10 pieces of advice for surviving Coding or UX Bootcamp
An acquaintance, who’s currently attending the same bootcamp I went to (hey, Ironhack), reached out for some advice-10 pieces of advice, specifically.
‘Well, okay’, I thought. I was at work and a bit busy, so I counted to ten as I rattled off words in a sort of stream-of-consciousness mode over slack.
Looking at that list now that a couple days have passed, I think it was more honest and spot on than if I tried to take the time to draft something. In any case, I thought I would share. Some (perhaps all?) points are a bit common sensical, but I hope they are helpful- even if only to serve as a reminder or anchor to anyone lost in the lost in the thick fog of bootcamp. I edited and elaborated on the list for clarity, rather than just dropping the jumbled mess of slight profanity and heavy typos here. Let me know what you would add in the comments!
- Prioritize networking. I know, everyone says it’s important to network: go to meet-ups, attend talks or demos, put yourself places where you can meet people in the tech industry. Here’s the kicker: sometimes you really should choose to attend certain events even when you’re on a deadline. Obviously, try to do your best on your assignments, but use your judgement and don’t be afraid to sacrifice perfection. This sort of segways into the next point…
- Tell your friends and family you will not be available for the next 9 or 10 weeks. Don’t get FOMO. Don’t allow anyone to give you a guilt complex about being a bad friend, BF, son, whatever.
- Um, this admittedly sounds kind of terrible now that I‘ve put it right under the ‘ignore your friends’ bit…BUT…Meet as many alumni as you can! You share at least one common interest, and probably more. Don’t worry where they are working or if they even have a job. They are a valuable network beyond that, but, yeah, they will probably be the people you’ll reach out to for advice, jobs, hackathon partners, etc.
- Relax. You’re not graded, right? Just finish shit, and don’t worry. repeat this mantra: Finished is better than perfect.
5. Take photos of people working. Have people take photos of you working. From a practical standpoint, these come in handy for describing your process in your portfolio. But, also, it’s really amazing to have these memories of a time when you and all of your bootcamp buddies were sleep-deprived and coffee-stained and funemployed. Together! Damn, even writing that just made me super sentimental.
6. Write. Or put your content out there in some way. You don’t have to be an expert to share what you’re learning or what you’re creating. You are building an audience and, as a bonus, helping others who are learning too!
7. Create an online presence. Make sure your Linkedin is set up. Right now. Use a clear photo so people recognize you when you see them in person at those networking events you’re attending! Get on the tech Slack channels in your area and join relevant meetups. You probably guessed this, but, include that photo and a bio in those places as well.
8. Work on your personal story. Your story is unique and interesting and you should be in control of that narrative. Find connections with your former career, previous experiences, interests or hobbies that relate to what you are doing. The great thing about UX and tech is that a diversity of perspectives and experiences is valued. You were a chef previously? A lawyer? A teacher? You studied linguistics? You’re into making music, dancing, eating burritos? You delivered pizzas for two years? Drove for Uber? Awesome! What did you learn?
9. Get some solid pens and a cool notebook that you don’t want to be without. Your mind is going a mile a minute right now and you have so many cool ideas. Write them down, so you can refer to them when you need a creative idea! Your future self will thank you.
10. Apparently I only wrote 9. But, like I said, finished is better than perfect, and you should get back to work anyway. You have deadlines! Go! Do great things!