re: What's your opinion on Coding Bootcamps? VIEW POST


I'll make two points, one historical and one relating it to today. Replying as I've hired graduates from bootcamps since 2000. I'll start by saying this topic is as political as it is statistical, I'll stick to empirical alliteration so this response doesn't become a book.

Back in 1995-2000 companies like wave ran bootcamps to teach the CCNA test and fill the hole in the need for people who could do networking, as well as bootcamps for DBA positions and various other low hanging fruit. Since the only requirements back then were certifications to get what is today a 90k+/year job, it was a no brainer.

The result was there were a lot of people who got in on the ground floor and are now either the managers across various industries (primarily those who outsourced and themselves added the degree requirement to pad their retirements), and an even larger contingent who lost their job in the Telcom and IT busts respectively and never regained the same level of employ.

It's worth noting this isn't novel; trade schools have done this for years and years with similar complaints about quality, debt and lack of opportunity.

The bootcamps boom we are seeing today is equal parts backlash against the lack of quality in volume outsourcing (schools that are rote/no better than bootcamps, rampant fake degrees and companies that don't attempt to verify to justify their decision, etc) and a growth in demand for developers. They're using the same tactics as days of yore and producing momentary results by capitalizing on a bubble. The obvious implication here is bubbles burst, usually when someone creates a competitive disruption that eliminates the need for volume over quality. The recent result I'm seeing is a general diminishing of the "front end" discipline in terms of both prestige and quality.

To tie it all together, bootcamps as a trend in an industry tend to run in cycles. They're not inherently evil, but they are a capitalization effort on the part of people looking to make a buck. They dont tend to deliver quality, their focus is on giving someone a baseline and selling them off at a profit. The biggest detriment to them long term will the inevitable loss of jobs when the bubble pops. Those boot camp graduates who are lucky will be stuck in their position and unable to move due to lack of credentials, the rest will be career changers anew. The secondary negative impact is the aforementioned reduction in quality as no amount of rote memorization at a boot camp or hedgewitchery can replace an actual understanding of what is going on, which is what a computer science degree provides. Now, that said, I have noticed a troubling uptick in schools creating fledgeling CS programs where people's entire degree is based on languages like PHP as a means to accomplish a task and don't actually cover computer science in its mathematical or engineering form in an effort to increase graduation rates and stem some of the bleeding from people looking for an easy solution to the employment problem. This represents a negative trend resulting from industry direction.

My opinion is that bootcamps are generally bad both conceptually and as a long term investment. The trends described above play out continuously in cycles as demand rises and demand falls. That said, I do not think University is necessary for most of what we do in this industry. You could teach the concepts as effectively in a well run trade school and still get all the necessary math and fundamentals that you have to understand categorically to do this job as well. The primary driver for the continuously escalating education requirement to begin with was outsourcing and the need to qualify the offshore/onshored resources as "better" than the poor sods in the US whose educational debt means they have to pull down 100k to get by.

I'll wrap it up by saying that I give the same level interviews regardless of how you come to me. I've hired brilliant people straight out of high school, because of their brilliance. I've passed on recent University graduates because their baseline knowledge didn't reflect their degree status. Most of the people I've hired out of bootcamps have had college degrees as well. A bootcamp in any sense should be a rigorous test to weed out those who are guaranteed to fail and don't pass basic muster. It is not a replacement for training in any sense.



code of conduct - report abuse