It's the start of what I believe is the fourth week since I completed my fifteen-week software engineering boot camp. As I sit at my desk, preparing to dive into another day of learning, job searching, and portfolio building, I've come to realize that it's well past time for me to sit down and write this boot camp outro.
If you've been following my blog, you probably know that I don't like taking the typical approach found in many software development blogs. I steer clear of providing overly niche examples or overly generic content that can often be found in documentation. I aim to write posts that I'd want to read myself and find genuinely useful.
In the spirit of staying true to that philosophy, this post won't be a technical deep dive like my others. Instead, I'll offer an unfiltered broad perspective on post-bootcamp life as a modern-day software engineer. Keep in mind that these are simply my thoughts, opinions, and experiences.
Boot Camp: Was It Worth It?
Starting with what I consider one of the most important questions I would have asked before joining my boot camp. If I were to rate my experience on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being not worth it, 5 being neutral, and 10 being beyond worth it, I'd solidly rate my experience in the 7-8 range, and here's why.
The intensive nature of the boot camp is a standout positive for me. While cramming all that learning into fifteen weeks might not be for everyone, it was exactly what I needed. Compared to traditional college courses, the focused, direct, and career/practical application-driven environment of the boot camp was much more aligned with my learning style. In contrast to self-teaching, being in a guided and structured learning environment, coupled with the invaluable resource of teachers, student teachers, and peers, was something I now realize I took for granted.
The emphasis on preparing us for careers as web/software developers was another major plus. There were no electives or unnecessary focus on history—just raw content geared towards an end goal.
The opportunity to learn alongside others and be taught by someone, as opposed to watching videos and following guides, is something I personally can't place a value on. Having a teacher to guide and correct mistakes and a group of peers to grow with and bounce ideas off of was something I'm quickly learning is extremely valuable when learning to code. After spending several weeks trying to set learning goals, striving to achieve those goals, and simultaneously building my portfolio, I've come to appreciate just how much I gained from these opportunities. This realization has led me to seek out a "mentor" of sorts and initiate a project with a peer from my boot camp.
The combined resources, experiences, contacts, and skills, along with the career coaching, have left me feeling well-prepared and excited for my job search and career post-boot camp.
Naturally, there were downsides to the experience, some inherent to boot camps. One notable downside is the time constraint. Fifteen weeks can only hold so much knowledge, and I find myself realizing there are things I don't know or didn't have time to learn during the boot camp. Also, while the boot camp excelled in terms of project-based work and learning, there's value in the broader experiences that come from a four-year college program.
Another personal downside was the virtual nature of the course. While I appreciated the convenience, I also missed the physical interaction with peers, working on group projects, and attending events. Even my graduation and final project presentation being entirely virtual left me feeling a bit let down. But overall, I finished the boot camp feeling excited and well-prepared, which makes it more than worth it in my book.
Post Graduation: What Happens Now?
The answer to that question right now is a mix of different things. I feel like I have a general idea of what I'm doing, but there's also a sense of wandering in the dark post-boot camp.
One of the most frustrating aspects is the conflicting messages I hear/read about the job market and economic climate for software development. As someone new to the industry, I can only do my best to apply to positions and hope for the best.
In addition to building my virtual presence, I've been expanding my portfolio with mixed results. While I've yet to complete and deploy my capstone project, I've built a portfolio website using Gatsby.js and Tailwind for CSS. I'm also working on a new project using Next.js and Mongo with a fellow camp graduate. Having learned from these experiences, I plan to improve my capstone project.
Furthermore, I'm focused on obtaining additional certifications, particularly in AWS to integrate more aspects into my revamped capstone project, and certifications in algorithms.
Final Thoughts (for now)
All these activities are keeping me as busy as my boot camp days and are building momentum as I embark on my job search. With these certifications, portfolio additions, and hard work, I hope to write another post soon, continuing this thread and detailing my journey to employment after a boot camp.
Until then, thanks for reading! Don't forget to turn on notifications for my vaguely pun-themed technical blog posts. And feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn if you're so inclined. :)