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A Coding Bootcamp Is Not Just About Learning Technical Skills

The soft skills that got me through my bootcamp…

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

As I am nearing the end of my 15-week immersive software engineering bootcamp, I had some time to reflect on all of the skills and knowledge I’ve gained during what seemed like an incredibly long, but short time here at Flatiron School. Back in October of 2020, I was just starting my coding journey, understanding only a few technical concepts like learning what loops and variables were used for and how to create a domain model with a many-to-many relationship. Fast forward to February 2021 and I’m on my last week before I graduate, putting last minute touches and fixing minor bugs on my final project, which is an online self-care journaling app built with a Rails backend, React JS frontend and styling with Semantic UI.

As a woman coming from a marketing and events background, I did not have any technical skills prior and was quite honestly terrified of learning so many new skills and concepts in what is considered a male dominant industry. However, the reason I made it to the end is because of all the soft skills I’ve also gained and honed in on throughout my time at this bootcamp. I won’t go into detail on the technical skills I’ve learned as someone can easily do a quick google search on various curriculums coding bootcamps have to offer, but what I did want to focus on is a few other skills I’ve gained coming out of this.

Discipline

So this is not to say that I did not feel disciplined before, but going through an intensive program hits very differently. You are expected to learn and understand new concepts and apply them within a matter of days. This style of learning continued for the next few months and was definitely an adjustment. When people say it’s like a firehose to the face, they were not kidding. While motivation is what may keep people excited and wanting to continue to learn, there will come a point when that motivation dies down and the workload gets tough... like really tough.

So then what? At that point, you will have to rely on your own discipline to make sure you are on top of attending lectures and completing all of the required labs so that you do not fall behind as concepts continue to build onto one another. If you’re still having a tough time grasping concepts, you may also want to spend the night doing other research and watching videos until it clicks.

Time Management

This brings me to the next important skill. Time management was key to getting through this bootcamp. Understanding your own style of learning is extremely helpful. For me, that meant taking breaks every few hours and recharging with a meal or walk outside to clear the mind. I also coded from morning to night, 6 days a week but kept my Saturday’s free for my own time to relax.

It’s so easy to get consumed into labs and be glued to the computer for hours on end, but there’s also that balance needed for your own mental health so that you do not burn out. Yes, there was always a ton of work to do that was due, and it felt like there was not enough time in the day, but if you take a step back and break the workload up throughout the day based on priorities, it’s much more manageable.

Photo by Icons8 Team on Unsplash

Perseverance

Lastly, I’ve learned the true meaning of perseverance. Learning a new skill and making a career change is not easy, but for me the first step was to learn the technical skills needed as fast as possible. There were many late nights studying and coding and countless days of feeling lost and wanting to give up. Thoughts of whether or not I made the right choice creeped in, but I just kept pushing. Eventually, concepts that were going way over my head started to click and the imposter syndrome slowly faded. Looking back, I don’t think I’ve ever been so motivated and wanted something so much. Sure, I was nervous and had doubts, but it just goes to show how important it is to challenge yourself and to put yourself outside of your comfort zone because that is when you will grow and learn the most.

This rollercoaster of emotions, feeling completely lost and doubtful and then on top of the world will continue to go on beyond the bootcamp, but I’ve learned how to focus in on the end goal and manage imposter syndrome. I’ve learned that things will eventually get better and that the more you practice, the better you get.

Beyond the Bootcamp

I still can’t believe how far our whole cohort has come and am looking forward to where this experience is going to take everyone in the near future. Flatiron has taught me so many skills both technical and soft ones. I know there is still a lot to learn out there as technology is continuously evolving, but I feel ready and equipped with the resources and tools I’ve gained throughout this journey to learn and achieve what I set my mind to do.

Photo by Hello I'm Nik 🎞 on Unsplash

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Melissa Mach

Melissa Mach

Software Engineer | Learning how to code a little more each and every day!

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