1. Find out if Coding is your Calling
Let’s face it, coding isn’t for everyone. There is a certain breed that thrives from the challenges associated with programming and web development. Before you initiate the hunt for the perfect daycare find the time to take an online course or experiment with online tutorials and different software. Prepare yourself for the experience. Research front end development, web design and full-stack development. Test the waters and see if any of these spark a passion within.
“Last year, I volunteered with my church in a technical arts committee and designed slides and keynotes for them and I really loved that. I got to play in design and be creative and actually created a pretty cool finished product.” -Christine Oskison, Skillcrush
2. Research your options
Choosing the right coding immersion program is just as difficult as finding the right college for your children. You’ll need to consider location, time commitment, pricing, financing options, curriculum and much more. Write down your preferences prior to scouring the internet. Then be sure to read program reviews to help define a short list. Take the time to reach out to schools via phone or skype to get a better feel of their culture. Be sure to inquire about both general scholarships and those intended for women.
“I could teach myself with online & offline resources, or go to Uni – both of which would take years while the job prospects were questionable – or I could attend a bootcamp, learn in an accelerated timeframe, and get help getting a job once I was done.” -Emily Sas, Makers Academy
3. Understand your time & cost limits
Dropping an average of $11k on a coding bootcamp requires a huge leap of faith. Family and household costs alone can be challenging. The hidden costs of enrolling into an immersive program include transportation, day care and technology costs. Your time will be spent both in class, working with partners in lab, and self studying at home. To better understand your financial and time expenditures make a theoretical schedule and budget for the duration of the programs you are interested in. Ensure family members are aware of any sacrifices they’ll need to make on your behalf to support your mission. While it might be costly upfront coding bootcamps are definitely worth the investment, calculate your coding bootcamp ROI here.
“It can seem scary when you’re considering it, and a lot of mums will be put off wondering how they could ever pay both for the course and the childcare, but if you can find a way to do it, it will more than pay for itself in the long run.” -Sas, Makers Academy
4. Be honest about concerns
Even Super Moms have limitations. Compared to a university, coding bootcamps are relatively short-term. This translates to an extremely demanding experience. Immersion programs require your complete focus which is something some mothers might not be able to commit. Look for programs that align with your preferences. Identify your learning preferences (online vs in-person), and how much time you are willing to commit (part-time vs full-time).
“Firstly, I’m not based in London so I knew that what was already going to be a long day away from my children would be even longer when I factored in the commute to Makers HQ in London. I knew that I’d be leaving the house before my kids were awake, and getting home after they’d gone to bed. Ultimately however, I knew that if I was happy and fulfilled in my career then I would be a better, happier mother. I saw it as 3 intensive months that would give me the freedom to start doing work that I enjoyed, the freedom to work the hours I wanted (to a degree!), while also having enough time to spend with my family.” -Sas, Makers Academy
5. Establish your support system
It’ll be a rocky road but you don’t need to go it alone. Balance family responsibilities with your spouse. Talk to family members and friends about stepping in to watch the kids from time to time. Get a list of reliable babysitters and be sure to have backups on call. The challenges associated with learning so much so quick can be staggering. Luckily there are online communities, alumni networks, meetups, forums, and mentorships available to assist you when you stumble. No one likes to be reliant on others but coding is very much about learning from the mistakes of those who came before you.
“We had a nanny for most of the course, then we used Nursery and favours from friends and family for the last few weeks. It was hard. My kids took some time to adjust, especially my eldest. They were used to me being around – I’d been there constantly since they were born - and I didn’t know well they would adjust to me suddenly not being there. But – adjust they did, and as the course went on, they started to flourish. They’d only really been going to nursery about once a week before then, so by the time I finished the course they had a big group of friends and were loving it. There were days I had to work from home due to the kids being sick &/or the nanny being sick – at times it wasn’t ideal, but I didn’t feel that it held me back from performing on the course.“ -Sas, Makers Academy
6. Expect the unexpected
Expect to be challenged in class and at home. Expect your children to adjust to Mommy being out of the house more often, or busy on the computer all weekend. Everything is constantly changing for children and the same is true for bootcamp students. Yesterday’s technology is obsolete today. Be prepared to delete failure and start all over. While some abstract topics might come easy to you others will challenge you to the core. Stay strong, and take advantage of teachers and families when handling unexpected events.
“I knew that it was going to be very intense and a lot of work. I actually hyped myself up a lot about it because of my daughter; I knew it would be a lot more difficult, so I was prepared for the worst and it was in the back of my mind: what if I just can’t logistically make this happen?” -Kristina Brown, Turing
7. Remember, coding is a meritocracy!
It’s not about where you have been it’s about what you did while you were there. The number one asset for scoring a job in web development is a strong portfolio. Passion combined with an impressive catalogue of self-developed apps speaks volumes about your capabilities. Work hard for the duration of the bootcamp and reap the rewards later on.
“Another thing that really excites me is the tech industry itself – it really is a true meritocracy. Unlike most industries, people don’t even ask me to explain the gaps in my CV - employers just want to know that you can do what needs to be done. For mums going back to work you do worry about whether you can justify the time ‘out of the game’ - in the tech industry it just hasn’t been an issue at all, and that’s pretty special.” -Sas, Makers Academy
8. Choose a job with a great work-life balance
Finding the right company is as important of a decision as finding the right bootcamp. You don’t want to commit to a position that can’t accommodate a flexible schedule for you and your family if need be. You now have the skills and are in control of your future. Be honest with potential employers about your family responsibilities. Take the time to find a company that understands your needs and be sure you understand their expectations.
“I quickly discovered that there were a number of companies that would consider part-time, that actually consider it important to have employees with a good work life balance. At one of the companies I looked at, they tell their employees they’re not allowed to show up before 9am, or stay after 5pm. Another company was astonished that there were companies that wouldn’t consider part time work… There are some awesome companies in this industry that will do their best to work with you, whether that’s part-time, flexible hours, working from home... It’s simply a matter of finding the right company and the right people and being honest about what you need.” -Sas, Makers Academy
Bonus Tip: Consider Learning Online!
Being a parent is a full-time job. If you can't make the hours work around your child's schedule, consider a flexible, online bootcamp. For example, after the birth of her son in 2015, Sarah Abbet realized that she needed a more flexible career, so she decided to pursue her interest in web development and enrolled in The Software Guild’s online coding bootcamp.
"Because of my young son – I’m a single parent – I decided I need to change my career a little bit. The Software Guild requires 20 hours of work per week, which was pretty much all I could handle. I’m still working, and I’ve got a baby, so I can’t do more than that. I saw some online courses that want you to study 8am to 5pm online with the class, and that was not what I was looking for– I liked the part-time aspect of The Software Guild." Sarah, Software Guild
Have you balanced the commitment of a coding bootcamp with being a parent? Share how you did it in the comments!
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