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How Maya from Bulgaria became a mobile app developer

EU Scholarship winner tells about her bootcamp experience

· Scholarship,Innovation,Product Development

In this blog post Maya shares her personal impressions of being part of the iOS app development bootcamp. "My overall feeling about the bootcamp was that it was a life-changing experience and the skills gained from my time at The App Academy are going to help me a lot with my future professional life."

Who am I and what do I do?

My name is Maya Lekova and I’ve been doing programming in various forms since childhood. I earned my BSc degree in Informatics in 2012 and I’ve been working on things like games, educational projects, graphics software and hobby hardware gadgets. I’ve never done any mobile app development before the bootcamp.

Maya receives her app development scholarship from headmaster Axel Roest from The App Academy

Why did I join the bootcamp?
What led me to The App Academy was their effort to join forces with EU’s eSkills for Jobs in 2016 creating a new category in the competition - the “Innovative App” award. A friend of mine found info about it and shared it with me. I gave it a lot of thought but decided that I have just the right idea - MusiStep - a music player for runners, which follows the steps of the runner and plays songs with the same tempo. I engaged my brother to shoot a video of me demonstrating the hardware prototype that I’ve developed earlier with my friend. Luckily enough I was chosen to participate in the awards ceremony in Bratislava a few months later and, to my honest surprise, I won the first prize - a scholarship for an iOS Bootcamp from The App Academy.

How I prepared for the bootcamp?
I’ve spent my whole life living in my home town in Bulgaria, so moving to the Netherlands for 3 months was a big adventure. Fortunately the organizers from The App Academy were kind enough to provide me with advice on how to look for housing and I had a close friend living in Amsterdam to ask for all the rest. I launched an IndieGoGo campaign to fund my stay in Amsterdam and many of my friends joined the effort to help me with this.


What are my impressions from the bootcamp?
If I should describe the whole experience with one word that would definitely be “intense”. We were both beginners and more advanced students, which led to a lot of experience being shared between the students. The teacher employed a type of blended learning - giving presentations in class, sharing online materials and books to read further and doing a huge amount of practical exercises. We tried to stick to our strict schedule of 9-18 o’clock classes (it brought me back to my school years, preparing my homeworks and my backpack for tomorrow), which gave a really good pace of learning.

What opportunities have I found thanks to the bootcamp?
For me the opportunity to really focus the first 6 weeks on learning a new language (Swift), a new platform (iOS) and a whole new toolset (Xcode) was a priceless one. We then did a group project for 2 weeks, which was a great experience of planning, working in a team, doing pair-programming and getting to know the rest of the students. The last 5 weeks were devoted to working on our own projects, in my case - the MusiStep app. The teacher was coaching me on how to work on it from planning and technical point of view and the UX designers of The App Academy helped me and the other students a lot in achieving a good look ’n feel of our applications. Discussions with the team about the business side of the project and testing it was also valuable addition to my participation in the bootcamp. Last day of the bootcamp, Demo Day, was devoted to the final presentations of the students’ individual projects - a dynamic afternoon with everybody’s best effort to show what he achieved from the training.

Wrapping it up

My overall feeling about the bootcamp was that it was a life-changing experience and the skills gained from my time at The App Academy are going to help me a lot with my future professional life. It’s definitely a good step for anybody seeking to step up in his career and I’d advice whoever is interested to try winning a scholarship from The App Academy.

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