Observation: Biting Off More Than You Can Chew…

Eric C Smith
3 min readNov 10, 2020


Hey! I got this!

Deliverables in coding bootcamp have an annoying habit of coming at you in waves. Big, tall, hairy waves. By the end of this week (in addition to writing this blog post, and making a presentation on it) I have to finish 25 labs, retake a code challenge that I did not pass last week (which will require copious practice and repetition), AND create a module Final Project, that must also be presented.

(Technically, this should not happen, because a responsible, conscientious student doesn’t, after the LAST “Big Hairy”, breathe a big sigh of relief and take the next two days off. They keep pressing forward, but what can I say? I NEED my downtime!)

An ordinary, sane person would look at that workload and go, “Gee, I can choose to do whatever I want on this whole ‘project thing’; maybe I should be a little conservative and not shoot for Alpha Centauri THIS TIME…” But no. When someone gives me free rein, and tells me I can be creative I lose all track of little things, like the fact that each day only has 24 hours, and I have to spend at least a few of them doing stuff other than coding. Like sleeping and eating.

I think this is one of the things you are supposed to be learning in this school. I don’t see it as an explicit point in the syllabus, but it should be.

The problem I have is, even when I do think I’ve been moderate, I pitch my ideas to the coaching staff and they kind of pause and go “Yeah…wow, that’s really a great idea, very ambitious, I like it…” and I pump my fist like an idiot. They then proceed to let me get started and find out by the end of the first day that there were about 20 things I didn’t think of that are going to make this “conservative” project take about 3 times as long as I planned, 10 of which we haven’t even learned how to do yet.

Then they show what kind and empathetic souls they are and let me cut the deliverables (THAT I CAME UP WITH MYSELF) in half. And still I barely finish in time.

Important stuff here…

I like to have fun in my blog posts but this is no joke, and if anyone reading this blog is a student or a new grad just starting out (or even a seasoned pro going into a new field) then remember this extremely important warning: In the real world Clients are NOT kind and empathetic, and DEADLINES ARE REAL. “Good and On Deadline” beats “Perfect, but Late” every, single, solitary time. I have 25 years career experience in high-tech, and I have seen poor planning like I described above cost companies 6-figure accounts, and get people fired. Just remember, in most cases the client doesn’t really know what they want, they just want it to work. If you don’t promise extra bells and whistles, they will probably never know they were a possibility in the first place.

Yes, this is a tough skill to learn, especially when you are first starting out in a new field and don’t have the knowledge and experience to know when you’re Biting Off More Than You Can Chew. Luckily, most coaches, mentors and even your future bosses know this, and will give you guidance. Pay attention to it, ignore your pride and don’t feel like you’re being low-balled because your boss thinks you’re incapable of doing your job. You’re a good coder, otherwise they wouldn’t have hired you in the first place. But there’s more to business than just being a crack developer.

Now excuse me, but I have to go delete about half my models.