Making the decision to attend a coding bootcamp is quite the commitment. And while that first big choice is out of the way, you’re not done yet: completing the bootcamp is not for the faint of heart but as you know, anything worth doing requires some effort. At Ironhack, we’ve designed our bootcamps with the specific goal of teaching you everything you need to know to land a job in tech after your bootcamp and enjoy yourself along the way.
However, there are still a few things to keep in mind during your bootcamp to ensure it goes smoothly. What kind of preparation should you do? How do you start preparing yourself for the job search? We’ll cover the answers to these questions and much more in this article but before we dive right in, let’s go over the basics of bootcamps and why they’ve become such a popular choice for those looking to get into tech.
What is a Bootcamp?
No, it’s not military training where you’ll be expected to run miles and miles–tech bootcamps are intensive, short-term programs that have one goal in mind: teaching you a very specific skill so that you’re prepared to enter the workforce as soon as you graduate. You’ve probably seen quite a few ads for them over the years and they’ve definitely grown in popularity; these days, bootcamps cover a wide range of subjects. The need for tech professionals is growing rapidly and universities simply can’t keep with the speed of tech.
Here’s what sets bootcamps apart from other kinds of courses:
As we mentioned, bootcamps are quite short, held over a few weeks or months, allowing students to transform their careers in a very short period of time.
Bootcamps usually champion flexibility and offer in-person or remote options, in addition to full and part time selections.
Instead of providing students with tons of background information like long university courses do, bootcamps focus on the marketable skills that employers are currently looking for.
They constantly update their curriculum, looking to stay up-to-date with the latest technologies to make their graduates attractive candidates for tech jobs.
Is a bootcamp right for me?
Deciding to study at a bootcamp is an incredibly personal decision. You need to evaluate not only what you want to achieve from your studies, but also what it will mean for your future and present while you’re studying. If you’re not sure, try to answer these questions:
Why are you interested in taking a bootcamp? This one seems quite straightforward, but bootcamps are an investment of both your time and money and you should have a clear answer to this question in your head. Do you want to switch careers? Do you need to have a more lucrative role? Or maybe you already work in tech and want to reskill, jumping into a new field? Having a clear answer to this question can help inspire you when you’re in a tough moment.
Are you prepared for a full career change? This question is especially pertinent for those making a complete career change. Bootcamps prepare you to enter the job market, but typically at an entry-level or junior role, meaning you could be giving up the years of seniority you’ve earned in your current role. Make sure you research the tech sector thoroughly, ensuring it will be a good fit.
Are you ready to work hard? As we mentioned, bootcamps are incredibly intensive and fast-moving, meaning you’ll need to dedicate lots of time (even outside of class) to your studies. Due to their fast pace and complicated content, bootcamps demand your full attention and effort–is this something to which you can commit?
With these questions answered, you’ll be able to decide if a bootcamp is the right fit for you. And if it is, you’re ready to move on to our next section: coding bootcamp dos and don’ts.
Coding Bootcamps Dos and Don’ts
What should you do on day one of your bootcamp? How about before? And during? Oh no, and after?! Don’t worry; here’s your guide:
DO complete any assigned prework
We get it--no one wants to do work before their course even starts! But many bootcamps assign prework for an important reason: ensuring that all students enter the course on the same foot. What does this mean? Well, bootcamp students come from a wide range of backgrounds and experience level and since the bootcamp moves at such a fast pace, guaranteeing that students have the foundational knowledge needed for success helps everyone start off on the same page and leave the good stuff for the actual course.
Ironhack’s tip: take the prework seriously. Not all bootcamps offer prework so if you’re not ready to commit to extra work before the course starts, don’t choose a bootcamp that has it. And if you’re unsure of the value, trust us: it’s worth it.
DON’T overextend yourself during the bootcamp
Even if you’re the world’s best multitasker, try to take the bootcamp during a time when you have fewer personal or professional responsibilities. As we mentioned above, bootcamps are quite intensive and require work both inside and outside of class, even when you’re spending 8+ hours a day in class. Before the course even begins, take a good look at your schedule and responsibilities, understanding that your social life might need to take a bit of a break during the course.
Ironhack’s tip: create a schedule of your weekends/nights during the bootcamp and make sure you have enough time to dedicate to the course. Knowing when you might have less time to study can help you get ahead in the weeks prior.
DO start your job search early on
We’ve said it so many times: bootcamps are short! And lots of tech companies have rather lengthy interview processes, wanting you to speak to various team members, complete tests, and review other candidates before making an offer. If you wait until the end of your course, you may end up being without work for a bit after graduation; it may seem premature to start looking for jobs before you’ve completed the bootcamp, but preparing your portfolio and CV and brushing up on your interview skills as you take the course can help you get one step ahead.
Ironhack’s tip: take advantage of your bootcamp’s career services, working with career coaches to improve your CV or pitch. There’s no such thing as too much practice when it comes to interviewing–take advantage of every opportunity!
DON’T underestimate your other responsibilities
For both those who can focus solely on the bootcamp and take a full-time course and those that need to take it part-time to continue studying or working, review your other responsibilities, such as child care or familial duties, and see if they fit in your schedule. It’s easy to underestimate non-work or school responsibilities, but they do add up and can complicate your study schedule if you don’t properly plan.
Ironhack’s tip: just like we mentioned above! Writing down your responsibilities and finding time to fit them into your schedule can help you visualize your life during the bootcamp and plan for everything you’ll have to do.
DO plan financially ahead of time
Does taking a full-time bootcamp mean you’re quitting your current job? Or need to find childcare during the day? It may not seem like a major concern at first, but financial stress can add lots of pressure to an already intense situation; seriously consider your finances and make sure you’re in a place where paying for a bootcamp and not working for a bit is financially feasible. And when you’re choosing which bootcamp you want to take, make sure you consider financing options, such as scholarships, government grants, income share agreements, and payment plans.
Ironhack’s tip: just like you write out your responsibilities during the bootcamp, try to create a mock budget and see if a bootcamp is financially viable. If it isn't, see if you can make any adjustments to help get you there and consider third party scholarship options.
DON’T pick an area that you’re not interested in
Tech bootcamps cover practically every field, from UX/UI design to coding and everything in between. Taking a bootcamp is your attempt to enter that field professionally, so make sure it’s something in which you’re truly interested! Almost all tech fields are in desperate need of skilled employees, so don’t let other people tell you the best field; the best field is the one that truly interests you and about which you’re passionate. Remember, you’ll be working in this field for years to come and your passion will fuel your success.
Ironhack’s tip: check out free online videos or courses about the topics you’re considering, seeing which one sparks an interest in your mind. When you’ve narrowed it down to a few, take a look at job opportunities in that specific field and make sure you find options that align with your goals.
DO connect with others in class
Your classmates and instructors are probably some of the first contacts you’ll make in the tech industry–use them! The vast majority of bootcamps boast skilled professionals as instructors and these individuals can help you make connections with potential jobs and can serve as great mentors during your bootcamp. And years later, if you’ve remained in contact on LinkedIn, they could even help you land a new job. When it comes to your classmates, they will also be invaluable resources to help you solve a tough problem, practice your interviewing skills, and keep up with the tech industry.
Ironhack’s tip: connect with your classmates and instructor(s) from day one and become a point of reference for them as well, offering help when you can and being a good classmate. Attend any sort of networking or social events that your bootcamp offers, even virtual ones, and work to create solid connections.
Whew! That’s a lot to keep in mind. Bootcamps are a big undertaking, but at the end of the day, your success will depend on your efforts and what you put into it. So if you’re feeling inspired and are ready to take that next leap, what are you waiting for?! Ironhack’s bootcamps offer everything you need to reach success–we can’t wait to see you in class.