As I went through the process of choosing to enroll in Codesmith, I was torn between the choice of a full time or part time program. It was challenging to choose between the intensity of a full-time program where I could dedicate myself completely to coding, and the flexibility of a part-time program that posed unique challenges for my work-life balance. I ultimately decided on the Part-Time Remote Immersive (PTRI) to maintain my health insurance and income while pursuing my career transition to software development. I’m excited to share my experience with the program so far and my perspective on maintaining balance between PTRI and my full-time job.
BALANCING A JOB
I’m on the East Coast and the program is Monday through Thursday, 8-11pm EDT, and 12-6pm EDT on Saturdays. I work 9:30am-6pm at my day job, which leaves me about two hours between clocking out and class most weekdays. I now only have one day on the weekend that is completely “free.” While PTRI has offered me the flexibility to maintain my day job, it has also significantly restricted my free time and lasts nearly three times as long as the full-time programs offered by Codesmith. I would seriously consider whether you would prefer to learn in a single time-intensive burst or if you are willing to sacrifice much of your non-work time for the program and choose what is right for you.
Because my non-work time is so scarce, I have set solid boundaries at work. My work is partially client-facing, so occasionally emergencies arise and I have to do work outside of my general 9:30am-6:00pm hours, but I generally avoid this whenever possible. My coworkers and team are supportive and know I have a class. While I’m at work I’m fully present for work, and when I’m at Codesmith I make sure to focus completely on my coding journey to maximize learning.
I have several hobbies I continue to pursue between Codesmith and working, namely music and writing. I have found that blocking dedicated time off on my calendar to pursue these hobbies has helped me better structure my limited free time and stay focused on the task at hand.
Photo by Jess Bailey on Unsplash
Keeping a color-coded and tightly organized calendar has also helped me visualize the breakdown of my day and dedicate specific time to singing, writing, Codesmith, and various day-to-day events.
PHYSICAL & MENTAL HEALTH
Making a career change, investing significant amounts of time and money, and losing a lot of your free time for nine months can be stressful for anyone.
I’ve spent several late nights working on code and definitely recommend coffee, tea, and/or your favorite snack to help you when something breaks at midnight. I now have a coffee stockpile that should last me into the next century! I’ve also started exercising again - with fully remote work and PTRI, it’s really easy to stay at your desk all day, and I find stretching and moving throughout the day has improved my quality of life.
Additionally, mental health is super important to me as I continue to balance my life with PTRI and it has taken effort to stay on top of everything going on in my life at times. I have found seeking the support of my friends, carving out time to relax (and not think about code or work), and continuing with mental health treatment to be invaluable. Since my free time is very limited, I have made a more concerted effort to carve out time to socialize and spend time with my friends remotely, like having Netflix watch parties on Sundays.
I love writing things down and my mom gave me this super cute pad for a birthday gift! I recommend taking notes or perhaps using a productivity app like Trello to keep yourself on track during projects.
It’s essential to have something to refer to when you are switching between so many priorities, and to keep yourself focused on the next goal as you work to finish your MVP (or, Minimum Viable Product). You only have a set amount of time each day to work on your project, and it can be challenging to manage priorities from day to day without structure, especially coming to PTRI after an exhausting day at work.
The flexibility that PTRI offers comes at the cost of significant time investment in addition to your full-time job and any other commitments (e.g., childcare, hobbies/activities, time with family and friends). I would consider what is right for your situation and if you choose PTRI, be prepared to create strong boundaries around your time. Juggling all these different priorities can be very stressful, so don’t forget to make time for yourself and practice self care! The Codesmith community is always there to support you. I’ve personally leaned on my cohort mates for advice and emotional support during periods of burnout, as well as checking in with my Codesmith mentor for advice on handling impostor syndrome. Be sure to reach out if you ever encounter any challenges. :)
My experience with PTRI has been very positive so far, and I’m glad I made the decision to stay at my job and continue with the part-time program.
Blog written by Kailee P., Codesmith Part-Time Remote Immersive Cohort 03