Why Take A Coding Bootcamp If You’re Self Taught?

Kelvin Mai
Published in
4 min readNov 29, 2017


Hello medium, long time reader, first time poster. There’s much debate online about college vs self taught vs coding bootcamp, and I have the unique perspective of dipping my feet into all three. But before we get into the meat of this post, some background. I started my college career almost a decade ago, majoring in computer science. And unfortunately I never finished that path, but I never lost my love for programming so I went onto learning on my own on and off throughout the years.

After all we live in an age of information, thanks to the internet. And due to that fact alone, self learning is as easy as it’s ever been. Wonder how to do something? Just google it. This has lead to the rise of employment of people with no real traditional education in various fields, and software development is one of those fields. I initially wanted to be one of those people, but there was always just something missing so I decided to enroll in DigitalCrafts immersive coding bootcamp in mid November of this year.

But as satisfied as I am with the course so far, I do have some distinct advantages and disadvantages by my programming background and wanted to share my insights and opinions for other self taught programmers that are thinking of taking a coding bootcamp as well.

It’s Lonely To Play With Yourself

Not surprisingly, being a lone wolf can be awfully lonely. It becomes apparent when you learn a new technology and have no one to talk to about it. And this is the main reason I enrolled. I am naturally shy so being in a room of people I’m forced to interact with is a good way to start networking.

In the job market, networking is an invaluable skill and what better place than to fully immerse yourself alongside with others honing the same craft. On top of that you get the opportunity to work with others on group projects, and learn teamwork in a development work environment. Teamwork, being the skill virtually impossible to attain on your own.

I’m not sure about all coding bootcamps, but DigitalCrafts does in fact have a large emphasis on job and career support. The first week, there was already guest speakers coming in to share personal insight from the industry.

Your Code Is Probably Ugly

The running joke about coding is just how much time you spend debugging, and changing your code mindlessly until it miraculously works. And when you’re on your own you are much more concerned with the end goal then readability, which is how you get into the problem of ‘spaghetti code’. Programming doesn’t have any hard rules about naming conventions or spacing issues. That’s where ‘best practices’, or soft rules about styling code, comes into play. Readability becomes much more important when you know others are going to read it, or more likely you reading their code. So don’t skip out on learning the best practices.

Leave Your Ego At The Door

If you’ve been learning for a while, you’d probably be over-prepared at the start of the course, I know I was. And looking at the curriculum, I am familiar with half of it. And it may be a bit discouraging when many of the lessons turn out to be review, however don’t tune out the lectures because there may be gaps in your knowledge that needed to be filled. As for the assignments, it becomes a good opportunity to get into the habit of always going the extra mile.

And if you find yourself with extra time even with all the self imposed requirements, continue learning on your own. I found myself learning django as we went over python, even though we’re only going to go over javascript frameworks just out of curiosity.

In addition, it’s not a competition with your peers. At least not in terms of technical skill. Realize that even though you have it easier, the class is objectively fast paced. In the first two weeks we went over the basics of programming languages using python, and in terms of a college class, that’s the entirety of CS101 compressed into 2 weeks. So don’t be a show off, and don’t intimidate others by how much you expect them to know. Instead focus on inspiring them in a ‘if you keep at it, you’ll be able to do this’ type of attitude.

Structure and Momentum

And lastly the two huge benefits from a coding bootcamp is structure and momentum. Which are in contrast of the two biggest benefits of self learning, freedom and going at your own pace. But those two benefits do have some downsides. With freedom, you can get lost in what to learn next. There’s an over saturation of information out there, and it’s not necessary to learn it all. For example, I don’t regret learning EJS but if I knew about React or AngularJS at the time, I may have put my time into those instead. You won’t fall into that problem here, there is a clear cut curriculum of relevant technologies. And pacing can be detrimental if you end up only coding one hour every week. At least in a class like this, you’ll be coding for hours everyday!

Anyways, those are my thoughts on the subject. I hope you found my rambling useful.