When I graduated from my coding boot camp (LeWagon London) back in early 2019 I started a Trello board to organise how I would spend my time to put my new skills to the best use. After about a week I had split my Trello board into 2 Trello boards and subsequently 3... I think you see where I am going with this 👀.
When you finish a bootcamp it’s not like finishing a day of corporate training. You suddenly have an enormous amount of new technical skills and you are just dying to test them out in every way possible. The problem is there are only 86400 seconds in a day. So I have composed this blog to try and highlight some of the pitfalls you may find on your journey to becoming a Junior Dev after finishing a bootcamp.
But first, here is a disclaimer ⚠️: these nuggets of info were my learnings based on my experience. Everyone is different, however I think this might help a couple people out who are in the post-bootcamp manic panic of trying to do everything but actually not achieving too much.
1. Plan how to use your time ⏱
By this I don’t mean making 20 Trello boards. I mean work out how many productive work hours you have in a week. Seriously. Do the math. You can even write a terminal program to do the math for you if you like. For me I need a minimum 7-8 hours of sleep to function and also a minimum of 1-2 hour of exercise (I’m a running/triathlon geek). Add on another 1.5 hours total for meals / short breaks. That leaves about 13 hours in the day (rounded down to account for any unexpected distractions). Try to assign time ‘estimates’ to the things you want to achieve and then only plan the things that actually fit within the productive hours you have available for that week. Otherwise you are gonna find yourself getting demotivated fast! Trust me!
By the way ☝️, working in this way is really good practice for working as part of a development team. Estimating roughly how long things will take is often something you are required to do as a developer. But be honest in your approach though, the estimations aren’t to impress anyone. They are just for you to get organised.
2. Focus your learning 📚
The beauty of a coding bootcamp (certainly with LeWagon anyway), is that the bootcamp it’s self is just the tip of the learning iceberg. Actually it’s more like the foundation. It will give you all of the fundamental learning tools to go and learn anything to your hearts desire. You feel this new found power and want to learn everything you can as quickly as you can. But try to focus on things that you actually will enjoy learning not just the hot new framework. You will learn more and at a faster pace if you are excited about it. This will also show through to hiring managers.
3. Build stuff for Petes sake! 👷♂️👷♀️
It’s all well and good smashing all the free Udemy tracks you can find and watching tutorials on YouTube. But there is no better way of learning and demonstrating your skills than building stuff. It doesn’t have to be mammoth projects, just fun small stuff that is going to allow you to practice a certain language. When we recruit juniors at Veeqo this is something which always stands out on an application.
4. Don’t just learn testing - DO testing
It’s unlikely if you did an intensive coding bootcamp that you will have had an in depth experience following TDD - Test Driven Development. Companies which adopt high standards of code quality, such as Veeqo, live and breathe TDD when they write code. A book that is commonly recommended amongst Veeqo devs is 99 bottles of OOP by Sandi Metz. This book really helped change the way I approach problems as a Junior Developer. For me this was the key difference between just hacking something together until it roughly worked to actually thinking about solutions first and then building something which is going to last and is efficient.
5. ‘Imposter Syndrome’ is a pandemic 🦠
(Sorry for the timely use of the word ‘pandemic’ 😬). Every single developer I have met has some form of imposter syndrome. If they say they don’t, they are probably lying! Some of the most senior Yoda-esk devs I know have admitted they often feel imposter syndrome. The days when you needed to have a Computer Science degree to become a Software Engineer are a thing of the past. We have engineers at Veeqo with degrees, bootcamp grads and also those with no formal education in development. Is there a difference in quality? Nope! Being an engineer is all about walking the walk. At Veeqo when we are hiring Juniors we often look at those who are most hungry to learn. So as long as that’s you, you have nothing to worry about, get out of your own way!
Hope that helped! Good luck 🚀
By the way.. if you're really bored feel free to check out my demo video from our final project at LeWagon 🚀. It really was an epic experience.