Changes from Bootcamp to a Real Dev Job

This is a guest post from Caitlyn Greffly. Enjoy.

Dear new developer,

If you decide to go the coding bootcamp route, chances are you are going to have a few months of absolute madness. You are trying to change careers and pick up a mass of technical knowledge in a condensed amount of time.

It’s a lot.

As I was going through this process, I didn’t really know if my life as a developer would look a lot like my life as a code school kid or not. As I transitioned into my first dev job, I encountered some surprises and realized I had had some misconceptions.

Some things were the same, like getting stuck on a bug you never think you’ll solve and then somehow figuring it out, but most of my day to day life is much different now.


Bootcamp: You get to start every project from scratch on a beautiful blank slate. You copy the up to date examples from the coursework and it looks great.

Real Dev Job: There are tens of thousands of lines of code already written by 200 different people over 8 years in 3 different frameworks. You try to use the existing code as an example to build your own code, but your PR gets sent back because that code was poorly written 3 years ago. Not only do you still have to learn to code, but you have to learn to do it better than the devs that came before you.

Volume of code

Bootcamp: You often write 200 lines of code in a day. You can get the wireframe for a new app up and running in 2 days.

Real Dev Job: Read 200 lines of code. Write one line of code. Research. Read 50 lines of code. Write one line of code. Break something. Delete one line of code. Google for an hour. Write five lines of code. Submit a PR but get suggestions for changes. Repeat the process.

Code quality

Bootcamp: If you make it work, you’re stoked. Often you won’t have time (or energy) to refactor it, you’ll have to move on to making the next thing work.

Real Dev Job: Of course you have to make it work. But then you also have to make it readable. Make it consistent with the current code. Make updates if the current code is old. Make sure you don’t add any code that doesn’t actually do anything. Make sure your variables are named well. Make sure you don’t override the parent CSS file. Make the changes your colleagues suggest. Make the changes your QA manager suggests. Don’t forget to get UX approval!


Bootcamp: Coding is 90% of what you do with your time.

Real Dev Job: There will be stand up. And design meetings. And team meetings. And company-wide meetings. And code review. And sprint planning. And sprint review. At many companies, you will find yourself adding value outside of the code that you write, which is awesome. Meetings can also be a great way to soak up the knowledge of your more experienced colleagues. But that also means that some days you won’t write a single line of code.


Bootcamp: You just learned React last week so this week you will write an entire React app in 2 days.

Real Dev Job: Because your time is not only made for writing code, but all the other things I’ve mentioned, the pace is a bit slower. This sprint you might only have one or two tickets to work on. They might be seemingly simple, like adding an error message for when a user tries to do something stupid. But when you’re new, nothing is as easy and straightforward as it seems. Hopefully you are on a team that understands and supports that pace.


Bootcamp: Maybe you are a badass continuing to work while you put yourself through bootcamp, but if you’re like me and thought that seemed impossible, you might have been feeling the financial strain. Buying an oat milk latte suddenly seems like a treat yoself moment for the elite.

Real Dev Job: cue Nsync song Just Got Paid. You worked your buns off, and now you get to keep doing so BUT with a paycheck on the other side. Good for you! Go buy yourself an extravagant beverage. You earned it!

– Caitlyn

This article was originally published here.

Caitlyn Greffly is a software engineer at the Motley Fool and author of “The Bootcamper’s Companion”.

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