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Valerie Fuchs
Web Developer, Sponge, Entertainer by accident.

It was in late 2016 when I caught the coding bug. At first, it was a subtle twitch, then it took over my headspace and eventually it pushed me into unknown territory. One year later I have a new profession, a new workplace and (supposedly) a new compartment in my brain.

The most significant step of my career transition was attending a 3 months full-time coding bootcamp. There are quite a few of them out there, and they differ in terms of their programs. They, however, do not differ in terms of their promise: They will make you ready for the job market.

I always struggled a bit with the fairness of that promise, although I have learnt big parts of my basic web development knowledge at my coding bootcamp. With this article, I would like to add a more realistic angle on such type of education, but I also want to encourage your journey in case you have caught the same bug yourself. So 4 months post Coding Bootcamp, these are the 5 (out of 1000) most important lessons I learnt so far.

5 Lessons You Learn Only After a CodingBootcamp

<1> Time travel to the medieval ages of the Internet.

As soon as you dip your toes into the web development industry, you will realise that the waves are going rogue. Chances are high that it will completely overwhelm you.

CSS Grid, CSS Flexbox, Vue.js, — everything is better and faster and easier than the things you previously heard of. Here is the spoiler: No matter what new library or framework is coming out, they are still going to be somehow based on the original concepts of CSS, JavaScript and HTML.

Try to stand the pressure of knowing ‘the cool shit’ and focus on learning the basics really, really well. It will help you pick up any buzzword framework way easier afterwards. I also found it beneficial to refresh my general knowledge about the Document Object Model and how the Internet works.

<2> Console.log(every-freaking-thing).

Bootcamps are fueled by time pressure and by learning all. the. things. In order to meet a deadline, you might find yourself googling code snippets and stitching together a solution you’re not really sure of why it actually works.

When working as web developer in a team, you will have to adjust to the standards of your fellow co-coders and might run into situations where the existing code base is conflicting with your freshly written (3 lines of) code. Here is where debugging becomes your superhero cape.

Simply put: Console.log() your life. Log any value your function is receiving, log the function itself, backtrace log the entire way of your value from the first declaration to showing up in the markup. Surely there are more advanced methods of debugging (check debugger features in your code editor or web browser), but this is a good way to start. I also found it really helpful to watch my more senior co-workers debugging and pick it up from them.

<3> Time-box your tasks to learn when to ask forhelp.

As an aspiring web developer, you have a birthmark. You never know how much you actually know, but you are sure you don’t know a lot. When starting my job, I found the biggest challenge to know when I could ask for help. Not only did I want to prove my qualifications, I also wanted to ‘crack that problem’ myself and not be too hindering for the team.

Truth is, not asking for help is probably the most hindering thing you can do. In an agency situation, you are blocking yourself as a resource, not being able to take on another task and being billed for it. But also as an internal developer, you might block your team or a project.

To be clear: Of course, you have to learn things yourself and should try to come up with a solution. However, you don’t have the same ‘bootcamp luxury’ of fiddling around with a solution for days by yourself. For my work, it helps me a lot to ask for realistic timeframes when being given new tasks and asking for help whenever I go beyond them.

<4> Take your code for a date, then changeit.

The biggest lesson I learnt is to invest time to properly read and understand existing code before changing it. You obviously feel super smart when going in and making things better (and it still works, wow). But in 11 out of 10 cases, the person before you had a thought when writing that code which you will realise once other things don’t work anymore. Make yourself familiar with all relevant variables and methods, if possible clarify questions with your teammate and only then make changes.

Before writing down this point, I asked myself: (I decided no). You can probably read this in anything ever being written about web development, but it’s just true: Any coding problem can be broken down into smaller chunks. If you are stuck, try to focus on the smallest issue. If you don’t know what the smallest issue is, ask for hints.

Not only error messages, also the code-base itself can seem overwhelming. Server-side, client-side, third-party API, templating engines, 1 million different files — how does all of this belong together? When getting involved in a new project, I now ask for somebody to run me through the code-base and explain its architecture, which makes a big difference.

<5> It takes time to learn new things,d’oh!

Many web developers are self-taught and you probably heard success stories like Considering the sheer amount of available tutorials, courses and podcasts, it is tempting to forget about the time you will have to spend to consume all of this information. The entire concept of a coding bootcamp (3 months until developer) doesn’t make things better.

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book ”Do Fly”, which gives some great advice towards this issue. You don’t have to put your entire life on hold in order to pick up new knowledge. Do it after work for 30 minutes, work on it for one lunch break a week. Break it down into small goals and work on it over time. To give a more specific example, I recently bought an ES6 course, which has 77 video clips of 5–7 minutes to go through. I try to watch at least 2–3 clips a week, and it helped me to write better code already.

One specific picture does always encourage me: Imagine you decided to become a carpenter. You have zero experience but play around with wood for three months. Now you want to build a roof-construction — is that a good idea? I personally think that web development is a kind of craftsmanship which needs just as much time, experience and dedication to become good at. You go!

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If pid is not trapping exits, pid will exit with the given reason .

If pid is trapping exits, the exit signal is transformed into a message {:EXIT, from, reason} and delivered to the message queue of pid .

If reason is the atom :normal , pid will not exit (unless pid is the calling process, in which case it will exit with the reason :normal ). If it is trapping exits, the exit signal is transformed into a message {:EXIT, from, :normal} and delivered to its message queue.

If reason is the atom :kill , that is if Process.exit(pid, :kill) is called, an untrappable exit signal is sent to pid which will unconditionally exit with reason :killed .

Sets the given flag to value for the calling process.

Returns the old value of flag .

See :erlang.process_flag/2 for more info.

Note that flag values :max_heap_size and :message_queue_data are only available since OTP 19.

Sets the given flag to value for the given process pid .

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if pid is not a local process.

The allowed values for flag are only a subset of those allowed in flag/2 , namely :save_calls .

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Returns all key-value pairs in the process dictionary.

Returns the value for the given key in the process dictionary, or default if key is not set.

Returns all keys in the process dictionary.

Returns all keys in the process dictionary that have the given value .

Returns the PID of the group leader for the calling process.

Sets the group leader of the given pid to leader .

Typically, this is used when a process started from a certain shell should have a group leader other than :init .

Puts the calling process into a “hibernation” state.

The calling process is put into a waiting state where its memory allocation has been reduced as much as possible, which is useful if the process does not expect to receive any messages in the near future.

See :erlang.hibernate/3 for more info.

Returns information about the process identified by pid , or returns nil if the process is not alive.

Use this only for debugging information.

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