Chapter 2: For the Love of Code <3
A Passion for code
Ready to apply to a bootcamp already? Slow down there, Pardner. Attending a bootcamp is a big decision. Before you apply, it’s important that you know what you’re getting into. Programming is a great career track, but, like every other career out there, it’s not for everyone. Before you plunk down your heard-earned money, you should probably get your toes wet to make sure coding is something you enjoy.
Your choice to pursue a career track in programming should be about more than just the salary and ease of getting hired. We won’t pretend like that stuff shouldn’t be important at all (it’s pretty damn important, actually), but you need to actually enjoy programming too. If you spend thousands of dollars on a bootcamp education and walk into an interview and can’t show the interviewers that you’re passionate about what you’re doing for it’s own sake, then you’re gonna have a bad time.
Set yourself up for success
Before you sign up for that bootcamp, take a few hours and teach yourself the basics of learning to code. There are a multitude of free or inexpensive self-learning resources such as Chris Pine’s Learn To Program or Codecademy. Working through these programs will allow you to mitigate your ‘passion risk’ before attending a bootcamp. These free programs are a great introduction to coding and figure out if you actually like it before you start spending serious money learning.
Your learning style is going to be a primary contributing factor in your bootcamp experience, so it’s important to know how you learn before you enroll in a bootcamp. Do you learn best by jumping in and learning as you go? Or do you prefer to study-up on everything before you get started applying what you’ve learned? Do you like working independently or in groups?
Bootcamps throw you into a fast-paced, hands-on learning environment that emphasizes learning through experimentation over traditional “academic” approaches that you may be accustomed to. You’ll be working through a lot of coding challenges both independently and with other students, so it’s essential that you enjoy collaborating with others as you learn. The speed of programming bootcamps demands that you learn and adapt to new situations quickly. The idea is that if you can adapt to quickly changing curriculum, you’ll be able to handle the challenges that’ll be thrown at you in a real-world work environment.
No knowledge? No problem. Most bootcamps accept students with no prior programming experience. But that doesn’t mean you can be accepted today and show up on campus tomorrow. All reputable bootcamps require you to complete a series of pre-work assignments on your own before you arrive on campus. Pre-work serves two main purposes. First, it’s meant to lay the foundation you’ll need for the intense weeks ahead. Second, it serves as an extended interview of sorts, wherein bootcamps can identify those students that might not be cut out for a career in programming. If you can’t take the heat… well, you get it.
But that litmus test goes both ways: students can use the pre-work period to get a handle on whether a career in programming is the right move for them. Before going all-in and quitting a job, moving to a new city, and forking over a large tuition payment, it’s nice to get some confirmation that you’re truly ready to take such a huge step.
If you’ve made it this far and still saying “I got this,” then welcome to the crazy world of coding. The next step? Sort through the droves of confusing information out there in hopes of finding your dreamboat bootcamp. It’s dangerous to go alone. Good thing you have this guide.