Coding bootcamps have become rampantly popular over the last few years. We’ve all thought about enrolling in one at some point in time to have more relevant skills in this digital age. But signing over eight weeks of your life and a few thousand Euros is a big decision, so here are some things you should consider before taking that big leap.
1. Align your objectives
Are you looking for a 180 degree career switch to become a full-fledged engineer or just to pick up additional skills? If your plan is to enroll in a bootcamp to move into full time employment in a technical role, it’s your job to assess the feasibility of this goal. Do your research. Talk to past participants to ask them what percentage of their cohort have clinched technical jobs after the course, and if they would enroll in the bootcamp again with the knowledge they have now. While bootcamps advertise that their graduates land jobs at tech powerhouses like Google or Airbnb, it’s important to dig deeper and find out what sort of roles the graduates land there. Most large tech companies tend to only recruit engineers with a minimum of a three year STEM degree.
2. Consider alternatives
With their hefty fees, coding bootcamps aren’t viable financial options for everyone. There are great (and free) alternatives such as freeCodeCamp, CodeAcademy and Coursera where you can learn at your own pace and schedule. With a wide range of online courses available, you need to figure out your focus; data science, something more general or specific programming languages. You could also reach out to your network to look for friends/acquaintances with the technical skills you’re looking to acquire and have them mentor you.
3. Structured program vs flexible schedule
The advantages a bootcamp offers are the structured syllabus, practical-focus, and the on-site and immediate guidance. If these are not important to you or don’t suit your way of learning, consider working on personal projects instead. A combination of online courses and books can help supplement your learning process. The most crucial element of this route is to apply your knowledge; whether it’s building or cloning an app to solve a problem you’re currently facing or are interested in tackling. This personal project is something tangible that you can use to show-off your abilities in interviews.
4. Complement your academic or professional profile
Coding bootcamps are a great add-on for certain profiles and individuals, rather than turning you into a developer, the bootcamps provide the perspective and necessary vocabulary required to work with developers. For hopeful entrepreneurs, knowing how to effectively communicate what you need from your tech team (and vice versa) is crucial. If you’re a business analyst or looking to get into that position, a coding bootcamp will provide an understanding of basic SQL to acquire data and information.
Coding bootcamps won’t turn you into a hireable software engineer overnight. If you intend to move into a full-time developer role you must be prepared to work very hard during the program and continue learning everyday, even after you’ve managed to get your first job. To get that job, you must show employers that you have what it takes to succeed in a technical role. This means having the general technical understanding and skills to get started, but also demonstrating the commitment and willingness to learn in order to be successful in the long run. Coding bootcamps can be a shortcut, but you have to understand how: Instead of magically cutting down a 3-year long education, they set out to teach you enough skills and build up your confidence in a narrowly focused area, so that you can convince an employer to “take a chance on you” and support you in building your skills further while on the job.
Besides non-technical people wanting to make a drastic career change into tech, coding bootcamps can be a good fit for individuals, such as founders and business analysts, looking to beef up their knowledge as an add-on to their current set of skills. Statistics and success stories of past participants should be viewed on a case-by-case basis and taken with a pinch of salt. A coding bootcamp cannot guarantee you a job but could be a valuable skill set you bring to a tech-focused position or company.