Advice for Future Launchers

You’ve spent the last 8 weeks learning the fundamentals of how to code. You’ve covered loops, hashes and arrays. You have a solid understanding of Object Oriented Programming and what it means to be modeling our code after real world objects. You’ve asked plenty of questions by now to the EE’s and you’ve likely collaborated a bit with your fellow classmates via Slack. The following tips will help you keep that momentum and succeed at Launch.

Day 1

On the first day of Launch you are going to be given so much material, it’s going to feel incredibly overwhelming. You will be meeting everyone in your cohort as well as the staff, you will be split up into your mentor groups and you will be given your first assignment – that’s right! You’ll be coding on day 1.

If you take anything from this article, take this little nugget of truth: slow down, take a deep breath and readjust. If you are feeling overwhelmed, I can assure you a number of different things:

  1. You’re not alone. The majority of the class likely feels the same as you but some are better at hiding it.
  2. Panicking will not fix anything. If you keep focusing on the stress you will not be able to formulate a plan to fix your circumstances.
  3. It’s not that important. If juggling 3 different career services emails with homework and system check prep is stressing you out, drop the least important things and come back to them when you’re caught up on the important stuff.

Now that you are relaxed it’s time to be your social awkward self and have some fun!

You’re going to be doing this super weird, super awkward, super hilarious exercise where you all go around in a giant circle and shake each other’s hands and introduce yourself to one another. It’s supposed to be weird and goofy to break the ice so just go with it, you’ll enjoy it when it’s all said and done.

Day 2 and Onward

Ok, yesterday was fun, exciting, nerve-wracking and stressful all at once. Today you will get a better feel for how the rest of the cohort will be like. You will be in your mentor groups, in earnest, this morning. Here’s the pro-tip you need to use: Ask good questions, and lots of them.

Something the EE’s will say over and over is that there is no such thing as a dumb question, I’m not sure if that’s true but I do know that if you have a question you should be asking it to get clarification so you aren’t left stranded when it matters.

Make Friends

You will be given another afternoon assignment today, go find someone to pair up with and crush it. Then the next day do it with someone else. It’s likely that you will fall into some habits for who you work with and where. Don’t allow this to persist for more than a week at most. Bounce around and find new people to work with, if you don’t you will regret it when graduation comes and you wish you had gotten to know people better.

Your time in this program is short-lived and most students find the biggest leaps in understanding to happen while pair-programming, so expose yourself to as many different perspectives as possible while you are here. You’re likely to forge some life-long bonds with a few of your classmates, embrace this and help each other grow into developers you all set out to be when you applied to Launch!

Don’t Suffer in Silence

I mentioned it earlier but it is something that bears repeating: If you are struggling, talk to someone – they understand far more than you realize. It may be a personal problem, it may be technical, whatever the case – just talk to someone.

It’s called a bootcamp for a reason, you will be pushed and stretched further than you thought yourself capable. If you don’t have a solid support group to help you through the difficult times it can feel isolating and lonely but it doesn’t need to feel that way. The EE’s have heard it all, 16 cohorts deep and you can expect them to be de facto psychologists. The easiest, most personable to talk to are Dani (Career Services, and easily distracted with any type of conversation) and Justin. Hunt these guys down, let it out and then get your head back in the game!

It’s normal to not know

Look, in all likelihood, you didn’t even know what code was a few months ago so stop acting like this stuff is supposed to come naturally to you. If it does, God bless you but otherwise take a number, it means you’re normal and the material is dense. Take a deep breath, hit it from a new angle and reassess.

Here is the golden rule that will provide you, I hope, with some assurance that not all hope is lost:

  • Sunday Night: Holy Sh*t, I don’t even know what I am reading
  • Monday: Well…I accomplished nothing today
  • Tuesday: I think I am starting to get this
  • Wednesday: OK! I got some of this stuff working now
  • Thursday: I feel good, I need to go home and drill some more but I feel good
  • Friday: I just crushed that f*cking system check!

Rinse and Repeat. This is the cycle that you will go through unless you’re some kind of genius, in which case you’re probably not even reading this – kudos. It is perfectly normal to feel completely lost on Tuesday, Wednesday or even by Thursday afternoon (although not likely). Just keep plugging away and drill on all the available exercises and eventually it will all click, and when it does, damn does it feel good.

Wrap Up

You just gave $17,500 to this program and unless you have money to blow, it’s best that you get your money’s worth. You want to hit the ground running when you graduate and the only way to do that is to put in the hours while in the program to learn as much as possible. Don’t forget the human element in all of this. We are not just dealing with cold hard code here, we’re dealing with people. Learn from one another, help one another and never lose sight of your purpose for being here – you earned it, you want it, you need it, now go and get it.

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