What's your opinion on Coding Bootcamps?

Helen Anderson on September 16, 2018

Coding Bootcamps have changed the game for career switchers over the past five years. Those who want to move into Web Development and Software Eng... [Read Full]
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Coding boot camps are an epidemic that must stop or change how they're approaching this! They are created by people who're capitalizing on the helpless souls that simply want nothing more than a career in software development.

I have taught close to a hundred students this year alone and roughly 90% of them have attended boot camps and were completely lost. They have spent anywhere between $5k - $20k for these programs that promise something like 12 things in 12 weeks (an absolutely ridiculous proposition!).

While boot camps continue to produce clueless programmers, business has been flourishing for me because I continue to get these students who still need help in solidifying their knowledge and preparing them for interviews. I'm deeply saddened and enraged at all these boot camps that have shattered so many dreams and stolen people's time and money in broad daylight. Every boot camp has a handful of students who get showcased on their website without ever mentioning their previous exposure to programming. Now, I'm sure there are exceptions and you might be one of them. However, every individual I have worked with has had the exact same story!

I recently received a call to teach a boot camp at a very prestigious university and I went through a couple of interviews only to realize that an intermediate educational institution was conducting these boot camps across many universities in the US. Several of my students have gone through those same programs and felt helpless after completing them. Anyway, I refused to work on that gig because I didn't like their curriculum and how it was affecting students.

Consider that most people attending boot camps have learned React at a boot camp within a week. While you can cover quite some ground in a week, a new programmer will never be comfortable enough to start a project or work on their own. I have been programming for over 25 years and used Javascript for 21 years. It took me almost two months to learn React well enough to be able to build large-scale projects and be comfortable enough to know my way around it. On top of that, it took me six months to master the React ecosystem to a point where I could start teaching it.

What was your experience like? Did you like it? What did you dislike about it?

 

I think perhaps you might be asking too much of bootcamps and bootcamps graduates. The goal isn’t to produce programmers ready to architect some complex accounting system. They’re not even going to be expected to create large-scale react apps. The end goal is for them to contribute meaningfully on a development team.

I’m glad they don’t spend more than a week on React. What happens if the perfect entry level job for them is a vue shop? Frameworks will change like the seasons, but the process of learning and growing is like time always marching on.

If they learn how to read documentation, how to be curious and how to ask good technical questions then the bootcamp has done their job. The rest can be taught on site in my opinion.

 

I have very low expectations of someone coming out of a boot camp. That's not to say that they can't be good. It's just that these programs are not geared towards teaching them meaningful skills. Most of them have just been taught how to Google literally. I don't think anyone should be paying 12k for something like that. You can get way better content on YouTube and Udemy.

If you want to teach them how to be curious and ask good questions, you start with the fundamentals and cultivate a self-learning mentality. There's no substitute for basics. Why is anyone even doing React in their first 12 weeks? On top of that, you want them to go through Vue and Angular and Backbone - many of my students have. That's a recipe for disaster. You're not teaching them anything by trying to show them so many frameworks. Besides, learning to program is not the same thing as learning a framework.

I'd rather they learn one thing well. Then, they're able to pick up the next thing systematically. If the perfect entry-level job is a Vue shop, I'd rather they know Javascript very well than having a preview of everything under the sun.

 

One of my best friends and another girl i know went through a bootcamp. 7 months ago they couldn't code at all. Today they are a pair of brilliant front end developers who continually seek to improve. They were taught by an awesome teacher and in 5 months they did absorb very well going to school EVERY DAY.

I don't think all bootcamps are awesome or wrong. But for what i saw in first person it does work. A Bootcamp will give you the basics, well enough to get you motivated to keep on learning on your own. I mean, i am a self taught programmer with 17 years of formal experience. I attended to one of those bootcamps for full stack dev and it was a great idea. I don't think at this point of my life i would start an undergrad programme in CS... so bootcamps can be a solution to many who discovered a passion for development later in their lives, or those who don't have access or means to fund a full time education.

You can't just generalise....

 

I concur that the teacher makes a huge difference in this equation. One of the problems with many boot camps is that they employ people who have gone through their own programs or have 1-2 years experience goofing around with programming stuff. You're not going to learn much from people like that. They just don't have enough real-world experience to truly teach you to the extent you should be taught.

I'm not suggesting that anyone consider an undergrad program in CS - that is beyond most people trying to attend boot camps because they're looking for a quick fix. People can very well get a full-time education via Coursera/Udacity, so I don't buy not having the means to fund a full-time education as an excuse.

I'm also not trying to generalize, but I have talked to a wide range of people and worked directly with all of them to get enough insights to form an opinion here. We're talking about ~100 students from various boot camps around the world. I do this daily.

At the end of the day, I'm trying to help these people get out of a mess that they got into. Many of them had to take out loans. Almost all of them have been feeling like they're worthless and not cut-out for this which isn't true at all. These institutions (small and large) have played them.

 
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You might be surprised then to find that many fresh engineering grads are no mpre qualified than these people. Bottom line is that you won't learn it until you start working.

 

A lot of the university programs are also very questionable lately. I was appalled to see what a Computer Science degree constitutes in some universities these days. The bar has been lowered at so many schools and one of the reasons is that people are looking at other types of education (online courses, coursera/udacity, 1:1 training, boot camps, etc.).

I agree that you learn a lot on the job. However, that only works when you can get hired at a job like that. I'm seeing a lot of boot camp attendees struggle at their jobs. The fact that they got a job in the first place was quite astonishing in some cases.

After reading most of your comments on this thread I’m rather mortified as a current bootcamp student. A lot of what you say has a lot of validity and I know I’ve got a gigantic mountain in front of me. If nothing else however, it’s been a big nudge to push my self more than ever

Sorry that it made you feel like that. On the bright side, there's a community here ready to help. If you need anything, please don't hesitate to reach out.

Thank you for your response. I definitely have the drive but living in Seattle, the job market is extremely competitive, and I always fear I’ll be lost in a sea of more qualified candidates!

The Seattle area is tough indeed! However, there's still a lot of demand.

You can also look into remote jobs off LinkedIn, StackOverflow, and other sites.

I live in Redmond. Where are you at? I'm thinking we should start a DEV meetup here. ;)

Good advice!

Oh cool, I’m from sammamish but live in Mukilteo now. I’d absolutely go to a DEV meetup!

 

I used to do pair programming with people working through the FreeCodeCamp curriculum. The number of people who do not understand the concept of a file path vs a URL or file extensions is too damn high!

 

Were these people who you worked with coming out of boot camps? Otherwise, it is understandable if they're confused about it.

Why were you pair-programming on fCC? Was it to learn yourself or teach them?

2 people said they had recently done a bootcamp that was almost $5000 and more than 5 had done a bootcamp that was somewhere between $100 and $1500.

I was on FCC to learn myself. I'm very rusty/inexperienced with JS and Bootstrap.

I can think of at least a dozen times when I never got as far as actually pair programming with a person because they could not tell me if they were using Windows, OSX, or Linux. Another dozen times I told people to e-mail me whenever they decided what program they wanted to use to connect with but they insisted we talk through facebook because they haven't been able to get into their e-mail account for months and didn't want to make yet another new one.

Sadly there's a lot of truth to what you've just said. One of the biggest problems I have observed is the plethora of terrible advice out there.

 

Thanks for sharing your experience, I find the concept of Bootcamp really interesting. There are hundreds of institutions offering these types of courses and I wonder if there is consistency with content. I'm not sure any other industry has stepped into this model for education, is it just Web Development?

The course I did wasn't an immersive bootcamp but 10 weeks part-time. I had done online learning before the course but that did not prepare me for the pace. The rest of my cohort were all developers by day so it was a tough ride trying to keep up, but I'm glad I stuck with it. I've come out the other side being able to talk the talk, if nothing else, and have stepped into a more technical role. I was not expecting to become a JS developer after a part-time course but it was a good way to get more hands-on with new technology.

 

You are right that there is no consistency with content which is potentially one downside of not being accredited. I have talked to people who have gone through various boot camps around the world and the breakdown is in how these boot camps are being marketed. They're essentially deceiving most of the students. It's one thing to be upfront about what you will and will not learn and another to promise a job after the boot camp, which is ridiculous. If someone attends a boot camp knowing what to expect exactly, then that is one thing. However, I think if most people knew what to expect from their $12,000 loan and time, it could deter many of them. That's what these boot camps don't want to happen.

The biggest issue I see is that they're promising these people that they will become Full Stack Developers after the program. Just because someone has sat through a session and done a standard project doesn't make them a Full Stack Developer. The grading is extremely lenient and so is the acceptance process.

I have been researching a lot about this space mainly because I've noticed this emerging pattern and I've felt really bad for these students.

You seem to have set the right expectations ahead of time. What are you doing now and what are your goals for the future (in Software Development)?

Have you found in your research that there are more courses that offer to defer fees until course completion? Do you feel this is a step in the right direction?

My only expectation was that I'd come out the other side with a better understanding of scripting, be able to use the command line and have a better grasp on concepts like loops and functions. We whizzed through the content and could have spent a lot longer delving into some areas, but as it was 10 weeks part-time (not an immersive Bootcamp) it was the right amount of time to get a taste for it.

I've never heard of deferred fees at a boot camp. However, in the past six weeks, I came across an individual at a boot camp who was kicked out after mid-terms and refunded half the money. Prior to that incident, I had never heard of such a thing. I'm not sure if it is a common occurrence. The individual was devasted (had recently lost one of their parents and was genuinely trying to get back on track) and I was trying to help them as best as I could prior to the test, but I didn't have enough time to work with them and cover enough fundamentals so they could effectively work on a project. The whole boot camp was just rushed.

I have heard of some place that takes 10-20% of your salary for two years. That is definitely an interesting angle, but we need to understand the fine print as well.

Have you come across such courses? BTW, may I ask how much you paid for that non-immersive boot camp?

The article I found while looking into this is Here -> studentloanhero.com/featured/codin...

It's over a year old and I didn't click every link to check it was still the case, but the concept of deferred fees sounded like an interesting proposition, for better or worse.

The 10 week part time JavaScript course was £3000

There are some bootcamp style courses out there that offer deferred fees. Not many. I run Mayden Academy in England. Our bootcamp industry is very different to that in the US, and is still fairly young. At Mayden we offer interest free loans to be repaid after our students start earning. We do this because we whole heartedly believe in the course we have created and are dedicated to maintaining our 100% success record for placing our graduates with good companies.

 

If you don't mind me asking, where/in what context do you teach? Are you a professor?

 

No sir, I'm not a professor. I came across an opportunity to teach but I had to pass up, unfortunately.

I teach Computer Science and programming in Javascript / Node / React. Occasionally, I also teach Python, C++, and C#.

I work as an independent consultant.

Thanks! I really appreciate your perspective on the matter.

 

So how would you suggest to solve the technology gap? There has to be some disruption on the field as universities are too expensive and offer too little compared to boot camps. IT needs more brains.

 

That's a very good question. I agree that we need disruption in this space. I have in fact been working on designing a boot camp to solve this issue, but the biggest challenge manifests when you try to scale. As you alluded to earlier, we need more brains, not laborers.

While I might not have an answer to all the problems, I have identified potential areas of concerns with boot camps:

  1. Cramming too many topics and being too generalized

  2. Over-committing and under-delivering on various fronts - job placement, providing 1:1 support, etc.

  3. Sub-par instructors with very little experience and professional background

  4. Making it appear like it is legit - vetting applicants

  5. Combining this as a destination boot camp

  6. False advertising. Showcasing students as case-studies without revealing that they have had prior exposure to programming.

  7. Focusing on irrelevant things. Frameworks instead of fundamentals.

In my opinion, we need to focus on fundamentals, problem-solving, and relevant topics. We should make them highly-skilled in one or two areas and cultivate a culture of just-in-time learning. All that needs to be coupled with hands-on experience.

That's true, unfortunately, if you want to make quick bucks you have to oversimplify, cut corners and hide the scary stuff. That's why coding in bootcamps should be done as part of a holistic plan and not as the only way to learn programming.

 

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.

 

👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏

 

I graduated from a two year degree in computer programming from my local community college this past spring.

Due to my other responsibilities, I was not able to spend as much time polishing my skills as I would have hoped to, so I basically went from course to course completing the assignments needed to pass a class just to to move on to the next set of courses the following semester. At the end of the program, I felt like I had a good grasp of the basic concepts, but lacking the practical skills needed even for an entry level posotion.

Attending a coding bootcamp is something that I found appealing for some time, but wasn't feasible for me while working full time and attending college. Approaching my college graduation, and feeling somewhat concerned about the amount of time it would take me to get ready for a real job on my own, I decided to enroll in a bootcamp.

I had the best educational experience I could have hoped for. I met people from all professional backgrounds, ages and education levels. All of us spending 45+ hours a week in the same room, learning, collaborating, getting to know each other. After nine weeks of instruction, including the time dedicated to complete three projects, I went on to accept a job offer as a Junior Full Satck Developer just 6 business days after my last day at school.

In the context of my personal experience I can say the following about coding bootcamps:

  • They are not for everyone. I saw students who got enough out of it to justify the time and money spent, and others who didn't.
  • You will get out of it as much as you put in. How dedicated you are is more important than your previous exposure to computer science.
  • The school you attend is very important. Do your research. If the school is just interested in getting you in, without meeting you in advance, without testing your current level, without giving you any pre-work, without questioning you commitment before you enroll, they probably just want your money.
  • Bootcamps will NOT teach you everything. But you don't need to know everything. You need instead the exposure to learning things on the fly, and showing results quickly. The rest will come with professional experience.
 

I second your bullet points!! I did some courses through Coursera before enrolling in a bootcamp just to see if I'd like programming and online learning. Then when I decided to do a bootcamp, I did a TON of research on which one.

 

Coding boot camp was a great experience for me. I attended a small, locally run, class in Chicago and had a wonderful time and got my first junior dev job as a result. Now I've moved on to a second company I consider my dream job and feel fortunate every day to work there.

Prior to attending the boot camp I had never been to college and spent ten years working as a roughneck on oil rigs. Now I work at a company that makes drilling automation software for oil rigs. It's the perfect job! In our office we have office tech people and field guys, and they don't speak the same language and have nothing in common. I'm in a good position to bridge that gap. Most of the devs I work with have little understanding of what the software actually does in the field and I'm able to explain it to them since I worked out there for ten years, I teach them and they teach me. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the boot camp in Chicago.

 

That's a cool story. How long was that program and what did they teach? Are you able to apply that on that job?

 

It was a typical 12 week program. Ruby on Rails back end and Angular front end. My first job was with a company in Washington DC and the government application we worked on had a ROR backend and a React front end. So the ROR experience definitely helped and I picked up some React while there. So to answer your question, yes, I have applied what I learned at the boot camp to both jobs.

At my company now, all the algos are in Java. I don't work on them at all. It's funny that I understand what they are doing better than many of the devs, but I can't contribute to the Java code, not yet anyways, maybe some day. I work on the UI that the guys on the rigs use and the engineers and geologists in the offices use, it's an Angular SPA.

So I would definitely recommend going to a bootcamp if you have experience in a particular field and want to move into a dev roll in that same field.

 

Development is a profession where you will never truly flourish unless you have an insatiable hunger for knowledge.

Bootcamps can not teach you this. Bootcamps don't teach anything you can not teach yourself.

The internet is flooded with free/cheap tutorials with content extremely similar to bootcamps, and almost all popular technologies have great documentation. Do not use a single source! Dive into udemy, laracasts, khanacademy, youtube, etc. Why spend thousands if you can learn the same for a bit of loose change?

You will get stuck a lot. Bootcamps teach you to directly ask an instructor when you are stuck. It fails to teach the harsh lesson that you first need to be able to find your own answers.

An employer will not hire anyone who is not self-reliant.

That doesn't mean you should never ask for help, but unless your question starts with "I've read the docs and tried these 5 things" both peers on the internet and coworkers will not take the question seriously.

You should create heaps of unfinished hobby projects. But with each semi-failed ugly thing you make, you leap closer to being a professional. A violinist's first year on the instrument does not sound great either.

Don't believe people who tell you you can learn development in two weeks. It is hard work and requires continuous practice, just like any other skill.

But I do truly believe that a professional developer only requires that one single personality trait: endless, unstoppable curiosity — Any curious person can learn to program!

 

Thanks for some great observations. I have some pretty hideous looking projects from a couple of years ago I'm not sure should ever be viewed by anyone :S

I agree that curiousity and wanting to figure something out is really important. My manager calls it 'guiding someone to realisation', not giving them the answer and not even having the conversation until they have tried their best to google and tinker around with the code to make it work.

 

Haha yes, it's difficult, but I think we should never be ashamed of the learning process.

A year ago I would have described myself as a senior backend dev, but the code I wrote back then seems not that great now. Chances are that year-into-the-future me will think the same about current-me.

It's true that there are some harsh or even toxic critics on the internet, but there are also plenty of devs who are either helped by, or willing to help with code of any level.

I'm trying to be confident enough to share more code with the world, it's not easy, but when I do it I'm always surprised that there are plenty of constructive positive responses.

You have a great big supportive community right here. I was really surprised what kind feedback I got posting in this forum.

 

Love this:

You should create heaps of unfinished hobby projects. But with each semi-failed ugly thing you make, you leap closer to being a professional. A violinist's first year on the instrument do not sound great either.

 

"You should create heaps of unfinished hobby projects. But with each semi-failed ugly thing you make, you leap closer to being a professional. A violinist's first year on the instrument do not sound great either."

Thank you for this. I thought I was wasting my time.

 

I went to a 6-month full-time bootcamp here in Nashville that's run by a non-profit. I almost did a 12 week program and I'm so glad that I did the six-month program. There's no way I could have learned much in 12 weeks! 6 months is still not enough, but of the graduates from my program they are all doing pretty well in their first jobs as Junior Developers. The school in Nashville is also very focused in providing Developers for the local community rather than making a ton of money and having students move outside of the community. This community-driven approach has really bolstered the legitimacy of the graduates so that companies here in Nashville are familiar with the program and the general level of ability of the graduates

 

That's great to hear, congratulations on getting through six months! Are you and the other students from your cohort now working in tech?

 

Yes! We are all working in tech :) Most are working with C# .NET, a handful are doing full-stack, and a few are doing front end. I stayed at the school to do a one year contract as a jr instructor (it's amazing how much you learn when teaching other beginners), but then I intend to find a position as a dev :)

That’s fantastic, what a great success story. I’m glad you enjoy the teaching side. I find it’s the best way to really cement in concepts. Do you have job search support and a mentor there too?

Yes, it's great! We do have job search and career support. They help with resumes, interviewing skills, etc. They also help get students connected to the community. But at the end of the day, it's up to the students to own their job hunt and networking. We don't really have mentors, instead there are three instructors during the course, all of whom are at different levels. So for example, I'm at the lowest level of development knowledge, which means that sometimes I'm able to explain things in a way that a more experienced dev couldn't because of the "whole curse of knowledge" ;)

Sounds like the ideal scenario. Is the tech industry thriving in TN?

 

There may be a place for bootcamps, but the idea that you can develop skills that professionals take years to learn in a few weeks is unrealistic. I am not a fan of four year degrees either.

Personally I would like to see a combination of a short term practical course, perhaps a bootcamp, followed by time spent on open source projects working as part of a wider team before being taken on as a apprentice/junior.

We do not expect green devs to just start work, even out of a four year degree. I would also discourage people from a career in software if they don't love it. If you program in your own time regardless of whether you have a job in software it makes the investment of time less about getting that high paying job and more about personal enjoyment and development.

 
 

I have both completed a boot camp and also interviewed and hired people from boot camps.

My personal take is that they’re very good. Like some other people have mentioned, they will work for some people and not for others. Like any type of learning. The one I went to made us pretty self sufficient, only answering our cries for help once we could demonstrate what we had googled and what it was we didn’t understand which I find a good way to teach.

To all the people saying “they don’t know the basics!”, I say, you will learn the basics on a job, it turns out that for most things you really don’t actually need to know a load of really low level stuff. I’ve been a professional now for 3 years at a reasonable prestigious company and I don’t need to know all of that stuff. Nor do the other ~20 boot camp grads we’ve hired. When we do, well learn it, because that’s how we learn development.

Also, a point that I thinknis often overlooked (although some people here have mentioned it) is the neuro diversity you get in having people that have come from different employment backgrounds starting to code. Businesspeople, lawyers, doctors, salespeople. Coding is such a small part of developers jobs and communication is huge, boot camps provide people who can code a bit but need to improve, people who have demonstrated being able to learn, and mostly have learnt professional communication skills.

That’s the value I see in boot camps.

 

My girlfriend took the UT coding boot camp after I encouraged her to do so. Their curriculum did a great job of starting at the basics of web development as you would have done it 20 years ago, then gradually progresses introducing and solving issues with only the tools absolutely needed.

That said, graduating from a boot camp won’t get you a job. You’ll get yourself a job with the work you put in to improving your hard and soft skills. Boot camps can assist with that sure, but unless you have an innate curiosity and are motivated for the right reasons you won’t be able to make the most of it.

It should be said that you can get software engineering gigs without bootcamps. IBM, Facebook and others recently announced they dropped the 4 year college req. Believing in yourself and in the process will get you 75% of the way there. If bootcamps get you the last mile I think they’ve done their job.

 

Great observation, do you think more tech companies will drop the requirement for formal education with online learning and short courses becoming more prevalent?

 

I don’t think online learning and short courses or even bootcamps are the impetus for the requierment drop. I think the drop is more due to extremely intelligent, eager to learn individuals taking up computer science at younger and younger ages.

Some of these individuals certainly take advantage of bootcamps, some of them learn on their own, but a lot of them don’t feel the need to get an undergraduate degree. I don’t think that should hold them back from contributing and participating in software development.

I’m certain there’s high schoolers that could right cleaner, more performant code than me and I think that’s awesome.

 

I think bootcamps are an indicator for multiple issues. A big one seems to be, that tertiary education is not cost-effective for many people. At least in the United States, the tuition fees are just obscene, at least from my point of view. But I'm speaking from the privileged position of someone, whose complete university education has cost only a fraction of what would have been charged for a single semester at an american college.

With regard to cost, a bootcamp might be a viable option, if it qualifies its participants for an entry level position. Because then the cumulative effect of paying less tuition and having 3.5 years or so of wages over your lifetime might be a good deal. But, I'm sceptical that 10 or 12 weeks of bootcamp will suffice to equip someone for the long run, I suspect there is a realistic chance of hitting the proverbial glass ceiling rather sooner that later.

The second big issue to me is, that the industry - in many parts of the world - expects a pool of qualified developers to fall from the sky. There is a lack of "Hire for attitude, train for skills" mentality. A few companies offer apprenticeship programs, which are in my opinion, a good way to bring in talent and bridge possible gaps with a very reasonable investment.

 

I’d love to see more apprentice roles. They’ve had a biy of a resurgence here in New Zealand recently in all areas of the workforce. Learning while earning has been the answer for other industries, why not ours?

 
 

I graduated from Launch Academy's 18-week Full stack (Rails and React) immservie boot camp just about a year ago.

Bootcamps are not perfect, they will not make you a developer but they are a HUGE step up from self-teaching (in part because they teach you have to self teach effectively) and they give you the tools you need to get, what I would consider, an apprenticeship at a company where you will (hopefully) get a senior mentor to guide you the rest fo the way.

I could spend a long time going into what Bootcamps do right and what they do wrong but I'll leave you with this and you can DM me if you want to know more about my thoughts.

When I joined the Army I was sent to Basic Combat Training (BCT). It was 9 weeks to learn how to think, move, and operate as a soldier. Regardless of your future MOS (Military occupation) you have to go and pass BTC. We were PTed (Physically trained) every day, we learned how to maintain and fire our weapons and other common weapon systems, and we learned every other basic skill soldier kill (Unarmed combat, land nav, ceremony and drill, ect). After 9 short weeks I was 100% a different person, mentally, physically, and emotionally. Was I ready to go fight on the front lines? No, but I was ready to go to advanced training where my instructors could be confident had the basic skills covered enough where they wouldn't have to hold my hand.

Even though BCT was 10 years ago for me and I haven't used most of the information recently it was taught in such a was the the core of the knowledge will be with me forever. I'd have to get back to practicing to get truly skilled and proficient again, but the groundwork is there to build upon. Don't underestimate an immersive programs ability to build and teach a person. Bootcamps won't make you a great developer much like BCT won't make you a great soldier, but both will give you the groundwork to build yourself through continued practice and advanced training.

 
 

It's very hard for me to recommend bootcamps as a single source of education. As someone who did one with very little prior knowledge of coding it honestly was an extremely frustrating experience and I had a very difficult time trying to find the type of job they said I'd be able to get. To get a good job in tech as an engineer you really need to know about asymptotic notation, various algorithms, and advanced data structures which they typically dont teach you about. The methodology behind most bootcamps based on my experience is that you learn by making and breaking and googling... None of which you will be able to do during a code interview. They never teach you how to formulate code from your mind it's typically "find the answer on google" So you're stuck always looking for tutorials for every solution you need. I think bootcamps are best suited for traditional college students already studying comp sci who need a portfolio of projects, since you typically don't get that out of a traditional college experience. Bootcamps are great portfolio builders but that's about it. You really need a good understanding of comp sci fundamentals/ algorithms and they just don't give you that knowledge. - This being said I am now pursuing a masters degree in comp sci and feel much more competent. Being able to pair the two experiences will set me up for success.

 

IMHO — What you're pointing to is a flaw deeply embedded in the interviewing process (which is a different topic).

Making and breaking and googling is what I do in my dev job. I do have a CS background, but I haven't once thought about advanced data structures. I just trust that Ruby will pick the best one for me.

 

I came into development a long time before coding bootcamps were a thing, but I've seen many bootcampers apply for internships at companies I've worked at. Most of them were promised they'd immediately would have a job when they'd be done but mostly it didn't work out like that, resulting in them applying for internships to gain more experience. Not that doing an internship is a bad thing, but not everyone can afford that, especially after spending a couple of months paying for bootcamp.

In a positive note I've been mostly pleasantly surprised with the skills of these bootcampers. The only thing they lacked was a sense of direction.

 

I think it depends on the boot camp, and the background of the student.

Attending a bootcamp myself gave me something I had had an incredibly difficult time building myself: fluency. After graduating, I was by no means ready to be architecting new applications or leading teams, but I was fluent enough to jump into a project and not feel completely lost.

But one thing I also had prior to my bootcamp experience was an engineering degree. This meant I was already an adept problem solver, and troubleshooting code problems came very naturally to me.

While my success in the three years since can't be completely attributed to the bootcamp I attended, I don't think it would've been possible without that experience. A bootcamp won't turn a college dropout into a star coder, but for people who are really only lacking fluency with today's popular tools, I think a bootcamp can be a fantastic experience.

 

Congratulations on getting through both a bootcamp and an Engineering degree. What are you doing now you've graduated?

 

Thanks! Right now I'm doing full stack web development for a FinTech company in Chicago. It's my second dev job since graduation, and I've been there nearly 1.5 years.

 

I'm definitely interested in bootcamps, but I've been doing my best to selfteach and attend free workshops and meetups as much as possible. I figure that it's a big investment of time and money, and that I should go in as prepared as I can be.

Honestly, I haven't been especially impressed by the free workshops I've been to. It seems like they're mostly taught by previous grads from the various programs, and it's only rarely felt significantly better than what I could get from selfteaching or a book.

The main benefit I've found in these workshops over selfteaching has been A. being somewhere other than my room and, thus, being kind of forced to focus, and B. having people available to ask questions. (which can be of limited use when the person doesn't necessarily understand how to communicate the technical answers to someone who doesn't have the same context).

I've been lucky enough to get both of those things at meetups, so I still feel like I'm learning at a pace where I don't necessarily need a formalized program (yet). Once I plateau a bit more, there's a decent chance I'll end up in a bootcamp, but I'll have to do some serious assessment as far as which one(s) I'd pursue.

If there are other options, I'd love to hear, though! I've finished undergrad, so I don't really see myself doing a second Bachelor's, and I'm not sure that a Masters would be suitable for me either, since my degree was in art.

 

I feel there must be a lot of people in this scenario. Trying to upskill, but more formal education isn't the answer. The catch 22 of needing more skills to get a job, but needing the skills to get the job makes it hard to push forward.

The General Assembly workshops (in London) were useful to me as they were taught by those out in the real world putting the skills to use and (usually) had a hands-on project to complete. Being able to go beyond browser-based tutorials and being able to ask questions was really useful to me. I miss them now I am home in New Zealand.

The cost and time were what stopped me thinking any more about Bootcamps. It's a huge outlay, plus living costs and time off work. A good discussion starter though!

 

There's already a lot of feedback here, so I'll keep my limited opinion brief: at my company, we've found that bootcamps can, at best, produce good developers for junior positions. When we're looking to hire a mid-to-senior position, they've never made the cut.

At best, I think bootcamps can produce developers ready to learn more and find their place in a real coding environment with some extra guidance. I have yet to be persuaded they can produce a fully-prepared, professional developer without extra experience.

 

I think they give the false feeling that their graduates know more things then in reality.
Or maybe their students think that it is a replacement for a tech background (self learned or CS faculty).

I do not know, I just saw their result, unprepared developers that lacks the basic of programming and web in general, not speaking of how computers work.

Sure they can be productive at the highest level of website development, but they often lose a lot of time because debugging or doing the wrong things.

I just have an advice for their students: a bootcamp is only the first semester, keep learning the computer science behind the frameworks you use, then behind the languages. Do this for the next 3-5 years and you will be more then fine. Also learn the chapters that bootcamps skips: security, performance, project management, Linux.

 

Question: You said "Sure they can be productive at the highest level of website development, but they often lose a lot of time because debugging or doing the wrong things." But I've seen many other people say to not ask for help unless you can tell the person five different things you tried and Google searched for the solution. Where's that middle ground?

 

Hmm, I think those "methods" apply to more advanced juniors.

That rule is a firewall for the mentor, is a proof that the junior really cares about that problem and most important wants to learn how to solve it. It is a fear that if you just ask for the solution is "just a job, just a task" in opposite to "I'm here to learn".

Another big problem is that Development in general is a self-learning discipline (mostly because of the nature of the tech as an industry properties like fast advancements), and one thing that juniors must learn is to solve problems on their own, the first step include to search for solutions.

Teachers, books and manuals will take you trough the thinking and maybe in 50% of the implementation, then we are on our own. THis is where tutorials and stackoverflow should be used.

In your first year you probably don't know even to find 5 solutions to a problem. Then if you find a solution that works you most probably don't understand how it works, so you still have to go to a mentor and ask him "how to do it" and most important "why and how it works".

 

That's great advice, there's so much more to learn, being on a team of senior developers can also make all the difference when it comes to all those 'don't know what you don't knows'.

 

I think that regardless of whether you attend a bootcamp or a four-year university, the fact of the matter is you get what you put into it. It's absolutely possible, and maybe not uncommon, for someone to complete either program and learn very little. Simply completing a program isn't going to make someone a competent programmer.

It's the responsibility of the educational institution to provide up-to-date, accurate, and thorough information, and it's the responsibility of the student to make sure they understand that information. There are so many resources out there to help people learn to code, and I feel very strongly that if a person puts in the time and energy to really understand and practice what they're being taught, they can finish a bootcamp with a really solid set of entry-level skills.

I also think you have to be careful what program you choose. I think there are some really solid bootcamps out there that can help a person with enough grit and determination land an entry-level job, and then there are some programs that seem to promise what they can't deliver (I'm looking at you Udemy "Complete Web Developer" code-along videos).

 

I agree, to be successful you need to be determined and seek out as much help as you can get to get the most out of it. I think it's a true test of whether you want to pursue development as a career.

 

I took a course in a coding bootcamp over 4 years ago which piqued my interest in programming and computer science ultimately leading me to choose a Computer Engineering major starting just this academic year. However, the content typically delivered by coding bootcamps is superficial - I learned how to create simple websites and games using HTML5+CSS3+JS by the end of the course but remained completely oblivious to how arrays and strings in JS work, let alone common problem solving techniques such as recursion.

My advice to complete beginners in this field - feel free to learn the basics by joining a coding bootcamp but if you want to progress any further in your understanding then you should leave it ASAP and do some independent study.

 

That's great that it was what you needed to pursue your degree. Good luck with your studies!

 

Hello, I'm an engineer who has reviewed countless job applications from bootcamp attendees.

tl;dr

I really want accelerated programs to succeed, because becoming heavily in-debt to a four-year university should not be the only option. I know how much it sucks because that's me. But there is only so much you can accomplish in 12-weeks to differentiate yourself in such an intense industry.


Let's talk about the bad first.

From my view, almost all bootcamp graduates I've reviewed have suffered from carbon-copy resumes and lack of fundamental understanding.

Carbon-copy resumes result in no one individual standing out. At some point I was able to squint and correctly guess which bootcamp any given applicant came from. It was that bad.

Then there's the lack of fundamental understanding. I'm not talking about binary search, hash tables, or any other bread n' butter fundamentals. Bootcamps do cover those to varying degrees. What I mean is being able to reason why a given system is slow and how to architect future ones. This stuff is really important for data intensive -- or just plain interesting -- applications.

Now the good!

Bootcamp graduates seem to be exceptionally driven, diverse and open to change. Hell, they just drank from a 12-week firehose of information. That's nothing to scoff at!

I just wish graduates had a deeper understanding of the tools they have been taught. To be honest, I'm not sure what the solution is. Perhaps an addendum project where you get to deep-dive into a focused, intense project with a mentor.

On that note if any recent bootcamp students would want some advice or feedback, let me know!

 

That's such a great response, thank you! Hopefully, there are some recent grads here to take you up on your kind offer

 

I haven't gone to a coding bootcamp, however I wish I had gone to one instead of attending university for 4 years. It seems like there is more hands on work within bootcamps and it usually costs much less than an university degree.

 

I came out of a software engineering degree program to my first web dev job a while back. After a year of training we would laugh as we looked back at how I knew absolutely nothing when I gradded.

If I were hiring, I would value experience over a degree. My uni experience was mainly focussed on developing algorithms which maximized my grade and minimized effort. I learned everything I know from outside of class and at work, which is going to be the case whether you do a degree program or a bootcamp.

My advice to n00bs would be do whatever is cheaper - in 10-15 years I don't see degree programs holding as much value, at least in software. In the 4+ years of study plus the likelyhood that the material has changed and the profs probably aren't paid enough to update lectures every year, the entire process is too slow to be valuable, aside from the basics that everyone should know (eg data structures and algorithms).

I may be biased though, I hated school and am bitter since I paid a boatload of money for something I ended up learning in my free time.

 

We knew, decades ago, that cramming for a subject was never a good way to learn something but here we are today with people still thinking they can become a "software engineer" in a few months.

I taught at Control Data Institute, for a couple of years, with about 120 students each year. Out of all of them, I am aware of only three that got jobs in the industry--through my personal contacts--where I felt confident they knew what they were doing. And this was a one or two year course.

 

I am trying to be a self-taught programmer and have been using courses on udemy and edx. I find that the hardest parts are staying motivated every day and getting my questions answered in an effective manner. I believe those problems may be alleviated at a bootcamp.

 

tl;dr My school helped me get a career in something I'm passionate about, and it was only 7-months. This is a much better alternative to a 4-year degree, which I had already tried (not for programming) and failed at. I would be much more in debt had I gone back instead of going to a programming school, and in less than a year I'm employed and proud of having my first career.

I finished a coding school last month and am very happy with my decision. I had done a year of self-teaching before I tried my chances, and the hardest part was realizing that I would have more debt on top of my student loans. But, because I had explored programming and enjoyed learning through the struggle, I knew this was something I wanted to make a career out of.
I started with FreeCodeCamp and came to realize that I loved the struggle of completing their challenges, and because I remained interested in the content I was able to figure out the challenges and work my way up to more difficult ones. I also enjoyed their active online community, something I didn't have where I lived at the time.
Then I moved and after almost a year I finally applied to a school and was accepted. I chose this school because of their community and because they are a non-profit. It's a seven-month intensive program, and we explored more than just writing code. We talked about soft skills, we worked on group projects so we could experience how that might be in the field, and we learned about programming fundamentals. We were encouraged to have a mentor, which we could choose from a long list of alum who were willing to take their time and use it to teach someone else. And for the professional side we had projects to put on our resumes, assistance with reaching out and connecting with people to learn about company culture before applying and towards the end of the program we focused closely on programming interviews and how to negotiate with your job offers.
I'm very thankful for this program, and I am glad I didn't have to go back to college, which would have put me so much more in debt and I would have to wait four more years before finding a job. And I don't think that when I was college there was a front-end specific program, just CompSci (which, the 101 class taught us Java and almost scared me into not being a developer, though now that I've learned a language I am confident in learning others, but only when I feel that the time is right). I graduated last month, and I started my first job last Monday.
I will say that not everyone has time or is fortunate enough to do that much experimenting with programming before trying to commit to a program like this. Sure, a software development job sounds great because you can make some decent money, but if you don't enjoy it, why pursue it? I knew I genuinely liked programming because I studied it on my own for so long. Also, there aren't many schools like this out there, and some of the people who went through the 3-month boot camps ended up going to my school, because they did not know what to do next. It's sad, but yes, most of those bootcamps are a scam. However, my school actually cares about its students and tries to help them land fulfilling technical careers.

 

Thanks for sharing your experience, it's great to hear you've landed a new role and congratulations on coming so far. It's great to hear you've completed such a balanced course. Soft skills are so important because development is all about collaboration and working with people.

I love the way you say you 'enjoy learning through the struggle'. Part of the reason I enjoy what I do is because it is so challenging. But when you come out the other side and see what you've achieved, how far you've come, it's a great sense of accomplishment.

 

The concept of a bootcamp is fine and can be very beneficial. How they go about marketing these courses and setting certain expectations is where it can get problematic.

 

Nice! The problem I have with boot camps is that they don't set the right expectations. This particular boot camp still has a lot of horror stories from friends who've taught there. I'm glad to hear that your experience was positive.

 

If they've passed a bootcamp, they most likely know how to write programs given a pretty clear statement of requirements. That's important, but probably not the only skill you want someone to have if you're considering whether to hire them. You also need to evaluate their skills in teamwork, communication, and breaking down large problems into smaller ones. They may be deficient in computer science knowledge, such as data structures and algorithms. This kind of thing isn't used every day and you don't know you need it until you need it. So if you hire a lot of bootcamp grads it would probably be helpful to have a few CS graduates on a larger team.

From a software developer's perspective, they represent a danger of commoditizing my profession (thereby making my labor cheaper), so I'm wary of them for that reason.

 

That's interesting, someone else said something similar in the thread. That the skills gained are a launching point for internships and graduate programmes to fill in some of those blanks and start building as part of a team. Not as a golden ticket to a big role.

 

Coding bootcamps are great for a tiny fraction of their student base, and they are tantamount to stealing for the rest. I was a "mentor" (aka TA) and then an instructor at a coding bootcamp. There were some strong successes: I work with one of my first students, now, and I've worked with other students from the same bootcamp. The one thing they had in common: they had at least some education. They were smart people. Not all of them had previous coding experience, but many did. The ones who didn't yet were successful got by on their smarts (e.g., one woman already had her master's).

The people who didn't do well, though... they were the majority. By the time I was leaving, the company was accepting almost anyone, and they would never turn someone away because of low performance on the preparatory beginner's section. I left when one of my online students broke down crying because he was using his disability money and really needed this to turn into a job. He had a disability that made it difficult for him to type! He should have been turned down from the start.

The industry needs regulation, period. Companies are stealing ten thousand dollars at a time from vulnerable people who want nothing more than to have a good job, but they don't understand the skills involved in being a software developer. They have almost no chance of success in this environment and need to be told as much so they don't waste their money.

 

Thank you for sharing that. I've noticed the exact same thing. Recently a student who had lost a parent got kicked out of one after mid-terms for poor performance and I felt so helpless.

The problem I have is with the way this is marketed. People raise their expectations because of that and are devastated after.

 

Good Afternoon All!

So the biggest issue I see from reading all of this is what other alternative is there? I have a masters degree in mathematics and plan on career changing. Bootcamp sounds like a great approach for the basics... that's about it.

Here is my issue. I'm phenomenal in understanding mathematical concepts BUT I needed structure and needed to be taught. Self teaching yourself code is difficult.

The reason being:
1) No one knows if they are learning correctly
2) When you're stuck it's hard to find answers - This is a good thing - Solution based
3) Boot camps need to be minimum one year.

4) I'll say it again because I think this is the reason why many people go the bootcamp route. We don't know if we are learning correctly. The most important thing with front end is being a master at HTML/CSS because that's what your manipulating... without that. JS is useless in creating a well versed site.

So my question is: What is the BEST way to self teach yourself to eventually do a career switch? That's the real question. Everyone says if you know HTML/CSS/JS you'll get a job. It's not true anymore because you don't have production experience on a development team.

Where did everyone learn to become a self taught developer? Let's go on that note so we can save people money here. Also, You need to know Algorithms and Data Structures. Don't care what anyone says, been hiring SW's for a long time... You have to have that knowledge even if it's basic.

Best,

Mike

I'll work with anyone willing to teach!
michaelj.torres@yahoo.com

 

As someone who went through a Bootcamp, I can attest to their value. However, I know of many bootcamps in my city. Some are less useful/reputable than others. I happened to choose the one that was one of the best. Good reputation which led to a good job (also because I live in a very tech oriented city that is open to the idea of bootcamps). There are bad ones out there though. If you’re considering a bootcamp, first and foremost do your research! Talk to alumni, see where their grads get hired, go to their open house if they have one. Definitely google them. And know that nothing is guaranteed. You get out of the program what you put into it. If you go above and beyond and make some good github projects you can display, you’re already ahead of the game. Keep in mind that bootcamps do not really teach you things that will make you to be able to jump into a developer job and contributing meaningful code on day 1. You might be hired by a company that uses a totally different stack. What good bootcamps do is prepare you to enter the field and teach you how to pick up new technologies quickly. In essence, they teach you to learn effectively. Software engineers/developers always need to keep up to date with current technologies, libraries, languages, and standards. You’re always learning. Bootcamps should give you a taste of how quickly things move in the tech world and how often you might be expected to learn new things, even whole languages. And know that bootcamps aren’t the end of the line. You will always be expected to go out and learn more on your own. But after the bootcamp you will know exactly how to do that.

 

We are talking about the opinion of coding bootcamps. I'd like to pose the question, are there any coding bootcamps that you would recommend? Having been through the pre-application process and receiving a scholarship in two of the coding bootcamps, I think they are valuable in some ways. I still think they are too expensive, gauging this from Seattle. I currently live in the Seattle area and have strongly considered a bootcamp to get my dev skills up to par. I consider myself a very Junior programmer, not only in my knowledge, but because the JavaScript landscape has changed so drastically and new technologies are introduced every couple years. As an alternative to going through a coding bootcamp and spending thousands of dollars, I would love to find or hire a mentor who would help me with enough skill to be employable by a tech company.

 

A coding bootcamp is something i would love to be part of cuz i believe i can learn allot from it as well as get a great start to my web developer career afterwards, but most of the ones i checked were quite expensive. So prefer taking online courses, though a coding bootcamp is maybe the better option to learn.

 

An MIT grad once told me that there was an old saying about the students there: you could lock them in the gymnasium with every book in the library for four years, no professors, and they'd graduate with the same education as MIT was providing them.

It seems to me that coding boot camps function somewhat the same way.

"Prestigious" ones that are hard to get into attract people who just need 12 weeks of seclusion to learn a lot, and the camp serves as a certificate saying "yup, they learned everything we threw at them." Between the prestige / connections of the camp and the camp offering recent grads opportunities to help teach (so they can make rent while they job-hunt), folks coming out of those programs ... especially who got in while the programs are still relatively young ... seem to have done great. They took their entry-level job that barely required any knowledge (but instead required a strong work ethic), blew it out of the water, and learned the rest of what they needed to know over the years on the job or at home.

For most other people, it seems to go about like getting a 4-year philosophy degree at a non-prestigious university goes. They struggle afterwards. Some of them eventually make it, but "credentialing" of any sort definitely seems to best help self-starters who were willing to do crappy grunt work after they finished (in the name of starting to build a resume) and who were already on track and able to leverage connections they made at camp or elsewhere to get that first grunt-work job.

 
 

Immersive learning is the best way to master a subject quickly. Coding Bootcamps specialize in that type of experiential, project based learning.

So, coding bootcamps are great.

 

Have you attended one? What was your experience like? How long was it and what did you learn?

 

Thanks for sharing your experience and congratulations on getting through the 12 weeks. You mention that you were comfortable with the technology before you started, do you think that's the reason some fell behind? Because they didn't have a little experience before strating the course?

 

Sorry to hear about your experience. On the bright side, we have a great community ready to help. Don't hesitate to reach out if you need anything.

 

I have done my 6 months front end development and ux design. Specially the last 3 months after my graduation from the boot capm my progress is extremely high.now i am looking for a job.

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