Life in a Coding Bootcamp
It’s been 8 weeks since I started my web development course at General Assembly! 8 weeks of code and 2 projects later… what have I learned?
Firstly…wow, I can’t believe I’ve only got 4 more weeks left. In a bootcamp, you are generally working towards your homework for the next day or a project which is due in a week. Due to this you never quite get time to appreciate how fast you’re going or how far you’ve come.
So Karan, what’s your experience been like so far?
I’m glad you asked.
Let’s start with my class:
I’m really fortunate to have some super cool people as my classmates. The size of the class is perfect too — we are 12 people and I feel that is the perfect balance between not too lonely and not too chaotic.
Next up — what does my average day look like?
We start our day at 9am with a 15 minute standup discussing our wins and challenges from the previous day’s lesson and homework.
After that we normally have around 3 hours of lessons and labs with 10–15 min breaks, roughly every 50 mins. It might seem as if we break relatively frequently but I cannot emphasise how important these breaks are when you are trying to cram in complex concepts in a short span of time.
We repeat the same process after a lunch break of around an hour at noon.
We get our homework for the next day about 15 mins before class ends and that is our commitment for the evening/next morning. I personally am a night owl, so I start my homework after class.
Homework generally takes me around 3–4 hours, this varies based on the complexity of what we learned in class that day.
As you can probably tell, this is pretty intense. There is not much time left for recreation, and that’s completely fair. When you’re trying to accomplish something this ambitious under a tight deadline, you have to be willing to drop everything and make this your life.
Nonetheless, I have loved every bit of the course so far and it’s taught me many implicit and explicit lessons on picking up a new skill and… just life in general.
I would like to share 3 of the most important ones with you.
1. You reap what you sow — The value you extract from the course is based on how much effort you put into it. For example, you don’t HAVE to complete your homework everyday but I would recommend coming as close to completion as possible, and if you find yourself with some spare time — why not challenge yourself with some bonus tasks?
2. Embrace failure — We spend most of our lives trying to get good at something and as a byproduct, it begins to define our identity. When something challenges that identity, it feels like you’re being stripped down.
The bootcamp is the same for me, I like being good at things and it was uncomfortable when I wasn’t. When you hit run and your code just throws a billion errors at you in bold red text — that felt scary.
Eventually, that feeling goes away and it taught me something more important. Error messages, like failure, are a natural response to you trying something new. You learn more when your code errs than when it runs flawlessly every time. If you succeed in everything that you do, you are not making bold enough bets.
Don’t settle for mediocre shit.
3. Help others and ask for help — I would love to take credit for everything I am today and everything I know, but I would be nowhere close if it wasn’t due to the generosity of everyone who has taken the time to be patient when I fall and helped me selflessly to understand the ropes. Similarly in coding, whether it’s my classmates in the course, or strangers on the internet — I have learned so much because others were willing to help.
Don’t be that person who views their knowledge as something proprietary and bottles it up. It’s not a you vs them mindset, we all can be better off together. Helping others forces you to confront your own knowledge in greater depth, I can’t emphasise the number of times a concept just clicked while I was trying to explain it to someone else.
Remember that not everyone is good at the same things, I’ve explained code to people who know infinitely more about cooking, management, fashion, music and more. You are not better than someone else simply because you know more.
Don’t forget to ask for help too! It’s easy to be egoistic and not want to show any vulnerability, but that helps no one. No one will ever know everything — it is ok to ask for help and it doesn’t undermine you in any way.
I’m currently going into week 9 which is project week. There are no classes during projects, you still come in during class hours, but you just code away for your project.
Project 3 is a group project and my team and I are building a web-app that allows you to manage your personal finances thorough daily budgeting and spending intelligence. I’ve learned so much more since project 2 and I’m really excited about this one!
If you’d like to see my projects so far, you can check them out here –
Project 1 (Flying Solo) — Flying Solo is a spin on Flappy Bird, with a Star Wars theme. (Doesn’t work on mobile, soz)
Project 2 (Echo) — A sleek and user friendly blogging platform. (Mobile responsive af)
You can also check my Github to see how I accomplished the 2 projects.
Until next time.