If you’re reading this, I assume you’re considering a coding bootcamp. Maybe you’ve already read online reviews on bootcamps and it’s proven more difficult for you to know if it’s something you should invest in. Here are some of the reviews I found:
- “Bootcamp gave me the jumpstart I needed to learn programming and switch careers.”
- “Exactly what I was looking for to get a job quickly in web development.”
- “All you are really paying for is a way to force yourself to program every day.”
- “No job help, and a lazy curriculum.”
With such a wide variety of reviews, it’s hard to know what to expect from a bootcamp and if it’s truly right for you. So, here is my story about bootcamp, hoping it will help you decided if it’s something you would like to do.
I first stumbled across bootcamps in the beginning of 2017. My initial thought was that they were expensive and I was concerned if it would be worth the investment. I researched a number of different bootcamps. Some were part-time, others were full-time. Some were well-establish, other were just starting up. The prices ranged from $2,000 to $11,000. Eventually I enrolled at DevMountain. Being well-establish, and having offered free housing, it seemed like the best fit.
Now having been to bootcamp, I have a better understanding of why people should, or shouldn’t, do a bootcamp. Here are four things to consider when deciding to do a coding bootcamp:
#1 Bootcamps are not for everyone
Bootcamps are hard. Hence the name “bootcamp.” Coding bootcamp was one of the most challenging things I have ever done—coming from a person with absolutely zero programming experience prior to bootcamp—but it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.
Some people love bootcamps, some people don’t. Same goes for coding. My advice is to research bootcamps, find one that you would be interested in attending, and do a tour. Most of them will offer a tour of the campus. See what it’s like. Maybe sit in on a class for 30 minutes. Get a better idea of what it’s like to see if it’s a good fit for you. Ask yourself, are you the type of person that can sit at a computer from 9am-5pm then go home and do it some more? It’s not for everyone, but if it is for you, bootcamp is a great way to jumpstart your career.
#2 Self taught coding vs. bootcamp
As one of the reviews above said, “All you are really paying for is a way to force yourself to program every day.” If you are a disciplined person, having a general idea of what you’re doing, you probably don’t need a bootcamp. If you’re more like me, starting fresh and need a structured schedule, bootcamp is an excellent place to start. On another note, having instructors help you solve problems, and having peers to network with is a huge benefit you’ll get from bootcamp.
A friend I went to school with is one of the smartest kids I know. He got fives on all his AP tests, a 34 on the ACT, and a full-ride scholarship to a great university—he’s a smart kid. One semester of college he decided he was going to teach himself how to code. Freeing up some space on his schedule, he spent three months learning how to build a basic app. I learned how to do that in the first week of bootcamp. Bootcamp gives the structure and resources needed to learn how to code effectively, and quickly.
#3 Computer science degree vs. bootcamp
A four-year computer science degree is more extensive and expensive than a three-month bootcamp. For example, a CS degree takes roughly 16x longer than bootcamp. According to collegecalc.org, the average cost for a bachelor program in computer science is $162,888. A three-month bootcamp is somewhere between $2,000 to $11,000. Putting that into perspective, bootcamp is cheaper than one semester of college.
Both CS degrees and bootcamps will teach you how to code effectively. The difference is, in the CS program you will have a Bachelor’s degree. This means you will be taking a lot of general education courses on top of coding courses in your four years. A bootcamp, on the other hand, is much more specialized and focused. It’s three months of deep diving into your specific program.
For me, bootcamp was my choice over a CS degree. It costs less, and got my career in coding started much faster than a CS degree would have.
#4 You get out what you put in
Bootcamp, again, is a lot of work. Mornings are usually guided projects with instructors and the afternoons are projects you do by yourself. In addition to that, you spend 3-5 hours every day practicing, watching videos, or reading books about coding. There will be people who have experience in coding that will end up dropping the course. This isn’t because they can’t understand what’s being taught, but because they didn’t want to put the work in.
It’s important to understand that simply running through the motions at bootcamp doesn’t mean you will be perfect at coding. It takes work—hard work. But, if you’re willing to work for it, bootcamp will be the best decision you ever made.
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