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Mark Harless
Mark Harless

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5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting a Bootcamp (#4 Won't Shock You)

I've been interested in coding since high school, 15 years or so ago, but never actually begun to teach myself until the 1st of the year. I feel like I was learning a lot every day I was coding, but when the 7 month marker hit, I felt like I didn't know anything at all! I noticed that I only taught myself the things I were interested in, and the things I'm interested in aren't usually the most useful things to learn.

So enter coding boot camp. I had the money, I certainly had the time and the support, so I just went for it. I knew I'd psyche myself out if I thought too much about it so I did only the pre work that was required of me and left it at that. Now that I'm at the start of my 7th week out of 15, I find that I could have probably been a little more prepared mentally and physically. Here are my top 5 tip top tips for getting through a coding bootcamp.

1. Learn Your Way

There are four types of learners: visual, auditory, reading and kinesthetic. I learn my best when I can watch someone do something and I try to recreate it myself (visual and kinesthetic). Your bootcamp will have a bit of structure to them including how and when they teach you. I know from my vast 31 years of living that I do my best mental work at night and that a lecture setting isn't enough. After each lecture, if I couldn't quite grasp the concept, I would go on YouTube to see more examples and try them out for myself. Understand how you learn your best and make the time in your day to understand concepts while keeping that in mind.

2. There's More to Life than Coding

Yep, I said it. For 15 weeks or so you'll be given more information than you can process in one go around. You'll be spending a lot of time outside of class hours to do homework and projects. If you have any free time, including lunch on campus, do something else that interests you. Go out for that drink with your friends or grab stay at home and watch that movie. Coming back with a fresh pair of eyes and a refreshed brain can go a long way in your mental clarity.

3. Exercise, Exercise, Exercise

You're going to be doing a lot of sitting. A whole lot of sitting. There will be those occasions where you walk across the room to get to lecture but other than that, you're going to be sitting. A lot, a lot. If you can find the time to exercise for even a few minutes every day, go do it. Since my commute is nearly 3 hours every day, it's hard for me to find time, but I make sure I go on a hike every weekend with my wife.

Fun fact: One of my classmates has gained 22lbs in less than two months of school!

4. Get Enough Sleep

I can't tell you how much sleep you need a night because everyone is different but for me, I know I can survive on 6.5 hours of sleep, but it will catch up to me mid week. I try to get about 7 hours of sleep every so I'm not too tired to learn anything the next day. There's been a few times since starting school that I could barely keep my eyes open when doing homework at night. Once you get to that point, it's probably best you catch your 40 winks.

5. Invest in Good Noise Canceling Headphones

Before my first coding challenge, something we have to pass to continue to move to the next mod, we were given a practice challenge. I sat down with my nine other classmates and began to dive into the challenge. Moments later I can hear just how quiet the room was and how incredibly loud everything was when it made a noise – like my very expressive classmate who types with two loud fingers and makes an audible noise when her code does or doesn't work. Clack clack clack. I actually ended up failing my practice test because I had too many distractions. The next day during my real test I brought my headphones and put on some lo-fi beats to keep me in the zone... and I passed! Even outside of the testing environment there will be a lot of unnecessary chatter. Invest in some good noise canceling headphones.

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