June 12, 2019

Find the Right Coding Bootcamp: 6 Factors to Focus On


Anyone who has considered enrolling in a coding bootcamp is likely overwhelmed by the number and variety of programs. At some point, the volume of information available might make a decision seem impossible. That's why it's essential to narrow your focus to only the most important elements of each coding bootcamp, then see how your options compare. Below are six factors that have helped many Fullstack Academy students find the right program for them.

1. Cost

Your coding bootcamp options will be limited first and foremost by what you can afford. While most bootcamps cost less than a graduate degree from a university (and offer a more focused curriculum), they still likely cost more money than you have lying around, so you need to be both realistic and strategic.

Check first for programs that offer non-traditional tuition packages. The Grace Hopper Program, for example, is exclusively for women and offers deferred tuition, which means graduates don't pay in full until after they've found full-time, in-field employment.

If a more traditional program speaks to you, see whether they offer any scholarships, like Fullstack Academy's $1000 Ada Lovelace scholarship for women, or their 50 States of Code scholarship for remote students. They may also partner with loan servicing companies, as Fullstack Academy does with lender Skills Fund. Essentially, Skills Fund enables established institutions to take on some of the risk associated with each loan, so students (especially those who aren't so established) are able to get loans at better rates than they would with most banks.

2. Outcomes

If you're interested in a coding bootcamp, it's because you have a very specific goal in mind: to land a job afterward as a developer or software engineer. So you want the coding bootcamp you choose to have a record of just that; Graduates getting jobs in their chosen field.

Until recently, coding bootcamps were the Wild West of education, but a non-profit agency called the Council for Integrity in Results Reporting (CIRR) is changing all that. The organization is composed of coding bootcamps like Fullstack Academy, who want to ensure that students learn the truth about each program, and is creating strict reporting standards to enable prospective students to make informed decisions.

See which schools have joined CIRR (and if the school you're interested in hasn't joined, ask yourself--or them!--why not), and compare student outcomes across the programs that interest you. How many students find jobs within their first year? How much are those students earning? (Click here to see Fullstack & Grace Hopper outcomes.) The best coding bootcamps may be a big investment of your time and money, but they also pay off.

3. Career Services

And speaking of outcomes, getting a job post-bootcamp isn't purely a reflection of your coding skills. Landing a new role will also require that you know how to build a resume, how to network, how to interview well--and you'll need almost as much tutoring in those techniques as you will in your coding skills.

So ask schools about their career services. Is resume-building a part of the curriculum? Are there regular mock interviews to help you prepare? Do advisors offer job search tips and help you network? At Fullstack Academy, in addition to all of the above, our career services team puts together an in-house hiring fair for each cohort, during which soon-to-be-grads show off the projects they've built and interview with employers like Google, JP Morgan, Citi, Oracle, Bluewolf, and many more--and that's the kind of career help you want your bootcamp to offer.

4. Programming Language

Quick experiment: Head over to Indeed.com and search "Javascript Developer." Now search pretty much any other language: "Python Developer," "Ruby Developer," etc. The language with the most job listings is going to be JavaScript. Now check out how popular JS is on GitHub (keep scrolling til you find the 15 most popular languages). This is why schools like Fullstack Academy that focus on JS may be your best bet.

Consider the length of the program, too. Fullstack is 17 weeks long, and initially taught additional languages--but discovered pretty early that students weren't graduating as experts in any one thing. They were getting pretty good at both languages but hadn't mastered either. And employers are looking for mastery. So be careful of programs that aim to cover a lot of languages in a relatively short period of time. Choose a program with more focus--and make sure that focus is on an in-demand language like JavaScript.

And if you've got other questions about which language is best, check out Fullstack ACademy CEO David Yang's advice here.

5. Admissions Selectivity

While it might seem frustrating that the best coding bootcamps have such selective admissions processes, the truth is that selective admissions benefit students more than they do bootcamps. Coding bootcamps could be unethical and take your money in exchange for a less-than-rigorous curriculum, then shrug their shoulders when you don't get a job. They'd make way more money that way--but what would be the point?

Selective institutions like Fullstack want to provide an actual service, a real education that helps people transition into tech as a career, and the best way to do that is to offer a curriculum that produces top-notch developers with the advanced skills necessary to be successful in a junior developer role. What that means, though, is that not everyone will be ready to develop advanced skills. It's like the old saying: You've got to walk before you can run.

And that's why many selective software immersive programs offer additional classes--everything from beginner options like JavaScript 101 to an intermediate-level Bootcamp Prep course--to help programming enthusiasts go from walking to running and ultimately be skilled enough to advance to the next level in an immersive program.

6. School Culture

Read any number of blog posts from coding bootcamp graduates--like this one, in which Grace Hopper graduate Anne Zhou describes bootcamp as "really challenging, like really really hard," or this one from Sarah Katz, detailing her many emotional breakdowns--and you'll see just how intense bootcamp is.

The process has been described as trying to drink from a firehose: A lot is coming at you, and there's no way you're going to get it all. Plus you're not going to sleep as much as you should. So making it through bootcamp is a feat unto itself--and you can't do it alone. You need supportive instructors, advisors, and fellow students, in addition to a learning environment that puts you first.

That's why lots of women choose the Grace Hopper program--because even though in the real world you'll, of course, be working with both women and men, during this time of extreme vulnerability, many women want to be in the safest place they can be, and for them it's an all-female environment like Grace Hopper.

It's also why students love Fullstack Academy in general: Our number one rule? No a-holes. Simple as that. We don't invite them to be part of our team, we don't allow them at the front of our classrooms, and we don't accept them into our cohorts. Or rather, we don't allow them at the front of your classrooms. We don't accept them into your cohorts. Because we want you to have all the support you can get. One grad wrote, "instructors and staff...bombard us with opportunities to check in, express our confusion, and seek deeper instruction," while grad Nick Rodriguez emphasized the following in his review: "The most impressive part of Fullstack was the sense of community among the other students and instructors."

The best coding bootcamps will all differ a bit on these points, and that's ok. What you need to do is look for an overall structure that's right for you. And if the program that's right for you is one with flexible tuition options, strong outcomes, and dedicated career services; that focuses on an in-demand programming language, offers selective admissions, and makes a supportive culture the priority--well, then it sounds like you belong at Fullstack Academy.

Want to learn more about Fullstack Academy? Check out their courses and read what alumni have to say on Switchup. Plus, be sure to read this great post about Fullstack's immersive programs.

This content was sponsored by Fullstack Academy

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