3 Questions To Help You Choose The Perfect Bootcamp
There’s no question that it’s an amazing time for career changers in technology. Job openings for developers are appearing faster than employers can fill them, and coding bootcamps are growing in response to the skills gap. Students now have more choice than ever: SwitchUp’s research shows that potential bootcamp students can compare hundreds of full and part-time programs worldwide.
Though just like any other educational program, bootcamps are not one-size-fits-all. Programs vary widely with different curriculums, course structures, and outcomes, and not every program makes the perfect fit.
So if you are considering a bootcamp education, how do you find that perfect match? In our experience, these three questions will help you choose the ideal program for you:
1. Does the program match your learning style?
Everyone learns differently, and certain bootcamps may be a better match for your needs than others. Take some time to reflect on the educational environments that have worked best for you. Do you typically work best on group projects or 1-on-1 with a mentor? Do you prefer a structured curriculum, or learning on your own? Your answers will help you decide if you are better suited for a larger or smaller bootcamp, or if the flexibility of an online program will work better than an in-person program.
Brainstorming is not the only way to know if you’ve found the right fit. Once it seems like a particular bootcamp might be your match, you’ll want to try it out. Consider enrolling in any pre-work courses or workshops that your school might offer. If this is not an option, ask if you can visit. A day of shadowing will give you a feel for the course structure, teaching methods, and general environment.
2. Will you build a strong foundation?
Students are often incredulous that a bootcamp can train job-ready programmers in only 12 weeks. However, the best bootcamps do not attempt to train masters. Rather, they give students a foundation to go deep in specific areas after the bootcamp is over.
The approach is helpful for two reasons. The ability to “learn how to learn” is essential for software engineers. The software world changes quickly, and the best developers know how to pick up new tools and techniques while on the job. Second, it is likely that once you are a junior developer, you will be hired to work on projects that use a different language than the one taught in the course. A solid foundation in the right approach to learning will give you the ability to pick up new languages quickly and efficiently.
3. What is the return on investment?
Of course, the true test of a bootcamp’s effectiveness is the success of its graduates. Before you commit, you’ll want to know what job placement looks like for grads. Ask your school for more information on the percentage of students that landed jobs, and the typical job search timeline.
You’ll also want details on the school’s reporting methodology. Many schools have recently become more stringent and will only include in-field, full-time positions in their job placement numbers. If your school includes part-time jobs and internships in their placement statistics, this is a sign that you’ll need more details.
Finally, consider how the school’s outcomes align with your own goals. If you are interested in becoming an entrepreneur, for instance, you’ll need to know how many grads started a business right after the program. You may even want to seek out an alum to get more details on how the bootcamp helped them combine coding with entrepreneurship.
Resources for your research
Your school can provide information like job placement numbers and contact info for instructors to help you get started. To supplement this information, you’ll want to get opinions from alumni themselves. We suggest seeking out alumni on a site like LinkedIn for a quick chat about the bootcamp. It may sound intimidating, but many alumni are happy to talk about their bootcamp experience and pay it forward to a new cohort.