Imagine, like so many folks, that you decide what you want to study when you’re just 18. You go to college, finish a four-year degree in mechanical engineering, and then realize what you actually want to do is get a job in coding. There are tons of benefits - pay, flexibility, personal satisfaction. It’s a no-brainer.
There’s just one problem.
The last thing you want to do is go back to school for another two or four very expensive years. After reading a bit on the Internet, you see that one possible path for you is to get a job after attending a coding bootcamp. It seems like a good deal - you pay only a fraction of the usual college tuition and then you’re on your way to a coding job, with no experience or degree.
However, as you do some more research on the big promises of bootcamps, you’ll likely learn the path of getting a job after coding bootcamp can leave you drastically underprepared for the programming job market.
“We see more and more students coming to boot.dev because they’re having a hard time landing jobs after taking a bootcamp or completing web development crash courses.”
Lane Wagner, author of boot.dev’s computer science courses.
That’s why so many coding bootcamp graduates leave their 15-week course thinking they’ll glide into a job offer, only to find the process of getting a job after coding bootcamp is painful, arduous, and seemingly never-ending.
It’s frustrating because it can feel like you did everything right: you realized that a programming job could be beneficial to your career and happiness, you picked a language, found a course, and completed it - only to have trouble finding a job after the coding bootcamp.
Coding bootcamps don’t provide a deep understanding of the fundamentals underpinning how programming really works. Bootcamps are great for several different reasons:
- Bootcamps are cheaper than most degrees
- They’re up-to-date on modern languages
- They teach you practical skills like modern frameworks and deployment processes
That said, bootcamps tend to focus on practical skills instead of fundamentals and theory, which means even after finishing one, you won’t be much closer to understanding the math, algorithms, and computer science concepts that will be required in order to work on projects that are more complex than a simple web page.
If you’ve graduated from a coding boot camp and you’re tearing your hair out in frustration because you can’t seem to get a job without having job experience yet, stop applying to 20 places a day. Try to identify what’s causing you to get stuck at this last hurdle, and then work on a plan to overcome it.
What is a coding bootcamp anyway?
Coding bootcamps really started to spring up in the 2010s to fill a void in the job market. To this day there are at least 1.4 programming jobs just waiting to be filled by qualified candidates. What’s more, the number of college graduates with four-year degrees wasn’t even close to being able to satisfy the industry’s insatiable need for more developers.
The idea behind coding bootcamps is to quickly funnel students through a condensed, rigorous curriculum that gives them the only minimum knowledge they need for an entry-level job. The only problem is that over the last decade, many employers started to question the quality of the education provided by these bootcamps.
A simple path to your career in backend development
- Daniel Gerep from Cassia, Brasil
Coding bootcamps and college degrees both have downsides.
There are so many good reasons to become a software developer - the pay, the flexibility, the job security, not to mention the personal satisfaction. That’s why it can feel so disappointing when you’re stuck after a bootcamp: You feel ready and excited, and you don’t yet understand what’s holding you back.
As I mentioned above, bootcamps are a fantastic way to get started in the world of programming. They walk you through a project from start to finish, like building a website or an app, and at least give you a sense of whether or not you’ll enjoy the work.
But they have serious downsides, too. First, the nature of bootcamps is outright exclusive for a lot of folks - there can be a huge upfront cost, and you have to be able to give up around 15 weeks of your life, full-time. If you have a family you’re supporting, a current job, or just don’t have bundles of cash lying around, this means you’re going to struggle to even get into a coding BootCamp.
Assuming you are somehow able to clear three months of your life to do nothing but attend a coding bootcamp, you’ve still got issues. Because it’s such a sanitized work environment, you won’t often get the chance to learn the less-sexy sorting, aggregating, and data storage skills that companies will require you to know for even mid-level roles.
After you graduate, you might get to the interview stage for a job, only to find that you’re getting asked questions regarding data structures and algorithms that coding bootcamp just didn’t prepare you for. Plus, security and cryptography are almost entirely dependent on math knowledge that you won’t get from a bootcamp.
In short, even if you can attend a coding bootcamp, it’s not the complete solution many people think it is - you’ll still lack the fundamental computer science knowledge that would make you stand out at job interviews and will let you actually do the job you want to be hired for. People who try getting a job after coding bootcamp will find it harder than they expect.
The obvious answer to this is to study computer science at college, but that’s even more expensive and time-consuming, and plenty of folks don’t realize they want to do computer science until after they’ve already graduated college.
So what’s the solution?
Learn at your own pace
Your ideal solution is something that allows you to learn those basics, get your applied practice, and do it all while still working or raising a family. Fortunately, the internet is a huge place and there is an endless amount of content that can help you learn from a coding bootcamp completely online.
The rigid, time-intensive structure of in-person bootcamps doesn’t suit many people, and giving people freedom and empowerment over their own CS learning adventure – on their own terms and time – was one of the main drivers at boot.dev for creating our interactive coding courses.
We wanted to create courses that people could dip in and out of, but that could still engage and teach effectively – with our learn by doing philosophy front and center.
We’ve created a set of courses that form an equivalent CS degree, but that you can take on your own time, and even just take courses based on your own interests, such as our Python Track. Actually completing real-life-mimicking lesson challenges forces you to learn and retain the concepts, and puts you far ahead of video lecture learners in your computer science journey.
If you’ve completed a coding bootcamp but are still struggling to land a job, we’ve designed courses especially for you. Common areas that stump people in technical interviews include data structures and algorithms, which we’ve dedicated three courses to covering.
Get backend development jobs by learning CS
I was a field service engineer and I wanted to become a backend developer, but work and family limited my options. Since completing the backend-focused computer science track on Boot.dev, I now have a job offer in hand and I'm starting my career as a software developer!
- Özgür Yildirim from Germany
Other options for self-study
If you’re set on being self-taught, it’s best to understand which gaps you have in your knowledge. Find a list of computer science concepts that you need to learn. Then, try to complete a pet project that’s not in the same safe environment you’d get in a coding bootcamp. To make this a truly realistic experience, find some raw data to practice getting into proper shape. You can use datasets from data.gov, as an example.
Finally, if you have a solid idea of what job you want to go for, speak to as many of those people as you can. Read what they’ve written, what resources they recommend, what they do at work. The better sense you have of what tools actually got them to where they are today, as well as what their responsibilities are, the better you’ll be able to plan your own self-taught structure.
Ultimately, you want to find a way to learn at your own pace. If you can add to that a community of like-minded people to help you along the way, all the better. This is a perfect way to get around the typical limitations of getting a job after coding bootcamp while avoiding going back to college all over again.
Getting a job after coding bootcamp is closer than you think.
If you’re reading this article after graduating from a coding bootcamp and struggling to get a job, you might feel like you’ve just wasted a ton of time and money and you’re lost as to what to do next.
People who learn to code with a coding bootcamp miss out on the basic structural elements that will bring them greater understanding. And yes, the consequence is that they have a hard time getting a job afterwards because their understanding is incomplete.
But there’s a solution, and all it takes is some grit. You might think the more challenging computer science concepts are too hard for you, but I assure you, anyone can learn them, especially just the basics that you need for an entry-level job.
You already know you want to code. You already know it’s the right path for you. All you’re missing are the building blocks that will support you for the rest of your career. The solution is to invest more time in computer science learning, focusing more on math and fundamental concepts, on your timeline, and your budget. Your future as a programmer is closer than you think.