how they work.
“The core of the program is to push you,” Nikki said. “It takes a lot of tenacity just to stick with it.” And oftentimes that tenacity means studying and practicing on your own time.
DIY skill building
To succeed in the 24-week boot camp, students are expected to dedicate at least 20 hours a week outside of class to study, complete assignments, and work on group projects. “You learn what you can in class and then you go home and you learn more. I think most people would go home and study on their own and try to hone their skills,” Nikki said.
“One of the things I took away from the course was to have patience with myself,” Nikki said. “It was hard not to just ‘catch on’ like I did in college, it’s not like regular school it’s called boot camp for a reason. I had to relearn patience.”
It took a while for her to feel really confident in her learning. But one day, that feeling finally came.
“I never felt like I was ahead of the game until my final project. It was a variation of a friend finder program that matches people with their perfect dog breeds.” Nikki said. “That final project solidified a lot of skills for me. It’s when I finally said, ‘Oh, I can do this!’”
And that technical confidence immediately opened some new doors in her current job.
Why enroll in a coding boot camp?
“When I started the coding course, I managed a team of developers and quality analysts,” said Nikki. “For the most part, I couldn’t help them from a technical standpoint. In part, I did the program was so I could speak more intelligently about the work they do and step in to help where needed.”
And soon, she was promoted. “The promotion to IT Program Director was exciting, but it’s why I took this course in the first place,” said Nikki. “I do these things strategically. I thought the coding boot camp would the next best move for me and that full stack development skills would make me even more valuable.”
Her company isn’t the only one who recognizes the value of her new skills. Since adding “full stack developer” to her LinkedIn, numerous recruiters have reached out.
Building better teams
For Nikki, success is centered around improvement. Investing the time and energy into her skills makes her better at her current job and more likely to succeed in the future.
“Development isn’t about being in a silo,” said Nikki. “Once you show that you’re someone developers can bounce ideas off of, they get really excited, and great things happen.”
Her biggest takeaway is the importance of constant learning.
“The development world changes so much that you can’t be afraid to learn new things. If you slack on that, you’ll be left behind quickly. If you’re gonna grow with the times you have to stay on your toes.”
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