Oct. 17, 2022

How To Guarantee Success In A Coding Bootcamp

Once you’ve been accepted into a coding bootcamp and have an official start date, this video is for you. A lot of people worry that they won’t be able to make the most out of their experience. I get the concern, given that these programs are so expensive. In this video, I share tons of advice on how to be successful in your program and after you graduate as well.

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Don Hansen:

Let's talk about how to be successful in a coding bootcamp. So you've done your research. I know it could be a little bit more difficult to finally choose to write coding, bootcamp. Sometimes people will take months to finally decide. Um, and I think a big question also is, should I even go to coding bootcamp? But we're gonna assume that you finally made the choice. You're gonna dish out the money, you're gonna sign up for whatever payment plan, and you've signed up for a coding bootcamp. I'm doing this right. So a lot of these coding bootcamps can require quite a bit of money, and I understand the concern to make sure that you make the most of this coding bootcamp. I think pretty much everyone wants to be able to do. So how the hell do you do that? Well, first of all, part of you choosing a coding bootcamp is you choosing a coding bootcamp with a high bar to get in. I'm telling you, this is one of the most important things that you can do. You choose a coding bootcamp that's going to properly assess you. They're gonna challenge you. They're not gonna just give you some multiple choice quiz to go through. They're actually gonna pull you into a zoom. They're gonna do a coding challenge with you. That coding challenge should be a little bit more difficult. But you know, it can get easier if you actually do the suggested pre-work before that interview. But they should at least try to set that bar so that whoever does finally get in, Is going to be with a cohort where most people are kind of on the same level. That's really important for coding bootcamp to run smoothly and for you to get the effective instruction and mentorship that, um, you need and also for that course to go at a speed. That, uh, makes, makes it so you get all the material that you need to learn and you also, you don't fall behind and you're not too far ahead. So, again, let me, let me specify this. For example, if a coding bootcamp just lets anyone in. Two things usually happen. One, people are too far ahead and they go through the course material, but it, um, they're kind of just speeding through it and they feel like they're constantly getting blocked because instructors are having to go back and help the people that are just super behind. They're struggling. Um, and so you're kind of just waiting, right? But you paid all this money and you're kind of just waiting for a lot of people that weren't prepared for the coding bootcamp or. or they let a lot of those beginners fall behind. They might have refund policies, et cetera, or rollback policies, or they just fall behind and you're fucked if you are not keeping up. And so you want a coding bootcamp that has that proper assessment, that high bar, to be able to make sure most people are on relatively the same level. If you can do that, I think you can breathe a big sigh of relief. Right. Um, if you can't do that, we'll talk about ways to catch up potentially and maybe be able to supplement. But, um, when you do that, you kind of, at some point when you choose a coding bootcamp, you need to be able to trust the process. If you feel like you can't trust the process, that's going to be rough. You need to be able to trust that coding bootcamps bring you in at a certain level and that they have your back. They know exactly what to do to get you from point A to Z, right? If you have prework for the interview, you take it seriously. You do it. If you have prework for the coding bootcamp, after the interview, you take it seriously and you do it. If it has supplemental material that's recommended you do it right, And I highly recommend with this prework, you build some stuff on the side. You build a project on the side to reinforce everything that you're learning from the pre-work. You go in hitting the ground running. You go in fully prepared, You take that pre-work. Seriously. I cannot stress this enough, and I cannot even tell you how many people don't do this. Like it's a very large percentage of people that don't take that pre-work. Seriously. It's going to hurt you. You're paying all of this money. Don't rush into a coding bootcamp if you don't have the time to do the pre-work. It's a huge mistake. Most of the. . So you've started day one, you've taken the pre-work seriously. You've, um, made sure that the coding bootcamp had a high bar. Day one. You go in, you meet other classmates. You don't have to be the super sociable person, but you know, be kind to other people. Be kind to the instructors, try to get to know them. Sometimes that means getting out of your. Comfort shell. You gotta realize like everyone else is nervous with you, right? A lot of people are nervous, even if you're extroverted, like a lot of extroverts are still kind of nervous that first day meeting new people, they're just more willing to be nervous and be uncomfortable, and so they meet tons of other people. Like I'm telling you, a lot of people are nervous. Just say hi to them. I, I'm, it's, it's going to make your entire journey. Easier because now you've cr you've started to create that bridge and now you can engage with them when you get stuck. You can ask them questions when you get stuck. If you took the time out to meet your TAs, you can, you can talk to them when you get stuck, if you've. Taking the time out to try to talk with your instructors. You can talk with them when you get stuck. It's much easier once you've already had that first conversation. Cause I know it's easy to, when you're, If you don't really know anyone, you're getting stuck. It's easy to blame it on yourself. It's easy to say, I should have figured this out. And so you go into the cycle of trying to figure things out for hours on your own. Cause you don't wanna ask anyone. You haven't really, you're kind of afraid of what they're gonna think. You might think that they're gonna judge you. You might think that. . I don't know. Maybe. Yeah, a lot of people just think that when you reach out, these people are gonna judge you. And again, um, we are, I talk about like feeling like a fraud a lot and imposter a lot. I'm telling you, most people when you reach out, even if you have questions about the instruction, you're like, This didn't quite make sense. I'm gonna ask this question. I bet you someone else in that class has that same question. That's usually the case. So, Do what you need to, to build those connections, to feel comfortable, to ask people questions, but also engage with them. See how their, you know, how their experience at the coding bootcamp is going. And sometimes you can find that you can even relate to other students because they have some of the same common gripes or concerns. Uh, but the more you can engage with your cohort, the more. Uh, that cohort can build a healthy, cohesive, constructive culture and work with each other. It, that's why people sign up for coding boot camps. That's why people go to in-person coding boot camps. It's that comradery. It's that we're doing this together. We have a final goal and we're gonna collaborate and we're gonna come together so we can all achieve this final goal of graduating and then eventually getting that first position. And. . Yeah. It engage with your team as much as you can. And, um, don't be afraid to ask questions. A lot of people will spend like hours just being stuck at the same point. Usually it's gonna be recommended. Spend like 20 minutes, 30 minutes on the problem, trying to figure it out on your own, then reach out to an instructor. But sometimes it just means like you don't understand the requirements of the lesson. Ask right away for that. Right? If you don't, you need to understand the requirements. But if you don't, um, if it's kind of just like trying to implement. The solution to meet the requirements. Try on your own just for a little bit. Right. And so with pair programming specifically, this is kind of another unique thing with coding boot camps. Um, you shouldn't, you should be paired with people where, They understand the problem better than you do in some circumstances, and then you're paired with someone else on a different problem and you understand the problem better than they do. You should have the experience with pair programming where you're getting a different perspective. You're learning something else from a developer that understands things a little bit better, and you should get the experience of being able to teach. someone else. The solution. Teach why you think it should be implemented a certain way. Both experiences are super valuable and good. Cutting boot camps will rotate you through those experiences. Now, I also cutting boot camps are gonna try to pair you with people where, , Um, your personality doesn't conflict as much, cuz sometimes, you know, personalities just clash. You report it. A lot of coding boot camps will ask for that feedback after that day. Maybe daily feedback or weekly feedback. . That's usually a good sign that coding boot camps are trying to create a really healthy culture and trying to improve as well. Take that feedback seriously. Submit it. John Doe didn't get along with them, right? Um, I would rather work with Mary and um, and explain why. Don't just be like, I hate Joe. Right. Or I hate John. Um, just pair me with Mary next time. Like, no, John Doe was actually like, he was too controlling in the co uh, why, why am I thinking of John? Let's just say John. John was too controlling and he was too pushy with, um, implementing the code. I really didn't get a chance to learn. He just took control and wrote all the code, and I like that wast a good experience for me. Whereas, you know, Mary allowed me to like really work through this. This was fantastic. I actually grew a lot from the session. So take that feedback seriously, Report it and you know, if you have an issue, talk with your instructors, talk with your TAs about it. I'm telling you, every single cohort they deal with a lot of these interpersonal, um, issues. And just being able to, and like part of this is actually finally working with other developers and how not to step in each other's toes and how to try to be humble, but also, you know, um, Speak up when you need to speak up. Disagree when you need to disagree. Like this coding bootcamp experience is kind of your first exposure to like really working with other developers and trying to effectively come to the same solution on the team. And sometimes that could be tricky. We're human. We have different personalities. Sometimes that could be very tricky, but that's the coding bootcamp's job. As long as you communicate effectively of like what's going well, what isn't, to be able to facilitate that and create, you know, mostly a good experience for you and everyone else, it's a very hard thing to juggle, but you have to be open, you have to share that feedback. Um, hopefully the Cutting Boot bootcamp is at least taking that feedback in an anonymous way, at the very least. Uh, but. Be vocal about it. Um, be upfront about it. You're paying a lot of money for this experience. Um, and I'm telling you, it can really make or break, like even when you're just stressed out, you hate your group, et cetera like that. Can it? It can. Not stunt your growth, but it can create that blocker that eventually, like you have to realize, even on software engineering teams, sometimes the blocker isn't a technical one, Sometimes it's kind of an interpersonal one. Um, and dealing with other developers and you want to overcome that blocker just like any technical blocker. And you wanna figure out like what you want to address the actual issue, figure out. Even is the issue. Cuz sometimes you just get feelings, you get stress, you get, I didn't like that experience, but why don't you like it? I think it helps to analyze that as much as you can in unbiased way. But it's always gonna be a little bit biased. But this is part of the process. I'm, You're gonna experience it. It's part of the process. See how you can work through it. And if you feel like you're struggling to work through some of this interpersonal stuff, talk with your instructors. They are, like, they've dealt with this stuff already, talk with TAs. Um, they probably had their own experiences with, uh, certain groups and they didn't like 'em. I had my own experiences, right, and I learned from that. But the more you can. Use that as a growth opportunity. I'm telling you, it's gonna set you up very well on the long run. Um, but it's also gonna shape the way that you, um, pull in information. You're able to retain it. Like your mindset, your mood affects how well you're able to retain things, believe it or not. Um, and, and a lot of it has to do with detention and mood can affect attention, but um, yeah, just have these conversations. Be open about it. Learn. . But, um, yeah, if go to the material, um, when, if you have the extra time, try to like code something a little, uh, sometimes, like you're just barely trying to get through the lesson. But um, if you have a little extra time, try to coach something on the side to try to reinforce that what you just learned. If you get done early, I think that's super healthy. Uh, some people just kind of, um, the wait for the rest of the class to catch out. What you can do is just mention to one of the TAs like, Hey, I actually got done early. I understand this material. I think it, I'd find it really helpful if I could help another group that's struggling. That's fantastic. Like, that's really gonna help reinforce the concept. Don't just sit around if you get done. Try to help out. Uh, but also there's gonna be supplemental material. I highly recommend, as long as the coding bootcamp recommends that you do it. If you have extra time, do it. I had a train ride. It was a very long train ride every single day to to full second academy. That's the coding bootcamp I went to a long time ago. Um, and then I had a train ride all the way. on that train ride. I did all the supplemental material and I also worked on creating a very basic blog, a basic content management system that helped reinforce everything is one of the best things that I did to reinforce a lot of the skills that, um, it's probably why when I moved onto the project work, I, I did pretty well on that side of things. Um, I got stuck very few times, but, um, yeah, dues, the supplemental stuff. and you sometimes coding bootcamps will, they'll give you the choice of like a group project or a solo project. I highly recommend trying to find a good group, a group project as fantastic. If you ever get the experience of dealing with merge conflicts, that's awesome, right? That's kind of a frustrating thing, but I think that's a healthy thing to go into your first position with. Um, but yeah, hopefully your bootcamp has source control and they, they're teaching you. Um, a lot of coding boot camps will, uh, lean on GitHub. I'm a big fan of GitHub, but I think just working in a project, cause you're gonna be doing your solo parts, but you're gonna be doing it. Hopefully they've replicated a bit of an Agile and Scrum process, but you'll probably be contributing to the same code base and you need to figure out how to do that without stepping on each other's toes. Group projects are fantastic with that. If you have the choice, choose a group project. It's usually gonna be the right decision. Um, I, as far as like during the coding bootcamp, I think those are a lot of things that you should consider. We talked about like preparing for the coding bootcamp, which is actually huge. I probably didn't emphasize that enough, but a lot of people that struggled during the coding bootcamp, it's usually because they didn't prepare enough. But then we get into the coding bootcamp. We talked about what to do there. It's okay if you don't come out with tons of portfolio projects or like even. Significant portfolio projects because that month after you graduate, you should heavily be invested in building a complex project that reinforces everything that you just learned. I think that's important. Um, and if you've learned multiple backend languages, um, I've shared my opinion about that. I think a lot of coding camps try to shove too much into one program. But choose one language, choose one stack. Usually choose the marketable stack in your area, build your project with that stack to reinforce everyth. Uh, but career services is really important as well. When you go to career services, you want to create a good relationship with that person. Hopefully they make that easy. But, um, it's okay to challenge things if you get So with Full SEC Academy, I got a variety of career advice and quite frankly, career services. Um, she is kind of shitty to our cohort and. Most of our cohort complained about it, and I remember the head instructor, um, I think his name was Ben. I'm sorry if I'm butchering your name, Ben, but he was a fantastic instructor. I remember him saying like, Nope, that's bullshit. That's bullshit. So you guys had to go through that. Let me go ahead and share. And his experience came from the perspective of someone with professional software engineering experience, and our resumes looked very different than what career services recommended. I highly recommend you get the perspective of an actual software engineer, talk with your instructors if they've had professional experiences, a software engineer. It makes a huge difference. The resumes can look very different, very different. Um, Yeah, I, I like, that's pretty much it. It is that simple. It's taking the material seriously, coding on the site a little bit, teaching others that are struggling if you have the ability to do that. But more importantly, like, I think a big thing is people don't take breaks. You know, bare minimum, your coding bootcamp is probably gonna be three months. Um, bare minimum. It. That's a long time. If you're doing a full-time intensive coding bootcamp, please give yourself time to sleep, to eat properly. I'm telling like people skip out on this stuff. Like you wouldn't believe. They, they'll skip meals. They're trying to code constantly. They're hitting blockers. They're hitting, uh, just constant blockers because even they're not drinking enough water. They're drinking too much coffee. They're not getting good nutrition. They're not getting rest on the weekends or even at night. Right. These things just maintaining a normal, healthy life. It, it's like night and day with preparing yourself to be able to learn and retain all these things. You have to, you have to have, to have to take care of your health. You are going to get much less out of the thousands, the tens of thousands of dollars that you're spending on this coding bootcamp if you don't maintain. Your health, your physical health will affect your mental health. It's so important. Um, like if you really wanna maximize the most, you're getting out of a coding bootcamp. You take care of your physical. and allow that to transition into and then, you know, take care of your mental in whatever way that you need. That's getting rest on the weekends, trying to shut your mind off. Like, you know, meditation is super health healthy for a lot of people. Some people don't like it. Some people it's not even that great for, but. Finding that thing, even if it's like a hobby over the weekend, to be able to shift your mind out of constantly thinking about the bug that you can't solve and the project you have to build and the assessment that you're gonna get next week, and are you gonna fail? Are you gonna go like, you can wrap your mind around this anxious, tightly wound bo just tightly wound ball of anxiety that will hinder your growth, hinder your. And you have to figure out how to prevent that ball from like com being compounded over and over and over. Cuz it'll get bigger and bigger and bigger and it'll become harder to learn. It'll be become harder to catch up. It'll become harder to interact with other people that you're working with in the coding bootcamp. It'll become, And then the anxiety of trying to find that job, et cetera. Like a lot of it is just anxiety. You should be able to trust the process of your coding bootcamp to be able to lead the way and give you a good template. Um, and that can get you most of the way. And a lot of people, even if it takes them longer than they expect, they'll eventually get that position. But that anxiety, it just, it changes that entire perspective of you becoming a software engineer for the worse. And then coding becomes a chore, and then you're just panicking to get that job. And another thing is like you need to financially prepare. Like it might take you at least a year, you go to a coding bootcamp, it might take you still at least a year to get that job. As a developer, are you financially prepared or do you have a financial plan to be able to handle that situation? If you don't get that job in three months, even six months, what are you gonna do if you don't have that planned out? You're in. For a world of hurt, we're in a recession. Take it seriously. Have that planned out if you can do that. I'm telling you that financial plan is also a big reason why people give up on becoming a developer. Stop listening to YouTubers that are telling you you're gonna get a developer job in three months, six months. Stop it. That's not the majority. That's an exception, not the rule. Financially prepare for it. A lot of it is really just helping yourself alleviate the anxiety as much as you. having a very healthy, realistic mindset of becoming a developer, it might take a little bit longer. I need to give my body and mind rest as much as possible. I'm stressing this and I'm emphasizing this over and over and over. You have no idea how many people let this tripped them, uh, up. And it it's usually because they went into this with super unrealistic expectations. when you get out. I think one more thing that I wanna stress when you get out in most coding boot camps, like you're going to need to build that extra one to three projects. When you get out to reinforce everything, all this information, it's swirling around. When you get out, you are gonna start applying for sure, but majority of your time is still gonna be spent with project. Don't expect yourself to remember all this stuff, and quite frankly, don't take a long break after you graduate. I know it's tough, but you have to keep your foot on that gas. If you wanna take the weekend or you wanna take a long weekend, you wanna take a three to four day break. I think that's completely fine. Once you start reaching a week, two weeks, three weeks, this information isn't really solidified yet, and it's gonna start escaping, and you're gonna find that you're playing catch up a lot. If you take like a two to three week break, man without coding at all. And reinforcing this. That's rough. That's where people get into a world of hurt. They take a long break. Sometimes they had a bad experience with the coding bootcamp. Even if you have a bad experience with your coding bootcamp, it's still got you a good chunk of the way there, and you can supplement after that. You could just, you can build projects and when you get stuck, you just look up specific articles. You don't have to take a whole other course that goes over all these fundamentals unless you're lacking on the fundamentals. Sometimes coding bootcamps, they jump into the material too quickly, so, But afterwards, you're gonna supplement a little bit, you're gonna do tons of project work, you're gonna apply, you know, and we can get into like networking and presentation with your LinkedIn resume, et cetera. But like overall, expect to have to do some work after the coding bootcamp. For most people coming outta coding bootcamp, they should be polishing a lot of things. They should be building projects to reinforce. Um, a lot of people just think, Oh yeah, I graduated at coding bootcamp. Cool. I'm, uh, I'm hire ball. I'm job ready. You actually are for a small set of, of companies. And if you luck out and get a job at that company like right away after you graduate, great. That's an exception, not the rule. Spend a little time, reinforce everything, continue applying. It's gonna be a longer process and. Mentally prepare for that and you can even, It's okay to step off the guest just a tiny bit too, where like if you were spending 60 hours a week at the coding bootcamp, okay, let's trim it down to 40 right now, we can be a little bit more realistic. Maybe the first week we trim it down to 20 hours and then we ramp it up to 40 or something like that. So it depends on your situation. You have to. You know, adjust based on your personal situation. But yeah, keep on that gas, keep moving forward, keep building projects. I am telling you that. One of the best things that you can do for yourself to ensure your success in landing that first position and your growth as a software engineer. And, you know, really making sure to set yourself up well to reduce the chance that you're finally gonna give up. I mentioned so much. Um, I feel like I, I just. I say the same things over and over. Even when I'm, I have a different topic on a video. It's like, it's literally the same topics I've talked about answering another question, like there actually is a system, there is a template, there are patterns, there are common things that you can do and implement into your strategy to be successful as a developer. And maybe I'm just gonna continue creating different variations of videos to, uh, like really hash out the same things because. becoming a developer. It is kind of simple. It's not easy though, and it's super hard, but like as a software engineer that's gotten the position, we look back or like, it is kind of simple. Like we could outline everything for us. And sometimes I think it's just about perceiving, having social awareness, having perception of your own situation, and adjusting slightly. , it's about setting realistic expectations for your ex, expectations for yourself, but it's also being flexible enough to adjust those expectations and those goals as you get a little bit more familiar with all the tech stack and everything that you need to do. But I think it's just about self-awareness and, and continuing, even when you graduate, continuing to engage with people, professional software engineers or career services to help kind of just guide you just a. Keep you fairly in a linear direction as much as possible anyways, um, it's, it's just a lot of people see this as an a z journey, and it's not. It very rarely is, and you'll eventually get the position, but I think you just have to constantly try to keep yourself aligned. and in that way it's pretty simple. It's going through the process and then continuing to get a tiny bit of mentorship as you continue moving forward. The process is simple. I know it's tough and I know it's hard. I know a lot of people get down on themselves. When things don't go the way you think they're, they should go. But most people face that situation. Most people that became professional developers did not have a linear path. I think that's one of the most important things you have to realize as well. Um, Okay, Like usual, I'm just ranting at this point. Um, this is how I think you can make the most out of your coding bootcamp experience. I know you guys are spending a lot of money. I hope this is helpful. I highly recommend that you take what I said seriously, and if you want me to do more, Topics like this. If you have other topics you want me to cover, let me know. If you're on YouTube, leave it in the comments below. If you're anywhere else or on YouTube, join our Discord. It's a junior friendly Discord community. A link is in the description. We'd love to have you. Sometimes it just helps to come into the community, engage with other aspiring developers. That's the whole point of me creating that community is so you guys could kind of. Talk amongst yourselves and hopeful, Like I would even encourage you to say, Hey, I'd love to pair program with someone, or reach out, you know, DM a couple people that you've, you've seen them in chat. You're like, I would actually like to work on a project with them. Feel free to reach out to them. Just don't spam, of course. But yeah, we'd love to have you. Either way. Hope this helps. Good luck in all of your projects. Good luck on your coding bootcamp experience and happy coding. See everything.