Advice for a New Bootcamp Student

Laptop with VSCode open

You’ve done the pre-work, you aced the interview, and you’ve finally been accepted into a bootcamp program. Congratulations on the beginning of your journey! These next few months will not be easy, and oftentimes, not for the faint of heart.

You will need to work harder, study more, and take care of yourself more than you ever had before. This program will challenge you in ways you didn’t even think were possible — and if you found the right program, such as I did, it will change your life forever.

If I had an opportunity to give myself advice on day one, it would be…

Stop comparing yourself to others

Bootcamps take in students with a variety of experience — some have never used their computers beyond Netflix while others have made their own websites. With so many starting a different skill level or those who just have a natural affinity for programming, it is completely useless to compare yourself to others. The only person you should be worried about is yourself. Are you better than you were the week before? Have you progressed in the past month?

Teamwork Illustration

I come from a highly collaborative work background. Working as a team while coding is an entirely different beast however. As I mentioned before, there are so many people who are starting off at different skill levels and take to programming more quickly than others. You must be ready to pace yourself with your teammate(s). You must find a common ground for how you’d like to work together, how much work you’re willing to put in to achieve your Minimum Viable Product, and decide whether or not it is realistic to stretch for a goal.

Types of Self-care Illustration

Bootcamps are hard. You are learning what some people take years to do in less than a year — sometimes only 15 weeks. This is incredibly taxing on our minds, and to be honest, you only have a few good hours a day to actually code. Sure, you can read or watch videos about it, but it is so important that you take care of yourself throughout your program. Go sleep early. Make sure to stretch or go out on walks when you’re struggling with a bug. Be kind to the people around you, no matter how fried you are. Make sure to ask for help — from counselors, friends, or family. Go out on a hike on the weekends, meditate, do yoga, go to a place that brings you peace so you can come back recharged on Monday.

It took me a half of my program for these ideas to sink in and I still struggled with them daily. Once I found my own rhythm, I found myself excelling — I was understanding new material well, I woke up excited to code, I felt healthier in my physical body, and I felt great about my trajectory overall.

While I wish I could go back in time to tell myself these things, I am grateful for the lessons I learned along the way. Relearning some of skills and habits you’ve developed as an adult is always refreshing and you come out of it with a new perspective.

Full stack web developer. Frontend and design enthusiast. Avid rock climber and amateur photographer.