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What's Helped Me Learn

theomelette profile image Amit Naipaul ・3 min read

As I've described in a previous post, going back to a learning environment in my mid 30's was difficult. In that post I outlined my experience (so far) during the Software Engineering bootcamp at Flatiron School. I described some ways that helped me learn, so let's see how that's holding up.

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Taking good notes is still important. Having something you can refer to in an organized manner is incredibly helpful. Even finding and bookmarking outside resources or tutorials to go back to can be a great help. I still rewatch the lectures and take notes from there, focusing on absorbing information visually during the live lecture. It may not all make sense live, but when watching the recording it may finally make sense. My note taking hasn't changed much. I still take coding notes in OneNote, and conceptual stuff goes in an actual notebook. Things like term definitions or concepts should be written down, as it helps to remember them.

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Breaks are good. But they have to be real 'breaks.' During a studying session recently I decided to step away from my desk as I was beginning to get frustrated with syntax and just couldn't get a lab to pass. I ended up taking a walk to my pharmacy as I'd gotten a text that my meds were ready. I get there are there's a major issue! It wasn't a real break from being stressed. A real break is putting yourself in a situation where you can think clearly, recharge, and destress. Don't take a break and risk putting yourself in a situation where you can just stress yourself out even more. I've learned to step away from my desk, go into my living room and just hang out for a bit. Watch something, listen to music, or just mellow out on the sofa for a little bit.

Learning is still hard. I still feel like I fell behind some of my classmates, barely keeping up. But everyone learns at their own pace. Sometimes I'll be up until 10PM rewatching lectures or guides on coding just to get a better understanding of what I should be doing. But the best way to learn is:

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CODE! Do it yourself. Getting a bunch of practice in, whether it's redoing labs or just building something from scratch using the tools you've acquired goes a long way in getting that coding flow down.

Even though I'm essentially out of the learning environment, moving on to the next phase where I have to code my own solo project, then graduation, I'm not going to stop learning. I'm not going to stop practicing. Repeatedly coding, looking at code, and being able to understand what you're looking at are what lands us jobs in the industry.

If you're thinking of starting a coding bootcamp, I highly recommend it! It's definitely challenging, and will sometimes push you beyond what you think you can handle, but you walk away with a wealth of knowledge learned in a relatively short amount of time. We've learned Ruby, Rails, JavaScript, and React in just 12 weeks! Looking back on the pre-work for the bootcamp I was incredibly lost, as I had no coding experience whatsoever. But taking the initiative and fully throwing myself into the course, I can honestly say that I'm glad I did it, no matter how difficult it got.

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