Travis G. Cashion


A letter to my pre-bootcamp self…

September 4th, 2020

There are a handful of things I would have liked to hear when I was considering enrolling in a coding bootcamp. I thought I'd share them here, in case I can give others that last motivational push to take the leap of faith. Here are my thoughts:

Just by signing up, you're a winner.

Enrolling in a bootcamp takes some serious guts. Leaving behind a stable job and regular pay can be daunting. Even if your job is not stable or comfortable, going 12+ weeks without pay is extremely scary. Just keep this in mind: you're making a career change, which is not a trivial undertaking by any definition. You're investing in yourself and in your future, and that alone is reason enough to be proud.

You'll meet some incredible people.

One of my favorite things about bootcamp is that my classmates all had entire careers prior to enrolling. The combination of diverse backgrounds coupled with the fact that these people all had the gusto to make the aforementioned leap of faith inherently meant that I was studying alongside some true badasses. The opportunity to work alongside a group like this is in itself a great reason to enroll.

The more you know going in, the better.

Some bootcamps require substantial prior coding knowledge as a barrier for entry. Others are catered to complete beginners, and then there are those that fall somewhere in between. Regardless of what program you decide on, study and understand as many of the fundamentals as you possibly can prior to beginning your course. This will save you from being totally lost when the content really takes off a few weeks into your class. Here are a few resources to help you learn the fundamentals:

When you graduate, you're not done learning.

If you are thinking about changing careers into software and web development, you better love to learn! This is exactly what attracted me to the field: it's an endless rabbit hole of new material to absorb and problems to solve. Even after graduating from bootcamp, I found that most employers did not see me as a qualified job candidate on paper. You'll likely experience the same, so keep up the momentum. Take tutorials, tinker with new languages and frameworks, and most importantly (in my humble opinion), start contributing to open source projects. Employers like open source experience because it's a great indicator that you know how to collaborate with others, understand someone else's code base, and participate in the development lifecycle of a large project. I found this article to be extremely helpful in getting started with open source projects.

The job search is more work than the bootcamp.

If nothing else, the job search is a major exercise in how to handle rejection. Even if you don't have thick skin going in, you'll come out of the experience with the tough, scaly exterior or a rhinoceros. It's just the nature of the job search. Expect that you'll likely submit dozens, or even hundreds, of applications before you land a job. Enjoy the journey, accept it as an opportunity to grow, and when you get rejected, don't take it personally.

You can do it.

Doubt is a built-in emotional response that's there to help guide you through life, especially when you're taking a risk. If doubt bubbles up when you think about your coding bootcamp, take note of it, accept it for what it is, and take a step forward anyway. Don't let doubt get in the way of pursuing the career of your dreams.