Moving Online Mid-Boot Camp: 4 Students Who Found the Silver Lining of Stay-At-Home

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The COVID-19 crisis and subsequent stay-at-home orders created challenges for everyone. For the boot camp students already navigating intense curricula and demanding hours, the sudden shift to a virtual classroom was certainly a major hurdle. But as aspiring programmers, they were no strangers to facing challenges and uncertainty in their work — on top of being notoriously good problem solvers. 

Chase Hart, Yulia Chilikina, Michelle Sokolov, and Anas Qazi are all students from a variety of Trilogy-powered boot camps who showed incredible resilience throughout the transition — not only continuing to excel in their respective cohorts, but finding the silver lining in the experience and benefiting from it more than even they could have expected. These are the biggest lessons each of them learned when shifting from in-person to online. 

1. Chase Hart: Writing with intention

Chase Hart enrolled in the Georgia Tech UX/UI Boot Camp to transition from a job in teaching to a career in technology. He had always considered himself a good problem solver, explaining that “Eighth grade students aren’t always great at communicating their problems. Every day, I had to think through different situations from another person’s perspective.” 

Little did he know just how much this skill would benefit him later on. 

Halfway through the boot camp, Chase’s class moved online in response to COVID-19. At first, he was nervous that it would alter his experience for the worse. But looking back, he realized it had changed it for the better. 

“Being remote actually helped me,” Chase explained. “It forced me to be more intentional and accurate with my communication. In person, classmates could see what I was working on. Online, I learned how to write out what I was doing so everyone could be on the same page. My classmates and I wound up staying in touch more than we had before. I didn’t feel like I missed anything.”

2. Yulia Chilikina: Embracing all help offered

Yulia Chilikina faced a similar experience to Chase, with classes moving online five months into the Berkeley UX/UI Boot Camp. The thing that made the biggest impression on her? The overwhelming amount of support her and her classmates were met with. 

As the class adjusted to the new online setting, Yulia’s instructors and TAs served as an ever-available resource. “They were available 24/7 to answer our questions,” she recalled. 

This dedication to helping students through the transition was invaluable — especially for those working around the clock across a range of time zones to complete their final projects. Embracing the additional support with open arms helped the students finish the course on a strong note.

“We started the boot camp during normal times and graduated during shelter-in-place — and that transition went super smoothly,” said Yulia.

3. Michelle Solokov: Communicating problems efficiently  

For Michelle Solokov, seeking career change through The Coding Boot Camp at UCLA Extension, the biggest lesson from the transition was skills-based — one that would help prepare her for the tech career she started shortly after the boot camp. 

“One of the biggest takeaways [for me] was learning how to describe what I was struggling with,” said Michelle. “I was used to just shoving my computer in my TAs face when I came across problems with my code — but online, that was harder. Being able to explain the errors in a quick message instead of going through the process of sharing my screen ended up being one of the most valuable skills I took away from the boot camp. Pandemic aside, a lot of developer jobs are remote, and those couple of weeks really helped me prepare for what that would be like.”

4. Anas Qazi: Practicing for the future of work

Anas Qazi found group projects to be a highlight of his University of Toronto SCS Coding Boot Camp experience. But when his class moved online during the final week of his capstone project — just two weeks before demo day — he was thrown for a loop.

“All six of us were meeting every day, trying to accomplish as much as we possibly could,” said Anas. “We spent the whole last Saturday of in-person class planning out the next two weeks. Demo day was delayed to account for the transition, and we were committed to making the most of our time. We reset our project targets, and came up with strategies to meet them more efficiently.”

Having the chance to complete and practice his presentation in an online format with his group ended up being a blessing in disguise for Anas. Why? Because demo day itself would be held virtually. He and his team were able to perfect their pitch, describing the entirety of their application in under five minutes, and making it as captivating as possible. With remote work rising in popularity even before the pandemic, the skills Anas gained from this experience will come in handy in the future. 

“The Zoom format turned out to be very trendy,” he said, laughing. 

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