What I Wish I Knew Before Attending a Coding Bootcamp
I recently graduated from Flatiron School’s software engineering program, and looking back on the experience, there are a few things that I would share with someone considering attending a bootcamp. I believe that nothing can fully prepare you for the intense nature of a code bootcamp, but these are some things that I feel would have better equipped me to succeed during my time at Flatiron.
One of the first things that I had to adjust to at bootcamp was the intensity of the workload. You will be coding morning to evening every day along with assignments to complete in the evening. I’ll admit, I knew the schedule before I started Flatiron, but what they don’t tell you is that working at that level of intensity for a few months will take a toll on you physically and emotionally. There will be times that you feel frustrated, like you’re not grasping the curriculum, or even that you’re falling behind. Take this in stride — use it as an opportunity to dig in, to push harder. I’ve learned that these moments of discomfort can be discouraging, but they are an opportunity to prove that you are capable of doing hard things. My confidence in my coding skills has grown the most in the moments where I pushed past the frustration and embraced the learning process.
Another thing that I learned very quickly in bootcamp is to lean into your community. My friends and I like to joke that we have been trauma bonded from attending a coding bootcamp together during the middle of a pandemic. As dramatic as it sounds, the people you meet in bootcamp are your lifeline. They are the people who understand exactly what you’re going through and can offer support when you’re overwhelmed. They’re also the people you’ll be up with late into the night working on projects and labs. I can say with certainty that the majority of my learning happened among my peers after school hours. The relationships you form in bootcamp are indispensable, and I think that finding friends in my class early on played a huge part in my success.
Lastly, something I’m learning now that I’ve graduated and am on the hunt for a job is that bootcamp is just the beginning. All of the hard work that you do in bootcamp allows you to learn a lot of material very quickly, but more importantly you learn persistence, determination, and grit. The skills that you learn at bootcamp prepare you for the work you’ll have to do when it’s time to look for a job. It’s intentional that you go through an intense curriculum so that you can learn to withstand tough circumstances and succeed in a fast-paced environment.
Coding bootcamps are not for everyone. It takes determination and perseverance and the ability to show yourself grace. But in the process of learning to code, I’ve learned so many more lessons about the value of hard work. If you’re considering attending a bootcamp, know that it will be one of the hardest things you’ll do for yourself, but it is so worth it.