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Why You Should Never Pay for a Coding Bootcamp

Updated: Dec 13, 2018 19:46
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coding bootcamp

image from skilledup

This was written and sent in by an anonymous person.

Read any tech blog and you’ll definitely stumble upon an article about coding camps teaching unlikely candidates to become brilliant programmers.  In just a few short months, you will learn JavaScript and/or Ruby on Rails or iOS, JQuery, API’s, HTML, CSS, and build your very own working application.   The interview standards are high and the acceptance rates are low, therefore one would assume these coveted spots are worth every penny.  They will even do the job hunting legwork for you, setting you up for interviews immediately after graduation.  Sounds like a dream come true, right?

It’s been more than 3 months since I finished my coding boot camp and I have become increasingly agitated by articles that completely contradict my own experience and the experiences of my fellow students. I did massive amounts of research regarding which bootcamp was going to offer enough benefits both before and after, and whether it was worth the money. They didn’t just interview me, I interviewed them, then researched their reviews and statistics (which I now believe were fabricated). After all, if you’re going to make an investment upwards of $14,000 and quit your job, you better be sure it’s worth it. In the end, I chose a boot camp that was known industry wide as one of the top 10 in the world.

The honest truth is that you cannot become a legitimate programmer in 3 months time.  It takes a lot longer than that. These cohorts will do nothing but teach you the extreme basics of coding, which can easily be learned from free online programs.  Sure, you’ll read articles about how students are making $100,000 right after graduation, but that is EXTREMELY rare. The highest position you will qualify for after graduation is a junior developer and that’s really pushing it. Typically, you’re not qualified for much outside of an unpaid internship.

coding bootcamp 2

image from Business Insider

False hope and exaggeration is something these camps thrive on.  All I read prior to choosing my boot camp was how 95% their students land a job within 3 months. Those are pretty great odds, right? I’d like to know where they came up with that random number since once you graduate you are dead to them.  Out of the 17 students in my cohort, only one has found work (and it’s been nearly one year).  Due to the fact they don’t follow up with you at all, there is absolutely no way for them to know that within 3 months you have been hired. In fact, I just read another article today about my own boot camp which claims a 95% success rate, thus prompting me to write this article since I haven’t heard from them since I graduated nearly a year ago.  So, how do they know if I’ve been hired or not?

In addition, the teachers are not actually teachers but rather industry workers – and not necessarily professionals.  A few of our teachers hadn’t even been in tech longer than two years.  Their teaching skills lacked and they got increasingly frustrated when students didn’t understand the material.  To them, most of the material they taught was “common sense.”

For the price that you pay for these programs, you should be getting experienced professional teachers who stick with you and are available to help. However, these “teachers” have jobs on the side and do not have time for your questions outside of class.

Eventually, when you get interviews, the hiring process is an absolute joke. They set you up for interviews you get laughed out of. When you tell them you have only built one app and only started programming 3 months earlier, it never goes well. We all felt ashamed and embarrassed after leaving these interviews. The technical interviews were way beyond our comprehension level; no one was even able to complete them.

Regarding the languages taught, you’ll find many boot camps offering Ruby on Rails and boast about how it’s the newest and up-and-coming programming language that MANY companies are using now.  It’s not. The reason they teach Ruby is because it’s the easiest language to teach and the easiest to learn, but it’s not as popular as they let on.  One thing that I kick myself for is not researching job openings for programmers to see which languages they use prior to shelling out my entire savings for the course. I’d say about 95% of these jobs want JS programmers.  It’s like trying to interview in Russian when you only speak German.


image from ctc

Do I believe coding boot camps should be regulated?  Absolutely!   For as exclusive as these camps are, in addition to the high cost of tuition, you should be getting much more out of them than you do.

  •  You should be getting reliable, available, experienced teachers who are actually certified to teach.
  • You should be getting non-stop job support until the minute you are hired, even if that takes upwards of a year or more.
  • You should be taught languages based on industry desire.
  • You should be ready and trained for interviews and technical challenges.
  • You should also be getting true, realistic facts as well.

There should be departments and experienced professionals to help you along the way, like any other educational institute.  Typically, now it’s just the boot camp owners who are more interested in making money and leave you high and dry once your bill is paid in full. These camps should have to adhere to the same education standards of any other certified educational institute.  Until then, they will continue to take advantage.

So how do I account for all the positive reviews?  Well, coding news outlets and blogs such as Course Report, for example, do offer incentives for positive reviews. If you want real, honest feedback, cruise LinkedIn for graduates of that boot camp and ask them directly about their own experiences. However, in the meantime, really consider cheaper online programs. They are just as effective and you won’t have to rearrange your life and finances to achieve your goals.

With all that being said, is a coding boot camp a good choice for you?  Honestly, don’t waste your money.

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Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, poet, TV host, activist, and general shit-stirrer. His website is one of the most influential arts & culture sites in the San Francisco Bay Area and his freelance writing has been featured in Lonely Planet, Conde Nast Traveler, The Bold Italic, and too many other outlets to remember. His weekly column, Broke-Ass City, appears every other Thursday in the San Francisco Examiner. Stuart’s writing has been translated into four languages. In 2011 Stuart created and hosted the travel show Young, Broke, and Beautiful on IFC and in 2015 he ran for Mayor of San Francisco and got nearly 20k votes.

He's been called "an Underground legend": SF Chronicle, "an SF cult hero":SF Bay Guardian, and "the chief of cheap": Time Out New York.