How to Complete Skillcrush While Working Full Time in 2023
Can you complete a coding bootcamp while working full time? Yes, you can!
Let’s stop saying we all have the same 24 hours.
While good-willed, several factors limit the number of expendable hours that one may have to complete a coding school.
Consider that full-time professionals work an average of 38.7 hours a week. Even more, Americans spend 42 hours on average performing household tasks per month, with women spending 49 hours on tasks — 13 hours more than men. And parents? They spend approximately 51 hours on house duties per month — 13 hours more than nonparents!
This all goes to say, the hours left after work, home, and caretaking duties are limited, making completing a coding bootcamp daunting.
We get it! And we’re here to say that you can do this with support from the Skillcrush community. Read our practical guide to completing a coding school while working full time in 2023.
Table of Contents
- Online Learning Requires Effort, Especially If You’re Working Full Time
- Tips and Tricks for Completing Coding Bootcamp While Working Full Time
Reality Check: Online Learning Requires Effort, Especially If You’re Working Full Time
Take the rose-colored glasses off for a moment. Let’s get serious about the reality of attending coding bootcamp while working full time.
Before diving into our top coding bootcamp tips and tricks, let’s take off the rose-colored glasses and discuss some hard truths and the tech myth that coding school is inadequate or an “easy” alternative.
🛑Stop! Coding school is a cost-effective, accessible alternative to a traditional school, and it is not any less legitimate. That said, online school is rigorous, challenging, and requires effort just like any other education alternative.
“You have to want it. You really have to want it,” says Skillcrush alumna Jeni Williams. “It’s going to require all of your spare time […] it requires effort.”
Jeni was a full-time educator when she started Break Into Tech in 2022. Upon completing the program, she accepted a software engineer position at Walmart Global Tech. She’s candid that “every single waking moment” she wasn’t performing her job duties, she was dedicated to learning, job searching, and networking.
“A bootcamp does give you the skills and the experience and the portfolio to land you a job. But being in a bootcamp by itself will not land you a job. You have to want it, you have to put in the effort, you have to put in the work, but if you do, there are really serious tangible rewards at the end of the rainbow.” – Jeni
Jeni’s story is unique, as she holds the title for fastest Break Into Tech completion time, but she’s also a testament that YOU can also complete Skillcrush and achieve your goals while working full time… and you don’t have to do it alone. Continue reading to learn a few tricks to ease your learning journey.
Tips and Tricks for Completing Coding Bootcamp While Working Full Time
Set Realistic Goals
I’d love to tell you that you will finish Break Into Tech in one month, but this is a practical guide.
The truth is that you — like all Break Into Tech participants — have a life with obligations outside of coding school. Some days softball practice will overlap with your study time. On other days, a complex work project may leave you exhausted. And, believe it or not, a few days may be dedicated to nurturing yourself through hobbies or social activities.
Understand that all of these scenarios are real and it is okay to continue living life outside of coding school. So how do you complete coding bootcamp while working full time and meeting your everyday obligations? Set realistic goals.
No, I don’t mean goals that you think you can achieve on a good day. I mean goals that turn into habits that will allow you to continue on your learning journey even when your schedule is unpredictable.
There are many goal-setting techniques, but I am fond of the SMART goal method.
SMART goals stand for:
Learning to code can feel overwhelming, but a SMART goal breaks the overwhelming project down into manageable tasks so you can stay on track with your learning goals.
In the SMART goals framework, instead of saying:
“I need to finish the UX design project this week.”
Replace it with:
“This week I will study the color theory course material for 45 minutes every morning before breakfast so I can start the UX design project Friday evening and complete the project Sunday afternoon before my weekly reset.”
“I need to find time to email my instructor this week.”
“During lunch on Monday, I will take 15 minutes to write out questions about the Get Hired program to ask Olivia during the live Q&A Zoom call Tuesday afternoon so I can plan the next steps for when I complete my portfolio on Thursday.”
You can create short- and long-term goals within the SMART goal framework, meaning you can also predict how long it will take for you to realistically finish coding school.
And, finally, SMART goals are not static. As you gain a better understanding of your capabilities, you should adjust your goals. If a new work arrangement hogs your time or if you find that you love learning new things and can’t wait for your next lesson, adjust your learning goals to suit your current situation.
Block Off Learning Hours
In the previous section, we acknowledged that you have obligations outside of coding bootcamp. So how do you make time for coding school while working full time?
Let’s reconsider the language used to describe learning hours. Instead of “making time” for coding school, make school a priority. You can make coding school a priority while working full time by creating dedicated learning hours.
Consider for a moment that you have dedicated work hours, whether they’re 9-5 or the third shift. During this time, you are expected to perform your job duties. For most people, these hours are repeated and predictable, and while friends and family may know they can reach you during this time, your response may be delayed or nonexistent.
Creating a learning schedule can have the same impact, as it communicates to others that you are unavailable and it creates dedicated time for you to do one thing: learn!
Time management is a tough skill to master, but there are several tools like calendar blocking that can help you develop this soft skill. Just remember the key to calendar blocking is repeatability and predictability.
If a three-hour study sesh sounds good in theory but not logical to you, it does not have the habit-forming qualities conducive to lifelong learning. If 45-minute study cycles after work and before dinner are all you can handle, calendar block it! If you enjoy early morning coding practice with a cup of coffee, calendar block it.
There are so many other ways to create dedicated learning time, and each option is a good option as long as you prioritize that time in your schedule.
Create a Learning Environment
Once you create learning goals and prioritize time in your busy schedule, all that’s left is “doing” which is easier said than done.
Working from home is an increasingly popular trend, but for the uninitiated, remote work has forced professionals to become crafty with their work space. We’re proposing that all students take the same approach as remote workers and create a distraction-free learning environment, where you feel motivated to learn.
This space can be anywhere! Home office, kitchen table, coffee shop, local library — you name it, as long as it’s a space that you can focus. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
- Ditch the phone: Turn off your phone or leave it in another room to limit distractions from notifications and the temptation to mindlessly scroll. Don’t forget to warn others that you’ll be unavailable before disappearing, though!
- Keep important materials nearby: Limit your need to disengage from your study session by storing your study materials nearby. Items may include a syllabus, notebook paper, pens, pencils, and highlighters.
- Dedicate this space: If possible, dedicate your study space to learning. Why? We associate activities with certain environments. For example, the bedroom is for relaxing and the dinner table is for rowdy conversation and meals. Studying in a dedicated space may help you “turn on” your learning brain and make the mental switch from work, caretaking, or other duties.
If you can’t create a dedicated space, set the mood. Light a candle that you only use when you study. Plug in headphones with your favorite study playlist. Start your study session with an affirmation.
Creating a learning environment in which you feel comfortable will go a long way in supporting your learning journey.
Implement a Self Care Routine
Taking care of yourself may feel like a no-brainer, but after a long work day (and perhaps caring for dependents and fulfilling household obligations), self care can fall to the wayside. Don’t let it!
Completing a coding bootcamp while working full time is time consuming and can come with some challenges. But your health and wellbeing should always come first.
Sustainable, lifelong learning requires that you implement practices that will level your stress and maintain your health and happiness.
Self care looks different for everyone, but here are a handful of ideas to spark inspiration:
- Take a muay thai class to sweat off the work day
- Clear your head with meditation
- Read a book
- Journal your frustrations and wins
- Take a day (or two!) off to decompress
- Sleep in on the weekend
- Talk to friends and family
- Treat yourself to a nice dinner to celebrate your success
- Go for a walk or hike
💡 Reminder: this is a marathon, not a sprint.
If you’re feeling burnt out, it is okay to take a break. Honor your mental and physical wellbeing — find the root of the issue, address it, find healthy ways to cope or resolve, take time for yourself, and return to the learning journey when you are ready!
The Skillcrush community will be here. ❤️
Seek the Support of the Skillcrush Peer and Instructor Network
For some of us, it’s challenging to ask for help. It can cause feelings of frustration or inadequacy. Let this be the reminder that you are not “less than” for asking for help. Online learning is isolating, and it’s not easy, especially when you’re working full time. It may feel like you’re alone, but you’re not!
The Skillcrush Slack community includes alumni, current students, and instructors. This likeminded community is the perfect place to find camaraderie, seek emotional support and feedback, plus gain motivation from others’ experiences as you continue your studies and make a career change.
“There is always someone that is an email or a Slack message away, always. Whether it’s another student, one of the career coaches, there’s someone — 24 hours a day — there’s someone in the Skillcrush community that’s available to pick you up and keep you going,” says Jeni.
In addition, Skillcrush community members can contact instructors through email and receive real-time answers in weekly Q&As and mentor sessions.
“It’s very cooperative,” says Skillcrush Lead Instructor Ann Cascarano.
Everyone’s Skillcrush journey looks different because our 24 hours are not created equally, but if you’re ready to find your dream job, the Skillcrush community is here to support you. 🤗