You’re considering enrolling in a coding bootcamp, but let’s be frank: it can be intimidating. As a beginner, you know there is an entire world of programming concepts out there, as well as the vocabulary — words like React, debugging, Git, optimization, Babel, and so on — that you need to learn as you go. Pulling a new professional skill set from scratch is tough, but entirely doable with the right combination of effort, expertise, and support.
To start, let’s focus on what you, the student, can do to optimize for success. “Successful students are curious, relentless, and really efficient with their time,” Theresa Freet, program manager for Thinkful’s Full Time Web Development Bootcamp explained. “The best students are the ones spend most of their time writing code, rather than reading articles or watching tutorials. Practicing is the only way to get better at writing code, so the more that you do it the more natural it becomes.”
The best bootcamp courses emphasize practical coding. Ultimately, when hiring managers look at new developers, they want to see what you can build. The only sure-fire way to show what you can build is to show them what you have already built.
For Thinkful students, that means building capstone projects. “Your capstones are an opportunity to build a production app from scratch. Put the work in and cash in on that opportunity,” advises Derek Fogge, program manager for Flexible Web Development Bootcamp, “it showcases your ability to code. It also shows other skills that employers look for: creativity, the ability to see a project from concept to completion, and grit.”
Derek went on to explain that when a student approaches an employer with a portfolio of complete, functioning apps, it signals “this is a professional developer, not someone who is dabbling around with coding tutorials.” In other words, it’s someone an employer can hire.
Robert Wilson, Thinkful program manager, added that “putting a ton of inventiveness into your capstones will go a long way, but don’t let it take away your willingness to hear feedback. When your code gets reviewed by your personal mentor or another mentor assigned to help improve your portfolio, they’ll have criticism. Remember that it’s constructive, will help you become a better developer, and will be a standard practice once you’re working in the industry.”
The more people we talk to, the more we hear this sort of advice: be open and willing to hear how you can improve. Bootcamps such as Thinkful stock up on seasoned professionals to share their years of experience and wisdom with students — as a student, be sure to take advantage of this, not just in the course itself, but in the job search afterwards.
“In addition to being consistent and strategic with their job efforts, students need to be open to feedback, then put those lessons straight to use,” explained Stephanie Bermudez, Thinkful Career Services Manager, “you want to make sure to always put your best foot forward when you’re approaching hiring managers.”
As with capstone projects and learning to code, the job search takes effort and persistence. Liz Parsekian, Career Services Manager at Thinkful, discussed the importance of networking:
“Find the companies you're passionately interested in and learn what they're looking for in a hire. Research their culture, mission and stack. Find a developer who is happy to talk to you about how they got a job there and what they do. Can you make an app to impress them? Find a bug in their code? If you're junior, what the company wants to see most is that you don't get frustrated solving problems that may be over your head - and that you want to work there and do well.”
To sum up, succeeding as a Bootcamp student has a few keys: persistence, patience, and responsiveness to feedback. As Liz said, “when grads stay focused, keep programming, keep meeting their peers and take the advice of experts they succeed.”