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May 7, 2023 - 8 minutes

Why is Prework So Important?

Prework: the secret to getting the most out of a tech bootcamp. 

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If you’re thinking about a career in the tech industry, signing up for a tech bootcamp is one of the simplest ways to dig in, get familiarized with the work, and gain the skills you’ll need to be a successful tech professional. However, bootcamps are intense. They cover a lot of material in a relatively short period of time and require participants to be ready for what can sometimes be significant workloads. In order to get the most out of a bootcamp, it’s necessary to be ready and familiarized with the material from day one. 

We applaud folks who’ve invested in their future careers through signing up for a tech bootcamp. That said, simply enrolling in a course does not mean you’ll obtain the knowledge through osmosis; in many ways, it’s actually the opposite. Entering a new sector can feel like entering a new country: there’s new vocabulary to learn, different workflows to get familiarized with, and that’s not even mentioning entirely new coding programs and softwares

If you arrive unprepared, what you get out of the experience will be different than if you had completed your prework before starting your course. 

What is Prework? 

Prework is the preparatory work you’ll do before starting your Ironhack bootcamp. In the context of a tech bootcamp, prework can come in the form of required pre-course reading, simple coding exercises, or other assignments to help folks enter the course with the basic framework and knowledge of the material. However, prework does not need to be assigned. It can also be something that you take on independently, knowing your own limitations of the material in order to feel more prepared entering the first day of the course. So in addition to your Ironhack-provided prework, your own preparation could include: 

  • Knowing what you’ve signed up for: you should know what course you’re enrolled in and have a general understanding of why you signed up for it. For example, what material will be covered? Do you need to bring your own computer? Who is your teacher and what unique mastery do they have over the material? 

  • Familiarizing yourself with the material: if you’re relatively new to the tech sector, or even if you’ve spent time in the field, you’ll be sure to encounter new material, vocabulary, softwares and coding languages. In order to get the most out of the experience, you should arrive familiar with the vocabulary and programs so that you’re not having to play catch up as the bootcamp progresses. 

  • Getting to know the possible directions to apply the knowledge obtained: you’ll be in a much stronger position if you arrive at the bootcamp having a base knowledge of your interests, strengths, and the possible career pathways you’d like to apply to what you're learning. You’ll be able to zero in on the information that feels most important to you, ask questions that pertain to your interests, and have a better understanding of the real life implications of what you’re learning. 

  • Completing assignments or coding exercises: many bootcamps will assign you prework in hopes of jumping right into the material the first day. It’s a way that bootcamps push participants to familiarize themselves with the material so that the course can progress at the necessary pace in order to get through all the material. Arrive having completed that work and with questions that you may have about the material. 

Prework is meant to help you obtain the foundational skills and knowledge of the bootcamp so that you can get the most out of the course. It’s an investment in yourself and a commitment to making the most of the bootcamp experience. 

What Does Prework Look Like in Preparing for a Tech Bootcamp? 

We’ve all signed up for a class or arrived at an event without having done the slightest amount of research. Sometimes it’s fine, other times it’s embarrassing, but generally the conclusion is that there were concrete things that we could have done to have better prepared ourselves for the activity. 

That said, prework is an investment in yourself. It’s a commitment to being successful in a bootcamp in which you’ve already made a significant investment. And it's being honest about your limitations in order to address those weak points and minimize the knowledge gaps that may set you back in mastering other knowledge. 

In preparing for a tech bootcamp, there are a number of skills and material that would be worth brushing up on: 

  • Learn the basics of a programming language: you’ll be sure to encounter new programming languages and many tech bootcamps require that participants have a basic understanding of programs like Python, Java, or JavaScript. Prework may include reading through their websites, watching tutorials about these programs, or playing around with their features simply so that you start with a base knowledge of what these programs can offer. 

  • Brush up on math: you won’t be able to escape a tech bootcamp without engaging with simple mathematical principles. Having a strong math foundation is important (even if you haven’t thought about these topics in years!), thus brushing up on algebra, geometry, or calculus is key. You’ll be surprised how much you know and how easy it is to get back into the math rhythm. 

  • Complete online courses: there are many online courses (and often free courses) that help folks build the foundational knowledge needed to be successful in a tech bootcamp. After looking through the material of your tech bootcamp, look for online courses that may help you get the basics of programming languages, web design, or data analysis. 

  • Build a project: often the best way to learn is by doing. Building a project, no matter if it comes out as good as you envisioned, is the first step in digging into new material. At the very least you’ll learn what feels intuitive for you, what’s frustrating, and what areas you’d like to more deeply engage.  

  • Read up on the latest developments in the industry: tech is a constantly changing industry and you’ll undoubtedly enter the bootcamp better versed in relevant topics to the bootcamp’s curriculum. In order to truly engage in conversations about the industry, it’s important to be aware of the ongoing developments in the field, recent events and their impacts on the sector, and other best practices relating to the material that your bootcamp will address. The Ironhack blog is a great place to start!

  • Technical setup: prework may include setting your computer up with necessary softwares and tools needed for the bootcamp. Research what you’ll need or email your professor to confirm if there are program languages, text editors, or other tools you’ll need. 

In all, the prework for a tech bootcamp is designed to give you a strong base of knowledge and skills that will help you be success as you participate in the course. Bootcamps are often very intense, thus any work that you can do beforehand that allows you to smoothly transition into the new demands of the course will greatly help you get more out of the course. 

Benefits of Prework

It may be hard to convince yourself to do non-required work for a course that you haven’t even started, but you’ll get so much more out of the bootcamp if you have a strong foundation to work from, are aware of your interests, strengths, and weaknesses as you enter the course, and have an even clearer understanding of your goals of participating in the course. 

Besides, it’s always better to feel overprepared than to feel lost and overwhelmed by the new demands of the course. A couple other benefits include: 

  • Getting a head start: by arriving well-prepared for the course, you’ll be able to hit the ground running from day one. Arriving prepared means you’ll arrive more confident, more capable of participating, and allow you to continue to get ahead as you can take on more advanced topics and go further with the material. 

  • Identifying knowledge gaps: in many ways, prework is doing a pre-course evaluation of your strengths and weaknesses as they relate to the course material so that you can be more successful.This allows you to focus on the areas you need to improve before you start so that you can get the most out of the bootcamp and:

    • Identify your gaps

    • Get familiar with your anxieties

    • Get clear on where you want to apply all that you learn. 

  • Easing anxiety: starting an intensive bootcamp can be stressful, especially if it’s material with which you’re not familiar. Prework can help ease any pre-bootcamp anxieties, allow you to get clear on what you expect and what’s expected of you, and arrive on the first day more confident and relaxed. 

  • Increasing your chances of success: as we know, arriving prepared increases your chances of reaching success. You’ll arrive with a stronger foundation and better equipped to take on the rigorous demands of a tech bootcamp. 

Everyone loves a head start and prework, despite possibly feeling tedious, gives you the competitive edge you need in order to arrive at the bootcamp feeling confident and capable. By signing up for a bootcamp, you’re investing in your future career and in a new version of yourself. You know that you can become a successful tech professional, but only if you’re willing to work hard, learn new skills, and take on the challenges of entering a new sector. 

Prework is what allows you to arrive ready to handle the demands of the bootcamp, and emerge successful. 

If you’re interested in a tech bootcamp, we have options! Check out our tech bootcamps in Web Development, UX/UI Design, or Data Analysis. 

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