3 Things I Wish I Knew BEFORE Coding Bootcamp

Doing This Would’ve Saved Years

Happy Tuesday and Welcome back to… THE JAILBREAK.
(along with 650+ readers 🗝️ )

[read time: 4 mins]

I graduated from a Data Science and Machine Learning coding bootcamp in January 2021 and before I say anything else, let me say:

Going to a coding bootcamp changed my life.

I wouldn't be where I am today, (formerly) making a living from doing data science and engineering at a big tech company, and traveling around the country, without it.

But I do have a few things I regret…

1. Not Starting My Job Search Immediately

Photo by Magnet.me on Unsplash

I was given this advice on my first day at Bloom Tech (the coding bootcamp I attended) but I never realized just how important it was:

Learning to code and landing a job in tech are COMPLETELY DIFFERENT.

I didn’t realize this until I graduated and started applying for jobs but being good at coding is only a tiny part of actually securing a position at a company.

To land a tech job as a bootcamp grad, you’ll have to learn how to:

  • Create a resume that stands out and passes automated resume checkers

  • Craft an elevator pitch for phone screen interviews so you can explain what you do and why the company should hire you

  • Learn to sort through thousands of crappy job postings

  • Deal with the constant sting of ghosting and rejection

  • Network, follow up, and reach out to recruiters and hiring managers

If getting a job at Google were as simple as passing some LeetCode questions, everyone would already work at Google. Most people ruin their chances of getting a job before their resume is even seen by a person. If you’re learning to code or currently enrolled in a coding bootcamp:

  1. Iterate on your resume often and GET FEEDBACK from professionals

  2. Start searching for jobs before you graduate to learn the system

  3. Write a kick-ass elevator pitch that sells your experience

2. Not Focusing on The Fundamentals

Photo by Picsea on Unsplash

I get it. You joined a coding bootcamp because you want to move fast.

The thing is… you can’t run until you can walk.

To become great at ANYTHING, you need to master the fundamentals.

I know it’s alluring to jump past data structures and algorithms so you can play with that shiny new machine learning model (I know because I’ve done it!) but at some point, not perfecting those fundamentals is going to bite you in the ass.

You will have a much easier first few years on the job if you’re able to build from best practices instead of “moving fast and breaking things”…

Or to be more specific: “Moving fast and making tech debt.”

3. Waiting Until Graduation to Learn Coding Interviews

Photo by James Harrison on Unsplash

If you leave this article with one single piece of advice, let it be this:

Learn to pass coding interviews before you land a coding interview.

Sounds like obvious advice but I and so many other bootcamp grads have made the mistake of not learning how to confidently approach technical interviews before they have a real one.

Here are some things you can do to get your skills up quickly:

  • I hate to say it… LeetCode. Solve a few problems every day and try to work your way up to being able to comfortably solve medium-difficulty questions. AlgoExpert is also really nice for learning more about the actual data structures and algorithms behind the questions.

  • Do practice or mock interviews as much as you can (Pramp is absolutely GOAT-ed for this). If you have an idea of the questions that you’ll be asked as an interviewer, get a friend or an instructor to ask you the same questions so you can get a feel for explaining the work you do. Coding in front of other people is the only way to get over the fear of coding in front of other people.

  • Take interviews even if you know you’re going to bomb. I know nobody likes to look like a deer in headlights during a coding interview but I’ve never regretted taking an interview — even the ones where I’ve embarrassed myself — because the experience almost always helps me perform better in my next interview. Interviewing is a skill in itself. If you only ever do it a handful of times, you never really master the skill.

Thanks for reading and good luck with bootcamp and the job search!

🎥 Videos of the Week:



Support me by subscribing to this week’s sponsors!
(I only recommend newsletters that I actually read!)


Thanks for reading another issue of THE JAILBREAK!

See you Tuesday,
- Jack Ross ✌️

Jack Ross (Data Engineer, Writer, Nomad)

Chat with me directly by replying to this email, follow me on Twitter for regular updates, and subscribe to my YouTube channel for travel vlogs, tips, and insights on unlocking freedom in the digital age. ❤️