Nick Johnstone's Blog

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Dev Academy - the End

Dev Academy is over, for my cohort at least. A fresh batch of students will be arriving to start Phase 1 in just over a week.

Getting back to normal life is weird. You’re with the same group of people, learning intensely for 10-12 hours almost every day, for 9 weeks straight. Dev Academy somehow doesn’t feel like normal life, almost doesn’t feel real, but it’s much more real than normal life in some ways. Everyone is so honest and open. It’s so supportive, and you’re surrounded by the most incredible people.

The last day of Dev Academy was really touching. We presented our final projects in the morning. Richard, Andrew, Taylor and I had created Skirmish, a multiplayer war game played on Google Maps. I can’t do justice to the presentations, so I will post the video once it’s available. I was really impressed by the level of quality of each of the final projects, especially from the technically weaker team.

After that, we took our first field trip of the course, and headed up to Central Park. We did an exercise where everyone divides into two parallel rows, facing each other. Each person is in turn blindfolded and walks between the two rows. Each person standing quietly gives the blindfoldee a piece of praise as they pass.

It sounds terribly cheesy. I personally found it overwhelmingly positive to go through. As the blindfoldee (is that even a word?) you hear a rush of feedback, and you can only really grab onto it as it passes. It’s more of a surge of goodwill than anything.

We headed back to Dev Academy after that, did some final exercises as a cohort, and then kicked off the graduation party at the Southern Cross. That was a fun night.

I’ve had quite a few people ask me if I feel Dev Academy was worth it. Dev Academy is quite a lot of money, and it’s 9 weeks solid booked in your life. For me, Dev Academy was 100% worth it. It was one of the best experiences I’ve had in my life. I grew so much technically, but I think I grew an order of magnitude more as a person.

Some people want to see the money though, and that makes sense. I would say most of the people who went to Dev Academy did so to drastically change or improve their career. Almost all of the students started job hunting immediately. Rohan from Dev Academy has been a huge help with that. In the week after Dev Academy, he ran an optional course helping students improve their CVs and interview skills. He’s also helped us find and get to know companies we would like to work at. Wellington is starved for tech talent at the moment as well, so things are looking good. I’m confident that all of people in my cohort will find a good job.

I’ve personally been job hunting and doing some part time web development work for a skateshop. I really enjoy skate related work, so I was glad to pick that opportunity up. I’ve had a few interviews at Wellington tech companies so far, and there a few options I’m really interested in. I want to find a good fit though, so I’m making sure I hunt around a bit.

I’ve got some ideas for personal projects brewing. I have a few left over from Dev Academy that just need a little bit of polishing and they’ll be ready to ship. I had a bright idea last night, but the more I look into it, the more I’m realizing it would easily be my most ambitious project yet. There is always so much more to learn.

I spent last weekend down in Christchurch. It was really nice to get to catch up with my friends and family (and pets), and to sleep a lot. It helped me to unwind from Dev Academy, and to get back to reality a bit.

I hope this post ties up the end of my Dev Academy story a little bit. Thanks to anyone who has been a reader of my blog so far. If you want to read from the start, check out the archives I plan on keeping it up. I mostly feel like writing about technology, education and life, but we will see I suppose.

Let me know if you have any feedback or thoughts.