8 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Coding Bootcamp

Coding bootcamps are intensive. You'll study, read, code, and complete multiple projects within a short span of time. Here are eight key things every software engineering bootcamp should teach you.

how to get the most out of coding bootcamp

Coding bootcamps are intensive. You'll receive a lot of training, do many activities, and complete multiple projects within a short span of time. And, while coding bootcamps offer the opportunity to gain maximum programming knowledge in a hands-on, real-world scenario, sometimes it can feel overwhelming.

hTo make the experience worth it, no matter how difficult it gets, you need a plan and some backup. In this article, we've curated the best advice from coding bootcamp mentors, instructors as well as former Springboard students to help you get the most out of your coding bootcamp experience.

1. Prepare carefully

Not all bootcamps begin at the very beginning. Many of them expect basic qualifications and skills. Understand what these are and ensure you have them before enrolling. Refresh your memory with books and other online resources. Take on some pre-course assignments to recap skills and practices you might have forgotten.

Invest in a prep course, if you don’t have the necessary skills for the bootcamp itself. For example, Springboard offers a Software Engineering Prep Course that helps you learn the foundational web development skills (HTML, CSS, and JavaScript) needed for the Springboard Software Engineering Career Track. Remember, the better foundation you have before you go into the bootcamp, the more rewarding your learning experience will be.

2. Set clear goals

Getting the most out of a coding bootcamp is directly related to what you want to get out of it. Use this opportunity to define your goals clearly. First, understand why you're doing the bootcamp:

  • Why do you want to go through this experience?
  • What will the future you look like?
  • What will be different in your work and personal life at the end of this program?
  • What do you need to achieve?
  • What will success look like?

Then, set specific goals. Write these goals down where you can see them. Having your goals in sight will give you clarity when you stumble during the course of the bootcamp or help you stay resilient even when the challenges get harder.

3. Be determined

One word many people frequently use to describe successful coding bootcampers is "gritty." Coding bootcamps are not for the faint of heart: the sheer amount of information you’ll be expected to absorb even within the first couple of weeks can be astounding.

Many bootcamp alumni would tell you to consider your bootcamp a full-time job. Bring to it the same dedication and the eagerness to learn as you would to your day job. When you feel a slump, remember your why and focus on your goals.

4. Be guided

The biggest challenge in self-learning is the lack of community and mentorship. Without this, the experience might feel like a lonely struggle. Consider mentor-led programs like Springboard’s Software Engineering Career Track, which pairs students with software engineering professionals.

Mentors provide great opportunities to gather valuable information and insight about the industry, as well as provide a helping hand when things get overwhelming. Many students say learning with a mentor is easier and more rewarding than learning alone.

how to get the most out of coding bootcamp

5. Try unconventional methods of learning

When you’re in a bootcamp and stuck with a complex problem, one of the best ways to handle it is to teach it to someone else. When you teach someone else, it helps you narrow your focus to what’s important. Translating complex concepts into more accessible material will also help you break down code and understand clearly how things work.

Try the following two methods:

  • Rubber Ducking. When you run into a roadblock, explain your problem to a rubber duck (friends are great for this too). This will help you slow down a little as you break down the logic of the program, as opposed to when you were typing the code. When you hear yourself speak out loud, you’ll also be able to spot gaps in logic much better.
  • Pseudo Code. Write down your code or difficult concept in as simple a language as possible. Forget the coding language and jargon for a little and focus only on the core meaning of the complex idea you’re trying to process and then use it to help a friend grasp the concept as well.

Another way to maximize your learning potential is to fully utilize the hands-on environment that a coding bootcamp gives you. Be fully prepared to learn by getting your hands dirty. Don’t hesitate to start building an app or code a solution to a problem, as that’s one of the most efficient ways to grasp programming concepts.

6. Build a stellar portfolio

Your projects are your new resume. This means you have to put a lot of thought into what skills you want to highlight to your potential employers. One of the biggest expectations hiring managers have is the ability to see a project through to completion.

You should demonstrate your ability to ideate, plan, develop, troubleshoot, and scale a software project—not just once, but over and over again. If you can do this in a team as well as alone, you’re both a team player and a self-starter, both of which are valuable traits. Your capstone projects and prototypes will add value to your resume and become important talking points at job interviews.

7. Build your web presence

After building things on your own or in your team, it’s time to spread the word about your work. Make yourself visible online. Update your LinkedIn and GitHub profiles. Have a portfolio website, where you can also add stories of your work—like a case study, for example. Contribute to developer communities by helping solve their problems or offering a hand.

Plenty of bootcampers make sure their well-built capstone project gets positive attention and are eventually led to their first job through their networking skills.

8. Make authentic connections

A coding bootcamp offers something that’s really hard to get if you learn coding on your own: a passionate, highly invested community. For example, Springboard's software engineering bootcamp gives students access to a global network of fellow software engineers as well as the alumni, mentors, and career coaches. Build relationships with the people who you can offer the most value to you.

To make the most of a software engineering bootcamp, focus as much on your mindset as you do on developing your skillset. Use the time to learn to code, but also to work in a team, communicate effectively, collaborate meaningfully, and transition to your dream career.

Ready to switch careers to software engineering?

Springboard offers a comprehensive software engineering bootcamp. You’ll work with a one-on-one mentor to learn key aspects of front-end web development, back-end web development, databases, and data structures and algorithms. Modules include learning resources, practice exercises, projects, and career-related coursework. 

Check out Springboard's Software Engineering Career Track to see if you qualify.

Not quite ready to dive into a software engineering bootcamp?

Springboard also offers a Software Engineering Prep Course, where you can learn the foundational web development skills (HTML, CSS, and JavaScript) needed to pass the technical skills survey for the Software Engineering Career Track.

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