How to choose a Code Bootcamp — (I’m not selling)
This is a major decision that will really affect the rest of your life and could also cost you a lot of money.
I didn’t find a lot of content that was useful and everything seemed to be coming from sponsored referrals. I made a decision out of 5 camps and wished someone had told me this stuff earlier.
- Don’t trust reviews
Most review sites are not a perfect account of the course.
Only people who are super pissed off will write a bad review and be willing to burn their bridges with the bootcamp they attended.
However, a lot of people leave a good review just because they think it might sound like they learnt more than they did. At the bootcamp I attended one kid who was going to attend in the next cohort left a positive review before he’d even joined!
2. Talk to people that attended the bootcamp directly.
You can find people on linked in or twitter without too much hassle. Ask for some advice and they’ll usually be pretty helpful. Outside of the public eye they are more likely to be honest.
Ask them how it went, what they learnt. You really need to know:
- The main issues they experienced with the course
- What they needed to know at the start of the bootcamp
- What level the other students were at
[Note — some might have become more involved with the bootcamp going forward, so if you feel like they are trying to sell something just thank them and ignore.]
3. Choose a camp at your level.
I highly advise against joining a bootcamp as a complete beginner. It takes time for the absolute basics to sink in and being at a bootcamp doesn’t really help it go faster but you are paying for the privilege
If you are joining with no experience check the course is definitely for complete beginners and that everyone on the course is a complete beginner. If not the course will be too fast for you to keep up and you will be wasting your time and money sitting in lessons you don’t understand.
If you have learnt the basics. (can use git, manipulate ‘arrays’, use ‘For’ loops etc…) then it’s the opposite. you want a course only for people that have learnt the basics. If there are complete beginners around the course will move way too slow and you’ll basically be self teaching yourself.
To make this clear. A bootcamp that allows a mix of student abilities is a waste of time. The lessons won’t be pitched at either demographic, the newbies won’t learn anything and the not so newbies will have to deal with the fact that every lesson takes ages as they are teaching stuff half the class isn’t ready to deal with.
3. Check them out in person.
This is not always possible but really useful if you can do it. Getting a taste of the environment and what the teachers are like is important.
Some teachers are universally liked but some are like marmite. You don’t want to spend the next three months or more learning from someone who pisses you off every time they open their mouth.
Most bootcamps will offer meet ups to learn some basics, make the most of these and check the teachers make sense and talk in a way you understand things.
4. Think seriously about what you want to learn
I can’t tell you what to choose and it’s really worth you testing yourself on what your interested in.
Note — You absolutely must try doing some code first otherwise your potentially just throwing a load of money away and wasting your time all at once.
5. Whats the plan afterwards?
Some bootcamps are great at putting you straight into jobs, others have a time and space for you to work on projects, others have no real support.
If you’re learning to be able to build your own things as an entrepreneur then ask them about the potential to stay around after the course and get mentorship.
If you’re after a job ask a student what happened from their course cohort, I’m sure most bootcamps won’t lie too badly but they’ll be very good at hiding the truth or giving stats that sound better than they are.
Price and reviews aren’t always indicative of how good a bootcamp will be. It’s easy to portray an enticing public image promising amazing full-stack abilities in 3 months on their super easy zero-to-hero course.
To be clear 99% of people can not call themselves a full-stack developer after 3 months if they started at absolute zero.
Basically all courses lie as they’re all playing the same game and that’s fine. If they all had completely honest publicity on how difficult some people will find it and drop out rates it would put a lot of people off.
Ultimately taking time out to be in a dedicated environment to just learn code is going to be useful for you, even if the teaching stinks.
Check you are really getting the extra benefits you are being promised, if you’re paying for it in time and money it’s worth doing some research first.
[For more info on lies bootcamps will tell you see this post]