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JacobWashington
JacobWashington

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Communicate, Communicate, Communicate.

So, you’re thinking about enrolling full-time at a coding bootcamp? It’s 70-80 hours per week, but only for a few months. It’s not crazy, right?

Well… NO. It’s not crazy, and neither are you. My experience at a coding bootcamp in Irvine, CA, has been a rollercoaster, but a rewarding one at that. You learn a lot and you learn it fast. If you’re like me, you’ll come into this hardly understanding what a loop is and why you might need one. Exactly one month later, you’ll be building web applications from front to back, or rather back to front, and squeezing in whatever time you can spare to start playing with your own ideas. Bootcamp is tough, but more so it’s exciting and even transformational. You’ll know you’re in metamorphosis the first time you dream in JavaScript.

BUT, that time commitment is not for the faint of heart, especially when you have others who depend on you. If you’re married, if you have children, if you’re a central figure in your family, friend group, or community of any description, you need to set your boundaries early. Getting through a coding bootcamp is no easy feat. Getting your loved one’s through it with you is even harder. You can expect, at a minimum, to sacrifice roughly ALL OF THE TIME you’re accustomed to spending with them. Luckily for you, your mind will be busy learning to write functions, loop through arrays, click buttons and make them do something, finding ways to do things on Youtube that your instructors explicitly asked you not to do... Unfortunately for those who aren’t there with you, they’re sitting at home (especially if another pandemic rolls around), twiddling their thumbs and wondering what it is, exactly, you’re doing with all this time away from them. Sometimes, you’ll come home from a 12 hour day and they’ll ask you just that. You happily snatch your backpack, break out your laptop and begin explaining to them the best you can, what it is you’re learning and how, exactly, the internet works. After the first few sparkly tricks you’ve prepared for this exact moment, you feel their interest dwindling. It’s just too complicated and boring, and you’re too underqualified to explain it to someone who, let’s face it, is not all that interested to begin with. And soon after that, the texts start rolling in 3 hours into class. The phone rings once every couple hours, some days even more so. Your mind is moments from solving a problem that’s had you stumped for the last hour and… RINNNNGGGGGGG. Your concentration is broken.

Don’t let this happen. Trust me. Communicate. Explain to your husband, wife, loved ones or friends, that you cannot answer your phone (except for emergencies) and will not be available to respond to non-urgent needs until you’ve reached whatever goal you’ve set for yourself that day. Oh, by the way.. SET GOALS.

But this is easier said than done, right? How do you approach a conversation that’s intention is, really, to turn down conversations — to tell someone who you love and cherish that they no longer have free access to you for a prescribed period of time, essentially putting them on the back burner. Well, you just do. You sit down, preferably well before your training starts, and say, honey, love, baby, boo — whatever it is you call this person — I love you, and I care about you, and these next few months are going to be extremely challenging for us. I’m not going to be available to spend time with you as much as I’d like to, or as much as we’re accustomed to. If you absolutely need me, I am absolutely available. I’m not abandoning you for some abstract desire to become a software developer, and neither is this desire abstract. Explain to them why this is important enough to you to commit nearly all of your time (and I mean ALL of it) over the next few months to achieve this goal. Ask them how they picture the time ahead, what they still expect from you. Offer creative ways to help alleviate the stress they’ll incur by feeling abandoned by you. And they will, some days at least, feel abandoned. Do your best to minimize that. Don’t come home each day, groggy and exhausted, expecting to throw your feet up and be treated like the master of creation you believe you’re becoming. This is a sure fire way to make your loved ones feel like, really, you’re on vacation while they’re home toiling to keep it all together. Instead, come home and wash the dishes. Cook dinner. Pick up the toys the kids have scattered, and let your loved one breathe. Tell them to go sit down and let them tell you how shitty their day was while you wipe off counters and sweep the floor. Yes, you’re tired too. Yes, you’re exhausted, and while you might not be hammering at rocks all day, staring at a screen and typing on a keyboard can be equally draining in many ways. But you know clearly why you’re doing it, something that those you’ve left at home can’t, and sometimes won’t, always see. So help them. The more you do to understand what they’re feeling, and to ease the burden of sharing the highest level of priority, the more they’ll do to help you succeed in meeting your goals, daily and as a software developer.

If you’re considering joining a coding bootcamp, believe me, the road ahead of you isn’t easy. But, if you really want it, whatever your reasons be, use every bit of drive you have not only to succeed, but to bring your loved ones along with you.

QUESTIONS about my bootcamp experience? Teetering on the edge of unknown, wondering if you should take that next step? DM me or comment below!

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