The best software engineers put a premium on learning the fundamentals of coding and are quick to practice and deepen their knowledge. That’s not a secret. However, we often (incorrectly) assume that a top-performing software engineer is just “naturally” good at learning languages. With coding or any other skill, the fastest to learn are a) have strong discipline b) passionate about the material and c) are well-prepared.
Preparation begins well before landing your first coding job. The strongest coding bootcamp curriculums understand this, and require a mandatory prep course to learn basic programming language prior to asking you to sit for the next 16+ weeks learning to become a software developer.
Before we discuss prep courses and what to expect on a daily basis, let’s start at the beginning.
You’ve matched to a coding bootcamp and want to attend. Now what?
If you’re reading this article, you’ve likely been matched to a coding bootcamp. If you’ve done this using our website, you’ve been matched based on your desired discipline (most often full stack, front- or back-end web development, AI / Machine Learning, or UX/UI), intended start date, budget, and a host of other requirements on your personal checklist. If you’ve submitted your interest to the in-person or online coding bootcamp, you have a few next steps:
- Anticipate and calculate your budget for paying for a coding bootcamp.
- Research bootcamp scholarships that may be available to students.
- Contact the admissions representative to learn more about outcomes data: how long it takes on average for their bootcamp grads to land a job, the median salary for the most recent cohort, whether they have job placement options, or use our search tool to learn more about these programs.
- Schedule an interview with the coding bootcamp. This interview may or may not include a coding challenge depending on the admissions criteria of the school. We’ll discuss this a bit later in the article, but regardless of whether they require a coding challenge for admission, all students should go into a bootcamp after completing a prep course. Fundamental coding skills require practice and you don’t want to go in cold..
- Based on your budget and their tuition, enroll in the coding bootcamp.
These are tactical steps you need to take as a student. However, this guide is going to focus on mental ones. We do need to mention the elements of a good software engineering prep course before we discuss the mental preparation you’ll need for the next few months.
Enroll in a guided or self-guided prep course.
The first step is knowing where to sign up. There are standalone bootcamp prep course options offered by the schools. This type of coding course might be offered as a monthly subscription or a flat fee over the course of a month. (For example, Full Stack Academy offers “bootcamp prep for a month” and “bootcamp prep for a week” options. If you plan on attending Full Stack Academy, this is a natural option.) Others offer monthly subscription fees for preparation, and some are at no cost.
You’ll also want to dive deeper into higher-order functions and callbacks to develop the best habits for building your code. A prep program is integral to students at every level of coding skill, but especially those without any type of computer science background.
Preparing for an online coding bootcamp
As we enter into Year 3 of the global pandemic, know that almost every coding course is being offered fully online for the time being. While the global population made significant adjustments to how we live and work, students who work better in a hybrid environment or a fully in-person coding course might have some adjustments to make.
That’s natural. Different types of learners might need to reappraise how they focus on a data science challenge or coding skill in a place where distractions might take over. In that same vein, extroverts who thrive on being in the presence of others are being challenged to demonstrate their passion for attending a coding bootcamp in a fully remote coding interview. (Truth be told, a prospective web developer was being asked to sit for a phone bootcamp interview well before the pandemic.)
Here are some tips to help traditional classroom learners gear up for an immersive boot camp offered online:
- Make your laptop into a coding battle station. Over the next four to six months, your coding skills will be the priority. Clear your desktop of clutter and begin a new folder for your coding projects. An in-person coding course might be in a classroom with fewer distractions than your home office, so you want to try to mimic that environment.
- Organizing yourself is a first step, but students trying to complete a difficult coding challenge will want to reach a state of flow. Several Chrome and Firefox extensions are highly rated focus solutions in the app store. If you need the extra distraction-free environment while completing a coding course, those are available as well. (Apple’s cross-device feature, Focus, is wonderful for pausing alerts and texts as well.)
- Know that your coding bootcamp interview will also take place online. Extroverts (like myself) who present better in person had a quick adjustment to make at the onset of the pandemic. There was no shortage of resources, but whether you’re in a bootcamp interview or a job interview, this is an adjustment. (For some of us, communicating a passion for data science or describing why you want to pivot to a career as a software engineer uses a surprising amount of excited hand gestures).
- Coding doesn’t end at the bell. Whether you are completing a full or part-time online coding bootcamp, you’ll have homework. In the first month of your immersion, you’ll be attending software engineering lectures and digesting new programming languages(s). You’ll be assigned coursework that you may work on until the end of the day. Then it’s off to dinner and then back to your coursework.
The most successful software developer is the one who puts in the time after hours to hone their coding skills, asks for extra help from their instructors where they need it, and learns all they can about the job placement options offered by their school.
While this checklist might work for students attending in-person classes as well (particularly the last one), we understand that in-person learners experiencing a massive shift to hybrid and distance learning didn’t get some of the tools they deserved.
Conclusion: Successful Future Bootcamp Graduates Began With The Right Preparation
Whether you’re attending back end, front-end or a full stack web development bootcamp, the most successful bootcamp graduates are also the most prepared. A web developer in the United States is in high demand, and having a strong foundation for your coding skill is critical.
Get matched to an in-person or online coding bootcamp that’s customized to your location, interest, and learning style. Once you do, begin researching the right prep program that will provide future bootcamp grads with a solid foundation on Day 1.