Each person has their own ideal learning style and lifestyle. Having chosen to embark on the difficult challenges of an intensive, immersive, coding bootcamp, you have many ways to maximize your chances of success and the value of your experience.
Before Class Starts
1. Do the pre-study
Start working on your assigned pre-study as soon as you receive it. Don’t wait until the last minute. Do it all, and don’t stop there – continue on your own, extend and reinforce it, explore learning resources.
In a bootcamp you’ll often be working late and coming in on weekends for study groups, project work, or tutoring. If you live more than an hour’s trip from the school, relocate for the duration of the program. Complete your move and get completely settled in before class starts.
To take advantage of a bootcamp’s immersive nature you need to focus all day, every day. This is no time to be planning a wedding, negotiating a divorce, working a night or weekend job, starting a business, buying a home, preparing for surgery.
Wrap up loose ends that may distract you from your studies.
4. Know your computer
If you’re bringing your own (qualifying) laptop and you’re proficient with it, good. If you’re buying a new one or one is being provided to you, make sure you have it at least a week before class, sort out any technical issues, and make yourself at home on it – especially if you’re switching to a new environment (say, from Windows to Mac).
5. Master touch typing
Seriously. You need to input code at a rapid pace with reasonable accuracy without looking at the keyboard. If you can do that with two fingers, great. Otherwise you will experience continuous disadvantage and distraction that can significantly impact your progress and your career.
You sought out a challenging program like this for a reason. You’ll seldom have the opportunity to spend this much extended, focused, supported time on a single endeavor. Use every minute of it!
- Show up on time every day.
- Put in extra time each night and during the weekend.
- Do the labs and projects, most of the learning comes from doing. If a lab seems too basic for you, well, then it won’t take long so do it!
- Stay focused, don’t (without talking to an instructor first) sidetrack yourself with topics that are beyond the curriculum.
You’ll likely be put to work in pairs or teams during the program, but don’t wait.
- Ask for help from a neighbor when you need it, offer help when you can.
- Join or organize off-hours study groups.
- Get your sleep, you will learn better if you are rested.
- Get some exercise. Take walks or runs at lunch, take time to hike or bike or swim or dance or whatever on evenings and weekends (I know we already said to study nights and weekends, fit both in!)
You will often be challenged, puzzled, frustrated, and sometimes feel lost – this is when learning happens. A little venting is fine but avoid a habit of complaining or negativity that will dampen your desire to succeed – or that will bring down other students. Don’t rate your progress by comparing yourself to classmates who may have started the program with more experience than you.
- Ask questions, the instructors are happy to help you clarify your understanding. Don’t be shy – really, don’t: if you have a question chances are a neighbor has a similar one, and in any case everyone will benefit from the answer and ensuing discussion.
- Explore and find ways to use the resources the school provides.
- Explore outside resources – tutorials, references, examples, etc. – to which instructors and fellow students introduce you.
- Attend user groups and meetups to build your network
Enjoy yourself, enjoy your classmates, make it fun!