Captain's log, stardate d198.y37/AB
MarsBased just turned three years old! Coincidentally, we started our company at the same time as our buddies of IronHack, the leading development bootcamp in Barcelona, Madrid and Miami.
Along these three years, we have been collaborating in a lot of fronts: we teach and mentor there, we give keynotes, we've co-organised events, we've created joint content, they're coming in bulk to our Startup Grind events and we even hired people that completed their development bootcamp. In fact, last week, we became official partners in order to do more and better things together for the development community in Barcelona.
Since we have been collaborating with Ironhack for such a long time, and with some other bootcamps too, we can give you some tips to make the most of your experience in any of them.
Full disclosure: we cannot help you choose which one is right for you. There are other posts out there to help you how to discern the different types of bootcamps: generic vs. specialised, beginners only vs. for developers, intensive full-time programmes vs. longer part-time courses, etc. In fact, here's a good breakdown of the top development bootcamps out there.
In this post, we are giving you some tips to increase the chances of success before, during and after your experience at any bootcamp of your choice.
Although there are some development bootcamps out there for absolute beginners, most of them require some basic knowledge of coding. Whether they want you to know their technologies or just generic coding skills beforehand, it really depends on each one of them, but it is really helpful to know the basics of development to hit the ground running.
Therefore, we recommend first of all doing some research. You should find out what technologies are trending versus which ones have got the biggest market share (unsurprisingly enough, they never coincide), and also take into consideration which technologies are the companies in your area working with, if you want to increase your chances of getting hired by any of them.
It is equally important to learn the basics of the languages you're going to use in the bootcamp so you don't start from scratch. It takes a while to ramp up while learning, and everyone learns at a difference pace. If you've done your homework before starting the bootcamp, you will have a head start on your classmates.
Once you've started the bootcamp, you will be so absorbed into the dynamics that you will have little to no time for anything else. Some of them are really immersive and take up your entire day, in long shifts of intensive coding.
As mentioned above, while some development bootcamps require full intensive dedication for over eight hours a day during a few weeks, some stretch over several months while you're able to work part-time on your regular job.
Our advice here is to make use of whatever little pauses you can afford (while switching tasks, during the lunch breaks, after the lessons, during the weekends...) to start working on your profile.
Why? Easy: tech companies are hiring non-stop, and some go as far as to hire people from these bootcamps before they even complete them.
As a matter of fact, at IronHack, some students will get hired during the bootcamp, sometimes even in the first weeks, while a staggering 91.4% finds a job during the three months after the bootcamp finishes.
Other bootcamps organise demo days, or hiring days, with the companies they work with, whereby the students showcase their work in front of their potential employers.
This is why we suggest that you polish your social media accounts, including your newly-acquired skills on LinkedIn, and completely updating your profile on hiring sites if you haven't done it for a while. Some people take these bootcamps to switch careers (from design, project management or even from being musicians!), so you might want to get rid of the irrelevant skills from your former jobs, and start building up on the new ones.
It is a good idea to create your profiles on sites developers use such as Github and Stackoverflow, or Dribbble (for designers), or even Quora, Angelist and other generic sites where you can give and take good advice. They are not only good tools for daily use, but you can use them also as a way to showcase your work.
The same can be said about Open Source projects. Choosing one or two open source projects where you can start contributing from the get-go is a good way to practise your skills on meaningful projects with a tangible outcome. Moreover, you're helping to build stuff that thousands of people are using - including, ideally, you.
One common mistake some people make is taking a break from development after the bootcamp.
Of course, intensive bootcamps, or even having to combine your daily job with after-hours sessions of learning how to code, can be exhausting, but these bootcamps provide a momentum that needs to be leveraged to propel your learning.
If you really need to take a break, take a long weekend after the course is done, but start the next Monday right away to code again. Otherwise, a good share of what you've learnt during the course will be forgotten. Again: don't kill the momentum.
A good way to maintain the motivation is to start frequenting developers events, meetups or even writing a blog. Heck, it's even better if you build your own blog with what you've learnt during the bootcamp.
Another useful piece of advice, which might not apply to all the bootcamps, is to pimp your bootcamp project into a real product. A lot of bootcamps require that every participant works on a project of her own through the program. While the idea you come up with might not be a world-changing product, it's probably a good toy to make mistakes with, and eventually turn it into a prototype of something that you can actually distribute as open source, keep it for personal use or, if it's good enough, even commercialise it.
Hopefully, with the tips above you will make the most of your development bootcamp: you'll prepare yourself to hit the ground running, you will work on your profile to find a new job as soon as possible, and you will use the momentum given by the 'camp to make your development skills hockeystick.
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