The main curriculum at SSF was learning a development stack. For us, we focused on the MEAN stack. In 12 weeks, we went from knowing almost nothing about programming, to building an app with the MEAN stack. It required a fair amount of dedication. At times, it was hard to grasp exactly what the frameworks were doing behind the scenes, & every day we were encouraged to continue learning outside the classroom.
SSF exposed me to one of the most important rules about working in the software industry. That lesson was to never stop learning. The software industry is one of the few industries where your effort outside of work, will directly affect your path in your career.
The first 6 months at my first job (QA Engineer @ MindTouch) after graduating from SSF, I spent ~10-15 hours of my own time, increasing my knowledge. I spent it looking at the framework's code, seeing how the whole Test Automation framework was built. This, along with watching more programming tutorials online, increased my learning everyday. The Director of Engineering at the company (Erik Birkfield) once said "If you can increase your knowledge by just 1 percent every day, you won't notice much change at first. After a year however, you will have completely changed."
I can directly attribute my success to the mantra of "always keep learning" & of always having a "beginner's mindset". As you learn, and become a better engineer, make it known you want to keep being challenged. Eventually you will be given new opportunities in the form of projects. Make sure you absolutely kill these assignments, and learn as much as you can in the process. This will eventually become a positive feedback cycle. Higher skill leads to bigger projects. Bigger projects lead to learning & higher skill, and so on.
MindTouch (my first company) gave me the opportunities to work with & learn from some brilliant engineers. It helped me become a good enough engineer to receive an offer at SOCI. While at SOCI, I hit the ground running, working with languages I had never worked with before. It pushed me to get out of my comfort zone, and learned things I had not been exposed to yet (such as architecture, & backend and frontend work). At the moment, 3 years and a couple months after leaving SSF, I am now working as a Solutions Architect in Test for Northwestern Mutual, where I have the opportunity to work on architecture & design of frameworks and enterprise-level tools.
If I could give advice to fellow camp - graduates, & tinkerers alike:
• Never stop learning
• Make your goals known to your managers
• Approach everything with a beginner's mindset
"The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way." ― Marcus Aurelius