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A day in the life of a bootcamp student

navigating my way through the notorious tech bootcamp schedule with a new rescue puppy in the midst of a global pandemic

So maybe you’ve heard the words “coding bootcamp” but wondered what that really means. A coding bootcamp is a type of a technical training program that teaches students programming skills in a condensed period of time. Given the short time frame for the training, tech bootcamps are hyper focused on speed and high-impact learning which can be quite challenging. Since I’m currently enrolled in one myself, I just wanted to share what my day looks like as a bootcamp student.

It is definitely not easy — a tech bootcamp will demand a tremendous amount of hard work, resilience and motivation because the reward it comes with is truly life-changing.

my ‘real’ wake-up alarm

6:00 am

my phone alarm goes off but I hit that snooze button like an automated machine. 5 minutes later, I force myself up and get dressed. Who can say no to this little face? Taking the dog out for a morning jog quickly downgraded to a ‘relaxing’ walk ever since the bootcamp started — need to conserve every last bit of energy into finishing that homework lab I didn’t get to last night before class starts. During the walk, my mind wanders somewhere in between picking up Cooper’s poop and that last part of the code challenge that I just could not figure out on time. Coding is already on my mind. I think I need coffee.

7:00 — 7:30 am

Arriving home post-COVID now involves a few tasks that includes wiping pretty much everything; the dog, my hands, and everything that my hand touched. I take a quick shower and give Cooper his breakfast then do a bit of house work. Early mornings are when I get a lot of things done, well, have to get done. I wash the dirty dishes and coffee mugs from yesterday and do some mild cleaning. Once I take my brewed coffee into my workspace turned bedroom and sit in front of the computer, the other part of my day begins — welcome to bootcamp.

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< 9am — “golden hour”

Photo by Isabel Maria Guner-Velasco on Unsplash

This is my zen time. I turn on my favorite Spotify station and work on labs. There’s a 99.99% chance that I am falling behind from yesterday and working on old labs. But because I’m an experienced bootcamp student — small details like deadline don’t make me panic anymore. I got this.

9:00am–12:30pm

Mornings go by very fast at Flatiron. Even though everything has changed to remote learning for the timing being, Flatiron makes sure that the students still experience the same rigor and achieve productivity just as the in-person learning experience. At 9 on the dot, one of the coaches takes attendance on Slack (our medium for communication) and after that, our schedules are laid out for the day. Depending on the week you are in from each Mod, the schedule varies ever so slightly but is not far from:

Example Daily Schedule

  • (9–10:00) work on general labs 👩‍💻
  • (10–11:00) discussion questions 💬
  • (11–12:30) lecture 👨‍🏫
  • 1hr lunch 🍣
  • (1:30–3) another lecture (back-to-back? Grab that Red Bull)
  • (1:30–5) more labs (independent or pair)
  • (5:30–6) stand-down (similar to check-in/feedback/summary)

optional (available depending on the day of the week)

  • morning meditation 🧘🏽‍♀️
  • womxn & non-binary standup ☕️
  • AMA with alumni + other career-related workshops

12:30pm — 1:30pm

me bribing Cooper as I leave him for the second lecture

I rush to take Cooper out for his mid-day walk. He’s been nothing but wonderful ever since he brought him home from day one. But because of the amount of workload I get from bootcamp, I can’t play with him during the day. I feel slightly guilty that I’m rushing his walk to just around the corner and back home so I give him a nice treat. Good, he still loves me. For some reason, when I look at the clock during lunch, I swear that the time hand moves faster than at any other time. Lunch is usually a food-truck take-out or a microwaved meal-prep from the weekend. As I attempt to eat with one hand while petting Cooper I see in an influx of Slack messages. I want to cuddle with Cooper for few minutes but the alarm goes off and it’s time for the second lecture. Into the office I go.

1:30pm–6:00pm

Photo by Chris Ried on Unsplash

The afternoon moves a bit slower than the morning but is still jam-packed with materials to cover and get through. I try my hardest to keep my eyes open during the back-to-back lectures. For some reason, my instructor’s voice going over each concept like fetch and scoping sounds like a sweet lullaby. I wish I hadn’t eaten that entire gyro for lunch.

Post lecture, I work on more labs and practice the concepts that I’ve just learned. I spend approximately half of my time at Flatiron Googling things that I don’t know. In the beginning, this made me feel ashamed and stressed but now I accept it as a natural part of a programmer’s journey. Dear students, Google is a programmer’s best friend — get used to it!

Photo by Nathana Rebouças on Unsplash

“I spend approximately half of my time at Flatiron Googling things that I don’t know.”

My day in a nutshell 🥜

6:00pm–8:00pm

Class dismissed!

By 6pm, my stomach forgets that I even had lunch. I scarf down my dinner (I’ll attempt to cook here although on many nights, it’s been delivery) and relax on the sofa for an hour or two. This is when me and my partner will finally have a moment to sit and catch up on each other’s busy day. He’ll usually have a glass of wine or beer while I refuse because I know I still have labs to work on. We watch a little bit of TV, rub Cooper’s belly and have a moment of winding down while not completely relaxed yet. The challenge here is knowing that while class has ended, I still have a ton of work to do so I can’t get too comfy otherwise the night is a bust. (and yes, there have been nights where I didn’t get anything done because I got too comfortable haha)

9:00pm–11:00pm

I shower and lay on my bed with the laptop still on. I shoot a quick glare at Cooper and my partner who are playing in the living room and begin cloning down another lab…

My brain works very slowly at this point. Choosing some music in the background quickly turns into checking my messages that then leads to looking at my instagram. (And we all know what that means — fast forward 30mins) Sometimes, I’d check Slack to see who is still active and there is ALWAYS someone still on when you’re in a bootcamp. We exchange a few encouraging messages and vent back and forth which feels kind of like a therapy session at this point. The community that I was able to build while in the bootcamp is truly one of the biggest driving forces that gets me through some of the toughest hurdles. I am so thankful for them.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

At the end of each day like this I find myself reflecting on this journey. As cliche as it may sound. everyday feels like a roller coaster ride. My fellow cohort describes the feeling as:

“Overall If I have to describe myself this week I will say that I am on a open field where it is raining, and some of my classmates are nice, dry and sound inside [of] a tree house, while I am still standing on the field… just because I haven’t practice how to use the ladder to get into the house [yet]” — an awesome bootcamp fellow who likes to break codes all the time

Haha. I hope I didn’t scare you. Because with everything that goes on throughout the day in the life of a bootcamp student, I really do enjoy learning each day and feel like I am getting stronger. And I know you will too. Continue to push yourself!! And come join the journey with me.

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ANNA KIM

ANNA KIM

43 Followers

Software engineer with a passion good design and UX. Currently petting all the good dogs in NYC 🐶 http://annakim.dev | ⚡️ http://linkedin.com/in/devannakim