Chapter 6: How to Be a Happy Bootcamper
Take care of your health
Some bootcamps can be emotionally and mentally draining. If you haven’t already, you’ll learn to love coffee. Make sure that you are regularly eating balanced meals and getting enough sleep. You may think you are getting more done by staying up late, but chances are, you won’t retain the information you cram into your brain at 4am for more than a day or so. This isn’t a Chemistry 101 exam—you’re going to have to commit this stuff to your long term memory. Don’t forget to stay active. You’ll be sitting at a desk staring at a computer for most of the day, so go for a run, join a gym, whatever it takes. Your body will thank you.
Budgeting applies to both money and time. You don’t want to be stressing out about your finances while trying to code 50+ hours a week. Sticking to a financial budget will ensure that you won’t overspend. Make enough time to do some leisurely activities like going out with your friends, catching a movie, volunteering, hosting a video game tournament, or taking a yoga class. If you’re doing a part-time program, set aside enough time to get all your work done for both your job and the bootcamp. Take a breath— time away from learning will help you to push forward.
Sometimes it will seem like there’s never enough time to get everything done. Alas, there are only 24 hours in a day. Being able to prioritize is crucial. Make sure you are completing all your assignments on time. If your best friend wants to grab drinks and you’re behind on a challenge due the next day, take a rain check and finish your challenge. Procrastination, while so incredibly tempting, can spiral out of control in an intensive program like a bootcamp. Figure out what items on your checklist are actionable, create a schedule, and stick to it.
Don’t be afraid to seek help
If you’re struggling with something and you’ve already burned through a ton of time trying to figure it out on your own, don’t keep wasting more time. Ask questions and get help. In most bootcamp structures, instructors are there to support you.
Manage your online presence
If you are just starting out in the industry, you won’t have years of experience to brag about to employers. Your online presence and your portfolio will be the best representations of your capability and creativity.
- Polish and update your LinkedIn. Add links to a personal website and/or projects you’ve been building.
- Clean up your code on GitHub. If you’ve completely abandoned any projects, get rid of them. Showcase the code that shows off your skills and progress as a developer.
- If you don’t already have Twitter, get it. DO IT! It’s a great way to connect and keep up with the tech community as well as build an audience for your code.
- Blogs are a great way to create an identity as a developer and demonstrate your thought process as you learn. Make sure you continue to regularly update your online presence as your career continues.
Practice, practice, practice
Keep reinforcing what you’ve learned. Find resources and challenges to hone your problem solving skills and try out completely new things. Employers like candidates who are crazy-dedicated learners because these are the employees that tend to be on top of new technologies and ready to face new challenges. Don’t forget to build side projects and expand your portfolio. That’ll show employers that you are truly dedicated to coding professionally.
Be active in the community
Go to events sponsored by your bootcamp, even if they’re not mandatory. Attend hackathons and conferences. Meetup and Eventbrite are both great for finding tech groups and events. Go everywhere, see everyone, do everything. The great thing about coding bootcamp, is that you will leave with a set of skills and also a network of people to help you on your professional journey.
Be a team player
Work with your peers by building projects together. You’ll be exposed to how others solve problems and you can learn from each other. It’s also great practice for when you get employed and have to work in teams. Turns out, you’ll probably have to work with others in the professional world. Funny, that.
There are also other sites that specifically compile and share local events. Create a network and regularly keep up with your network. These people will be the friends and mentors who will help you become a better programmer.