If you’re a software engineering bootcamp student like myself, then you know how taxing these programs can truly be. When I began my journey twelve weeks ago, I felt young and spry. I had plenty of energy. I would stay at the computer until the late hours of the night. There was nothing that could stand in my way from getting the most out of my experience — except myself.
Before I continue, I want to express that this article is not a self-care preach, nor will it give you specific ideas on how to better care for yourself during a software engineering bootcamp. It is meant to be a retelling of my own experiences so that you might take my words and use them as you wish to shape your own experiences in the future.
When I first started my bootcamp in July, 2020, I was ready to take on the world. My days lasted from 9AM until midnight and sometimes later. Breaks were non-existent for me. I wanted to cram as much information into my brain as possible. I felt that if I took a break for anything other than a short meal, I would lose valuable study time. Sunday through Saturday, I rarely left my computer. I told myself that if I ever started to “feel the burn,” so to speak, that I would change my ways and treat myself better. Unfortunately for me, I never felt that burn… until now.
It is now the beginning of the twelfth week of my bootcamp experience. I am in the throws of “Project Week,” working on my Mod 4 final project. With only four weeks remaining, the end is in sight. I am tired. I am really tired. Maybe this comes with the territory of doing a bootcamp such as this one, but something tells me that if I had taken more breaks, I wouldn’t be falling asleep at the dinner table.
Not only is exhaustion an issue, but I feel as though my dedication is drastically wavering. I was able to choose my partner for my current project. I was so excited to be working with someone whom I knew would be on the same wavelength as me. We would build something great together!
Instead, what I have found is that I have almost none of the joy I was expecting. I used to welcome a good challenge. Now, as I sit at my computer navigating the twists and turns of React.js and JWT Authentication, I find that I have no desire to work — only to sleep. I have nearly lost the inspiration and excitement that I held dear up until only recently. , and as a result my relationships are also strained — namely my relationship with my project partner. So, with this feeling of exhaustion also comes pangs of guilt. As I write this, I realize, too, that the feeling of being burnt out did not come on gradually either. It hit me like a wall — a large invisible wall with only minuscule handholds. I am climbing over it as best I can. Believe it or not, I think just writing this post has helped me get that much closer to the top.
My experiences are not unique to me. At least, I believe that to be true. If you feel the same, or are can recognize the beginnings of your burn, please do something to help yourself. I have found that taking walks are a good way to get away from my computer. Whatever your method of burn relief, use it as much as you need. If you burn out, you with only have yourself to blame.