5 Tips for Coding Bootcamp Success (From a Graduate)

Evan Bartlik was not a complete stranger to coding when he signed up for the Rutgers Coding Bootcamp. A Rutgers graduate with a degree in Information Technology and Informatics, Evan had been involved in technology for much of his adult life. After working as a systems specialist at Automated Logic Corporation, he had become well-versed in a variety of IT systems, but he wanted to diversify his knowledge.

“When I started working full-time, I felt like I was kind of falling off in my coding knowledge,” said Evan. “I wanted to get back into it and pursue a career that involved software development.”

Now, working as a technical consultant for Eggplant, a Software Test Automation company, Evan credits his bootcamp experience for helping him refine his skills and set his eyes on what he wants to be doing. Here are five important things Evan learned at bootcamp that new students should keep in mind.

1. Remember that it isn’t always going to be easy 

Though the knowledge Evan learned in bootcamp is invaluable, it definitely didn’t come easy—not even to someone who has coded before. 

“I was familiar with the basics, but when it came to building full-stack applications, I really wasn’t that experienced with any of that,” said Evan. “There was definitely a learning curve involved.”

While other people in the class may have had more or less experience than Evan, the instructors and TAs helped smooth the transition and keep everyone on track. 

“There were some people in the class who had never even touched code before, and people in the class with a lot of coding experience,” said Evan. “By the end of it, we were all pretty equal.”

2. Use your classmates as a resource

In bootcamp, while your instructors and TAs can be helpful, sometimes what you really need is to have someone in the same position as you to talk to. That’s where your fellow classmates come into play.

“We were always talking in Slack about homework or assignments,” said Evan. “It really helped to have other people to go to as a resource.”

Evan made fast friends with a few of the guys in his class, and he used them as a resource throughout the course. It also made picking partners for group projects a cinch. 

3. Stay focused and put in the hours

The pace of the bootcamp can be daunting, so focus and dedication are a must. Without them, it’s easy to fall behind.

“You have to put in the work in order to get everything out of it,” said Evan. “I really worked on it outside of bootcamp every day that I could. If you miss out on one homework assignment, it can really mess you up for the rest of the course. It’s easy to lose your footing.”

Evan was enrolled in the part-time coding bootcamp, as he was also working full-time. Even with his job, he made it a priority to spend 12 hours each week outside the classroom doing individual research and brushing up on his skills. 

“You really have to put in the hours on the side,” said Evan. “You have to put in the effort or else you’re going to crash and burn.”

4. Have fun with it

For Evan, the group projects were the best part of the whole experience. His team was able to create a fantasy basketball application that pulled data from the NBA API. Each player was assigned a stock value based on their skill level. Users were then given a certain salary cap to collect players. 

This was a chance for Evan to take his love of basketball and merge it with the knowledge he had acquired throughout the bootcamp

“We were total basketball nerds about it,” he recalled. “We liked what we were coding and the subject that we were working on, and that made everything that much better.”

5. Know the possibilities are endless

It was thanks to his experience working with JavaScript in bootcamp that Evan was able to land his new job with Eggplant. Everything from the coding knowledge he acquired to the creation of his personal portfolio helped to prepare him for a position he may not have otherwise considered for himself. 

“There’s no way without the bootcamp I would get this job,” said Evan. “I wouldn’t be able to do what I do now without it.” 

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