Which coding bootcamp works best for you?

The best place to add to your computer programming skillset may be in a coding bootcamp. Knowing which path to take is the key to maximizing your experience.

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Choose the right coding bootcamp.
Picking the right coding bootcamp is important, don't overlook the details. Photo – Shutterstock

In her Starting Out In Tech series, WorkingNation Associate Producer & Project Manager Jaimie Stevens shares her insight on what it takes to succeed in learning computer programming skills.

WorkingNation’s Jaimie Stevens.

There are several things to consider when looking into what coding bootcamp would be best for you. Some are more obvious than others.

It’s crucial, before you start looking, to be sure that this is what you want to do — coding bootcamps are intensive programs.

It’s also important to know that, just as you are looking for a bootcamp that works well with your style, bootcamps are looking for students who are committed to doing what it takes for the duration of the bootcamp, and beyond. So while you are looking into the details of these bootcamps with your best interests and intentions in mind, be aware that schools are looking at applicants who will contribute positively towards their job placement percentages post-graduation.

Establish your objective in advance of picking what schools you want to apply to. Do you want to work as a professional developer? Front end or back end? Is there a specific programming language you want to learn? Figuring out what you want at the end of the day is just as important as knowing where the bootcamp can take you.

Doing your online research about the schools and making sure they’ve received industry recognition and have strong reviews will really shape your knowledge of what’s out there for you, so be sure to do as much as you can. Here are a few tools that can help you find all of the available bootcamps out there:

It doesn’t hurt to set up a phone call with someone from the bootcamp directly, too. Do some digging to see where the instructors have worked prior to teaching. If you’re planning on taking classes at a local coding school, check out some of their intro classes or workshops to get a feel for how they teach their curriculum.

While you are investigating these schools, here are the main factors to keep in mind:

Cost & Return on Investment: Will what you put into this bootcamp be worth it? The average full-time programming bootcamp in the US costs $11,450. What will this look like in comparison to your average starting salary? Make sure you’re willing to give the same amount of time and energy as the amount of money you’re willing to spend.

Time Commitment: Some bootcamps require more practice hours than others. Others require more self-study than they initially reveal. You’ll also need to consider your schedule. Can you take these classes at night? Full-time? On the weekend? How possible is it to do this while working another job?

Immersive coding bootcamps usually last 2 months to 7 months. Classes are full-time, and many of these students put in 80 hours weeks. To attend one of these bootcamps, having a full-time job and outside activities is not really an option.

Part-time coding bootcamps meet on nights and/or weekends. Students study concepts over a long period of time and can manage to hold part-time or full-time jobs in addition to class.

There is always the option of online coding bootcamps. Online bootcamps allow you to complete curriculum and challenges on your own and meet with a mentor during the week.

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There is usually an online community that students can interact with each other in as well.

Job Placement. A good question to ask before signing on with a coding school is whether that coding school has a strong enough network to provide you with contacts or recruits that can help further your career. Some bootcamps will set up meetings with potential employers, other schools will offer resume workshops and provide you with a list of hiring partners. You should also look at a bootcamp’s job placement rate and determine how long, on average, did it take graduates to get a job?

Check out the list of companies where alumni take jobs. Are they all in the same industry? How does the amount of startups compare to the number of corporations? A variety of placements says that they the programming skills you’ll learn will enable you to work in any environment.

Location. Bootcamps tend to be more accessible in major tech hubs like San Francisco and New York, but relocating isn’t as necessary as it used to be in order to get a proper bootcamp education. Bootcamps have been popping up in smaller markets over the past several years, and now there are coding bootcamps in more than 70 US cities. If you’re debating over whether or not of whether you want to travel to another city for a bootcamp, consider the following:

  • Where do you want to work after you graduate?
  • Are you tied down to your current city?
  • Does the bootcamp you are considering have a strong network in the area you are thinking of traveling to?

Consider all these before making such a big jump.

This might seem like a lot to think about, and sure, it is, but don’t let it overwhelm you. This is just part of the journey! Doing the research and preparing yourself gets you one step closer towards that programming job you’re looking for. Pick the right coding school for you, but also pick one that eventually you’ll be proud to say to an employer. Find a school that can match your capacity to learn with their ability to teach. You deserve the greatest education for your future, so put in the extra time to figure out your next best move here.

Join the Conversation: Share your thoughts on the latest Starting Out in Tech column on our Facebook page.

Coming Next Week: Feeling confident about your coding knowledge? Jaimie will suggest which side projects to take on to continue your work.

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