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.

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