I say — go for it! But here’s some more info:
At the time of writing this, I was sitting at my desk 7 days prior to graduation day from Flatiron School. At the beginning of this program back in October of 2020, I thought I had a grasp on what I was getting myself into. All I had to do was pass the five phases, pass the coding challenges, and I would be on my way to a new and fulfilling career full of growth and possibility! (Plus, my first generation refugee parents wouldn’t love anything more than to be able to say their child is a software engineer). While my expectations were half true, the discipline, time management, team building, communication, and problem solving/critical thinking skills that I inadvertently learned could be seen as more valuable than the tangible piece of evidence of my new career path. In less than four months, you’re thrown into a very unique learning environment that you will most likely never experience again. But like I said, totally worth it.
Here is some sage advice from a (very soon-to-be) coding bootcamp graduate: **Disclaimer: I did a full-time bootcamp at Flatiron School online due to COVID, so my experience may differ from one who is completing one in person.
Learn how to manage your time.
This is much easier said than done, considering the workload is pretty heavy and you realize that labs and readings may take you longer than you thought (especially if you’re like me and you need to read/do labs a few times in order for the info to sink in. Try and create a routine for yourself. In my experience, I had very little time to do the things I normally would do on a daily basis (cook, do laundry, clean, etc). After a few weeks, I began getting myself on a schedule of planning out my meals/outfits (even if its just sweats) during the weekend for the following week.
Self Care/Taking Breaks
Like I said, the work load can be pretty brutal. But it’s important to take breaks and be easy on yourself. You will receive information overload which will seem overwhelming, especially when you want to be able to retain all of this info and pass your coding challenges. If it takes you a little bit longer to learn something, that IS OKAY. Remind yourself that there have been thousands of people behind you that have gone through the same thing, and are still here to tell the tale. Create time for yourself every day, even if it’s just 30 minutes to do what you love. Move your body. Listen to music. Grab some fresh air. Watch some tv. Play an instrument. These are all little things that can truly make the difference in your mood after you have been sitting in front of a computer all day. Meditate, take advantage of your school’s self-care resources (if they have them), and do what you need to do to realign and refocus. **A cohort-mate wrote a blog post about how having a creative hobby (such as playing an instrument) can improve your coding!
Showcase your skills/knowledge
This might be a weird one, but something that they told us time and time again in my program was the best way to learn is by teaching others. We had plenty of chances to work together in my program — partnered projects, pair programming, etc. We had a separate cohort Discord that we used to keep in touch and ask for code help. If someone asks for help, try and help them! This might be obvious, but in doing so and helping them debug, you are in turn teaching them and solidifying your knowledge on all that you’ve learned (which will be a lot). If you have time, try building mini projects on your own! And of course, write blogs about subjects or concepts you’ve learned. (I look back at my old blogs quite often if I’m stuck!)
Create a comfortable space to learn
Seems like a given! But don’t make things more difficult for yourself than they need to be. If you are able to, invest in a comfortable chair (even a standing desk if you’re really up for it). I purchased mine for less than $100 at Costco and it was much better than the director’s chair (lol) that was breaking my lower back on a daily basis. Also if possible, a second monitor can truly increase your ability to multitask. Turn your applications to dark mode (there is even a google chrome extension called “Dark Reader” that turns all websites to dark mode for you), and purchase a pair of blue light filtering glasses. I surrounded my work space with fun lamps, artwork, and I make sure I keep it clean to increase productivity. If you feel unproductive, try going to a coffee shop/park/anywhere else in your home to switch up the scenery.
There you have it, y’all. I can talk about this experience for ages. It was the best decision I’ve ever made. It can be quite a shift from every day life, but by heeding my advice and the advice of others, it could be a smoother experience. Good luck!