Bootcamp Mastery: Peers Matter

This article is part of a series about getting the most value out of an immersive programming bootcamp after I attended Fullstack Academy in NYC. See my stories for more!

Don’t underestimate the power of peer culture. Some scholars argue that the non-genetic aspects of our development are influenced predominately by our peers, not teachers, parents, or other presumed influences.

When I ran an education program, our number one focus was on trying to create a positive peer culture. When I began researching coding bootcamps, I paid close attention to how applicants were screened.

Fullstack heavily screens applicants and accepts a very small number of those who apply (I’ve heard lower than 8–10%). The benefits of this are obvious when you arrive. My cohort is full of extremely sharp people from all over the world.

People come from many backgrounds including finance, biology, various PhD programs, and entrepreneurship. There is a skew towards people who went to Ivy League schools.

Having smart, driven people around you makes you better. There’s a contagious, social aspect to spending many hours together. As long as people are behaving positively towards others and themselves, you’ll be infected by the positivity as well.

The same goes for negativity or mediocrity. Environments that are negative, cynical, or that don’t drive people towards great work are absolutely toxic. If you find yourself in one, leave. You don’t want to get infected.

During a bootcamp you’ll spend an incredible amount of time with your peers. Chances are that you’ll be pair programming with them several hours each day. When projects roll around, you’ll work late nights with your peers.

Having great peers makes this process so much better. Great peers also means that people are likely to have better connections to jobs, opportunities, and business ideas once your bootcamp is complete.

Only go to a Bootcamp that screens hard for admissions. If you found it too easy to get accepted, that’s a bad sign. Yes, it sounds a bit elitist to say this. But the quality of your experience and the value of the money and time you’ll spend in the bootcamp depend so much on your peers.