The enormous tech boom, from circa 2010 onward has coincided with a massive proliferation of coding boot camps and tutorial programs, both online and offline.
These newfound resources for learning programming and other tech-related skills can help address the insatiable need to bring sorely needed talent to startups and more established companies.
Instructor-led coding schools are affectionately known as boot camps because of the intense amount of training in a short time frame, with the intention of making someone a workforce-ready professional in 12 to 16 weeks.
The typical boot camp is for-profit with a mission to be a self-sustaining, successful business entity. You often run into marketing and promotions about how you’re practically guaranteed placement right after completing your training, with an attractive salary to boot. Some schools also offer a refund guarantee if you’re not hired within six months to a year after you finish.
The price for instruction is not insignificant. The range is roughly $12,000 to $18,000 for a session lasting three to four months.
When coding boot camps started to appear, we all saw them as a godsend for the tech industries, and a new promise for educational opportunity that more closely reflected the practical needs for cloud, web, and mobile development.
But with no regulation or oversight, it was only going to be a matter of time before issues and complaints would arise. And this report exemplifies what can happen with over-promising and under-delivering.
With this in mind, here are several important considerations you really should have in mind before making the investment in a boot camp.
- You really need to have a burning desire to learn about programming and software development. You know in your heart, gut, and mind that you’ll feel great about yourself and be more confident. You have that bona fide hunger to put your newfound development skills to work. If you feel anything less than this, please look elsewhere – for your own good.
- You’re not going into this with merely the promise of a job and a nice paycheck. It is absolutely the wrong decision to blindly join a coding school just for better pay. If programming enters your mind with an air of blandness and boredom, you’ll never be happy, and you may even struggle to succeed in job interviews.
- You must be curious and willing to constantly learn. The boot camp is merely the beginning in your journey of learning. When you join a company, you’ll have to seek knowledge of the intimate relationship between your responsibilities and the overall mission of the business. You may also need to acquire additional skill sets and tools beyond what you’ve gained in boot camp.
- You understand your ultimate value is your ability to solve problems. People don’t code, program, or create software simply the benefit of doing so. Having in mind the goal of solving specific problems for your team, colleagues, and the business is a vital part of connecting yourself to the company. It also sends a powerful message to your employer that you’re always thinking of your projects in a “big picture” perspective.
As I’ve discussed in the past, being curious and having a problem-solving mindset are absolutely vital attributes in the success of your profession. Coding is but a specific core competency, much like writing, designing, or accounting. If you don’t much care about learning or wanting to make a difference, then your potential will be limited.
Finally, it’s important to reiterate that boot camps are designed specifically for highly focused training within a very short time period. They require full-time effort and a lot of hard work.
If you have a full-time position and are looking to learn something on the side, boot camps are clearly the not the answer for you. There are many other great options out there. I’ve taken advantage of them for years. My own favorites include Treehouse, Lynda.com, and Safari (O’Reilly). There are many, many other great resources out there, all relatively inexpensive compared to on-site coding schools. If you want something free, consider resources such as Free Code Camp or Code Academy, look around on YouTube, or join a local Meetup.
As they always say: “Happy Coding”!