How to Succeed in a Coding Bootcamp

Codeup Instructors Douglas Hirsh and Fernando Mendoza share their tips for how to succeed in a coding bootcamp

We held a virtual event called “How to Succeed in a Coding Bootcamp” featuring our Dallas-based Full-Stack Web Development instructors, Douglas Hirsh and Fernando Mendoza. To start our incoming students off on the right foot, we wanted to hear what advice they have to optimize a coding bootcamp experience. Check out their top tips below!

Practice

“Practical information and practical skills are going to be acquired by practicing every single day.” – Fernando

Practice is an essential part of learning something new. You could watch people bake all day long, and still not be any better of a baker yourself. That’s why our students spend more time actually writing code than listening to lectures. You’ll practice alone, with your cohort, and with instructor guidance. Through this practice, you will change the way you think and approach problems. The instructors agreed that practicing on your own through fun side projects, like creating a program to organize your baking recipes, sets the most successful students apart from the rest.

 

Consistency

“The reason Codeup is every weekday from 9-5 is because we need you to be fully invested. If you only coded on weekends or in your free time, you would forget everything you saw last time and wouldn’t be able to build upon what you know.” – Fernando

Don’t just practice. Practice consistently. Many of our students have tried the self-taught route and eventually ended up at Codeup. Why? Practicing every now and then doesn’t cut it when it comes to something as complex as programming, the same way practicing every now and then isn’t how you learn a language or an instrument. The way to succeed at something is by practicing it frequently and consistently. Codeup is fully immersive for that very purpose.

 

Prepare yourself

“The best thing you can do is the prework that we assign.” – Douglas

Help your future self by doing the prework assigned before the first day of class.. This isn’t just busy work. It’s for you and only you. We won’t take a grade on it, it’s really, entirely, to set yourself up for success. We will move incredibly fast and it will feel like drinking from a firehose, even if you did do the prework. Do future you a big favor by getting used to what drinking from a firehose feels like!

 

Problem solve

“Replace frustration with curiosity, then experimentation.” – Fernando

As you consistently practice the prework, you will come across errors. Instead of getting frustrated, let the errors trigger your curiosity of “why isn’t that working?” and “how do I get it to work?” You can google the keywords in the error message and figure out what to do. This gives you practice problem solving on your own instead of immediately asking someone else for help. While we love helping our students, we will expect you to have already tried to figure things out because we believe in your ability to problem solve. When you do need help, this process helps you frame your questions. We won’t give you answers, but we will happily point to a different way of thinking about an error. It will make getting it right that much more satisfying.

 

Active learning

“We want you to be in the mindset of understanding and not discovery. The prework is what takes you there.”- Fernando

Problem solving your way through the prework allows you to be an active participant in your own learning. You’re giving yourself exposure to a topic before class so that during the lecture, you’re not discovering something new, but trying to understand it. You might not get it the first time you see it, but now you know what to look out for in the lecture.

 

Failure is temporary

“Think about where you were 5 weeks ago. Use evidence over time that things have gotten better rather than dwelling on failure in the moment. Failure is learning. Failure is good.” – Douglas

As you progress through the program, you will face obstacles and failures, and you will doubt yourself as a programmer. When you feel like you can’t do something, compare yourself to who you were and what you could do 5 weeks ago, instead of comparing yourself to “real programmers.” After reminding yourself of your progress, think about what obstacles are keeping you from moving forward and how to overcome them, instead of defaulting to “I can’t.” Kevin Kelley once said, “Pros are just amateurs who know how to gracefully recover from their mistakes.”

Learn to communicate

“We have you do group projects and paired programming projects and you get a lot of really good experience working with people remotely. It’s a really good skill to have.” – Douglas

Programmers are not in a room alone all day with 10 screens in front of them. They are frequently communicating with their team, with different teams, and with different clients. You’ll need to know how to storytell and how to present your work and yourself. Throughout the course, you will frequently be working with others and presenting to others. Now that we’ve gone remote, our students are learning to work together from far apart.

 

How successful you are in a coding bootcamp starts with you and how much you’re willing to put in. If you’re ready to continue putting in time and effort, check out our events. Our workshops will give you exposure to code, and our panels will let you hear the perspectives of people who made the same career change you’re hoping for. You got this! Together, we’ll help you succeed not only at our coding bootcamp, but in your career.

From Slacker to Data Scientist: Journey to Data Science Without a Degree

From Slacker to Data Scientist - Ednalyn De Dios shares their experience of getting into data science without a degree

Butterflies in my belly; my stomach is tied up in knots. I know I’m taking a risk by sharing my story, but I wanted to reach out to others aspiring to be a data scientist. I am writing this with hopes that my story will encourage and motivate you. 

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I don’t have a PhD. Heck, I don’t have any degree. Still, I am very fortunate to work as a data scientist in a ridiculously good company. Here’s how I did it (with a lot of help).

 

Formative Years

It was 1995 and I had just gotten my very first computer. It was a 1982 Apple IIe. It didn’t come with any software but it came with a manual. That’s how I learned my very first computer language: Apple BASIC.

My love for programming was born.

In Algebra class, I remember learning about the quadratic equation. I had a cheap graphic calculator then, a Casio, that’s about half the price of a TI-82. It came with a manual too, so I decided to write a program that will solve the quadratic equation for me without much hassle.

My love for solving problems was born.

In my senior year, my parents didn’t know anything about financial aid but I was determined to go to college so I decided to join the Navy so that I could use Montgomery GI Bill to pay for my college. After all, four years of service didn’t seem that long.

My love for adventure was born.

Later in my career in the Navy, I was promoted as the ship’s financial manager. I was in charge of managing multiple budgets. The experience taught me bookkeeping.

My love for numbers was born.

After the Navy, I ended up volunteering for a non-profit. They eventually recruited me to start a domestic violence crisis program from scratch. I had no social work experience but I agreed anyway.

My love for saying “Why not?” was born.

 

Rock Bottom

After a few successful years, my boss retired and the new boss fired me. I was devastated. I fell into a deep state of clinical depression and I felt worthless.

I recall crying very loudly at the kitchen table. It had been more than a year since my non-profit job and I was nowhere near close to having a prospect for the next one. I was in a very dark space.

Thankfully, the crying fit was a cathartic experience. It gave me a jolt to do some introspection, stop whining, and come up with a plan.

“Choose a Job You Love, and You Will Never Have To Work a Day in Your Life.” — Anonymous

 

Falling in Love, All Over Again

To pay the bills, I was working as a freelance web designer/developer but I wasn’t happy. Frankly, the business of doing web design bored me. It was frustrating working with clients who think and act like they’re the expert on design.

So I started thinking, “what’s next?”

Searching the web, I stumbled upon the latest news in artificial intelligence. It led me to machine learning which in turn led me to the subject of data science.

I signed up for Andrew Ng’s machine learning course on Coursera. I listened to TwitML, Linear Digression, and a few other podcasts. I revisited Python and got reacquainted with git on Github.

My love for data science was born.

It was at this time that I made the conscious decision to be a data scientist.

 

Leap of Faith

Learning something new was fun for me. But still, I had that voice in my head telling me that no matter how much I study and learn, I will never get a job because I don’t have a degree.

So, I took a hard look in the mirror and acknowledged that I needed help. But I wasn’t sure where to look.

Then one day out of the blue, my girlfriend asked me what data science is. I jumped off my feet and started explaining right away. Once I stopped explaining to catch a breath, I managed to ask her why she asked. And that’s when she told me that she’d seen a sign on a billboard. We went for a drive and I saw the sign for myself. It was a curious billboard with two big words “data science” and a smaller one that says “Codeup.” I went to their website and researched their employment outcomes.

I was sold.

 

Preparation

Before the start of the class, we were given a list of materials to go over.

Given that I had only about two months to prepare, I was not expected to finish the courses. But, I did them anyway. I spent day and night going over the courses and materials, did the tests, and got the certificates!

 

Bootcamp

Codeup was a blur. We had a saying in the Navy about the bootcamp experience: “the days drag on but the weeks fly by.” This was definitely true for the Codeup bootcamp as well.

We were coding in Python, querying the SQL database, and making dashboards in Tableau. We did projects after projects. We learned about different methodologies like regression, classification, clustering, time-series, anomaly detection, natural language processing, and distributed machine learning.

More important than the specific tools, I learned: 

  • Real data is messy; deal with it.
  • If you can’t communicate with your stakeholders, you’re useless.
  • Document your code.
  • Read the documentation.
  • Always be learning.

 

Job Hunting

Our job hunting process started from day one. We updated our LinkedIn profile and made sure that we were pushing to Github almost every day. I even spruced up my personal website to include the projects we did during class. And of course, we made sure that our resumé was in good shape.

Codeup helped me with all of these.

In addition, Codeup also helped prepare me for both technical and behavioral interviews. The student placement team taught me how to optimize answers to highlight my strengths as a high-potential candidate.

 

Post-Graduation

My education continued even after graduation. In between filling out applications, I wrote code every day and tried out different Python libraries. I regularly read the news for the latest developments in machine learning. While doing chores, I would listen to a podcast, a TedTalk, or a LinkedIn learning video. When bored, I listened to or read books about data or professional development.

I’ve had a lot of rejections. The first one was the hardest but after that, it kept getting easier. I developed a thick skin and learned to keep moving.

 

Conclusion

It took me 3 months after graduating from Codeup to get a job. When I got the job offer, I felt very grateful, relieved, and excited.

I could not have done it without Codeup and my family’s support.

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This blog post was written by Ednalyn C. De Dios for Towards Data Science: A Medium publication sharing concepts, ideas, and codes. An edited version is being shared on Codeup with permission from the author. You can reach them on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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If you’d like to learn more about how Codeup can help you launch your career in data science, schedule a call with our team today or reach out to admissions@codeup.com!

Students Discuss Their Transition into Data Science

Event Recap: Jada Shipp, Daniel Guerrero, and Ryan McCall share their Data Science Student Experience

Our Transition into Data Science Panel event was full of passion. The audience met three of our current students: Jada Shipp, formerly a Newborn Hearing Specialist, Daniel Guerrero, who was a Vaccine Product Manager, and Ryan McCall, who was an overnight Surveillance Agent at Walmart. They discussed what led them to data science, how their experience has been so far, and what they plan to do after Codeup. Read on to learn about the Codeup data science student experience and their key takeaways and advice!

 

Why data science?

The students began by discussing their “whys” and “hows” of pursuing data science at Codeup.

Jada: I was going to apply to medical school but decided it wasn’t for me. A friend suggested Codeup, which is how I learned about data science. I realized it’s something I was already interested in. I was really big on solving all my problems in school on Excel and coming up with the best graphs and digging around in numbers. I just didn’t know there was a name for this, and certainly didn’t know it was a career path.

Daniel: At a new job as a Vaccine Product Manager, they started asking me to do research about where we’re selling our product and who’s buying. I quickly discovered this was a massive, billion dollar company and there was no one there that actually knew how to use Excel or how to look at sales. It was mind blowing to me because I thought this was standard and everyone was doing it. Then I realized my company is not the only one that has this gap.

Ryan: I went to college for chemistry, then started working security but wasn’t satisfied with it. I wanted to use my brain more to think and actively solve problems at my job. So, I started looking at programming as a job career. I found data science and absolutely fell in love with it and spent two years trying to teach it to myself on the side of my security job. It was very hard, I spent most of that time figuring out what resources to trust. It’s a lot easier being taught than searching in the dark.

 

What is the learning process like at Codeup?

Lots of us know how it feels to come out of a full semester of class feeling like we didn’t absorb anything and not knowing how it applies to real life. Not here.

Jada: I thought getting admitted was a mistake and they’d kick me out at any time. I had zero coding experience and I really didn’t think I could do it. But I went step by step. ‘Maybe I can’t do this but I can probably do this one tiny part of it.’ They’ll explain it in as many different ways as they need to until your lightbulb goes on. 

Daniel: They’ll give you questions that force you to think. They won’t just give you an answer. You have to figure it out yourself but they give you the tools to be able to do that. And because of the collaborative environment, we’re learning from each other as a cohort and not just instructors. Now, I’m able to branch out into new territories and not be scared to do so because I’m well equipped.

Ryan: I’m honestly amazed by what we can do in such a short amount of time. I can do things that I thought it would take me years to do.

 

How are you liking Data Science at Codeup?

In such an immersive, fast-paced environment, it was a joy to hear how much our students have loved their experience so far.

Jada: Everything we do every week, I’m like “This is so cool! Last week was nothing!”

Daniel: Every week I have the same conversation with my parents about the program. “What are you doing this week?” “Oh it’s my favorite thing!” “You say that every week!” But other than everything, the projects are the coolest thing for me.

Ryan: We could talk about this for hours, we love this stuff! Aside from loving the material, you become like a little family. We’ve had all the same bad experiences, all the same good experiences. You’re speaking a similar language and you can figure it out together.

 

How are we helping you get the job you want?

In between lessons, students work closely with our placement team, where we help students land awesome jobs.

Jada: I want to use data in health care. I have a degree in Public Health and worked as an EMT, a scribe, and a hearing screener. Now, I want to merge my passion for public health with data science skills. I’m pretty confident I can get a job like this because the Codeup placement team helps you through every step– resume, Linkedin, interview skills. They are not gonna let you fall by the wayside. They remember you and who you are and what you’re looking for. It’s not a generic cookie cutter process where you get what you get. They know you and it’s customized for you.

Daniel: I told the placement team that I want to work with data that’s business to customer. Two days later they sent me applications and they’re actually what I asked for, in industries I actually told them about, with companies I actually mentioned. I was mind blown! The placement team will open as many doors as they possibly can to get you the right opportunity, I am more than impressed with the placement team.

Ryan: I want to be a data scientist and I don’t know what kind of data scientist, I just want to be one! And they can work with that, too!

 

Any tips for incoming students?

All three panelists said the same thing: DO THE PREWORK! 

 

Here are some resources they used:

 

We want to thank Jada, Daniel, and Ryan for sharing their passion with us and acting as mentors for prospective and current students for the night. They are each blossoming into data scientists that couldn’t hide how much they love what they do even if they tried. Do you want a similar transition? Start today by learning more. Scared it’s too risky and you won’t get a job? That’s okay, we’ll refund your tuition if you don’t. Any more excuses? There won’t be once you give us a call.