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Tips before you choose to attend a coding bootcamp!

Hello everyone,

My name is Xenon Santillan and I just completed my coding bootcamp on March 9. I attended a Full Stack Development Bootcamp at UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education. This is from my experience and opinion with attending these bootcamps.

These bootcamps are usually completed in 2 different time periods (Full-time and part-time). Now for these coding bootcamps, it is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED to not work or do any extracurriculars DURING the course. Is that true? In my opinion, yes. While you may have some leeway during a part-time course, you will still need to put in 20+ hours more into studying/practicing coding. AND PLEASE DO NOT MISS A CLASS. Some bootcamps will allow up to 8 absences but you will be lost if you do not pay attention to detail. Your goal isn't just to complete the bootcamp, it's to make it into the tech industry as a software engineer.

Tip #1: Do your research.
You will probably hear this from a lot of people in the tech industry, but bootcamps don't hold that great of a reputation. Yes, some are credited and are able to produce amazing software engineers, don't get me wrong; however, this is probably the top 1-10% of bootcamp graduates. Take into account that the tech industry is VERY COMPETITIVE. Many companies are looking for THE CREAM OF THE CROP bootcamp graduates.

Tip #2: Take Harvard's CS50 course on EDX
Now this is something I highly recommend for beginners. This is a FREE course you can take online ON YOUR OWN TIME. I'm not going to go in-depth with the course, but it will help to prepare you for the material in the bootcamp.

If you are choosing to go into a coding bootcamp blindly (no coding experience), please reconsider. Software Engineering is an ever-changing position.

Tip #3: Tutoring and Office Hours!
My bootcamp had office hours 30 minutes before and after each class. In this period of time you can take a professor or teacher assistant to a break out room and speak with them about your struggles with the course, things that are happening outside of class, help with projects, or even to catch up on material. PLEASE TAKE ADVANTAGE OF OFFICE HOURS.

Tutoring sessions have to be scheduled ahead of time. Here you can speak with a professor or teacher assistant 1 on 1 if you need help.

Tip #4: Commit time outside of class to practice!
This was one thing I struggled with during my bootcamp. I grew complacent just watching tutorials or reviewing bootcamp material. You need to have a knack for learning new material all the time, whether it is a new library, framework, etc. Always be curious and have fun with what you are crafting. All code is never permanent either. You can always cut code away and create more whenever so have fun with it.

Tip #5: Don't rely on others too much.
Now during these bootcamps you will have a lot of batch mates. You will have group projects to work on. You should always choose to stick with the hard working ones of course, but don't rely on them too much. You have a vision for yourself and your projects. If the group has a different vision for the project than you, you can always make a fork and change what you see fit.
(I'm not saying that your batch mates can't be trusted)

Tip #6: Figure out what works for you!
Everyone develops skills in different ways and there is not one right way to do things. What worked for me is wire framing and creating user flow charts before starting projects. I was able to visually understand how the web applications should work and how it should look. Now what works for me may be different from what works for you.

Tip #7: Find a focus.
Now this one is a little bit different. Software Engineering has a lot of branches and routes you can take. If you find a passion for something during your time learning stick with it! It can be frontend, backend, devops, etc! Figure out what you want to do or where you want to be!

Tip #8: Jot down what you learn on twitter/network!
Now this is a phase to do during and after the bootcamp. I started this blog once I completed my bootcamp so I wasn't able to show my thought process and methods. This is what a lot of companies/employers want to see. The ability you have to take in information and use it, so start early.

Tip #9: Keep working on your craft!
Once you finish the bootcamp, you may get lost on what to do next. Keep making projects and deploy them! There are a lot of FREE RESOURCES you can get from networks as well as connections! Don't be afraid to reach out to batch mates and work on professional projects together!

Tip #10: Create a community/Join a community!
This will be your safe space to grow and develop. Find people who have similar interests as you and grow along with them!

Coding Bootcamps are accelerated learning courses designed to guide you where you want to be in your career, but it doesn't stop once the bootcamp finishes. It's what you do with the skills you learn after the bootcamp that can really take you far. Keep practicing!

If you got this far, thank you!

P.S. I am not talking down on anyone's ability to learn material, so please don't take offense. Please note that I am not advocating for coding bootcamps or giving financial decisions. Coding bootcamps are a huge financial decision as well as a commitment, just like college. There are many individuals that can learn without the guidance of a coding bootcamp as well.

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