42 Silicon Valley: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly?
Probably you are asking yourself, what is this?
A meme is worth than 9001 words:
I would describe 42 as a tuition free coding school that revolves in a peer-to-peer ecosystem. It is very similar to a workplace, where critical thinking and problem solving skills go hand by hand, and a project based curriculum that can be completed at your own pace.
A student needs to have patience, determination, intuition, and a problem solving mindset. That’s why logic tests are simple, minimalist, and without instructions. There are people that English is not their native language, and it is not fair for a test to test you on some unrelated skills, making a non-existent language barrier between the test and the candidate.
The school wants you to succeed. They want you to be a better person, someone who can proudly say: “I am a software engineer, and I am ready for any challenge”. :)
Pisciners (candidates) and cadets (students) should respect people, resources, yourself, and think about the future. Always be perseverance, have some discipline with a manageable schedule to allow workflow and learn at the same time. Also, there is a lot of diversification, morality, work ethics, and cultures… share some stories, make new friends, and learn from them. It is like going to a different country, within the school.
Candidates don’t need coding experience, none of us were born with computer science knowledge. We start from the same line, but some people are better than others, that is the harsh truth. But in no way you should be giving up. Just keep practicing and studying, practicing and studying, practicing and studying… you will get better. Improvements matters, comparisons are just a reference.
Because of the French roots of the school, it feels very unique compared to American traditional university and schools. Xavier Niel, along with Kwame are the responsible of making 42 School Silicon Valley a reality! And the Bocal (the administration) cares about you. It is a small school, feels a lot like home.
Interestingly, what a person learn from 42 School, varies between them. This is because, 42, is the answer to life, the universe and everything. Yes, it is a coding school, but it is also type of vocational school. We have musicians, professional poker players, designers, actors, painters, and an alpaca shearer… keinen Spaß. ;)
It is very easy to make friends… I think that is what I got more from this school. I will always be thankful for this opportunity.
Getting myself stuck on a problem, and trying so hard to solve it, but taking a very long time to do it is one of the worst feelings. By contrast, solving this problem will bring you joy at the end. It is like a video game. It feels good. Like beating a Contra without using the Konami Code type of good.
But if I find myself on a situation like this, I will try my best on seeking for some help. First, I will DuckDuckGo it, because screw Google. If I can’t find a solution, I will use Google because it is better. If not avail, it’s time for StackOverflow. No solutions? Time to go to the GitHub repository of the technology I am using and see the issues. Nothing? Open an issue and cry because it will take a while for help to come to you.
So… 42 School is the best school out there, right?
I don’t know. But I know that 42 has some issues too, not everything is unicorn and rainbows. This is because for every good, there is some bad. It is logic. But I guess it can’t be helped. It is hard to keep motivation high when you code everyday, every time. Without friends, without a plan, without determination, or without the thirst for knowledge and the will to be one of the best, it is going to be hard to keep up with the dorm requirements and the strict deadlines.
One of the reasons might be that the Piscine, the totally not boot-camp, introductory test program that you need to complete to be accepted as a student, is fast paced. It is Sonic fast. And the regular program is at your own pace fast. If you are lazy, you are not going to level up in life.
Internships and jobs are required at 42 School. Maybe they want us to grow personally, get some greens, and be successful on life? Our foundation as a society is to contribute back, and one way to do it is to work. The important thing is that you enjoy doing it. It is what going to define you later in life. If you do well in 42 School, you already are working on your teamwork, communication, knowledge in doing research, rigor, creativity, adaptability, and other soft skills.
Of course, soft skills are important, but you are going to use your technical skills. Soft skills are just for help. I see it more or less like bonus on your skill branch of yourself. For this reason, a mandatory level should be reached before being able to apply for an internship. It used to be level 7, then it went to level 10, and I think it went back to level 7?
Because the school is small, growing, and just starting… it feels a bit incomplete. This is not a negative view at all, it is just the way the world works. For example, I only went to one school my whole life, from kindergarten to high school. During my childhood, I have seen some similar transitions and situation that 42 School is going through.
I am a believer that 42 School has great potential, but is up to us, the students to make it the best coding school in the entire world.
In conclusion, if you want to visit the school, or even better, apply… do it. It has been by far the best experience of my life, I have grown a lot, and my perspective of the world changed… at least in some way. By the way, pizza at Le Tiki at Corse is overrated. The pizza at Sorrento, Panama City is better.