Bootcamp Corner with Dion Fulwood

Dion Fulwood is an incoming Telegraph Academy software engineering student. He talks about applying to Telegraph Academy, tips for other applicants, and his experience using WeFinance.

Bootcamp Corner with WeFinance is a regular series that looks at coding bootcamp students, their experience, and the lessons they’ve learned.

Dion successfully crowdfunded a loan to cover his living expenses during Telegraph Academy. You can see his campaign here. Want to follow his journey? Check out his blog.

Are you considering a bootcamp but worried about the tuition or living expenses? WeFinance for Bootcampers is the fastest way to crowdfund a personal loan.

How did you find out about Telegraph Academy? What made you pick it over the other bootcamps?

I always want to go for the best. I did a lot of research before I came to Telegraph Academy; I actually initially landed on Hack Reactor and then a month or two after I had started my research on Hack Reactor, I found Telegraph Academy. I just really liked their overall concept, they follow the same curriculum as Hack Reactor but it’s focused on my community and thats what is really important for me.

With Telegraph Academy located in Berkeley and you living in Atlanta, was location a factor in your decision?

Yes, it was a huge factor. I was talking to a friend of mine when I was starting to think about going to a coding bootcamp and I was telling him that I didn’t think I could do it, I didn’t think it was going to be possible. But it sounded like a great idea and exactly what I needed especially since I already went through the traditional education route. My friend told me that if I wanted to do it, then I could do it and I would find a way to make it happen. And it turned out to be true because I’m doing it!

What were you doing before Telegraph?

I bartended my way through community college. I worked at one of the top 13 wine bars in Atlanta and got my level 1 sommelier. I went to Georgia Perimeter College which is now Georgia State and majored in Computer Science. For the past couple years, it’s just been work and school.

What was the application process like?

To put in an application, you have to build a very simple Javascript object and then you’re asked to do a technical interview. During the technical interview, you pair-program, which means the person that is interviewing you helps you go through the process, asks you questions as they watch you code it out, and answers any questions you have. Based on that hour interview, you either get in or you don’t. It was sad at first for me because I didn’t get in. I was devastated because at that point I had been studying for 7 or 8 months before that. The only light at the end of the tunnel after that was that I was then offered the Fulcrum scholarship which I was ecstatic about. I jumped head first into Fulcrum and it was not easy by any means but I got through it and it solidified a lot of the stuff that I can see in hindsight why I didn’t get through the first interview. From there, I put in notice into my job and devoted all my time into coding. When it came time to interview again, it was amazing. It lasted an hour longer than it was supposed to because it was good conversation and I was just ready. Within less than 24 hours after my interview, I received my acceptance email! It’s honestly mind-blowing to even think about now - how far I’ve come across the past couple of months.

What would you tell someone else who also got rejected their first time applying?

Just don’t lose heart. Realize that you got rejected for a good reason. If it’s truly what you want to do, you will use your rejection as fuel, and add it to your fire to get in. Nobody said it was going to be easy. Programming is not an easy thing to pick up if you’ve never even looked at it. I actually went to school for it and I still had issues. Also, imposter syndrome is very real but just stay focus and you’ll get there.

What is imposter syndrome?

It’s when you never really feel as good as you actually are - you feel like an imposter. You feel like, “I know how to do this kind of stuff, but am I really a coder?” It boils down to second guessing yourself because you compare yourself to the person next to you.

How are you preparing for the intense 12-week program?

Mentally, the way I prepared myself is understanding thoroughly that the hardest part is yet to come. Doing anything for 12 hours a day, 6 days a week can seem daunting from the outside but as long as you’re doing something that you really want to do it’s not going to seem as bad. I know it’s going to be difficult but I’m just ready for it. I’m ready to be surrounded by people who are just as passionate as I am because that’s where great ideas come from.

What are your plans after TGA?

Because I believe in what Telegraph is doing so much, I really would like to be a part of their Hacker in Residence program. Basically, after you finish your cohort, you’re able to stay back, help the next cohort that comes in and give input on the course on how it could be better. I believe in what Telegraph and Hack Reactor are doing and I think it’s very important so I want to be a part of it in someway. My uncle told me that you should always be a part of something bigger than yourself and I definitely feel like that with Telegraph Academy. I’d like to be a part of that to make sure upcoming cohorts and graduates are able to be the best that they can be and create amazing things for humanity, not even just on a local scale, but globally.

Any tips for other TGA applicants?

Google is your friend. There are so many resources out there - Code School, JavaScript is Sexy, Eloquent JavaScript. I used YouTube to learn about different JavasSript concepts.

What are some tips for creating a successful WeFinance campaign?

Be as honest as possible. List what you’ve done, what makes you a good candidate for pledges, and show you’re able to start something and complete it. Sharing is definitely the number one thing that you can do. Honestly, it was heartwarming when I shared my post to my network - I was shocked with the results. I was apprehensive about it at first because I’m the kind of person that likes to keep my finances private but then I also knew that the campaign would help me. When I finally put it out there to my network and saw how much people were willing to invest and the nice things people would say about me when they would endorse me - it was those kind of things that really made my WeFinance campaign an eye opener in many facets. Believe me, you’ll see how many people believe in you and believe in what you’re doing, and that’s going to help you believe in yourself.