1) Make sure you really love programming before you commit to a program
Bootcamps are a big investment of money and time. To succeed, you will need to spend much of your spare time coding and you will need to be passionate about it when you talk to prospective employers. Make sure that you can still be enthusiastic about it once you’ve been doing it for ten hours a day. Take a free course online or work on a personal project to find out if this is really something that you want to do. On that note;
2) Learn as much as you can beforehand
You can spend your time at bootcamp learning the basics of whatever language they teach - and good programs will still turn you into a solid junior developer by the end - but you will get much more out of the experience if you’ve already gone as far as you could go on your own. There are a lot of free resources out there (particularly in Ruby, which is the language of choice for many bootcamps) to get you started. Take advantage of them and use the bootcamp instructors to help you learn the hard stuff. A good rule of thumb is: you shouldn’t have to ask a person something Google could have told you. That said;
3) Ask for help early and often (and offer to help other people too)
A lot of people don’t want to annoy the instructors or are embarrassed to admit that they didn’t understand something the first time. But you’re coming to these programs to learn, and you’re squandering the experience if you let shyness or ego keep you from getting the most out of your time there. Dan Pickett, one of the founders of Launch Academy, has a saying, “Own your experience.” It’s good advice! You get out of a bootcamp what you put in. Mind you, it is important to make sure that you’ve spent substantial time trying to answer your questions on your own first, but don’t spin your wheels if you really need help. People usually respect someone who asks thoughtful questions more than someone who never asks any.
Conversely, give back! Teaching things to other people reinforces your knowledge far more than just coding would, and it’s good practice for working in teams at your future job.
4) Go to local meetups, conferences, and events
In programming, as in many areas, people tend to hire people that they already know. Fortunately, there are tons of programming-related meetups that are heavily attended by local developers in most cities. In addition to being great for professional networking, many of them provide classes in cool new technologies or just have generous members who will help you out on personal projects to give back to the community. It’s tempting to hole up and focus on your work during bootcamps, or to spend your precious free time relaxing, but putting effort into meeting other programmers will help you in the long run.
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