Coding Bootcamp Bubble?

marcel degas
Mar 28, 2016 · 2 min read

There is a term “bootcamp bubble” being tossed around the interwebs. If you haven’t yet heard of it, here’s the gist of the concept:

Throughout 2013, 2014 and part of 2015, the majority of coding-bootcamp graduates were hired almost immediately after graduation. The industry was thirsty for talent and couldn’t hire Junior Developers fast enough to keep up with demand. Because of the wild success of this model, the number of coding-bootcamps has (and continues to) multiply, with each new coding-bootcamp churning out more new graduates. Proponents of the “bootcamp bubble” argue that, following classical economic principles, the industry will eventually reach a limit of Junior-level Developers that it can onboard and it will become more and more difficult to find a job as a Junior-Dev.

Not being an economist, I am hesitant to diagnose an entire economy. However, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence which shows that it is getting harder and harder to get a job as Jr-Level bootcamp graduate in the Bay Area. For example, in 2015 I visited the Dev-Bootcamp campus in San Francisco. While there, I spoke to many students and recent graduates. One of whom told me the story of how he was recruited by a company after his final group presentation in which his group had no product to show. As the story went, instead of presenting a project during the presentation, they highlighted the multiple communication breakdowns and personality conflicts which paralyzed their work-flow and eventually crippled their final product. They also explained what they could do to prevent those issues in the future. And while healthy communication is a vital component to any engineering team… no engineer is getting hired in today’s San Francisco job market by presenting a broken product with good advice about communication.

There is also the evidence of my graduating class at General Assembly. Although historically GA 90% graduates are hired within 3 months of completing their training. Those numbers were not the case for my graduating class, nor the class before or after mine.

With so many new coding-bootcamps (and thus coding-bootcamp grads) hitting the job market over the past couple of years, it makes sense that finding a job as a Junior Software Engineer in the bay area is not as easy as it once was. Whether to call it a “bootcamp bubble” or not is not clear. However, as someone who has been through this process, I have one piece of advice to anybody thinking about doing a bootcamp:

Answer this question before applying: “How will I differentiate myself in from an ocean of recent bootcamp graduates?”

If you can’t answer that question, you may be on the job market for many, many months before you land your first gig.