Bootcamps are often seen as a lottery ticket to a high-paying tech career, but how do you juggle your studies when you’re already working full time? As a recent bootcamp graduate coming from the EdTech industry, here’s how I was able to study while working full time.
After completing my Master’s in Communication, Media and Society, I knew I wanted a tech career where I could use my research, facilitation, presentation and project support skills and experience in a fast-paced environment. I saw data science as a great way to do this.
I started researching how I could switch careers and get into the tech space. I love to learn, but I didn’t have the funds for a 4-year degree. This was when I came across coding bootcamps. Coding bootcamps are short intensive, practical courses that upskill students with practical and job-ready tech skills.
I was fortunate enough to be awarded a scholarship with HyperionDev that aimed to create inclusivity in the tech space by covering the tuition of 50 students who didn’t have the funds to complete a bootcamp.
For me, a bootcamp meant I could build up the skills I needed to get into tech without breaking the bank. As someone with a full-time non-tech job, I found my Data Science course really valuable because of how it was structured and the support it provided me.
I planned my weeks around course deadlines
Working and studying while making time for myself and my family was challenging. Luckily, the bootcamp had proposed deadlines that helped me plan and stay on track.
Each week I would take a look at the proposed deadlines and map my week out accordingly. I made sure I wrote code daily and set aside time for my bootcamp work from around 8pm to 12pm. I would squeeze in six to eight hours during the weekend when I could, and I always tried to hand in my work on the day it was due.
Code reviews and community provide accountability and support
No (hu)man is an island, and I learn best when I feel supported. Having mentors and code reviewers available over a Zoom call helped me succeed in completing my bootcamp.
Using my weekly map, I would always book one-on-one sessions with the course tutors well in advance because their calendars would get booked very quickly. I also wanted slots before 12pm because my son returns from school at 12:15pm.
Being able to book these sessions so far in advance helped me to map out my weeks, to plan and fit in everything.
It also helped motivate me to complete my work by the deadlines, because I knew I would be accountable to someone else and didn’t want to waste their time. The community Discord provided a space to ask questions and feel like other people were in the same boat as me.
Practical assignments meant I had a portfolio to show hiring managers
When working full-time in a non-tech field and studying through a coding bootcamp, it isn’t really feasible to make additional time for projects to add to your portfolio.
A portfolio showcasing your data science skills is essential to getting a job in data science and is particularly useful to someone who doesn’t have a tech background and experience.
Technical hiring managers and data scientists who interview you will look through it in order to gauge your skills, experience, and interests, and may ask you questions about it.
The bootcamp consisted of practical exercises that assist you in building a portfolio, so by the end of the course, you have something to show hiring managers. Having this built into the course was super useful when I began interviewing. My portfolio showed hiring managers that I was actually proficient in the tools and tech I mentioned on my CV.
Career guidance makes the transition to tech interviewing easier
Finding your way when pivoting careers is disruptive and can feel like a greater risk than staying on your linear career path. I received career guidance from HyperionDev once I graduated, which made this transition a lot easier and less daunting for me.
Their graduation program allows you to pick a time and date to speak with the Academic Programme Manager. They take a look at your LinkedIn profile and your CV and run you through a mock technical interview and assessment with industry partners. Afterwards, you get feedback.
This process gave me the opportunity to see if I was ready to get into the job market. It also allowed me to understand the interview process I would go through.
After implementing the feedback I received on my CV, bio, cover letter and portfolio, I received far more interviews than I had previously.
How my bootcamp set me up for a data science career
Even though it was challenging to make time for studying, the bootcamp was an amazing experience and one that I would encourage anyone to do. Mentioning that I have completed a data science bootcamp in job interviews always piques a hiring manager’s interest. It’s a versatile skill set that can add value in most roles.
Studying while working full-time is doable if you pick the right course that sets you up for success!
OfferZen’s latest guide to coding bootcamps in South Africa provides a breakdown of which coding bootcamps offer internships or job readiness training.
- Here’s What to Look Out for When Choosing Coding Bootcamps
- 2021 Guide to Coding Bootcamps in South Africa. This guide provides a breakdown of the programmes in South Africa, including whether they offer job readiness training, focus areas of the curriculum, accreditation, cost and application process.
- 2022 Guide to Coding Bootcamps in the Netherlands
- Tips to Land Your First Job After a Coding Bootcamp
- Excelling as a Junior Dev from Day One
- 8 Lessons I Learned as an Intern
Luyanda Makoba is an eLearning Specialist who is highly interested in data science and the many ways it can be applied. She’s a generalist at heart, with multiple interests. When Luyanda is not working, she is reading, taking a hike or questioning the meaning of life.