Learning to code at an intensive bootcamp takes dedication and focus. And even though you’ll reach that finish line (we promise you will!), it’s important to remember that the learning doesn’t end at graduation! Whether you’re acclimating to a new technology stack on the job, or you’ve decided to add to your skillset through online resources, there’s always room to grow. A great developer's job is never done, and the learning will continue. So how do you stay on top of the ever-evolving tech scene? We’ve collected advice from bootcamp alumni and employers in our 8 steps to keep learning after a Coding Bootcamp.
The bootcamp experience leaves you equipped with the skills to take on various coding jobs, but perhaps more importantly, you’ll know how to learn new skills. As a programmer, you may constantly run into roadblocks and you won’t have all the answers. At a coding bootcamp, you should learn to tackle those roadblocks through creative problem solving–here are our suggestions:
Stay Connected With Your Bootcamp Network
You’ve just spent months in a classroom with people who had the same goal as you: to learn to code quickly and come out on top as a junior developer. That network of alumni will become even more important after graduation! Whether you stay in touch via an alumni Slack channel or team up to compete in hackathons or even pass on a resume, your fellow bootcamp alumni and former instructors are a valuable support network. Thinkful alum Joe Reed explains how his Slack channel helped him land a job: “Thinkful got me in the habit of checking job listings every day. But having the Thinkful Slack group was a great resource for that. Everyone is constantly sharing links to databases of companies who were hiring, and pointing out companies which are worth cold calling.”
Here are some ways to keep interacting with fellow alumni:
- Ask questions when you hit a roadblock or make suggestions through Slack or in-person chats.
- Learn from each other about the do’s and don’ts of the interview process.
- Use each other for more practice! Pair programming doesn’t have to end after bootcamp–if you and other alumni are still working on personal projects to improve your portfolio, reach out to your peers to further your learning.
- You could even get a group together for a Hackathon (see below for more info on Hackathons).
- Keep in touch with instructors and know what’s included in your tuition (Sabio offers 5 years in career support)!
Participate in Conferences
Software Development Conferences are also important learning events to keep you up-to-date with what’s going on in the industry. You’ll have the chance to meet new developers, hear from industry leaders, and collaborate with others on new ideas for the space. Popular conferences like DevCon or Apple’s WWDC may be pricey, so definitely see if your employer offers an education stipend and will foot the bill! You could also speak at various conferences to build your brand and credibility within the industry. Here are some top conferences to check out:
- Apple’s WWDC
- React Conf
- Microsoft Build (Sold out but worth mentioning for .NET devs)
- JavaOne (Java Conference)
- Google Developers (For Android devs)
- OSCon (Open Source Conference)
- GOTO Chicago Developer Conference (Highly technical for devs by devs)
- GHC (The world's largest gathering of women technologists)
Those are larger conferences, but keep your eyes peeled for smaller, more niche conferences hosted in cities around the world.
Join a Meetup in Your City
Now that you’ve graduated, it’s time to join, expand, and build your new tech community. Depending on where you’re living and working, meetups are a useful tool to immerse yourself in a community of coders – including experienced coders and newbies. Different meetups may focus on certain themes catering to a specific technology stack or demographic, but overall, these are perfect places to build relationships for coders. Meet new people in the field and learn more about ever-evolving technology in various industries at these Meetup groups:
- Google NYC Tech Talks, NYC
- SFHTML5, San Francisco
- Tech Toronto Meetup, Toronto
- Hackers and Founders, Mountain View
- Boston New Technology, Boston
- Designers + Geeks, San Francisco
- Girl Develop It NYC, NYC
- Tech in Motion Events, San Francisco
- Code Crew - Learn to Code!, NYC
Don’t forget to find out if your company also hosts internal meetups! In addition to joining Toastmasters to help with presentation skills, Frances Liu explains how she got a promotion after graduating from Hackbright Academy: “I presented at our internal Python meetup about Flask, and it caught the attention of our CTO. He brought me onto his project within the company, which was a Flask RESTful API, and that’s how I transitioned into my second position.”
Teach a Class
You know what they say– you don’t truly know it until you can teach it! The best way to prove your understanding of programming concepts is to teach it to a newbie. Several bootcamps hire on their graduates as teaching assistants (check out Fullstack Teaching Fellows, The Grace Hopper Program, and DevPoint Labs). When Maggie Neterval graduated from The Grace Hopper Program, she attributes her interview skills to her time as a Fullstack Fellow: “I did end up staying on as a Fullstack Fellow for an additional three months and was a mentor for the next cohort and sharpened my own skills that I would need in the job search. I feel lucky that I was able to be a fellow, and afterward, I felt really confident going into interviews.”
Even a short guest lecture at your old bootcamp is a great way to reinforce the material for yourself, and have the opportunity to give back to others. We do understand that teaching is a calling, and may not be for everyone, but never forget that when you're sharing your knowledge and experience, someone is learning. It doesn’t matter if you’re at the front of a classroom or mentoring one-on-one, sharing what you know is great for building your expertise.
Compete in Hackathons
Competing in Hackathons is a collaborative way to learn more skills. Hackathons are usually 24-48 hour events where programmers meet to create new products that solve a specific problem. Some are even focused on civic hacking where the solution aims to help local communities.
Many local hackathons are hosted by companies, coding bootcamps, and even technology platforms like Docker. These events are an awesome tool to reconnect with the tech community while also brushing up on your skills. Hackathons can be centered on almost every topic, using all sorts of technologies, and many have great prizes. Learn how to crush your first hackathon and see how Sabio grads stood out from the rest. Here are some popular hackathons:
Attend Skills Workshops
Utilize Online Resources
During a coding bootcamp, you’ll realize how many answers you can find online as long as you know how to ask the right questions. After bootcamp, it may be easy to think you’re done with Google and those coding vocab searches, but you should be open to what you still may not know. Online platforms are great ways to revisit information–you can even join online communities with other programmers to practice skills by participating in competitions, along with give and receive feedback on the projects you’re working on. Start with these online resources:
- Stack Overflow is one of the largest online communities for programmers to learn and share.
- Codeanywhere allows you to set up your own customized development environment and share your code with colleagues.
- CodeChef is a non-commercial competitive programming community.
- Coursera provides various programming courses of different skill level.
- Codeforces gives weekly coding challenges and a code sharing community.
- Codecademy offers free beginner-level courses and is great if you want to learn the basics of a new technology like ReactJS
- Github will publicly host your projects so you’re able to give and receive feedback. All bootcampers should have a Github account!
- Hackerrank provides problems and challenges to help you build your skills and move up a leaderboard.
Read Programming Books
You know what they say–read a book, change your life! The short, intense nature of coding bootcamps means less time to cover underlying theory that supports the practical application of software development, so you may need to fill in gaps with the fundamentals. It’s imperative to have a good understanding of the basics if you want to go far in your software programming career.
As you search for your first job, keep your eyes peeled for companies that support your learning with a book budget or office library! We suggest reading these books to cover anything you missed at bootcamp:
- You Don't Know JS by Kyle Simpson
- Coders at Work: Reflections on the Craft of Programming by Peter Seibel
- The Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master by Andrew Hunt and David Thomas
- Cracking the Coding Interview: 150 Programming Questions and Solutions by Gayle Laakmann McDowell
- The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering by Fred Brooks
- Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship by Robert C. Martin
- Algorithms by Robert Sedgewick
Learning software development is no easy task, and if you’ve graduated from a bootcamp–you should be proud! Going from zero to hero in the coding industry is challenging, but coupled with an immersive and intense environment like bootcamp, your learning potential is infinite. Always remember that even though your bootcamp days may be behind you, never forget the hunger, tenacity, and determination it took to get you to the end. Bring that same passion to learning for the rest of your programming days, and your career will continue to grow!
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