A while back I wrote an article on the exact day after I graduated from coding bootcamp. I highlighted my career switch, picking out a coding bootcamp, and completing the program. If you want to check that out first, here is the link to that: My Coding Journey — A Day After Developer Bootcamp Graduation.
I am proud to report today that I am employed full-time as a software developer. So in a nutshell, bootcamp works! That all being said, everyone’s experience is different and you get out of it what you put in. That is very important to highlight. As someone with two useless masters degrees will tell you, school isn’t everything. Hard work and the capability of growing with what you want to do is what matters. For me, the reason I was drawn to tech was that it involves so much learning (something I actually like!). Your learning is something you have control over. You decide how often you want to work on something new or practice a skill (within human limits obviously). If you are self-motivated and self-directed that is even better. We all have the experience of being in that one awful class in middle school or high school (probably English) that we feel like we didn’t get a lot out of. Our learning suffered because our learning was constrained by a teacher, and when you are already in a school setting learning 6+ other subjects, it’s near-impossible to have motivation beyond what you are learning in class. If you are learning very little in class, then that is the limit of your knowledge. College is a tad better, because at least you can pick a subject you like and really dive into it. Having true self-direction though, means you don’t need to be in school to learn. With coding bootcamp, I will advise to make sure you want to do it before you actually enroll! Make sure you want to live and breathe code and if you make it that far then you have made it to the right place. Definitely refer to my tips in the previous article since if you are doing those things, that will be a good indicator of how pleased you will be with school.
The learning doesn’t stop once you leave school. This is important. There is only so much a human can learn during 12–15 weeks. Many bootcamps fall short when it comes to learning needed skills such as CSS or algorithms for employer coding challenges. In my experience, I found it difficult to focus on things because there are so many good things to be focusing on! That being said, I put some faith into my school (Flatiron School) and I tried to follow their post-graduation direction as much as possible. Eventually, you will find a job, and that will hopefully be like bootcamp school all over again!
Have a Resume (But do it right!)
And I don’t just mean put your projects on a piece of paper, like maybe your barely relevant education, your work experience (aside from one or two key jobs) and hope for the best. You need to make sure it shines. Build your own developer site and put the link on there. I built my website before finishing my resume, because without it my resume felt unfinished (and in following the school’s templates, there was an obvious gap where “personal website” belonged until I built it).
From there, I focused on building new projects. Each project serves a purpose, either I would build something that interests me that is useful to my other career (music), or I would make something with the intent of building a skill (CSS for instance) and sometimes I would find something that fits both of those goals.
I also got some great feedback on my projects in terms of how I listed them on my resume. Don’t just list what features and techs your project utilize. Talk about how you use them! If you use Rails on your backend that’s great, but if you talk about how you set up a self-referential relationship for one of your models, that’s even better!
The Goal and The Point
Programming a life-long learning process. Do it because you are the kind of person that enjoys learning. If you are trying to figure out if coding bootcamp is right for you, and you are already teaching yourself and attempting to build your own basic programs, you are well on your way to achieving your dreams. Enroll in the bootcamp that makes the most sense for you, and when you graduate, keep learning, keep building, and keep programming, because that is the point of learning how to do it! If your goal is to be a programmer, then you achieve it by writing code!