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The decision to attend a coding bootcamp is a significant one: you are learning to become a software engineer in just a few months, and you’ll have a tough journey ahead. Coding bootcamps are a big investment of time, money, and effort, and it’s important to maximize your coding bootcamp experience – so here are our 6 tips to maximize your coding bootcamp investment.
1. Prepare Before the Program Starts
Yes, you will learn all about coding during the program, but you don’t have to wait for the beginning of the program to start your learning journey. A lot of online coding bootcamps offer preparation courses to help you understand the basic concepts and terminologies before fully diving into the immersive program. For example, here at Hack Reactor, we require our students to finish at least 10 hours of Structured or Self-Paced preparation before starting their immersive programs. Preparing yourself will buy you extra time during your bootcamp to work on extra credit and side projects, all of which can also boost your coding camp results too.
2. Establish Good Coding Habits Early On
Though everybody approaches coding differently, there are some good habits that set top performers apart. Setting an easy-to-understand variable name, commenting on and explaining your code even when it appears obvious, and saving every version of your code ---these habits can seem trivial and even unnecessary when you first start coding. However, in the long term, these good coding habits will help you work and collaborate more efficiently. Not only will your co-workers appreciate function(copy_and_paste) more than function(cp), the future you will too.
3. Code With A Partner
Although many programmers are often portrayed in the movies as nerdy geniuses who work alone, in real life, software engineers are much more collaborative. In fact, “show me how you work in a team” is one of the most commonly asked programmer interview questions.
In software engineers’ daily work, pair programming, where two programmers work on the same block of code using one workstation, is a very common practice. Programmers also edit and refer to each other’s code constantly when they are working on a big project together. Therefore, you need to get used to giving and receiving feedback as well as working on team projects with other programmers at the bootcamp. So don’t be shy and be the one to start a conversation with your fellow classmates.
4. Complete Extra Credit
Lots of coding bootcamp classes have extra credit assignments, and this is where you can really challenge yourself and put your coding skills to test. Find them difficult? Ask lot of questions! Not only will these extra credit assignments help you understand the concepts better and improve your skills, you will also learn how to approach problems that you are not already familiar with. The more you code, the better you will become at coding.
5. Work on Side Projects
Coding is a skill, and just like every other skill, practice is the key to becoming an expert. In addition to the work involved in the bootcamp curriculum, pick up a project to practice and apply what you’ve learned. This project can be an app, a game, a website, a tool, an extension --- whatever you are interested in. Don’t be afraid to think big and bold. You’ll have months to work on it during bootcamp and you don’t have to do this alone. In fact, bonus points to teamwork and quality bonding time if you can do it with your fellow bootcamp classmates! What’s more, you can add this project to your portfolio, and you will be fully prepared to talk about developing something from the scratch during your interviews. Want some inspiration? Check out these projects that our students have done.
6. Take Care of Yourself, Seriously
So far, we’ve talked a lot about the work required of you, but taking care of yourself should always take high priority, especially when attending a coding bootcamp. You are going to be surrounded by unfamiliar things every day and expected to develop skills in a fast-paced environment, which can be hard and even frustrating at times. Plan ahead of time so you don’t miss a meal, a gym session or a doctor’s appointment. Don’t blame yourself when you feel like others are learning faster --- we all have different learning styles, and that’s why we learn from experienced instructors. You are in here for the long run, so don’t burn yourself out.
Coding bootcamp is a big commitment. And let’s be honest, sometimes you don’t know what to expect. However, with preparation, hard work and self-care, you can maximize your time at the bootcamp on your way to becoming a software engineer!