As you may know, I am currently doing a programming bootcamp at Green Fox Academy, in Budapest. If you have been following my previous articles, you know what kind of knowledge and skills we have been building over the past two months.
But today I would like to share with you how my routine looks like. This was actually was one of my questions before starting the course: how are the days structured? How much extra class time will it require? How will it impact my personal life?
It is intense. There is denial to this. If you are not willing to commit completely, then a bootcamp might not be the best idea for you. This is what everyone tells you. I, myself, had heard it before from friends who had done bootcamps. Ok, but how intense?
How many hours of work per day?
In average, I put in 10–12 hours of work daily, Monday to Friday. Sometimes a bit more. Our classes start at 9am and go until 6pm. At Green Fox, these times are completely respected, which I greatly appreciate. Of course, that doesn’t mean we cannot go in earlier and leave later (we can, the school is open), but it means we are not required to and, in reality, it’s not so common that people do it. So, in average, I spend 8–9 hours at school (I don’t always do a lunch break), plus some extra time at home at the end of the day.
How are days structured?
We start the day with a check-in, sharing our current mood with our colleagues and mentors. Then we proceed to do the material review: this is when the mentors go over the concepts we are meant to have learnt at home the day before. This takes around 1–2 hours, depending on the complexity of the subjects. When this is finished, we start the workshop, meaning we start working on exercises or small projects related to that day’s material.
A little before 6pm, we do a check-out round, sharing with the others our joys and/or frustrations of the day. Some days are great and we feel amazing! Others are painful and we just want to go home. Kind of… because when we get home, there is more work to do.
Is homework required?
Do you remember the material review I mentioned? Well, to do the review, we need to learn the materials first. This means somewhere between one to two hours of videos that we need to watch every day (all available on Youtube, in different channels, in case you are wondering).
In the evenings, if I didn’t finish the exercises at school (which is usually the case), I also try to finish them at home. So, a few more hours of extra work…
Some days, I can actually enjoy my evening after the work is done and even meet friends or do some leisure activity. Other days, my brain is so exhausted that even the most basic conversation is the most herculean effort.
How does this experience affect sleep?
Some people need more hours than others. I used to always sleep 8 hours before I started this journey, but now I get an average of 7 hours. I tried cutting on sleeping hours even more but it just didn’t work for me. The following day I would be in a completely dormant state and guess what… I am supposed to use my brain all day! So, I find that to be more harmful than helpful.
Although, if you are considering doing a bootcamp, be aware that some short nights every now and then are unavoidable — especially when you need to prepare presentations for the following day.
Because the whole experience is so intense (and we keep being told that even when we are sleeping, our brain is making connections about the new things we learnt), it happens to me sometimes that I wake up thinking about code in the middle of the night. Not that often, but it has happened. More common is to wake up in the morning and have some of your first thoughts to be about code. I realize how much of a geek I sound writing this but well, I never said I like it, I just said it happens.
Are you supposed to work on the weekends?
Yes, I work on programming during the weekends but only around 3–4 hours, in total. I also do some journalism freelance work, so I need time for that. And I need to take care of all the things I postpone during the week for lack of time or energy. But still, at least one day per weekend, I try to rest. This is my time to recharge batteries for the week to come — essential, if I want to perform well.
How is the learning process?
It is tough. The idea at Green Fox is to simulate a real work environment, so we are supposed to figure out the solutions to the exercises either on our own or with the help of colleagues. The mentors are usually in the room (most of the time but not always) and happy to help but we are supposed to look for answers online before coming to them. Then, if we find a way to solve a problem but are having trouble implementing it, that’s when their help is more important.
And despite the videos and the material reviews, there are many things these do not cover and we have to figure out as we go along. Google is our best friend and websites like Stack Overflow and W3Schools are extremely useful.
Of course, sometimes it gets complicated, especially when we don’t even know what to google for. After all, most of us are being exposed to these topics for the first time, so how are we supposed to know how to use something if we don’t even know it exists in the first place? But we carry on — always.
How does it impact your personal life?
All and all, a programming bootcamp is a demanding experience, as I hope you realised by now. The time you have available for your loved ones is limited, and other times you are free but just too tired to be entirely present. But still, it doesn’t mean you have to stop every social interaction for a few months — I have a few colleagues who are parents and still manage to spend times with their kids and have great results at the bootcamp.
The time for your hobbies is also cut down dramatically — I used to work out before, now I do it once per week, and I am completely behind on the tv shows I used to follow.
And, perhaps, the biggest change is in your frame of mind. This is an immersive experience. You will be thinking about it every day, for most of the time. You will feel committed, but that will feel good. You will want to know more and more all the time. And the more you learn, the more you will want to learn — and the more you realised you still don’t know anything.
However, as I publish this, I start my first day in the Project phase. Meaning: the daily routine will be completely different! If you want to know what will change, don’t miss my next article!
I hope this helped shining a light on how daily life looks like when you are doing a programming bootcamp. If you have any further questions, do not hesitate to contact me, I will be happy to share details about the whole experience!