Coding Bootcamps (6 Part Series)
I went to a coding bootcamp 2 years ago. This is the story of how I almost dropped out, and why perseverance is key to success. (For those who want to give up, while learning how to code).
Check out this video for the complete story:
Let’s back up to 2 years ago. I had driven from the East coast across the country without a plan, but I was on a mission to figure out a career change where I would enjoy what I was doing. Eventually, I landed out west, and my friend from college let me crash on his couch in Las Vegas. It was at that point where I decided to learn to code. Eventually, I decided to go down the path of applying to a coding bootcamp in San Francisco.
After 2 weeks of full time studying, I decided to apply to the bootcamp. I took the first assessment and I failed it. There was a 3 day wait time before the next retry, but being impatient and determined, I signed up with a second email (and failed it again). If you take the assessment 3 times and fail, you can never apply again. The bootcamp matched my names from the 2 accounts, and counted both of the applications towards this limit.
This made me pretty stressed out as my tentative plans relied on a Mid-October start date. Now the pressure was on. I took 3rd test (while being pretty stressed out), and passed! Then, the bad news. Unfortunately, I had to wait 6 weeks until the November start date because I missed the cutoff period.
I wasn’t sure if I could continue living on my friend’s couch for another 6 weeks, also not having direction on what to study. So I booked my apartment in San Francisco, but then heard back from the bootcamp that I was on a 2 week “probation” when I started. If I didn’t pass all of the assessments in the first 2 weeks, I’d be kicked out. “Uhhhh”. I already booked an apartment in San Francisco for 3 months! This was the first time I wanted to give up (due to fear of failure) and move back East. But I ignored the fear and moved on.
Fast forward another month, and I finally arrived at the bootcamp. Over the course of the first 2 weeks, I took multiple assessments. Every assessment I was on my toes, knowing I could be kicked out at any moment. To make things worse, I only met one other person on “probation”.
After the endless hustle, I ended up passing (phew!). The next point where we could be kicked out was the midterm. As that day rolled around, we were all pretty nervous.
I walked into the midterm, running pretty low on sleep. I remember stress eating 8 donuts that morning (donuts are my weakness). So there were 10 sections in the midterm. If you didn’t pass “X” amount of sections, you’d be kicked out, and lose half of the $17.5k admission amount. That was a ton of money on the line! They would determine the arbitrary passing amount after the midterm. I ended up only passing 4 of 10 sections. That’s when I knew it was all over.
After a few days of waiting, figuring out backup plans, and having thoughts of potentially moving back east, we got our results. I actually passed, and I couldn’t believe it! It was at that point where I had gotten past all of the major milestones where they could kick you out. And we had already lost about 6 people out of our cohort of ~35.
Next, we had our first full-stack project. After all of this effort over the past month, I really struggled with this project. I was stuck on building frontend components, and the due date was closely approaching. The night before the project needed to be completed, I had a panic attack at 2am. I called my mom on the east coast (5am her time, sorry mom!). I wanted to give up on everything. I kept telling myself coding wasn’t for me, and that I’d never be good enough. She told me that giving up was not an option at this point.
At that point, I calmed down my emotions. The next day, I went in early, asked for help, problem solved, extended the presentation time, and made everything work out. Emotional decision making can be scary, which is why it’s so important to make decisions objectively.
Looking back, I realized that there were really only 2 outcomes. Either give up and fail completely or continue until you achieve success. One single decision could have changed the outcome completely. Success is right around the corner, but usually, in times like those, you can’t see it.
If you’re learning how to code, and want to give up, think about it. Take a break from what you’re doing - sometimes a few hours or even a day’s break is all you need to come back and feel refreshed. There’s a reason why this field is so challenging - you will feel like giving up, a lot! Perseverance and grit are the 2 most important factors that will determine your outcome.
But remember, success or failure are the only options, and you ultimately choose which one you want.
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What's a time when you wanted to give up? If you're learning to code, what have you been struggling with?