Why Bootcamps/Degrees/Certs don’t really matter in Software Development

She may or may not have a degree.

It’s such a common thing. Something about the human brain always wants to know “Will xyz degree/certification/bootcamp get me a job?” “Is it worth it?” “Does it really matter?”

I’ve observed time and time again how some people who have Harvard degrees turn out to be wrecks (OBAMA???), some people who attend coding bootcamps are actually incredibly smart and effective software engineers, some people who attend nothing and just read and study on their own are fantastic developers, and some people who have done all 3 of these just suck.

Why is that? Because ultimately, the human being is the actor of work, not what he or she has done. We use things like degrees, certifications, references, etc… As a means to do as best as we can to predict how someone will perform. However, the reality is that we are doing just that, we’re making an educated guess. Ultimately, an educated guess is still a guess. A guy with 3 PhDs in electrical engineering, computer science, and mathematics will suck if he hates himself and is unhappy with his career choice. Conversely, I’d take a motivated, optimistic, self-driven, lifelong learner who has been coding for a few months over the previous guy any day.

It is my firm belief that no degree, certification, or reference “gets you” the job… you get you the job! And you are also the one responsible for keeping it… Not Harvard, not Cal State Fullerton, not MIT, not Udemy, not Pluralsight, Coursera, and not the books you read. Does this make sense? Us humans love to classify, label, and compare things… It is one of the things that makes us human. As such, we love to question “which is better?” “which will get me the job faster?” etc… I mean, just look at Sports, religion, politics, etc… It’s one group of people saying our belief system/way of doing things is better, and challenging each other.

Anyways, the point is, stop trying to use external reasons to validate how you will do in life. If you suck at coding, it’s not Free Code Camp’s fault. If you have no communication skills, it’s not Harvard’s fault. At the end of the day, any college, university, or program is a resource, that’s all. Seriously, think about that for a moment. As a lifelong learner/student, it is your responsbility to learn from different resources so that you cross-reference and combine the knowledge… This is because nobody is perfect.

One teacher may be fantastic at teaching the MVC architecture, but lousy at teaching productivity tools and tips in an inegrated development environment. Another teacher may be damn good at teaching concrete math, but terrible with written communication skills, and finally, another instructor great at functional programming but a wreck with OOP. This is not because the program is bad, it’s because you need to get out there and learn different things from different people, take away what each person does best, combine that knowledge, and become the strengths of all who have taught you.

Become as good at functional programming as a functional master, get the oral communication skills of a sales genius, and the logical skills of a mathematician… These are great goals. Hold yourself to high standards… That is much more important than any plaque, cert, or piece of paper. I promise.

Let me clarify the message here: I am not saying that education programs are useless (I in fact have my own teaching YouTube channel and am building a website to teach ASP.NET, in addition to holding my own certs). What I am saying is the notion that “They will ‘get you a job’” is ludicrious. They are tools that can be used efficiently or like crap, just like any other tools. Even if you trick some poor sap into hiring you based on your piece of paper, if you aren’t passionate about the job and willing to learn, good luck keeping the job or making any positive changes in society.