Competition among coding boot camps is vigorous. The growing interest in software development, combined with fixed class sizes and infrequent cohorts, ensures boot camps receive far more applicants than they can accommodate. To increase your chances, have the following skills.
Logic & Mathematics
Developer boot camps typically do not require students to know calculus, trigonometry, or even much geometry. But to succeed in software development, developers must be comfortable working with addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, areas, averages, and some basic algebra. These basic mathematical skills appear frequently in development. If necessary, review these before applying to a boot camp. Another topic that may benefit potential applicants is fundamental logic. A lot of software development is about determining what your program must do at any moment. For example, the user clicks the “Submit” button, but before we send the form request, we need to check whether they completed the required fields. If they checked the box to request SMS text updates, we need to guarantee they provided a valid phone number, etc. Here's a list of tips to help you sharpen your logical thinking
, and a resource discussing how you can improve your thinking skills
Most developer boot camps require students to complete pre-work before they may apply, which often includes learning the command line. The command line interface, or CLI, is a tool that nearly every developer works with. The CLI is typically depicted in films and on TV as a green-on-black screen in which hackers do their dirty business. A CLI is a text-based interface that permits us to manipulate our file system and run text-based programs. The majority of tools that developers use to build their applications do not provide a graphical user interface; we must use the command line to take advantage of them. CodeAcademy
provides a course that helps you learn the command line.
HTML & CSS
HTML and CSS are the building blocks of all webpages. Give yourself an advantage over other applicants by familiarizing yourself with both. Build a static website to show off your skills. By doing so, you let the boot camp know that you are a self-starter and are capable of learning the basics on your own. To start working with HTML and CSS, we recommend Codecademy's HTML & CSS course
and W3School's CSS tutorial
The SAT claims to measure aptitude, or the ability to learn. Your aptitude may be the largest factor in determining whether you will succeed in a boot camp. Some boot camps task their applicants with completing a challenge within a limited amount of time; this is known as an aptitude test. The speed and efficiency at which you learn is best matched with students who learn at a similar pace. This reduces the likelihood that any single student will fall behind their cohort. To improve your aptitude, determine your learning style
and enhance your ability to learn
Do you have what it takes to make it through one of the most challenging experiences of your life? To learn a complex trade in a matter of months is no easy task and it may push you to your limits. You have grit if you're capable of waiting a long time for a payoff, or when you complete a yearlong project. Grit is not built overnight. Some inherently have it, while others have little to none. Grit is a combination of confidence, belief in yourself, and inspiration. If you can improve in any of those areas, you can improve your grit.
Applicants often overlook the importance of personality. Most boot camps require at least some teamwork with fellow students or a mentor. In situations where individuals must work and learn together, a friendly, personable, and cooperative teammate is necessary to engender a supportive environment. Imagine you drop five figures to attend a 12-week boot camp and discover that your teammates did their pre-work at Derpington Prep. They hinder your progress, demotivate you, and detract from your experience all-around. Boot camps understand this is possible, and they attempt to filter out these individuals before they are admitted; make sure you are not one of them.
In-Person vs. Online
Strict admittance criteria is critical for in-person boot camps to meet capacity constraints and manage the group dynamic for students. Unlike in-person boot camps, some online options don’t filter applicants based on aptitude or existing skills. Because they’re online, they can pair each student with a professional mentor who can customize the learning experience to suit each student's individual skill-level and learning style. If you are considering enrolling in a coding boot camp, ask yourself which format, in-person or online, best fits your individual needs. Some of the most critical factors to weigh in your decision making process are:
- Location: Do you need to move to attend an in-person boot camp? If so, online may be a more feasible option.
- Opportunity cost: Can you afford to quit your job and forgo earning for 3-4 months while you attend an in-person boot camp full-time? If not, part-time in-person or online options are your best bet.
- Learning style: Do you prefer to learn in a classroom with other students or to work one-on-one with a mentor?
Regardless, of which you choose—in-person or online, part-time or full-time, selective or open enrollment—brush up on the foundational skills and qualities outlined above to ensure you get the most out of your coding boot camp experience. Stanley Idesis is a Curriculum Editor at Bloc, an online mentor-led coding bootcamp, where he helps rapidly iterate the curricula to improve the learning process for students. Prior to joining the Bloc team, Stan worked as a Software Engineer at Zynga and Kwarter, and founded his own company, MindGap.