Are you considering enrolling in a coding bootcamp, but wonder what student life entails? Do you have time constraints, inescapable commitments, or a heavy workload that might hinder your learning performance?
We’ve invited Practicum senior students to share their thoughts on maintaining a healthy work-study balance.
Reasons for putting yourself through it
Nathan Christenson, Practicum student and software consultant at 27Global, dreams about being a bike delivery messenger in a dense city. “While I still hope to spend some time pursuing this dream job, I doubt it will become a full-time career.”
Knowing the flexibility a tech career can give because of already working in one, Nate decided to join the bootcamp “to expand [...] hard skills in Python, machine learning, and data visualization to be able to better serve clients and be a more valuable team member.”
Makenzie Wells worked in business development, where she used her skill set in math, engineering, and customer success. She had access to vital data that she needed to examine in order to make informed judgments, but she lacked the depth of the subject domain. "I had a sense of data science. I knew how to program in R, but I didn't know the theory behind the algorithmic building and how that worked," remembers Makenzie.
Joining Practicum’s Data Science Bootcamp allowed Makenzie to master the core fundamentals of this ever-growing field and get a significant promotion at work. However, for her, it has not been only about a cooperative career.
Makenzie wants to set up a nonprofit in her small hometown in East Tennessee, which still struggles with internet access. "I want to go back there and set up a resource forum for the kids to showcase what you can do with technology and engineering. Farms, factories, gas stations, and salons that you see daily are great employment opportunities, but there are so many other options that you may be interested in but don’t have access to. These options may even help improve the operations in this small town. I’d like to open that door."
For many students, getting practical skills that bring evident career results, has been a major motivation in joining the bootcamp. It can also be that you see a new profession and knowledge as a step toward your dream job. In any case, having these ideas and pictures in mind when studying may seem too hard to handle. A sense of purpose will get you through the hard times.
Still, landing a dream job or starting a business is not even always the most powerful motivator. “To be honest, I’m stoked about getting my graduation t-shirt!” laughs Nate.
Finding time to study
According to Nate, who also works full-time as a software consultant, his day typically starts early. One hack that helped Nate manage his time was dedicating mornings and evenings to Practicum. This allowed him to concentrate and keep a steady pace in the program. His studies normally occured 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.
The good thing about the bootcamp is that you can set your study hours according to your existing schedule. But, like with any endeavor that pays off immensely, sticking to priorities requires effort.
Desiree Bradish, former animation artist says, “It was very hard for me to say, ‘No, I can't do that anymore.’ But setting up boundaries was essential. Initially, I made time blocks and said that I'm just not available during these hours, no matter what. Originally, it was hard to stick to them… But as I got further into the course, I got better at saying no, and people started to respect my priorities.”
When you’re no longer college-age, things can take an unexpected turn. That’s why Practicum’s curriculum is shaped to anticipate things like that and prepare a soft landing for the student.
Preparing for their future job search is part of the curriculum for each Practicum student. Practicum’s Career Prep course helps you shape your resume and cover letter, and guides you toward companies that can appreciate your experience and interests. Since Career Prep runs with the main program, devoting some time each week to that activity earns a permanent spot in the students' calendars.
Makenzie Wells landed a new job in the middle of her studies and dived into the intense workflow, forced to take an academic hiatus for a month. She resumed where she left off once she felt confident enough to devote time to her studies again, at no extra cost.
The goal is worth the effort
Becoming a professional in tech and making a significant change for the better is a great motivation for all Practicum students.
Nate finds that the course “has a good balance between information covered, learning pace, and opportunities for applied learning.”
For Makenzie, getting instant feedback on code lines and follow-up on unclear points has been a great help. "By using online resources, like Stack Overflow, I was able to connect those dots," she says, "I found the reviewer's commentary very helpful."
Also, you will never find yourself alone in the middle of your journey. There is a team of tutors, reviewers, mentors, career coaches and senior students to resolve all your doubts, from the educational program itself to the job search and post-hire. “It was exceptionally difficult for me to ask for help, even though that's the whole reason I wanted to be in a bootcamp - right - so that I could get feedback,” admits Desiree, whose growth was supported by a community of people who had already walked that road.
Once the students pass their midterm, they have enough knowledge and experience to engage in extra activities created to pack their resume and portfolio and give hands-on expertise in tech. One is externships, when students work on real-life cases provided by companies in teams.
Some students like Makenzie and Nate have a chance to show support to new learners by becoming a Senior Student. Staying in touch on messaging channels to assist people starting out will ultimately allow you to add Practicum to your internships on your résumé.
From a newcomer to a senior
Determination and self-belief have helped over a thousand Practicum students to reach graduation and land an existing job in tech.
"Having a growth mindset is really the primary thing that you need in order to make any sort of conversion. And being ready for the unknown — you're not going to know a whole lot in the beginning, but there are so many resources," says Makenzie.
“Whether you are learning an entirely new profession or seeking to expand your current skill set, jumping into a program like Practicum can’t hurt,” admits Nate. “I would also say that people thinking of learning a new profession should check out some of the free learning material before diving into a paid platform.”
With a few hours per week, you can start a new tech career in just a few months. Practicum mentors and career specialists will make sure that none of your questions are left unanswered. Enroll today to start your career in IT.