Zac Anger's Blog

Advice For New Devs


Tags: advice

So, I went to one of those code bootcamps. I started there just over a year ago, and when I finished the course I worked there as a mentor for a cohort (three months). Immediately after that, I got what I think is a pretty swell job doing development full time, working mostly in technologies that I really like.

It's hard to find non-success stories from bootcamps, since generally the people who go to these things are people who are really determined to do very well. You don't go and pay $10k-$20k to lock yourself up in a building with a bunch of other nerds for twelve or moure hours every day for three months straight unless you really want to get something out of it. I think I'm a good example of someone who did really well through a bootcamp, though, and the reason I did so well comes down to really just one thing, which I think everyone going into computing (whether it's web development, databases, hardware, whatever) really should be aware of.


That seems really obvious, right? But as a mentor it was amazing to me how many people would come into a course that's just about making things happen with computers, not knowing a lot of the basics of how to use a computer, and knowing virtually nothing about how computers actually work. They're not just a thing with a keyboard and a screen and a logo on the back. They're not just a status symbol, though Mac users would like you to think they are. They're not magical, and it's important to know what they do and how they do it, at least in vague terms.

No junior web dev should really be expected to be familiar with what a page cache is, or maybe even how domain names are resolved, but you should at least know what a kernel is, what userland actually means, what the implications of using your particular filesystem are, what the internet infrastructure kind of looks like (at least in vague terms), and how to do some basic things that will save you a lot of time later on (general terminal usage is a good place to start).

This is the number one thing that can help you get, and stay, ahead as a student and junior dev, in my opinion. And it's stuff you'll absolutely have to know at some point, and probably mostly won't be taught, so it's a good idea to just pick up this stuff as early as possible.