Deciding to go onto a coding bootcamp is a big decision and it’s essential that you weigh up all of your different possibilities.
Having personally attended generalassembl.y’s Data Science immersive program, I’ll share my experience and hopefully help you towards the right decision.
Let’s get to it.
After enrolling in a bootcamp, you’ll likely be given pre-work to complete before starting the course. The pre-work content helps to ensure that everyone is at a similar skill level when starting the bootcamp.
For example, when taking a data science bootcamp, I was expected to have a good understanding of basic inferential statistics and Python programming.
Each course will be different, however I would encourage you to thoroughly complete your pre-work. It’ll help you to remember topics better and you’ll be more prepared for future content whilst attending the course.
What Does A Normal Bootcamp Day Look Like?
A normal day will be split into:
- Learning time: During this time, you’ll learn new concepts, programming techniques/ syntax.
- Labs/Practice: You’ll have a dedicated amount of time to practice newly learned material and concepts. I really enjoyed the exercises sections and recommend avoiding cheating/asking for the answers and simply doing your best to solve the problem(s) by yourself first. The lab exercises are a great opportunity for practicing problem solving and learning a new programming language.
- Lunch: I was given a 1 hour lunch at 12.30pm.
- Breaks: Throughout the day there will be several 10 – 15 minute breaks, allowing you to have some time to recharge and to get to know your fellow bootcampers.
The Advantages Of Attending A Bootcamp
- Rapid skill development: By committing to a full time bootcamp your skill level and knowledge of a specific topic will dramatically increase in a short timeframe.
- A structured learning path: The course content provided on my bootcamp was incredibly well structured and gradually increased in difficulty at a steady pace. Bootcamp providers have the luxury of running multiple student cohorts, allowing you to reap the benefits of refined course materials.
- Make a career change: Attending a bootcamp can provide you with the necessary fundamental skills to transition into a more technical career.
- Learning with others: It was encouraging to realise that I was not alone in my struggle to learn something new. I was surrounded by people who were equally eager to switch careers, increase their skills or make a dramatic shift in terms of focus.
Disadvantages Of A Bootcamp
- High cost: I paid ~£10,000 to attend the General Assembly’s Data Science Immersive program. Unlike a university degree, you will likely have to self fund the course. Also the large cost can be daunting especially considering an average bootcamp will only last between 8 – 14 weeks and this cost doesn’t include lunch and travel.
- Low barrier to entry: At first the fact that you’re easily able to secure a place on a bootcamp can seem like a blessing, but it really does beg the question. How do you know if it is worth it, if everyone can attend it? To make up for the fact that anyone can go on the same bootcamp, you need to make sure that you maximise what you do after the course to ensure that the money you paid is worthwhile.
- Long hours and high intensity: For 3 months, I was doing 11 hour days, travelling to and from London to attend a physical bootcamp. Besides classes all day, you’ll be given evening homework. Forget attending parties, socialising with friends or doing anything other than that bootcamp for 3 months. You will be drained. You will be exhausted. Are you up for the challenge of learning a lot in a compressed amount of time? Only you’ll know whether or not you need to make a dramatic career shift.
Choosing A Type Of Bootcamp
At GeneralAssembly for example there are 3 immersive experiences offered which are:
- User Experience (UX).
- Software Development (Web Development).
- Data Science.
Depending on your personal preferences towards logic, creativity, love for programming, data or web development will help you to decide what technology career / bootcamp is best for you.
What Are The Risks Involved In Attending A Coding Bootcamp?
Depending upon how motivated you are, if you have any savings and what your past experience entails combined will determine how risky doing a coding bootcamp.
Bad Example: If you’re a history graduate, you don’t take the pre-work seriously and you take 2 months off after the course to have a rest, it’s unlikely that you’d make the most out of a data science coding bootcamp.
Good Example: If you’re a natural sciences graduate, you take the pre-work and data science bootcamp very seriously, you avidly look for jobs and have a polished Github and LinkedIn, then the chances of finding a role or contract will be in your favour.
Finding a job post-bootcamp is not easy and you will need to have some considerable savings and motivation so that you can find your footing in a new profession.
How Can I Maximise My Chance Of Getting A Job After A Bootcamp?
Apply For An Industry That You’re Familiar With
Depending upon which industry/job experience that you’ve done before a bootcamp will have given you a certain amount of domain knowledge. I’d recommend applying for jobs within an industry that you’re familiar with for a range of reasons including:
- From day one, you’ll know which problems are worth solving in your given industry.
- You won’t have to re-learn any industry knowledge and you’ll already understand the lingo and terminology.
- Potentially you’ll have contacts within an industry that you’re familiar with that could help you obtain job interviews.
Optimise Your Digital + Offline Portfolio
After I graduated from GeneralAssembly, our cohort worked with an “outcomes team” that helped us to maximise the chances of securing employment.
- Make sure that your LinkedIn profile is updated, that you have a nice headshot and include a link to your Github repository.
- Create a CV that showcases all of the work that you’ve done on the bootcamp whilst re-framing your previous roles so that they’re tailored to your new role.
- If you’re using Github then make sure to claim your hidden personal repository. This will make your profile stand out in comparison to other candidates.
Continue Working On New Tech Projects
Finishing a coding bootcamp is simply not enough to secure a job. You must continue to actively learn new technology and frameworks that will differentiate you against other candidates.
By having a tech project that you’re actively working on, you can show employers that you’re both passionate and committed to growing as a developer, data scientist etc.
Also, it’ll give you an icebreaker and will act as a conversation starter for when you have interviews with employers.
Learn A Cloud Technology Vendor
Developer’s are most productive when they can create a robust system that can be deployed to an online environment. Currently, Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud Platform are the two major tech cloud providers where you as a coder can deploy a fully functioning application.
The best way to learn cloud computing is to:
- Pick a project that would involve using a live database.
- Download the relevant command line SDK:
- Download and install your relevant programming language SDK, for example in Google Cloud Platform:
- Thoroughly reading the cloud vendor’s API documentation.
- Start developing your cloud project!
What Kind Of Job Can I Get After Attending A Bootcamp?
Depending upon what type of bootcamp you attend will influence your technical direction. However one thing is assured, you’ll be aiming for a “foot in the door” or “entry level” role.
What Type Of Job Support Does A Bootcamp Company Offer?
This will vary depending upon which bootcamp provider you enroll with. Some companies offer no guarantee of a job offer whilst other bootcamp providers will only demand that you pay them post-course after landing your first job offer.
Ultimately it will be up to you to source jobs, obtain interviews and secure a job.
Attending a coding bootcamp can be a challenging yet rewarding activity, however before embarking on one, you must decide whether the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. Remember to do your research on potential providers.