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The question that you are ultimately trying to answer: is a coding bootcamp worth it? And as I have said before, it depends on a lot of factors.
Unfortunately, you’re not going to get the transparent answer that you’re looking for from coding bootcamp staff or instructors. At the end of the day, they are running a business. More students mean more revenue. The best way to figure out if a coding bootcamp is right for you is to get to the source: students.
If you’re at this stage of the decision-making process, most likely you’ve decided that a coding bootcamp would be a good fit for you.
If you’re not there yet, talking to other students can be helpful in making that decision, as well as reading my post about questions to ask yourself.
When I was trying to decide whether or not I wanted to attend a coding bootcamp, I had no one to ask because the bootcamp had literally just started. Since that time, I have received several messages from people wanting more information. I am always happy to share my experience, and I know others will as well.
Where to Start: Finding Coding Bootcamp Students
In my opinion, the best place to start is LinkedIn.
All you need to do is search for the coding bootcamp that you’re looking to attend. If you search “unc coding bootcamp”, I will eventually appear in the search results.
From there I would try reddit. You might be able to find the specific bootcamp you’re interested in. A lot of times threads are related to the city. For example: “best coding boot camp las vegas”. Most likely, you are not the first person to ask this question, so you can read through responses and potentially find some people to direct message for more information.
I would utilize both sources for sure!
You can also ask the institution that you’re thinking of attending, but they’re only going to give you their best examples (remember: business). However, you do need to ask them a ton of questions as well. Check out my list of questions to ask here.
I have a list of coding bootcamp students…
Great! Now that you have a list of a few students, I would go ahead and try to make initial contact.
I wouldn’t bombard them just yet with questions. I would reach out, introduce yourself, and ask if they’d be willing to answer some questions that you have around their experience with the coding bootcamp that they attended.
If they are open to answering questions, see if you can schedule a time to chat with them by phone or video chat if you would feel comfortable asking them to do so. I recommend talking just because you will probably have other questions arise organically.
Do you need to chat over the phone or video chat? No! Do what is most comfortable for you and the person you’re asking.
May I ask them if a coding bootcamp is worth it?
Of course! But dig a bit deeper into that question and what that means to you. People attend coding bootcamps for different reasons. Believe it or not, some people attend and never intend to be developers. They might be product managers trying to better understand basic HTML and CSS.
Start with questions about their background.
- Why did you decide to attend a coding bootcamp?
- Were you working full-time when attended?
- How did other personal responsibilities factor into the experience? For example, did you have to get childcare so you could go to class or work on projects?
- What were you hoping to get out of the experience?
- When you enrolled in the coding bootcamp, what type of job did you see yourself having after graduating?
- What has your career path looked like since you graduated from the coding bootcamp?
Once you have an idea about their background and intentions it will help to drive the conversation. If you can find someone with a similar life situation to you, that would be ideal, but not necessary.
Ask questions about their experience while going through the bootcamp.
- Did you feel supported when you needed help?
- Did you feel like the course was paced appropriately?
- What technologies did you learn?
- What technologies did you enjoy learning about?
- Did you have group projects? If so, what was that experience like?
- What did a typical class look like?
Ask questions about finding a job after the coding bootcamp.
If the person you’re talking to didn’t have the same end goal in mind as you have, some of these questions may not be as worthwhile to ask. For example, if they attended to get a development job and you are attending to better communicate with the development team that you manage.
The questions that I am listing below are pertinent to determining if a coding bootcamp is worth it for someone who is looking to become a web developer.
- What type of job were you hoping to find?
- How long did it take you to find a job?
- Did the coding bootcamp staff help you in finding a job?
- What were your salary expectations?
- Did you feel prepared entering your first job out of the bootcamp?
- Is there anything that you wish would have been included in the curriculum that you realized after finding a job?
- Did you create a portfolio with all of your projects? If so, ask if they’d be willing to share.
Is a coding bootcamp worth it?
I hope that speaking with a student (past or present) will give you the insight that you’re looking for so you can make the right decision about whether or not to attend a coding bootcamp. I absolutely would not make a decision until you have spoken with one or more students.
Don’t be shy!
People are very willing to share their experiences with you. A few years ago, I got a message from a woman in Austin, Texas who wanted to ask me some questions because she was thinking of attending a coding bootcamp. We ended up chatting for well over an hour, and I was more than happy to give her a transparent account of my experience.
Anything I missed? Any questions that you would add?