Attending a Coding Bootcamp? Here’s the 3 Most Important Rules to Follow

Michael Mitrakos
Nov 19, 2017 · 5 min read

You are about to embark on the most life-changing and challenging couple months in your life. Let’s be real — you’re also spending a pretty penny for it, too… but I can assure you that it’s going to pay off.

** Are you just now looking into attending a coding bootcamp? I highly suggest you read this first. It’s about what you should require from the coding bootcamp you choose, which ones are great, and which ones are just wasting your money.

I went through Hack Reactor myself, and taught there after. I’ve seen hundreds of students go through these programs, and have even interviewed dozens of graduates from many of the West Coast coding bootcamps. If you want to be one of the most successful in your class and be one of the first to get hired, pay attention to the rules below.

The Golden Coding Bootcamp Rules

PRE-BOOTCAMP PREP

This bootcamp is your time to struggle and learn with the hard material — the material and skills that are going to get you hired and make you relevant in the world of software engineering. Let’s list off some of the skills that are NOT on that list. HTML, CSS, basic JavaScript (loops, higher order functions, etc).

None of the skills I listed above are going to get you a job. You’re not paying $13,000+ to learn the basics. You absolutely MUST learn these skills beforehand, by yourself.

Well, why Michael? I’m paying all that money to learn how to become a programmer, shouldn’t they teach me everything?

Sure, but there are a few reasons why you want to follow this rule… Most importantly — if you don’t have these skills by the time you start your bootcamp, you’re going to fall behind struggling with the basic stuff and therefore you’re missing out on struggling and learning the important difficult material. There are a ton of free resources out there to learn these basic skills. You want your time (hard earned money) to be spent on those important skills that will get you hired. Another reason is that you don’t want to be seen within your class as a weak student — if you come in with these skills, I guarantee you’ll be regarded as one of the strongest during your program.

LIVE AND BREATHE YOUR BOOTCAMP

Heading into Hack Reactor, they let you know that you should not have anything else planned for the next three months. Miss a few days of the program and you’ll be booted. Their reasoning is solid… miss two or three days of material and there’s no way that you’ll get caught back up.

I think there’s a better reason though — you made the decision to attend this bootcamp because one reason or another. Maybe you love coding and want to make it your career, maybe you got a glimpse of a software engineer’s salary, or maybe you just love to build stuff. No matter what it is… you’re here for a reason and you know this is no small task.

Forget the parties, forget your friends. Tell them you’ll be off the grid for the next three months and you’ll let them know when you’re back. Throw on an out-of-office email letting everyone know that you are unavailable until X date.

Here’s your schedule:

  • 8am–9am: Breakfast while you review material
  • 9am-6pm: Class
  • 6pm-9pm: Finish/work on projects or exercises
  • 9pm-midnight: Review material and/or review tomorrow’s upcoming material

Get absolutely every drop of information you can out of the bootcamp while you can, because those late nights and missed parties are going to be the reason you land that first job. That $100k job you want — it can be yours. You have to make the sacrifices first, and then you’ll get it because you earned it.

FORGET ABOUT COMPETITION

There are three scenarios —

  1. You’re struggling with the current coursework

If you’re struggling… you can get in the mindset that you’re falling behind everyone else, people are going to see you as weak, or you’re not as smart as everyone else. How do you fix this? Finish your exercise or project first!

2. You’re excelling and are at the top of your class

If you’re excelling, you’re trying to stay on top. This normally means that you are working to finish the current exercise or project as fast as possible.

3. You’re somewhere in between

You’re likely vying to reach the top spot which also means you’re rushing to finish the current exercise or project as fast as possible.

In all of these scenarios, you’re worried about everyone else and you’re rushing to finish first. Here’s the truth — finishing first means absolutely nothing. Focus on yourself, focus on your knowledge, and focus on learning deeply about as much as you can during every exercise. If you focus on deeply learning the material and utilizing it as much as possible, you’ll be the one to truly come out on top.

(BONUS) EVERY DAY IS AN OPPORTUNITY

Every situation is an opportunity to learn and become stronger.

  • If your partner is stronger than you — take that as an opportunity to pick their brain and learn as much as you can from them. Dig into their thought process, ask why about everything they do, tell them to slow down and repeat things as much as possible. This is your chance to learn from someone who might have more knowledge in a certain area.
  • If your partner is weaker than you — this is an amazing opportunity to teach what you know and truly master the information. Focus on teaching the material as well as you can, and learning where you can improve in that process. An extremely important skill in the day-to-day of a software engineer is explaining your thought process on a solution to a problem. Practice this and you’ll benefit greatly. A smart man (Albert Einstein) supposedly once said,

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

Lastly, one day you’ll realize that most of the opportunities you come across in life are through the connections you make. Every person you meet during your time in the bootcamp could be the person that gets you the job of your dreams one day. Value everyone and treat them as you’d like to be treated because you never know where that connection will take you.

Take the advice from failures of my own and many other boot-campers, and know that you’re giving yourself the best chance to excel and succeed during this important time in your life. I wish you the best of luck, and I’d love to hear from anyone that has gone through a bootcamp themselves! Please give me a clap or two below if you enjoyed reading :)

P.S. We’re always hiring at DoubleTap Consulting, check us out!

Michael Mitrakos

Written by

Senior Software Engineer at LivelyVideo & President at DoubleTap Consulting.

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