Mer’s Declassified Bootcamp Survival Guide

Meredith McIntosh
5 min readDec 15, 2020

Forrest Gump was right. Life is definitely like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get, but I am here to tell you, that your first week of technical bootcamp doesn’t need to be a mystery heart-shaped container of chocolate surprises.

I am currently enrolled in Flatiron, a technical bootcamp. Flatiron is a school that is located all across the country that focuses on software engineering, data science, and cybersecurity. Flatiron has many learning options, but I am currently enrolled in the virtual 15-week program for software engineering. Technical bootcamps are a great tool to jump into a new, exciting career quickly, but it is not for the faint of heart. With only having 15 weeks to learn everything you need to learn to become a full-stack web developer, it is very fast paced and an all-consuming commitment.

I am here to tell you, it is possible. I am currently in week 5 of bootcamp and I am ready to share a few tips to survive your first few weeks of bootcamp and how to set up routines to be as successful as possible.

I am not perfect. I am having a difficult time in bootcamp, but that is totally normal. So I am writing this to the average Joe. The average learner. The learner that is willing to struggle. The learner that is okay with a little (*a lot) of frustration with a whole lot of positive outcomes.

Here is a few tips to survive your first few weeks of bootcamp.

  1. Sleep like your life depends on it, because it does.

I think first and foremost, sleep is one of the most important parts of survival. Has anyone really felt accomplished and felt their best with a lack of sleep? Most would say no. I have found that when I am really tired, I am not absorbing as much information as I would be if I was alert and full of energy! I would definitely suggest trying to get 8 hours of sleep a night to be ready for all the new knowledge that is being taught. And also, a cup of a coffee couldn’t hurt either, am I right?

2. Get outside and breath that fresh air!

Another great tip that was actually shared to me by another student is to get up to stretch and go outside! I didn’t think this was that important in the beginning, but boy was I wrong! Getting outside and breathing fresh air is exactly what I personally needed to feel okay with working at my computer for up to 13 hours a day! Whether this means walking your dog, sipping some wine on your porch, or just simple sitting on your stoop and enjoying the scenery, I highly recommend getting outside and taking a mental break before heading back to the grind!

3. Focus can make or break a school day!

Something that is so difficult for me is staying focused. My phone somehow always manages to me back in my hand just to scroll through the same, unimportant posts on my favorite social media app. I also find that I need to answer my family or friend’s texts immediately throughout the school day, but I am here to tell you, WHAT A WASTE OF ENERGY. Setting good habits in the beginning of bootcamp is ideal for maximum learning. Turn your phone off. Tell your family that you are unavailable until the end of the school day. Tell your friends that you can see them at your next scheduled outing. This bootcamp is short and you want to maximize your learning while you have the tools, coaches, and classmates there to support you, so do yourself a favor and learn from me — turn that phone OFF!

4. Foooooooooooooooood

Another piece to the successful puzzle is prioritizing good food. We have all experienced the busy seasons of our lives where all we eat is fast food, frozen pizzas, and lots and lots of cereal. I discovered very quickly that I needed to make sure I was filling my body with good and nutritious food that would give the energy to be successful!

As a family, we decided to invest in a grocery delivery service and WOW — WHAT A GAME CHANGER. Now, going to the grocery store is the least of my worries and I always know that I will have something delicious, fulfilling and relatively healthy available to me at all times. Whatever prioritizing good food looks like to you — DO IT!

5. Am I learning anything yet? But really, trust the process.

Last, but not least, I couldn’t go through a whole list of tips without speaking educationally, could I? First, put time and energy into the pre-work that is given to you before bootcamp starts. Once bootcamp starts, you hit the ground running with new material, but the pre-work material is still involved in your everyday assignments. And second, everyday in bootcamp, you will be learning something new, so just be ready to not fully understand every concept being thrown at you, but just continue to push forward, ask tons of questions, and be willing to put in extra hours! Something our instructor continues to say is to “trust the process.” There are many days where I feel like I am not grasping the material, but after tons of repetition, late night reviews with classmates, and lectures, I do think I am understanding more and more each day. And when you get to bootcamp, you will too!

Bootcamp is hard and no one is trying to hide that fact, however, bootcamp is also one of the most fulfilling and enjoyable educational experiences I have ever had. I hope with the above tips that you will be able to jump into bootcamp and set good routines from the beginning and be ready to hit the ground running!

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