June 12, 2019

10 Things You Need to Know Before Applying To A Programming Bootcamp

1. No, it's not a scam

Please allow me to end all the confusion once and for all. Yes, it's possible to become a junior software developer after just 12 weeks of training. Not saying it's easy. Not saying you don't need to put in tons of work.

2. Not all bootcamps are created equal

Culture, teaching style, curriculum, instructor/student ratio all vary a lot. Spend some serious time researching and asking questions before you slap down $10-20k. Don't just read blogs - go out there and talk to alums and instructors. The nice thing about this industry is the people are very friendly.

3. The job market is competitive (although not as competitive as other job markets)

Don't expect to just land a dream job after a bootcamp without spending some serious effort job hunting. You still need ways to stand out from your peers. At my last company, we had dozens and dozens of resumes coming in for one junior position. There's no shortage of applicants - there's a shortage of GOOD applicants. Be a good applicant by preparing yourself well and working harder than everybody else.

4. The learning doesn't stop after a bootcamp

After the 12 weeks in a bootcamp, you have barely scratched the surface of software development. You've just touched the basics and have enough skills to survive your first job. There's a ton more to learn and a lot of improving to do if you want to make this your career.

5. Don't do it for the money, do it for the passion

Forget the advertised $90k salaries. Forget the glamor of being in a tech industry. Forget it when people say there's job stability. Ignore all the marketing and really figure out if you are truly going to enjoy doing software development. This usually entails sitting in front of a screen, many hours a day, staring at obscure messages, working with people whose strengths are usually not in verbal communication. Some people love it, some people hate it. Most people fall in between.

6. Think long-term and make a career plan

Don't think bootcamps are a quick fix for your career. There's huge lack of understanding as to what it takes for a successful career in software. Landing a junior dev job is just the starting point! You will encounter lots of problems and roadblocks if you want to progress and become a senior dev or a technical manager.

7. You are a customer and you have options.

Bootcamps provide an education service in exchange for a lot of cash. You are a paying customer. Customers are king. There are lots of bootcamps out there. Don't be afraid to ask questions and do extensive research. Demand excellence and nothing but. This will help the bootcamps, the students and raise the bar for our industry as a whole.

8. The brand name doesn't really matter

You can't fake being a good programmer. All hiring companies know that the quality of students coming out of these bootcamps vary a lot. They're not just going to hire you just because you attended a more reputable bootcamp. They'll hire you if you know your stuff and are a good, fun person to work with. Focus on learning and focus on getting good at programming.

9. Input = output

The more effort you put into your bootcamp experience, the more you will get out of it. Expect to work long hours and weekends while you're at a bootcamp. Expect to dream about missing semicolons. Expect to immerse yourself in your bootcamp. It's the best way to learn!

10. Trust your instincts

At the end of the day, after you've done all your research, spoken with alums, asked insightful questions - trust your gut. Believe in yourself, trust your instincts, and go for it!

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