CoderCamps – I’m done!

Friday was my last day at CoderCamps intensive 12-week program for Full Stack .NET web development.  I thought I’d share a few thoughts on my experience.

So, let me start by saying that it has been, overall, a positive experience.  I have shared some feedback with the instructors at CoderCamps on things they could improve, but I would certainly choose CoderCamps again if I had to do it over.

Now, if you’re looking to attend a coding bootcamp yourself, I have some tips & tricks for you.

Novice to Ninja in 12 weeks?

Well, not quite.  If you truly are new to anything related to programming you are going to find any bootcamp very, very difficult.  At the very least you want to have very solid computer skills.  You must know what Windows Explorer is (or other OS equivalents).  You have to know what a zip file is, how to zip/unzip, how to install software, and preferably be familiar with the cmd line.  If you don’t have these skills, learn them now.

I’ve got the basics, now what?

If you have those basic computer skills, you will get a lot more out of the class if you already have some understanding of at least one programming language.  Take a couple of classes in JavaScript or C#, or other language of your choice.  Any will do.  The point here is to get familiar with some of the basics of programming, like data types, conditional statements, loops, functions/methods.  Maybe even classes, inheritance and so on.  This will save you trying to learn the fundamentals while the rest of the class is discussing more advanced topics.  In short, the more you know before you go into a bootcamp, the easier it will be.

The real secret to success …

If you’ve done all the above,  you should practice researching answers to your coding questions.  You will not be spoon-fed after your bootcamp, and probably not during the bootcamp either.  It’s fine to ask for help, but be sure you are truly stuck.  So spend an hour or so with Google, StackOverflow and other resources, and try to figure out your own solutions.  It may take you an hour just to figure out how to ask your question the right way.  I spent 5 hours researching Fluent API for our group project, but about 3 hours of that was just figuring out how to ask the question the right way to get me to an answer.  And yes, in the end, I did need help actually implementing it, but the knowledge I had gained through my own research meant it stuck a whole lot better than being spoon-fed the answer from the beginning.  More than anything else, this will be the real determination of your success as a developer.  Be curious and be persistent.

It’s just the beginning

Just because you’ve completed bootcamp is not a reason to take a break.  Hopefully employment follows quickly, but while you’re waiting for your first position, take the opportunity to continue reasonably intensive studies.  For example – I’ve lined up a stack of videos, tutorials and courses, including an AngularJS class starting at the end of the month.  Even once I find a position, continuing education is essential to success as a developer.  The technology changes so quickly – what you learn today will be old hat in two years.  Of course, I’ll also be continuing to work on my own projects as well as picking up whatever projects I can.  Oh – and continuing to blog, of course.

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