When I first applied to a coding bootcamp, I was told to that I will need to dedicate most of the week to the bootcamp. If you had a job or other preoccupied activities, you would need to clear them out of your schedule. Now if you had good grasp of the languages being taught, you might be able to manage. But for the majority of people that are switching fields and is new to software engineering, it is absolutely true. Give or take you will be spending an average of 60 hours learning, practicing problems and pulling your hair out because you got stuck on a bug.
Advice: Find out what languages your bootcamp is teaching, and give yourself some time to learn the syntax of the languages before the bootcamp.
By the end of the first week of your bootcamp, you will be be shaken mentally. The amount of material you need to take in will make you constantly feel behind. I have seen cohort mates feel the pressure, cave in and bow out of the bootcamp by the first month. In the first 2–3 weeks, the bootcamp will test you mentally, you just need to persevere. When you push through your first phase or module, it will get easier. You brain will only go in to a shock the first module. Your second phase or module should go much smoother even though you are still learning new material. You will be used to the schedule and the pace of the course. If you feel defeated, confide in your peers. You are all going through the same process and experiencing the same situation. Tape notes on your desk or monitor and remind yourself you can do this.
When working in groups, you might see other cohort mates code in a different way. There are always alternate solutions, so don’t panic if it is not the way you would write code. Be flexible, take your time to understand their logic and their solution. Get familiar with Git, its commands and the code repository website Github. It is always a good practice to create and work on your branches rather than the main repository.
Below are some of more tips and things that will help provide a better experience and make your life easier during your bootcamp:
- A very comfortable chair. You will be coding for 10+ hours daily, your brain is already going to be stressed, don’t let your body join it as well.
- A second monitor and a dock to extend your display. Most students will be coding on a Mac book or laptop. It is not fun toggling between your browser and your code editor on a 13 inch screen. It is a lot easier to work when you have your code editor on one and your browser on the second.
- Schedule breaks. Some like the Pomodoro technique (taking a break every 30 minutes), while others break when they feel a little burn out. Sometimes it is good to walk away for 5–10 minutes to clear your brain from the bug your are experiencing.
- Ask for help if you need it. Don’t struggle and let your questions go unanswered. Other students might have the same question as you. You are spending a lot of money on the bootcamp, make the best out of it.
- Help your cohort mates. If you understand a topic, explain it to others that need help. Explaining and teaching to someone else will solidify your understanding. You might even learn from it as well.
I just recently graduated from my bootcamp and started my job search process. I will provide my experiences on another post once I land myself a software engineering role.