Main image of article What If Bootcamps Can't Land You a Job?
shutterstock_519773473 Are bootcamps worth the money and time? That’s a pressing question for anyone seeking to break into the tech world—especially since many bootcamps cost thousands of dollars to attend. If you’re going to shell out $11,000 for a twelve-week session, you want assurance that your funds and efforts will translate into workplace opportunity. Which is why a recent article in Bloomberg Technology might come as a shock to those who are seriously considering the bootcamp route. One key highlight: Maggie Johnson, Google’s direct of education and university relations, writing in a statement that “most graduates from these [bootcamp] programs are not quite prepared for software engineering roles at Google without additional training or previous programming roles in the industry.” Okay, you might say, but that’s Google—they only hire geniuses, reportedly. But the Bloomberg piece quotes hiring managers and spokespeople from other Valley titans. “We generally don’t hire from coding schools,” the spokesperson for Cisco told the publication. Gulp. As an industry, bootcamps are on the rise. Some 17,966 students graduated from ones in the U.S. last year, up from 10,333 in 2015 and 6,740 in 2014. Their average tuition stands at $11,451, and the average course runs 12.9 weeks, according to Course Report data released in mid-2016. Top languages taught include full-stack JavaScript (33 percent of schools), Ruby on Rails (25 percent), .NET (17 percent), and Python (11 percent). Despite that growth, bootcamps are still dwarfed by traditional undergraduate institutions, which produced 61,408 graduates in computer science in 2015. And as the Bloomberg report is quick to point out, more than a third of bootcamp graduates still lacked a coding job some 90 days after graduating. Nor is it the first publication to question whether those who attend bootcamps really get what they pay for, in terms of gaining the skills and knowledge necessary to land a position. When debating whether to participate in any sort of educational experience, it pays to ask questions and fully consider your options. Twelve weeks in a bootcamp won’t instantly transform you into a tech pro capable of landing a job as a senior software engineer at Google or Apple; but if you choose the right institution, the time you spend there could give you skills that could eventually translate into your dream job—provided you build out your experience, projects, and contacts. Last year, Katie Bouwkamp, director of engagement at Coding Dojo, offered some questions to ask before joining any bootcamp, such as:
  • How long is the program, and how many hours are required each week?
  • Do I get to work 1:1 with mentors and/or instructors, and how often will they be available?
  • What are my personal and/or professional goals?
  • What is the learning format?
By itself, even several weeks’ worth of intensive instruction won’t prepare you for a career; it must be supplemented with other knowledge. For some aspiring tech pros, a reputable coding school might teach practical skills, providing a good start to a career, but those pros will likely still need to grind away for years to achieve their goals.