The 2 most important things you need to know if you’re considering a bootcamp

“I can teach myself but where do I start?” vs. “Should I drop 15K on a 3-month course?"

I assume you’ve arrived at a certain point where you’re deciding between two (or three or four or five) schools with multiple CourseReport tabs open and maybe even keeping a sticky note next to you with the price of each school (guilty).

Or you might be sorting through the worst reviews of each school, trying to figure out if this person is just bitter or actually portraying an aspect of the school that the other positive reviews might have skipped over…I feel you.

You know which are the best schools — CourseReport doesn’t change its ranking, no matter how many times you check each day — but you’re still having a hard time deciding which school to dump all your hard-earned money in to.


Yes, I’ve just completed a bootcamp.

No, this is not a paid or sponsored post, but merely a note to self if I could go back in time and tell the me-before-bootcamp-self.

No, I’m not going to tell you that Ironhack is the BEST school or that I wished I had gone to General Assembly or Le Wagon or whatever else school you think is the best, because looking back now, I realize that it actually didn’t matter which school I ended up choosing because of these 2 important points:

1. SET GOALS = know what you want

It’s not a major life decision to join (or not join) a bootcamp

I am incredibly happy and content with the choice I have made with Ironhack and I couldn’t have imagined a better environment for myself. I feel like I got lucky with the instructor, lucky with my peers and lucky with the timing of every other factor that played into my experience, but I did my due diligence before enrolling in the course.

I knew what I wanted going into the course and what I wanted out of the course:

  1. an intensive experience with a classroom setting because I wanted the peer pressure & support in addition to the pressure of time (developing a workable portfolio within 9 weeks instead of 9 months)
  2. a course that integrates front-end web development (HTML, CSS and Javascript) to be able to successfully communicate with developers/engineers & open the door to a UX engineer role down the line
  3. graduate the course with a working knowledge & decent portfolio to be able to confidently get a job as a junior UX/UI designer in New York (I want to start my career off in a high-pressure, high-stress environment )
  4. a course that was invested in your professional career after graduation (AKA: job placement)
Courtesy of Unsplash

Honestly, it’s not a major life decision to join (or not join) a bootcamp. You can still be a great UX/UI designer without a certificate as illustrated by senior/veteran designers out there. Most stories of designers account a non-linear way of ending up as a UX/UI designer.

Bootcamps are here to provide you guidance & support to help you expedite a process.

I knew that if I could teach myself Photoshop & Illustrator, I knew I could eventually become a semi-decent UX/UI designer and learn on the job. But I also knew a portfolio is necessary to get your foot in the door (if you’re not already in the industry) since I was transitioning out of a completely different role.

I also know myself and knew that I couldn’t develop a portfolio within 9 weeks with the combination of self motivation (or lack of) and the uncertainty of being able to properly gage the credibility & quality of a lot of the resources out there.

Where do I start? Who is writing this? What have they done? Oh, they’re offering a course — why are they charging $$$ for their course?
Sketch or Figma? InVision or Flinto? Marvel or Principle?
What does this mean? What’s the difference of X and Y?
Holy shit, this portfolio is amazing. I’ll never get there.

User experience is a monster of a concept to tackle. I won’t go into it because if you’re here on this post, you already know how wide & deep you can go into user experience. If you don’t, do your homework before you blindly give your 5 figures away.

All the bootcamp is going to offer you is a starting point & foundation of where you can lift off. The direction & speed of your trajectory is entirely up to you, bringing me to the next point:

2. COMMIT = you get what you give

Who in the right mind would go through the same bootcamp twice?

The bootcamp provides you the curriculum, the instructor and the projects. And some sticky notes.

The bootcamp doesn’t provide you with a mom to guilt/shame/pressure/yell at you to get your work done (and shit straight).

Courtesy of Lwp Kommunikáció/Flickr

Understand the meaning of “intensive” and know that you are investing and sacrificing a lot to be there; you are voluntarily giving away your money and your time so commit to it. It’s only temporary and the more you put into the bootcamp, the more you will get out of it.

There’s homework every night? Impromptu assignments? Great! More practice and material for you to dive deeper.
You won’t have any free weekends because they’re dedicated to projects? Stop complaining because you’re delivering valuable work to be reviewed by a professional .
The “suggested reading” your instructor gave you? Read & understand all that shit and open up all the related articles in new tabs. Understand it and apply it.
The write up that’s due in 2 days? Get that shit done and polish it after your review. It’ll save you time when you’re writing your case studies.

Let’s be real, who in the right mind would go through the same bootcamp twice? This is your chance so make the most of your time, commit and push yourself. Not just for yourself but also for your peers. It makes a world of a difference when your entire cohort can ride the same wavelength and share & inspire each other to start your new careers on the right foot.

On the flip side, one bad apple really does spoil the bunch. Don’t be that apple.

Most importantly:

Do👏Not👏Expect👏The👏Bootcamp👏To👏Get👏You👏A👏Job👏

Do the work and do it to your best, most uncomfortable ability. If you don’t commit, then don’t feel okay to complain about not getting job offers just because you paid the money.

We call that whining.

You have a photo with your certificate on your LinkedIn profile, but you don’t have anything to show for it on your portfolio?
You got a certificate from General Assembly in UX/UI design but you can’t illustrate & explain your user flow?

You may have gotten an interview but that doesn’t mean you’ll get & keep the job.

The tech industry isn’t based on certifications like most industries; it’s based on how much value you can deliver and if you can really do the work. So prove yourself to yourself first before you have to prove it to someone else.

Courtesy of Ironhack, Barcelona

TL;DR

Understand yourself.

Understand what you want

and where you want to go

and how to get there.

And be honest with yourself.