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10 Tips for a Great Coding Bootcamp Experience

Wow, time flies! It has already been three and a half months since learning Ruby and writing my first CLI app. It has been an amazing journey, complete with its ups and down, but an exciting and wonderful experience. As my time at Flatiron School is quickly coming to an end, I thought I’d share a few tips on things I wish I had done or would do if I had known while attending an intensive coding bootcamp. So if you're thinking of enrolling in a program or are already attending one, here are some tips that might be helpful to you.

  1. Choose your bootcamp very wisely.
    I’m so glad I had decided to go to Flatiron because the community and environment are one of a kind. I would easily choose Flatiron again but of course make your decision with as much input as you can. If possible go visit the campus beforehand or go to a meetup held on campus. Even if you’re doing the online program it’s great to meet some people who are in the program or at least speak with the instructors or coaches you may be interacting with on a daily basis. Don't be afraid to reach out to alumni on LinkedIn to see how their experience was. People are very nice and helpful and would be glad to provide input.

  2. Take time for yourself.
    Don’t spend all day while in school and on weekends studying. You’ll burn out too quickly. I found it especially helpful to take a full day off from coding, yes, I said a full day off. It sounds insane, but honestly I was so much more productive and thoughtful with my time when I had a full day of rest. Just have a day to do other fun things you enjoy, the mental break is much needed and deserved. Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint. And burning out halfway through doesn't make the last months any easier. So take time and treat yourself :)

  3. Take frequent breaks & drink water!
    It can be very difficult when you're in the middle of a breakthrough or just want to squash one more bug, but try to take regular breaks and keep yourself hydrated. I found I was able to think much more clearly when I walked away from a problem for just 5 or 10 minutes. As counter-productive as it sounds or as difficult as it was to tear myself away for just a moment, upon returning from a short break I'd almost always have a fresh perspective and a new, better plan of action for tackling a problem.

  4. Take time to exercise.
    It’s great to have an outlet and keep yourself healthy so you don’t get sick. It's easy to end up going to school early and leaving late, but don't forget to take care of your health as that's what is most important.

  5. Rely on loved ones and close friends for support.
    I originally thought I’d need to push everyone I know away for the entire 4 months so I can focus fully on the course. But I realized that through all of the stress and imposter syndrome, that's exactly when I needed my support system the most. Don’t be afraid to rely on those you care about for emotional support or even just to take a break. It’s a very brutal process and you’ll need people who you care about and who care about you to help you pull through.

  6. Network as much as possible!
    It sometimes felt like a chore or a bit tiring to go to Meetups to network after school, but it’s so important. 9/10 times people find jobs through meeting someone or someone they know. It’s worth it just a day a week to go meet new people in the industry. Plus they usually are very fun and engaging(and typically provide you with dinner!).

  7. Find a mentor.
    This one is more optional, but would be an amazing addition to your experience if possible. It doesn't necessarily have to be a senior software engineer at Google, but just a friend who is in the industry or even a friend of a friend. Anyone with experience in your field and/or is willing to share some knowledge or take a look at yours projects will be such a keen part of making you feel more part of the industry.

  8. Lean on your cohort.
    These people are here for the same reason as you and they most likely share this genuine desire to learn and become professional software engineers. At the end of the day they are going to be your coworkers and your first network for people in the industry. They will be some of the most helpful people for you at some point, and especially in the future, so don't forget that you have them and support each other to accomplish your goals together.

  9. Accept that it's okay to be a beginner.
    There is so much information out there on new technology, best practices, that it's easy to feel like you'll never catch up. And it's just as easy to get demotivated and for imposter syndrome to creep up on you quickly. But if you go into every module with a beginner mindset, you will always be excited to learn and never feel like you don't know enough. Try to always keep an open mind.

  10. Have fun!
    This may be one of the most important tips. Don't forget that you're doing this for a reason: you genuinely enjoy learning about this material and love building things. It's so easy to get caught up in the stress of it all, but at the end of the day you're there to learn how to make amazing things. So make the best of it, take pleasure in your small accomplishments, and look for the good in each day!

These are simple tips but I hope they may be helpful or useful if you've decided to take on the adventure of an immersive engineering program. Good luck!

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