Marcus Shanks, February 8, 2018 | 4 min read

Making the Most of Your Coding Bootcamp Experience

A Survivor’s Guide

A guest post by Marcus Shanks, Fall 2017 Code Immersion

“Oh God, my mind is going a mile an hour.”

That became my mantra during Code Immersion. Learning to code is hard, and there is no way around it. It is not impossible, but it is hard. Regardless of how many articles you read and daydreams you have, the truth is your Code Immersion class will push you… hard. The beauty of it all is that it is good that it is hard. You will learn, you will cuss, you will be on top of the world one moment then you will start to learn some Javascript. Whether you are going full-time or part-time the challenge is real, so to potentially help you out, here is my guide to surviving your bootcamp!

“Wikipedia is the best thing ever. Anyone in the world can write anything they want about any subject. So you know you are getting the best possible information.”

If you are like me then you did a lot of reading before bootcamp. I’m a proficient googler and my search history showed everything from, “what is a coding bootcamp” to, “what color hoodie do I actually need.” Before the Code Immersion, I had no idea what I was truly getting myself into and that is scary! There are a million resources that will tell you a million different things so your best bet is is to reach out to TTS. They will guide you and help you out so you can be best prepared, but at the end of the day it is up to you as to what you will accomplish during your 8 weeks. Regardless of how much you read or talk about, you have a responsibility to make sure you have a completely open mind when you begin and have a realistic view of what your expectations are once you are done. If you can do this then you are ahead of the class already!

“You may look around and see two groups here: white collar, blue collar. But I don’t see it that way, and you know why not? Because I am collar-blind.”

I mentioned earlier that the Code Immersion course is a roller coaster of emotions (and hard 4x). I was involved with a larger cohort and the range of experience and prior knowledge was vast. Some people came in having done lots of studying and work before our class and had a very solid base knowledge. Others came in and realized after Day 1 that they would need to go buy a laptop to be successful. The course will cover several languages and you will have lots of self learning to be done outside of class. (Remember Google is your best friend) You have to be prepared to work and when you are done with that, you have to be prepared to work some more. Make the applications several times, read the notes and slides, do the homework, sacrifice a chicken for understanding and you will get there!

Just remember this…no matter how many people are in your cohort, this is YOUR cohort! You cannot be too boastful when you know something and you cannot be demoralized when you feel like you are not understanding something. You will have your highs and your lows! You will have to work hard in class and especially outside of class to make the most of your time! You will quickly see that all people in class, “the
white collars and the blue collars” will have their moments. Be consumed in the process and you will learn and get more than you imagined going into the Code Immersion. Embrace the challenge and make sure you have your charger with you all the time.

“Would I rather be feared or loved? Easy. Both. I want people to be afraid of how much they love me.”

Laptops seem to inherently provide a self-inclusive enclave of separation. In your Code Immersion class theoretically everyone will have their own laptop, most will be Apple but the ever adventurous ones will have a Windows machine. I straddle the line and have both. You will notice lots of individual choices from what text editor people use to how they set up their screen and that is a beautiful thing to see how things can be done so differently and yet produce the same result.

Just remember… within all of this we are all a community striving to get better at what we are doing or hoping to do. Be involved with your cohort! When you are confused be bold and say so, I promise you are not the only one! When you really understand and others do not, be humble and gracious and offer to help. Build up others as it most likely everyone is doing the best they can do. You will have off days and need the help, the instructor will have hard days so be patient. Go on the field trips, go to MeetUps, offer to help with Teach Kids Code, have lunch with your classmates, drink cheap beer when noone is looking, take advantage of all the resources available. It is all okay!

As for me, I finished almost 2 months ago and I am still studying hard everyday to further my skills in preparation for this career. Your learning and growing does not end on “graduation” day. It is the beginning of the continued process. It is my goal to work in the Greater Charlotte area as Front-End Developer and that will become a reality at some point. I love computers and the creative and challenging process. So, good luck and always remember to bundle install!