The Quick Guide to Prepare for a Coding Bootcamp

Odds are whatever bootcamp you decide to enroll in, you are better off taking time to prepare for an immersive learning environment beforehand. Luckily, we live in the age where there is plethora of online video tutorials for almost any odd job technical task. There’s a honey pot of resources, interactive textbooks and websites to help you become a model student before you even step into the room!

As SwitchUp‘s community manager, Kathy Tran is always getting questions from pre-bootcampers about how best to prepare for a coding bootcamp. Read on as she walks you through all the necessary resources and prep steps before you start your bootcamp.

 Build Your Coding Muscles:

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Nobody said learning how to code would be easy, but it doesn’t have to be boring! There’s a range of free learning resources and interactive tutorials to get you in prime shape for a bootcamp.

  • Codecademy (Beginner / Free) – There’s a variety of languages to build your own project. Everything is in the browser, so you can hit the ground running Are you a gamer? There’s a great leveling system, integrated with social media to let you brag to your network with your friends!

  • JavaScript for Cats (Beginner / Free) – Are you a cat lover interested in learning JavaScript? Well, this is the perfect tutorial to get your started. Great simplistic writing with a touch of cat humor to motivate the new programmer.

  • Eloquent Javascript (Intermediate-Beginner/ Free) – After you’ve jumped through Codeacademy or JavaScript for Cats, you can further your knowledge with this free online book about Javascript. It’s interactive and will help you get a deeper look into the fundamentals.

  • Try Ruby (Beginner / Free) – Similar to Codeacademy’s in-browser environment, Try Ruby is a fun and easy introduction to Ruby. Really fun visual design, cats included as a plus!

  • Coderbyte (All Levels / Free) – Coderbyte is a web app built to help people practice their programming skills with a collection of programming challenges. No need to download or upload anything, this is an efficient way to prepare for a bootcamp interview!

  • Exercism.io (All Levels / Free) – Built by a former coding instructor, Katrina Owen, this is an open-sourced local development environment using your usual tools to learn how to code in multiple languages. What’s unique about Exercism compared to the other tutorials, is that you get to write code and come back to crowdsourced feedback and mentorship.

Clean Up Your Online Presence:

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Whether you decide to join a selective bootcamp or not, putting some thought into your online presence will make a difference in the application process. Nowadays, especially in technical fields, your actual experience and website will speak more than a degree.

  • Set Up a Professional Website – If you can build your own website, by all means go for it! However, if you haven’t figured that out yet, there’s a bunch of content management systems that will help you set up a portfolio (WordPress, Squarespace, Tumblr).

  • Set Up a Github – This is a place to share code with friends, co-workers, classmates, and complete strangers. It allows for collaboration and tools to keep track of your projects’ revision history. Many bootcamps will have you set up a github and create a portfolio of projects. Potential employers may ask you for your github account. Be a step ahead of the game!

  • Review Your Social Media Posts – Drunk photos from last weekend’s party posted at the top of your twitter? Hey, it’s a free country, but realize those pictures will not paint you as the most ideal student to a bootcamp representative when space is limited in the semester you are trying to get in! Remember to update your LinkedIn if you haven’t had a chance to include recent work experience!

Find a Community:

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I have found the coding community to be an incredibly inviting space. Veteran coders have been in your shoes and many are willing to help others learn.

  • Meetup.com – Search for local coding social events. Find a coder at your level to do pair programming on a regular basis. Coding with friends is so much better than coding alone!

  • Women Who Code – Various groups situated in 14 countries! Ladies, find study groups in Python, Javascript, iOS and Ruby with other awesome ladies at all levels.

  • Quora – As you’re doing bootcamp research, do you have a specific question to the general bootcamp population or a specific bootcamp? Quora is a Q&A type website where questions are created, answered, edited and organized by its community of users.

Visit!

I can’t stress how important it is to actually visit the bootcamp that you’re thinking of joining. You’ll be spending 40-80 hours participating in an intensive learning environment. Make sure you enjoy being in the space. Talk to the instructors about their teaching methods and see if it fits your way of learning. If possible, find a student or alum of the bootcamp and ask about their experience. You can find a bunch of graduate bootcamper interviews on Switch’s blog!

  Kathy Tran is the community director at Switch, the yelp of programming bootcamps. She loves cats and Doctor Who. Switch aims to make research, admissions, and the switch into a technology career quick and easy. Check out Switch’s website and follow their updates @switchorg!

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