Your progress will stall after the bootcamp

The value of your bootcamp came in its carefully curated curriculum. Instructors spend hours planning every aspect of the course: deliberating why webpack is easier to setup and understand than gulp, choosing the handful of node modules and ruby gems you’ll need, teaching a database that plays well with the data you’ll be storing.

As a result, you spend very little time on configuration and dedicate all of your precious time to creating. You can still namedrop webpack and babel and es-2015-presets, but a few months later when you decide to start a new project from scratch, you realize you have no idea where to begin (unless you choose your bootcamp’s MERN stack again).

Continue reading Your progress will stall after the bootcamp

You’ve got the job – now what?

You’ve spent the past 4 – 6 months studying a very carefully curated curriculum: first you learned how to ‘hello world’ in Ruby, then you learned how to template that message in Rails, finally you learned how to make the letters change colors when you clicked on them using JavaScript.

You’ve learned so much in the past few months that you’ve managed to trick a company into paying you a crazy amount of money each week because they believe you can take their product to the next level.

You show up on day 1, go through a brief orientation, and install Atom. Now what? You’ve only ever worked on small codebases where you were intimately familiar with every line of code. Your new company’s project is thousands of times bigger and growing each day. It feels like a new pull request is merged into the repository every time you reload the page. How are you going to become familiar with something this fluid?

Continue reading You’ve got the job – now what?

Final project: A good README is more important than a pristine codebase

Your README.md is where you flex your technical guns.

Recruiters (usually) aren’t coders. They hand your resume to an engineer to approve or reject for an interview. The difficult part here is that engineering time is extremely valuable. Make it as easy as possible to see your best code. Don’t make the engineer navigate through app/frontend/components/profile/userprofile.jsx:line 147 to see a code sample. Put any clever database schema decisions in your readme, add snippets of fancy queries to your readme, add code samples you’re proud of to your readme.

This highlights your best code. Having seen some code snippets, an engineer is far less likely to browse your repository and stumble on your garbage code. Note: go refactor your garbage code.

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Choosing a final project that stands out

You’ve had an idea in your head ever since you enrolled at ${bootcampName}. And now that you’ve completed most of the curriculum, you also have the skills needed to execute. Your bootcamp is giving you two weeks to build a full stack website and it seems like the perfect time to implement your idea and change the world, right?

Hang on. Now is not the time – although your project might be the next decacorn, you’re looking for something more short-term. Although your idea could hit the front page of TechCrunch and gain five million users during your final weeks of bootcamp. it’s more likely you will have only a few users – a ‘login as guest’ account and any other fake personalities you seeded your database with.

A company will spend less than a minute playing with your app. It’s your job to ensure they see the best demonstration of your abilities within that first minute.

Continue reading Choosing a final project that stands out