Post Coding Bootcamp Reality Check: Remaining Motivated & Organizing Your Work Flow
I was on TikTok yesterday, as I have a particular affinity for Gen-Z trends (millennials are still hip, okay???), and watched a video about a 19-year old earning $82k a year. She attended the same bootcamp I did, let’s call it Two-DimensionalMetal Academy 😉. In this video, she made her transition into tech seem breezy; seamless. She said something along the lines of “Want to make $82k a year like me? Skip college and go to a bootcamp.” To say this is misleading is an understatement.
Switching careers and breaking into the tech industry necessitates sustained determination and courage. I’ll speak for myself on the courage portion — everything is new and frightening but ultimately the best course of action is to hold your breath and dive in. Determination is also crucial because making it through bootcamp is only the beginning. Graduation provided a brief respite from the stress and pressures of bootcamp, but brought forth an onslaught of new challenges: building a portfolio, creating a tech resume, brushing up on projects, building new ones, networking, practicing algorithms, learning a new language/framework, the list goes on and on.
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Depending on your strengths, some of these tasks may seem more daunting than others, but ultimately I know I’m not alone in expressing how utterly overwhelming things can feel. Where do you place your focus? What takes precedence? I’ll share some of the things I’ve done to stay on track, but first, motivational story time for the masses!
Despite the seemingly endless list of tasks before me, I remain steadfast and undeterred. I derive my motivation from something I read while I was networking on LinkedIn. As we all do, I began to feel curious about people from my past, specifically people I’d gone to school with, and what they are currently up to. I came across the profile of someone I’d gone to high school with, who was featured on CNN. He had a ton of articles on his page, so naturally I clicked on one to learn more. The article detailed how my former classmate applied to a renowned investment firm, let’s call it Oldman Schmacks, no less than NINE times before finally getting hired. I’ll say it again, homie was rejected by the same company eight times before finally getting hired. What’s more, he was so relentless about getting his foot in the door, he created a fake email address to circumvent the company’s limit to how many times an individual can apply. Oldman Schmacks hired him and he later went on to co-found a crypto investment company and lived happily ever after. (A** it’s meee from physics class, please accept my LinkedIn request!)
I was astounded. Something about my old friend’s tenacity breathed new life into me. I’m not sure why, but his story ignited something within me. I think I was in awe of his grit, his sheer brazenness. He didn’t stop until he got what he wanted, and now look where he is, co-founder of a company before the age of 30! And all I could think was… Why not me?
The reason I share this anecdote is because it keeps me going. Every day. On good days (aka productive ones), bad days (where I dodge coding in favor of deep dives into paranormal Reddit threads), and on days where I’m having a hard time mental health-wise and need reassurance that things will turn out alright. It helps keep me focused because getting that ticket to Oldman Schmacks (in my case, landing a tech gig) won’t happen overnight, and it won’t happen without consistency. So I guess the first step to post bootcamp survival is to find your motivation. This will be important later on during those times we feel uninspired or panicked about our progress, because it will happen.
Step 1: What keeps you going? Where does your drive come from?
Step 3: Build your portfolio! I’ll admit, I slacked on this in the beginning, so don’t feel bad if this is you too. Sometimes we can’t have it all together all the time. However, there are tons of Medium (hey, that’s the name of this platform!) articles on how to set one up! Set up on mine took less than 10 minutes! Editing it accordingly was another matter entirely, but initial setup is a breeze! Also recommend googling templates, it will make your life a lot simpler!
Step 4: Keep Coding! Polishing up old projects is always a good idea, but if just thinking about revisiting them makes you shudder, building new ones is the next best thing! You can easily Google simple project ideas. YouTube also has great code-along project tutorials. Reminder to find at least one coding buddy to hold you accountable and keep you consistent. I know I become significantly more disciplined when held accountable to others (sorry about that time I left you waiting in the Zoom room for 20 mins, Ian!! Never again, I swear!)
Step 5: Networking. Newsflash, it’s not limited to LinkedIn. I’ve also found Slack workspaces and MeetUps to be extremely helpful in fostering and maintaining professional connections that could come in handy in the future. Grow that network!
Life post-bootcamp can feel wildly unstructured, but as long as you remain consistent and focused, things will eventually fall into place. The key is consistency and finding a balance that works for you. That’s all for today, folks!