beginning your journey into software engineering can be a confusing time, to say the least. There are so many conflicting views on the internet that can make it overwhelming to find a solid starting point. Which language should I learn? What tools do I need? What course should I do? Do I need a degree? These questions and many more were all going through my mind when I was trying to find a way into tech, and I’m guessing they’re going through yours as well. So pretty much I’m writing today to throw in my experiences and give you the pros and cons of going to a boot camp as I did, and hopefully, after reading this you might be able to narrow down your path and get started sooner rather than later. Now in no particular order, here is a list of the top 3 benefits of a coding boot camp in Australia in 2019!
Coding boot camps are practical and focused
So the first reason I would recommend a boot camp to potential software engineers is the fact that 90% of the work you do in a boot camp is practical project-based work that focuses on specific frameworks and languages. When I was studying at Coder Academy we learned how to write in Ruby first, Ruby is a really simple language to learn that has a wide array of applications. It was a really solid language to pick up and cement the fundamentals of writing code and understanding the logical process around programming. After learning the base language of Ruby we moved onto Ruby on Rails, which is a web framework that allows you to build websites fast using Ruby throughout the front and back end. Learning Rails really allowed the previous Ruby concepts sink in while also getting to know all about writing API’s, HTML and CSS, as well as other web principles. Before we knew it we were writing our own two-sided marketplaces and becoming quite comfortable with our skills.
As you can see my experience with a boot camp gave me the toolset I needed to get into the market, as well as teaching me how to learn fast and think on my feet. The course ran for 25 weeks, after which we went into a one-month internship, that is priceless in my opinion because all the companies we went with were looking to hire fulltime Jr devs.
Oh also humble brag, about 80% of us were hired within 2 weeks of graduation and the rest got jobs within 2 months.
That humble brag also speaks to the community we built while going through the boot camp. The reason everyone was hired so quickly was because we all developed a close bond (side effects of being in the same room for 6 months), every time there was word of someone not having a job yet, we all searched around our own contacts until everyone was comfortably on their way. The internal community we built is still going strong with meetups, new and better jobs for people who need it, and many, many lunch catch ups. Overall we built a strong internal community around ourselves that also encapsulates the newer cohorts, which to me is amazing.
But it’s not only our internal community that has been beneficial, but it also has a lot to do with the external contacts and communities we were encouraged to be a part of. Speaking from my own point of view I had just moved back to Brisbane and I had no idea where to go or what to do to meet people in the industry. But my teachers guided me to a few local meetups which ended up being the reason I got a job, and the reason many others in the class got jobs. Other than jobs, meetups have gifted us with many good friends that make returning to meetups exciting and rewarding.
Developing industry-ready skills
After reading the first point you might be thinking “well Clayton that’s a lot of content to learn if you were going to be ready for the job market”, and you wouldn’t be wrong in thinking that. But in saying that we were taught how to adapt to changes quickly and smoothly. Developing the ability to learn fast and articulate problems we were facing has been priceless in my job, I have been able to adapt my web skills to writing mobile applications in weeks and learn the methods of the companies I have worked in. In my opinion, this is the greatest skill that I have ever developed, it is the reason I am where I am today.
As well as technical ability we also developed plenty of soft skills. The importance of soft skills is easily equal to the need for developing technical skills. Soft skills allow us to communicate and work effectively as a team, I’m sure you've had to work in a team before where half the people didn’t know how to communicate their ideas or struggles. You would have noticed that the team didn’t run smoothly or maybe it didn’t run at all and one person just completed 90% of the task. Well in software engineering you absolutely need to know how to work as a team, 99% of your job will be done in a team environment, where you need to communicate changes you have made so they can be integrated smoothly with code that your workmates have written.
“But Clayton I just want to be a freelancer, surely I won’t need to work with a team for that?”
To that, I would say soft skills are the most important to a freelancer. If you can't communicate problems you are facing or develop an understanding of your client's needs you will be left in the dark and you won’t be able to build long-standing relationships with people. In a boot camp you will be taught effective communication skills and develop a larger understanding of developing as a team, and in my case my final project had me talking to clients and working with a group to develop a solution to the client's needs. This was a priceless exercise that I look back on and draw lessons from every day, from talking to my boss, teaching other developers how to do things, and understanding what is required of me.
So there are my top 3 reasons why you should consider a coding boot camp in 2019. I could only speak from my experiences and the lessons I have learned from my time in a boot camp, if you had a different experience of went to university for development let me know in the comments, I would love to hear other views on this matter. There is no “one great way” to get into software development, I would suggest looking around until you find something that is right for you. Anyway thank you for reading and I’ll see you later this week!