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Are Coding Bootcamps effective?

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Coding bootcamps are quickly growing in popularity among younger people not interested in the 4-5 year college route and in older people who are looking for a career change and are within to shell out the money for it. Bootcamps are attractive because they have short curriculum's and because they aren't as strict, in both material and time, as the more traditional college education route. For the most part, most online bootcamps tend to focus on web development with a few of the newer ones incorporating server side JavaScript courses into the mix in order to make them more competitive.

Many have job placement programs in place for after you graduate with relatively high success rates. So short time, high pay, colorful IDE's all over the place. Can coding bootcamps be effective? That is the question that we'll dive in to today.

Popular bootcamp features

Bootcamps are true to their name. They are incredibly fast, cheaper than your more traditional college education and they can range from 12 weeks to 6 months on average. Many allow you to set your own schedules, which means you can work it in around your life essentially. And other's offer a non-stop grind in 12 weeks of daily coding for 8 hours a day. So really, you can choose whichever route best fits in with your lifestyle and your current spending means. But they also offer a few more benefits which make them more enticing.

Short curriculum

Most Bootcamps are there to teach you the basics to land you your first junior level job without any other distractions. They start you with HTML and they close off with some type of JavaScript based server-side framework. You don't have to cover data structures or assembly language or operating system design, which of course will cut off years in your learning time.

They are essentially short-circuiting the whole science aspect of computer science and aiming for the "get you a job right now" approach. And if you really think about it, most people who attend university, do so because they want that job at the end of the road. A few are in it to enhance their knowledge and to find out what they enjoy in life, sure, but most just want the degree and the job. Which again, is why bootcamps are growing in popularity.

Online classes

Quite a few bootcamps are set up in a way in which you never have to touch a classroom. Some may argue that this will lead to students not learning the material well enough or not staying focused, but some of the larger bootcamps have resolved this by offering students access to tutors and mentors throughout their stay with the program.

Bootcamps like Thinkful, for example, pair students with 1 on 1 mentors for the duration of their stay with the program. Having that 1 on 1 access with someone who is essentially doing what you would like to be doing is hugely important and there are no universities offering that currently. This gives you a chance to ask questions that are relevant to your current career goals and to essentially have a link to the current tech and job marketplace.

Job placement

This is probably the most attractive feature of bootcamps on the list. Coding bootcamps wouldn't be too attractive if most of its graduates didn't get some type of employment soon after graduating. Most have programs in place to aid you in looking for work after you are done with your courses. They include everything from working with their recruiters to setting high quotas in number of interviews that you should be attending per week.

And it isn't that you normally wouldn't be able to get a tech job without a bootcamp, but really, more like you wouldn't do the work that is required of you to do so without that little extra push. Some bootcamps will even defer your tuition fees until after you get your first relatively high paying job in your field.

Who can benefit

Coding bootcamps open up the possibility to work in the tech industry in a way that simply didn't exist before. The cost of entry has traditionally been relatively high, with very few individuals managing to break in without higher education.

Bootcamps are for those individuals who are looking to break into technology with the least amount of friction as possible. They don't care much about electrical engineering or about data structures or mathematical algorithms to render 3D images. They want to learn to code and they want to make websites, essentially. Which is why most bootcamps focus on front-end development and not on server-side. You can save alot of money and time by cutting out on the un-needed classes.

If you couldn't get into college, bootcamps can be right up your alley as well. I get it. Some people aren't great at math or english literature, and so they get barred from attending many universities. But that definitely doesn't mean that they can't be fantastic programmers.

Most real programming knowledge is gained during your first few jobs really. School programming and job programming are not a 1 to 1 match. So getting help in acquiring that first programming job is definitely beneficial in the long run.

Who they are not for?

Computer Science and technology span a massive range of job fields currently and spread much farther than simply programming. If you are looking to get into chip design, A.I., data analysis or any other field that requires a more scientific and analytic approach, a 12 week course probably won't be enough to reroute your neurons in the right way.

As someone who attended university for 5 years, I can say that there is an insanely large of amount of material to cover in Computer Science. Everything from chip design to ethics to linear algebra to statistics with a focus on CS, and the list goes on and on. With a more varied range in material, career opportunities are a bit more abundant and your perception on technology is much higher.

If you are looking to focus on the more scientific approaches to technology, then coding bootcamps might not be for you. Also, if you just really don't enjoy programming but enjoy technology then attending university to see how else that knowledge can be transferred over to the real-world might be more beneficial.

Are they effective

This 100% answer comes down to your current goals. If you are looking to be a web developer of some kind and only that, then they are probably very effective. You will probably learn more about web development with a bootcamp than you would with a traditional computer science curriculum at a university.

And it is important to note that most bootcamps aren't aiming to make you into the next Charles Babbage or Alan Turing. They promise to teach you the basics of web development to land you your first job. Which definitely is doable with a shorter window of time. I know a few professional web developers without formal training that have worked for many notable companies just with the skills that they have picked up on their own through various online means.

They are still much too new to really gauge their total effectiveness, however. As they become more and more popular, the supply of talent will undoubtedly increase. In order for this to work, the demand has to keep up. It's a careful balance in the end, and so bootcamps will have to, hopefully, grow at a rate that is still functional for both its students and for the cities where they are opening up in.

Walter Guevara is a software engineer, startup founder and currently teaches programming for a coding bootcamp. He is currently building things that don't yet exist.


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