Hi. My name is Nicole Kim. I’ve been a student at Buildschool for the last 3 incredible months. Here is my story.
I was at UC Berkeley before Buildschool, and my experience was wonderfully my own. I was an architecture major, and I utilized my undergraduate years to explore creative outlets and courses in design. Through the countless hours spent in studio and architecture courses, I learned to commit to the painstaking process of building something from scratch. In the recent year, I was deeply intrigued by technology and how my skill of creating could be applied to the field of digital products. Coding seemed like the natural next step, and so I enrolled in CS61A, the notoriously difficult introductory course to computer science.
Learning to code for the first time felt like a skill akin to magic–I would type words and the computer knew to respond. As my computer science literacy grew, so did my excitement. How do you make lines of code cooperate to form an entire running product? I had so many questions, and I wasn’t sure where to begin. Sadly, although my computer science education had just started, my time at Berkeley was coming to an end. I desperately wanted to continue my coding education so I began researching coding bootcamps. My plan was to apply to these bootcamps after I had gained some experience following graduation.
Out of what felt like sheer luck, my friend told me about a new coding program that was looking for students in the fall. The program would last for fourteen weeks, nine hours a day, and follow a syllabus that covered iOS content, technical interviews, and time to work on an actual project. Best of all, I learned it would be free.
This felt too good to be true. Someone was willing to spend nine hours a day with me in person, mentor me through the entire lifecycle of a project, and help me launch my own app in the App Store. In addition to that, Sophie’s passion for her program was infectious. For a woman who had succeeded in the industry, learning from Sophie just made a whole lot of sense.
Going All In
Meanwhile, my time in CS61A was coming to a close and I still didn’t feel like I knew how to apply what I had learned. I remember feverishly writing lines of code to force programs to work. It didn’t matter how much I understood as long as I submitted the assignments on time. Moving forward, I wanted to take my learnings to the next level. So this past summer, I made the decision to withdraw from Berkeley and enroll in Buildschool.
Expectations Meets Reality: Here’s What I Learned
My Buildschool experience was very much like the architecture studio courses I had taken—constant iteration in a high pressure environment. Every day we would learn, build, practice and repeat. During this intensive period, I took away many lessons in addition to learning to build apps.
Since beginning the program, I have learned to value my work efficiency. I absorbed keyboard and Xcode shortcuts, tools for debugging, source control, and every problem imaginable. I would routinely reflect on how to improve my debugging process. It was encouraged to make mistakes – as long as I could understand how I got there, step through the mistakes logically, and remember those lessons. Debugging was no longer an exercise of guess and check but rather a methodical approach where I was pressed to clearly articulate the issues behind the bugs.
I also learned the value of compounding improvement. Instead of focusing all my time trying to remember every detail about Swift, I worked on improving my problem-solving abilities, which would increase the amount of learning I would gain in the long run. Compared to what I knew at the start of the program, my learning process has become more thoughtful and focused.
During the course, each line of code had to be carefully reviewed before being committed. Through this detailed process, I learned the importance of code design. It wasn’t just about having my program compile, it wasn’t even about having the program work–my code needed to retain a clear and readable structure for future developers. I am proud to have created a coherent codebase that could be expanded upon in the future.
Attending Buildschool has definitely not been easy in the slightest, but I’m thankful I stayed for the challenge. We have a quote on the classroom wall that reads “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then is not an act but a habit.” This quote resonates deeply with me – I now know that anything is possible with hard, smart work. I learned not only how to build iOS apps, but how to problem solve. I’m thrilled and honored to be part of this journey. With excitement and hope, I look forward to the future of Buildschool!