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2021 Guide

Which Coding Bootcamp Is Right for Me?

When you’re trying to decide which coding bootcamp is right for you, you must first decide what’s important to you. What are your learning and career goals?

We recommend asking yourself the following five questions to determine which coding bootcamp is right for you:

  1. Which Skills and Programming Languages Do I Want to Learn?

Although most coding bootcamps will teach programming languages like HTML/CSS, JavaScript, and a back-end programming language like Ruby on Rails, it’s not a given. Other schools specialize in certain languages, like Python. Take a look at the coding bootcamp’s curriculum and course package and see exactly what you’re going to learn.

Next, take a look at some job ads for web development and software engineering jobs that would appeal to you. Which languages and competencies do they call for?

Coding bootcamps have the advantage of being flexible and adapting their curricula on the fly to respond to industry trends. If the bootcamp education you’re looking at doesn’t seem to align with what employers are asking for, it’s time to move on to another school.

  1. What Are My Career Goals?

It’s time to take a hard look at where you’d like to see yourself in a few years – do you really want a career in tech? Are you looking to join an up-and-coming startup or hoping to be scooped up by an established tech giant? Are you anticipating spending most of your time designing on the front-end, or working server-side on the back-end? All of these considerations could affect how much you get out of attending a coding bootcamp.

It’s also worth comparing the careers of bootcamp grads with your own career aspirations. Head over to LinkedIn and take a look at the resumes of past graduates. Where are they working now? What’s their role? It’s always a good idea to reach out to graduates to ask questions about their experience. Not only will you get unvarnished feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of the program, but you form a potential professional contact too. You could also reach out to a Recruiter or Hiring Manager directly and ask for their opinions on the program.

  1. What’s My Financial Situation?

There are no two ways about it, affording coding bootcamp tuition can be a tall order. It probably shouldn’t be the only factor in your decision on which school to attend, but there’s no denying it plays a role. Tuition costs at different coding bootcamps vary wildly, from $7,000 up to $21,000, though the average is around $13,000. Most intensive programs will be happy to pair you up with a representative so you can get a clear idea of how much this is going to cost you.

You’ll also want to look into which scholarships the schools offer. Almost all coding bootcamps have a variety of scholarships available, so talk to a representative to see if you qualify. And most institutions also offer flexible payment plans that might make your life a little bit easier.

  1. Where Should I Attend a Coding Bootcamp? This might ultimately come down to where you’re already based, but if you are flexible about location, you might want to move to a coding bootcamp in a city like New York City or San Francisco where the largest hiring networks are; keep in mind, however, that these cities also have the most job seekers, which means competition can be fierce.

Not everyone has the heart to leave their friends and family behind for a few months (at least), so fortunately, coding bootcamps have opened in almost every U.S. state.

  1. How Much Experience Do I Have? Before you choose a coding bootcamp, consider your own background and practical skills. Have you worked in tech before? Do you have a grasp of computer science fundamentals? Have you completed any free, self-guided online programs? Do you have any experience hacking on open-source projects? Some coding bootcamps are so comprehensive that they can take complete beginners to software engineering and web development and turn them into an experienced pro (with practical coding skills) in a matter of months. Others, like Hack Reactor, for instance, are up-front about the fact that you do need some background in coding to thrive in the course. Check any prerequisites carefully. Be truthful with yourself about where you are in your journey as a Developer to get the most out of your bootcamp experience.

How to Get Into a Coding Bootcamp

If you've decided that attending a coding bootcamp is right for you, the first step to getting in is narrowing your list down to your top coding bootcamp choices and preparing to apply. You should also consider if you want to attend an online coding bootcamp or an in-person program. Online coding bootcamps have become much more prevalent over the last few years, giving aspiring Software Engineers and Web Developers the flexibility to gain hands-on experience and prepare for the job market from the comfort of their homes. Online bootcamps also have the potential to provide more global contacts and connections, which can help with the job search. Whether you go with an in-person or online bootcamp, you should look to begin preparing your application anywhere from one to three months before you want to begin taking classes.

When it comes to admissions requirements, all coding bootcamps have different criteria and prerequisites, although a high school diploma is typically required. Some selective or particularly immersive coding bootcamps might include a coding challenge or even a short programming assignment (typically demanding a widely-used programming language like HTML, CSS, JavaScript, etc.).

Application fees for coding bootcamps are usually non-existent or minimal, so there's no downside to applying to a few different training programs that interest you. You'll often be asked to write a short essay about your interest in the coding bootcamp and your job search goals.

If you apply to a competitive web development bootcamp, you might expect an interview as part of the admissions process. During this interview, expect to be asked to talk through how you approached your coding challenge. You might even be asked to do some whiteboarding.

How to Prepare for a Coding Bootcamp

There are many steps you can take to prepare for a coding bootcamp that will ensure you hit the ground running and make the most of your time. To get the most of coding bootcamps, take the following steps before you begin:

  1. Complete an intro coding class

Chances are, your coding bootcamp will offer preparatory classes, resources, and other materials to help prospective students with no technical skills (or a background in web development or computer science) get ready for the course. That's not to say these resources are only useful for beginners – even coding bootcamp students with some experience in web development or software engineering (or any field related to computer science) should take the opportunity to review prior to the course.

  1. Determine what you're looking for

With so many careers now calling for programming and web development technical skills – in the tech industry and beyond – different students come to coding bootcamps with vastly different goals. Some are interested in transitioning into a totally new career as a Web Developer, Software Developer, or Software Engineer, others are already working in a tech field where coding competency can be an asset (think data analysis, data science, machine learning, or UX/UI design), while others might actually be learning to code for fun or to complete personal projects. Going into a coding bootcamp with a well-defined idea of what you want (and what will most help on the job market) will help focus your efforts.

  1. Check out as many free resources as possible Many coding bootcamps will supply you with preparatory material to make sure you have a foundation of basic web development and software development knowledge. Beyond this, however, the Internet is full of free resources to help people learn to code (and to learn more about computer science in general). Explore what's offered online at places like Udacity, Coursera, Codeacademy, Stack Overflow, and Github. Watch YouTube tutorials and free introductory coding webinars to get a feel for web development and software development basics.

  2. Spread the word Let family and friends know that you're attending a coding bootcamp (and more broadly, that you're looking to start career as a Web Developer or Software Engineer). This is recommended for two reasons. First, whether you're pursuing a part-time or full-time program and whether it's an online bootcamp or in person, you will have significantly less free time than usual for a little while. The second and perhaps most important reason: your job hunt will likely begin not long after you start your coding bootcamp, and your current social circle could have untapped new professional contacts.

How to Start a Coding Bootcamp

To get the most out of an intensive bootcamp, it's important to make the most of every minute, and much of that will come down to getting off to a great start.

Here are a few steps to follow as you to get started at a coding bootcamp:

  1. Meet and swap info with other bootcamp students Whether you're studying in person or in an online bootcamp, your classmates can be an incredible resource and an important connection as you embark on a career in tech. Make introductions with your peers early on, and swap contact information or connect over LinkedIn or Facebook. While you're in a coding bootcamp, your classmates can help offer feedback on your projects and clarify details of assignments and deadlines, and once you've graduated, they could form the beginning of your professional network.

  2. Introduce yourself to faculty Top coding bootcamps employ leading computer science experts (most often Software Engineers) as Instructors, and coding bootcamp graduates will tell you that one of the best things about attending these courses is getting the opportunity to get to know those Instructors. But again, these training programs are typically short and every moment counts, so try early on to establish a familiarity with your faculty. That typically leads to better results in the course, and you have the chance to make an industry connection that will be extremely valuable as you try to start a career in tech.

  3. Explore student services and supports Many of the best coding bootcamps will offer student services, academic support, and a buffet of career services – including career support, career coaching, and networking sessions. Try to familiarize yourself with what your new school has to offer early on during your course. If available, academic advisors can help you organize and prepare for the workload ahead, while career services professionals can provide crucial job placement assistance, mock interviews, or resume coaching.

  4. Don't rush home Most of the coding bootcamps worth considering will have a state-of-the-art campus with top-notch equipment and amenities. Not only should you take advantage of your access to that equipment as much as possible, but spending lots of time on campus will also provide more opportunities to network with web development and software engineering professionals and experts. It goes without saying that you should attend as many networking events as possible, and any panel discussions, thought leadership sessions, and other events hosted on-campus also provide great opportunities for learning and networking. If you're considering online bootcamps, you should still get involved and register for as many virtual networking events and guest speaker sessions as you can.

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