So you are thinking about or already have enrolled in a coding bootcamp of your choice. Now you want to know what to expect. Is it as difficult as some make it out to be? Will you have time to sleep, to eat, to bathe? Sure hope so, for everyone’s sake.
Well, I am happy to report that despite the negative connotations, coding bootcamps are not only doable, they are fun!
I would like to take this opportunity to dispel with, what I have found to be, the top 5 most common misconceptions about Coding Bootcamps.
1. Coding Bootcamps are only for ‘smart’ people
People tend to think that, given the name ‘bootcamp‘, only the most elite mathletes and eggheads are capable of keeping up with the stress of a coding bootcamp. This is not true.
When you attend bootcamp you will find normal people. You will find mother’s and father’s, people who were once bartenders or waitresses. You will find a group of people with a wide assortment of backgrounds, very few of which include anything tech or math related. These are just everyday regular people.
As with anything, there will be outliers. You will have those who excel and those who struggle. This is to be expected with anything in life and should not be taken into account when deciding if you are capable of making it through a coding bootcamp.
The true litmus test for whether or not you have what it takes to attend a coding bootcamp has to do with one word – passion. You either have it or you don’t. I would strongly suggest dabbling in some coding projects in your own time first as a way of gauging your own interest. There are a plenty of free resources out there including Free Code Camp and Codecademy. If you find yourself wanting more, you are likely a strong candidate for a coding bootcamp!
2. Coding Bootcamps are a waste of money
This myth is one that I keep seeing pop up in chat circles – so let’s put it to rest. The average C.S degree in America will likely end up costing in the (generously widened) ballpark of $50,000 – $100,000 – it is likely to be closer to the upper end of that range.
Beyond the obvious cost of student loans, there are also the often overlooked cost of lost wages. In order to get a CS degree you are sacrificing 4 years of earning potential. The average salary for a CS major is currently $63,000. Multiply that by 4 and you get around $250,000. Add that to your student loans and you are now approaching nearly $500,000!!
In contrast, let’s say you go into a coding bootcamp immediately after graduating from high school at an average cost $11,450 for a total of 6 months. Furthermore, let’s be generous here and say that for one reason or another, it takes you another 6 months to land a job with a starting salary of $63,000.
After 1 year you are now around $15,000-$25,000 in the hole (I rounded up for living expenses). For the next 3 years you are earning $63,000 which will total $189,000.
Now, let’s compare. In our (super scientific) example, 4 years would net you:
- CS Degree: -$350,000
- Bootcamp: +$165,000
You do the math. Bootcamp’s get you working right away whereas CS degrees have you sacrificing your earning potential for the promise of higher wages in the future – if you are lucky enough.
3. Bootcamps are too difficult
This one isn’t entirely false – albeit often exaggerated. In keeping with the theme of bootcamps, their learning styles can at times be a little daunting and frustrating. This does not, however mean that bootcamps are too difficult to pass.
Often times, people are afraid that they will not be able to keep up or that they will not be able to retain all of the material being thrown at them. Here is a little secret, that’s the point.
Wait, what? Why would coding bootcamps purposely overwhelm me? The reason bootcamps operate in this way is to provoke a specific response from students – tenacity. Coding Bootcamps are in the business of churning out students who have survived trial by fire.
But wait, you just said it wasn’t that bad, what gives? Here’s the trick to surviving a bootcamp experience – resilience.
I know exactly what you’re thinking right now. Resilience? I definitely don’t have that.
I assure you, when you drop $15,000 on a coding bootcamp and lay down a deposit on a 3 month lease for an apartment and quit your current job to completely rearrange your life you will, beyond all shadow of doubt, muster up every single solitary fiber of resilience that you have inside of you.
If you need motivation, commit yourself financially and give yourself nowhere to go but up and you will find a way to succeed out of pure necessity.
4. Bootcamp’s teach you how to code
You may be thinking that this is a bit of a strange myth but I assure you, this is not true. Yes, you will be taught the syntax and logic of programming in multiple languages and frameworks. If coding bootcamps stopped there, they would be a total waste of your time but fortunately, they don’t.
Coding Bootcamps don’t so much teach you to code as they teach you how to teach yourself how to code. This is probably the most valuable thing to take away from your experience at a bootcamp.
Often times, you will be instructed to do things that you have yet to learn. At first glance you may think this is out of sheer laziness from the staff or curriculum choices but this would be false.
The purpose of bootcamp’s is to get you ready to work in a professional setting from day one. In order to be a contributing member of an engineering team early on, you need to know how to solve your own problems. The way you do this is by training yourself to learn new approaches on the fly – this is the reason for the inverted classroom model of many coding bootcamps.
Coding bootcamps are there to train your mind in ways of thinking that you are unfamiliar with. Programming is less about knowing complex math problems and more about knowing how to attack a problem in a logical way. Focus on refining this skill and you will do very well for yourself!
5. Bootcamps will get you a job
Wait, huh? Isn’t that the whole point? They set you up with a job at the end? Nah bruh, nah.
Bootcamps will work aggressively on your behalf to connect you with hiring partners. They will help you polish your resume. They will make sure your social media presence doesn’t have any unwanted blemishes.
That being said, landing a sweet dev gig after graduating from bootcamp is going to be up to you and how well you market yourself. What are you doing, RIGHT NOW, to land that dream job down the line? Have you jotted down side project ideas? Have you scanned your area for job openings? Have you built up your brand?
Look, some bootcamps will work harder to get you a job. Some are better at it, some have better hiring partners and some of them are simply located in better areas. Even still, no bootcamp career services rep can make you look that much more appealing that you actually are.
Remember: Always play your strengths. Before attending a bootcamp, do an honest self-reflection and take note of your strengths and weaknesses. If you are a great conversationalist than use it to your advantage. If you have a solid technical background than showcase your intellect.
It will be important to not only develop but refine a host of soft skills before, during and after your job search. Work on your ability to initiate and maintain captivating conversation. Learn to build rapport with your peers as well as strangers. Practice eye contact and confident body posture. Carefully craft your ‘brand‘ on social media by only sharing content that will help you achieve your professional career goals.
There you have it, 5 of the most common Coding Bootcamp myths, busted. As you embark on this new journey in your life it will be important to give it your all. Make the most of this time as it is likely to be an experience you will never forget.
As with anything in life, those who give their all will receive the most in return and so I will say to you, dig deep and get comfortable with being uncomfortable – it’s going to be one hell of a ride.