Things To Ask Yourself Before Enrolling In A Coding Bootcamp
Deciding whether a Coding Bootcamp is for you is a big decision. This checklist will make it a simpler one.
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Attending a bootcamp is of the many paths in learning how to code. These programs promise to teach web development over a short period of time, usually within 8-12 weeks.
I have recently changed careers into web development, and I can confidently say that I have benefitted from attending a bootcamp. My previous background is in nursing and I have been working in the healthcare industry for a few years before I decided to change careers into tech.
While attending a bootcamp has led to where I am today, and I certainly don't want to discourage anyone from considering a bootcamp, I would urge everyone to evaluate their readiness first before jumping straight into it. Attending a coding bootcamp is a big commitment of time and money. Before you enrol, make sure that you have asked yourself these questions:
What is my motivation for learning how to code?
Motivation is the most important factor when learning how to code. It will drive you to persevere when you get stuck or frustrated.
Why do you want to learn how to code? Do you want to start a career in web development? Are you a business person who wants to understand the technical side of things? Do you want to use programming to help improve your day-to-day job?
Whichever one it is, it's really important to identify your "why" from the beginning. Remembering your purpose will push you through when the things get tough.
Have I tried coding before?
Try not to write your first hello world app while on the bootcamp. Those who have not written a single line of code should perhaps postpone until they have done some very basic coding.
Learning basic code will serve two purposes:
1. To find out if you actually enjoy coding.
2. To prepare yourself for more advanced topics.
Some people enroll in a bootcamp without seeing any code. The issue here is not their lack of coding skills. Some people are able to pick up new concepts quickly. The bigger issue is that they haven't yet established if they actually like coding. I have known some people who have dropped out of their course midway because they eventually realised that it is not for them.
Can I handle the pressure?
Bootcamps are fast-paced and you will be presented with a lot of information in a short period of time. Because of this time constraint, bootcamps follow a strict schedule to cover all the topics they have advertised. Those struggling to keep up will receive assistance from their teachers and peers. However, the class cannot wait for individuals for too long, and they will eventually have to move on to the next topic. Things will break and you will be stuck. Can you cope with the frustration of things not working? As previously mentioned, having some coding preparation will come in handy.
Can I dedicate three full months of my life to this?
You will hear about bootcamps being intense, but it is hard to anticipate how intense it is until you are actually doing it. At bootcamp, learning does not stop in the classroom. You will most likely do a lot of work outside of class hours.
Try not to plan important events during your course. Set your friends and family's expectations by telling them that you will be busy for the duration of the program. You would want to get as much out of the program as you could, so make sure to give it 100%.
Can I afford it?
Coding bootcamps around London can cost up to £8000. Apart from the steep tuition fees, you also need to factor in the opportunity costs associated with not being able to work for the duration of your course. In my experience, I wasn’t able to pick up any nursing shifts while I was studying. I was so focused on finishing projects and keeping up with the new concepts that most of my free time has been spent on coding.
Apart from the Bootcamp itself, you should also factor in the time you will spend to look for a job. Job hunting and preparing for interviews can be just as tough and time-consuming. Having a few months of living expenses saved would definitely help. This period will be one of the most intense months of your life, so minimise any additional stresses before you start.
Will the Bootcamp help me in other ways?
Some bootcamps offer career coaching at the end of the course. This can be in the form of CV writing and LinkedIn polishing workshops. They can also help you craft an elevator pitch. Elevator pitches can be useful during career fairs and when introducing yourself at meetups.
A huge advantage of joining a bootcamp is having access to their professional network. Some bootcamps have connections with companies that are willing to hire their graduates. Bootcamps may conduct a demo day where they invite people from different companies to view the graduates' work and have a chat. Technical interview prep, while not offered by most bootcamps, would be extremely valuable when applying for your first job.
Have I thoroughly done my research?
Check all of the options that are available in your area and look at their curriculum. Are they teaching skills that are in demand? Also, look at the profile of your potential instructors. What are their experiences and are they even qualified to teach?
Most important of all, talk to alumni! I cannot stress this enough. There is no better way to get an accurate picture of the bootcamp than hearing it from someone who has actually done it. Not only will you get an honest review of the bootcamp, you will also be able to ask them personal questions about their experiences. This can help you set a more realistic expectation before starting.
Based on the above, you should be able to know if you're ready to start your course. I hope that these points have helped you in your deliberation. If you do decide to enroll, good luck! I know you can do it!
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Jam is a freelance front-end developer currently based in London. She worked in Australia as a nurse before realising that coding is her true passion. Not long after, she quit nursing, attended a coding bootcamp and secured a role as a software developer. She hasn't looked back since. After working with ThoughtWorks Australia, she sought new challenges in London to work in startups and travel Europe. Having gone through a career change herself, she aspires to help other women that are keen to get into the tech industry.
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