My Decagon Experience
My dreams of becoming a reputable civil engineer who worked with one of them multinationals crashed with the falling oil price in 2015. The oil companies and oil servicing companies I grew up around in the city of Warri had pulled away and scampered off to safer environments.
3 years later, I stood with Uloma gazing into her beautiful eyes and then I remembered I had gotten an email from a Decagon institute, inviting me for a bootcamp. This was great news, but the more I pondered about it, the more perplexed I became.
Decagon is a reputable software engineering training institute that brags about its ability to turn novice to sought after developers in six months. While I knew it was time for me to switch careers, leaving a field where I had spent the last few years trying to build a reputation to start all over in an entirely different field was somewhat scary.
I had heard of software engineering and how lucrative it was. But more than anything I wanted the independence and the freedom to take hold of my life and still have the opportunity to create and build stuff, which was what attracted me to civil engineering in the first place.
This was were Uloma came in, she had looked at me with those incredibly beautiful eyes of hers and said in the most soothing voice ever… “Rukee, you should just try it out”. Her voice, had stilled the other screaming voices in my head and days later, I was strapped to the back of an air conditioned Toyota sedan, pulling away for Lagos.
Day one of boot camp was heavenly. If there’s one thing the guys at decagon were incredibly good at is smiling and making you feel at home. A beautiful lady had stepped forth to address us, her smile as bright as the sun and her accent was something to die for.
Moments later a guy with as much hair on his head as there were leaves in the Sahara desert stepped forth to address us. He talked about lexical environment and execution context, something which flew over the head of those of us who were beginners. This guy you shall later come to know and refer to as the compiler. Day one came to an end as quickly as it had begun and we were all too excited and looked forward to resuming the next day.
On the second day, we were introduced to labs. This is something we would later come to refer to as “algorithm challenge” or simply “algorithms” which was wrong by the way…but who cares? The labs were basically tricky questions meant to test our ability to think logically and employ the all the tools you’ve been exposed to, to solve.
While answering these questions correctly is vital, Decagon looks way beyond that. The goal is to see how you react under pressure and your ability to adapt when confronted with novel challenges and how fast you learn. So be warned in advanced, there are people who would solve theirs in two seconds, you might take two days! It is cool, respect your process, remain calm and keep asking ‘the right questions’. Don’t bother trying to cheat the process and never submit an answer until you’re sure you understand the “Logic” that lead to that answer.
If you are beginner, I strongly recommend edabit…go there solve as many as you can. And also check out other peoples solution/approach to solving the same problem.
Ah! you made it this far? Congratulations!!! The gods might have need of you after all. Emm… did I say might? Yup. Not everyone who makes it into the second week would make it into the institute. But if you come this far, then your chances are pretty high. If you know how to comport yourself and ask the right questions, your chances can be higher.
In the second week, we were introduced to projects and tasked to build something under a short period. Maybe three days maybe more..maybe less. I can’t really remember!
As always the goal was to measure how we reacted under pressure and adapted to difficult circumstances. So my advice to you is to remain calm and focus on you. Make good use of the instructors and ask them the right questions.
They will never in this life time give you the solution to a problem, but they would be more than willing to point you in the right direction. Basically in decagon, instructors don’t give fish. They give you fishing tools and on some good days point you in the direction where you might find a great fish! You might be allowed to interact with your colleagues. Ask them the right questions too. You should always seek to understand the process and how these solutions came about rather than just grab them and use them….nothing gets you home faster.
Time would fail me to tell you of Austine and David, two awesome guys on the planet earth. Hopefully you will meet them soon.
The boot camp will no doubt test you and push you to your limits. But it’s okay, the stormy clouds shall soon pass and you will be grateful, with a huge smile plastered across your face.
And lastly, whether or not you make it to institute, it’s for the best. I didn’t make the first time I applied. I was sent home in the second week. But I am here now.
So Eat (they serve pretty descent meals at the camp), Fall in love….with programming and Believe you will be fine.
See you soon.
Your Friend and Brother…