How to Survive and Succeed at a Software Development Boot Camp
Lots of people have questions about what it takes to succeed at a software development boot camp like Zip Code Wilmington. Below is advice from Zip Code instructors, alumni, and current students (edited for clarity).
Words of wisdom from Zip Code Instructor David Ginzberg:
Boot camps are not casual affairs. It’s just as important to ensure that you are mentally prepared to attend as it is to make sure those who you care about know what to expect. You will be dedicating almost every waking moment to learning and studying, which means you often won’t have time for social engagements. You’ll be working long hours and spending family time sequestered away with a laptop and a textbook, working on labs and studying. Family and friends need to know that this is coming and that you will need their support. A boot camp can be emotionally draining at times due to the level of intensity, and the purposeful challenges that sometimes result in (temporary) failure. The staff and other students at any good boot camp will help you work through those failures and learn the lessons they offer. Added support from friends and family in those weak moments are invaluable and can mean the difference between killing it, just squeaking by, or washing out entirely.
Our graduates, who are now professional developers, offer their advice:
To survive a boot camp requires a borderline delusional confidence. You will fail over and over again yet still need to be in class at 9:00 a.m. sharp the next day, ready for more.
Don't whine. You should come to class every day in a positive mood. Tackling a problem with a defeated attitude yields defeated results.
Give up on your personal life in advance. Plan your entire day around your class work and plan your sleeping hours to make sure you get sleep too. Trying to balance more than that is a mistake. It's only 12 weeks, so tell your friends and family that you'll be busy.
Wanting to be a developer has to be a part of you from the start. It can't just be for money or a job. It has to be your passion. Without that, you'll run the risk of burning out.
Lastly, our current students offer guidance:
Take the opportunity to participate in as many networking and extracurricular events that the program offers. Your workload will be very heavy, so be responsible. Your instructors will be a great guide when deciding if it’s appropriate to attend.
Learning is progressive. A concept introduced in week one will be re-learned from different angles, with different implementations, and to greater depths as the weeks go by. You’ll understand more every week. You don’t need to get it all at once!
Life is NOT EASY at a boot camp. Stretch yourself as much as you can. Put in all the work necessary and live, sleep, breathe, eat and digest CODE. If you strive to be better than you were the day before, you will succeed.
Coffee is your friend!
Stay encouraged. If you put in the work, you will reach the finish line.
Do not be afraid to ask questions. You do not have all the answers.
Reach out to classmates and do not be afraid to pair program with others.
Familiarize yourself with the companies you will be interviewing with.
Do not be afraid to network.
Small plates! Don’t eat too much and get sleepy, you’ll need your energy.
The overall theme here is: the work is hard, the hours are long, but if you really dedicate yourself and put in the work, the reward is unquestionably worth it. Zip Code has put a lot of people to the test and they’ve emerged with exciting, promising careers in software development.