A programmer writes code during a hackathon.

The demand for computer programmers is on the rise. The job site Glassdoor shows 7,300 nationwide job openings for coders so far this year — and coding bootcamps are answering the call. These intensive multi-week courses promise to provide enough skills to land a coveted programing job. The courses are expected to produce 16,000 coders this year, twice as many as last year. In March, the White House even announced an initiative to help communities hire graduates of these intensive courses. Are coding bootcamps worth the investment, and do they live up to their promises?

The Rise of Coding Bootcamps 1 September,2015forum

Paul Ford, programmer and writer for Bloomberg Businessweek
Shawna Scott, junior software engineer in Portland, Oregon who went to coding bootcamp at Portland Code School
Anne Spalding, director of Dev Bootcamp in San Francisco

  • Robert Thomas

    What a calamity.

    Policy makers and communications majors have somehow got it into their heads that “coding” is the path that through means such as “intensive multi-week courses”, will finally employ the disconsolate youth of the nation and grant them entrée to sustainable careers of spectacular – though, obviously, soulless – compensation. Hallelujah!

    “Happy, low-brow, vocational school proletariat! Rejoice at last, in your good fortune!”

    But “coding” is to today’s workplace as “steno” was to a previous era’s. Bad software can easily be made by cobbling. Good software requires the discipline of engineering. Policy wonks and media poondits have no idea what ‘engineering’ even IS.

    As it is, the world is drowning in badly made software, perpetrated even by persons who claim actual experience and education in the craft. Electrical engineering quality has zoomed upward over the last decades while software engineering quality has plummeted. How will “Coding Bootcamps” not provide larger stones, with which to sink it further?

    An example I’ve used before – as it is quite illustrative – is that the last large-scale project in which I participated was a complex internet core router that incorporated over thirty separate, heterogeneous multi-core microprocessors and hundreds of complex ASICs; at the end of development a couple of dozen hardware design errors were augmented by no fewer than 60,000 software bugs. Candidly, former colleagues working for competitors reported similar design error profiles for comparable development programs. Rectifying these software errors probably accounted for HALF of product development time – perhaps longer than a year. The vast majority of such software errors were simple. They were most often due to: misidentification of goal; conflict of technical philosophy; miscommunication; inexperience; poor schedule management; inattention; petulance and pure slovenliness.

    Medicine is also complex technical work. Doctors are technicians – not scientists or engineers. Who would treat thoracic surgery as something for which one might qualify after attending an “intensive multi-week course”? Kind of a joke, huh? But poor software quality is beginning to threaten life and limb similarly. What the world needs is less software that is also better software, more carefully and professionally conceived – not more and more bad software.

    • erictremont

      Your comments are right on target, especially about medicine. The current electronic health records software in the hospital industry has been designed largely by software engineers who are clueless about medicine, and it shows.

      • kpwn

        This (cross-discipline) is always a problem/challenge. For example, despite (claimed) UX research, ‘the ribbon’ was still perpetrated.

        • Robert Thomas

          That IS a mystery.

    • DevBoot Camp and other similar code schools are based on for profit, despite the expense of the students, it serves. The issues remain regarding software development,career development and employment.

      As a technology executive, I / we have held Learn to Code events are educational facilities in San Francisco for free or very little costs. I have also shown effective areas for mobile application project management and consulting. Most people seem to forget, you should build teams, products and long-term partnerships that companies and customers will use.

      As teams grow, so do partnerships and development teams. There is money available for teams that build.

      Our next camp for serious learners in in SFPL Mission Bay Library in October. I would like to get more feedback, as well as work with sponsors, part-times and volunteers for series of events.

      • I have found the same success for free by leading groups at local SFPL. For example, in October we will be having events at Mission Bay Library.

        In San Francisco, no one addresses the age discrimination. .

      • I think these sorts of events fill a different need, but not everyone has access to them. Living in one of the largest cities in the midwest (definitely flyover country), our tech community is still too small to give out classes doing anything other than basic html/css that you can work through on hundreds of websites.

        Having a thriving community makes an enormous difference for growing actual talent, and very few cities have that sort of ecosystem. Bootcamps can fill a gap for people wanting a quick change who simply doesn’t have access to the daily community advantages of living in a tech hub like SF.

    • Dustyn

      I’m curious about the classroom environment of these bootcamps? Could the guests give a breakdown of day to day life while attending? I’m a CS student at CCSF and would like to know how the two compare. Thank you so much.

    • kpwn

      I think the bootcamps are expected to feed webapp dev (e.g., an amusing interactive navel lint art app), not medical hardware controllers, etc.

      I would wonder who contracted or inhoused/managed/hired for the software for that ASICs project.

      Soulless compensation beats soulless mcslavery/wal-slavery.

      • Robert Thomas

        I understand the distinction you draw. But these ‘webapp’ positions are as vulnerable as once were the jobs got and as quickly lost in on-line retail website design at the end of the ’90s, precipitating the misapprehension by journalists of a “tech bust”. Their holders are as precariously situated as were those late 20th century inexperienced workers and as likely, if their employers collapse, to confuse the popular press once again.

        Synopsis, Cadence and proprietary tools of my employer and from IBM, Avago, Xilinx and Marvell, among other entities were used. These tools are the variously good products of variously good engineers.

        I know of no soulless compensation I would turn down. I can only imagine the attitude, however, of a Graduate in the field of once crucial Marxist Literary Criticism.

        • kpwn

          ‘tech bust’.
          Tech busts have been consumer sales/business depressions. Long-term work must continue.

          IMO, business reporters similarly blur definitions when referring to VC as “tech”, VC should have good judgement about profit-potential of certain ‘tech’, but VC expertise is still in finance and/or management, not (actively) in tech.

          • Robert Thomas

            You say this more clearly than I.

  • geraldfnord

    A single course is far fron enough if it doesn’t inculcate good design principles, and experience helps, but on the other hand I know of a few bright English majors who’ve been good contributors precisely by virtue of not being pushed into an engineering mould.

    My case was different but reminiscent: I was a scientist, with very little formal C.S. training but experience programming (and, importantly, making mistakes and recognising them) from mine own research. That came in handy when I first wanted a programming job…but even so, I found I thought differently to many other programmers, and si occasionally problems hard for them were easy for me….

  • Kurt thialfad

    I attended a coding boot camp in the 1970’s, Of course it wasn’t called that, and it wasn’t called coding, and the field wasn’t called Information Technology. I attended the Grumman Data Systems Institute, sponsored by the Grumman Corporate, defense contractor and canoe maker. And I was soon “coding” on Wall St. There was another established by Chubb Insurance. But there were many more.

    It was a wonderful example of businesses making a direct investment in education in order to develop the skilled workers they needed. Such institutes went out of fashion, as companies were allowed to hire more foreign workers. So it is refreshing to see the trend returning.

    • Robert Thomas

      I have had fine experiences with engineers who once upon a time were trained by ITT and Control Data.

      The first ever software engineering courses – short, three week seminars – were enthusiastically attended at IBM’s Columbia University Computing Lab in the townhouse at 612 West 116th Street, New York City, and were taught by astronomer and electrical engineer Eric Hankam and others. They were instituted after lunchtime conversations at which scientists and engineers from around the world had sat rapt, began to overwhelm a lunchroom. A brief history may be found here:

      “The Watson Laboratory Three-Week Course on Computing”

      Hankam’s course was given free of charge.

  • Philip

    Not to take away from the current discussion, but this morning’s program would be a great reference point for the Fresh Aire piece on upspeak.

  • Steve

    “Coding” is the lowest level of knowledge required to build software systems, and is not adequate by itself. Computer science and software engineering are complex disciplines that require more extensive study. A coder without that knowledge will likely produce inferior and possibly faulty products.

  • erictremont

    The promise of user-friendly computing as conceived by people like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs was that lots of ordinary people could use computer devices without having to know anything about programming. To some extent, this vision has been realized (re: the smartphone). In this context it is ironic and weird that we are now witnessing an explosion of coding boot camps. I fear that one of the unfortunate by-products of this trend is that it it gives employers an excuse to make jobs that traditionally did not require coding skills now require such knowledge. Exhibit A is financial analyst jobs: not long ago the only computer skills that this kind of job required was how to use spreadsheet software; now these jobs increasingly require knowledge of SQL and/or other programming languages. Having worked in both the financial and IT fields over the past 30 years it is not obvious to me that having coding skills is making the financial analyst profession more productive. Rather, financial analysts are being forced to acquire coding skills because the increasingly large, bureaucratic organizations (e.g., commercial banks, hospitals, government agencies) they work for have such dysfunctional IT systems that only analysts with coding skills can make sense of the data. This is not what Gates and Jobs had in mind.

    • kpwn

      ordinary people could use computer devices without having to know anything about programming… smartphone
      Yes, anyone can be naively spied upon.

  • scrypps

    I went to computer learning center during the first dot Com boom. Basically $15k to learn nothing. I still write a check for $250 a month to pay for it, the only thing that reminds me I went there. The center went bankrupt a year after I graduated. A travesty that this happens to thousands of people every year and has been for quite a while.

    • kpwn

      maybe five years later, demand for your education had revived?

      • scrypps

        Nah, it was designed to make you feel like you were in school but we spent a month on a different language for nine months, so in the end you could do “hell world” in nine languages. Federal money was cut off when it was discovered no one could use that education for anything.

        • kpwn

          Federal money was cut off when it was discovered no one could use that education for anything

          ah. ‘bankrupt’ (in your upthread) was a clue.

          So the real problem remains finding good quality school (for specialties)

  • Robert Thomas

    The first computer language I learned was RPG II. I had to ride my bike several miles across town to the Moreland school district to be instructed during a Summer vacation – in an adult education class – when I was twelve. Through an ASR-33, I had access to a remote Amdahl V-Series. I was determined to figure out how every aspect of this chain of technology worked. I gave up a number of things to have this privilege. Imagine the liberation – the thrill, – the following year when I had exclusive time on an hp 2116!

    How alien and distasteful must a passion developed from a young age for engineering of any kind be, in the eyes of a horrified literature professor?

    What on Earth could be more indicative of a humanities major’s derision and internalized recoil from a modern version of these activities than that its promoters refer to these pursuits as “bootcamp”? What more dreadful and arduous metaphor might the popular media choose for these victims? Draftee? Convict? Pariah? Laborer?

    • Hmm. I’m curious from whence comes *your* ‘internalized recoil’ for the humanities. Because it’s not like humanities and STEM are like oil and water, and never the twain shall meet. I started out at university as a biochemistry major, and in the process, took 2 years of upper division math, and chemistry up through and including organic chem. And then I switched gears and became a lit major. So far, my mind has not exploded. I also have equal amounts of respect and curiosity about the humanities and science, and those involved in both fields. This is not so radical.

      But would you consider, say, Carl Sagan less of a scientist because he (shudder!) *wrote books*??

      • Noelle

        Jacob Bronowski as well, physicist and mathematician, host/author of The Ascent of Man(BBC history of science series from 1970s). See it on Netflix.

        • Yup. there are so many truly brilliant writers who also happen to be scientists, as well as artist/scientists, musician/scientists…the list is long. I have three good friends who are successful science wonks at Genentech, Dolby and Intel, and each of them are in three different bands. One of them is successful enough in his music that he regularly takes sabbaticals to record albums and go on festival tours–and Intel, where he works, *encourages* this. The well-rounded mind that can incorporate both science and humanities is often the true mark of REAL genius.

      • Robert Thomas

        I experience absolutely no such recoil. If you read my reply here elsewhere to commenter Cathy, you may apprehend a note of recognition.

    • kpwn

      you might be thinking of the term “work camp”?

      • Robert Thomas

        My question is, what is the perception of this walk of life, that predominates among the producers, researchers and on-air talent employed at such institutions as KQED?

        • Noelle

          Producers are probably non-high tech college graduates, like me. Liberal arts majors.

  • davey

    Does anyone know what the average or typical starting salaries are post-grad?


  • Margaux Lopez

    A good online (and free) resource for getting your feet wet with coding classes: codecademy.com

  • Janice Berman

    I’m interested in coding but am 70 years old, retired from a full and happy career as an editor and writer. If I learned to code, would it be possible for me to find a good job? Thanks.

    • zorgparts

      This is a momentary upward blip in demand for “web coder.” You might be more successful doing some writing jobs through your old contacts in the industry.

    • David

      wow. what’s with the lack of encouragement? @janice_berman:disqus, i do not know what you mean by a “good job” but you may be able to get a job so long as you avoid the age discriminators. i suggest honing your skills and building your portfolio by pursuing volunteer work as a coder. then, market yourself. good luck.

      • @David, that is a lame response. The truth is that age discrimination is a main factor and common by at least ninety percent.

        It is not just women-in-tech, whom are claim not to have opportunity. Let’s talk about reality.

        • David

          @KennethFax, that is a lame response. if we follow your sense of reality, we should discourage anyone and everyone seeking ventures in contexts which otherwise discriminate to keep them out. lame.

      • As a preliminary, one must be dedicated to learn and continue through the high and low moments. A writer may want to get the foundation first. It is also ideal to join and partner with member group, that are learning to code and earning at the same time.

  • Cathy

    Why is it that these schools cannot incorporate at least one class in some sort of humanities or interpersonal skills? I’m glad to hear of people having success getting jobs. But life is much more than that. Humanities and social sciences broaden ones appreciation of human nature and gives us a deeper sense of ourselves and those around us. It may not seem linked to a vocational degree, but these are valuable lessons that can also be applied to any job.

    • Robert Thomas

      In my post-secondary course work, I learned about Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes, Democritus and Epictetus; I read The Sound and the Fury and The Sailor Who Fell From Grace with the Sea. I learned about Palladio and Wren and Corbusier. I read Karl Jaspers and Mercia Eliade and Søren Kierkegaard and (good grief) Peter Singer.

      I also had four semesters of chemistry, differential geometry, a semester of statistics and two of abstract algebra. I’m able to critically dissect all kinds of spurious pseudo-science I’m presented with in the popular media from both left-wing and right-wing axe grinders.

      How many of the latter subjects I mentioned above will a humanities major achieve?

      • In the context of your comment below, you seem to assume that your experience as an engineering major who also studied humanities cannot be duplicated in the reverse. And you’ve developed such dramatic *disdain* for those in the humanities.

        My educational experience, is, essentially, the humanities-based reverse of your story. And yet, I have nothing but respect and continuing intellectual curiosity for STEM and those with STEM expertise. You seem to imply that there is an active war between the sciences and humanities, in which the dreaded ‘popular media’ takes the side of humanities. I find this to be just a tad bit paranoid, and not based in any reality of the Bay Area professionals *I* know.

        One does not have to tear down the “humanities side” in order to celebrate the “science side”–unless, of course, ones’ delicate ego is involved!

        • Robert Thomas

          I’m frustrated sometimes with co-workers whose breadth in the humanities seems tragically too narrow. I don’t know any objective statistics on the phenomenon (do you?), but my anecdotal observation is that far fewer from The Culture of the humanities have any exposure to the sciences or mathematics than those from The Culture of the latter subjects have exposure to literature, history, philosophy, art or language.

          The Snowvian (“Snavian”?) divide isn’t an illusion.

          • davey

            Maybe those with narrow educations will spend less time debating philosophy at the water cooler and more time doing their job? 😉

    • davey

      These programs are designed to teach vocational skills, not interpersonal skills. They are crash courses and aren’t intended to be well rounded educations. If I’m paying 15-20k to learn a skill, I don’t want any of that wasted or the extremely limited time used on something other than what I want to learn.

      If you want a broader education, take some classes at a community college for a fraction of what it would cost to have them as part of a boot camp program. Better yet, there are many free online courses in those areas- study all you want. Or go to lectures, workshops, meetups, social clubs, volunteer, ect ect. at a much more leisurely past and for little or no money.

  • Back in the Jurassic era of 1987, the school computer system at UCSC was run on UNIX, so in order to use the library and register for classes, you had to acquire a basic knowledge of that language. I took several chemistry lab courses, and dove even deeper into UNIX in order to process my results. By the time I graduated, I had pieced together a crude understanding of UNIX. (Of course, during my last year, the university introduced bright, shiny computer labs full of brand spankin’ new Macintosh computers.)

    But my UNIX prowess was *nothing* compared to several college pals who were deep into gaming programming, and had been coding since they were pre-teens. One of them went on to be a member of the team that built Java. These guys were true artists and grasped computing in its entirety. I think that this is akin to the difference between a coding boot camp graduate and an experienced programming engineer.

    • kpwn

      The other difference is beginning while a teen or pre-teen. The same can be seen among auto mechanics, musicians…

  • Robert Thomas

    The palpable revulsion evinced by people who can’t appreciate the difference between engineering and carpet cleaning – in such a context as this – is just staggering.

  • zorgparts

    Why Good People Can’t Find Jobs by Wharton management professor Peter Cappelli should be required reading for employers (especially if you are a 24-year old CEO) and journalists alike. When these fickle startups run out off cash the surviving companies will continue to hold out for that mythical star developer.

  • Patrick

    Coding is like writing. Maybe you can learn how to write in couple months, but mastery of it is an entirely different matter. Not everyone can write like Shakespeare right off the bat nor does everyone need to write like one. It all depends on what your expectation is .

    • kpwn

      So, who hires for the coding equivalent of a limerick? 🙂

    • Robert Thomas

      I really don’t know what “coding” is like or unlike. I know that as an electrical engineer I’ve done some modest software engineering and what that’s like is engineering.

  • kpwn

    – Did I miss discussion of ethical hindrances, predominantly regarding webdev. For instance, kqed.org tries running sharethis, quantserve, and some other scripts (blocked, of course).
    – coding itself isn’t so hard, but API’s always change and are numerous. Are there coding helpers for that?
    – I have interest in security, but am not up for cryptomath degree.

    • I doubt ethics were covered in this hour, I flipped it on late. Organizations try to track to learn about their users and what they’re doing right, where they can improve, and what they can brag about to their advertisers. We, in the meantime, try to block. Cat and mouse. 🙂

      You’re getting to one of the cores of working in technology here – IT is such a young field, it’s constantly being overturned with new things coming out every day. To say a top tier engineer, you gotta frequently check out new things. I think in a way you could call it the “IT News” – but I’ve yet to see that well packaged in a consumable form that would let developers stay on top of languages/APIs as they come out. For me, if something catches my eye, I’ll look for an excuse to use it in a project to see what it’s really like.

      You don’t need heavy math skills to get into information security, unless you specifically want to get into the study of encryption algorithms… (my background for the last few years is application and cloud security)

      • kpwn

        this hour, I flipped it on late
        Same. Also interrupted by tasks itrw.

        Organizations try to track to learn about their users and what they’re doing right, where they can improve, and what they can brag about to their advertisers
        I support quality control/feedback as ‘legitimate’.
        I have not found a user-verifiable approach to (sometimes subjectively) ‘firewalling’ between feedback versus spying.

        last few years is application and cloud security
        other than syncing bookmarks and perhaps password blobs, most of the cloud seems ‘enterprise’ to me.

        if something catches my eye, I’ll look for an excuse to use it in a project to see what it’s really like
        So API adoption is ‘chaotically darwinian’? Coding progress might rely on “secrets staring you right in the face (from within a large haystack)”.

        anyway, thanks for dropping-in to comment as a ‘hiring perspective’. (And I am assuming you are not really a Galapagos tortoise when off the internet)

  • I can’t imagine why somebody would pay $15k to learn how to program! All the resources are available online – there’s free courses at MOOCs, there’s discussion groups, question and answer websites. Any modern programming language has great tutorial documentation available online, for *free*. There is ZERO REASON to go do a bootcamp.

    Take a week off from your day job and lock yourself in at home with your computer and a goal. If you run into issues, find a meetup to go to and ask people in the community to help you. Don’t pay leaches like this that promise the stars but deliver far less.

    As a hiring manager, I’d not look highly upon a resume from a bootcamp.

    • Noelle

      I guess you get a certificate from a boot camp, while if you are self-taught how do you document your background? I agree with you, though, over all.

      • A certificate stating a technology has been learned means little to most people in tech. In an interview I’ll figure out pretty quick what is or isn’t known, and more importantly I’ll figure out if and how that knowledge has been put to use in the real world.

        In 2015, you can easily publicly document your experience by contributing to open source projects on github, and showing a hiring manager your account (if you have a solid track record, the recruiters will find you).

        • kpwn

          ah. a github project is an example of what you meant by “and a goal“?
          Isn’t much project-specific background knowledge necessary before any coding?

          • No – a goal can be anything – “I want to make a green monster dance around in my web browser and eat purple bananas.” Once that’s done, if you want to show your awesome green monster off to the world, go ahead and put it up on Github or similar.

            You need to know something about the concept you’re trying to turn into a program, for sure. But we all already have tons of knowledge about tons of things, just look around you. The standard intro computer science problems are things like write a program to pick out your outfits for different days of the week; write a program to catalog your music by artist, album, and song; create a digital recipe box (ok that’s more an 80s thing I think).

            Just pick something. Anything. Set your first goals low – a simple text output like “hello world.” Then iterate through “what ifs” – could you make the text bigger, a different color, rotated? Could you get the computer to speak “hello world?” How about send it as a message to your phone?

            It doesn’t matter much what the goal is – what matters is what you learn on the process of reaching that goal.

          • kpwn

            my stuff is more than hello world, but has miniscule use for other people. obscure²

          • That’s fine…but during the process of creating it, I’m guessing you picked up skills that could be used towards other projects.

          • kpwn

            Somewhat unavoidable.
            Copied and occasionaly modify a file for text editor’s syntax formatting.
            Sometimes I must pseudocode, but usually the ‘subproject’ is small. Other people do bigger subprojects.
            The ‘IDE’ is indispensable as it is, but is barebones. Sometimes I temporarily insert log/write, but ‘IDE’ lacks obvious step or watch.
            Even drag n drop is weak.
            The program is closed source, btw.
            userbase has declined, which may be why repeated projects to replace the program have fizzled.
            Also, newer friendlier more popular software perform some functions, reducing userbase. I have seen messages by users to the effect, “I’m moving on to [BLANK]”

            btw, the software’s dev began in 9x era, but might have developed mostly in win2000.
            It runs in Win8 and WINE.

  • kpwn

    Does the hiring manager (comment via email?) who spurns ‘bootcamps’ hire based people touting MOOC-education?
    [edit: comment was disqus comment, that showed after refresh]

    • I hire people based on their demonstrable experience – not based on where they went to school, previous companies they worked at, or whatever certificates or letters they have after their name. I’ve been around the block enough times to understand that one can not hire engineers (or really, anybody) based on a glance at a resume.

      It doesn’t take long talking to somebody to see if they have knowledge, experience, drive, and an interest in things. You don’t have to go to the (ridiculous) lengths that some of the larger tech companies in the bay area currently do.

  • davey

    The issue with the DIY learning is that for WebDev there are a lot of different technologies that you must know. For a beginner, it’s hard to know WHAT to learn. As one of the guests commented, even she didn’t know what the predominate languages are.

    For a beginner, how does one prove to an employer that they did the necessary studying?

    • Start with HTML, CSS, standard JavaScript.

      Along the process of learning these, you will probably learn a few other things – text editors, HTML editors, maybe a JavaScript editor. Possibly even a debugger like FireBug.

      Once you have those, the 2 major javascript frameworks being used today are AngularJS and Backbone. Which to learn, or should you learn something else? The question becomes are you looking for a job at a specific company, a specific type of company (say, online games vs mobile health apps), or whoever will take you? Figure that out, then see what the companies in that space are using. In general, your question gets a lot of press, so googling “top javascript framework for new developers” should get you some decent reading.

      If you want to win a job, I really think you have to have done something, not “studied.” Here’s how your interview with me would work: I look over your resume, see you claim experience in front-end web development. I’ll ask a few simple questions about what tools you’ve used, why you liked them, what you’d do different in the future. Then I’ll ask you to tell me about a project you’ve worked on, why you selected to use the frameworks you did, what you learned from the project. These are just the starters, but if you haven’t actually picked a project and worked on it, I’m going to be getting a blank stare and the interview will be pretty short.

      So: have a project you can tell me about. It doesn’t have to be in the public domain. Pick something relevant to you that you’ll have some interest in, just look around you!

  • zorgparts

    If you spend $15K and land yourself an $85K job are you better off? Yes you are. As long as the job placement numbers stay positive don’t knock the camp. I blame our out to lunch political system for not creating enough jobs in all areas of the economy.

  • dead_dragon

    No, Silicon Valley companies don’t hire someone with just a coding bootcamp crash course under their belt. It may get your feet wet, but it takes a lot more to become a software engineer. A CS degree usually is where most people start, but more importantly, years of industrial experience is what counts.

  • Google Inc. is changing its logo and identity, reflecting a digital world centered on mobile devices. It is a fresh start. As users become more comfortable, Google completed the San Francisco event open to the public, yesterday. #SummerOfApps

    It is a good opportunity for newbies to learn to code and see what other hobbyists are building – with or without the typical boot camps.

  • dbcGradGirl353

    I am a graduate of DevBootCamp and I hope the following words might be useful to to any interested listener who are considering to shell out least 12K. Please reconsider. If I had to do it again, I wouldn’t go. It is not for everybody. I taken computer science courses in every level of education–community college classes, private school, public school, Meetup groups, free classes at hackerspaces–you name it. I have also graduated from the top university in the nation. Here are my two cents. If you have work experiences in other fields, such as marketing, banking, or some other industry, then maybe joining a coding intensive program is right for you. DBC might actually be a great deal. Paradoxically enough, if you want to be a coder, then you don’t need pay 10K to do this. I will state this again. YOU DO NOT NEED to shell out 12K+ to validate your own authenticity as a developer. Don’t believe the hype. Furthermore, DBC and other bootcamps is a BAD deal if you do not have the money for it. Even if you do have that much cash, I can name you 10 other alternatives from the top of my head, some of which will PAY you to write code.

    0) The Recurse Project — which is more intensive than DBC but completely free if you are admitted at recurse.com

    1) If you want to go the formal educational route: UMASS online degree in IT for around 10K for second BA

    2) Thomas Edison State College– 3K – 5K and can be completed in less than 6 months if you combine it with Straighterline, DSST, and CLEP.

    3) Western Governors University for B.S. in Software Engineering. for under 10K, and 6K if you can finish in a year.

    4) Harvard ALM has similar degree for 20K and you can go at your own pace for up to five years.

    5) http://www.codeforamerica.org/

    6) http://www.codeforprogress.org/
    This is great for minorities and women, especially if you have a strong NGO background.

    7) Work on some Free and Open Source projects and get a stipend at https://www.gnome.org/outreachy/

    8) CCSF have great certificates program in CS and It, and if you are under a certain income bracket, you can get your fees waived and pay less than 100 bucks a semester.

    9) BAVC TechSF has scholarships for web developers — http://bavc.org/techsf

    If all of the 10 choices are not what you want then do yourself a favor and buy a ticket to somewhere in some developing countries. Use the remainder of the tuition to support yourself for the next 2-3 years to learn the trade properly. This is especially true for a learner like me, who wants to know the theory not just the code.

    Lastly, do not join a coding bootcamp if you “need a better job”, or currently don’t have a job, or is in some kind of mid life crisis. Do not join if this is you are desperate in this economic climate. If you have even the slightest inclination of faith in your own abilities and you are an autodidact, then you owe it to yourself to look for alternatives. I wish I had.

    • Emily Moses

      Hi – I wanted to know your suggestions for countries that you think would be decent to learn coding. I have extensive traveling experience, especially in developing countries, and the idea of living abroad (cheaply) while also learning/teaching myself to code is appealing to me. I assume there would have to be excellent internet service, which may not be available in ALL developing countries. Any suggestions??

  • Recent graduate of a bootcamp; formerly in government work overseas, for-profit education and a bunch of crappy jobs in the interim.

    I’ve found my experience to be worthwhile, but I went in knowing the program itself would be insufficient; they aren’t designed to ‘make’ a developer, they’re vocational skills training crammed into a few months. Anyone who enters into it thinking that they walk out an automatic engineer is going to perform poorly simply because they already aren’t taking enough responsibility for their careers.

    I’m working at a nice company now with a strong upwards trajectory in my future; sure, I might not be writing assembly language or building incredibly complex products the likes of which will change the face of our technology forever, but I do good work and am rewarded appropriately. I study constantly outside of work and am learning every day how to be a better developer. Not every task in software involves reinventing the wheel, and not every person writing code needs to be your colloquial expectation of a pompous software engineer.

    As demand for fast-moving products grows, the need for a large number of specialized developers will only increase which is what is generating this high demand for ‘coders’ in the first place. A lot of people who attend bootcamps fail because they misunderstood what the bootcamp provides- an opportunity for you to work hard and learn, then to launch your career with their help. A lot of other people succeed and find a great deal of satisfaction with their choices afterwards.

    Like most things, it depends on the person, not the school.

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