Coding bootcamps are rigorous and intense. They include the curriculum you need to succeed as a dev and get a job. However, it can be helpful to explore topics and efforts outside the curriculum, especially as your time as a bootcamp student comes to an end. So, when one of our readers asked about what to focus on outside of school, we answered. Keep reading to find out!
I’m currently an immersive coding bootcamp student. What is the best use of my time outside of classes and coursework to improve my code craft?
- Improve on writing clean code, focusing on refactoring the projects created during bootcamp
- Blog more?
- Learn GoLang (some companies that I am aiming for use this language)
- Contribute to Open Source projects (love the whole ethos of open source and collaboration)
–– JiaXuan Hon
First off, far and away the most important thing for you to do right now is exactly what you're already doing––completing your coursework and collaborating with your peers on assignments. Don't feel too pressured to push yourself beyond the coursework and related assignments for now. The program is specifically designed to make you employable and as such it is rigorous!
That being said, if you do feel you have some extra time and energy on your hands I usually recommend two things:
- Working on a small side project using something you are currently learning through the coursework
I am a huge proponent of maintaining a technical blog. Any time you take to write about what you're learning is so so valuable. You'll be able to take a deeper dive into the topic, you'll understand it more thoroughly, you'll learn something new and you'll build up a portfolio of blog posts that will demonstrate to future employers just how passionate you are about coding and learning. Getting yourself set up on Ghost (or Medium, or Jekyll, or anything!) is a great idea in my opinion. I also recommend that beginners not be too discriminating when picking out topics. You are learning so much right now and literally any single thing (large or small) that you learn in any given day would probably make a great topic––don't overthink it!
I've also personally learned a lot from tackling side projects, including during my time as a student. For example, when we learned Sinatra, I built a super small Sinatra app that showed the user pictures of cats; when we built a CLI program in class I went home and spent a few days building another CLI project. I think its important not to get too carried away––continue to focus on coursework––but additional time spent getting your hands dirty with the technologies you're learning will definitely help you. You'll learn more, uncover misconceptions, gain a deeper understanding of the materials and also get more experience dealing with bugs and other problems. That last one is really important. A significant amount of your time as a professional dev will be spent debugging something tricky and mysterious and the more comfortable you get with that, the better off you'll be! You can learn more about how to start a side project here.
Take Care of Yourself
My last piece of advice is that you should try not to push yourself too hard! Challenging yourself is good, exhausting yourself is not. Hold off on worrying about open source projects for now and definitely don't worry about learning GoLang. Learn a language first, and then you'll find that you are more than capable of adopting new languages and frameworks. Keep in mind that just because a company uses a certain language, doesn't mean that experience with that language is a prerequisite of getting hired there. Any experienced engineer will know that if you've already learned and gained experience in one or two languages and frameworks, you are more than capable of learning and mastering even more. As a programming student, you will learn how to learn––you'll gain a set of problem solving skills you can apply to any language or challenge. As such, you'll have what it takes to get hired and succeed.