Going to coding bootcamp to launch a new career in web development is an intense experience, but if you make the most of it you can be on your way to a new career before you even graduate. Brian Bensch created a business the day he graduated from Dev Bootcamp. Before going to coding bootcamp, Danny Pham had a solid job in a dental lab, but the chemicals were damaging his hands and he knew he had to make a change. With an English degree to her credit, Mandy McDorman worked for six years at jobs that didn’t engage her mind. Jacqueline Pham loved her successful real estate career, but wasn’t fully using her talents and didn’t see an opportunity for growth.
In every instance, these newly minted developers set out to change their lives and their careers, starting with attending Dev Bootcamp. Now, these alumni offer practical advice on how to make the most of your time at coding bootcamp in order to launch a career that you love.
Danny moved from Orange County to San Diego the morning of his first day of class. “I got up at 5:00 a.m., packed my car, left at 5:30 and went straight to class. Class ended at 6:00 p.m., so I looked on Craigslist, found a place to live, signed a lease that day and slept there that night.” While he admits it makes a great story, Danny doesn’t recommend waiting until the last minute to find housing. “You should definitely plan ahead,” he says. Jacqueline agrees. “Planning all of the stuff in advance is really important – where to stay and transportation. Also do as much preparation as you can in terms of food and money. Make a budget, have food ready – you’re not going to have the time to think about that stuff when you actually start Bootcamp.”
Beyond logistics, the big picture is just as important in your plans. You’re starting down a new path. It’s a good to have some idea of where you’re going. “First and foremost,” says Brian, “learning to code is not going to give you a life plan. It’ll give you a very valuable and tangible skill set, but you still need to know what you want to do with those skills. Having that plan in place ahead of time, you’re going to know what to focus on, or focus less on. Have a road map of where you want to go.”
A program like Dev Bootcamp is an immersive, intense, condensed training program, where 10- to 12-hour days are the norm. “This is only temporary,” reminds Jacqueline, and knowing how to manage yourself and the resources available to you can help make the experience very rewarding. A recurring theme echoed by the alumni was that you get out of it what you put into it.
“The emphasis is on what you put in,” says Danny. He equates bootcamp to “a four year degree that’s crammed into 9 weeks.” To succeed, he says, “Have an open mindset. Things are going to be rough, but you know what you signed up for, and it’s a pretty rewarding experience.”
“The amount of time and effort you’re going to put into it doesn’t seem real until you’re actually into it,” adds Jacqueline. “Know your limits, and know it’s going to be a lot of hard work and dedication.”
“Take breaks,” adds Mandy. and With Dev Bootcamp’s hour-and-a-half lunch breaks, she says it’s good to go outside and take a walk. She’s also a big proponent of getting enough sleep. “If you’re too tired, go and get some sleep even if you have more to do. That’s work you’re doing, too, that’s super important.”
Leveraging the plethora of resources that are in place for you will make a positive impact on your overall bootcamp experience. Dev Bootcamp’s counselors are at the top of the list of added value for students. “This course is rigorous,” says Danny, “and I’m glad they offer therapy as part of the program. It’s definitely very helpful.” Mandy agreed that talking to a counselor can help with a variety of issues, from the workload to communication to whatever issues might come up while learning something new. “If you’re struggling with the challenges of everything, it’s really cool,” to have a counselor, she says.
Dev Bootcamp also provides Yoga instruction, and it was a favorite resource according to these alumni. Jacqueline recommends that you, “take the time to take care of yourself and whatever you need,” including yoga to help relax, center, and stretch. “We did a lot of wrist stretching, so you don’t get carpal tunnel,” adds Danny, “and I’m learning to put that into practice.”
Building a strong network is key to successfully moving through your career, from your first dev job to career changes you’ll make along the way. And as Danny puts it, “Definitely make connections early, before you need them.”
Danny highly recommends Meetups as a great way to build your network. “Go to meetups, do your research, talk to people, and show real interest,” he says. Websites like meetup.com host monthly meetups that put you in contact with industry professionals and others just starting out. It’s a great way to build your professional network throughout your career.
“If you don’t know something, that’s good because that’s why you’re here.” Jacqueline looks at failure as the ultimate road to success. “Sometimes I don’t know what I’m doing at all, and those are success moments – you’re going to learn a lot,” she says. Her best piece of advice? “Embrace failure and ask a lot of questions. If you don’t know something, ask a question. Lean on your cohort mates. Everyone is in the same exact place as you.”
Saving his best piece of advice for last, Danny says that one of his cohort mates found a note her in locker, left by someone from a previous cohort. “Embrace coffee and commit your code often,” the note said. It’s pretty good advice.