Bootcamp Mastery: When Should I Go to a Coding Bootcamp?

This article is part of a series about getting the most value out of an immersive programming bootcamp after I attended Fullstack Academy in NYC. See my stories for more!

Don’t start your programming education at a bootcamp.

The early days of coding are so confusing that you’ll waste too much time on basics.

Spend a few months learning basic stuff on your own. Get decent. Earnestly write many small, crappy programs. When you’re fluent in the basics of a language, then consider a bootcamp.

Bootcamps are like a finishing school.

A good bootcamp will teach you a specific tech stack (a combination of technologies). Fluency in a stack will supercharge your productivity as a coder and make it easy for you to build things that feel like real applications. But you should know the basics first, so you aren’t confused by what’s going on in the stack.

A good bootcamp will also help you overcome your confusion around the more arcane issues of learning to code (Closure? Lexical scope? Recursion?).

The higher-ranked bootcamps won’t accept you unless you’re decent already, so these will naturally be like a finishing school. Your peers will be stronger if you go to a place that doesn’t start at the very beginning.

If you start at a bootcamp, you’ll likely have weaker peers who can’t teach you as much. Many of the people I worked with at Fullstack had CS degrees or had worked for a few years as a developer, but were looking to update their skills or move into web development.

Don’t start at a bootcamp. Treat it as the finishing school for your self-study.