5 Ways to Prepare for Bootcamp

You’ve made it. You’ve been accepted to the coding bootcamp of your dreams (hopefully, Claim Academy). You’ve committed your time, money and energy to launch your career in programming, IT, software development, or any of the myriad career paths you may choose after learning to code.

Like anything in life, the best way to get the most out of a large investment is to prepare as best you can.

In this article, we’re outlining 5 ways to prep for this life-changing learning opportunity. Though some of these suggestions may seem obvious, it’s important to consider the basics and take them seriously. Otherwise, you may be wasting your time.

Let’s dive in.

#1. CLEAR YOUR CALENDAR

First and foremost… you must eliminate distractions.

Weddings, parties and trips all sound like great ways to celebrate… but only after you walk away from the classroom with your certificate of completion. Prior to bootcamp, we advise you to clear your calendar as much as possible for the duration of your 12-week course. It’s hard to fit fun events into your weekends when you need that time to relax your mind, attend to chores at home, and, of course, complete any outstanding assignments.

While looking at your calendar, consider your finances. Get everything in order so you don’t have to stress about paying bills or spending within budget while your focus is set primarily on learning dense coding concepts.

It’s also helpful to communicate to your friends and family that you’ll be mainly “off grid” as you focus on learning as much as possible for 12 weeks. This will help prevent those tempting texts from your favorite people asking you to socialize when you should be sleeping (more on this later).

#2. BUY SCHOOL SUPPLIES

Remember strolling into Office Depot or the Dollar Store as a 2nd-grader and picking out your favorite pens and pencils, notebooks, and crayons? I, for one, always looked forward to this inevitable summer errand (shoutout to pencil grips and Lisa Frank).

Before you start bootcamp, reclaim that childlike enthusiasm and go get yourself some fresh supplies for the classroom. You’ll walk in to your first day feeling prepared and ready to take lots of notes. Speaking of note-taking… our instructors highly advise writing down notes in class to improve comprehension. Experts agree that writing things down is better than typing them out… that is, if you want to learn quickly. In our context, for example, drawing out a wireframe is WAY faster and easier to do on a piece of paper.

If you’re looking for advice on how to choose a laptop for bootcamp, check out an older blog post here on the subject.

Final suggestions for essential supplies include noise canceling headphones and a reusable water bottle. Of course, hydration is an everyday need, but it is especially important to hydrate while coding. It’s quite easy to forget to drink water when you’re bent over a laptop for hours on end.

#3. DEVELOP HABITS FOR PHYSICAL FITNESS

As obvious as it is, if you don’t already have them, start developing habits to stay in ship-shape so you can max out your attentiveness at bootcamp. To start, give your body the proper fuel it needs to perform. If you haven’t heard of superfoods, do a quick Google search. Blueberries, avocados, and Greek yogurt are just a few examples of healthy food that is easy to eat on the go.

Speaking of food, our team works to make it easy for our students to hole up comfortably in the Claim Academy building to study or work. Our kitchenette area has a refrigerator, microwave, and coffee maker, so feel free to bring snacks, your favorite coffee creamer, or any other refreshments that make your time here grinding it out as pleasant as possible.

Prepare to eat on-site as much as possible to save money and time. Meal planner apps like Eat This Much are helpful for managing cost; you can create a custom meal plans and adjust your weekly or daily budget to ensure you avoid spending too much on food, or worse, “stress-eating” junk food out of desperation and poor planning.

If you’re somewhat of a night owl, remember this: you still need to get as close to 8 hours of sleep per night as humanly possible. Consistent deep sleep is crucial to prepare your body for full, productive days.

Additionally, though you may normally get away with counting trips to the grocery store as “exercise”, once you’re enrolled in bootcamp, you’ll need to make a more intentional effort to carve time for physical activity. In order for you to be successful when you’re plugged in and coding for hours, you need to get up and move around periodically. Go outside and walk around the block, ride a bike, run a mile, lift weights or take an exercise class. Don’t run yourself down. You’ll lack focus, or worse, catch a seasonal cold.

Speaking of focus… ever hear of the mind-body connection?

#4. TAKE CARE OF YOUR MENTAL HEALTH

We can’t emphasize this enough: it’s really important that you manage stress well in a bootcamp environment. This means that you must work to relieve your own stress while also protecting yourself from taking on your fellow students’ stress.

Aside from physical activity, many people find mental exercises like meditation helpful to sort through the feelings of being overwhelmed or anxious. Check out apps like Headspace or Aura to access short, 10 or 15 minute meditations which you can plug into your day as your guaranteed “brain break.”

On the subject of mental fitness, as you prepare to start your course, work to train your brain to learn in a circular fashion. This means revisiting topics over again that didn’t quite stick the first time you heard them. The Circular Learning Model is a helpful tool for making the most of your classroom and post-class study hours. Practice using this method with the pre-course work we provide. For any concepts that feel muddier than others, revisit that section and practice exercises over again.

#5. START BUILDING YOUR PROFESSIONAL NETWORK

Never lose sight of the ultimate goal: job placement. You’re paying to become an all-star coder so you can score a well-paying job, right?

Many graduates suggest joining Meetup groups in your local area. In her post on Medium, bootcamp grad Jessica Dembe explains, “I went to meetups and let it be known that I was a coding bootcamp student who is looking for a job. I mean, that is how I got the job that I have now! So definitely attend meetups and let people know about your story.” Think about how to describe yourself, or tell your story, in a compelling way. Then: practice, practice, practice.

There are plenty of tools on the internet to lay the groundwork for exploring jobs both locally and in remote cities. For example, the review site SwitchUp offers a rolling list of jobs in tech that they keep updated. (SwitchUp also is a great resource for more helpful tips from bootcamp grads across the country; we highly recommend visiting their blog to explore these insights by topic).

Other ways to prepare for selling yourself to future employers include setting up a LinkedIn profileread through this stellar advice on getting the most out of LinkedIn — exploring various career paths in technology, and connecting with past graduates for coffee or lunch to chat about their experience getting hired after bootcamp. We’d be happy to facilitate these meetings if you wanted to connect with any of our graduates.

In short, there are a ton of ways to prepare for bootcamp. Don’t neglect these 5 important “to-do’s”. Got any other ideas? Comment below!

From Kenya to Computer Software Engineer

Joel Oyuchi had just arrived in St. Louis when he heard about Claim Academy from the CEO of Vitendo For Africa, a local nonprofit that provides support services and resources for African immigrants. He quickly decided that the 12 week developer boot camp was the right program for him and his new life in America.

“I compare Claim Academy to a gift that is presented to a person with both hands, a sign of respect in my culture. The receiver of the gift takes it with both hands and says thank you. I didn’t hesitate to apply to Claim Academy. The CEO of Vitendo for Africa walked me through what Claim Academy does and I submitted the application in his office that very day because I knew Claim Academy was the key to my future in the US,” says Oyuchi.

The journey to become a successful software engineer was not easy. Oyuchi did not have a car and had to work as a housekeep at a retirement community just to be able to afford the bus fare for three months at Claim Academy. But the hard work paid off, and he received a job offer from Express Scripts the same day he graduated.

With a well-paying job at Express Scripts, Oyuchi is now able to financially support his parents in Africa and is looking forward to owning a house and car. He credits the Claim Academy instructors and Claim Academy founder Ola Ayeni with providing him with an opportunity for a successful career in the tech industry.

“Three months at Claim Academy is a long life rewarding opportunity,” comments Oyuchi. “You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life at Claim Academy.”

Afgan Vet Finds New Career with Claim Academy

Russell Brooks, 30 years old, a recent Claim Academy graduate, spent eight years in the navy reserves with one deployment to Afghanistan. But life as a civilian was difficult and he had trouble finding a job he enjoyed.

“Before claim academy I was bouncing around from job to job not really knowing what I wanted to do. I first heard about coding bootcamps, and it sparked my interest to research if there were any in the St. Louis area. That’s how I found Claim Academy,” commented Brooks.

Interested in a job in technology, he started to take online coding classes. However, he found that he needed more. “I knew Claim Academy was the best opportunity and the fasted way for me to start a tech career.”

Claim Academy is a St. Louis-based developer boot camp that offers classes in Full Stack Java and .NET/C# programming. Students like Brooks attend a 12-week program that include daily lectures, guided mentorships, pair-programming with fellow students and guided workshops. The program culminates in a project presentation open to companies looking to hire on graduation day.

With a Veteran’s scholarship through St Louis Workforce Development center, Brooks graduated from Claim Academy in October 2016.

Brooks’s courses included long hours of studying, but according to Brooks, the hard work was definitely worthwhile. “My life has completely changed. I now have a career and a job that I lovegoing to,” he says. 

He also enthusiastically recommends Claim Academy. “Yes, I highly recommend it. You will find a job. Companies need programmers and many are willing to teach and work with the inexperienced.

And his advice for future students, “Study a lot. Don’t get discouraged if it’s not making sense at first.. programming is really hard but gets easier with practice just like everything else.

Russell Brooks is a Jr. .Net Developer at Preferred Systems Solutions.

4 key things to concentrate on while you are selecting a laptop for programming

Processor :
A Processor is the logic circuitry that responds to and process the basic instructions that drive a computer.

Good Processors present in the market are Intel i3 or above.

Although you can get cheaper laptops with Intel celeron processors, they are not recommended for programming.

RAM :
RAM (random access memory) is the place in a computing device where the operating system (OS), application programs and data for current users are kept so that they can be quickly reached by the device’s processor. RAM is a temporary memory.  

Minimum 4GB Ram is highly recommended for programming .

Hard Disk :
A hard disk drive (sometimes abbreviated as Hard drive, HD, or HDD) is a non-volatile memory hardware device that permanently stores and retrieves data on a computer.

Minimum : 32 GB HDD is highly recommended for programming .

Operating System :
An operating system (OS) is the program that, after being initially loaded into the computer by a boot program, manages all the other programs in a computer.

Both windows and mac OS works for programmer but its advised to start with a windows OS specially OS above Windows 7 . / Mac (using parallels you can use windows in mac but you need to pay for that).

For .Net programming Windows is advisable.

For Java Programming either Windows and mac works .

*Chromebooks DO NOT Support either .net or java IDEs.

 

Ideal System configurations for a beginner in programming :

OS: Windows 7 or 10

HDD: 32 GB and above.

RAM : 4 GB or above.

Processor : Intel i3 or above .

 

Other features to check when you buy a laptop .
A good screen size is always recommended .

13 – 14 inch is recommended if your laptop is used in different locations and can be easily moved with less weight.

15 inch is recommended for laptops which doesn’t move much.

 

Graphic Card:
Don’t waste your money on this until you want to develop games.

Aegis Strategies’ Powers stops by to rave about Claim Academy and the grad the company hired

Nick Powers, Vice President of Aegis Strategies, LLC, an enterprise technology solutions company located at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, visited Claim Academy March 7 to meet with the Java cohort. Aegis Strategies supports both government contracts requiring security clearance and general contracts with some of St. Louis’ largest companies and most successful startups.  Aegis has hired 75 new employees in the last 3 years and found itself on the Inc 5000 Fastest Growing Businesses in America at #952 last year.

According to Powers, Aegis Strategies is hiring for as many as 10 tech-related positions in the near term. He encouraged attendees to apply for positions through the company’s career site. He raved about the Claim Academy graduate that they hired from an earlier Java cohort. Powers said, “He scored the highest score on our pre-employment Java test we’ve ever seen. Higher than any other candidate that we’ve ever hired — 20 points higher. I can’t emphasize enough the quality of Java training education that you are getting here at Claim Academy.”

Aegis Strategies has an amazingly high 4.6 out of 5 star rating on Glassdoor.com. One of the reasons why its scores so highly with its employees is because Aegis offers excellent benefits for its employees and their families. Plus, unlike many government contractors, Aegis makes it a point to keep employees between contracts, rather than laying them off. “We find a project for them to do that can help Aegis Strategies win additional business. So far that strategy has worked so well that the employees we have kept on have all been assigned to new client projects with our company.”

Learn more about Nick Powers | Learn more about Aegis Strategies, LLC

 

Nick Powers (right) of Aegis Strategies with Claim Academy Founder, Ola Ayeni.

Founder of PluggedIn HQ visits Claim Academy

Colleen (Liebig) Jenkins, the founder of PluggedIn HQ stopped by Claim Academy on Friday, March 3, to share with Full-Stack Java cohort students how they can take advantage of PluggedIn HQ’s startup job posting and matching services when they graduate.

The Java students were interested to learn about PluggedIn HQ’s career matchmaking platform that connects job seekers with-high-growth start-up companies. Class members were encouraged to build a profile on the PluggedIn HQ site, get matched to available opportunities and to instantly connect with employers who have expressed a mutual interested with the candidate. Continue reading “Founder of PluggedIn HQ visits Claim Academy”

Look who’s been stopping by at Claim Academy!

Claim Academy, the software developer boot camp, invites leaders from St. Louis top companies and our distinguished Java and .NET C# alumni to visit with our current cohorts to tell students about their organization’s company culture and hiring practices. Visitors often also share with students how they got started in coding, what they have learned since being on the job and best practices to help the Java and .NET C# students succeed.

Here are just a few of the people who have stopped by in recent weeks:

Stephen Zoller (left) and Kerry Kinkade of Bi-State Development

Two leaders from Bi-State Development – Kerry Kinkade, CIO, and Stephen Zoller, Manager of IT Operations Development stopped by to share about Bi-State’s business culture and to tell Java cohort members about recent changes affecting their business including a corporate name change (formerly the whole company had been named Metro). Bi-State leads regional economic development in Greater St. Louis and Metro East Illinois. In particular, its various entities (including Metro (MetroLink), the Gateway Arch, the St. Louis Downtown Airport, St. Louis Regional Freightway, and the Bi-State Development Research Institute) plan and implement major transportation initiatives across the Greater St. Louis and Metro East areas.

Continue reading “Look who’s been stopping by at Claim Academy!”

Stay At Home Developer

Stay-at-home parent to software developer? It’s doable!

How do you transition from being a stay-at-home parent to becoming a successful software developer? It’s not easy, but it IS doable … AND highly lucrative!

According to research by the Center for Work-Life Policy, 37% of stay-at-home parents have left work voluntarily at some point in their careers. Among women with children, a whopping 43% have stayed home for a significant period. Getting back into the workforce after a lengthy time can be daunting, especially when employers are concerned about rusty skills and resume gaps.

Learning in-demand skills like Java developing or .NET C# coding can help parents re-entering the workforce to land high-paying jobs. For example, by joining an intensive coding boot camp like Claim Academy, returning workers can land a lucrative Java or .NET C# Developer in as little as 12 weeks full time or 20 weeks part time. Continue reading “Stay At Home Developer”