6. Real-life projects and experience
There are a huge amount of programming camps to choose from, and choosing the right one can be challenging.
When I was trying to decide which coding bootcamp to attend, I was surprised by all the options available.
If you’re currently facing a similar dilemma, the following nine things may help you decide if a particular boot camp is worth signing up for.
This is an obvious fact, but I still need to mention it. It’s a fact that there are thousands of free coding resources out there (but we can talk about that again) and coding bootcamps for newbies are usually very expensive.
If you know your current finances aren’t enough to cover the expenses while you’re in boot camp, there are a few things you can do. You could consider saving just enough money for living expenses and down payment, signing up for a boot camp that allows you to pay after getting a job – that’s what I did!
The obvious drawback to this is that you will end up paying more money because of the interest. Another option is to borrow money from your family so that you only have to pay back the borrowed amount – which some of my classmates did.
Many freshman training camps also offer scholarships, so you can check if you qualify for one. If you are not in a hurry and can afford to take the slower path in technology, then signing up for a part-time bootcamp while still keeping your full-time job would be your best option.
If you have the possibility to use the full time version, that’s great! However, part-time work options are usually just as good. Will it take longer to achieve your goal? Yes. Is it the big deal? never!
Sometimes it’s quite the opposite. Personally, I took the full-time option because I wanted to be as immersed as possible and was already unemployed upon registration, but sometimes I wish I had more time to let the knowledge in.
The on-campus bootcamp will allow you to interact and connect with mentors and peers in an easier way. For example, if you need advice, you don’t have to wait for your teacher/colleague to be available to make a call – you can talk to them right away.
On the other hand, signing up for an online bootcamp will provide a quieter study environment. I am glad that I was surrounded by the other students when learning the basics of programming because some of the concepts were easy to understand after hearing their explanations, however, later I wished I could work from home as it became very difficult to focus on campus (especially when our projects started to get bigger and more complex). If you know you struggle to function in noisy places, consider targeting an online training camp.
The people who will be your mentors may play an important role in whether or not you enjoy programming, so you should not only consider the bootcamp curriculum, but your future mentor’s work and mentoring experience. Some boot camps have their mentors’ resumes on their website, but if you don’t find them there, you can always search for them on LinkedIn.
Another thing to keep in mind is the teaching methodology at the freshmen training camp. For me it was important that I didn’t spend most of my bootcamp days listening to long lectures.
That’s why I chose a boot camp where the teaching style includes an emphasis on scrutiny. Every day we have a list of videos that we had to watch at home in the evening before the next class.
We discussed the topic the next morning and asked our mentors questions related to the topic followed by more than half a day of the workshop (working on exercises and projects). This way, I was able to assimilate some concepts in a faster way.
Many people may disagree with my point of view, but I think that if the boot camp you want to attend doesn’t teach the programming language you want to learn, that’s no big deal (unless it’s a programming language that isn’t required in your area).
In fact, the only thing that made me hesitate whether or not I should sign up for the boot camp I was attending, was that they didn’t tell us what programming language we were going to learn. I knew previous batches were learning either .NET or Java, and I really wished I could use Java (now that I think about it, I don’t remember why), so it was quite a shock when I found out that I would learn .NET.
Now that I’m nearing the end of my boot camp, I realize it wasn’t that important after all. In the end, I had the opportunity to choose Java as the main technology used to build the final project and it didn’t take long for me to get around it.
Now if you know that for example you want to work as a web developer, you don’t want to enroll in a bootcamp that only teaches Python or Java – you still need to find a bootcamp that aligns with your overall goal, but I dare say whether you will learn React, Angular, or Vue.js is not that important when choosing a boot camp because the basics of programming are the same in most languages.
One of the things I really like about bootcamp is that it’s divided into two parts: 2 x 5 weeks of classes followed by 8 weeks of group work on a group project.
During the first phase, you learn the foundations of software development and basic concepts of programming (and web backend development), and the second phase here to give you experience working on a real-world project and agile development.
Most of the previous jobs were very individual, so it was very important for me to gain hands-on experience working in a team.
It is very common for boot camps to offer career support nowadays. Some of them even offer a money-back guarantee if you cannot find a job within 6 months of completion.
The bootcamp I signed up for has decent support. They have a strong network of recruitment partners accessible to all successful graduates, and they help students arrange first interviews as soon as possible after graduation.
In addition, they also help with CV creation, interview preparation (via group coaching sessions), and take care of professional photos of student profiles on LinkedIn.
Every time I’m about to visit a new place, sign up for something, or buy some product, I need to see a lot of reviews, and I did the same when choosing a training camp.
One of the things I would recommend (besides researching online reviews) is to do a LinkedIn search and ask alumni if they’d be willing to share their experience with you. Most ex-students in camps are usually more than willing to share their experiences with people.
I think the training service provided by the boot camp was one of the main reasons why I chose one camp over another. I’ve been a part of the coding community on Instagram for a while now and have heard a lot of stories about people getting really stressed while in boot camp so far have either dropped out of school or had a mental breakdown.
And boy was he glad this service was available! During the second week of boot camp, I started to feel very fatigued and started comparing myself to other students. It got to the point where I almost gave up! Asking for help and talking to the coach of the organization really saved my entire journey. Except for the one-on-one training sessions, there were also quite a few soft skills exercises, such as presentation skills, giving feedback, or improving productivity.
No matter which bootcamp you sign up for, be strong and don’t give up! I’m sure you’ll do something great! Let me know if you have any questions – I love connecting with people and sharing my passion (which is still a new genre) in programming.