When pursuing a new career in tech, you may think it will take an extreme effort to juggle life and your studies. When you have a hot pot of work, family obligations, and other things, it can be increasingly challenging to balance it all.
Yet, stories from more than a thousand Practicum grads indicate that, with discipline and self-motivation, combining a job and bootcamp is actually doable. We’ve analyzed these stories and come up with life hacks to save the day.
Find a suitable time for studying and stick to it
Tiffany Hall, a Practicum Bootcamp grad, juggled motherhood, a job, and a desire to change her career. Once a teacher for fifteen years and long fascinated by EdTech, she started learning to code. She joined Practicum Bootcamp, and eventually made her way to a full-stack developer position!
One hack that worked for Tiffany? Waking up early. This way, she could take advantage of the quiet time she had while the kids slept.
“I had a system where every morning I would wake up at 5, even on weekends, and between 5-7 a.m., I was back on the computer.”
According to a Practicum student Nate Christenson, who also works full-time as a software consultant, his day typically starts early. Nate dedicates time in the mornings and evenings to Practicum, with his studies normally occurring between 8-9 a.m. and 6-7:30 p.m.
“I set study time in the mornings before and right after work. I find that studying late into the night leads to restless dreams filled with conditional statements, loops, importing the wrong library, poorly tuning an ML algorithm, and other things I would rather not dream about,” he shares.
Practicum Bootcamp is structured to maximize your time by setting goals you complete at your own pace. The program is split into sprints, just like in most tech companies, with a project by the end of each module. This gives you time to review the most challenging material, speed up your studies whenever possible, or take a week-long break between modules.
“A schedule will not only help you stay on track but also allow you to prioritize various aspects of life and reduce the chances of letting down the ones you love,” shares Practicum grad Lindsey Naylor. “Plus, it feels pretty darn good to check things off as you go. Looking back, you’ll say — ‘Yeah, I did that!’”
Let your workspace motivate you
Tuning in properly is an underappreciated habit that aids concentration. Studying on the go or all over the place, like you may have done in college, will not help you reach an unbroken pace.
Many other Practicum students used personal rituals to arrange their workspace and focus on their studies. Tiffany, for example, admitted to drinking a lot of coffee when studying in the mornings, so she had her unicorn coffee mug to remind her of her superpowers.
Also, other students suggest assigning a room in your house just for work. This is helpful later on when you land a remote tech job. It creates clear boundaries and you don’t feel like sitting at the same desk all day.
Set clear and realistic goals
It’s hard to be straightforward and clear in planning and setting goals if the field is new for you. Unrealistic expectations do nothing but discourage you, so Practicum is there to guide your planning.
The bootcamp is arranged in modules and sprints, where each sprint has a measurable outcome. You will know beforehand what practical skill you get at every stage and how will you apply that to real-life cases.
For example, in our part-time Software Engineering Bootcamp, after module three (4-5 months of studies), you will be able to create a Twitter-like social media web application and invite your friends to register.
If some of your goals take longer time to achieve - don’t worry. If you don't understand something right away, this study method is designed to give you a few days to catch up.
“I did struggle, and there are certain modules I had to go through again and again. But it was certainly rewarding," remembers Practicum grad Xia Cui.
Also when it comes to your career goals, you will have professional support from the Career Team to structure the process. The Career Prep program will help you create your resume and portfolio, practice interviews, and track your job search.
Finding a support team can be a valuable resource when studying for a new tech career. Look for someone with experience in your desired field who shares the same values and goals. It’s always a great motivator to work on something together with someone; then you’re more likely to succeed faster.
“The best part of the program is the community. I made a lot of friends. On the very first meeting, we were all on a screen together, it was pretty rad. Like, this is real, this is really happening, these are real people”, says Tiffany Hall.
Practicum offers immersive studies with constant support from a mentor who can help you when you’re stuck or if you feel the need to re-organize.
“If you begin to feel overwhelmed or like you may be stretching yourself too thin, speak to your community manager. They are there for you, honestly and truly, and they want to see you succeed,” advises Lindsey Naylor.
Celebrate your success
You may get discouraged by not feeling successful in what you’re doing, so acknowledging your achievements is essential. Celebrating small wins is a powerful tool in moving towards a big goal. Set small milestones and celebrate each one along the way. This will help you stay motivated and remind you of your progress and achievements.
Here are some ways to celebrate small wins:
- Praise yourself. Repeat a mantra that encourages you and acknowledges your effort like “I achieved what I planned,” “I am the master of my future,” and “I planned it and I did it”.
- Get a trophy. You can write down and celebrate each milestone by buying or allowing yourself something special: a spa voucher, a vinyl record, a tasty dessert, or a bottle of wine.
- Celebrate with your friends. Invite your friends for a party or an evening out to celebrate your success. You can come up with a funny idea, like asking everyone to show up in colorful ties.
Be supportive of others
Helping others is also a form of proving you’re confident in your knowledge. For Jenna Toff, being responsive to her peer’s questions was highly self-encouraging:
"Whenever I saw someone asking a question about something, I was like, 'I kind of know what that is. And I think I can explain it.' Then I would try explaining it and look up additional resources. Between talking to [my peers] and trying to get them to understand things to the extent that I did, I learned more in the process.”
Practicum also offers the opportunity to become a senior student and help out others on their way to tech. You can read about the benefits of this in this blog article.
Remember: you are the hero, and your example will motivate others.
- Find the best time to study that suits your schedule.
- Arrange your workspace, so that you can focus, and don’t mix work and leisure areas in your house.
- Set clear and realistic goals: your curriculum will help you determine those. But don’t be afraid to adjust if you don’t catch up with the plan.
- Find support: your family and friends will help you achieve your goals, and a professional community will inspire you.
- Celebrate each step and share your knowledge.
Bootcamps like Practicum are particularly created for students who are balancing their job, life, and an entirely new field. We understand that you are short on time and that making a change is difficult! We’re here to support you from day one, making you feel confident when you get to the finish line.