Keeping Your Sh*t Together During Coding Bootcamp

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Did you know…that you can FAIL out of a coding bootcamp?

I didn’t.

I probably should’ve done my research but one of the first things I learned on day one of coding bootcamp was that you can fail. The Flatiron is a bit nicer and won’t actually use the word “fail” but essentially you have one life line to repeat one module.

After that, you’re sent to online learning at your own pace.

Or as we like to low-key call it, “The Abyss.”

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I’m being overly dramatic.

But I’m sure you can imagine how stressful the thought of failing out of a coding bootcamp would be. Especially if you’ve done any of the following:

  1. Quit your job
  2. Moved to the city specifically to attend school
  3. Living off of your savings
  4. Have no backup plan

I’ve got to admit, you should always have a backup plan. But for those who don’t have anything to fall back on, the idea of failing out of a coding bootcamp is…heavy.

No one wants to fail, especially if you’ve put everything on the line.

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Anyway, I‘m not here to make you panic or anything, I just wanted you to understand what I’m currently going through or what you could potentially be going through too.

So, in the efforts of sharing my experience so far (currently in week six out of fifteen), I hope this story finds you well. Whether if it’s knowing that you’re not alone or discovering a tip that you can practice, let’s go ahead and talk about keeping your sh*t together during coding bootcamp.

Keeping Your Sh*t Together

We all have different preferences as to what keeps us going. Whether if it’s organizing, going to the gym, having your daily dose of caffeine, hanging out with friends, etc., I’m here to share what I personally found helpful in moments where I broke down.

1. Allowing Yourself to Take Breaks

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During stressful situations, one of the things you want to avoid doing is caving into your frustrations. Calling your computer stupid or banging on your keys probably won’t help the situation when you’re stuck debugging or configuring. Instead, allow yourself to breathe, take a break and go out for a walk.

Let yourself know that it’s okay to take a break. It’s okay to go outside for a walk or have a snack for ten, fifteen minutes.

You may not realize it but you could be staring at the computer for hours. Our bodies are not designed to sit at a desk all day.

Studies show that taking breaks and going out for a walk actually helps with blood circulation in your brain, improving your productivity. You can learn more about it in the article: How taking short walk breaks at make you more happier and more energetic.

2. Do Things that Makes You Happy

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try doing something small that makes you happy.

Personally, I like doing small accomplishable things to make me happy. Whether if that’s to go out for a run, doing a full body stretch, writing in my gratuity journal, drinking water, etc. I know that doing those small things make me happy.

Having these small accomplishments put me in a better mood and it does help with the stress. Knowing that you’re at least in control of something, goes a long way.

3. Practice Positive Self Talk

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People tend to forget that we have an inner voice inside of us. I’ve learned how to practice positive self talk through multiple podcasts by Kwik Brain and the Mindset Mentor as well as reading the book, The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.

It’s really important to talk kindly to yourself because at the end of the day, you are essentially left with your own thoughts. You need to be able to talk positively to yourself. Let’s admit it, coding bootcamp is stressful and you will have bad days. That’s already expected. Just like debugging a code, you need to be able to debug your emotions.

I’ve learned to practice this through a daily gratuity journal and basically brain washing myself with “I” statements like:

  • I believe in myself
  • I am in control
  • I am stronger than my emotions
  • I can do this
  • I got this
  • I am focused

It seems silly at first, but the more you practice it, the more you believe those phrases, the more it sticks. Seriously. It helps. And in days that I don’t get the chance to write in my gratuity journal, I hate to admit it but I’m basically lost. Practicing this daily helps me get a grip of myself and positive talk give me the ability to create my own happiness and set my own mood.

The most powerful line: “I am in control.”

4. Communicate How You Feel

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It’s okay to be stressed. The Flatiron School has this great thing called “Friday Feels” or “Feelings Friday” and it’s just a way where everyone is able to talk about how they feel or not. The opportunity to express yourself is there and it’s a way to communicate how you feel.

I will admit that I have a hard time with expressing myself during stressful moments but I’m working on it. During “Friday Feels” though, it does help knowing that what you’re going through is normal. You’re literally never the only person to feel how you feel.

The instructors and coaches are also there to give you feedback and encouragement. For every time I pass sharing my feelings, at the end, I always regret not sharing. With that being said, I’ve been slowly building up to the courage of expressing myself to everyone.

In addition to communicating how you feel, it’s also important to communicate what you’re stuck on. The most important thing to take away from this story is this: DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME ON A LAB BECAUSE YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT THE APPROPRIATE SYNTAX IS.

Like seriously. Google it, ask your peers, ask your coaches/instructor if you spend more than half an hour on an error because of a syntax. Build the skills for problem solving but also be able to communicate where you’re stuck. Let them know that you tried x, y, and z and you need help.

It’s okay to need help in a learning environment! :)

5. Make Friends

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Honestly, making friends and being able to say hi to the people around you makes such a difference.

I used to dread small talk but with the right people, it feels good to be cared about and to engage in social interaction. Staring at a computer screen all day can be really draining. Sometimes, we just need that human interaction and be able to smile, laugh, and forget about coding for a moment.

The people around you will help make the day go by faster and will help with the coding bootcamp experience better.

At the end of the day, you need to put yourself mental and emotional health first. Yes, coding bootcamp is important but if you can’t retain anything because you’re too burnt out, then your time will just be wasted.

This was supposed to end in a positive note but I hope you were able to get something out of reading this story :)

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