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This is a re-post of a testimonial from Jacqui - a student on our first ever cohort back in 2017, which took place in Manchester city centre before we moved to fully online teaching in 2020. She now works as a Project Manager for Reason Digital.

Why did you choose Command Shift?

I started to learn to code on my own using online platforms such as Code Academy and Free Code Camp I really enjoyed learning to code and wanted to progress at a faster pace. Doing research on what was available, Command Shift seemed like a really good option. The price of the course was lower than other courses in Manchester and there was an option to pay in instalments rather than upfront. It was the only course which offered a part-time classroom offer where I was able to continue with my job and learn at the same time, I would have struggled to afford to give up work and learn full time. When I met the teacher Joe for the initial suitability interview his enthusiasm for coding and teaching was clear.

Would you say the course is good value for money?

The course was significantly lower priced than any other in-person course in Manchester and the ability to learn around work made the course great value for money. I believe the course has really accelerated my learning and if I had continued with the free online courses I would not have learnt such a wide range of subjects in the same amount of time. In addition to coding, the teacher gave insights into working as a software developer which you would struggle to learn using the free online courses such as pair programming, test driven development and agile working.

What did you like most about the course?

I really liked the wide range of topics we covered, there was a curriculum to follow which meant the course progressed at a fast pace and each week we were learning a new concept. I enjoyed working on the assignments at the end of each week which helped embed what we had learned in the class, they were often challenging but I enjoyed problem-solving and the teacher was always available through Slack to help if needed. I also really liked hearing from Joe the teacher about his experiences of working in software development bringing some of the concepts to life with examples and learning skills that complemented the pure coding such as agile and pair programming. At the end of the course, we had talks from a number of people working in software development about their experience with advice on how to progress, it was useful to see the different routes into software development.

What was your favourite project and why?

I really enjoyed learning how to build a skill for the Amazon Alexa, making use of emerging voice-user interface technology. In the class, we made a game of ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire’ which once enabled asked questions and you progressed if the answers were correct. I then completed an assignment at home creating a skill which gave facts about Sunderland (where I’m from!) We were given an Alexa as part of the course so we could see our projects come to life and being able to show off something I had created to my friends and family made me really proud.

What part of the course did you find the most challenging?

Overall the course was quite intense and time consuming around my day job which meant I had to make some sacrifices and work really hard to keep up with weekly assignments. The pace of the course meant new concepts were introduced each week which often meant I’d only just get to grips with one concept and we were moving on to the next thing but this is in keeping with the pace of technology changes in the real world so I think it was useful to learn in this way - it teaches you to never stop learning! It was really helpful to have support from the teacher who was always on had over Slack to explain the concepts again in between lessons and regularly recapped earlier concepts in the lessons.

What advice would you give to somebody thinking of applying?

Make sure you understand the commitment you are making as it's not just attending the class, you need to put in a lot of extra work around the class too. There were times when I thought I was never going to understand some of the concepts but at the beginning of the course Joe taught us about the power of ‘not yet’ I recommend you watch the TED video by Carol Dweck as it really stuck with me through the course and helped get me through some of the tougher sessions.

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