For the longest time, I’ve always wanted to learn how to code. I never had the time nor the funds. When I got furloughed at the peak of the pandemic, I thought it was the perfect time to enroll in a part-time Software Engineering bootcamp.
This blog is going to speak to those who are thinking of doing the same thing. I hope this better prepares you for the bootcamp, that would in turn, better prepare you for the job hunt that follows. This is only the tip of the iceberg my friends.
1. Do ALL of the pre-work
The bootcamp that I went to requires you to complete a pre-work course before starting the real course. Doing the pre-work in advance gives you the much needed familiarization, and practice to make you better prepared to take on the intense learning that's to come.
Fully focus on the course and don’t try to take another course at the same time. During the peak of the pandemic there were so many free courses available, so I jumped at taking a pre-course on Digital Literacy, too. Although, it wasn’t as difficult as coding, the assignments required a lot of time which took from the time I could’ve been more immersed in the bootcamp.
3. No Cheating
Do not look at any solutions until you’ve tried solving a problem on your own for at least 20 minutes (as advised by instructors). Exhaust all resources before succumbing to looking at the solution (ie documentation, Stack Overflow, pair programming). Your mind will better grasp the concepts and the process of getting to where you need to be.
4. Don't Be Afraid or Shy to Ask Questions
Ask as many questions as you want to to your instructor and tech support team. No question is a stupid question. It is difficult to build the courage to ask, but soon you'll be a natural at it. Always remember your goal is to learn as much as possible in a short duration of time.
5. Take Advantage of All the Resources Provided
Schedule as many 1:1s as you can with your instructor. That's what they're there for. Utilize all the resources that are given to you. My fellow cohort mate also reminded me, "to make your money's worth!" Even though we had only 10-20 minutes at the most, you can that extra attention to ask something specific or help to unblock you from an error.
6. Be a Few Steps Ahead
Try to cover two labs in advance of that particular week's curriculum. Our curriculum actually gave a lot of hints as to how to better understand the previous labs. Additionally, start with your project conceptualizing from the beginning of the module and implement them as you go along, so you really understand what each lesson in the lab is used for. In turn, it will be faster to complete. Plus, you’ll be able to talk about your project during your assessments with ease. This will give you ample time to meet not only all the minimum requirements, but fix any bugs and make your project more polished.
7. No Screen Time
Sacrifice your screen time, be it social media or watching any shows or movies. It can wait. I'm still trying to kick the habit and be better with my screen time management.
9. Data Structures & Algorithms
Start studying data structures and algorithms for fun, way before your job hunt. Join all the study groups that work with your schedule and be consistent with attending them. Even exposing yourself to the thought process of others, will give you a head start on how to engrain the patterns in your brain for tech interviews.
10. Network, Network, Network
Start networking and join as many communities out there either on Slack, Discord, LinkedIn or whatever else you feel comfortable with. I know a few alumnus who weren't the networking type and opened a LinkedIn just for the sole purpose of finding a job. As for me, I love meeting new people and making connections so it came naturally to me, but that can also be borderline distracting because I feel obligated to check every channel on Slack, and check every message.
Be as helpful as you can, but don't forget to prioritize on your needs first. Perhaps what you can do is you can help others only after you've completed your labs and projects.
Of course, this is all easier said than done. Some of us are parents, caregivers, veterans with PTSD, have learning disabilities and other personal issues. I had cohort mates that caught Covid-19 so that took a huge chunk out of their productivity. Life happens and anything can happen at the most unexpected of times.
We all have different reasons why we want to sign up for a coding bootcamp. Be it to learn Software Engineering, Data Analytics, Data Science, or UI/UX. Maybe to be able to create apps, a career change, provide a better life for your family or to pivot from an existing tech job. We equally come from different circumstances and have our own struggles that will effect our productivity and it can be beyond our control. I learned that you can’t expect people to understand, but always be kind regardless because you can never compare what you’re going through with what other people are going through. Try to empathize, listen and sincerely help whenever you can because that is you paying it forward for all the times someone was there for you. Enrolling in a coding bootcamp is not an easy path to take, but it sure is a rewarding one! I wish you all the best!
*I hope to be starting my first job soon and would be open to help. Please feel free to get in touch with me on LinkedIn if you need help with anything or have any questions that can make this transition easier.