The Pros and Cons of Coding Bootcamps

After a dismal recession nearly a decade ago, the American economy has grown impressively in the recent years. In large metropolitan areas, this growth has fostered specialty software development programs, often called “coding bootcamps” which afford students the ability to learn in-demand programming and tech-related skills. Often, these bootcamps are less expensive and of a shorter duration than a typical bachelor or graduate computer science program, and students finish with concrete projects to use as a foundation for a new portfolio.

While these coding bootcamps have the potential to be a boon for those looking to break into the tech field, the results are inconclusive. This blog sets out to take a look at the pros and cons of coding bootcamps:

Pros:

  • Coding Bootcamps often take up to 12 weeks to complete. Some, such as Ironhack, only take 9 weeks as a full-time student.

  • Many companies partner with companies to funnel students into internships, helping them gain practical development experience on top of the classroom environment.

  • Flexible financing is available for many coding bootcamps. Others partner with accredited higher education institutions and thus are eligible for student aid funding from the government.

Cons:

  • Due to the accelerated nature of coding bootcamps, it can be difficult for students to truly grasp the concrete details of the skills they’re learning.

  • Often, instructors are practicing technical professionals, and while this is can be a positive, it also forces inexperienced students to learn from people who may not be skilled teachers. There’s a difference between practice and instruction, after all.

  • Many operate on a for-profit status, which creates an inevitable conflict of interest between making money and granting a quality education.

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As a tech recruiter in a large and growing market, I can say from experience that both startups and legacy companies often look at bootcamp graduates with some skepticism. While some have successfully used bootcamps as springboards into exciting new careers, many struggle to transition from internship to full-time job. I’ve spoken with hiring managers who, after interviewing candidates who came from bootcamps, were not impressed with their knowledge of development principles. It’s one thing to be able to perform functions competently. It’s another to really comprehend the nature of a particular coding language, or the way software works.

On the other hand, I’ve worked with developers who did find good entry level jobs down the road, but it took a long while. Many are attempting to freelance while working at the non-software developer jobs they had prior to entering the bootcamp, and are now out thousands of dollars. This is all to say that jobseekers looking to transition into an exciting field such as tech, should be careful. Bootcamps are not a panacea, offering a high paying job at the next Google or Facebook in exchange for 12 weeks of your summer. In reality, they are teaching you a set of skills that can serve as a stepping stone to a new career.

If you’re thinking of attending a bootcamp, here are some things to consider:

  • Network, network, network: the rule of thumb for any jobseeker, no matter how talented you are or how in-demand your skills may be, is still to meet as many people as possible and make meaningful connections with them.

  • Think about the value the bootcamp offers you. If your goal is to get a better job, look for one with the strongest industry connections. If you want affordability, look for one that lets you finance the program through installments.

  • Try to remember that today’s hot skills are tomorrow’s givens- look for a program that teaches good fundamentals from which you can branch out.

In all, bootcamps offer something to people looking to enter a competitive field that is in-need of new talent. My recruiting advice: do your research.

Matthew Ryan