I began coding around 5 years ago. I never attended a bootcamp, I don’t even know if it was a thing back then. It definitely was a difficult path to take, especially not really knowing what to learn. Coding bootcamps are here to help you give you a clear direction and kick off your career as a Software Developer. I will tell you a bit about my experience at Ironhack Berlin.
The bootcamp was set to start on Monday, I had a quick introduction about what to expect the week before the bootcamp started. I was very nervous on the first day. All of the students got into the common area at WeWork Atrium Tower, Potsdamer Platz. There were about 40 people in the room and I saw that a lot of the other people in the room were pretty nervous as well. I think it is normal to be nervous when you meet so many new people and you do not really know what to expect. Will you succeed in your new endeavour as a software developer? Did you prepare yourself well enough to keep up with the work? The stress about the work itself was not present at that moment, it would come later. Maybe it is important to say that I was not a student in that bootcamp, I was one of the teachers.
The first day was pretty relaxed after all. We got to know each other a bit and started to write the first lines of code. The following days turned into a routine, for me and for the students. Everybody loosened up and tried to have fun. The after-work events and beers definitely helped with that and soon we had a really great atmosphere in class. Soon after the beginning of the bootcamp, most of the students also realized that it would not be smooth sailing and only a social gathering all the way, there would be real work involved!
Is this tech stack viable in today’s world?
Back to the bootcamp. We would have a standard working day, meaning 9–6, including a 1 hour lunch break. In theory. Reality definitely looked differently. I would try to come in 15 minutes before the course started just to get a refresher on the course material for the day and go through my notes again. Some students would already be there, some of them would come in a bit later. The day was loaded with new stuff, every day. It had to be loaded, if you consider the timeframe of 9 weeks, of which 3 are reserved for the projects. That means you have 6 weeks of lecture. The day normally consisted of lecture — pair programming — lunch — lecture — daily exercise. It was not uncommon for us to stay late, for the students to finish up the exercises or deepen the understanding of a particular concept, for us teachers to help them the best we could.
At some point you will reach a point of frustration. You simply cannot take in everything in that short amount of time. But this is ok, this is why it is called a bootcamp. The frustration also reached me and at some point you will not only feel frustrated, but also exhausted. When you reach that point — I’m sure you’ve heard that before — keep going. When you get through that and you present your final project at the end of the bootcamp, you will feel incredibly satisfied. It is better than having an easy bootcamp and felling like you haven’t achieved anything of significance. None of our students dropped out because of too much pressure or a lack of understanding.
After the bootcamp, you will be proud that you made it and you will have a whole new world of opportunities in front of you. In today’s world, we will soon have less demand for bus or cab drivers, stock traders, customer support employees or translators. Instead, we will need people to build the software to automate these jobs. You can be one of those people and it is great to have those skills. Since I moved to Berlin, I am continuously amazed at how many jobs there are in the tech world. Not to mention, you could also build your own company (which I am doing at dube.io).
Do bootcamps make sense from a broader viewpoint?
The traditional way of learning a profession is either going to university or doing a 3-year job training as an apprentice. Both of those ways are regulated by the government and require a lot of time. Additionally, the curriculum in universities is often times outdated and too theoretical. Bootcamps give you a great kickstart for a great career change in a compact timeframe. Since bootcamps are privately run, they operate to maximize performance. This means that they have to adapt to the market more quickly. If students learn an outdated technology and do not get placed in a job afterwards, the bootcamp will get bad reviews and will struggle to exists in the future. For a government funded university, this is not the case. It does not matter nearly as much for the university if you get a job afterwards or if the material you learned is applicable in the real world.
For the market itself, bootcamps are also viable. As described before, the demand for software developers in tech hubs like Berlin, London or Lisbon is incredibly high. Having people in universities for at least three years just takes too much time. Bootcamps can provide developers at a much higher rate, tailored to the market’s needs. Building a curriculum for a university takes probably a couple of years, when you add that to the three years of a Bachelor’s degree, you will end up with five to six years delay of market expertise, meaning the technologies students know is that old when they enter the job market. In bootcamps, this horizon is maybe 6 months.
One thing you have to consider, since Bootcamps are mostly privately run, is to find a good one. You have to make some research and ask alumni how they experienced the bootcamp. You may of course consider Ironhack.
Is it smarter to go learn on my own?
It can be. Nowadays, you have pretty much all the information for free. You can get the resources online and spend your time as you wish. The problem here is that you have to have very high discipline and you have to keep digging until you really find the stuff you want to do. Bootcamps give you a good template of how to learn the technologies and additionally provide you with a great alumni network, social learning environment with after-lecture activities and, most importantly, somebody to ask for help when you do not know what to do next or how to solve a difficult problem.
I hope this helped to give you some insight into coding bootcamps and I can only encourage you to try it, when you want to change your career. The job market on the field is great and you will have a lot of potential to grow, personally and career-wise.