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Cover image for 5 Things No One Tells You About Going to a Coding BootCamp

5 Things No One Tells You About Going to a Coding BootCamp

donita profile image Donita ・3 min read
Are you contemplating a bootcamp or in the process of starting one, this article is for you?

Deer in headlights:

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It's okay if you don't know it all. Coming into Udacity, I only had experience in HTML and CSS, but JavaScript was a beast. I had no idea what I was doing and had many JavaScript mental breakdowns lol. So as you start or if you're currently learning a language that you're unfamiliar with, get familiar with being uncomfortable. It's okay to be a beginner, the person in your class that you think is the smartest person ever, was once a beginner. Embrace new challenges and be okay with the challenge.

Outside Resources:

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This goes back to my first point, yes you're going to probably be a "deer in headlights" but now that we have acknowledged a potential issue, let's learn how to address it. Everyone has a different learning style and sometimes your bootcamp classes just won't click. So from the jump, use Youtube, podcasts, blog posts and books regarding whatever language you are learning. This is something, I didn't do. Ex: Look on google "Best Python Books". The constant learning from a variety of sources will help concepts get embedded in your brain a lot more faster with much more understanding.

Community

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Apart of my Grow with Google scholarship, the requirement was to participate in community, although weird at first it was probably the best decision i've ever made, not because it was a requirement but it helped me push through when I wanted to give up and also if had any questions that google couldn't answer, I could ask my community.

How Many rounds?

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It's probably your first time in your bootcamp and there is someone who knows all the answers and you think to yourself "How is he or she this smart?" More than likely, they have had some other form of coding knowledge from previous bootcamps or classes, so don't look at someone and automatically feel inadequate because they have been in this position before.

Career Prep

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If possible, I would go to a bootcamp who have partnerships with companies who will help you get your foot int the door. Junior Roles are scarce, I mean scarce. The more bootcamps out there, the harder it's to get your foot in the door. So start early, I wouldn't say start just right away but create a space in your study schedule to start looking at the tech landscape in your city, decide whether or not you want to relocate, figure out if the companies you want to work for do whiteboarding.. if so, start studying. It's doesn't have to be all at the same time, but one week you can dive into Big O notation, the next week different data structures. Spread it out over time, so you won't be overwhelm.

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Donita

@donita

Software Engineer who loves Tupac, Alabama Football and reruns of "Living Single"

Discussion

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Avoid "bootcamps" completely should be the advice. Waste of time and money. And if I have equal candidates and the only difference is "bootcamp" experience, I'm never choosing the one with it. They just don't offer enough to actually make any difference.

 

Wow. Seems like a very negative outlook... But why?

"if I have equal candidates and the only difference is "bootcamp" experience, I'm never choosing the one with it."

I'm not sure if you actually meant for it to sound this way, but that statement is saying if you have two "equal" candidates, you will literally not choose the one with bootcamp experience. That is an insanely negative bias (at least that is what it seems like from my perspective.)

I graduated from a bootcamp and immediately landed an amazing job (I actually had to postpone my first interview so I could finish my final team project first). I now also help teach part time at a boot camp (a different one from mine).

I've met a lot of hiring managers from impressive big name companies who love hiring boot camp graduates as well. (So the opposite of your opinion.)

You're welcome to your opinion of course. But just realize you are applying a negative carpet bomb of a generalized statement that is incredibly discouraging to a lot of people working very hard to change there careers. With your statement, you've literally become another obstacle that people will list they had to overcome in there success stories.

 

Thanks, Chad for writing this! I'm about to go to bootcamp and I've read plenty of positive reviews from every point of view. Basically, everything comes down to putting your best effort forward every day and keeping it up post-graduation.
Thanks for your word of encouragement.

 

Thank you for this amazing reply!

 

What is it that makes you feel that way?

In my city we have a strong bootcamp of 3 years with connections to the growing local tech centre, and successful graduates who've been hired within days. Early graduates are now being promoted into elevated developer roles. We graduated in MERN stack but some went on to roles in Java, C#, Python and Ruby. I myself am one happy graduate, and just over a year now as an employed developer. I wasted neither time nor money.

I do know I am lucky in that the bootcamp model, providing juniors to enthusiastic and prepared companies, is still strong here. In some cities and countries, yes: the bootcamps grew too fast and spread too thin, quality can be variable and the market saturated with graduates. However, this isn't automatically universal, and I wouldn't discourage everyone with a blanket statement due to the poor experiences in one location.

 
 

I decided to join one, it starts in May. I don't think there is a this/that only result for any program (including degree programs). There are many people who have found success with them and many who have not.

My main choices for joining one:

1) It's offered in partnership with Rutger's University.
2) It's in-person, 15 minutes from my full-time job (currently in accounting).
3) It offers free tutoring, office hours, career coaching, networking events every 3 months, and career services after completion.
4) It's a structured learning curriculum.
5) I am too old to go back to college (35, another degree would mean I'd be close to 40!).

I think the main thing is having the right mindset. You can't assume that as someone new to this field you're going to enroll in these programs and magically leave with a job. That doesn't happen anywhere. I assume that during and after I'll have to keep learning, keep working on projects, keep networking.

I've had multiple extremely nice developers be kind enough to go through the curriculum for me, and most will tell me the same thing. It's a solid start, if not a little spread out too much on programming languages. Instead of having blinders on to that, I'll keep asking people for advice, keeping learning what jobs in my area are most looking for, keep working.

Is it perfect? No. But calculating the ROI for these sort of things is absolutely individual more than it is generalized. If you were to ask me if college is worth the investment, I'd tell you no. I'd go on about how much money and time is wasted in a lot of classes that have nothing to do with your degree. But many people would say they are very happy with where their degree got them, regardless of the loans.

I'll let you know in Nov how I faired--but in the end, the only answer is there is no right one.

 

I’m sure every program is different, but it seems like they work for some people. Like most things, I only get out of it what I put into it

 
 

Whoa, that's very dismissive. I went to a bootcamp and met some brilliant students who needed the program to help jump start their dev careers. They had a strong programming background but wanted more experience in actually building things and get feedback on their code, which the bootcamp offered. Granted, there were also students who didn't fare as well, who shouldn't have been in the program in the first place - but all programs have these students.

Don't focus so much on where they got their certificate/education but rather, what they know and can build now, their aptitude for learning and understanding, their ability to work with others, and so on. It's not where you learn your trade but what you do with it.

 

I might post something like this too if I was still 30k in debt after 4 years in university taking courses in underwater basket-weaving to complete my CS major. Truth is a good bootcamp is an extraordinary value and is as good of a foundation as any given you take it seriously.

 

Well that's terrible advice. I'm a boot camp grad and work as a developer. I love my job and am getting better at it every day. The problem with people with this mindset is that they don't understand current knowledge is not a reflection of ability. More developers than you realize do not have CS degrees.I will take a boot camp grad with a high ceiling over a lazy CS grad. Good lord.

 

The majority of bootcamp grads get a job in the industry and many more than double their income in their first role. I'm not sure by what criteria that would be a waste of time and money, especially compared to the time and money cost of attending a university! I graduated from one in 2014 and was immediately able to contribute on the team that hired me.

 

Maybe never say "never"?

A LONG time ago, I went to a bootcamp of sorts to get a couple of certifications. True, this didn't work out for me probably because I had no experience in the industry. Luckily, I was able to use my GI bill to go to college and get a 2 year degree. Then, I was just willing to do a little more at the internships I was involved in and one of them offered me a low paying fulltime job which I accepted. It was only a matter of time before I was able to find something else based on that experience. Always be willing to do a little more. It pays off in the end.

For what it's worth though, the coding boot-camps from the last 3-4 years have been fairly worthwhile. At the moment if I was starting over, I would probably consider them over going to a 4 year school unless I just had the time and money to do that (for example if I was early 20's again). The only problem though I've found is that they're a little crowded in certain markets which means there are a lot of fledgling developers looking for work in the same area. If you can attend one of these and graduate and then be willing to move to a different area of the country, you'll find something eventually.

Best of luck to anyone looking.

 

Do you mind elaborating more?

 

I'm on the fence. I hire developers myself and the negative I see is you now have to break them out of bad habits learned at the bootcamp or teach them basic things they should have learned.

 

What are some of the bad habits that are taught at bootcamps?

I used a bad choice of words. I should not have said bad habits. You usually learn the easiest way to do something which most of the time is not the professional way of doing it. You have very little time to learn a lot of stuff in a bootcamp so learning theory goes out the window.

Aren't you also teaching someone with a CS degree the way to do it? I know some degrees teach specific languages, but my understanding is many CS degree students come with a better understanding of concepts, while bootcamp grads come with a better understanding of implementation.

Both have something they need to learn during that first job. It's just a different something.

 

I would note hire a bootcamp unless they wowed me and that has not happened. Bootcamps have only flooded the market.

 

Good info, but "more harder" was like the reading equivalent to nails on a chalkboard.

 

β€œBesides a mathematical inclination, an exceptionally good mastery of one's native tongue is the most vital asset of a competent programmer.”

― Edsger W. Dijkstra

 

I’m in STEM for a reason!

 

I hear you! πŸ˜‰ From someone who knows nothing about software (but wants to learn) I can definitely appreciate that. Any suggestions for where a person with zero experience can start learning software dev?

Decide what you want to do?

  1. Front End or Back End
    blog.teamtreehouse.com/i-dont-spea...

  2. Decide on a language
    fullstackacademy.com/blog/nine-bes...

  3. Start learning to code:
    udacity.com
    freecodecamp.org
    udemy.com
    youtube.com

  4. Start doing projects and put them on GitHub.
    GitHub.com
    makeuseof.com/tag/beginner-program...

  5. Data Structures and Algorithms
    medium.com/basecs

I hope this helps a little! :)

Yes, very helpful! I really appreciate it. Just started watching the CS50x course online through Harvard.

 

That was interesting insight. I have worked with a few code camp grads and I was always happy to have them on the team. Btw. I’m glad that you have a healthy outlook on learning. Recommending self-care practices like that is the main reason I write. I particularly enjoyed this part: β€œIt's doesn't have to be all at the same time.” Gotta take things in strides. :)

 

Great advice! Just remember, if you're not getting the information at first, it doens't mean you're stupid or don't know anything. It takes a while to get a handle on the concepts. Always be searching anywhere you need, to find the answers.

 

I think that one major point this article makes is self learning. You speak about searching for resources, reading books, participating in a community etc.
The bootcamp in itself won't make you more employable than an intern - I am struggling to believe that someone in 3 months of bootcamp training can have equal value with someone with 4-5 years in engineering studies.
Having said that, someone in a bootcamp with passion for it and willingness to go above and beyond it and seek resources, read at home, interact with like-minded people may find that they can learn A LOT in those 3 months and continue their learning after it and until they land a job.
On the other hand, someone that spends 4-5 years in engineering studies but is unwilling to pursue knowledge, will just complete the degree at some point because they have to and not be valuable in the workplace necessarily.
So - to me - the key is passion and willingness to do something. If this exists, the bootcamp may accelerate the path to it.

 

all the animated gifs/memes seemed a bit much, and was very distracting btw...

 
 

Some great points!

I'd add one more to that:

  • The technology you're learning at your bootcamp is probably already outdated

I completed a bootcamp only a year ago, but the way we learned app development was already outdated. I learned to build a monolithic app using containers. My junior dev job is at a fully-serverless startup, where I need to know way more about AWS services than any of the languages I learned.

Even if your bootcamp is super modern and you're learning React, you're probably not learning hooks or anything else that just came out but will be in general use by the time you get a job, because the curriculum hasn't been updated yet.

That's ok, though. As a developer, you never stop learning, and keeping up with the trends is a huge part of that. A bootcamp should give you a good foundation, and everything else you'll learn on the job and on your own, once you actually know what you need to know.

 

As another bootcamp grad. This is all spot onπŸ‘Œ

 

Thank you! I really appreciate your kind words!

 

Wow, I'm about to start a bootcamp, so it's super awesome that you have these tips. I was already worried about the "deer in headlights" paranoia, so it's good to know its not just me that will experience that!

 

As someone just starting out, I found this blog to be super helpful, thank you!

 
 

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