12 Ways to Succeed in a Coding Bootcamp

By Katie Hayes

We’re in an unprecedented time as the world’s workforce moves online and the appetite for digital solutions is on the rise; which has very exciting potential for the software engineering world.

Whether you’ve dabbled with some HTML and CSS, you dream of being a Twitch star in the gaming world or you’re just curious about how certain technologies are made; it may be a good time for you to step-change your career by learning to code. Everything in your career and life so far has brought you to this point. What you do with your present will determine your future path.

If you’re looking into joining a Coding Bootcamp, here are twelve things I learnt in my role as Head of Sourcing & Marketing at WeThinkCode_, that can help you succeed:


1 } Have an always-on Growth Mindset.

Believe in your potential and keep pushing through any obstacles. If you get stuck, take a break, find someone to help you or ask Google. Coding bootcamps will test you and you will want to give up every now and then. Instead of quitting, challenge yourself to overcome your limiting beliefs of what you can achieve and you’ll amaze yourself.

2 } You will fail.

It’s inevitable in a coding bootcamp. Overcome that fear right now. Fail fast, learn fast. Keep going.

3 } A positive attitude; interpersonal skills and tenacity will lead you to success.

Trust me; your authentic spark, determination and resilience will contribute to your success.
Learn to work with others. Constantly step out of your comfort zone and work with someone new. You’ll not only improve your interpersonal skills; you may make a friend or earn the respect of an acquaintance who could form part of your valuable network in the years ahead.

4 } Don’t underestimate the power of community.

Alone you struggle, together you can thrive is a motto at WeThinkCode_, where students learn to code in a peer-to-peer learning environment. Each person has something different to offer so compliment your skill sets and work together.
Grow your network and tap into like-minded communities. Join local initiatives like Women In Tech Club and attend online and offline events like hackathons, webinars and Code First Girls events.

5 } This is a marathon; not a sprint.

Spoiler: health is your secret super-power! There’s a reason I didn’t put this at the end of the list – because abandoning your health can jeopardise your bootcamp success. I’ve seen lifestyle choices make and break bootcampers.

    • Avoid energy drinks. It will hinder your concentration, make your anxiety levels surge and you won’t enjoy the limited sleep available.
    • Pace yourself and take breaks every few hours. Enjoy some fresh air, move your body, grab a coffee and eat a healthy, nourishing meal. Don’t underestimate the impact of diet on your energy levels.
    • Look after your mental health. Find an inspiring music playlist, spend time outdoors in nature, call a friend, do a guided meditation; or simply stop what you’re doing, close your eyes and take five deep breaths.
    • Sleep every night. No, not on your keyboard or under your desk. You’re not being productive when you’re exhausted and are fuelled by caffeine. That’s when you slip up and make careless errors in your code. Get some uninterrupted sleep, have a shower, change your clothes, come back tomorrow and pick up where you left off. You’ll be much more productive.

6 } Don’t compete with each other; lift each other up.

I recommend creating a WhatsApp group for your cohort. You’re in this together so stay connected; share useful resources, inspiring quotes, hilarious memes and have a fun GIF-off every now and then when the pressure is mounting.
A special note for aspiring Women in Tech: there are so many great organisations and initiatives out there like Code First Girls and WomenThinkCode_ that are working hard to close the gender gap in the software engineering field. Imagine if we stepped out of our silos more often and collaborated to change the playing field. The impact of these efforts will be tenfold.

7 } A diverse team is the recipe for success.

It has been proven that more diverse and inclusive teams are more successful so work with peers who come from different disciplines, cultures and socio-economic backgrounds. Embrace your differences and you’ll see magic happen.

As diversity and inclusion expert Verna Myers, founder and president of Verna Myers Consulting Group and star of a TED Talk on overcoming bias says, ‘Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.’

8 } Consider the new normal.

Whether it’s a hackathon challenge, a coding workshop or a side passion project – consider current human behaviour; think about how tech needs are evolving and design solutions that will enable humanity to adapt and progress.

In our new reality, the world is moving online and, as such, software engineers need to pivot and cater for these new demands. Think simple API solutions with Zoom plugins and customised payment solutions. It’s a really exciting time. You can redesign the future! Mind blown? Take a minute to take that in.

9 } It’s all about the customer experience.

If you can simplify a tech solution, do it. If you don’t have the power to make that change; question it. A seamless customer experience is the ultimate goal.

10 } Visualise the path to success.

So you’re taking a leap of faith and you’ve decided to join a coding bootcamp. Ask yourself, what does success look like for me? Define your end goal and work back through those steps of success. Perhaps you want to get into a specialised software engineering program or land your dream job; create a timeline and outline your plan of action.

11 } Find a mentor. Soon you’ll become a reverse mentor too.

Approach someone in your field that inspires you and ask them to hop on a video call. Feel like you’re totally out of your depth and don’t have a professional network? Not a problem. Create a LinkedIn profile and start growing your network. Reach out to potential mentors in your area. Not far along the line, you’ll land up reverse mentoring your seniors who may not be familiar with the latest tech or coding stacks. The world is changing and so has the world of work.

12 } Your life experience is your advantage.

Consider the obstacles you’ve overcome, the problems you’ve solved and what you’ve learnt along the way. Your past has led you to the present and you can recode your future. Coding is all about your logic thinking, your problem-solving mind with a generous splash of creativity. You have what it takes if you commit to the challenge ahead of you so go ahead – embrace your potential and jump at any opportunities that come your way.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained! If you’re ready to learn to code register for a course or coding bootcamp. Good luck and have fun. You’ve got this! 

About WeThinkCode_ 

WeThinkCode_ (WTC) is a Non-Profit organisation based in South Africa, with campuses in Johannesburg and Cape Town. WTC’s vision is to unlock youth potential by closing the digital skills gap in Africa. They work within an eco-system of public and private partners to source and train world-class African digital talent; as well as provide our students with a clear path to employment.