My Experience at a Coding Bootcamp

A short diary log of my past several months

Cameron Choi
6 min readJan 11, 2019

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It was August of 2018. I just graduated high school, my summer break was over, and I had seven whole months before I had to start University. I had a dilemma on my hands. What was I supposed to do with all this time? I narrowed it down to two options.

  1. Up my work experience by finding part-time jobs and internships
  2. Seriously try to learn programming

After some deep contemplation, I decided on the latter of the two. I had tried to learn programming several times before, but I failed every time. I had dabbled in online courses (Codecademy, Teamtreehouse, freecodecamp… the whole lot), but I always lacked the motivation to finish learning. This is why, this time, I thought I would get serious and look into doing a coding bootcamp.

Coding bootcamps. I’m sure you’ve heard of them before. A several month long intensive program which promises you all the skills to be a proficient software developer. Especially for a lazy person like me, it seemed like the best option as it would give me the pressure, and support from others which I had lacked before. I researched online and I found a bootcamp which seemed right for me. It was relatively close to where I lived, it had a structured and reliable curriculum, and the past projects that were done by previous classes were quite impressive. I made my choice and I enrolled the very next day.

I started with the ‘Pre-course’ portion of the program. 8 full weeks to see if you’re right to do the full-fledged, 12 week ‘Immersive’ portion of the bootcamp. I learnt the basics of Javascript, HTML, CSS, jQuery and Git. I would be lying if I didn’t say I struggled through this course, but by the end, I can confidently say I succeeded. I tackled and defeated the infamous recursion, learnt how to manipulate the DOM, built a few simple applications, and even made some valuable friendships along the way. I was ready for the ‘Immersive Course’.

The ‘Immersive Course’ was a huge step above. Object oriented programming, data structures, complexity, promises, algorithms, AJAX, React, Redux, Node JS, and database management systems. An endless list of topics learnt for 11 hours a day, 6 days a week, all taught in the span of 5 weeks. Some might call it crazy, but this too, I tackled and defeated. With this newly gained knowledge I then put them into practice in the project stage. The first of these was a two week project. My team decided on building a bookmark manager for the chrome browser coined ‘Seibu’ (Konglish for “Save”). Through this, I continued to build my knowledge base dealing React more intimately, learning how chrome extensions work, and having first hand experience with deployment using AWS. Then, came the 5 week project. With this, I was blessed with the opportunity to work with an automated software testing and QA services startup called Hbsmith. I was tasked with learning E2E UI testing with cypress.io (a Javascript testing framework) and implementing tests on popular websites that would be displayed on their main homepage. Through this too, I learnt more about software development and design, however, more than that, I learnt what it meant to work in a team. I gained valuable experience with Agile Scrum practices and even learnt the proper way to give and receive code reviews.

So all in all, I had a great experience going to a coding bootcamp. If you are a person that needs a little extra push and support to learn coding, then I would definitely recommend doing one. However, before you go enrolling, I should warn you it is not all sunshine and roses. There are a few things you should know before you fully commit to a bootcamp.

Bootcamps are a huge financial commitment

From research of the most popular bootcamps in America, the cost of a bootcamp can range from $9000 to up to $20,000. For the average person this is a huge investment, so make sure that this is something you truly want to do.

They are a big time commitment

Doing a bootcamp will mean you will be taking 3 to 5 months out of your life to solely focus on programming. During the bootcamp you will not have much free time, if at all. Your whole life will be consumed by coding, 10 plus hours a day, 5 plus days a week.

They do not guarantee you a job after

In fact, they don’t even guarantee you will be a good developer by the end. That’s up to you. They’ll teach you the basics and potentially give you connections and opportunities after the bootcamp, but it’s really up to you to put in the effort to learn topics further and seize the opportunities that will be given to you.

However, if all of these points I just listed don’t scare you and you are ready to enrol then here are a few words of advice for when you are in the bootcamp.

Make sure to ask plenty of questions and make your desires be known by the staff.

Like I said, make use of all the resources at hand. Talk to alumni, the staff and your fellow bootcampers for tips and advice. This time of purely being able to learn will only come once so make the best use of it. Don’t regret it later wishing you worked harder when you had the time and resources.

Don’t feel daunted by the sheer amount of material you have to learn.

At some point during the course you will likely feel fatigued and think you won’t make it, but believe me when I say this: you will. Everyone gets through it in the end so just take your time and try to learn things in a way you understand. Take notes, look at videos, read blogs, ask for help. Do anything you believe will help you to understand.

Don’t lose confidence when you see more “better” or more “experienced” coders than you.

You will be faster at learning certain topics and slower at learning others, but remember everyone is learning at their own pace. Just concentrate on what you need to do and don’t compare yourself to others. Everyone that is at the bootcamp is there to learn, so you should too.

I recently read a post while I was skimming through reddit, and I resonated a lot with what it says and I hope you do too. It said this:

New York is 3 hours ahead of California

But that does not make California slow.

Someone graduated at the age of 22,

But waited five years before securing a good job,

Someone became a CEO at 25,

And died at 50.

While another became a CEO,

And lived to 90 years old.

Someone is still single,

While someone else got married.

Obama retired at 55,

And Trump started at 70.

Everyone in this world works based on their own time zone.

People around you might seem to be ahead of you,

And some might seem to be behind you.

But everyone is running their own race, in their own time.

Do not envy them and do not mock them.

They are in their time zone, and you are in yours.

Life is about waiting for the right moment to act.

So, relax.

You are not late.

You are not early.

You are very much on time.

Whether you are planning to go into a bootcamp, or are in one currently, just remember everyone is running their own race so there is no need to be anxious or jealous. Just keep to your own path, and with enough determination and zeal you will succeed. I wish you all the best in your future coding endeavours!

Thank you for reading!

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