Bootcamp success isn’t a guarantee. However, with some good old fashioned work, you’ll be in the best possible position to launch your tech career.
“As cliché as it sounds, you really do get what you put into it,” says recent Eleven Fifty graduate Chai Grindean.
But what does that hard work look like? We rounded up 11 top tips for coding bootcamp success, including insight from Eleven Fifty alumni who have made the leap from bootcamper to professional.
1. Come prepared—and do your pre-work!
Bootcamp is a crash course, which means time flies and lessons go by at rapid speed. Pre-work assignments help jumpstart your learning and get you into shape for the classroom experience. Nick Tamanini suggests that it’s also good to take time to explore on your own and to get a general understanding of topics explored in the course. The more familiar you are, the better!
2. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
Bootcamp isn’t the time to hide. Asking for help can make or break your grasp of the course material. Instructors are here for your success, helping you troubleshoot or better understand a lesson. “It never hurts to ask questions. Most people are willing, and happy to give advice and guidance,” says Ransford Walker.
3. Get to know your cohort
For 12 weeks (or 24 if you choose part-time) you’ll be in the trenches with your cybersecurity or coding bootcamp cohort. While friends and family can be supportive, this group of people knows exactly what you’re going through.
“We leaned on one another for support and grew together personally and professionally,” says Ray Hancock, whose classroom experience reminded him of the camaraderie he experienced during his time in the military.
Whether you need a support system to overcome an obstacle or a sounding board for ideas, your classmates are there. Taking the time to know them will give you new friends and the foundation of your new professional network. You never know when you can help each other after graduation!
4. Look the part
Adam Smith described bootcamp as feeling “like a professional coding environment,” which means it’s time to look the part of a professional coder when you walk through the door! There’s no need to break out the suit, but maintaining a professional appearance helps in your quest to build a personal brand and makes a good impression when making new connections.
5. Show up to class
It’s obvious that attendance is of the utmost importance at an immersive coding bootcamp. The curriculum moves FAST, which means missing multiple days will leave you behind. Life happens and certain situations may require you to miss a day—just be sure to take the time to reach out to your instructor or teaching assistant to help you get caught up.
6. Network like your career depends on it
You’ve likely heard it many times before, but only because it’s true: networking is one of the most important aspects of your student and job hunting experience. Take the time to attend events, get to know other Eleven Fifty alums and connections, and talk to career services to learn more about opportunities that could be a good fit. Learning to network effectively is a career skill you’ll take with you well beyond your days in bootcamp.
7. Find mentors
Mentors can be pivotal to launching and shaping your career. They’re experienced sounding boards who can help you grow as a tech professional, and they can also often help you build your network.
“The advice and opportunities I received from my mentors shaped my entire year,” Kaylea Britton says.
Sometimes instructors become mentors; other times it’s someone you meet at an event. Look for people you connect with who can provide guidance on the path you want to take in your career.
8. Perfect your time management
Bootcamp requires your time, energy, and dedication, and it also requires you to figure out how to balance classwork with the rest of your life. Learn how to effectively schedule your time to get the work done and make room for everything else. But don’t forget to rest! Breaks give you space to recharge and are important to solving problems.
9. Build your personal brand
How are you showing up in the world? From day one of bootcamp, you should be building your personal brand for the career you want. Update your LinkedIn profile with a professional headshot and relevant skills and experiences you’re acquiring. Revise your resume to reflect your new career trajectory. Follow and engage with organizations and businesses in the tech community on their LinkedIn pages and other social accounts. Some organizations to get you started in engaging online are TechPoint, Powderkeg, Speak Easy, Indy Women in Tech, Launch Indy, Women & Hi Tech, The Startup Ladies, Launch Fishers and of course, Eleven Fifty Academy!
10. Be prepared to fail
“No one knows everything,” says Iesha D. “You can still make mistakes, no matter what level you’re at.”
Failing is a big part of learning, especially in a hands-on environment like coding bootcamp. You will incorrectly write code. You will get stuck on what to do next. Embrace the experience and learn to manage your expectations, remembering that you’re not going to be an expert right off that bat. Bootcamp is there to help you build “a really strong foundation,” as Meredith Bush says.
11. Build resilience and confidence
Resilience and confidence are two coding superpowers; the best tech professionals have healthy amounts of both. It’s important to have faith in your ability to overcome blocks and troubleshoot problems. The best coders have these moments. It’s how you respond that makes the difference.
Inspired to take charge and recode your future? Register for one of Eleven Fifty’s free intro courses to get an up close look at the bootcamp experience. Choose from Intro to Coding or Intro to Cybersecurity.