October 31, 2022

3 Things I Learned In The First 3 Weeks Of My Full Time Software Engineering Boot Camp

I am currently in the fourth week of my full-time coding boot camp, and it has certainly been a whirlwind. I have learned so much, and I am not talking about just coding.

“Mediocre effort gets you mediocre results, average effort yields average results, and extraordinary effort yields extraordinary results.”

I will circle back to this quote, but I had to start this article off with something impactful. The quote above is the TLDR of the article.

1. Be Humble

If coding is new to you, it’s okay that you know nothing; that’s why you are here! You are here to learn a new way of thinking. You are here to learn how to be a programmer, and it is okay that it is the middle of the day and your head is spinning.

That is all okay, but what is not okay is not asking for help when you need it. It is truly a humbling experience not having a clue of what I am doing other than a few java script pre-work courses. In my first two weeks, I pushed through grasping concepts but not being able to speak to them. By my third week, I was tired of feeling like I was muddling through, and I asked for help.

I realized I work better in a 1:1 setting where I can speak my code out loud rather than connecting pieces just in class and at home. This made all the difference because we had an end-of-week technical interview that included functions. If I did not sit down with one of our TAs, I truly would have been completely stuck without a clue on how to start. In my past roles in Education Technology, I would always say, “Stay Hungry, Stay humble.” Week three reminded me of why I find value in that statement.

2. Imposter Syndrome hits everybody, but how do you overcome it?

Can I tell you that I ask myself when I am in class, “why are you here?” at least 4x a day … and that is okay! I remind myself every day there were people before me with these same thoughts that completed this program and moved to bigger and better things. Are those people better than me? No, they just decided to take on this journey a little bit earlier than me.

When imposter syndrome hits me on a daily basis, I remind myself no student came in here an expert. But I will leave here better than I started because if they can do it, I can too. Then I pinch myself and pay attention to my instructor because I was just in motivational LaLa Land for three minutes, ha!

3. Community is everything

The reason I chose this current boot camp I attend is because of the sense of community they exemplified through their marketing and when I visited the site in person. In my past Ed-Tech experience, it was discovered that minority students graduate disproportionately less than their non-minority counterparts due to many factors from student feedback.

For example, nobody in the classroom looked like them, so they felt like they didn’t belong (which often happens in the workplace), teachers mainly acknowledged students that were grasping concepts quickly, and a lack of follow-up after the initial start of class.

The conclusion that many of us gathered is that there was a lack of community or a sense of community for those students. This makes sense whether you are entering a 24-week boot camp or a 10-week boot camp, you need a support system of people that are going through the same thing you are.

“I have learned and will continue to learn that it’s okay to be prideful but not to stay prideful.”

I currently lean on my classmates whether it be to complain about how confused we are or to celebrate when we grasp a concept. During our daily stand-ups and weekly retrospectives, everybody shares their experiences of the cohort. It truly supports the sense of community in the classroom, and it is something I am truly thankful for.

In essence, I have learned and will continue to learn that it’s okay to be prideful but not to stay prideful. It is okay to feel like an imposter but ensure you combat that with your daily motivational rant. It is absolutely amazing to lean on those around you in the classroom that are doing the same thing you are doing.

A reminder, as I mentioned in the beginning, that a past lead instructor shared with me that all of the above can be wonderful, but mediocre effort yields mediocre results. Now that we’re friends⁠—since you made it to the end, yes, we’re friends⁠—you are not mediocre. So go out there and tackle the beginning of that boot camp.

This article by Fanessa Hilaire was originally published on Medium and has been edited for clarity.
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Fanessa Hilaire

Product Evangelist | DEI Enthusiast