Looking back on my experience juggling a full-time coding bootcamp and a full-time family, there are things that I did well, and things I would definitely try to do better, if given the chance to relive the experience.
- I did a great job prepping my husband for the experience, explaining in detail how absent I would need to be, and what that would mean for him. I think it helped him (mostly) keep his sanity, and when all else failed, gave me an “I told you so” get-out-of-jail-free card to keep in my back pocket.
- I said goodbye to my friends, telling them that over the next 3 months, I would be available if, and only if, their life caught fire. It allowed me to devote all my limited free time to my family, without feeling guilty about lapses in friendships.
- I prepped heavily for the coursework, allowing me to start from a position of only-slightly-behind (as compared to the other students, from my own, self-critical point of view).
- I prioritized networking events, attending only the ones that seemed likely to either: a) teach me something vital, b) significantly improve my chances of getting a job, or c) help me keep my sanity. (Rails Girls was the one event that addressed all 3 goals.)
- I should have used “time blocking”. As ignorant as it makes me sound, I had never heard of it before attending The Iron Yard. I blame the fact that the majority of my friends belong to a fatalistic culture that does not believe in the importance and/or existence of time.
- My default answer to all requests should have been “no”, because it is much easier to change a “no” to a “yes”, than a “yes” to a “no”. —> “No, I cannot attend that event. No I cannot go to your party. No, I do not see the poop smeared on the walls, and no I will not clean it up.”
- My biggest struggle was an internal one: Impostor Syndrome. I still don’t quite feel like a coder, despite the evidence on Github, and I spent an unhealthy amount of time worrying that I would fall behind in class, and no one would come back for me.
and one more….
- I made it! And now I can help others make it, too.
If you’re considering joining a coding bootcamp or learning to code on your own, I’ve been there, and I’m happy to do anything I can to help.