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Josh Ellis
Josh Ellis

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Do This Before Committing to a Bootcamp

I just graduated from Flatiron School a few weeks ago, and while I don't regret choosing it, I do wish I had done a bit more research to pick the perfect bootcamp for me.

There's no way I would have thought to do this myself, but I wish someone would have told me to! This hopefully will help at least one person out there optimize their bootcamp choice.

  1. Create a List of 3-5 Ideal Bootcamps
  2. Create a List of 3-5 Dream Companies
  3. The Secret Sauce
  4. Choose Your Bootcamp

1. Create a List of 3-5 Ideal Bootcamps

You might already have this done, but if you don't already have a shortlist of bootcamps, make one now. Do your best to choose bootcamps that fit your timeline, financial plan, skills, alumni support, tech stack, and anything else you can tell from their websites.

2. Create a List of 3-5 Dream Companies

This part works best if you consider large tech companies. Even if you'd rather work at a small startup or smaller local business after bootcamp, I recommend you choose large companies that reflect what you're looking for as closely as possible.

The reason for looking at larger companies is because we'll later be searching through their employees on LinkedIn, and the more people that work at a company, the better chances you have of finding the people you're looking for.

If you want, you could just do one company at a time and repeat steps 2-3 as needed.

3. The Secret Sauce

This is where things get fun. Here's what you need to do:

  1. Head over to LinkedIn and find the company profile of the first company on your list. This is Airbnb's page, for example
  2. Click on the link that says "See all # employees on LinkedIn"

  3. At the top of the results, click "AllFilters"

  4. In the "school" field, add filters for the bootcamps you're looking at, then hit "apply"

At this point, you'll hopefully be looking at a list of people who both went to schools you're interested in AND work at a company you're interested in. The next step is to try to reach out to these people and get a quick conversation with them. I recommend following the steps in this video (not by my video).

Basically, the idea is you send a connection request with a note that says something like this (adapted from the video I linked above):

Hi [name],

I noticed you're currently a [role] at [company] and that you went to [school].

I'm looking into [school], and I was wondering if I could ask you for some career advice on a brief, 15-minute phone call.

I'd really appreciate hearing your insights.

If their privacy settings allow, you can also send a message in addition to the connection request with a note.

And if you want to go the extra mile, you can try to find their email address and send them a direct email.

As with any cold outreach, you'll want to reach out to a lot of people because obviously not everyone will respond to you.

I'm not working at a dream company (yet), but if I were, I would be thrilled to have a conversation like this with you about my experience at Flatiron, and I know many others out there are willing too (because I'm doing similar outreach myself!).

Out of the people you message, a few people will be happy to help you, and after a week or two, you'll be able to have a few conversations with real grads who can tell you the things about their bootcamp that you may never have known.

4. Choose Your Bootcamp

So, once you've had conversations with people from a few different companies and bootcamps, you'll have a lot more information about which bootcamp is the best fit for you.

You'll learn a lot even from just looking at how many grads from different schools are at the tech companies you're interested in. I wish I had chatted with people in the industry to get insider advice on how the different bootcamps are perceived.

PS - Cultivate Your New Connections!

You've probably created at least a few great connections with people in the industry, and you can reach out to them for help along the way. Keep that relationship warm! If I were you, I would contact them with at least one message per week, just to keep the relationship progressing. At best, they could be your foot into one of your dream companies. Wouldn't that be awesome?

Join me on Mentor Mesh - a new platform for people in any area of tech to network, grow, and succeed.

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