Advice for a soon-to-be bootcamp grad (Python coding)

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RFS
Posts: 120
Joined: Sun Jan 14, 2018 8:25 pm

Advice for a soon-to-be bootcamp grad (Python coding)

Post by RFS »

Hola amigos! I've completed 65% of Treehouse's Python Techdegree program.

I started 3 months ago, with 0 coding knowledge. My only tech experience is in sales for a startup! I was a schoolteacher after that.

I was attracted to programming because it pays well, is in demand, and seems to have many remote work opportunities. It's also a fun flow state-inducing activity! I thought I'd struggle because of my "right brain" strengths, but learning the coding symbology has been quite enjoyable.

I have no idea what to do upon graduating. I know I will search for remote opportunities, but I still feel like a total newbie in this field.

I couldn't find another thread like this, so I was wondering: for people with experience in programming, and/or people that have gone down a similar path, can you share any advice or things you wish you knew upon going into the field?

For what it's worth, I have been quite disciplined about this. I have showed up every day (with the exception of 2 one-week periods with no access to technology) and average 1.7 hours of deep work/day. I earned "Exceeds Expectations" on all my projects so far, too. I'm trying to detach from the outcome of earning money and just focus on the craft.

I'm not sure how Treehouse compares to other companies, but it seems like good value. The quality of the instruction and its practicality are impressive. I'm all ears for any contrary opinions, though.

One last thing: I repeatedly see writing from "tech people" (on websites like Stack Overflow, for instance) that is horrendous. I feel that knowing how to communicate well and connect with others will be a serious asset in this field. I could be wrong, though.

Thanks for reading!
Last edited by RFS on Tue Jul 26, 2022 12:00 pm, edited 5 times in total.

Slevin
Posts: 282
Joined: Tue Sep 01, 2015 7:44 pm

Re: Advice for a soon-to-be bootcamp grad (Python coding)

Post by Slevin »

Now this isn’t a universal, but companies hire boot camp devs because they are cheap, not because they have a lot of experience (3-6 months) . So it’s gonna be tougher to get an internship/ f.t. Job right out the gate. It’s the same for CS grads, but they have 4 years of experience and probably 6-12 months of internship experience, whereas you have much less. So just expect it to be a little tougher, and expect the first job or two to have a lower pay than the general average. That’s the “prove yourself” sort of entrance. The nice part is, if you prove yourself and do a halfway decent job, you can grind out the first year for “bad” pay (and my “bad” is a joke to most non software engineers, it’s probably 70k at the low end), then just jump ship and take a higher paying job anywhere else like a normal SWE with 1 year experience.

All this to say, I’m not a boot camp grad, I went into the field with very minor programming experience, and now I do decently for myself (160k cash plus stock grants at 7ish years in) at a company I like without the burnout nose to the grindstone mentality and work a very leisurely amount while being one of the “guys who gets shit done”.

tdurtsch
Posts: 13
Joined: Wed Jun 03, 2015 2:03 pm

Re: Advice for a soon-to-be bootcamp grad (Python coding)

Post by tdurtsch »

For background, I've been a software engineer for about 7 years. I work in consulting so have seen a lot of different companies, teams, etc. But still this is just my opinion.

+1 to Slevin"s comment about prioritizing getting your foot in the door, and jumping ship after a year or two. I had only a minor in CS, and got into the field by moving to an uncool city for a year, then jumped to a better company.

Since you mentioned focusing on the craft, I'd suggest learning about 12 factor apps, SOLID design principles, automated testing (especially test driven development), hexagonal architecture, and domain driven design (DDD). The DDD book is pretty long, but very good!

You're right about communication skills being an area of improvement for lots of engineers. Being able to explain your ideas clearly and engage with other roles is important. Asking the right questions helps build the thing your stakeholders are looking for.

Look for a company doing modern stuff like continuous deployment, cloud-native development, test driven development, etc. Consider checking out "Accelerate: The Science of Lean Software and DevOps", a book about high performing teams. Engineering is more fun when you can build stuff instead of getting bogged down by processes such as "Scaled Agile Framework for the enterprise" aka SAFe.

Best of luck!

zbigi
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Joined: Fri Oct 30, 2020 2:04 pm

Re: Advice for a soon-to-be bootcamp grad (Python coding)

Post by zbigi »

It's important to note that coding jobs vary tremendously in quality. You can work in two or three of them, think they all suck and this field is not for you, and then land a fourth one that is much better and makes you not hate your work. So, as with everything in life, it's important to remain hopeful and not give up early.

AnalyticalEngine
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Joined: Sun Sep 02, 2018 11:57 am

Re: Advice for a soon-to-be bootcamp grad (Python coding)

Post by AnalyticalEngine »

+1 to what everyone else said. I'll also add that if you are an engineer who knows how to communicate, you will go far in the field. I know a lot of people with full CS degrees who never made it in the industry because of their low charisma and inability to work with others.


dustBowl
Posts: 22
Joined: Sat Aug 21, 2021 12:52 pm

Re: Advice for a soon-to-be bootcamp grad (Python coding)

Post by dustBowl »

***The important caveat for this post is, if you're already studying data structures and algorithms as part of your bootcamp, then you can ignore this whole thing. Now that disclaimers are out of the way...

Based on my understanding of what coding bootcamps generally do and don't cover, my recommendation would be to take an intro data structures + algorithms class, or to work through an intro DS+A textbook, depending on your preferred learning style. You don't have to do this right away, given that you only started three months ago. It should definitely be a lower priority than getting your foot in the door somewhere so you can start getting work experience. But if you stick with the software dev path longer term, you should do it at some point.

The assumption that I'm making here is that the bootcamp you're taking errs on the side of practice, rather than theory. My impression of bootcamps is that they generally teach you how to code, and spend relatively little time on the computer science / mathy side of things. Which isn't a criticism; if the goal is to get attendees into an employable state as quickly as possible, then focusing on practice over theory is the correct call.

But the thing is, there's a basic level of theory knowledge that will 1) actually make you meaningfully better at your day job as a dev and 2) give you a much better chance of passing job interviews (at least for a certain sub-set of jobs).

And that level of knowledge is honestly low. I've gotten a ton of value out of the intro DS+A class I took in undergrad and basically zero value out of any of the subsequent courses I took. I'm sure the advanced stuff gets used by someone, but my experience has been that for the vast majority of devs, the basics are enough. You don't need to know how a red-black tree works, or how to implement a hashmap, but you want to be able to answer questions that might come up in your day-to-day work like "Does it make sense to use a list or a set here?" or to be able to tell "This is the kind of situation where I should use a map", that kind of stuff.

Incidentally, those are also the exact kinds of questions you'll want to be able to answer for coding interviews. I mean, you probably won't literally be asked something like "what is the time complexity of finding an element in a set vs a list", but you'll be expected to choose the optimal data structure for whatever problem your interviewer wants you to solve and be able to justify your choice.

TLDR: at least do the intro to data structures and intro to algorithms courses offered by treehouse: https://teamtreehouse.com/library/topic ... er-science. Probably also do a fully-fledged DS/A intro course or work through an equivalent textbook if you can.

P.S. Nice job with the bootcamp, and good luck with your career transition

dustBowl
Posts: 22
Joined: Sat Aug 21, 2021 12:52 pm

Re: Advice for a soon-to-be bootcamp grad (Python coding)

Post by dustBowl »

Slevin wrote:
Mon Jul 25, 2022 7:56 pm
...if you prove yourself and do a halfway decent job, you can grind out the first year for “bad” pay (and my “bad” is a joke to most non software engineers, it’s probably 70k at the low end), then just jump ship and take a higher paying job anywhere else like a normal SWE with 1 year experience.
Also, this was my exact path. So another +1 to this; there's no shame in taking a "bad" job to gain some experience. Getting some real reps under your belt to begin with is the most important thing.

recal
Posts: 29
Joined: Sun Nov 14, 2021 12:29 pm

Re: Advice for a soon-to-be bootcamp grad (Python coding)

Post by recal »

I did the exact same thing tdurtsch did. My first job was horrible -- racist management, cut off from doing real work, a real Bullshit Job in David Graeber terms.

I leveraged that to move into a good company that I've progressed through quickly, and I've been here since.

Don't judge how programmers write and act from StackOverflow. Many thousands of people who write on there are non-native English speakers writing answers in spare moments.

Programming is getting harder and harder to get into every year. You have to figure out how to make someone hire you over a new college grad. My solution was to move to a city where college grads were escaping from. This was before COVID made everything remote-friendly, though. This means the competition will just increase.

Expect your job search to take a year -- if it's anything less than that, great, you got lucky.

Also, as someone who hires, a fresh bootcamp grad is never hiring-ready. You need another 6 months of study and portfolio building, at least. Most bootcamp grads who get jobs right after their bootcamp were previously in a different kind of programming (eg. systems to back-end transition).

Lastly, most people in this industry get jobs by referrals until the recruiters start banging down your door on LinkedIn. Referrals are vital.

Good luck.

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