Technology is one of the hottest yet most intimidating industries today, brought on by several misconceptions that hound the industry like how tech is only for the genius and STEM degree holders. Changing the narrative are coding bootcamps that are designed to produce as many just-as-competent, if not more, tech professionals who may come from nontraditional backgrounds.
General Assembly is one of these training grounds.
With 10 years of experience, over 25,000 students worldwide have graduated from the General Assembly full-time bootcamps and launched their tech careers. General Assembly full-time bootcamps that can be completed in as little as 12 weeks—an enticing course feature for those who do not have the luxury of time and resources to complete a four-year degree in computer science.
Its immersive courses focus on high-demand tech fields like data science, coding, and UX design. As the name suggests, bootcamps are conducted over a short duration, so you could be working in these fields within a year. The learning curve, however, can be steep—a factor that might be intimidating to prospective tech students.
Nevertheless, there are ways to overcome it. With the right mix of courage, motivation, and tips from experts, you can be relieved of your coding bootcamp jitters, as our article will show below. It also includes a glimpse into the journey of one of General Assembly’s recent graduates who successfully transitioned into tech, despite not having any prior background in the industry.
General Assembly offers immersive training in data science, software engineering, UX design, and digital marketing—all designed to set you up for success in tech.Find the perfect General Assembly course for you.
How to Hack Your Coding Bootcamp Experience
1. Zero In on Your Career Goals and Commit
One of the reasons why many find tech jobs desirable is the perks the industry offers, which include high salary, exponential career growth, work flexibility, and stability. Who wouldn’t want these? But before you start dreaming of a fulfilling tech career, you should first ask yourself if tech is right for you.
Tech-related bootcamps can be taxing, with some requiring students to spend more than 10 hours each day. At General Assembly, daily sessions for any of its courses can last at least seven hours. This level of commitment is required in the industry, thus preparing you for what you may encounter once you enter the real world.
This means that a vital step in your journey is to first reflect and assess your plans against your long-term vision. Not sure where to start? Consult with General Assembly’s Admission Counselors and see how they can help you make a career out of your interests and align that with your goals before enrolling.
Try to get a complete picture of the bootcamp’s offerings and see if it meets your expectations. Following that, you should ascertain if you are ready to commit. Don’t worry, General Assembly’s Admissions team is experienced at finding the right course that matches your interest and capabilities, and charting your career road map.
2. Manage Your Expectations
Because they’re designed to mimic the workplace, coding bootcamps like General Assembly can be especially demanding. You’re constantly challenged to learn numerous skills in a short amount of time and use these to build your projects. You should prepare yourself early on, so you can quickly adapt to various challenges. One way to do so is by tapping into free introductory online courses to get an idea of what the field is all about.
General Assembly has well-curated free online resources that are accessible to everyone. They have introductory lessons covering data and design, as well as a beginner’s course in coding, where you can put your skills to test by completing some projects via Dash. In addition to expanding your knowledge, these resources can help to build confidence before diving into the bootcamp course.
Once you decide to enroll in an immersive course at General Assembly, you would need to complete an online preparatory course with tutorials that last between 12 and 20 hours. It is also best to check your schedule. There are full-time, part-time, and flex immersive courses. If you decide to work and study at the same time, you can opt for a bootcamp that offers part-time courses even if it takes longer to complete.
3. Learn Outside the Classroom
While bootcamp curricula concentrate on the essentials for a tech job, it pays to widen your education outside the classroom. Participate in workshops and other events where you can meet industry experts. Virtual workshops and networking events are impactful in a remote-first world, allowing a diverse pool of professionals to share their experience, industry trends, and effective tips.
General Assembly holds a series of online and on-site events every week that tackle various topics, from coding to data science and business. Some of these workshops are available for a fee. General Assembly also partners with a few organizations to host self-development and career development workshops, like Reset + Refresh.
4. Connect and Build Your Professional Network
Joining a coding bootcamp can seem daunting, especially for those without a related background, but your journey need not be isolating. Whether you are learning on-site or online, chances are you will find others with similar predicaments and challenges.
This is to be expected as bootcamps like General Assembly continue to encourage diversity by welcoming more students from different cultures and experiences who are seeking to switch careers. It is not unheard of for service staff, musicians, blue-collar workers, and artists to come into the world of tech. As such, forums and discussion boards are made available so that you can share your bootcamp experience with others.
Having a supportive community is just one of many advantages of enrolling in General Assembly. It has grown a vast community of alumni, students, employer partners, instructors, coaches, and other industry experts. Present in six countries in the world, General Assembly offers in-person lessons in over 15 locations, has over 25 online communities, and works with 19,000 hiring partners.
Tapping into this network not only links you to potential employers but also helps you form friendships with like-minded people. You can take advantage of various channels on Slack and LinkedIn for General Assembly students to foster your connections. If you don’t know where to start, General Assembly’s career coaches will walk you through the entire process—including networking and standing out from other job-seekers.
Also, look out for hackathons—an event that challenges participants to create and complete a digital product— where you can meet and work with developers, designers, and other industry experts.
5. Commit to Learning-By-Doing
Given that bootcamps are over in a sprint, expect to learn new tools and concepts quickly. The best way to do this is to learn by doing, a teaching method embedded at the heart of many bootcamps. Some of the bootcamps feature a combination of lectures and exercises while others will give you projects to figure out straight away with minimal guidance from your mentors.
Whatever the case, always strive to deliver well-executed exercises and projects. In the process, you can catch your weaknesses quickly and improve on them. At General Assembly, you’ll have access to a mentor and a career coach who will guide you at every step of your learning process. This brings us to the final tip.
6. It’s Okay to Ask for Help
Although making mistakes while learning tech skills is normal, you might feel worse if you suffer from impostor syndrome, where extreme self-doubt can negatively impact your performance. That being said, even tech experts experience it. A 2018 survey shows that almost 60 percent of tech professionals think they are not good enough despite years of experience in the field.
Considering that a tech job might expose you to uncomfortable situations, make sure you maximize your bootcamp experience by embracing mistakes and learning from them. Don’t be intimidated and face your challenges head-on. Know that your mentors and coaches at General Assembly are not merely evaluators, they are also there to guide you and help you move forward from every roadblock you encounter.
A General Assembly Alum’s Experience
Like many career switchers, Chelsea had no idea she would delve into tech. With a degree in philosophy and a diploma in television writing, she spent most of her career in television production. But when her contract ended with the company, she hit a wall in her career that pushed her to rethink her future goals.
Chelsea shares, “I did a bit of soul searching, fantasizing about possibly moving out of Singapore. So I was looking at the hottest jobs [in the market], like what other countries want…I saw that software engineering was in demand in a lot of countries.”
Her exposure to web development in her diploma and the fact that it interested her then, motivated her decision to go into tech studies. However, getting a computer science degree to qualify for a tech job was not an option for her. Chelsea adds, “Looking at computer science courses in Singapore, it’s [going to take me] four years to finish. Also, I wouldn’t have subsidized rates from the government for education anymore.”
That’s when she heard about coding bootcamps. “[I found that] there are bootcamp programs out there that help career changers get into tech. General Assembly seemed to be the most reputable one in Singapore.”
Entering a bootcamp was not an easy decision for Chelsea, though. Coming from a traditional career path where most companies only hire university graduates, she was doubtful of alternative learning. “What’s the merit that companies see [from hiring bootcamp graduates]? I didn’t even know if they have a professional certificate,” she says.“[My next concern was] the General Assembly cost, whether I would actually get a good return on investment because bootcamps can be pretty expensive.”
After applying for Singapore’s Tech Immersion and Placement Programme where General Assembly is one of the partner institutes, a huge amount of Chelsea Ee’s tuition fee was subsidized leaving her with only around SGD5,000 (USD 3,667) to settle.
But aside from financing her studies, Chelsea was worried if she could measure up to what the tech industry needed after graduating from the bootcamp. She explains, “I thought that my other classmates [might have] a better chance at getting interviews. My background is completely non-STEM…So, I thought when companies see that, they may not even reply to my applications.”
But General Assembly was there to help. The school not only molds students to have the core technical skills but also develops other soft skills that employers are looking for. “We have a career coach for every batch and they definitely helped [to] train me [on] how to sell myself,” she says. The best advice she received from her coach was to leverage her strength to stand out among other candidates. In addition, General Assembly connects its graduates with employers and hiring managers.
A few months after her job hunt, Chelsea was hired by Zendesk as a software engineer. Thankfully, her training at the bootcamp prepared her for the demands of her new job. “The job that I have at Zendesk is purely backend, and all the tools we use are completely new to me. But having a background in at least two programming languages helped me learn new languages and technologies easily.”
She also adds that General Assembly’s collaborative projects were instrumental in her ability to become a team player—a skill that is essential in her role at Zendesk.
In hindsight, Chelsea says enrolling in General Assembly despite some doubts and fear was worth it. When asked to extol the best advice for career switchers who are keen on a tech career but afraid to sign up for a tech bootcamp, Chelsea says: “Get your feet wet first by finding all those free coding resources out there…You get to know whether coding is something you actually enjoy. Because if you can’t find any joy in coding, then the bootcamp is going to be very difficult.”
She also advises potential candidates to take the prep course seriously as the bootcamp can be very fast-paced. “Having a bit of background [in your field of study] from your prep work can help you digest the knowledge better in the bootcamp…You will not feel so lost all the time.”
Learn with Confidence at General Assembly
Choosing a coding bootcamp is a big step to a tech career. Get a strong head start when you enroll with General Assembly. The bootcamp provides a well-rounded learning experience through its efficient mentorship model and student-centric support initiatives.
Whether you are an aspiring software engineer, data analyst, UX designer, or digital marketer, learn with confidence at General Assembly. Start by joining General Assembly’s upcoming events or reach out to General Assembly’s admissions team.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.