Attending Inventive Academy or any coding Bootcamp can be an intense experience. You’ll quickly find yourself fully immersed in code. From learning new concepts to getting used to a different way of learning, to working on projects for eight hours or more a day.
You might be asking yourself, what is a coding Bootcamp REALLY like? What will an average day look like? What happens after the boot camp ends? If these questions are running through your head and you still can’t seem to make the final decision, then this blog will be sure to point you in the right direction.
I spoke with recent graduate of Inventive Academy’s 26 week cohort, Zach Goldberg and asked him to share his experience and insights on a typical day in the life of a boot camp attendee.
Did you have any doubts about finding a job after bootcamp?
Yes, everyone does… it’s the million-dollar question. I ended up getting hired after Bootcamp by Inventive itself, so I was lucky. But, let me say, I didn’t bother to have a back-up plan when I went to Bootcamp. I was all in on coding and I was going to land a job eventually no matter what. I was going to apply around Austin, and if that didn’t work out I was going to apply in other cities, and all the while I was going to keep coding, keep learning, and work on finding freelance gigs. The thing about coding is that if you keep practicing and keep learning, eventually you will be good enough that someone has to hire you. So, my personal advice to people about to embark on this journey is, rather than nosing around for Bootcamp employment statistics based on averages and questionable methods, figure out if coding is something you are committed to. Above all, sit down with some “if” statements, “for” and “while” loops, and maybe a couple of blog posts and figure out if this is something you can see yourself loving. If you love it I have no doubt you will find a job eventually.
“Rather than nosing around for bootcamp employment statistics based on averages and questionable methods, figure out if coding is something you are committed to.”
How are days structured?
The first hour would be an office hour. That basically meant we sat in the classroom doing our own work, but the two Teaching Assistants (TAs) who were both employed software developers were sitting with us ready to answer any questions. You could always get your questions answered as soon as you had them.
After that, the head instructor would join us and class would begin. The most common way that we would begin class would be to go to the whiteboards. We would be given questions about past material or material that we had studied and were going to cover that day, and we would write out answers, usually in code, by hand. Writing code by hand is good interview practice, and it’s also a good way to test your raw memory of the material without the aid of tools like google. We had 5 minute breaks every hour, so depending on how long whiteboards would last we would usually have a break afterwards.
The third hour would be the main instruction for the day. Inventive practices a flipped-classroom approach, which means that we were given official lectures in video form to watch on our own time, so this instructional hour would be mostly question-driven. The head instructor would tailor his discussion to our questions.
In the fourth hour, it was common to receive an assignment. One of the great things about Inventive Academy is that we do lots of projects… you will have a pretty impressive GitHub contribution metric by the time you graduate. Briefing us on the project could be quick or it could take a while, just depending on what the project was.
The remainder of class was then often spent getting started on those projects, which would be continued as homework. We would get things set up and ask questions so that we could be productive working on the projects more at home.
So that’s an average day in the life. I say “average” because instructors are people, not robots, and can tailor their instruction to what their students need. Some days we might code more than what I portrayed above and other days we might receive more lectures. But this should give you a pretty good idea.
How did coding bootcamp impact your personal life?
I made a bunch of friends that I still keep in touch with; two of them very regularly. We used to meet up for coffee on weekends and before class to code. That was a great bonding experience; it’s fun to be working on a shared goal.
How much did you work outside of class?
On a normal day I would begin work at 3pm, two hours prior to the start of class; this was the most I could afford with my day job schedule. Normally I would use this time to study the material that would be covered that day in class. I would watch the custom videos that Inventive Academy provides or watch other video tutorials online. Sometimes I would read online articles or, in much rarer cases, from textbooks that I had purchased. If I had time, I might work on homework, but most of my homework got done on the weekends.
Did you do homework on the weekends?
Coding, especially when you’re learning something brand new, can be demanding on the brain! I liked to do my homework on weekends because I could wake up fresh and immediately dive in. Depending on the weekend, I might do nothing, or I might do 5 hours or more per day. To add it all up, I would guess that I spent, on average, about 15 hours per week studying on my own. This is shy of the 20 hours that Inventive Academy recommends, but it was enough for me to keep up.
Does this experience affect sleep?
Ooooh I like this question! Certainly the answer to this question will depend on the person’s unique schedule, but I believe I can say this generally: the evening 5pm-10pm schedule is really convenient for people with day jobs. Instead of going home and loitering after work I would catch a second wind and be productive for another 5-7 hours every Monday through Thursday. Being in a classroom setting (whether in person or online) is invigorating. I can say that during the 26 weeks of bootcamp I felt totally productive every single day I had class.
What is the learning process like?
Speaking of productivity, let me add one other thing that I think is important to point out for people considering their bootcamp options. Full-time bootcamps are generally 12 weeks, while Inventive’s bootcamp is 26 weeks. But Inventive isn’t like other part-time programs that give you maybe 5-8 hours in class per week—we had 20 hours in class per week. Add that to the 15 hours per week that I spent studying on my own, and that’s 35 hours per week that I was coding during this “part-time” bootcamp. For me this was the biggest draw of Inventive Academy—I felt like I was getting twice the amount of instruction for half the price of the big name bootcamps. The process of learning to code requires time. I don’t really believe it’s possible to be productive during one of these full-time bootcamps that claims to have you learning for 12 hours per day. You need time to reflect on what you’ve learned. You need days off when you’re sick or have other responsibilities. You need to get questions answered by others. You need to sleep and be refreshed… my productivity would begin to decrease exponentially after the 7-hour mark most days. So, yeah, I really liked the balance that we found.
“For me this was the biggest draw of Inventive Academy—I felt like I was getting twice the amount of instruction for half the price of the big name bootcamps.”