Bluenose Girl

Coding Boot Camp Survival Guide - Is It for Me?


Is a Coding Boot Camp for Me?

So you’ve heard of coding boot camps and you are wondering what they’re all about, if they really work or if they’re for you?  Perhaps you’ve signed up for one and are counting down the days until you start and want to know how to make the most of your time before, during and after the course.

In this 3 part Coding Boot Camp series I will try and help answer some questions you may have. I was part of the first cohort of London’s Makers Academy in 2013 and I’m now a working web developer.  I’ve been there, had lots of questions and lived through the madness.  There are a few things you can do to make the most of your time (and money) spent on your coding boot camp.

Can I code?

So you are wondering if you would even be any good at coding.  There are a few things that will signal this is a good path for you.

  1. Are you a logical thinker? Take the this simple test:

    a = 10, b = 20, a = b

    What is the value of a?” (Answer at the bottom of the post).

  2. Entrance Criteria – Depending on the boot camp there could be a screening process to check for ways of thinking which are consistently shown in good developers.

  3. Do you have an interest in tech?

  4. Are you good with detail and like to ask lots of question?

  5. Give it a try. Go to one of the websites with tutorials like Code Academy, Treehouse, or Code School (most websites have a free trial period).

A misconception I had for many years was that coding was about staring at a screen full of text and numbers for hours on end and doing loads of complex math equations.  When in fact it is much more creative than I imagined and for most developer roles basic math will be all you need most of the time.  As a developer you will be problem solving with code trying to find the best solution to a problem. If you work on front end code it is also very visually creative.


How to Choose a Coding Boot Camp

As more coding boot camps start up you will need to decide which one is the right one for you.  There are some things you can ask and do to help decide. 

One thing which the coding boot camp I went to kept as their top priority was hiring teachers who had excellent coding skills who demonstrated sound practices in OOP, as well as being up on the latest practices of Agile/Lean methodologies.  However one thing they learned fast (I was in the first cohort) was this was not enough.  A teacher of code has to be able to not only explain things about coding but teach them and teaching is a skill like any other, few are just naturally good at it.  So I would ask the coding boot camps how they choose their teachers and what their teaching style is.

As well as ask for a copy of the curriculum.  Though you many not know what everything on the curriculum is it is good to get a sound expectation of the topics covered.  Perhaps you aren’t interested in being a full stack developer (frontend and backend) and would rather a course that focuses just on fronted (or vica versa).

Many students keep blogs so you can do a google search and check out what they had to say.  Ask them questions as well, such as what they liked about the course, what they didn’t like and what they thought was missing.

Next find out what the acceptance criteria is, not everyone is suited to coding and I appreciated that Makers at least tried to determine that at the get go before wasting my time and money.  However if you are learning to code to add a level of understanding in your current role and not to actually write code for a living this could be less important to you.

Once you have a short list I would contact the school about opportunities to stop in and see how what things are like on a normal day.  This will give you the opportunity to ask the current students questions about their experience in person, don’t be shy.

[learn_more caption=”More questions to ask.” state=”closed”] What is the cost and do they have a payment plan?

What is included in the tuition fee?

What is the teacher student ratio and class size?

What equipment will you be using or will you be expected to provide your own?

What is the rate of people completing the course?

Do they offer help with job placement after the course?

And if yes how does this work and what companies do they work with, why and what is the success rate?

What (if any) alumni programs or follow training is available?[/learn_more]

Come back next week for Part 2 – Boot Camp – You’ve Started!

(Answer: 20)