Do Not Go To a Coding Bootcamp, and Why I went to a Coding Bootcamp

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At least one person is asking me if they should go to a coding bootcamp once per month. That’s not a whole lot, but it gives me an excuse to write this up.

Going To Bootcamp

I went to a coding bootcamp ~two years ago mainly because (1) I had already started to learn dev stuff part-time, and (2) because I had savings, low fixed costs and received a severance package after being laid-off from Groupon (even the CEO got canned).

A compelling reason why I chose the Bootcamp I attended was that they guaranteed, in writing, job placement or would reimburse tuition.

The experience was fantastic. It’s intense, all you do is try to absorb tech, and both the instructor and class members were awesome. Bottom line, I was able to enjoy it and later on supplement it with further training because there was no immediate, or mid-term financial stress around it.

After Graduation

Once bootcamp was over, all marketing faded. This is exactly how it went:

Think I’m exaggerating? Here’s a breakdown by the numbers:

  • applied to 1,013 jobs in 6 months+,
  • was ghosted by 70% of them,
  • participated in dozens of interviews and made it through different stages,
  • was referred to as Allen (my name is Aaron),
  • a recruiter reached out from a company I already had an interview with, kid you not
  • spent hundreds of hours on take-home exercises,
  • declined 2 offers,
  • stopped participating in 1 process after accepting another offer,
  • accepted 1 offer.

Proof:

If you’re thinking “that must have sucked”. It did. And unsurprisingly, once you look for it, you’ll find out that this ^ isn’t uncommon. Even if you only see success stories on LinkedIn where people allegedly apply for 100 jobs and get 200 offers.

Maybe due to this thing called social desirability bias (?) Without proper research or validation, could it all be embellished (?)

This bootcamp grad had to send 1,900 emails to get his first coding job:

Looking back, I think several reasons contributed to my low success rate. A lot of them on me. More importantly, there was without a doubt, a weighty gap between where my skills were, and where they needed to be.

Please note that I am not trying to sell you anything. Instead, I hope to present a balanced, transparent representation of what I went through, because I wish someone had before I went through it with the wrong expectations.

Somehow, all content I found prior to deciding to enroll in a bootcamp was hyped-up, outdated, or promoted.

A Smart Alternative

I’ve come to believe that a significantly more viable/cleverer way to become a software engineer is to work at a company that encourages internal mobility.

Customer Service or Sales are probably about the best places to start that journey: to get as face-to-face as possible with your users. Like this person did:

My Case Is Different, I’m still going to Bootcamp

Totally fair!

Before you pay though, reach out to alumni, look at their LinkedIn profiles, and watch these:

Conclusion

I wish everyone reading this success in pursuing a career in engineering. It’s a wonderful field, full of beautiful problems waiting to be tackled.

Having said that, and to sum up,

  • did I go to a coding bootcamp? Yes
  • did I have a blast, learned tons, and met interesting people? Absolutely!
  • did it help me find a job? Highly debatable[1]
  • would I recommend going to a full-time coding bootcamp without the finances to support a prolonged job hunt? F*CK NO

[1] As I had to supplement it with a lot of side projects, additional classes, freelancing, volunteering, courses, mentoring, seminars, meetups, tutorials, networking, trainings, and the job I found, while an amazing opportunity working with a phenomenal manager and a swell team, wasn’t software engineering.

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Aaron A.

a reformed lawyer turned software engineer, in love with the internet.