Talent Alone Is Not Enough: How Theo Changed Careers at 49 and Landed a Paid Web Dev Apprenticeship

Talent Alone Is Not Enough: How Theo Changed Careers at 49 and Landed a Paid Web Dev Apprenticeship

🎙 About the episode

Meet Theo Ntogiakos 🇬🇧! Theo has just switched careers at the age of 49! Recently, he landed a paid apprenticeship and is currently attending a coding bootcamp. But before that, he learned on Scrimba - he joined a coding challenge in February and became an active member of our community. Although he always did something with computers, he used to think he could never become a front-end developer. Well, he was wrong! And that's why he's here.

In this episode, Theo shares details about a path that led him here, as well as his approach to learning. You'll find out what's it like to attend a bootcamp and how it compares to Scrimba's learning platform, as well as what kinds of opportunities to keep an eye out for if you're a new developer and live in the UK. Theo also talks about motivation, self-doubt, and whether he could've shifted gears earlier. He and Alex also discuss the importance of wanting to become a developer for the right reasons.

🔗 Connect with Theo

⏰ Timestamps

  • Theo's journey into web development (it's a long and winding path!) (01:33)
  • Theo's coding background (it includes Pascal!) (02:48)
  • Why Theo wanted to change careers (05:29)
  • On self-doubt (06:13)
  • Was it challenging to change careers later in life? Plus, the perks of a coding apprenticeship (06:41)
  • How Theo landed a paid apprenticeship after only six months of learning to code... and discovered Scrimba along the way (08:42)
  • Scrimba's coding challenges (11:02)
  • UK developer bootcamps (11:56)
  • How to get an apprenticeship as a web developer in the United Kingdom (14:27)
  • Is salary enough of a reason for a career change? (19:23)
  • What do employers want to see in a candidate? (21:33)
  • Slow and steady wins the race (25:17)
  • How does Scrimba compare to a boot camp? (27:49)
  • If you're a self-taught developer, do this! (29:10)
  • Theo's deep dive into Scrimba (30:51)
  • Let's talk pricing: how much does Scrimba cost compared to a coding bootcamp? And what are the differences between the two? (32:18)

🧰 Resources Mentioned

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💬 Transcript

Theo (00:00):
Lots of people have talent. You can have all the talent in the world, but if you code once every 15 days or a month or whatever, or if you do a project then you leave it for three years and you go back to it, you're never going to develop.

Alex (00:11):
Hello and welcome to The Scrimba Podcast. On this weekly show, I speak with successful dads about their advice on learning to code and getting your first junior dev job. I'm Alex, and today I'm joined by Theo who got a paid apprenticeship at 49 years of age. First of all, changing career at 49 and learning to code in just five to six months is incredibly courageous and disciplined, in my view. In this episode, you will learn Theo's specific approach that he could only come up with because of the benefits of his age and experience.
Secondly, Theo got an apprenticeship, which is the step up from an internship, which tends to be quite short term, like a summer internship, and reserved for university students. In England, where I'm from, internships are often associated with trade jobs like carpentry, for example. And they're associated with teenagers, maybe looking for a more hands on alternatives to university. I'd never actually come across apprenticeships for developers, much less apprenticeships for developers of any age. I think that's amazing. And now I'm so excited for you to learn from Theo how to specifically find internships and why earning while learning is awesome. You are listening to The Scrimba Podcast, let's get into it.

Theo (01:33):
It's a long and winding path that I've taken. I started as a software developer many years ago. I did a couple of years of games development, and then I moved into the IT sector. At the same time, I also did some photography and videography, and that led to me working in the education sector for quite a few years, almost about a decade. Until right before lockdown, I decided to try and become a teacher myself, which I did and I became a secondary computing teacher. I did it for a very short amount of time and I realized it wasn't for me. So, basically I was looking for something else. I could go back to IT, which was what I knew, what I had done for many years, but I decided to see if I could become a developer, which I didn't think that it was possible. But it also happened that I've started this apprenticeship, and here we are. I'm now working my way to becoming a software developer.

Alex (02:30):
Did you study Computer Science and programming and stuff when you first got into game development? And could you also give us an idea as to how long ago that was, and how much knowledge you had about coding specifically when you started your new adventure to change career and become a web developer?

Theo (02:48):
That would reveal my age, but yeah, that was 20 years ago. In 2000, I started to work as a games developer. Before that I had, I didn't study Computer Science or Software Engineering or anything like that. I did an engineering degree, electrical engineering, which included a couple of modules. But even before that, I had an interest, so I had done a little bit of Basic, a little bit of Pascal, a little bit of C. So, I had not major things, but I had an idea. It wasn't completely new to me.

Alex (03:17):
If you hadn't revealed your age before, you might have just done so by talking about Pascal.

Theo (03:21):
And Basic, yeah I know. They're coming back, I'm sure, I'm pretty certain. After I finished with that job with a games development job, I didn't really do any more coding as such, I didn't do any projects. Most of the things that I had done was sort of personal little projects, just for fun. I had created some webpages, I did a little bit of WordPress development for some people, because I was doing photography and with photography, I was also doing some web design. So it wasn't like I was coding in PHP or anything like that. But I was in touch with how to do things in CSS, and I did a little bit of HTML here and there and maybe a bit of JavaScript. So I had done that, but in a very, very, very small scale, nowhere near the stuff that I'm doing now, and I haven't even started working properly.
So yeah, it was something that over the years, it accumulated though. So when it came for me to choose of what I want to do next, I didn't think that I could do it without the apprenticeship because no one would hire me unless I spend a considerable amount of time of doing things maybe on Scrimba or other platforms and then had a million interviews and maybe I would get somewhere, but I didn't have the time and I couldn't afford it to wait months. So this one for me was a godsend the apprenticeship path.

Alex (04:36):
So it sounds like you've always been a technologist, an en enthusiast and professionally, you've worked a lot with computers, but you weren't really sort of touching the metal these last couple of decades, like you were configuring software, occasionally playing with scripts, but it sounds like it's safe to say that a few months ago, when you decided you wanted to work as a professional web developer, even though you had a good foundation, I think in understanding of computers and where to find information, in many ways you were starting from the beginning again.

Theo (05:05):
Yeah, pretty much. I started doing the fundamentals on CSS and HTML on Scrimba. And before that I had no idea about flex and grid, like, oh my God, we used to do things with tables and floats and stuff.

Alex (05:19):
Right.

Theo (05:20):
Back in the day. So yes, it was pretty much starting from zero. Although, like you said I did have a little bit of knowledge on it. I knew how to find myself around things.

Alex (05:29):
Can I ask why is it that you wanted to change career and become a developer? Was it just that you always liked the coding part of the work or it looked like something you wanted to learn more about? Maybe there was a career incentive. There is no secret that web developers have great career prospects in terms of salary promotions, working from home and that kind of thing.

Theo (05:49):
It's pretty much all of the things that he said. The salary definitely played a part. In my case I could go back to what I was doing, but the ceiling was pretty much starting salaries in the software sector. But the main thing is that I would've probably tried years ago. It's just that I never considered it as a possibility to be something that I can go back into.

Alex (06:12):
Why not?

Theo (06:13):
I don't know. I'm thinking about it now, now that I've taken the plunge and I'm actually doing it. Why didn't I anything about it like 10 years ago? Honestly, I can't find a good answer. I think it was possibly the fact that I didn't believe in myself. I didn't believe that I had the skills or that no one would hire me to do something I've left it for so long. Why would they hire me or that self doubt that was there. I think that was the main issue. And because of that self-doubt I never went after it.

Alex (06:41):
You were changing career sort of later in life, I would say. I don't think any 18, 22 year old coming out of school has any doubts about how they're going to be perceived because they're a blank canvas basically, and everything's new and they're impressionable and they see all their peers their same age doing the same thing, which is starting new careers. But I can only imagine the older you get, the more challenging that becomes. And not only do you have more responsibilities with your family or whatever, but perhaps it feels more difficult to, at least it must feel like you're going back to the beginning in some ways, even though I'm sure you or anybody considering doing the same later in life, isn't, it certainly can feel that way.

Theo (07:22):
In a way, yeah. It's a new journey. You start something. In my case, not completely new. So from that point of view, I don't feel that it's out of my depth. I know that there's a lot of guys and a couple of girls in the bootcamp. As a side note, if you are a girl and you're looking to get into it, everyone is looking for girls and women in STEM. Honestly, there's a big push. I'm trying to get my partner to take part in a boot camp, but she won't have it.

Alex (07:49):
Oh, no.

Theo (07:50):
No, but the thing is that in my case, because I have had the experience and I think that once you learn programming, yes, I know that seeing Pascal and all of that, it has nothing to do with web development, but there's a lot of skills that I learned a lot of ways of thinking.
So for anyone out there that has done it, I think that this path, it's great, because it sort of allows you to build your skills in a safe environment. I think that's the main thing. There's a lot of things that I sort of knew I had heard about like Ruby on Rails or Sinatra or Spring Boot, all of those things, names out there, but when you actually start using it to build things, it feels good. And you know that you don't have the pressure of all, if it doesn't go well, if the project doesn't go well, you're in trouble. We're all doing this to learn. So from that point of view, it's great.

Alex (08:42):
You need that as a newer developer, I think, that room to fail and also feel supported by your team. I hope every junior developer gets that, but often they'll be contributing to production level code bases from the beginning. In your case, getting to do an apprenticeship, and as part of that at bootcamp, but I think it's the perfect learning environment. But before we go too deep into that, when you decided you wanted to pursue web development, what did you do? How did you go about finding a learning resource or structuring your time so that you could focus on these things?

Theo (09:14):
It hasn't been that long ago and yet it feels it's been years ago. I've only started looking into what to do in January, December, January, and I think my first thought was to do something in data science, but that didn't pan out. And then I heard from someone else about boot camps. I had not heard about boot camps at all. I had no idea about all of those opportunities that are out there that at least in the UK you can do them for free. So that was what started me. And I wanted to get a little bit ahead. I wanted to learn a few things before I actually started, which at the time, again, it was a big question mark. I didn't know that they would have me or that I would find someone to hire me. One of the first things that I came across was a Scrimba from a friend of mine who had just started as a front end developer.
And he posted something on LinkedIn and I thought well, I'll give it a go. And the main thing that I enjoyed, that I liked was the fact that I could do everything without having to set up anything, any environment on my computer, I could do it from the laptop in my bedroom. I didn't have to go to a computer that had set up specifically for programming or anything. So that was a big plus for me. Before that, the things that I had done were free tutorials on YouTube. I had done a couple of courses on Udemy, that sort of thing. But I think the Scrimba environment, as well as the community was the thing that kept me going back. When I joined it was close to the challenge week. I think it was February 14th, was it Valentine's week wasn't it?

Alex (10:47):
It may well have been. Yes.

Theo (10:48):
Yeah, a week of challenges. And I think that's just spurs you on. You just, not compete, but in a nice way you make something and you want the rest of the community to see, and you try to make it as nice as possible.

Alex (11:02):
I'm glad you mentioned that. It's a initiative that we do at Scrimba a few times a year, where for a whole week, we give you a challenge every day and it's normally got a theme around it. It could be to do a Valentine's day, World Day. The most recent one was around Space Day, I think. And every day there are opportunities to win prizes like Scrimba memberships, and there's even a cash prize at the end. I'm really glad you enjoyed it because the whole idea behind it is to offer students a way to, yeah, I guess, compete with yourself in some sense, the winners are picked randomly because obviously a really experienced developer is always going to come up with something better than a brand new developer. And we don't want to sort of discourage new developers. Quite the opposite, in fact, so everybody has a chance to win. If you can sort of paint the timeline a little bit. So if you're starting in January, when did you come across Scrimba and when did you come across the apprenticeship and things like that?

Theo (11:56):
I think the first thing that I found out was end of December, someone told me at work about boot camps and they said there's a push, the government has this upscaling boot camps that you can do. And I sort of looked into it, but like I said before, I couldn't afford it. Although the boot camps themselves are free, I couldn't afford not being employed for three months, and then who knows how long for after that to find a job. I sort of had a look and then I thought, you know what? I can do it. That was about middle to end of December. Then it was about middle of January that I decided to try for the apprenticeship. That's when I found out that there was another different path, which meant that when I started doing the boot camp, I would be getting a salary.
And because I found that I also started looking more into web development, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, React, all of those things that I had left long ago. It was about that time, it was about the same time that friend of mine started working as a front end developer. And that's when I saw the thing that he'd posted on LinkedIn. So it must have been middle to the end of January. Yeah. And that's when I started working on the free courses first. And it was about that time that I interviewed to get into the apprenticeship pool.

Alex (13:14):
Pardon the interruption. But I wanted to please ask, but if you are enjoying this episode with Theo that you please do Theo myself and Scrimba a favor by sharing this episode with your friends on social media, like on Twitter, in your community, maybe a Discord server or a Facebook group, or maybe you just have a friend that you know who could benefit from the advice shared by Theo in this episode. The reason we ask and we interrupt the episode quickly is because word of mouth is the best way to support a podcast that you like. So a big thank you in advance. Also, if you haven't already, it would be greatly appreciated if you gave the Scrimba Podcast a cheeky five star review in Spotify or apple podcasts. Next week, I'm speaking with no other than Jess Chen of the Coder Coder YouTube channel. This is a channel dedicated to helping new developers learn to code, feel good about their journey and get their first developer job.

Jessica Chen (14:05):
I'm a self-taught web developer. I've worked in the advertising and marketing industries for about eight years. And then I just kind of got into the whole sort of educational side of things. And in my own life, I felt like web development changed my life for the better and gave me a really great stable career. And so I wanted to do that for other people who also might be self-taught or are changing careers.

Alex (14:27):
You know that Jess is doing a great job because she's earned 360k subscribers. I love the channel. I'm so excited to talk with Jess and I can't wait for you to hear it next week on the Scrimba Podcast. So do make sure to subscribe as not to miss it. Back to the interview with Theo.
I'm so excited to learn about this, because I literally have no idea. Is there a website you go to find these apprenticeships? What does the application process look like? And you said you had an interview, right? Who was the interview with? Was it with a company? Was it with the government? Was it with the bootcamp you're doing? Tell us everything.

Theo (15:05):
The thing is that I had no idea either. I had no clue that this was a thing, but the apparently all I suppose big companies or over a certain income or whatever size of company, they all pay an apprenticeship levy to the government. Now whether they use apprentices, it's down to them, but I think that if they do use apprentices, they must have some sort of tax break or something. Don't quote mean that. But I think that's about how it works from the company's point of view. The specific one that I am doing right now, they're called makers and they have the academy sort of path where it's a paid path where you do a 16 week bootcamp.
And again, in most cases, people will do it funded by the government because the government is giving money to get people to upscale or change careers or things like that. But whilst on that website and whilst I was researching, I found that was the apprenticeship, which I'd never had before. I had no idea. And it just said that you need to do a course on Code Academy, a Ruby course, just to get acquainted to the language. Then you had to do some coding exercises and then you have to answer a few questions and send it all off. I think it's all basically a form on the website.

Alex (16:18):
Which website is this that you're talking about?

Theo (16:20):
It's the Maker's website. It's makers.tech.

Alex (16:23):
Right, so this is the bootcamp, Maker's Academy. So you found out that Maker's Academy a part of this apprenticeship program and you apply for Makers.

Theo (16:31):
Yes. In my case Makers again, it was something that a friend of a friend had gone through the bootcamp, they enjoyed it, they said it was good. And because I found the apprenticeship on them, I decided to apply to see if they would have me. And essentially what happens is you interview with Makers and it's not a technical interview. It's more of an interview to find out why you want to do this. Why do you want to become a developer? Is it something that you really enjoy? Or is it something that perhaps you think, oh, let's give it a go. If you're successful in the first interview, you join a pool of people that will be getting sort of an email every so often whenever there's apprenticeships available from companies. And it's kind of like a job interview after that. Every time that you get an email, it says, oh, there's an apprenticeship that pays that much.
That's what they do, that's the company, you research them, you look at what they do. If you like the look of the company and then you essentially send your CV and apply. And if they get back to you, then you have an interview like you would have for a normal job. But again, the interview, at least the ones that I did was not technical at all. It was the usual questions. Have you had a conflict with someone... All of the stuff that you expect in an interview without the technical bit.

Alex (17:45):
So am I following oka so far? You found the Makers website where they have an apprenticeship page, you apply with Makers and you have to prove that you're at least interested in coding by answering a couple of entry level coding questions, then you get an interview with makers where they're not judging your technical skill at all, really, they're just trying to find out if you're driven enough to be successful in the program. If they accept you, it sounds like you get put on some kind of email list whereas various big companies sort of say they are looking for apprentices, they also save a salary and you as a potential candidate, get a chance to apply.
And then when you apply, I think the company you ended up doing it with is called OpenBet You do an interview and if they accept you, it sounds like you get the go ahead then and Makers are like, okay, OpenBet are going to give you an apprenticeship. They're going to pay for you to do the bootcamp. But obviously the expectation is that once you finish the bootcamp, you go on and you continue contributing and working for the company.

Theo (18:43):
Yeah. The company I'm currently employed by is OpenBet. You do two interviews, none of them have any technical aspect. You do have to do some exercises, the stuff that you do at home, and then you send it to them. It's basically a platform that they send you a link and you go on there and has a couple of Ruby challenges. So you send them off. And then, like I said, the interviews are non-technical. They want to find out if you're doing it for the right reasons, if you're driven enough, if you think that you're going to love it, because the bootcamp can be quite intensive. So they don't want someone to go and start the bootcamp and halfway through, find out that's too much or there's something that they don't really want to be doing.

Alex (19:23):
They want successful numbers as well. They want to say 90% of our students get jobs and the way they make sure that number's highers by only letting people in who are motivated and have a high likelihood of being successful.

Theo (19:36):
Oh, yes, of course. And I think that it also carries over that when you go and work for the company, the company is actually taking a gamble on you. They don't know how you're going to develop. They don't know your current level of knowledge, they're taking a gamble and they invest money and time on you to sort of develop you. And hopefully at the other end, after sort of 18 to 20 months, you can become a productive member of the team.
So it works great for everyone involved, if both the apprentice and the company, and obviously Makers, they make sure that this is really what you want to do and that you are enjoying it because I think that if you're doing it, maybe, oh I don't have anything better to do without maybe attitude than I could be doing a number of different things, but I like the salary. If that's the only motivator, at some point it's going to run out, I feel.

Alex (20:27):
That's such a good point, actually. Salary matters a lot, right? You need to be able to live a good life and save to retire and stuff and feel valued. But it is not your whole motivation. Very rarely ever is it your whole motivation? Because there are probably hundreds of jobs that could pay really, really well. So you have to hone in on the one that speaks to you and if that's development, you need to be able to talk about that, I feel like.

Theo (20:48):
And I think it's the developer's job and lifestyle is not for everyone. Especially now after the lockdown where a lot of companies have gone remote and a lot of people like myself, it suits me, which means that I roll out of bed, go to the next room and I'm all set up and ready to go. Don't have to go anywhere. It also helps me with all of the school runs and stuff. It makes life much easier than I have to commute for. I've done in my professional life commutes of up to an hour and it's no fun being stuck on M1 or something. So from that point of view, it offers a lot of benefits. But also some people might not like the loneliness because you do get to spend a lot of time with a couple of screens.

Alex (21:33):
Your new best friends. This is quite a British expression, I think, taking a gamble on something, taking a pence on something, but you also went on to say that they were investing in you. And if you put a bunch of money on red, that gambling, okay. But if you carefully pick your stocks in the stock market based on a hypothesis and some good logical reasoning as to why you think it will be successful, that's an investment. And the only reason I want to introduce that distinction and make it super clear is because I think a lot of these success of new developers is up to them proving their potential. What are some of the things you've learned that you think employers want to see or apprenticeship leaders want to see in a situation like yours?

Theo (22:14):
First impressions matter, so you have to go in prepared. It wasn't technical interview. It's not like they put me up on a whiteboard and say, okay, now write this sort of algorithm or that, but you need to prepare, you need to know who you're talking to, what they're doing and you need to be able to show your enthusiasm. And if you can sort of drop a little bit of knowledge that at least you know what you're getting into, because that's what they want to know. One of the questions that I felt from quite a few people that were asked was do you know what life in the day of developer is? So if you think that the life of developer is that you go to a cafe and you are with your laptop and talk to your mate and you do a little bit of programming.
That's not it. It's going to be a lot of frustration. Basically prepare, that's the main thing. In terms of my experience on the bootcamp, seeing quite a few people that have come from very diverse backgrounds, completely unrelated to programming or web development or anything like that. I feel it goes really fast. The learning curve is vertical almost, but the point is not that you're going to do the 16 weeks or the 12 weeks, whatever it is, and you're going to be a developer, but you will know what you don't know, which is the most important thing.
You know if you are working with a framework for example, and you don't know its capabilities, you're not going to look for it on Google. For example, I've seen there quite a few people that have done CSS and HTML during the course during the bootcamp, and they've looked on Google and they've done things for example, with floats the old way of doing things. It gives you a very quick look at how it is to work as a team, how it is to work as a software developer. But at the same time, it gives you an idea of what stuff is out there.

Alex (24:01):
I think it's very common wisdom that you know what you know, but you sometimes don't know what you don't know. And that's the source of a lot of false confidence among, and not just new developers, but people who are new at anything. And of course our industry is so vast. No one developer can master, not even most, not even some barely even one or two disciplines. And so you really have to focus on the fundamentals, I feel like, and expose yourself to all kinds of other things on a surface level, because then when you have a problem of some kind, you might not know the answer right away, but you know roughly where to look for it. And I think sort of learning and progress and becoming a better developer, it's not quite as binary as you don't know how to code.
Then you know how to code. What normally happens is you learn how to do the basics, but before you become a really good developer, you first learn that you're not a good developer. You realize, oh, this code could be more elegant. I just don't know how to do it. And when you feel like that, then you know you don't know something and that's progress, but if you go around and you don't know what you don't know, and you think your code is perfect or you think there's nothing else to learn, that's not humble. That's not a growth mentality. Any employer who's judging you on your potential, I feel like is going to see right through that. So I think the sort of humility and the attitude you're describing, Theo, is critical.

Theo (25:17):
Also another common question that people need to think about how to answer it is what do you see yourself in two or five years or whatever it is. Now, there's many answers and I suppose people will say things differently, but from my point of view, bearing in mind that I didn't start from zero. So I have had some experience with coding. I know that I'm nowhere near being good. I'm better than some, but I'm nowhere near being a good or great developer. I still have lots to learn. And the only way that people can improve is by being consistent. It's not about talent. Lots of people have talent. You can have all the talent in the world, but if you code once every 15 days or a month or whatever, if you do a project, then you leave it for three years and you go back to it.
You're never going to develop. Slow and steady wins the race kind of thing. Every day, can you put aside sort of half an hour to an hour to do, it might be a Scrimba course, it might be a video that you watch, but you have to code, you have to code along. And that's a thing where I found that Scrimba was good for me because it was a very low barrier to entry. You launch your browser. You don't have to have any other tools on the computer and you just code. Unless you code, unless you put your fingers on the keyboard and use the things that you've learned, aids can be very hard to retain. If you watch videos, whether it's Udemy or YouTube and just watch it, anything, oh, I understand that you're not going to be able to do it the next day, let alone in a week or a month.

Alex (26:40):
By definition, if you're pushing yourself every day, you're not actually pushing yourself, that's your baseline, and if you truly are pushing yourself for a few days in a row or a few weeks in a row, maybe that's sustainable, but eventually you burn out. Inevitably all those bursts of intensity will be followed by periods of rest, where you have to recover, whereas if you can do, as you suggest Theo, and find a way to do it consistently and just make a bit of progress every day, show up every day, then you have a great chance of becoming great, I feel like over time.
I wanted to ask you Theo, it's not the fairest question to ask or even that possible to make a comparison, I feel like, because I think you did about 50, 60% of Scrimba's front-end career path, and now you are in the process of doing the bootcamp and still on that journey. So it's a bit difficult to draw that comparison, but what I'm wondering simply is how Scrimba, where we try and offer more than just courses, we try and offer more of the bootcamp experience through things like the challenge weeks you described and our community, which you also mentioned, how are we doing? How does it compare to the bootcamp in your experience?

Theo (27:49):
It's a different experience because one of the main things that we do at the bootcamp is a lot of pair programming, a lot of group projects and stuff. So from that sort of point of view, it's a bit different. But from my experience, the stuff that I did on the front end path really helped me. My first motivation, for example, I sort of skipped, I did a little bit of CSS and HTML, then I went straight to react and I had to backtrack a little bit and sort of find out about the new way of doing JavaScript, not the stuff that I knew from like 10 years ago. Anyway, so basically one of my motivations was to try and pad my LinkedIn page. So I'm following some of your videos and stuff that you've had over the past few months on how to create your profile and what to include and what not to include and stuff. So I added a few little projects that I did in React and vanilla JavaScript and everything.

Alex (28:42):
What are some of the things that you've experienced at the boot camp, which are beneficial that maybe someone listening who's doing Scrimba should know about, so they can maybe find an alternative? You mentioned about pair programming. That's awesome because I feel like now somebody listening might go to Scrimba Discord and specifically try and find a pair programming partner. Does anything else come to mind as being beneficial about the bootcamp experience that self-taught developers should try and find a way not to miss out on?

Theo (29:10):
The one thing that I would say, and that's the same with bootcamp and the Scrimba courses is the solo projects. The projects that basically you have to do yourself. The bootcamp is not that you have lectures or you have lessons for, let's say half of the day and then you go and do your own thing. You might have some workshops, you might have some introductions to a few things, could be a new framework or a language or some concepts, but essentially you are left your own devices to read some of the materials that they've provided with you look through code and do some challenges.
So I think from that point of view, Scrimba does a lot of that, so you do have the instructional bit where you have the people showing you how to go about doing something and then they let you code it. And I think that's the main thing, but after you've gone through that process, if I'm not mistaken, pretty much everything, every module has a solo project at the end of it. I think it's imperative that you actually do it, that you take the time and the grit that comes with it because you'll have to dig deep sometimes to actually finish it and finish it to a good level. So I think that's very important.

Alex (30:20):
That's super encouraging to hear. I think the core bit of advice there is that you can't just like watch modules or just sit in a bootcamp class and hope to get better. You really have to be throwing yourself in the deep end, actually finding that discipline to make yourself uncomfortable and practicing by building projects. In a bootcamp. I'm sure you have the opportunities to do that, but we are also trying to foster those at Scrimba through podcast episodes like this and also the solo projects. So that's obviously a key part of the journey.

Theo (30:51):
I did a few projects from the developer path, but listening or watching a video that you had done about where to find jobs because that's the other thing, whilst I was preparing, let's say for the boot camp, I thought I might as well try and see if anyone would hire me as a junior developer or an intern maybe or something like that. So I looked at the various places and I watched an episode of where you were talking about hackajob, and hire.com.

Alex (31:18):
This is awesome. You're talking about YouTube video I made, which we'll link in the show notes. Thank you. I was really surprised when I learned that most junior developer jobs never make their way to LinkedIn before they're filled.

Theo (31:30):
No, no, I totally immersed myself into Scrimba pretty much every day. I was on the Discord channel talking to people, getting feedback, giving feedback. Occasionally I watched the videos because when you're interested in finding a job , you have to learn. And I had no idea that what you could do with LinkedIn or how it worked in terms of people looking to hire someone. And now that I did it a few months ago and now that I've started, let's say, this job, I'm getting people reaching out to me and say, oh we are looking for, I don't know, front end developer, or we are looking for this, that and the other, are you interested? So I have to say, sorry, I just started something else. So it takes a little bit of time to build up to that, but it's definitely good advice that I got from you guys.

Alex (32:18):
I'm so happy to hear that, man. Thank you. I just want to go back to the bootcamp thing for a second, because it's something we think a lot about at Scrimba and this is a great opportunity for us to learn from you and your experience as well whilst other people listening can too. Just out of curiosity, how much did you pay roughly for Scrimba pro and to have access to the Scrimba career path?

Theo (32:37):
You know the challenge week, Valentine's challenge week, there was an offer and it was pretty cheap, very cheap actually for what you offered.

Alex (32:46):
That's good.

Theo (32:46):
I think I got the six month sub for, I want to say some like 60 pounds, which is nothing really.

Alex (32:53):
Hopefully Scrimba's really good value for many then. I know you're doing the apprenticeship and you don't have to pay for the bootcamp, the employee takes care of it, but do you have some impression about how much it would cost if somebody wanted to do the Makers bootcamp just with their own money basically?

Theo (33:09):
I'm not sure to be honest, but I think it is probably in the thousands. So I don't know 5, 6, 7,000, 8,000 pounds or something like that.

Alex (33:17):
Yeah. So way more than 10 times more expansive than Scrimba. But honestly you can tell me very honestly I know it's a difficult biased environment on the Scrimba podcast is the education 10 times better?

Theo (33:29):
It's different. I don't want to say that it's better or worse because it's a different experience. I don't know how many people would be able to do that. Maybe if you were able to do Scrimba front end path or anything eight hours a day every day, like your job, maybe it would be more comparable, but because it is a job, because you are interacting with other people on a daily basis, even if it's not a group project, there's always, like I said, pair programming. There's always interactions in the morning. You do a lot of agile things, standups in the morning, you do retros. It's those things that, I don't know is there anything on Scrimba about agile development and that side of things?

Alex (34:12):
Not necessarily. I think you make a great point that they are fundamentally different. I think you're right, actually, because with a boot camp, you really has to show up nine to five. It becomes a full-time job. Not everybody can do that. With online learning such as Scrimba, you can do it at your own pace, and I suppose the path into the industry is a little bit different. I think with the boot camp, you are in a sense getting a bit more of a simulation of what a job is like.
But equally when you learn through Scrimba and save money in the process, we hope you will get a junior developer job where you will learn all those things quite quickly. In my experience doing the Scrimba podcast, and actually this is one reason I've not made any content on agile and stuff, it's just that most companies don't care if you know it or not when you're a junior developer. They care a lot more about the things you pointed out earlier, such as your five year plan, if you have the right attitude, if you've truly understood what a junior developer does and how they can be successful. And of course agile and things like this, you tell me if you agree or not, but I reckon you can pick it up in a week or two, no problem.

Theo (35:16):
Oh yeah. I'm not saying that you can't pick it up. It's just that it's more of the experience side of things in terms of being a part of a group of people. I really, really enjoyed Scrimba and I still do occasionally or when I have some time when I need to learn something, but when I did it before starting the bootcamp, because time now is at a premium, I really enjoyed the fact that I could do it from anywhere.
I really enjoyed the fact that there was always a project, there was all of those things that I could do. The experience between the two I think is different, but there's a lot of learning. In both cases, you can learn a lot of things and yes, if I had the time and I could possibly have gone through the front end path and found my way to a junior developer role. It's just that if you are in the UK, I think going down the apprenticeship path is a no brainer in the sense that you have the job and you have the safe environment and you can do this.

Alex (36:19):
I've been to the Makers Academy campus in London. Actually, funnily enough, I gave my first ever talk at that venue on Commercial Street and actually a few people I used to work with [inaudible 00:36:29] Makers, so no obviously disrespect towards them and what they're doing. I really, really genuinely appreciate your perspective having done a bit of both, but just out of curiosity, are you having to physically travel to London to go to the bootcamp? Or is that happening remotely?

Theo (36:43):
Right now it's remotely.

Alex (36:45):
Oh, okay. Okay. Because I was thinking if you do the apprenticeship and you have to then live in London to do it well obviously the cost of living in London is quite high.

Theo (36:54):
I don't know if that's going to carry on indefinitely, but basically the apprenticeship is fully remote. You don't have to be anywhere near London. I think if you did the academy, I want to say that maybe you have an option. You might have a hybrid one and one that you are always there. I'm not sure to be honest, but I think you get an option for the academy, but the apprenticeship right now is fully remote.

Alex (37:18):
Good to know. Thank you so much for joining me on the podcast. This has been an illuminating conversation. I got to learn about apprenticeships in the UK and what they look like for the first time. And I'm absolutely sure people are going to leave full of ideas and inspiration about what to do next. Thank you so much for joining me on the Scrimba Podcast.

Theo (37:35):
Thanks, Alex. Thanks for having me.

Alex (37:36):
That was Theo, a remarkable individual who got an apprenticeship at 49 years of age and was also generously enough to spend their time teaching us all about it here today. Do check out their socials in the show notes. Thank you very much for listening. If you have made it this far, you might want to subscribe for more helpful and uplifting episodes.
We've recently hired juniors like Theo as well as industry experts like Jess, who I'm talking to next week. You can also tweet at me your host, I'm Alex Booker and share what lessons you learned from the episode so I can thank you personally for tuning in with a response, a like or re-tweet something like that. My Twitter handle is in the show notes and finally a big thank you to our producer [inaudible 00:38:19]. See you next week.