A Collection of good advice and thoughts for someone who is preparing for a coding boot-camp.
As someone who has gone through a boot-camp, and helped navigate
two friends through the process as well, your mind is probably wrought with numerous questions and anxieties. Some are probably healthy (like the excitement and curiosity about how this intense period of growth, learning and change will play out) and some not so much… This is some advice about the process I’ve been repeating over and over again so I figured I should just write it down.
1. “I’m worried that I’m not smart enough, people are gonna realize that I’m not that good at computers….”
~ You did the prep work, got into the program and passed their markers…you are more than capable. A lot of these boot-camps have a business model that revolves around career services or money-back guarantees. People want to go to boot-camps because their websites boast that they have “such and such percentage of people that find work because of their program”. They know what a capable candidate for their program is and wouldn’t jeopardize their whole selling-point, the reputation of their career services and in some cases your tuition (if they offer money back guarantees) if they thought you were a dud and just wanted to “do you a solid” by letting you in. They are betting on you and your success, let that sink in.
2. Sleep, and taking care of yourself is just as, if not more important than being intellectually capable…
~ This is paramount! As a lifelong insomniac, this one was tricky for
me as my entire life I had tried everything and hadn’t had much success until this program forced me into a rhythm. Sleep is an essential part of the process of encoding memory in your brain, If you don’t sleep you simply won’t learn anything. Its also crucial for keeping your mental health in a good place which you will need for this roller coaster… there will be ups and downs and you need good mental health to keep you going. Whenever I am up late coding and think to myself “I’ll stay up just a bit more to finish this one last feature.” It is always never worth it! As what you gain in finishing that one tiny feature, you will loose in being unproductive and tired the next day. Go to bed, the better decision is always go to bed.
~ Take breaks, it is so important to pull away, about 90% of the
time the answer will just come to you.
4. Be nice to yourself…
~ This is the one I am absolutely sick of telling people. You’re not dumb because you didn’t perfectly understand something when it was the first time you had ever seen or tried it… That is the wrong mindset and is defeating the point of this whole thing. Growth and learning are uncomfortable expansive transformations, you’re not deficient because you need more work to understand something. You need to severe the narcissistic connection between your self-worth and perceived intelligence. You suck at coding, I suck at coding, we all suck.. but thats okay! We’re here to learn and get better, and that’s EXCITING!
5.You’re not gonna learn EVERYTHING… not now in this boot-camp….not ever in your career…
~You should be learning how to be a programmer, not learning how to use “PROGRAMS”. So don’t spend time freaking out about little things like “OH MY GOSH I CAN’T REMEMBER THE SYNTAX FOR THIS ONE THING”. The point of the boot-camp is to get you to the place where when you’re presented with a new challenge/problem (like those an employer would give you) you have the foundational knowledge as a PROGRAMMER to understand a new advanced topic. Programmers don’t know EVERYTHING! They adapt, they learn new languages and frameworks, they google…
~If you’re doing it right, your time in the boot-camp should give way to the process of your own personality beginning to shine through your newfound programmer self. There are many different kinds of programmers with different skill sets and abilities they bring to the table. Even though there is a stereotype that we all look like this guy:
The field is VAST and has diverse needs, If you focus on your strengths and develop what YOU are good at and incorporate those aspects into your
projects, you will not only be building things things you enjoy but also you will be targeting the jobs that you want. The stuff on your Github will have flow, and scream “I’m good at CSS and design!” or “I can manipulate data like a lunatic!” etc…
Thus, your tools should and will reflect this and will be biased to your
strengths… If you’re good at design your ability to use design-software
will be at the ready… But in the case when an employer asks you to do
something outside of that skill-set… thats okay, because you’ve been made a programmer. You look it up, understand whats going on and adapt.
6. Your goal is not “getting through the program” like you would be “getting through some class in college…”
~ The role of college is to get through it, so that you have a piece of
paper detailing how many hoops you jumped through to show an employer you are “competent”. Yet most of the things that were actually taught to you
in college classrooms are gone a month after graduation (in MOST cases,
granted there are others where college was important)… The role of the boot-camp however is to actually provide you with knowledge and experience going forward in a coding career, i.e. you can’t just “get through it”, you actually have to learn and retain. My advice for this is try to develop
yourself and stoke your interests, It makes this process a WHOLE lot easier.
There will be challenges but if you take care of yourself there is no need to
stress. You have a lot to look forward to, as it’s not just hard, transformative
growth but unbelievable fun. The relationships I’ve made are invaluable, I love my fellow cohort mates and these last few months have been a blast. I have nothing but joy and excitement for beginning my job search and starting a new career alongside my cohort.