Going to college and getting a degree in computer science has been a solid path to a career in technology for decades. With the internet making information so accessible, it’s easier now, more than ever for people to learn independently and validate that process by finding amazing opportunities. The newest edition to the mix is attending a bootcamp. It bridges the gap between independent learning and going through a 4 year program at a university. Their approach is usually to teach you the most fundamental concepts of a subject so that you can then, have a solid foundation to continue learning on the job.
So, if attending a bootcamp is something you have been thinking about lately, here are some things to consider that can help you narrow down your search and choose the right program for you.
- What do you want to do specifically?
Most programs focus on a particular skill set. Colleges take more time because they cover a broader range of subjects leaving a bit of room for career exploration. Tech bootcamps aren’t that flexible (the programs are usually only a few months long). It’s not enough to learn how to code. Make sure that the program covers the languages that you will need for the type of projects you want to work on.
2. Are you willing and able to commit a huge amount of time and effort into the program?
The reason why they can get you entry level ready in 3-6 months is because you’re probably going to be in class all day everyday. It’s like going on a retreat, but you’re not on vacation, and there’s no cucumber water. The reward, however, can be huge in the fact that you can truly get a jump start in a new career.
- What are the success rates for this program?
To put it simply, you’re paying for this training. Make sure that they have the instructional team and the industry connections to get you where you need to go. You should be able to find statistics on students that complete the program and land a job. Another tip is to search on Linked-In for former students and see where they’re at now. You can quickly see if a network is strong through social media.
- Who’s teaching the courses?
Remember when you looked up every professor on RateMyProfessor.com to make sure that it would be a good fit? You should do the same amount of research for a technology bootcamp. Attend an information/Q & A session and find out what their background is and why they decided to become an instructor. Get to know the people who will guide you on this new path.
- How much will it cost?
Some of these programs are expensive. If you already have a lot of debt, perhaps you want to get some ducks in a row so that you can be ready to start classes. Stressing about your bills when you should be focused on building your projects is not a fun game to play.
- How much knowledge do you already have going into the program?
- Do you know anyone in the industry already?
When it comes to any kind of opportunity, nothing beats networking. If you know people in the industry you want to transition to, then ask them questions you might have and get some good advice from people who know what they’re talking about. Their guidance can help you narrow down where to start and can even lead to a mentor/mentee relationship. Not everyone will share the same opinion, but it will help you get a better understanding of what you’re heading into and you can make informed decisions. If you don’t know anyone, attend meet-ups and events to meet new people and begin to make those connections. I wouldn’t recommend getting advice from people who know nothing about the subject. There’s a good chance they’ll be wrong or could scare you away from doing something that is intimidating to them, but could be a good opportunity for you.
- Does the program have a large community and overall respect in the industry?
One of the most beneficial things about learning something in a classroom instead of at home or at a library is that you get to be apart of a community. Some bootcamps are newer and have a small community, while others have a global reach. In your decision making process take the time to research just how far their network expands. This will be critical when it comes to the job hunt in the end.