The Secret To Being A Successful Bootcamp Student: Growth Mindset

growth mindset vs fixed mindset Being the Director of Learning for a coding bootcamp, I’m frequently asked what makes someone successful in a bootcamp setting. Leaving a career to jump back into school is hard. Going back to school as an adult is hard. Taking a bootcamp, which demands you learn as much as you would work in full-time job, is really, really hard. I know people take huge risks to join the programs I oversee, so I’ve spent a lot of time analyzing what makes someone truly successful. I think it comes down to this: the best bootcamp students have a growth mindset.

Fixed Mindset vs. Growth Mindset

Out there in the great big world, there are two main types of mindsets: fixed & growth.

Fixed Mindset

The quick and dirty way to describe this is that individuals with fixed mindsets believe that they are smart, talented, capable, etc.; therefore, they are good at things. They, in essence, believe that they are born with the qualities that make them succeed. Those with fixed mindsets tend to experience failure and setbacks pretty traumatically. Following the same logic of their success: now, they have failed; therefore, they are bad at {perhaps coding?}. Learning ends at failure points.

Growth Mindset

On the other hand, we have those with a growth mindset. Individuals with growth mindset, in short, see failures and setbacks as opportunities for growth. They persevere and persist in the face of failure; they are good at things because they have failed. Individuals with a growth mindset believe that success doesn’t just “come,” it is a product of effort. Individuals with growth mindset subscribe to the brain-as-a-muscle school of thought. For individuals with a growth mindset, learning happens during failure points.

Growth mindset is a concept that has been around in education for a long time, but what it comes down to is this: how do you react to setbacks or failures?

Coding bootcamps require failure daily.

Sometimes multiple times a day. To be truly successful in a bootcamp, you need to be comfortable persevering through your mistakes. When you attempt a coding challenge and it doesn’t work, are you going to slam your computer shut, or are you going to try a different type of loop? When you’ve spent three hours working on a program and it’s not producing your expected output, are you going to delete all your code, or are you going to refresh and debug? When your API no longer works in the 11th hour, are you deleting that feature or are you buckling down to find a workaround?

Evaluate: What You Can Do Right Now

The next time you experience a big setback, before you take action, take a moment to evaluate your own reaction. Bootcamp students challenge themselves to exhibit grit and persistence to see setbacks, both big and small, as opportunities to become better developers. Bootcamp students are (or quickly become) individuals with a growth mindset.

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Kim Driscoll

Things I love: singing, Detroit, buffets. Things I don't love: writing bios.

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