So that whole coding bootcamp thing is a scam, right?
Gayle Laakmann McDowell

I enjoyed your article.

I am a bootcamp graduate. Prior, I was a high school economics & programming teacher. I taught myself basic Python so I could teach students. After two years teaching programming at the high school level, I realized I liked programming more than I liked teaching. So at 37, I changed careers.

I enjoyed my bootcamp experience. I learned quite a bit, but after 12 weeks, it was apparent that I lacked quite a bit when it came to interviewing. It was quite a shock!

Whether it’s due to age/experience, I promptly started learning the areas of programming I was weak in — data structures, algorithms, practicing white board problems, etc…

I do admit, it was frustrating not being job-ready straight out of bootcamp, but realistically, I wasn’t ready to be a teacher coming out of graduate school…I basically had 3 months of student teaching experience.

I’m not surprised there is a bias among many in the tech community against bootcampers. If I had a CS degree, that would probably be my first inclination as well. I’m not the best coder, I may not have a complete understanding of what is going on behind the scenes regarding threads, memory management, but that doesn’t mean I have no desire to pick up those skills. I am a willing learner, know my role at this time, and I’m not afraid to ask questions.

The bootcamp is just the beginning…those that think they’ll graduate and be offered a job walking out of the building shortly after are mistaken. The interview process, as in any industry, is hard, daunting, and often disappointing.

My first interview after graduating was a project in a language I’d never used — by their design. They wanted to see how I handled myself. I was able to complete most of the project in their timeline and present it.

A few days later, I got an email. “Thanks, but your lack of skills at this time is not really useful to us.” Talk about demoralizing!

However, the rest of the email said I was on the right track and they listed areas I need to improve upon. It was the epitome of constructive criticism and taught me a valuable lesson.

Not knowing something doesn’t necessarily mean it can’t be learned.

We are the arbiters of our learning after the 12 weeks are up. This is my main takeaway from my experience and I share it as often as possible with those considering the bootcamp experience. It took me 16 interviews and three months where they said no, before I found one that said yes. The interview is part of the learning process.

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