How to prepare for MakerSquare's coding bootcamp

by Aaron Fried

From application to the coding interview, find out the necessary steps to get ready for MakerSquare programming bootcamp.

Read Ahead

MakerSquare features a rigorous JavaScript curriculum, so one of the best way to prepare is to have a solid understanding of the language beforehand. As you start the coding bootcamp, you should have a base level of comfort with functional programming.

You should know how recursion, loops, and conditionals work. Further, you should understand the different data types and how that works. A safe rule of thumb is to read the first five chapters of Eloquent JavaScript.

On top of that, MakerSquare recommends that you have working level of comfort with higher-order functions. The course is not for absolute beginners. Rather than being a zero-to-sixty course, MakerSquare describes itself as taking you from twenty to one-hundred-twenty. If you provide the initiative, they’ll provide the fuel to get you building apps at a professional level.

The curriculum focuses primarily on JavaScript’s MEAN stack (MongoDB, Express, Angular, Node), with no major focus on frontend technologies such as HTML and CSS — you are expected to understand these before arriving at MakerSquare.

MakerSquare students build their in a basic logical progression, from small and simple to large and complex, so it is critical that you prepare yourself thoroughly before joining the bootcamp.


Mental Notes

Get used to solving difficult problems. That means recognizing that difficult problems are difficult, and will typically require you to make several mistakes before fully grasping them.

MakerSquare’s most successful students view difficult problems with a growth mindset. They don’t see it only as a frustrating obstacle, but as an opportunity for growth. When you recognize the growth opportunity, you can begin to see struggle as a fun challenge, and then develop a positive attitude. Not only does this help you solve problems, it also makes you feel more confident about solving future problems.

Sometimes, when problems seem too difficult for MakerSquare students, they recommend that you take a step back and look at the big picture. Remember that software engineering is a difficult field and that you’re learning the fundamentals very quickly.

In short, MakerSquare recognizes that frustration and difficulty can be part of the process, but they’re not the defining part. Growth is what sets a successful learner apart, and recognizing your potential for growth is the key to preparing to be a successful MakerSquare student.

Thinking about Money

Tuition costs $16,920. While that’s expensive, you can expect that if you land a software development job after graduating, you’ll be in a far better position than if you hadn’t spent that money. Nonetheless, you want to bear in mind some sensible ideas for handling such a large expense

Aside from tuition itself, save up enough money to cover around 6 months worth of expenses — 3 months for the program and then 3 months for your job hunt after you graduate. You don’t want to spend time worrying about your rent check when you have a complicated new programming concept to learn, or an interview tomorrow morning.

If you choose to take out a loan, some of MakerSquare’s lending partners allow cost-of-living expenses, which can help to reduce stress around your essentials as well.

On a lighter note, while you’re in the program, you’ll likely be too busy to waste money on much during the week. If you can, try to put aside some spare cash for recreation on weekends to blow off some steam.

While the program will be expensive, one of the best ways to be prepared is simply understanding the cost and being confident that it’s worth it for you.


Admissions Tips

For your application, you will want to know the basics outlined above, but there’s more to it.

MakerSquare is moving towards a more logic-test based approach for screening applicants. It can be easy to memorize certain coding challenge, but those do not always test your problem solving capacity. Logic games will test your critical thinking skills.

Another key element MakerSquare screens for is your persistence. Expect to be hit by a question that you simply cannot answer — you might not have the requisite knowledge. More important than knowing the answer, however, is knowing how to find it. You’re likely to be praised for your persistence and creative methods in figuring out the answers, so don’t give up just because you don’t know the answer right away.

In essence, that’s what becoming a software engineer is about: figuring out how to solve problems that you’ve never seen before.

Updated on September 23rd, 2016