Five Questions to Ask Yourself When Thinking About a Bootcamp to Transition Your Career
When I was researching ways to transition my career from education to the tech field, I wasn’t really sure about the questions I should be asking myself. It’s hard to know what you should be thinking about when it comes to doing something you’ve never done before; the more drastic the transition, the more difficult it is to know! For me, time was a deciding factor because I’m an adult with a family and all of the responsibilities that come along with that role. I knew I wanted a non-traditional path to my new career, and that’s how I found Codeup, a career accelerator in Texas. A year and a half after I started researching my options, I’m a month away from completing Codeup’s Data Science program, and I have a much better idea of what you might want to think about if you’re starting to do your own research.
Here are five questions to ask yourself if you are thinking about a bootcamp to transition your career.
- What is my end goal? If like me, you are looking to transition from one career to another, you should be comfortable with the idea that whether you are going into web development or data science, you will be starting out as a junior. I was in education for almost two decades, so when I left, I was at the top of my profession. It’s one thing to think about how exciting it will be to learn and do new things, but the reality can be more jarring than you think. Be prepared to struggle like you haven’t in many years and even fail sometimes. Keep your eyes on the prize, landing that first job in a new field, and cut yourself some slack as you struggle with new concepts and experiences. You didn’t start at the top in your last career, and this one will be no different.
- How stable is my personal life? If you’re thinking about undertaking an intensive program to start the next chapter of your life, the last thing you need is to be distracted by a shaky personal life. You’re going to need some type of outside support, so you can focus all of your energy and attention on learning and practicing new skills. The cool thing about an intensive program like a bootcamp is that you are done in a fraction of the time it takes to finish a traditional degree. You will often have to sacrifice your nights and weekends, though, and that can be rough on your loved ones. Make sure to think and talk about those sacrifices before you commit to a program. Remember, it’s only for a short time!
- How much time do I need to prepare myself? I took a full year to get my life in order before starting my twenty-week data science program, and that worked for me. That gave me time to complete my teaching contract, save a little money, and complete the intensive amount of pre-work I needed to do for my program. I know most of the students in my cohort did not need that much time to prepare, so the time you need will be entirely up to your unique situation. Be honest with yourself, and don’t let others make you feel rushed. This is a lifestyle change, so build a solid foundation for your future success.
- Are my finances in order? This one goes along with preparing yourself, but it’s important enough to deserve its own question. At Codeup, you are strongly encouraged not to work during your program, and there is good reason for that. For a short window, you are committing all of your resources to a goal, and most likely you will need most of your outside time to study and work on projects. This is a huge sacrifice for most independent adults, so make sure you are diligent when answering this question. There were a few people in my cohort who had no choice but to keep a part-time job on the side. Be realistic with yourself about how challenging this new field is going to be for you, about family responsibilities you may have, and plan accordingly for the months you will be without an income.
- Do I have a Plan B? You might expect me to tell you here that you should have a good, solid Plan B in place in case you bomb out of your program. Only you know what you really need to be successful, but I will tell you that I had no Plan B, and I used that to motivate me during the most challenging times of my program. There are going to be times when you feel like you emotionally and even physically can’t keep going in such an intensive program. If I had had an easier and acceptable backup plan, there are many times I may have been tempted to take that option. As I head into my capstone project, I’m so happy and proud that I kept pushing myself to meet the challenges I faced along this journey. You should decide before you start if a Plan B will help or hurt you. Personally, I gave myself no option but to succeed.
There are so many things to consider when planning a major transition in your life, but asking yourself these five questions is a good place to start. Your answers and your journey will be uniquely yours, so don’t be discouraged if they look different from other students in your chosen program. Even with the growing appreciation for diversity in our workplaces, it can be intimidating to pursue your passion if you have a non-traditional background; trust me, I know! All I can tell you is that there is room for passionate and committed people in every field, so do your research and go get your dream life.
Educator, data scientist, barre junkie. I work and play in San Antonio with my husband, daughter, and pup. Connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/faithkane
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