How To Choose The Right Coding Bootcamp
Last year I went through the Founders and Coders (FAC) software training program in London in order to turn my hobby into a living.
After 4 months at the bootcamp I got a job with the same salary as my friend who’d just finished 6 years on medical school.
Though the salary isn’t the important thing here. The important thing is that I get to work at an awesome startup (Xeneta) together with great colleagues, doing stuff where I’m constantly challenged.
This greatly exceeds what I expected beforehand, and it’s all thanks to FAC. But though FAC turned out be the perfect learning environment for me, it’s not for everyone, as it requires you to be comfortable with peer-to-peer learning.
In other words: coding bootcamps aren’t a one size fits all. What’s important is that you find one which fits your needs.
So in this post I’d like to share my tips for how you should go ahead when applying for coding bootcamps, as I think it’ll increase your chances of finding the perfect one.
Step 1: Dig into yourself
The first thing you need to do is ask yourself a few questions. Here are ones I think are most important:
- Why do you want to do a bootcamp?
- Do you want work as a professional developer? If so: front end or back end?
- Any specific programming language you want to learn?
- How much money are you willing to spend on tuition?
- Do you need a lot of mentoring and teaching? Or are able to learn stuff by yourself?
- How far are you willing to move to get to the perfect bootcamp?
The answers to these questions will affect the pool of bootcamps you should apply to, even though you might not have clear answers to all of them yet.
Before FAC I wasn’t 100 percent sure I would enjoy being a full time developer, but I wanted to give it a shot, as I had gotten strong interest in the field. I was mostly interested in the back end, but I’m now working as a front end developer.
Economically, I considered taking up a loan to pay tuition (up to 15K USD), but realized after a while that it might not be worth it after all. I knew I could learn stuff on my own from online sources, so I started getting trouble justify the price to myself. I also considered the following:
Thousands of developers before me has learned how to code without an expensive bootcamp. Why should I need it?
Step 2: Do your research
After you’ve come to some conclusions with yourself, it’s time to start researching. At this step you want to find as many potential coding bootcamps as possible. Here are a few tools which’ll help you find the available bootcamps out there:
Note down all the ones that seem somewhat interesting in a spreadsheet. Here is a link to the spread sheet I used, which I filled out as I went along with the application an got more info about the various schools.
Don’t be too critical at this step.
Often times the coding bootcamps that seem promising will turn out to be a bad fit for you, and vice versa.
I noted down 27 potential bootcamps in my spreadsheet, and used the columns to note down critical details.
Step 3: Filter it
The next step is to start filter down based on your criteria, as applying for all 20–30 bootcamps is too much.
The first thing you wanna do is remove the ones that don’t fit your preferences from step 1 — programming languages, budget, location, timing.
Then it’s time to try and figure out which of the remaining bootcamps that are worth your time and money. This is where your stalking skills come in handy.
I searched for blog posts, read reviews, asked questions at Quora, studied student projects and investigated what graduates were doing after they finished.
In other words: google the shit out of every bootcamp you’re considering applying for.
Alternatively, give some of them a call.
I was very prone for every little warning sign I found. If I read bad reviews about one, I almost immediately excluded the school. This might not be the best technique, as I perhaps should have found multiple sources to back up the claims. But I knew that there were scams out there who’d only accept my to get my tuition fee, and didn’t care about the quality of their students.
This was my biggest fear; I was obsessed by finding the bootcamp with the most dedicated students, while wasn’t too worried about the quality of the teachers, to be honest.
You’ll need to find which criteria that matter the most to you. Decide which compromises you can accept and which you can’t.
Step 4: Apply for a lot of them
I recommend you to apply for around 5–10 bootcamps. I did this over a one month period, though if I were to do it again I’d probably cram it all into a week.
It’s important that you do this, as it’s at this step you really get to know the schools. If you only apply for one, you won’t be able to know how their application process compares to other schools.
It’s also important because you’ll get an impression of the people who work for the bootcamp, which are a reflection of the school itself.
Do you like the person interviewing you? Did she really put you to the test?
A too easy application process was a big warning sign to me. Because if their application process didn’t challenge me — and was too easy to get through — I knew a lot of bad students would get through it as well.
Step 5: Go for one
The final step is choose, given that you’ve been lucky enough to get accepted from multiple bootcamps.
These are the ones I completed the application process for. I got accepted to all except two.
- Dev Bootcamp
- Dev Mountain
- Flatiron School
- Founders and Coders
- Hack Reactor (not accepted)
- Recurse Center (not accepted)
It is a tough choice and I can’t really give you much more advice on how to pick, other than use both your gut feeling and analytical mind.
If you have any question regarding tips for applying for any of these specifically; feel free to ask me here on Medium or through one of my social channels linked to below.
For me the final choice was between FAC and MakerSquare in Houston. I made the decision after talking on the phone with FAC founder Dan Sofer, which with his brilliant philosophy regarding coding education made my choice easy.
Good luck, and remember to click the heart icon below :)