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Tips from students to not stop swimming in a pool of 42 Madrid

In less than a week the first pool of the year begins with 42 Madrid Fundación Telefónica and the messages that we receive from the next pool dealers breathe the same uncertainty that we perceived before celebrating the first in our history last September. Diving into programming for 26 uninterrupted days, with strangers and with such an innovative methodology is for the brave. Whether you are one of the lucky people with a place for the next pool or if you are considering participating in one, the advice of David, Sandra and Roberto will be very useful.

David is from Madrid, but he has lived on the island of Fuerteventura for five years practicing his profession, Medicine. Aware that statistics in his sector are evolving towards Big Data, he decided to jump into the pool last October at 42 Madrid and, thus, begin to train in the matter. His objective: to offer a professional profile that combines both disciplines. At present, he lives between the Canary Islands and Madrid. Sandra and Roberto also had no training or programming experience before 42 Madrid, but now they are students who evolve through the academy course at their own pace. They still do not know on what branch their path will run, but they are aware that many of the professions of the present and the future will be linked to cybersecurity, Artificial Intelligence or Blockchain. We have asked them about four basic pillars to take into account before facing a pool and there seems to be consensus among them.


D: The number one advice that we can give, and we all agree, is that you have to sleep well to take advantage of the hours when you are awake.

S: It is very important to set a schedule and have a structure in your life for those four weeks. Coping with this experience helps you stay focused on the time you have planned to be on campus. If you come at a different time each day and without pre-established schedules, your productivity may suffer. In my case, I left my house at six in the morning and returned around six in the afternoon. Obviously, it is important to take into account the actual performance and to stretch or shorten the daily hours depending on it.

A: If I’m honest, setting a schedule was an intention that I did not end up fulfilling. I ended up feeling like I was on campus 24 hours a day. I was delighted.


D: It is not that I want to practice my profession with these words, but it is very important to eat well and in a balanced way during the 26 days that the pool lasts. Falling ill or being low on energy at some point would be a setback that adds to the challenges that the pool already offers by itself.

A: I agree and would add that you should not skip all three meals a day. In my case, I had breakfast at home, but I would have lunch and dinner on campus and everything was prepared for me from home. Having a routine in this regard is essential.

S: I think I even went further and organized my meal plan for almost the entire pool. I prepared a lot of dishes before starting that I then froze and was taking out. In the end, it was one less element I had to worry about when I started working. If I cooked lentils, I did it for about six people. I always brought my own food except on Thursdays, which was the day that some of our colleagues implanted “pizza parties”. It was a way of doing something in common among a few and practicing digital disconnection. Now, as students, it is a tradition that we continue to respect.


A: My advice is to give yourself time. The first few days can be very frustrating because programming can seem very abstract at first and it is difficult to establish knowledge. You fail over and over again at something that seems impossible to you, but, at a certain point, and without warning, everything changes and any pool dealer who had no idea of programming experiences a very gratifying feeling when seeing the progress.

D: Do not get frustrated. There are many who are on the same level, which is zero. In a short time, you end up being a teacher of some since collaborative work is essential in this phase. There is knowledge that you learn faster than others and the pool tries to share it and, thus, advance all together. Taking advantage of the synergies of peer learning is a smart move.

A: In the end, the key in the pool is to add hours.

D: Yes, and don’t give up.

S: I did not know absolutely anything about programming before starting the pool, although I will not deny that I did some research on the internet a few weeks before. The truth is that, at the end of the day, you do not use almost anything that you can find online because you do not know what you are going to find in 42, but, at least, it helps you to familiarize yourself with some concepts.

D: It helps in a way, yes, but the pool is something that you do not expect or forget in life.

S: Totally. The best advice is that, do not get frustrated. Calm can be your best ally. You have to trust and give yourself a chance, think that maybe it was not the day, but surely a bad day serves as learning for the next day. You have to keep swimming until the end.


D: 42 is unique and cannot be compared to anything. You have to spend time interacting with people. Meeting as many people as possible will allow you to have more options when the time comes when you need assistance.

A: My advice is to start the pool with the most open mind to methodology possible. Starting on the defensive will not help them and would be to their own detriment. And not close to just one group.

D: Make a group as big as possible, not just with your closest colleagues.

A: And change schedules! Do not always come at the same time.

A: But we were here all day!

S: I have a friend who already works as a programmer and who is the one who takes away my fears. Colleagues who have related training or experience in this world advance very quickly, but you soon realize that you don’t have to compare yourself to anyone and that there are many others who are in the same situation. Although in the pool you can’t slow down, you have to be aware of your own learning curve.

D: I understand that, at first, you may have questions about the methodology, but I imagine that it happens with almost everything that is new and proposes to evolve from previous models. What I advise is that you have to trust the methodology because it works. When you are 42 Madrid students and look back, you will understand it better.

S: When I finished the pool, I went home convinced that I was not going to be chosen but, at the same time, very happy with everything I had learned. I remember with great emotion the first weekend: it was the key moment in which I was aware of my evolution.