How to Host a Bootcamp

GradHacker Bootcamps are sessions designed by grad students for grad students as a way to teach them about ‘hacking’ grad school. The first bootcamp was done through Michigan State University and consisted of a day long bootcamp. The camp was designed to act like a THATCamp bootcamp, so there was some morning lecture- but with a casual roundtable feel. Participants were asked to bring their laptops, and the room as set up so that all 25 of us could be in a circle for better interaction. The format was that we had a short lecture by one of our grad students about a piece of tech and then as a group discussed the benefits. In the afternoon, participants were given free time to discuss the tech and also play around with it. Our topic was “Managing your academic identity online” and focused on Twitter, LinkedIn, Gravatar,, and Zotero.

If you are interested in hosting a bootcamp, here are some tips for starting one up.

1. Get a team together: Find other grads who are willing to help with hosting a bootcamp. Four or five should be good so that you have enough people to present and help out with getting food, doing PR, and setting up.

2. Choose a time length and group size: Full day bootcamp or a couple hours mini camp, pick what you think people would be more likely to attend. Also, if you are going to have a discussion based bootcamp, anymore than 20 campers may get overwhelming, so pick a size before you advertise.

3. Choose a topic: Don’t pick something too broad, find one that allows you to discuss about 3 to 5 different technologies, or you can focus on one really important one. Depending on the amount of time you want the bootcamp to go will probably determine how much you can talk about. Some potential day long topics include: Online Academic Identity, Reference Management Systems, Tools for Wellness, Learning Management Systems, Organization and Time Management. For a mini camp you could focus on a single thing like Twitter, Zotero, Committees, Engaging Students, etc.

4. Get sponsors: If you are going to have food, or rent a space you will need to get money. Ask your graduate school and various departments. Getting the administration involved will also help with step 5.

5. Get the word out: You need to get people excited! Send out the bootcamp call for campers to every department, through the grad school, use any and all social media you have. Also, see 6.

6. Post your bootcamp on our site: We will be glad to send out an announcement and help with PR. You can do a blog post about the bootcamp and what it will entail, and you can link people to our site. We will post all the information they need under our Bootcamp page such as the dates, topic, what they need to bring, and any contact information.

7. Prepare for your camp, but don’t over prepare: Have an idea of what you are going to discuss, but remember, these aren’t formal. They are casual discussions among peers, so have a general idea but allow for wiggle room and discussion.

8. After the camp, let us know how it went: write up a blog post about what went well and what didn’t. As we get more camps, we will start adding tips and information to this page!

Good Luck, and if you have any questions just email [email protected] or message @gradhacker on twitter


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