A common question for people new to programming or those who have just enrolled in coding bootcamps is, “How good will I get at coding in 3 months?”
I had this exact same question as well. Part of the reason why I write this blog is so that other people can use it as a reference to what a normal non-genius person can achieve if you devote your time to the course work and other coding activities. It can also be used to see what cannot be achieved even if you are super motivated.
To set the premise of what I mean by “devoted”, in the last 3 months, I have built a habit of coding 5~10 hours a day, or at least 2~3 hours a day even on busy days. I sleep around 2~3AM and wake up at 8AM; cutting down on sleep was the only way to really balance school work, Firehose course work, and the web development job I got midway through the curriculum. I never watched TV, locked myself in the room so that I could focus on learning coding, and had to sacrifice some of my social activities. It was not easy to say the most.
But because I had devoted a lot of time and energy to coding, I became pretty comfortable with the Ruby on Rails framework. By the end of the bootcamp, I was able to build fairly complex things beyond the course curriculum on my own.
I built the app but I knew right away that there was only a slight chance of being selected. I looked at the list of 176 other competing students. 90% of them were from Ivy League schools majoring in Computer Science.
The results came out and unsurprisingly I wasn’t selected. And this was rightfully so; how could I compete with them?
I say this not because they are top-tier “Ivy League students”, but because of the reasons they are top-tier. These students are also devoted to their craft and probably spend the same amount of time, or even more, to improving. And they’ve been doing it for longer than I am. The obvious observation here isn’t a difference in talent, but rather in the amount of time and energy spent coding and learning about it.
I’ve noticed two traits in passionate computer science majors.
First of all, there are a LOT of passionate computer science majors. They love coding, they love learning about computers, and they are total nerds (in a good way). They are super knowledgable and being a computer guy is their identity.
Second, every passionate coder spends a significant amount of time coding everyday. It wasn’t just me, this was the norm (at least for those who are passionate about it).
So obviously a coding bootcamp graduate is not going to be able to compete against these people within 3 months. There are a lot of passionate techies out there who are really good at what they do.
On the other hand, these people are only a portion of computer science students. Most of them only engage in course work and don’t try to build new things by themselves. A lot of them, even if they have good grades, aren’t capable of building web applications that integrates front end and back end.
Going through a coding bootcamp like The Firehose Project can make you a better developer than most computer science students, as in, you will be able to make things. You may not be able to solve super complex computer science problems, but you will graduate being able to build useful things.
The takeaway here is that although going through a bootcamp won’t magically make you a top-level coder in 3 months even if you put in a lot of effort and time, you will still become pretty good at developing websites, probably better than a lot of students. Coding bootcamps are designed to skip certain aspects of computer science that aren’t practical or necessary for real-world coding and I find this to be very true.
With that being said, you do have to let yourself spend a lot of time and focus on actually writing code to become a little bit better every day. A lot of this will come naturally because coding is really fun and awesome. But if your goal is to land a job in web development, you also have to push yourself to learn a little bit more than the other person competing for your job, because a lot of coders are also devoted to their craft.