Coding Bootcamp - did it change my life?


Why a Coding Bootcamp?

Like many people considering changing their careers through a coding Bootcamp, I too feel like I made a mistake choosing a profession that was not right for me.

We all know that there are a lot of free (or very cheap) online resources to learn to code, so why pay thousands of dollars? And the answer is: you don't have to. It really depends on your goals, for me, it was getting a job overseas quickly and experiencing the Bootcamp - it is very fun and challenging.

I advise that you understand your goals before joining a Coding Bootcamp because it is very likely that you can achieve them without spending thousands of dollars.

So how do you know if a Bootcamp is right for you?

Write down your goals of learning to code, and analyze if you really need to join a coding Bootcamp, for example:

  • Want to become a solo bootstrap founder? You probably don't need a coding Bootcamp.

  • Want to get a job in a hot tech hub like Berlin or London? Joining a top European Bootcamp might be a good idea.

  • Get a promotion at your current job? You don't need a coding Bootcamp.

For the USA it's a bit more tricky to get a job if you are not a citizen or hold a visa.

A computer with some code

Photo from Unsplash

What it takes to succeed

Some people will claim that you don't need any coding knowledge, that you are joining a Bootcamp to learn to code, the so-called zero to hero, but I strongly disagree with them. How do you expect to know if you will like coding or if it's right for you if you have never tried it?. You should have some basic HTML, CSS, and JavaScript knowledge. I even would go the extra mile and have a sneak peek at some popular frontend tools like React, Angular, or Vue and do some server-side programming, like NodeJS with MongoDB or Postgres.

You don't have to go all-in on this, just get your hands dirty and know what to expect during your lessons. Then when you are learning about these topics during the Bootcamp you can ask smart questions that will add real value. I noticed that some colleagues were stuck understanding the syntax while I was way ahead asking questions about best practices.

The people who succeeded the most by building the best projects and getting the best job offers (and almost immediately after graduation) in my batch were the ones that already knew how to code before the first lesson.

Push yourself very hard and take it seriously, this experience is well worth it if you do. I sure am glad that I did.

Choosing the right one

This really depends again on your goals, I wanted to get a job either in North America or Europe, in my case in particular it was easier to get a job in Europe after graduation so I chose one that was located in Berlin, Germany, which is a Tech Hub with plenty of jobs and startups popping all over the place.

This is key, if you want to get a job immediately after graduation, the location where you study really matters. This is because many employers will come to interview the graduates after each batch finishes the Bootcamp (at least I know this is true for most respected and serious coding Bootcamps out there). Therefore, you want to be in a city that is booming in tech.

Another thing that matters just as much as the location of the Bootcamp is of course the Bootcamp itself. Generally and luckily for you, the good ones are located in cities that are booming in tech. Have a look at SwitchUp and Course Report, these websites have a list of all the (serious) Bootcamps out there with tons of reviews and information for you to understand if it's the right one for you.

Finally, you have to check the tech stack that will be taught in the Bootcamp. From what I remember from most of my research these Bootcamps have quite updated curriculums. Most will ask you to learn the web fundamentals like HTML, CSS, and basic JavaScript before the lessons start in the pre-work. Then during the Bootcamp, they teach you to work with popular frameworks, for Front-end my recommendation is React, and for Back-end Express.js. But this is up to you, do some research on which technologies are trending before your studies - this could be outdated by the time you read it.

Decision time

For me, deciding to "enlist" in a coding Bootcamp was more or less a wake-up call after comparing my day-to-day life with those who worked for tech companies. It seemed like they were having the time of their life, while I was faking it dressing nicely to go to work.

Before I decided to go all-in with programming, I had already completed a few dozen Udemy courses, watched many Youtube videos, and build a few static websites for family members. So I knew what it was all about and how much I enjoyed it so the decision was easy.

During my time at this corp, I applied to a few tech jobs here and there but I never felt confident in my skills because I have been trying to learn online for three years and still had many gaps so I will never nail the interview.

So after a year of working there and saving most of my salary, I decided to quit and join a coding Bootcamp to fill the gaps and boost my confidence as a developer. I was between going to Toronto, which has been a dream destination of mine for years now, or Berlin, a city which I have visited before during my studies as an exchange student and I knew I already liked it and the tech scene was booming.

I took the latter because it was way easier to get a tech job there after graduation being a foreigner than in Canada (at least at the time being). And there I was, jobless, alone, and burning all my savings to become a better developer in Germany.

Tech office - useproof.com

Photo from Proof

Go the extra mile

After completing the Bootcamp I got invited to many second-round interviews by the employers who assisted the hiring week, my former boss told me that he could easily spot who went the extra mile and who didn't during the Bootcamp, and that's why he wanted me and was willing to sponsor me a visa.

This is probably the best advice I can give you in this whole article, you want to be among those who went the extra mile and beyond, allow me to explain how I did it.

In most Bootcamps, there are projects that you will build as part of the program, these projects are the most important thing you take with you after the Bootcamp, and that is because it shows what you are capable of doing. The certificate of completion is worth peanuts to any employer, you can literally print it at your house. What they care about are the projects that you built during your time there.

Especially the last project is the most important one and the one where you get to showcase the full range of your skills and impress your potential employer. My final project which I worked on together with a dear friend and future colleague was an IoT platform for monitoring the health of your plants.

Of course, we were not taught about microcontrollers during the Bootcamp, so when we showcased our final project which involved everything that we have learned in the past three months (React, NodeJS, MongoDB, etc.) plus other skills that were not taught, it really stood out and allowed us (my colleague and I) to understand more in-depth how all the dots connect to build a robust software application - which is one of the main reasons why you join Bootcamp after all.

You can find all my projects on my GitHub profile.

A road in the dessert - https://diego.cool

Photo from DiegoCool

So, did it change my life? Was it worth it?

I will keep this short and answer with a yes. The program pushed me to fill all the gaps I had when learning to code all by myself. There is something about being surrounded by many like-minded people on a similar quest as you that really pushes you to make the best out of those three months.

I learned a lot, I had a lot of fun and it changed my life for good. Now I have an amazing job at an amazing company, have many opportunities worldwide, and honestly, it's never been better to be a programmer.

Although I am well aware that it takes more than just enrolling in the Bootcamp to change your life. As I mentioned before, you have to put in the extra hours, be prepared before the lessons start, and have a true passion for coding, it is not for everybody and if you don't like it you will have a very hard time.

If you do all of this I promise you, you can change your life too.

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life” ~Confucius