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Are you ready to be equipped for the in-demand rush of remote work? Are you seeking a higher salary than your current local offering through a change in career to tech? Microverse might be a viable solution. In this article, I share my Microverse experience and eight highly actionable steps to succeeding at Microverse.

Whether you have zero background in software development or a CS Degree with years of work experience, you can get closer to your career dreams upon successfully completing the Microverse program.

I’m Steve, a software developer student at Microverse, a remote school that teaches software development through pair programming and project-based learning. After five months of personal preparation I began full time study in November of 2021.

My Microverse experience isn’t what I expected. It’s far better!

successding at microverse
Photo by Domenico Loia from Unsplash

Why I wanted to join Microverse

The Short Version:

“I love to travel. I want freedom to work from anywhere in the world.”
“I need sustainable income that aligns with my interest in tech and is able to finance my travels.”

What I found?

“So much more…”

As a Teacher of English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) for several years, I managed to satisfy my dream to travel and work. At least partly. Teacher salaries vary significantly as you move throughout the world.

Though it’s very possible to find a comfortable living through TEFL, I was ready for a change in career. That’s when I took my first online full stack software development course.

Upon finishing this course, I tried job hunting but was not successful. One night my wife said, “Look at this post on Instagram”. It was Microverse.

Half an hour later, my Microverse experience began.

What is the application process?

Upon landing on the Microverse homepage, you apply and begin by creating an account,  then are prompted to follow an intuitive step-by-step completion of Microverse’s autonomous applicant vetting system.

Most notable is the beginner friendly nature of the application process. When I joined, my tasks included giving applicant demographic information, selecting a path of preparation based on my skill level, and the initiation of a pre-course to supplement skills required for later parts of the application process.

You can expect to partake in this pre-course, Level Up, until you are confident enough to complete a four hour coding challenge. Upon successful completion of these ‘coding interview’ style questions, you proceed to complete the Microverse Trials over three days, with three separate pair programming partners.

Are the coding challenges difficult?

I would say these challenges require a foundational understanding of algorithmic problem solving. You can find a host of material included in Level Up to help with your preparation. Microverse offers live practice sections for applicants where you can seek help while pair programming.

The key here is to ask questions. Understand that if you have a question, the chances are there is someone who has, or can lead you to the answer. Practice fully understanding what a question is asking. Write pseudocode (non-syntax reliant steps) of the proposed solution.

Apply language syntax to the pseudocode and solve the question. I found that understanding this process of problem solving greatly increased my ability to work through coding challenges. 

How were the practice sessions?

In my Microverse experience, the practice sessions were the best part of the application process. This is where I got an opportunity to try out remote pair programming for the first time. Pair programming with people from around the globe while completing the application process together was very encouraging.

The practice sessions are led by senior Microverse students or alums. If you have any doubts about whether you’re applying to a REAL program (in this ever-expansive, yet lonely internet space), they quickly fade as you meet student developers working on the same tasks.

As a bonus, I can experientially say that Microverse continues to improve its services. When I started my application process in May of 2021, practice sessions were hosted by one student coordinator over the weekend (Saturday and Sunday).

Now, there are practice sessions six days per week. This means that more people, in more time zones, have access to coordinator-led practice time. The practice room is open twenty four hours a day.

Even outside of coordinator-led practice time, students can schedule time with other applicants to continue their pre-Microverse preparations.

Will there be pair-programming?

If learning technical and professional soft skills is Microverse’s five-star delectable meal, then pair programming is the secret sauce.

Pair programming changed my life. I used to be shy when it came to asking someone for clarification on a topic I was uncertain of. Pair programming forces you to be in constant communication.

Either you are the person responsible for steering and providing feedback, (navigator), or you are in the driver’s seat writing the code (driver).

You learn to lead as well as follow while picking away at a problem. I have particularly fond memories of mob programming - a fast-paced form of pair programming composed of a small group.

What are the prerequisites for entering Microverse?

Microverse requires that you have the basic necessities to be successful in a remote work environment. You must have time availability of 8 hours a day, 5 days per week, and financial support for the duration of the program (about 12 months). 

While Microverse does not require prior coding experience, we do require that all applicants have the same baseline knowledge that we evaluate during the Coding Challenges.

Microverse is also offering a free program called Level Up to help you Level up your coding skills before going through the admission process.

Level Up is a  learning resource available in a curated virtual world. This program can help you gain a stronger foundation in software development, web development, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript as you progress. Throughout Level Up, you'll also meet other applicants and coordinators, which will help you learn in a collaborative and interactive environment.

successding at microverse
Photo by Steve W Dames Jr

What technologies are taught at Microverse?

Microverse offers a comprehensive curriculum. It is designed to connect students to a quick and accessible pool of global employment prospects. You can find a stack of in-demand technologies, namely: HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, REACT, on the front end and, Ruby, Ruby on Rails, with SQL on the backend.

I found this stack approachable and beginner-friendly, while still holding high value in the job market. Diverse learning materials help you acquire highly employable skills including, but not limited to:

  • Correct use of documentation
  • Using readily available resources to augment your learning
  • Algorithm mastery through pair programming
  • Where and how to ask for help online - forming proper questions on stack overflow to achieve quicker solutions to blockers
  • How to grow and maintain an opportunity-bringing network
  • Industry standards for working in agile environments to ease your transition into remote software development - or reinforce best practices for those with past working experience
  • GitFlow and GitHub Flow, team working methodologies - to become an expert in remote collaborative learning, working on large scale team projects
  • Testing best practices - to fulfill Test Driven Development requirements and produce quality code
  • How to set up your social media profiles for job market visibility and high lead generation of prospective employers
  • Most importantly, how to build a sought after portfolio, proving your skills in the tech stack you are learning.

What kind of projects will I build?

With front-end technology

Build everything from pixel-perfect clones of FIGMA design specs using HTML5 and CSS3, to complex apps acquiring multiple API’s in Single Page Applications with React and Redux.

With back-end technology

Conquer databases with fun multi-table builds in SQL and query like a pro. Deep dive into Ruby starting with a university library website to keep track of users, track check-in status of library resources, and add additional resources to the library database.

Intro to Rails. We build an app that gives you an understanding of what’s going on in the backend of your favorite blog websites.

To top these off, consolidate all new tech knowledge with capstones that utilize all the skills covered for a particular module.

These real world projects are great because they combine challenging core constraints with competitive industry designs.

At the completion of every module capstone project, you know you are ever closer to your goal of developer competency and increased employability.

8 Tips for Succeeding at Microverse

1) Ask for help early - In order to get help, one must require it - slash away fears of being a burden and get the help you need.

2) Take advantage of being in groups with different coding experience and ability - In my Microverse experience, being at the same skill level with your team members is not a desirable environment. Frustrations arise when blockers come up, and as a group, there’s no way out - except finding someone with more experience. At Microverse sometimes you will teach others and at other times you will learn from others.

3) Ask for help as a team - This is so important to maximize development time while minimizing overall pressure to meet project deadlines.

4) Make a network of FRIENDS - You need help. I can’t count how many hours of debugging I’ve saved by just calling a friend from my network that could steer the path to the correct answer.

5) Be aware of your pair programming partners strengths - learn trust through professional communication. Sharing with your pair programming partners your blockers, or successes and strengths builds mutually valuable working relationships.

6) Leverage repeat weeks to your success! - My first repeat week wasn’t pleasant. I felt like a failure. Surprisingly, upon repeat I felt more confident (having completed the material already) and was able to reinforce my skills. I succeeded in knowing what not to do. Funny how that works!

7) Learn your true motivation - If you can pick yourself up from perceived failure, continue, or push past your comfort zones, you find that special spark that propels you to continuously move FORWARD. I feel this point should be number 1; but sometimes you do not discover motivation until you’re up against a hard deadline with little hope of finishing. That’s when you make a choice, “Will I quit”, or “Keep going?” There is a powerful reward in knowing the answer to either question.

8) Over-communicate - The key to success at Microverse and Software Development in general is being an expert at professional communication. When I met my pair programming partner during the final week of the JavaScript module, I had to make a decision; do I bring what I had feared into our week?

The choice was simple. I had to be honest. I told my pair programming partner that I felt weak in certain technical areas of our project. I didn't know how that news would be taken but I had to be bold to do so.

My honesty paid off. My coding partner had difficulties as well, though with availability for the week. Through communicating we were able to work toward amicable resolutions of our concerns. We completed our week three days early.

What can I expect after completing Microverse?

Before starting Microverse, I had zero experience in marketing myself as a software developer. I had no work experience in the field, and little technical education, with only one self-paced software development course under my belt.

I had started the process of applying to numerous job openings with dismal success. The agony of searching for employers interested in me and my skill set was nothing short of gruelling.

I can happily say that after just three short months of Microverse’s full-time program I have become visible in the job market. I’ve already had two recruiters reach out with job offers! Imagine what your outcome could be!

Conclusion

It’s never a sure thing when you find a service online. You can never be certain that what you see advertised is what you actually will receive. My Microverse experience though, from first contact, has been a breath of fresh air in the virtual trust space.

What I received and continually receive, is more than what is advertised. I learn each day more of what I am capable of, while sharing with similarly motivated and helpful people throughout the journey.

Applying the keys to success at Microverse, like making friends, not just a network, will prepare you for the world of software development that awaits. Your friend today could be your connection to lucrative employment tomorrow.

You can succeed at Microverse, even with zero experience in tech. Learn lifetime professional skills for your next, and subsequent job opportunities. Discover the joy of remote work, while comfortably communicating with beautifully diverse people around the globe.

Here's a video sharing more about my Microverse experience:

Happy coding future Micronauts!

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