You wouldn’t go to a military bootcamp without getting into decent shape first, right? Why should a Summer programming or coding bootcamp be any different? Military bootcamps test your physical and mental limits and so does development. Although you won’t be forced to do push-ups, you should still show up to a bootcamp “in shape.”

I attended DevMountain’s web development coding bootcamp in early 2017. I remember the first week was a rush. After a week of Mountain Dew and coffee-powered evenings, I wished I would have been a little more prepared.

Becoming a great developer is a combination of knowledge, mindset, and drive. Here are some prepping tips I wish I had known before attending a coding bootcamp.

1. Getting into the Right Mindset

Coding is mentally exhausting; seriously, the programming can tax parts of your brain you didn’t know you even had. One way to alleviate some stress before attending a bootcamp is to get in the right frame of mind: start thinking more like a computer.

Above all, this means that you’ll need to start thinking logically.

Try finding a simple coding app for your phone or tablet. Apps like Sololearn will teach you the basics of algorithms, javascript, or other coding best practices. Getting into a logical, algorithm-based mindset is a surefire way to get a leg up on your fellow bootcamp classmates.

2. Complete Assigned Pre-Course Work

Ok, you’ve completed some basic coding principles through a site or an app. What’s next?

DevMountain assigns pre-course work once you apply to one of their bootcamps. Make sure you complete all the pre-course work and review it as many times as you need to.

It depends on which DevMountain course you would like to enroll in, but each pre-course packet will go over basic principles more in depth. If you are applying for the same course as me, DevMountain’s web development course, you’ll cover the following in the pre-course work:

  • HTML
  • CSS
  • JavaScript
  • Bootstrap

There are lots of great apps and websites that can supplement your pre-course materials, including Coedcademy, W3 Schools, and even Free Code Camp. Everybody learns differently, but there’s no way around it: the only way to learn how to code is to code.

Pre-course materials will force you to get hands on. Apps, books, and sites are useful, but you need to apply it!

3. Getting Some of Your Energy Out

Summer’s right around the corner. For many people, that means BBQs, breaks, or trips to the pool. But for you, this Summer is about one thing: programming.

Sure, you’ll want to go outside and enjoy the Summer with your friends. If you want to have a productive bootcamp, though, you’ll need to get this restlessness out of your system. Make the weeks before your bootcamp as fun as possible.

It might seem like a silly tip to “prepare” for bootcamp by not preparing. I get that. But the fact is, once your bootcamp has begun, you’ll be spending most of your waking hours in front of your computer.

If you’re easily distracted, you might need to remove time-wasting apps from your computer and phone. Only by removing distractions can you fully invest in a Summer coding bootcamp.

4. This Ain’t School (It’s Better)!

Most schools have a pretty standard format: lectures, book-reading, homework, or tests. If you have attention issues like I do, it can get boring very quickly. Thankfully, bootcamps are completely different.

While higher education focuses on creating a deep understanding and a philosophical grounding to concepts, bootcamps aim to provide hands-on training and practical knowledge.

Experienced developers have a level of confidence that only comes from years of experience. Bootcamps attempt to accelerate that confidence level by allowing students to be immersed in code. Bootcamps are not fluffy college courses that you can float through. Embrace the “sink or swim” mentality and jump into the deep end. A coding bootcamp is going to push your limits–that’s precisely what it’s supposed to do.

5. Surrounding Yourself with Tech Information

The face of technology changes constantly. Wouldn’t it be great if you could stay on top of current events without putting in a ton of work? For me, the solution is listening to developer podcasts, ready tech blogs, following developers on Twitter.

Here’s a huge list of programming podcasts for you to listen to.

Hearing experienced developers talk and even joke about issues allows you to start grasping some ideas as though “by osmosis”.

You should also start meeting local developers. Looking for MeetUps in your area is a good first start; if you can’t find one, turn to Reddit or another message board to start talking to experts in the field.

Moving Forward

Hopefully, these tips make your bootcamp experience even better. I wish you the best of luck with your summer coding bootcamp! Feel free to comment below with any feedback or questions and I’ll get back to you!

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