7 Golden Rules on Surviving a Coding Bootcamp
12 Apr 2017
8 minute read
Coding bootcamps have exploded in popularity in the last few years. Finally, we have an alternative to the multi-year University degree, which holds an equivalent value in the eyes of most employers. Of course, bootcamps aren't for everyone. Depending on the career you want to pursue and the nature of the companies you would like to be involved in, a University degree may be the best option for you. For those wanting to take the bootcamp route, it is important for you to know that it is not an easy ride. Successfully completing and thriving at a coding bootcamp requires commitment and a whole lot of hard work. Upon beginning your journey through the gruelling world of bootcamps, keep these seven golden rules in mind, and you will be better equipped to take on the challenges coming your way.
Going into a coding boot camp without a clear goal is like aimlessly venturing through the wild without a clear destination; you will just end up lost and likely wasting your time. Having an idea of which area of development you would like to specialise in or the sort of company you would like to be involved in will allow you to allocate your time and energy accordingly throughout the boot camp. More importantly, having that clear goal in mind will keep you motivated and enable you to keep track of your progress along the way.
Have a learning mentality
Have the mentality that you joined a coding bootcamp to learn as much as possible. You have the opportunity to learn not only from your teachers but also from fellow students. The class will be a mix of people from different stages of life; you can learn a little something from everyone. It’s not every day you are put in a room full of driven people with similar aspirations, see what you can learn from their knowledge and past experiences. Have enough humility to learn from those around you, ask questions as much as possible and be coachable. Be sure to take on board constructive criticism and put everything you learn into action.
Stay committed and stick to a schedule
It is important you stay committed and exert the same amount of effort at all times. If you have prior coding experience, the class will likely cover a topic in which you already have sufficient knowledge in, don’t let this be an excuse to miss class or to take it easy during that time. Continue to turn up and pay attention; you may surprise yourself and learn something new. More often than not, you will need to do extra work outside of class; I would highly recommend you draft a schedule and allocate your time between the bootcamp, errands and your personal life. Be sure to stick to that schedule; overwork and you will burn out, underwork and you will fall behind.
It’s on you
Upon starting a coding bootcamp, many expect to encounter a teaching style similar to that of high school and university. Let me tell you now that it is far from it. Development is a profession that involves thinking on your feet and finding the answers yourself; you can be sure that the boot camp will prepare you for this. Don’t expect the teachers to hand you the answers so easily, make sure you exhaust all your resources before going to the teacher to solve your bug, this will build your initiative and better equip you for your development career. You are 100% accountable for your failure or success. If you don’t fully understand the current focus make sure you continue to practice and learn at home. Do what is necessary not just what is required; just coming into class is usually not enough.
Don’t compare yourself with other people
Many will join coding bootcamps with prior coding experience whereas some will be absolute beginners, be sure to remember not to compare yourself with anyone else in the class. If you find people are ahead of you, you will only be discouraged; alternatively, if you find you are ahead of the class, you will only find yourself justifying average effort. Just focus on your progress and learning more each day. As long as you know more now than you did last week, you are on the right track.
Don’t expect that your teachers know every detail of your progress, if you find yourself falling behind, it is important you let your teachers know; they will be more than happy to give you some resources or spend some time with you to revise the topic of interest. Moreover, there may be times where you have some doubts; maybe you don’t particularly agree with their teaching style, be sure to speak up, you may come to understand their logic and reasoning.
Bootcamps involve a lot of grinding effort, remember to frequently take breaks. Otherwise, you will eventually burn out. If you find yourself stuck on a problem, clear your mind and do something else; you will find that the answer will come to you with greater ease when you get back.
Despite the emotional rollercoaster that comes with coding bootcamps, it is undoubtedly a very rewarding experience in which you will come out of it a highly capable and resilient developer. Not only will you be learning the valuable skills of a developer, but you will also be meeting some incredible people and making life-long connections along the way. Your time at a bootcamp will come and go unbelievably fast, so be sure you make the most of every single day and don’t forget to have some fun!
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