Zac Anger's Blog

Three Quick Tips for Fresh Bootcamp Grads


Tags: advice

This was originally posted here by Luke Schunk, but I wanted to repost because there's some good stuff in here, and because he doesn't actually, like, share links to his notes.

Three Quick Tips for Succeeding at A Bootcamp

I recently graduated from DevMountain, a 12-week immersive web development bootcamp with campuses in Provo, Salt Lake, and Dallas. I had an overwhelmingly positive experience, and I landed a great job soon after graduation. So for me, the bootcamp was a good choice. I've noticed this disparity, though, between people who attend bootcamps and have a positive experience, and people who have a negative one. Oftentimes this negativity is caused by inability to find a job after finishing up a bootcamp.

Here are three tips to help you end up in the column of success stories.

Enjoy What You Do

Perhaps this sounds obvious, but I was surprised about how many people signed up to go to a bootcamp without having any idea of whether or not they liked programming. Some people are lured in by the prospects of landing a shiny new job, and I get that. It's a tempting idea. But, if you don't enjoy what you're doing, it's going to be very hard to succeed. Even if you can get through the bootcamp and land a job, why would you want to start a career doing something you don't enjoy? I spent several months teaching myself to code before going to the bootcamp, so by the time the first day of class came around, I already had a healthy enjoyment for programming.

Set Yourself Apart

In a nutshell, the way I landed my job was by learning and doing something that almost nobody in my cohort did. I learned ReactJS, which was not taught heavily as curriculum at the time I attended DevMountain. Really diving into React on my own enabled me to contribute to some open source components at MX (a startup in Utah). When I applied for the apprenticeship at MX, they received a slew of other talented applicants, but I was able to land the job. This was largely due to the fact that they had a rapport with me via back-and-forth communication in pull requests, and my open source contributions gave them confidence I could contribute to their codebase. There are a lot of ways to set yourself apart - learn something different, build something different, contribute to open source, etc. Find something that interests you and dive in.

Make Connections

I prefer the phrase make-connections over 'network'. I hate the idea of business-type-people mingling over cocktails and that's what I used to think of when I heard the word network. What I've found though, is making connections doesn't have to be uncomfortable. Twitter can be an extremely useful tool for chatting with prominent developers in your area, and you can also ask them an occasional question. So not only can you make connections and form relationships, but also you can get some help from experts in the field. Forming relationships on twitter enabled me to speak at my first meetup.

Twitter isn't the only way to have success with this. I've connected with people over linkedin and in person as well. Find what works for you. One last tip on this - it's a lot easier to network when you aren't desperate for a job. When you reach out to someone while you're looking for a job, no matter how well your intentions are, it might come across like you're looking for a handout. I addressed this by networking very early in the bootcamp, so the pressure of finding a job was lifted.

This isn't a ground breaking list of tips, but I was surprised to see people who failed to do one or multiple of these things. Give it a go, and I wish you the best of luck in your new journey as a developer!