Recently, the New York Times ran a feature: “College and the Next Big Thing - Life/Will you sprint, stroll, or stumble into a career?” The article discusses how career paths have changed - radically - since the introduction of the GI Bill after World War II through the 1970s. Manufacturing was flourishing and most of the U.S. population did not need a college degree for financial success.
Even though many employers use a college degree as a signal of employability (or even ability, period), that model is wrong, outdated, and moves far too slowly for our 21st century world of work. The increase in costs of a college education, effects of the 2008 market crash, and innovation in the world of work point clearly to the need for a new model of employment.
If you are 25-35, take heed - these three types may really ring true, in terms of the career path approach you’re on. The article defines three different and unique career path approaches:
Sprinters - These are the folks who start fast right out of the gate. By picking a major early on and staying with it, they often have a career path position right out of college and are student loan debt-free.
Wanderers - People who graduate in one topic/area, but are unsure if it is right for them. Or, are unable to secure employment in that particular field. According to the article, “many young people are similarly derailed. They settle for any paying job, mostly outside their major, because of financial pressures.”
Stragglers - For this specific type, the story reports that “many Stragglers struggle to find viable options after high school. They can stay at home and get a job (and not a very good one) or join the military.”
Whether you are a sprinter, wanderer, or straggler, the underlying theme of the article is crystal clear. The current model of a 4-year college degree just isn’t working anymore. Dr. Rick Settersten, Professor of Human Development and Family Sciences in the college of Public Health and Human Sciences at Oregon State University finds that many of his students lack skills in areas like how to navigate life, build relationships, and grow resilience. His reasoning is that in college “there are the things you’re taught and then there are the things you learn.”
On a more national scale, Robert Reich, an American political commentator, professor, and author who served in the Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter’s administrations and as Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1997, is in on the status quo issues, as well. He concludes that ‘the biggest absurdity is that a four-year college degree has become the only gateway into the American middle class.” He points out that “last year, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, 46 percent of recent college graduates were in jobs that don’t even require a college degree.”
So, what’s a person to do when contemplating career or training options either pre- or post-college? What options are available? And what open pathways lead to the middle class nowadays?
Well, if you are interested in web development, computers and/or learning to code; you can sprint, stroll, or stumble your way through either a Computer Science degree or explore the web development bootcamp option. Here are some considerations when making your important decision.
If you start with a Return on Investment standpoint, bootcamp wins hands down. With 4-year college graduates facing unparallelled unemployment rates throughout the nation with no end in sight, most coding graduates, like those at RefactorU, are able to secure a well-paying job within 3 months of graduation. Bootcamps thrive with high job placement rates and most will track salary levels and time it takes to secure a position. In other words, there is data to show that bootcamps get results.
For saving on your time cost and/or opportunity cost, bootcamps win again. While getting a degree in Computer Science can take at least 4 years, the real-world of employers and jobs shows that Computer Science graduates lack ‘hands on’ coding or programming experience. With some bootcamps offering programs as short as 8-10 weeks, you will definitely learn the basics of a programming language. In comparison with a Computer Science degree, though, you may need to do some self-study or practice in preparation for a job.
In terms of curriculum, this is where you will want to consider the languages offered, learning styles addressed, and what your long-term career goals are. A traditional 4-year Computer Science curriculum offers a more abstract, theoretical understanding of the hows and whys of computers. If you are contemplating working for a larger company or your career goals are to become VP of Engineering at Google, Apple, or Amazon, getting that Computer Science degree is essential. However, if you are more interested in practical, job-ready skills like being able to build a website or the next mobile app, then bootcamp is the way to go!
No matter which type of career path you are on - sprinting, strolling, or stumbling - attending a coding bootcamp may provide you with just the right antidote from the 4-year, debt-laden traditional college degree. By choosing a bootcamp either before or after college, your career outcomes - 96% employment within 10-12 weeks with a median pay of $65K at RefactorU - are easily improved.
So, sprint, wander or straggle your way over to checking out coding bootcamp options online. You just may discover your career path trajectory moving onwards and upwards.
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