Antes de gastar miles de dólares y varios meses de su vida en un campo de entrenamiento de programación, dedique 30 minutos a leer este manual.
¿Para quién es este manual?
- Cualquiera que esté considerando asistir a un bootcamp
- Cualquier desarrollador que esté considerando fundar un bootcamp o enseñar en uno
- Cualquier periodista que escriba sobre bootcamps
Para las personas que piensan que están demasiado ocupadas para leer este manual ...
Mi consejo para usted se reduce a esto: investigue .
Solicite primero muchos trabajos de desarrollador. Pasa por algunas entrevistas de trabajo. Es posible que pueda obtener un trabajo de desarrollador sin necesidad de asistir a un bootcamp.
No confíe ciegamente en los testimonios de los bootcamps o en las estadísticas de empleo. Utilice LinkedIn para comunicarse directamente con sus alumnos.
Prepárate. Asegúrate de tener suficiente dinero. Si está listo para inscribirse, asegúrese de tener suficiente dinero en efectivo para pagar la matrícula. Y asegúrese de tener suficiente dinero en efectivo para sobrevivir durante el bootcamp y durante los 6 meses posteriores mientras solicita trabajos.
Los bootcamps no son mágicos. Los bootcamps solo pueden ayudarte a prepararte. Tienes que aprender todo. Tienes que pasar por el proceso de entrevista de trabajo de desarrollador. Tienes que esforzarte.
Una nota sobre la objetividad
He diseñado este manual para que sea lo más objetivo posible. Con este fin, no menciono ningún bootcamps ni a sus fundadores por su nombre. No enlazo a ninguno de sus sitios web.
No escribí este manual para ayudar a los bootcamps. Escribí este manual para ayudarte.
Como profesor que fundó freeCodeCamp, estoy en una posición única para escribir sobre bootcamps por tres razones:
- Muchos bootcamps usan freeCodeCamp para su plan de estudios y preparación del curso. He ayudado a entrenar a muchos fundadores de bootcamp sobre cómo preparar a las personas para las carreras de desarrolladores.
- Aprendí a codificar en San Francisco a principios de la década de 2010, cuando los campamentos de entrenamiento aparecieron por primera vez en escena. No asistí a un bootcamp, pero salí con muchos fundadores de bootcamp y asistí a los "días de demostración" de los estudiantes.
- Durante los últimos 3 años, he realizado importantes investigaciones primarias. He publicado varios conjuntos de datos que contienen respuestas de miles de alumnos de bootcamp.
La misión de freeCodeCamp es ayudar a tantas personas a aprender a codificar como sea posible. Los bootcamps ayudan a mucha gente a lograr esto. Entonces están ayudando a freeCodeCamp en nuestra misión.
Dicho esto, freeCodeCamp nunca ha recibido ninguna compensación de los bootcamps. Varias de las grandes cadenas de bootcamp se han acercado a nosotros sobre el patrocinio. Siempre nos hemos negado.
¿Por qué escribí este manual?
Cuando busca en Google "bootcamp de codificación" o "bootcamps de codificación en [nombre de la ciudad]", encuentra muchos sitios web de revisión de bootcamp. Pero existen problemas fundamentales con estos sitios de revisión.
Primero, estos sitios de revisión están patrocinados por los propios bootcamps. Los campamentos de entrenamiento pagan por anuncios. Pagan para clasificar más alto en los resultados de búsqueda. Pagan por artículos de blogs, artículos de opinión y otra publicidad de "colocación pagada".
Este es un conflicto de interes.
En segundo lugar, muchas de las revisiones en estos sitios fueron coaccionadas. He escuchado historias de graduados de varios bootcamps que fueron presionados para dejar críticas positivas. En algunos casos, los bootcamps hicieron que los estudiantes escribieran reseñas como una actividad obligatoria en clase.
También hay muchas reseñas falsas escritas por departamentos de marketing.
Es imposible saber qué bootcamps se rigen por las reglas y cuáles hacen trampa. Entonces, todo lo que logran estos sitios de revisión es ayudar a los tramposos a ahogar los bootcamps más éticos.
En lugar de depender de sitios web llenos de críticas dudosas, debería pensar por sí mismo. No hay atajos para tomar una decisión tan importante."El indicador número uno de la calidad de un campamento de entrenamiento es lo difícil que es ingresar. Las reseñas en línea son completamente y 100% jugadas. Las estadísticas de colocación laboral también se juegan sin piedad. Lo único que no se puede jugar con un campamento de entrenamiento es lo difícil que es Entra." - uno de los ex gerentes de bootcamp con los que hablé mientras investigaba este manual
Este manual le proporcionará un marco que puede utilizar para comprender cómo funcionan los bootcamps. Le ayudará a investigar sus opciones y planificar el camino hacia su primer trabajo de desarrollador.
¿Qué es exactamente un bootcamp?
Los bootcamps son escuelas en las que aprendes a codificar a tiempo completo, generalmente en persona.
La mayoría de los bootcamps duran alrededor de 12 semanas, aunque algunos duran hasta un año.
La mayoría de los bootcamps cuestan entre 10.000 y 20.000 dólares.
Algunos bootcamps ofrecen préstamos, ya sea directamente o mediante una empresa de financiación.
Algunos bootcamps ofrecen "Acuerdos de participación en los ingresos" en los que, en lugar de pagar por adelantado, paga un porcentaje de sus ingresos antes de impuestos (generalmente el 17%) durante varios años (generalmente 2 años). Esto no es "dinero gratis", y lo explicaré en detalle a continuación.
El objetivo de un campamento de entrenamiento es llevar un aula llena de personas que nunca antes han trabajado en tecnología y ayudarlos a obtener su primer trabajo como desarrollador.
Eso es una tarea difícil. Y hay mucho dinero en juego. Lo que nos lleva a la siguiente pregunta.
¿Funcionan realmente los bootcamps?
En muchos casos, sí. Cada año, miles de graduados de bootcamp obtienen sus primeros trabajos de desarrollador."Los mejores campamentos de entrenamiento toman a personas con habilidades brutas y las convierten en programadores (ligeramente) experimentados. La mayor parte de lo que hacen de alguna manera es la selección, y luego ponen a las personas en ollas a presión de aprendizaje". - un ex gerente de bootcamp con el que hablé
Pero también hay graduados de bootcamp que no consiguen un trabajo de desarrollador y terminan volviendo a sus carreras anteriores.
El éxito se reduce a algunos factores:
- Qué tan selectivo es el bootcamp
- Qué tan capaces son los profesores
- Y si las personas que dirigen el campo de entrenamiento se preocupan por sus estadísticas de empleo o solo están en él para obtener ganancias financieras a corto plazo.
La mayoría de los bootcamps no comparten públicamente sus números. Y los bootcamps que lo hacen pueden usar métricas no estándar. Esto le dificulta hacer comparaciones de manzanas con manzanas.
But there's a growing transparency movement within bootcamps. They are pressuring one another to be more accountable.
Some bootcamps want to self-regulate the industry before the government is forced to step in and regulate it for them.
Bootcamps have only existed as a form of post-high school education for a few years. They aren't yet regulated like colleges and universities. That is, through accreditation.
Are bootcamps accredited?
The short answer is no, they aren't accredited.
But first, what does it meant to be accredited? And why's that so important for colleges and universities?
In the US, most universities are regionally accredited. And some academic programs are nationally accredited, such as English preparation schools.
There are two major reasons for this:
- accredited schools can help students get a US visa
- accredited schools can help students get federal grants or federal student loans
In order to get accredited, schools have to undergo an audit by independent educators. These auditors dig through files and make sure the school is following all the laws. They also make sure students are getting jobs after they graduate.
If graduates from the school aren't able to get jobs in their field of study, that's a red flag. The school may lose its accreditation.
You may have heard the term "diploma mill". These are colleges and universities that have lost their accreditation (or never got accredited in the first place). They sell worthless courses and worthless diplomas.
En Estados Unidos, las universidades públicas están a cargo del gobierno. Estos están acreditados. Y la mayoría de las universidades privadas están dirigidas por organizaciones sin fines de lucro, a menudo por organizaciones religiosas. Estos también suelen estar acreditados.
Pero hay una tercera categoría de universidad: universidades privadas con fines de lucro. Y aquí es donde las cosas se ponen un poco vagas. Algunas de estas universidades están acreditadas, pero otras no.
Estas universidades privadas con fines de lucro publicitan mucho en la televisión nocturna y compran muchos anuncios de Facebook. Engañan a estudiantes poco sofisticados para que se matriculen."Un tonto y su dinero están separados". - Dr. John Bridges, allá por 1587
En algunos casos, estas escuelas califican para préstamos estudiantiles federales, GI Bill y otras formas de asistencia gubernamental.
Plainly put, most of these private for-profit universities are a scam. The US government is slowly shutting them down. But many people still fall for their marketing and end up thousands of dollars in debt with a worthless degree.
Even so, word of these scams spreads slowly. And even when a school sounds too good to be true, people still want to believe.
This brings us back to coding bootcamps.
Without some form of accreditation, a few bootcamps who are focused on short term financial gains - rather than the long-term health of the bootcamp model - can ride a wave of bootcamp popularity. They can get rich while serving up sub-par results for students.
A bootcamp accreditation system could help prevent this.
As I mentioned, most bootcamps don't have the resources to get accredited. Or they haven't existed long enough to qualify. This is where self-regulation comes into play.
The Council on Integrity in Results Reporting (CIRR) is a joint effort by bootcamps to publicly share the employment statistics of their graduates in a way everyone can understand.
Many prominent bootcamps are a part of this initiative. But some prominent bootcamps aren't participating or have stopped sharing their data.
A bootcamp's membership in the CIRR isn't the same thing as getting accredited, but it's a good start.
What kind of salaries do bootcamp graduates get?
Based on public data, bootcamp graduates earn the same starting salary as other entry-level developers. This includes computer science majors and other university graduates who learned to code on their own.
The biggest factor in how much money you get paid as an entry-level developer is the cost of living of the city. A junior developer in San Francisco can make twice as much as a junior developer in the middle of America.
If a bootcamp says their graduates get higher starting salaries than the graduates of other bootcamps, that means most of their graduates get jobs in more expensive cities like San Francisco.
How long does it take bootcamp graduates to get a job?
This depends on the bootcamp. Some bootcamps have extensive career coaching. Others have close ties to local industry and can help you line up job interviews. Both of these can significantly shorten the number of months you spend applying for jobs afterward.
The post-bootcamp job search takes about 6 months on average.
What is the completion rate for bootcamps?
A majority of people who start bootcamps go on to finish them.
Most good bootcamps are selective. If they don't think you'll be able to get a developer job after the program, they won't accept you.
Bootcamps have a short-term incentive to accept you so they can get your tuition dollars. But they also have a long-term incentive not to accept you if they think you could hurt their employment statistics.
This said, not all bootcamps care about their employment statistics. Some may focus on short term cash, due to financial desperation. (A lot of high-profile bootcamps have shut down in recent years.)
In some cases, bootcamps may kick out students half way through their program.
If the bootcamp is a "cash up front" bootcamp, they've already reaped the short-term benefit of enrolling you. Even if you're under-performing, it may make sense to try to salvage you rather than give you a refund.
These bootcamps do still want the long-term benefit of you boosting their employment statistics. But this benefit is more abstract than the cold hard cash you've handed them.
On the other hand, wage-garnishing bootcamps (remember those Income Sharing Agreements) have a bigger incentive to kick you out if you're under-performing. This is because they only benefit over the longer term (17% of your salary over the next 2 years).
Also, some bootcamp students decide to drop out for a variety of reasons. These may have nothing to do with the bootcamp itself, such as major life events.
How often do people graduate from bootcamps but fail to transition into tech?
Usually by the time people enroll in more selective bootcamps, they've already spent a lot of time coding, and are close to being able to get a developer job. So it's less common for these bootcamp graduates to fail to find a job.
Pero independientemente de sus habilidades, encontrar un trabajo de desarrollador es intrínsecamente difícil. Los Bootcamps pueden ayudarte en este proceso y muchos de ellos cuentan con consejeros profesionales para ayudarte.
No es raro que los graduados de bootcamps incluso selectivos tengan que postularse a cientos de trabajos de desarrollador (y entrevistarse en docenas de empresas) antes de obtener una oferta laboral satisfactoria."A veces, las personas ponen todo el trabajo y son talentosas, pero simplemente no tienen suerte durante mucho tiempo. Otras veces, muchas personas hacen clic en aplicaciones de empleo en bolsas de trabajo.
Lo mejor (con diferencia) que puedes hacer es establecer conexiones con la industria y conocer gente real. Y luego pida ayuda a otros desarrolladores para prepararse, buscar trabajo y obtener referencias. Las referencias internas son generalmente la mejor opción ". Otro ex gerente de bootcamp con el que hablé mientras investigaba este manual
So in many cases, when people fail to transition into tech, it's not really the bootcamp's fault. Some people just underestimate how arduous the job search process can be and give up before they find success.
What types of bootcamps are there?
Some bootcamps focus on particular stacks, like Ruby on Rails, Python / Django, or Java / Android. Some even focus on specific technical careers, like User Experience Design.
But it's more helpful to think of bootcamps in terms of their ownership structure. What are their incentives?
Privately-Owned Local Bootcamps
These are often founded by one or more local developers. The founders may teach some of the classes themselves. (This is usually a good thing.)
Most bootcamps start out as locally-owned, single-campus schools like these.
Privately-Owned Bootcamp Chains
As locally-owned bootcamps grow, their founders may open additional campuses in other cities.
By operating more than one campus, owners get the advantages of economies of scale and economies of scope. They can spread the burden of fixed costs (like marketing and curriculum) across several schools.
This said, it's hard to offer consistent quality across multiple schools.
My advice to prospective students is to treat each city campus as its own school. Don't rely on the overall reputation of a bootcamp chain. Instead, do your research. Seek out alumni from that specific campus and interview them.
Most university-based bootcamps aren't run by the university itself. They are run by for-profit education companies.
Universities contract with these private companies to run the bootcamps. These bootcamps pay the university a hefty fee to use their classroom space and - more importantly - their prestigious name. It's a controversial practice.
When you look at a university-based bootcamp, don't rely on the reputation of the university itself. Instead, do your own research.
Free Nonprofit Bootcamps
Nonprofit bootcamps are similar to their locally-run for-profit counterparts. The main difference is these have no profit incentive.
With traditional 501(c)(3) nonprofits, there is no ownership. Nobody owns stock. Instead, they're owned by the public.
This is how The Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, and freeCodeCamp are all incorporated.
And some bootcamps use this structure as well.
Some nonprofit bootcamps are completely free. They are donor-supported, or supported through grants from the government.
There are several of these programs aimed at retraining military veterans and refugees.
Free For-Profit Bootcamps
Surprisingly, there are a few bootcamps that are for-profit but still free. And these programs don't use Income Sharing Agreements to garnish your wages, either.
These programs are selective. They may require applicants to have a Ph.D. or other advanced degree.
These programs make 100% of their money from employers. The program charges employers a recruitment fee when they place you at their company. These recruitment fees can be as high as 33% of your first year's salary.
But you as a student don't pay anything. Your future employer covers the expense of the bootcamp for you.
I mention these last because they are new and experimental.
It's one thing to take a student who is new to coding and prepare them for their first job in a matter of months. It's another thing to do this completely online.
"Learn to code" style websites can teach you online because they are designed for long-term use. If you practice coding online several times each week for a year or two, your skills will steadily improve.
But online bootcamps expect you to do all this intensively, over a much shorter period of time.
Much of the value of a bootcamp comes from sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with other learners. You help one another get past errors and failing tests. You build projects together. You form interpersonal relationships.
All this is much harder to accomplish online, and in such a short period of time.
The main reason companies offer online bootcamps is simple: they're dramatically more profitable.
- The company doesn't need to rent office space to serve as a campus.
- They don't have to worry about housing.
- They can hire instructors from all around the world. This is much cheaper than hiring instructors in, say, San Francisco.
- They can dump students into a big chat room together and let them figure things out with minimal supervision.
Voilà - a coding bootcamp for 1/10th the cost. And a lot of these online bootcamps still charge as much as in-person bootcamps.
So before you enroll in an online bootcamp, you should do extra diligence. See whether there is a comparable in-person option in your city.
What kind of people generally go to bootcamps?
All kinds of people attend bootcamps.
But the most common demographics are:
- Recent university graduates who haven't entered the workforce yet and can afford to wait another 6 months to do so.
- Wealthy working professionals who want to switch industries and can afford to not work for the next 6 months.
Less common, but still notable, are:
- Military veterans retraining for civilian careers
- People who are unemployed and using loans to finance the bootcamp (or are signing "Income Share Agreements")
- High school and college students learning to code over summer break (and not planning to enter the workforce immediately afterward)
The average age of a bootcamp student is 28, but it's common for people much older than that to enroll in bootcamps.
Most of them have at least 1 parent who graduated from university.
Most of them had learned to code on their own for more than 6 months before starting the bootcamp.
Most bootcamp students already have a university degree - though not usually in computer science.
Is a bootcamp right for me?
This comes down to several factors:
- How much time you have
- How much money you have
- Whether you are currently working
- And how much experience you have with coding
Let's talk about all of these factors, starting with money.
Can I afford a bootcamp?
Given infinite time and infinite money, my advice to 100% of people would be: yes - do a bootcamp.
But since time and money are scarce, we should discuss this in more detail.
How much is bootcamp tuition?
As we discussed, some bootcamps are completely free, but these are not representative of the field.
Most bootcamps cost between US $10,000 and $20,000. The longer the program is, the more it usually costs.
Some bootcamps don't require you to pay tuition up-front. Instead, they garnish your future wages through something called an "Income Sharing Agreement."
What are Income Sharing Agreements (ISAs)?
Basically, you sign a contract with these bootcamps. These bootcamps then work closely with the US Internal Revenue Service. They figure out exactly how much money you make, then garnish a percentage of your pre-tax income (usually 17%) for a number of years (usually 2 years).
If your first job out of a bootcamp pays $50,000 per year, that means you would pay:
($50,000 * 17% = $8,500) * 2 years = $17,000 total
If you get paid $80,000 per year:
($80,000 * 17% = $13,600) * 2 years = $27,400 total
If you get paid $100,000 per year:
($100,000 * 17% = $17,000) * 2 years = $34,000 total
Most of these ISAs won't kick in until you make at least US $50,000 per year. And if you earn less than $50,000 per year for five years, these ISAs will go away and you won't owe anything anymore. And some ISAs have a "cap" - a maximum amount you have to pay back.
But the important thing to note with ISAs is they are a new form of debt. Unlike other forms of consumer debt - like student loans - ISAs exist in a legal gray area.
ISAs are a new form of "financial engineering". They seem to be legal, but none of this has been tested in a court of law.
It's also unclear what happens if you take out an ISA, and then the bootcamp goes bankrupt. (This happens often - even to big bootcamp chains). You would have no control over who gains ownership over your debt. It's unclear how aggressively they could pursue you to pay them back.
So again, do your research.
How much are living expenses during a bootcamp?
Your living expenses will depend on which city the bootcamp is in, and that city's cost of living.
Living at home with your parents in the midwest? Your costs will be much lower than if you are moving to San Francisco and renting an apartment.
You should save enough money to last you through the bootcamp, plus 6 months. This way, you have enough time to find the right job and to cash your first paycheck.
What is "opportunity cost"?
Opportunity Cost is a concept from economics that roughly means "foregone earnings."
To get the true cost of attending a coding bootcamp, you should factor in opportunity cost as well.
Example: You currently earn $3,000 per month. You're moving to San Francisco, where it can cost $2,000 per month just to rent a bedroom. You'll attend a 12-week bootcamp that costs $15,000.
Here is your true cost, assuming an additional 6 months until you get a job and cash your first pay check:
Bootcamp Tuition: $15,000 Cost of Living: (9 months * $2,000) = $18,000 Opportunity Cost of Foregone Wages: (9 months * $3,000) = $27,000 True Economic Cost: ($15,000 + $18,000 + $27,000) = $60,000
As you can see, in this case, the coding bootcamp tuition was only 1/4th of the true cost.
So a $20,000 bootcamp that helps you get a job in 4 months can be cheaper than a $15,000 bootcamp that helps you get a job in 6 months. That is, once you factor in cost of living and opportunity costs.
The lesson is simple: don't get too hung up on the cost of coding bootcamp tuition itself. It is only part of the true cost.
Are my coding skills good enough for a bootcamp?
A naive answer would be "just apply and see if you can get in."
But instead, let's think in terms of the bootcamp's incentives.
There's a Goldilocks Zone for coding bootcamps: not too beginner, not too advanced - just right.
Scenario #1: Your skills are too advanced for you to learn much from a bootcamp
If you're a strong candidate, the bootcamp is confident you will get a job afterward. Their only rational decision is to accept you. Even if they don't think you'd learn much from their program.
- The bootcamp will get your tuition money.
- They won't have to teach you much.
- And then when you get a job afterward, you'll boost their employment statistics.
From their perspective, they should admit you.
Scenario #2: You are too new to coding to get much out of the bootcamp
If you're a weak candidate, then it comes down to the decision maker at the bootcamp. Are they focused on the long term or the short term? How much do they care about their employment statistics?
If the bootcamp is focused on the long term, they should reject you. Or assign you additional pre-coursework, then ask you to come interview again in a few months.
But bootcamps who are struggling financially don't have the luxury of worrying about their employment statistics. They may not be around for the long term. Their rational decision might be to just accept you anyway - regardless of your preparedness."A largo plazo todos estaremos muertos." - John Maynard Keynes en 1923
Quizás esté a la altura de las circunstancias y tenga éxito contra todo pronóstico. Quizás no lo hagas. De cualquier manera, el bootcamp obtiene el dinero de la matrícula y puede mantenerse solvente unos meses más.
Escenario n. ° 3: estás "perfecto"
El bootcamp debería aceptarte en esta situación y será una victoria para ambas partes.
Pero de nuevo, no sabes en qué escenario se trata. ¿Es este Escenario # 3 en el que estás "perfecto"? ¿O el bootcamp solo lo dice? ¿Está realmente en el escenario n. ° 1 o en el escenario n. ° 2?
Por lo tanto, los bootcamps tienen un fuerte incentivo para aceptarte incluso cuando no eres una buena opción.
Es por eso que dije que el enfoque de "solo aplica y mira si puedes entrar" es ingenuo.
Esto es lo que te recomiendo que hagas.
Step #1: Spend a few months learning to code on your own.
Try earning the freeCodeCamp Responsive Web Design certification. Then earn the Algorithms and Data Structures certification.
These will ensure you understand the fundamentals. And a lot of coding bootcamps require these as part of their pre-coursework anyway.
Step #2: Apply for developer jobs.
How do you handle employers' resume screens and phone screens? Can you advance to their on-site coding interviews? If so, you may just want to keep applying for jobs. You may not need a coding bootcamp.
Step #3: Apply for coding bootcamps.
If you've made it to Step #3, you now know with confidence that you have some basic skills. And you know that you're not yet ready for a developer job.
You can now apply to coding bootcamps with confidence. You won't be too advanced. If they accept you, you can be confident that you're not too beginner, either.
If they don't accept you, you can just continue your self study and apply to the bootcamp again later.
How do I choose a bootcamp?
The first consideration should be: are there any coding bootcamps in your city? If so, I encourage you to visit them and learn as much as you can about them.
By staying in your current city, you can reduce your cost of living. You can also reduce your stress. You don't have to spend your time shopping for an apartment or learning a new neighborhood. You can spend that time coding.
Do I need to move to San Francisco for my bootcamp?
You might think: "But shouldn't I move to San Francisco, where all the developers are?"
It's true that the San Francisco Bay Area - which includes Silicon Valley - is the tech mecca of the western hemisphere.
San Francisco is home to several excellent bootcamps. It also has tons of employers. And a huge ecosystem of evening tech events, hackathons, startup communities, and recruiters.
But San Francisco is an expensive, stressful place to live. I worked there as a developer for 4 years, and I don't plan on moving back any time soon.
The important thing to remember is: software is still software - regardless of where you are in the world.
You can learn a lot from most experienced developers who have worked in tech for 5 or 10 years. Almost as much as you could learn from an elite developer at a San Francisco tech company.
(And the most elite developers can earn millions of dollars a year. You probably won't find them teaching at bootcamps anyway.)
What tools should bootcamps be teaching?
This may sound counter-intuitive, but I'm going to come right out and say it. The tools don't matter.
Some bootcamps teach Ruby and Rails or Sinatra. Despite their declining popularity, these are still good tools for new developers.
Some bootcamps teach Python and Flask or Django. Some teach the .NET ecosystem. Some may go straight into mobile development with Android and Java or Kotlin. Some go close to the metal with C.
Again, the tools don't matter. What matters is that you learn one set of tools really well.
Learn one set of tools and understand how everything fits together at a conceptual level. Then you can easily learn new sets of tools.
You can sum up most of what you'll learn in a coding bootcamp as:
- Computer Science fundamentals
- Programming itself (lots of practice coding)
- Other skills you'll need as a developer. Like software development methodologies, debugging techniques, testing, reading documentation.
- Understanding the job application process itself.
So don't dismiss a bootcamp because "they teach Rails and I want to learn Node" or "I want to be a mobile developer" or "I don't want to learn front end development."
You'll learn the same basic things regardless of which tools the bootcamp teaches.
How important is a bootcamp's track record?
If a bootcamp that has been around for a few years, you should pay close attention to their track record.
First, find out whether the bootcamp is part of the Council on Integrity in Results Reporting. If they aren't, ask them why not.
You should ask for their employment statistics. If they're reluctant to show you these - or can't share numbers from the past year - that's a red flag.
Either way, you should find their graduates on LinkedIn. Reach out to them to ask them about their experience there.
If the coding bootcamp is new, there will be much less information available. You will have to rely much more on your intuition.
Ask for the names of the bootcamp's teachers. Pull them up on LinkedIn.
Do they have any past cohorts? Find their graduates on LinkedIn and ask them about their experience there.
Being one of the first students at a coding bootcamp is an exercise in high risk / high reward.
Like all kinds of small business, bootcamps may shut down quickly if they don't get traction. If this happens, you will find yourself explaining the school to future employers in the past tense. Awkward.
But at the same time, new coding bootcamps have something to prove. Their teachers and staff will work like crazy to ensure the school succeeds. They'll try their hardest to train you. They'll help you get a good job so they can get a win under their belt and onto their testimonials page.
In the face of sparse data, you need to decide for yourself. Do the people running this bootcamp seem like they know what they're doing? Are they passionate about this?
Should I visit the campus before I enroll?
Yes. You are about to make a decision that - when you factor in cost of living and opportunity cost - is tens of thousands of dollars and months of your time.
By all means, book a flight. Even if you're only flying in for a day trip. Talk to the teachers and the staff. Scope out the school. Observe the students.
This is an important decision. And in the grand scheme of things, this trip is a small investment of your time and money.
Should I reach out to past alumni?
The answer is always yes. Don't skip this step.
Find them on LinkedIn. If they don't respond to your LinkedIn message after a few days, find their email or message them on Twitter. See if you can get them on a phone call.
Ask them to be as candid as possible. Assure them that everything they share with you will be in confidence.
Tell them your circumstances. Tell them how important this decision is for you.
I recommend reaching out to several alumni like this.
This is the most difficult part of the bootcamp research process. You may be thinking "I'm an introvert." Or "I don't want to bother these busy people."
But these people are where you will be a year from now. They are the best window into what you can expect from this bootcamp.
If you end up going to the bootcamp, these people will be your fellow alumni. This is an opportunity to also make them your mentors.
Are there free bootcamp alternatives?
There are a lot of ways you can learn to code without paying anything. Some of these have been around for decades, like the computer section of your local library.
Others free resources can help a motivated novice ramp up their skills and get hired as a developer.
Most developers consider themselves at least partially self-taught. They have used a variety of these learning resources.
What are learn-to-code websites?
There are websites where you can learn to code right in your browser. Some of them - like freeCodeCamp - are completely free.
Some of these learn-to-code websites cost money. But you may be able to use them for free through your local library.
These websites cover many of the same concepts and tools as coding bootcamps.
Bootcamps are focused on high-touch in-person instruction. They operate a campus with classrooms and instructors.
By contrast, learn-to-code websites use instructional design to teach people inexpensively at scale.
These learn-to-code websites have forums and may even have local study groups.
Still, many people prefer the traditional classroom environment that bootcamps provide.
What are "Massive Open Online Courses"?
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are free courses usually taught by university professors. These tend to be lecture-based, and may have homework assignments or exams.
MOOCs gained popularity in 2012, and remain an excellent way to learn concepts. There are hundreds of MOOCs on programming and computer science - many of which are self-paced.
Some of these MOOCs also offer certifications, though you may have to pay for them.
The important thing to note here is that you can learn almost any topic - straight from world-class professors - at your convenience.
Always keep this fact in mind when you're considering paid learning resources. They have a high bar to clear to justify their cost.
Are there free coding textbooks?
There are thousands of free programming and computer science textbooks. Many of these are Creative Commons licensed or even public domain.
Developers have also sold books that they've since decided to make freely available.
Also, some developers release digital versions of their books for free, and sell physical copies of them.
What are some paid bootcamp alternatives?
Of course, if you have the money, you can put it to use. There are a wide range of career training options to consider.
Should I go back to university?
If you already have a university degree, you probably shouldn't go back to university.
Yes, there are Masters in Computer Science programs. But these are designed for already-working developers to further expand their skills.
I don't recommend enrolling in an undergraduate computer science program to do a second bachelor's degree. This would take years of extra study. And most undergraduate computer science programs focus more on math and conceptual knowledge than they do on hands-on coding.
Coding bootcamps are a much faster way to get coding practice. They can help you establish the conceptual baseline you need to work as a developer.
Can night school courses help me learn to code?
You may be able to find a program in your community that helps adults learn computer skills at night.
Check your local community colleges, libraries, and adult education programs. See whether they teach software development courses.
Be aware that many of these programs focus on more rudimentary computer skills. You may not need a course on operating systems, spreadsheets, or touch typing.
Before you enroll in any courses, ask them about past alumni who are now working as developers. If they can't provide any, the program may be too basic for you.
Can I hire a tutor to help me?
Some developers will tutor on the side. You can find them on online classified ad listings.
There are also websites that specialize in pairing students with online tutors.
This can be quite expensive. But if you're able to learn to code on your own, this may be a good option for you. You get the benefit of weekly tutoring session for the fraction of the cost of a bootcamp.
What is the future for bootcamps?
The first coding bootcamps were founded less than a decade ago. This is still a young industry.
This said, the industry is consolidating. Several bootcamp chains have been acquired by traditional for-profit education companies. Textbook companies, for-profit university systems - and even a coworking space startup.
And some coding bootcamp chains have gone out of business.
But it's not like these failures represent a fundamental flaw in the coding bootcamp model. There are hundreds of bootcamps out there still going strong. And developers are opening new bootcamps all the time.
But there's less money in running bootcamps than there is in financing student debt. And that is where we're seeing the most innovation - in the area of "financial engineering.""El estudio del dinero, sobre todos los demás campos de la economía, es uno en el que la complejidad se utiliza para disfrazar la verdad o para evadir la verdad, no para revelarla". - John Kenneth Galbraith, profesor de Harvard, en 1975
Es difícil predecir qué pasará con los bootcamps. Aquí hay algunas direcciones posibles, algunas de las cuales son menos positivas para los estudiantes que otras.
¿Ir a un bootcamp se volverá tan común como ir a una universidad?
En su forma actual, los bootcamps no sustituyen la educación universitaria. Son un complemento.
La mayoría de los estudiantes de bootcamp ya se han graduado de la universidad. Están a mitad de carrera y se están inscribiendo en un campo de entrenamiento para aprender nuevas habilidades.
Las universidades cubren muchas cosas fuera del alcance de los bootcamps. Todo, desde la composición en inglés hasta la historia y las matemáticas.
Coding bootcamps cover - well - coding. They also touch on some computer science concepts and workplace soft skills.
If you see a bootcamp marketing itself as an alternative for college, that's a huge red flag.
We have centuries of data on universities. We know how effective they are at increasing your lifetime earnings. A bachelor's degree with the right major can double or triple your earning power.
Coding bootcamps are new. There isn't much data. And there's even less data about bootcamp graduates who didn't finish university.
Instead of looking at coding bootcamps as an alternative to university, look at them as an alternative to vocational college.
If you weren't going to go to college anyway, a bootcamp is better than nothing. And the skills you'll learn may be more relevant than traditional trade schools.
In the future, coding bootcamps may indeed become a place more people go to straight out of high school.
But we need a lot more efficacy data first. I wouldn't send my kids to a bootcamp instead of a university, and I urge similar caution to you.
By the way, if you're in high school and reading this, here's my advice to you: go to the best university you can afford without student loans.
Before you take out student loans, look into community colleges. There are also accredited ultra-low-cost university programs. You can do many of these online while working. As always, don't trust their marketing and do your own research.
Will bootcamps eventually qualify for federal student loans?
Bootcamps are expensive. There aren't many people who can afford to attend them.
Bootcamps may try to remedy this is the same way universities did. By lobbying the federal government.
Bootcamps may succeed in opening the government's coffers. This could be in the form of subsidized student loans. Bootcamps may also target the GI bill and other programs designed to help people graduate from college.
Americans hold $1.5 trillion in student loan debt. That's a million million dollars. That's $16,000 for every man, woman, and child in America. Student loan debt is the main reason young Americans can't afford to buy houses anymore.
Should we let bootcamps create even more of this student debt?
It would be a disaster for consumers.
But that doesn't mean it couldn't happen.
Look who's running the US Department of Education right now. Anything is possible, no matter how damaging it may be over the long term.
There's an alternative to financial complexity. Bootcamps can find new ways to make it more affordable to people paying cash.
Will bootcamps conglomerate into a few big chains?
This has already happened to an extent.
Bootcamps can save money by spreading their fixed costs across multiple campuses. They get economies of scale and economies of scope.
But there are diminishing returns to these benefits. Some of these chains have gone out of business. Others - no longer able to operate on their own - got acquired by education conglomerates.
There is a right size to any operation. It's unclear what the right size for a coding bootcamp chain is.
Some of the best bootcamps only have one location. Others are able to keep quality high across multiple campuses. A lot of their success comes down to the quality of their leadership.
Will the bootcamp model spread into non-coding fields like law and accounting?
Software development is a unique profession. It is unencumbered by regulatory bodies.
Other fields have bureaucracies in place to shut people out. For example, in the US:
- To become a lawyer, you have to go through 4 years of college, 3 years of a law school, then get certified by the American Bar Association through your state's bar exam.
- To become an accountant, you have to go through 4 years of college, attend a bunch of graduate-level courses, get certified by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants through a long series of exams, then work as a low-wage apprentice for a year.
- To be a doctor, you have to go through 4 years of college, 4 years of medical school, then work as a low-wage "resident" for 3 to 7 years, then get certified by the American Medical Association by passing your state's board certification exam.
Without major changes, bootcamps won't work for heavily regulated fields like these.
Will bootcamps merge with traditional university programs to create a new kind of school?
There are already programs that take inspiration from both universities and bootcamps.
This said, most big-name universities are hundreds of years old. Shifting to a much shorter learning period will be difficult for them to do. Stranger things have happened, though.
Here's a more likely scenario: bootcamps (and their for-profit education conglomerate parent companies) buy accredited colleges and rebrand them. This way they can skip the long process of becoming accredited themselves.
For the record, I'm against the mixing of university programs with coding bootcamps. These are two different education modalities designed for two different sets of learners.
Instead, we need new types of educational institutions. Preferably low cost with a stronger emphasis on life-long education and on-the-job training.
Imagine a school with nonstop internships, where you work in your desired field. You have enough money to live on without needing to go into debt.
There are already programs like this in Europe. And over here in the US - well, we can dream, can't we?
What are your final words of advice?
Su búsqueda de trabajo de desarrollador se reducirá a 3 cosas:
- Tus habilidades
- Tu reputación
- Tu red
No cometa el error de concentrarse solo en uno o dos de estos. Piense en las formas en que puede construir los tres al mismo tiempo.
Ir a un campamento de entrenamiento puede ser la mejor decisión que haya tomado. O puede ser un revés económico incómodo.
Haz tu investigación. Ahorre su dinero. Primero, aprenda los fundamentos de la codificación.
Los bootcamps no son mágicos. No van a hacer el trabajo por ti.
Al final, la experiencia es lo que haces con ella. Así que aprovéchalo al máximo.