Student perspective: What it’s like to learn part-time while working full-time

Allison Foster is a full-time events specialist at a consulting firm. Dennis Reil is a full-time coffee roaster at a bustling cafe. Additionally, both are current students in our Beginner Part-Time Coding Bootcamp.

Having recently completed Module 1 of the program, they’ve already learned things like how to write computer programs using JavaScript and TypeScript, and have been introduced to tools like Visual Studio Code, the terminal and the command line, Git, and much more.

Because this program was specifically designed for people with full-time jobs, we wanted to check in with Allison and Dennis to ask how they’re balancing a full-time workload with the part-time course. They offered great insight into the overall experience, which you can read below.

How is the part-time coding bootcamp going for you so far?

Allison: Overall, the bootcamp is going well for me. It definitely isn’t linear and there are ups and downs and good and bad days. But after the Module 1 assessment, I’ve realized how much I’ve learned in 8 weeks and am extremely proud of myself for working through the challenges.

Dennis: The program’s going really well for me, too. I attended a bootcamp a few years ago – this was probably 2019, and right as I was coming to the end of it, COVID hit. Obviously, life took a turn and things didn’t quite pan out the way I was expecting. Over time, I forgot everything I learned.

I had two friends who graduated from a Hack Reactor program, and they were so adept at the fundamentals of coding that I decided to enroll. Within the first 8 weeks, I’m already seeing how this is going to help me evolve into being a very self-sufficient developer, which I didn’t really get at the previous bootcamp. It’s been very exciting, very challenging, but in a manageable way. It’s nice to have a really great, supportive staff and co-students.

What is your full-time job? What’s a typical day like for you related to work?

Allison: I work full-time as an event specialist at a consulting agency. I plan all of our client events, which can range from 10-100+ people, and I handle upwards of 60+ events a year, so it can be busy. Most days, I wake up around 6am. I go to the office 1-2 days a week, but generally, I work from home. I begin work around 8 or 9am, mostly emails and meetings, some site visits and phone calls – it all depends on the day – and I wrap work up around 4 or 5pm.

Given that I’m in events, there are days when I have work engagements to manage in the evening. My coworkers and leadership at work have been amazing about supporting me through this bootcamp journey and lending helping hands.

Dennis: I work full time as a coffee roaster, so my mornings start fairly early. Depending on the day, I’m usually working around 5 or 6am, then I’m off around 3pm.

I’m married and we share a car, so that can be tricky. Luckily, we work in the same place, which is awesome. She works in the bakery of the same cafe. Most days, I’ll wake up and take her to her shift, which is even earlier in the morning than mine. Then, I’ll go home, nap for an hour or two, and then go to work for my own shift.

How do you feel about evening classes after a day of work?

Allison: It can be hard to turn the day off. I try to be sure to get a quick walk around the block to separate the two for myself. When I get off work, I get a quick bite in before class, or my fiancé makes something that I can eat in class. After class, I start winding down. I try to stretch and then go straight to bed, read a bit, and then rinse and repeat the next day.

Dennis: When I get home from work, I usually just try to adjust, mentally unwind, and get in a good mindset of preparing for class, which starts a couple hours later at 6pm.

Since starting the bootcamp, what have your weekends looked like?

Allison: On weekends, I typically set aside time either for a full day or two half days to work on coursework. It’s summer currently, and I try to enjoy the sun and beautiful weather while I can. Typically, I’d be gone all weekend camping or climbing, but since being in the bootcamp, I try to schedule a half-day excursion each weekend. I personally need to prioritize some time outside, paddling, biking, climbing, hiking, or just reading in the sun to refill my cup. I believe it’s important to know what refills your cup and to take some time each week to make that happen.

Dennis: Fridays and Saturdays, I try to dedicate to school work with a one-hour on, 30-minute off system. Sundays I completely isolate from school so I’m not getting mental burnout, which is something the Galvanize team recommended staying aware of right out the gate.

Overall, how has it felt to balance your job with bootcamp commitments? What are you doing to help yourself find a good balance?

Allison: Overall, it’s been busy but manageable. It’s worth noting that I have several things working to my advantage on this front. My fiancé is extremely helpful around the house and encouraging to me when I hit difficult spots within the course. My work is supportive of me and understands the commitment I’ve made. Furthermore, I thrive in organizing and planning, as it’s what I’ve done for years. I’ve even added the extra layer of planning my wedding and honeymoon for Spring 2024 to full-time work and class. Overall, I’m extremely grateful for the friends, family, and community around me who support me as I take on this challenge.

Because my days are varied with work commitments, I don’t have a hard and fast schedule. Rather, I try to make soft rules for myself. I try to get a 15-minute walk in, either during lunch or before class. Additionally, I know that I can’t commit to dedicated learning time during weekdays, which means I make sure to get my explorations (outside-of-class work) done during the weekend and take notes to review before each class. If for any reason I don’t get these done, it means I take time early on weekday mornings and have to skip my workout, which I don’t like to do.

But rather than a perfectly balanced day, I strive to have balanced weeks, prioritizing work and class while striving to get healthy meals, movement, and friends in when I can.

Dennis: It’s been very manageable. It’s not easy, but manageable. There’s a saying that I adopted a couple of years ago from a lecture I heard. The speaker said that you only need one “yes” for there to be a million “nos.” I’ve used this to realize that if I can find what I’m saying “yes” to and commit to that, I won’t have other distractions popping up that could sway me, because they’ll be automatic “nos.” For example, for me, a “yes” is that I don’t work past 3pm while I’m in the bootcamp. Another “yes” is that I need 1-2 hours of destressing and decompressing each day between work and school.

So for me, it helps me to know that if I say “yes” to one thing, it’ll mean automatic “nos” to other things. Plus, this is an 8-month program, not 3 years or 4 years. So in that way, I know this time will fly.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about the experience so far?

Dennis: Just that I’m enjoying everything as it comes. I love the staff. The cohort leads are all approachable, which makes remote learning easier because it is kind of challenging being outside of a physical classroom setting, where you have that human connection. But the way this is organized, with the open platform for conversations, it makes it all very approachable. It’s nice for learning and not feeling isolated.


Learn more about the Beginner Part-Time Coding Bootcamp schedule, curriculum, support, and more. We also host weekly beginner program info sessions. These events are a great way to learn more while getting your questions answered in a live online setting. Join us!  

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