Kicking off your software engineering career should be a cause for celebration! If you lack prior coding experience, however, the fear of falling behind or giving up can hold you back. But don’t throw in the towel just yet!
It is true that the more coding experience you have, the more value you have as a software developer. Many companies seek essential expertise and a portfolio, even for entry-level hires. Still, don’t be discouraged: choosing the right training will help you gain the necessary experience to jumpstart your coding career. While there are several ways to advance your skills, let’s look at the ones with the highest outcomes!
Join a bootcamp
Bootcamps are highly-intensive sprint courses. They allow you to combine work, study, and coding practice from day one, while enjoying extensive support from tutors, career experts, and a whole community.
There are dozens of bootcamps on the market and choosing the right one might be a challenge. Find the best value program by following our simple tips!
Research the program
Theory, indeed, is important. But programming is taught by practice. Many courses dedicate hours to introducing software engineering lingo, yet most of the words might seem abstract unless you learn how they work.
Dedicate time to studying the program syllabus, as any learning organization with an established and proven record will have one to share. It might be a good idea to validate the program with one of your software engineering friends.
These tips are also helpful:
- Check that the program is well-packed from the start! Even introductions should provide learning outcomes.
- Modules should be compact, but not unrealistically short.
- In full-stack software engineering, databases and back end development should take longer.
- Your learning center should provide clear insights on using the knowledge, so ensure that career advising is part of the curriculum.
- Coding has to start as soon as possible. Running small exercises after each lesson helps you understand the functionality of things and invites you into the magic of writing code.
- Highlight the libraries, tools, and frameworks in your curriculum. The more you cover, the better, but going with the basic ones is essential.
Let’s look at Practicum’s Software Engineering bootcamp syllabus to figure out if this program is right for you.
The program consists of five modules with the following topics:
- Introduction (through HTML and CSS) - 10 hours
- Advanced HTML and CSS - 6 weeks
- Creating an interface with React - 4 weeks
- Back-End Basics and Software Engineering - 8 weeks
- Final Project - up to 4 weeks
- Employment preparation (starts Sprint 5)
After every sprint, students create a project to showcase their knowledge.
Frameworks learned: VanillaJS, React.js, Node.js, Express.js
Tools learned: Git, Figma, MongoDB, Mongoose, Jest, Google Cloud
Find out more about the coding platform
Bootcamps with their own coding platforms are not a rare find. But the quality of these platforms vary. Running a built-in terminal in the browser isn’t any different from having a code editor on your desktop. It would be best to get to know the tool before using it.
Practicum’s coding platform is integrated and interactive, meaning you will submit code lines and get instant feedback from the tutor and code reviewer. You will also get help if you’re stuck or unsure.
Look into mentorship
A mentor is a person who guides you in your programming studies and helps you with any problems you might face. Writing clean code is only one part of the process: abstract thinking should help you see the application and understand how various components are connected and executed. There are many things to memorize, so a mentor is there for you to explain and support when the text doesn’t make any sense. All Practicum tutors, code reviewers, and senior students act as mentors.
Many programs don’t put effort into introducing their students to real-life environments. However, it’s one of the core parts of valuable studies. Working on a real case is the best way to learn to code. What you learn should be practical and work in favor of your future resume.
So look into bootcamps that provide internships or externships. This will not only help you practice coding in a real-life environment. It will make you create a project you can add to your portfolio.
Participate in hackathons
Are you up for brainstorming ideas and creating programs in an intensive 48-hour hackathon to boost your skills? These events have become popular recently, allowing developers from different companies and backgrounds to network and get more experience.
During hackathons, a large group of developers meets to work on a specific task or product, creating all features from scratch. Pair programming and immediate code review are common during them. Hackathons can produce working software or even hardware.
These open events are for engineers of any level, so even if you are a beginner, you can contribute and gain experience, apart from making friends, networking, and having a lot of fun.
Some hackathons are held online, so check sites like Devpost and Eventbrite to find an event near you.
Contribute to an open-source project
A lot of great and valuable software out there is open-source. Many of these projects have Git repositories that anyone can clone and suggest a change or improvement. This contribution will be visible on your Git profile, bringing you precious coding experience and making you feel part of something big. Volunteering in an open-source contribution is a fulfilling path to getting more programming experience.
Create a pet project
Pet projects are web applications that one creates for fun or as a side hustle. It can be a microservice using a public API or an app you and your friends can use.
Why should you have one before a job pursuit? A project that you have created on your own speaks volumes. It shows your creativity, entrepreneurship skills, decision-making integrity, and more.
For a technical recruiter, visiting a real website and being able to click around is more impressive than looking at screenshots on a portfolio. Some companies, especially startups, value applicants with pet projects, as they match their strive for growth, untrivial ideas, and proactivity.
As you develop your pet project, you will naturally read things here and there and get an understanding of how digital products work.
Start a programming blog
Regardless of your writing skills, starting a programming blog can also significantly contribute to your coding experience and portfolio. Developers often run those on their web pages or in writing networks such as Medium, LinkedIn, or Twitter. By explaining step-by-step how you have solved this or that issue or writing about updates in libraries and languages, you can:
- Build professional trust
- Show your skills to recruiters
- Help someone who spent hours trying to solve errors
- Reach out to the community of other software engineers
How can Practicum’s bootcamp help you improve your coding skills?
You don’t need any prior tech experience to break into the industry –we’ll teach you! Practicum’s bootcamp curriculums are based on practical tasks and best practices, allowing you to master the most popular libraries and work on actual cases for your portfolio.