I decided to write about this because I do think boot camps are a great intro to programming.
Keep in mind that this is my personal opinion. I want to describe what is like behind the scenes of a boot camp from a student's perspective. I won't go into detail as to why I decided on a boot camp vs. a four-year college SE degree (it comes down to time and money).
Let's dive into it!
I find I am more productive and engaged if I am dedicating myself to something full time. For that reason, I signed up for a full-time experience at a boot camp. So what does this mean? I had to quit my paying job. A lot of thought and preparation went into this, but it was still a scary and bold move for me.
So what do my days look like now? I attend online classes from 9 in the morning until 6 in the evening from Monday to Friday. In reality, my schedule looks like this:
Be ready to have unpredictable days. You will need to learn to deal with ambiguity. I think it's possible to balance your boot camp activities with your non-boot camp activities. It just might require a lot of discipline, which brings me to my next topic.
If I were to research articles on "why one should attend a boot camp" or "what are the benefits of a boot camp vs. a four-year degree," I would find arguments for and against boot camps. This blog post will be no different. It is necessary to do your research, but keep in mind that these are people's opinions. Boot camps will work for some but not for others. In the end, you only get what you put in. It's a rigorous and demanding course. I find I am stressed out most of the time, especially as a beginner. But it is also worthwhile. The number of things I've learned in this short period has exceeded my expectations.
However, it comes down to discipline. You can find a boot camp that guarantees you a job, but it won't apply to you unless you dedicate the time and the effort to learning and practicing. Boot camps are a way to learn the foundations of the given language that's part of their curriculum. You will be learning how to learn a new language. Because of the pace of this program, you will not dive deep into anything in particular. It will come down to YOU and what you think you need to focus on. Hence why your schedule might look a bit hectic like mine!
I feel like this can be a delicate topic to talk about because everyone's experience will be different. But I will tell you about how this is working for me. I decided to start a boot camp during the pandemic. I got tired of working with customer support, and I knew I wanted to learn how to program. I figured this was the best time to focus on programming since we are all stuck at home anyway. It is working.
However, it is challenging to balance time to study and the time to spend with loved ones or doing things you enjoy. I often forget to respond to people's messages because all I can think about all day is code. I know it might sound like it's not a big deal, but it is so crucial to find the time to do other things besides code.
Burnout is a real thing. You need to know when to step away (momentarily) from your screen.
It is impossible to graduate from a boot camp knowing everything. You will learn the necessary skills, and your first job will help mold you as a programmer. You will never stop learning. Software is always changing and evolving. Be prepared to be wrong and to get things wrong often. Writing tests, understanding them, and debugging your code is how one learns. I had very unrealistic expectations going in, and I had to adapt. I initially found it discouraging, and it put me off tracks, but looking back, if I hadn't done that, I probably would've decided to drop out.
My days are very long now, and there's a lot I still don't know. I think it's important to remind yourself why you want to learn how to program and why you are doing this. This post is not to discourage but to show what to expect out of a boot camp.