Applying to a Coding Bootcamp? Don’t Leave Out These 4 Important Questions.
1. What’s the coding bootcamp entry process?
There are several different schools of thought concerning coding bootcamp entry processes. You need to consider your programming knowledge level before you start to narrow down your coding bootcamp options. Some require you to pass a test and reach a certain level of programming achievement before you can enter the program. That’s perfectly fine for students who are beyond the beginning phase, but that’s not the best bootcamp for beginners who want to go from zero to pro coder. Others require potential students to take tests in logic and analytic skills. They may weed out students who they feel won’t perform well based on those results. But you should know that logic and analytic skills can be taught, so it may be a reflection of the bootcamp’s teaching style and methodologies. Other code boot camps don’t test at all, indicating they may not be the right bootcamps for those students with more advanced programming skills, while some have voluntary tests as part of the application process.
The types of test administered are a reflection of the bootcamp itself. Be sure to ask about entry tests and what to expect from them before you apply to code bootcamps.
2. Which programming languages and skills will you teach me?
What one bootcamp teaches is completely different from what another code bootcamp teaches. Like snowflakes, no two are alike. Some teach only front-end scripting languages. Others teach only back-end languages. Some teach both. Some teach only app development. You want to have some vision of the job you want to land after graduating, then choose your bootcamp based on how it will prepare you for your new career. If you’re unsure about what you should learn or the career you want when a bootcamp ends, ask around and see if you can shadow programmers in various specialities before you start to narrow down your bootcamp options. They’ll probably be happy to show you what they do for living.
You also want to take a look at the programming options offered and find out whether that bootcamp will prepare you best for working at a small organization such a tech startup or a larger one such as a Fortune 500 company. You’ll make less money at a tech startup and it may be more difficult to find work if you don’t start your own company, but they’re fun, fast paced, and you may have a wide variety of job tasks — from app development to accounting. Code boot camps that prepare you for a tech startup environment will likely teach you Ruby as a back-end language rather than .NET. If you want to want to work for a larger organization and potentially have more job opportunities, you’ll want to seek a .NET bootcamp.
3. What’s your coding bootcamp culture like?
Some bootcamp participants respond best to a nose-down, no-nonsense curriculum. If you fall into that category, you’re there to learn and only to learn. You may not be quite as interested in going out for craft brews after class or engaging in a Nerf gun fight during downtime. You’ll want to weed out the web dev bootcamps that are not only education focused, but also social focused.
On the flip side, others aren’t interested in learning if they’re not also having a little fun in the process. If that describes you, you’re a little less likely to stick through the code boot camps that are strictly focused on learning rather than also making time for some foosball and lunch out with cohorts.
If you don’t find the coding bootcamp with a culture that best suits you , then much like a workplace you’ll want to run for the hills. Be sure to ask plenty of questions about culture during your code bootcamp research process.
4. How will your location affect my coding bootcamp experience?
If you think that location only matters because of what a city has to offer entertainment wise, you may want to think again. Cost of living will have a huge affect on how much you REALLY end up spending for the duration of the coding bootcamp — and possibly beyond. For instance, if you’re thinking of attending a coding bootcamp in Silicon Valley, you should also consider that the average cost of rent there is $2,000 for a one-bedroom apartment. You’ll also have higher costs of food, utilities, entertainment, and other expenditures. If you take a look at the cost of living in many mid-western cities, you’ll see a drastic difference. It costs about $800 for a one-bedroom apartment in some cities. And remember that it’s likely you won’t have an income for the duration of the bootcamp, which makes every expense that much more considerable.
You should also think about how location will affect you post-graduation. Most web development bootcamps will have employment partners in the bootcamp’s hometown, but they likely won’t have many outside of the city. Your coding bootcamp administrators can help you find a job anywhere in the country, but they have solid relationships with their employment partners and can use partners and connections to find you a great employment fit in the bootcamp’s town. If those partners have multiple locations around the country or world, then they can help you land a suitable gig outside of the city. Ask about a potential bootcamp’s employment partner locations before committing.