How The Four Agreements Can Help You Get Through Coding Bootcamp and Into Your Job Search

Hack Upstate
5 min readJan 6, 2023

The following is written by Careers in Code’s career coach, Laura Thorne.

Coding bootcamps are one of the most stressful situations you can put yourself in. Free or paid, the pressure to learn one complicated task after another in a short period of time, and — oh by the way — the idea that your very future depends on you succeeding at this — it’s all incredibly daunting. Dealing with the immediate stress is one thing, but feeling that much pressure over time can cause you to think and do some seriously self-sabotaging things.

  1. You will doubt yourself, sometimes incessantly.
  2. You will likely blame other people and circumstances for working against you.
  3. You will likely make some hasty decisions.

One of the most powerful books you can read to take back control of your stressed brain is Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements. The four agreements described in the book are actions you can take based on ancient Toltec wisdom to free yourself of unnecessary stress and suffering which, in turn, will help you make better decisions for your future self.

While none of these agreements are revolutionary, keeping them in mind as you make decisions, process emotions, and react to unfortunate situations will stand to benefit you.

The four agreements are:

  1. Be Impeccable With Your Word.
  2. Don’t Take Things Personally.
  3. Don’t Make Assumptions.
  4. Always Do Your Best.

Here’s a quick summary of each and how you can use them to get through bootcamp and the job search on a more even keel.

1. Be Impeccable With Your Word.

Quick Summary: Our words have power. When misused, our words can poison our own minds and the minds of those we are speaking to. For example, if one complains about instructors, lessons, mistakes, or fellow students, they may sway someone else to think poorly of something or someone they hadn’t before. If the person you’re talking about hears what you’ve said, they can start doubting themselves.

But, when our words are used impeccably, they can uplift others and instill confidence in those who need it most.

People tend to complain about the job search, and understandably so. But there’s a difference between talking to your best friend to get something off your chest and having a negative attitude as a whole. A negative attitude can manifest itself in several ways: talking poorly about past experiences, focusing on the worst parts of a new opportunity, doubting yourself, blurring the lines in an interview between what you really know and what you watched a YouTube video about once, and a slew of other negative actions.

As you continue through bootcamp and into your job search, be mindful of the energy you’re projecting with your words. Be positive, be honest, limit complaining, and don’t gossip.

2. Don’t Take Things Personally.

Quick Summary: Every person is guided and motivated by their own perspectives and beliefs. When you let go of taking things personally, you will reach a certain level of freedom as well as control over your own emotions.

A throughline across the job search — no matter the industry or experience level of an applicant — is rejection. Many people take not hearing back from an employer personally, and then let this lack of response rattle around in their brain until they grow spiteful or lose confidence in themselves.

Business is business. You can follow up (with impeccable words), but don’t let a hiring manager’s decision affect your psyche.

Learning to recognize when you are taking things personally is the hardest part about making new habits here. Once you are able to catch yourself, you’ll be able to communicate better and make decisions that benefit you better in the long run, rather than give you vindicating satisfaction in the short term.

3. Don’t Make Assumptions.

Quick Summary: Making assumptions about other people’s feelings or actions can damage your interpersonal relationships and your own self-perception. When you stop making assumptions, it is a gateway to better communication and self-reflection.

Similar to the last point, as you cope with rejection throughout the job search, don’t make assumptions about it. It’s easy to think, “I didn’t get the job because I’m too inexperienced, too old, too fill-in-the-blank.” If you don’t hear back from an application submittal, don’t assume it’s because you weren’t good enough or because the other person made a bad decision — there are a plethora of reasons a recruiter might pass on your application. Keep rolling with the punches and know that the universe has a plan for you.

Likewise, many perceive not getting a response to their networking messages as a poor reflection on themselves or the other professional. The best thing you can do is skip making an assumption and then be impeccable with your word to get clarity about the unknown — just follow up! If you still don’t hear back, avoid jumping to the conclusion that they didn’t get back to you because of who you are, something you did, or a belief they have. You’ll ultimately hurt yourself by letting someone else’s actions affect your own, especially if it leads you to stop networking out of fear of rejection or judgment.

4. Always Do Your Best.

Quick Summary: Your best may not always be good or even your personal best, but if you do the best you can with the knowledge, tools, and abilities that you have at any given time, you can stop judging yourself for not meeting your goals. More so, you can stop judging others because at any given moment, they are likely doing their best even if it doesn’t meet your expectations.

After all, your best is all that you can do!

It’s very easy to find yourself comparing your accomplishments and abilities to others’. It’s frustrating when you just can’t crack the latest problem set at bootcamp while your peers don’t seem to be struggling with it, or when you’re struggling to land interviews while the people around you are racking up offers. Remember that everyone’s circumstances are different, and sometimes luck just doesn’t seem to be on your side (or you can’t see the higher purpose at work). That doesn’t mean you’re not doing your best. When you consistently put in 100% of your effort and recognize yourself for doing so, you’ll be able to stop judging yourself for not being good enough. Not only is that just healthier overall, but it also will make you more confident in interviews and throughout your job search.

Understand that all you can do is learn from your mistakes and experiences so you can keep on doing better next time — that is enough.

As you continue with your bootcamp and your job search, pay attention to whether you are being impeccable with your words, not taking rejection personally, not making assumptions about other people’s behavior, and always doing your best.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Four Agreements, check out Ruiz’s website!

Laura Thorne is the Career Coach with Hack Upstate’s Careers in Code program which is a bootcamp for women and minorities. You may be interested in our 24-week, full stack bootcamp. You can learn more and apply for our waitlist here!