on October 18, 2017
You’ve decided that a coding bootcamp is the right way for you to prepare for a career in software development.
Now, how do you prepare for the bootcamp? And seriously, you need to prepare. It would not be wise to arrive on day one of a coding bootcamp thinking they are going to teach you everything you need to know and you just need to show up. That would be like signing up to run a marathon and not doing anything to get in shape before the event.
The term “bootcamp” comes from the way the military trains new recruits. It is an intense period of training designed to quickly prepare someone to survive in a combat situation.
You would not want to show up at a military bootcamp out of shape. A coding bootcamp is an intense period of training designed to quickly prepare someone to survive their first job as a junior software engineer. So, as with the former ,you do not want to show up to a coding bootcamp out of shape!
What does it mean to “get in shape” for a coding bootcamp? You need brain exercise. Really. I’m not kidding. Programming uses parts of the brain that most people don’t use every day. It requires complex problem solving skills, analytical thinking, critical and logical thinking, and the ability to digest large amounts of technical information very quickly. In a coding bootcamp, speed matters.
The new material comes very fast and students must be able to process a lot of new material and then perform coding exercises quickly or risk falling behind. One simple yet very effective way to improve here is keyboard commands. Yes, things like cmd+c and cmd+v should not be overlooked. Knowing your way around the command terminal is also extremely helpful (and there are many guides to this that we can send you).
The preparation for a coding bootcamp is not so much about self-teaching any specific technical skill, it is about practicing the ability to learn technical skills. Of course, we teach this in the bootcamp, but the more you practice before you start the bootcamp, the better adjusted your brain will be and ready for the challenge. So here is how you train your brain to be ready for a coding bootcamp:
The courses don’t have to be highly technical, but they should involve some form of programming. Remember, you are trying to develop speed. How quickly can you get through a lesson and pass the assessment? Reading technical documentation is a skill that must be developed and there is no short cut. The more you do it, the better at it you will get. Read technical documentation every day. The other good thing, of course, is you will start to remember some of what you read, if not consciously, subconsciously it will be there when you encounter the concepts in the bootcamp.
Practice searching for technical answers. One of the greatest skills a programmer develops is the ability to search for answers. Do not underestimate how difficult it can be to figure out what to Google. Also, do not be ashamed to use Google… it really is a developer’s best friend!
It takes practice to both figure out what to search but also how to evaluate the search result and know what is useful. You will get tons of practice at this during the bootcamp, but again, speed matters. If you can get a little head start on figuring out how best to find answers on the Internet, you will give yourself a considerable advantage in the first few weeks of the bootcamp.
Another thing you can do to prepare is to clear your mind and your schedule. When you arrive for day one of a bootcamp, you need to be able to give it your full and undivided attention. Try to arrange your lifestyle so you have no other commitments or distractions. It really is not reasonable to work a part time job, or participate in other regularly scheduled social or business activities during this time. This isn’t to say that you will give up all social contact during the bootcamp. You will want to keep a healthy balance of activities to keep your brain energized and spur your creativity, but if people are counting on you to show up for stuff, you may find it adds undue stress to an already very stressful period.
Yes, you also need to be in good health when you start a coding bootcamp. Proper rest and diet are keys to success. If you are not used to sitting a lot, you may find that a coding bootcamp causes some physical discomfort. Try to find time to eat healthy, get some exercise and a decent sleep each night. If you let yourself get run down, it will be even harder to keep up and can result in a spiral into exhaustion. Bootcamps are hard. Take care of yourself so you can put your best effort into the program.
There are some really simple (and even fun) ways to keep sharp during this period. Things like drinking 10 glasses of water a day or doing some bodyweight exercises (like pushups) in the morning will pay off big time. It’s always interesting to see what “biohacks” your fellow students test when getting really engaged with their immersive coding experience.
So, if a coding bootcamp is so hard, why put yourself through this? Because in 12 to 16 weeks you can change your life! The time will go by incredibly fast and you will be ready to start a whole new career in one of the fastest growing industries in the world. It isn’t easy, but it is worth the extra effort.