Before I begin this, I have to be upfront and let you know, I have been exactly where you are right now: endlessly searching Google for a slight glimmer of hope that maybe attending a ‘Bootcamp’ is the right idea and that you’re not about to make a very, very expensive mistake. You’re doing the right thing. After all, doing research on these kinds of programs is very important, especially now that this industry has grown and there are so many options.
Wether it be Software Engineering, UX/UI Design, Digital Marketing, or Product Management- you’re swimming in endless possibilities. This is the new world of tech- and they need people like you. Do not be fooled by the shiny, rigid exterior of this industry- there is an extreme talent shortage and bootcamps such as General Assembly or Grace Hopper are giving students of any age and background the skills to fill those gaps at a lucrative pace.
So, I’m here to give you that little sign from God, to go ahead and do it. But I’m sure you have questions that cannot be answered on any bootcamp website or through any admissions rep, and that’s where I fit in.
Is It Worth The Money?
My least favorite part of finding out about these bootcamps was the price tag that went with them. A typical 12 week course will cost you from around 15,000$–20,000$ depending on what school you decide on and where you’re located. It’s not what I would describe as ideal, but the great thing about this is that loans exist! Yay! Most schools have loan partners such as Climb (Which I personally used), and your admissions representative is fluent in all things finance, so don’t be afriad to ask. Trust me- they’re aware it’s not a small chunk of change you probably have waiting around, begging to be used.
The price is high- but the outcome exceeds the temporary pain one feels handing over that amount of money. The volume of material and education you typically receive coincides with tuition, and covers more than just the instruction given to you in a typical M-F 9–5. In most full time programs, you almost always gain job placement services and an outcomes team that glamorizes your social media, portfolio, and connects you with all the right people in order for you to get a job as quick as possible. They’re experts at what they do, and sometimes the most important part of the bootcamp in general. You also gain lifetime connections with your class, instructors, and support staff in general simply because you’re spending so much damn time together that you can’t help but be close. Some would say that’s #Priceless.
Am I Smart Enough To Actually Do This?
If you’re looking into an SEI (Software Engineering Immersive) or a UX program, and you’re coming from a world outside of tech, coding, and design- it’s reasonable to be weary if it’s possible to learn this whole new set of skills within a short amount of time. I’m telling you- you can. I highly recommend reading about the “Growth Mindset”, here’s a short 10 minute Ted Talk on it. This is a huge thing for anyone looking to make a career change, because in totality, changing careers is terrifying. I get it. You have a lot to lose, but with this mindset, you realize you have even more to gain. Everything about SE or UX is very intimidating- off the bat it looks hard and people think it’s only for the smartest of us but really- anyone can learn it.
If it makes you feel better, I’ve been coding for 10 years, since I was 12. Do you know what the highest level math class I ever completed in my education was? Pre-Algebra. Yeah..and I’m still able to code. Trust me- you can do whatever you set your mind to. Don’t limit yourself out of fear, but instead challenge yourself to learn something that will impress every person you meet after you’re done. You owe it to yourself. And seriously- watch that Ted Talk, it’ll change your life.
Will I Be Rejected From Jobs Since It’s Not a 4 Year Degree?
This is my favorite question to answer because I can say with full confidence- absolutely not! Remember earlier when I said there was a talent shortage in this industry? This is why bootcamps were forged and are thriving. The world is changing and companies are starting to understand that you don’t need a Bachelor’s Degree in order to exceed in certain areas. Engineering, Design, and Marketing are those are areas, and bootcamp cert’s are widely accepted and most bootcamps partner with elite companies (Apple, Google, Snapchat, Wayfair, to name a few) to provide equal opportunities to bootcamp graduates just like they do college grads.
Of course, for most Mid-Senior and Executive level jobs, you’re going to come across degree requirements, and that’s normal because most people at that level are the humans with Master’s and such. Don’t let it discourage you- you’re not going to be at that level fresh out of bootcamp- but give it some time!
Who Will I Be Sitting Next To?
This is something I thought of the night before my first day at General Assembly in Boston. I wondered if people would be similar to me, or if I’d be a complete loner in the back of my classroom minding my own business.
The truth is- no matter where you decide to go- it’s a mixed bag. Anyone in any of your classes is different than the other. I was the youngest in my class, at 21, mostly everyone was older than me and had already been in the workforce for a while and was looking to make a change. This is the most common pool of people you’ll run in to, and they’re completely inspiring and the most dedicated people you’ll meet. Everyone is different but pretty united in the fact that at the beginning- we’re all clueless and confused and pretty terrified- but oh god are those common emotions so uniting. These people really do become an extension of you and are at the center point of your life for a long time- and no matter who you are, you’ll have a friend.
People come from all sorts of backgrounds and stages in education. Some have prior knowledge into what course you’re taking, most do not. Some people will excel at one thing and the next day be completely lost. Everyone pretty much follows this cycle, over and over again:
It’s never a competition, but instead a collaborative effort that all students, no matter who they are, contribute to. It’s pretty neat.
If you’re looking to make a change, or shift your gears into doing something that you’re passionate about (highly recommend)- go ahead and take that jump as long as you’re soundly able to. Life is short, and settling for what you have now doesn’t have to be a forever thing. If you’re wanting to go to a bootcamp, and you’re viewing this, that means you want more. Go get it! It’ll be the best decision you’ll ever make.