Picking the right coding bootcamp and gearing up for learning over an intense several months can be a daunting process. Once you’ve picked the language you want to learn and narrowed it down to two or three schools, there are tours to take, phone screens to schedule, and entrance tests to pass.
Whether you are just playing with the idea of a coding career or already down the path to enroll in a program, there are things you can do now to benefit from every minute you spend on campus.
1. Do Your Research
“Talk with instructors, staff, and alumni of the program if at all possible,” advises Lindy, the Director of Admissions at Code Fellows.
First-hand accounts from alumni is the best way to know if a bootcamp is right for you. They’ll have a lot of personalized insight on what helped them succeed in the program and in their job search. Maybe it was reviewing lectures at the end of the day, or keeping an organized list of all the resources recommended in class. The best resource you have is the testimonies of people who went through the program and lived to tell about it.
Use industry sites like Course Report and SwitchUp to read student reviews and see the highest-rated bootcamps, then get on campus to see the facilities and meet staff and instructors to know what to expect on day one.
2. Get Comfortable with Your Computer
While you should be able to type at least 40 words per minute, getting used to your computer means more than typing speed. Resources like Typing.io will help you improve your dexterity and get familiar with typing out code syntax.
Karinne, an admissions advisor here at Code Fellows, recommends that incoming students remove their mouse and practice navigating with keyboard shortcuts. Software developers rely on the efficiency of keyboard shortcuts as they’re in coding mode, so the sooner you train your brain to use them, the better.
3. Complete the Prework
The more exposure you can get to the code you’re going to be writing in bootcamp, the better. If you’ve been assigned prework, make sure to complete it before the first day of class. If you’re able to complete it early, it can be beneficial to work through the tutorials or problems again, or ask your admissions advisor for even more resources to help you hit the ground running. Your future self will thank you.
4. Build a Routine
You’re about to spend 40+ hours every week devoted to learning an entirely new language and way of thinking. Routine is your friend.
“We’ve found that the sooner one begins to develop a habitual practice by doing the prep work, the easier the transition into an immersive learning environment,” shared Mindy, an admissions advisor here at Code Fellows.
Use your prework or free online tutorials as a starting point, and incorporate time for exercise and rest. You’ll be tempted to cut back on physical exercise or sleep, but it’s crucial to establish a routine that includes getting your blood flowing (even if it’s just a brisk walk at lunch to get some fresh air) and letting your brain rest.
5. Clear Your Schedule
Sam, a seasoned instructor and the lead teacher for Code 201, encourages incoming students to remove any other obligations or appointments during the program.
“Eliminate distractions while you are in the course: things like weekend trips, moving, etc. are big disruptions when you need all of your focus and energy,” he said.
Planning ahead and getting dentist or doctor appointments taken care of now will help you stay distraction-free while you’re learning.
6. Immerse Yourself in the Industry
Reading solid tech blogs, subscribing to GeekWire and TechCrunch, and following prominent developers on Twitter will help you stay apprised of industry news, hiring companies, and new tech to keep your eye on.
Beyond tapping into the wealth of information available online, get out in your community! Attending language-specific meetups in your area is another crucial way to hear about trends (and often job openings!) in your city’s tech scene.
7. Stay Positive
Our instructors are familiar with the look of a student who has hit a mental wall. The ones who overcome the hurdle the fastest are those who have a growth mindset and retain a positive outlook.
“Students who excel often bring a good attitude to the table. Be ready to make mistakes as you learn; they’re coming, so just make your peace with them. They’re learning opportunities, not problems,” Sam advises.
It’s also important that you give yourself grace during the learning process, especially when you’re struggling with a new concept. Ask your TAs or instructors for some extra tutoring, or take a brief walk to clear your head.
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