Coding bootcamps are intensive, stressful, and difficult by their very nature. You spend all day on something that might deep down be fun and cool, yet it’s also highly challenging. The aim is to learn a complete skill in a very short space of time.
Coding bootcamps require your absolute, undivided attention, and some even last for 80 hours a week! They are the kind of things where, if you aren’t careful, you can get a serious case of burnout, where you get stuck on whatever task you’re doing and just can’t seem to find a solution.
When you get home, you may feel like never coding again. Not only is that mentally and physically unhealthy, it is also not beneficial in the long run for your coding. But under normal circumstances, you can come home from bootcamp having gained incredible skills and knowledge that you couldn’t have easily gained anywhere else.
This knowledge could increase your salary by 51%, whether you land a promotion or a new job. However, burnout should be avoided at all costs. And that can be a real challenge, especially given the nature of the bootcamp in the first place. To help you handle it, here are eight tips that could make things a lot easier for you.
Schedule Your Breaks In
Breaks are vital, end of story. It doesn’t really matter what activity you are doing, taking a break from it should always be an integral part of the act itself. This is especially true for coding, which requires you to be stationary, staring at a screen and concentrating hard for extended periods of time.
Talk a walk, get a drink, get a change of scenery; do something to break up the day. Try setting up a reminder on your phone so that you don’t forget to take a break. It’s OK to take breaks during a task you’re working on.
Some coding bootcamps will teach you how to take breaks. At some bootcamps, they may even get everyone to take a break at once and engage in a relaxing activity like yoga or meditation.
Remember That You Are There to Learn
It’s not all about doing. One of the best parts about going to coding bootcamp is being able to draw knowledge from other people in the room.
Learning means, crucially, never being afraid to ask for help or advice. You can ask a fellow coder sitting beside you or one of the leaders. Stress and tunnel vision intensify the more you struggle with something in isolation. Block that out and turn to others.
It’s not like school—you are allowed to talk to other people while working. In fact, most bootcamps encourage it. Most of the bootcamps I’ve attended also have a few mentors that you are encouraged to talk to, who usually were previous students of the bootcamp. They still remembered what it was like to be at the bootcamp, so they were very helpful.
It’s very easy to forget about all that you’re doing right, especially when you are surrounded by other people all doing what you are doing. But to keep a positive mentality, you should zoom out every so often and celebrate your victories when they come. Just take a moment to pat yourself on the back and acknowledge what you’re achieving.
At one bootcamp I attended, my friend and I would get up and do a handshake we’d invented every time we finally cracked that bug or solved that problem. I’ve also heard that the coding bootcamp Makers Academy has a massive gong that they sound every time a graduate of theirs gets a job—what could be more inspiring for attendees?
Do the Prep
Preparing for this sort of experience can be confusing and can feel a bit like a waste of time. In truth, it’s vital. The way that you’ll get the absolute most out of the bootcamp is by being ready for whatever eventuality might occur. Plus, being well-prepared and knowledgeable will really lift you up mentally, which can be a big defense against burnout.
One good way to prepare for coding bootcamp is to use free, relevant coding resources online—practice the same programming language you will be using, for example.
Choose Bootcamps With an Intermission
Intermission weeks make life so, so much easier as a coder in a bootcamp program. As far as burnout is concerned, it basically eliminates the risk because you’re never under pressure for a sustained length of time that you can’t escape.
Standard bootcamps usually focus on teaching you the most they can in the shortest space of time they can, but you don’t have to go through this. The intermission system is really effective and is adopted more and more frequently.
I recently attended a bootcamp using this system and found that the intermission made the experience so much more relaxing.
Hopefully, the tips that you’re getting from this article will ensure that you never feel you need to quit. But if the thought does creep into your head, here’s some advice: don’t. It can be tough, but you’ll feel so much better having finished the bootcamp and gotten the job done.
When you feel like quitting, try going home and taking a break. Do something that relaxes you. Just think, after completing the bootcamp, you could be able to land a job that doubles your salary and will allow you to show off your new skills.
Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
It’s an age-old flaw that people have, and it is an unfortunate byproduct of living in a society: Don’t compare yourself to other people. You might look at someone who seems to be leagues ahead of you, working at a better rate, and finding better results.
Instead of wondering what’s wrong with you, or even thinking that they must be somehow superior to you, turn your attention inward and focus on your own efforts. If you’re learning, you’re winning.
Keep Things Light
Coding is fun, or, at least, it’s meant to be! Try and keep that in your mind like a mantra to live by. The problem with taking it all too seriously is that your mood can easily turn to frustration, which is the first stop on the train to burnout, so just relax and enjoy the coding for the puzzle-like challenge it is.
At most coding bootcamps, you are guaranteed to come away with the fruits of various fun projects. You’ll probably learn how to code a few minigames and tools that are useful to your life. For example, at my first coding bootcamp, I was taught how to make a customized alarm app that I still use today. And what could be better homework than being told to get familiar with the mechanics of playing Connect 4 or Uno?
Stay Happy and Healthy at Bootcamp
Burnout can cripple your chances of achieving something through a coding bootcamp, so it really is important to avoid driving yourself into the ground. Hopefully these tips will help guide you as you go about keeping your mind and body healthy.
Attending a coding bootcamp can be a lot of fun. I hope these tips assist you in choosing which bootcamp is right for you. Armed with this advice, you can make the most of your time at bootcamp and enjoy it. You will be able to come out of the bootcamp having gained amazing new skills and having made the best of it.