Thinking about doing a coding bootcamp? Read this.

Full Disclosure: this post is written by a recent bootcamp graduate.

In SF (where I am located) there are 6-month coding bootcamps, 3-month elite coding bootcamps (Hack Reactor, App Academy), 3-month all entry bootcamps (General Assembly WDI, Dev Bootcamp, Hackbright), and even 2-year bootcamps (Maker Square). If you are a prospective student you have probably spent hours tearing through blogs, Quora posts, anything you can get your hands on to find information about the differences between these programs. And even that is not very helpful: people posting blogs on the internet will most likely either sing the praises of whichever bootcamp they chose or, in the case of a negative experience, just stay quiet. Think about it: what happens when somebody Googles your name? Do you want one of the top hits to be your blog post saying how shitty your bootcamp was and how unqualified you feel to work in tech? Of course not. Asking people who recently graduated from a bootcamp for advice isn’t going to be a whole lot better. Sure, they can tell you how their learning experience was, but it takes a few months being out of the program to see how people from the industry will react to their experience. There is also some danger of confirmation bias. What would really be helpful would be some aggregate stats of all the bootcamp’s numbers put together on one chart, but that information is incredibly hard to find.

Its been 3 months since I graduated from General Assembly Web Development Immersive (one of the all-entry bootcamps). I don’t have a degree in Computer Science or a technical background. I have sent out an average of 4 resumes a day and attended one hiring event every week. Here’s what I have found:

  1. There is an ocean of bootcamp grads floating around the bay area. Unless you can differentiate yourself from the rest, you will just be another head in the crowd (Unless you have a CS degree. Having a CS degree IS enough to make you stand out).
  2. Three months of coding is just the tip of the iceberg. Its the bare minimum (in the bay area) to even start a conversation with somebody about working in tech.
  3. If you are planning on enrolling in a 3-month bootcamp (and you do not have a CS degree or are already a bad-ass coder) give yourself a couple of months after the bootcamp to keep honing your skills. You are fooling yourself if you think getting a job afterwards will be easy. It will not.
  4. You will need to differentiate yourself somehow. There are dozens of ways to do this, which will be the subject of my next blog post.