Calling all web dev bootcamp alumni -- what does a gal need to know?
June 2, 2016 12:28 PM   Subscribe

I'm going to be doing a web development bootcamp in Toronto. How can I make the most of it?

Since posting this question, I've been nerding out hard with codecademy, treehouse, and lpthw. I've built some little stuff, learning git thins now. I'm super into it (so rewardingly puzzle-y / fun / so much learning!!!), and going to be doing a web development bootcamp this summer.

So, the questions: if you've done a bootcamp (in Toronto or elsewhere), what do you wish you'd known in advance? What would you do differently? What did you do in order to make sure you were able to be gainfully employed when it ended? Given the chance to go back, would you do it all again?

If you're on the hiring side, what do you look for in coding bootcamp grads? How can people stand out as good potential hires?

Thanks, green! <333
posted by crawfo to Education (5 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Sorry to tell you this, but my sister did one of these and it was a bit of a disaster. I'm not sure how much prep she did beforehand, and I think her passion level for the topic turned out to be minimal, which was part of the problem. But it was also that this really is not a skill you can properly and employably learn in a 'Bootcamp.' The place she did hers started offering free extension classes to graduates in recognition of this. But for her, it wasn't enough and she is now pursuing other things.
posted by JoannaC at 2:19 PM on June 2, 2016

I think it really depends on the bootcamp (and sometimes where you are). Similar questions have popped up lately on the women-in-tech threads I subscribe to and some bootcamps do work. If you MeMail me your email I'll forward you a couple threads to read through.

Is it the same as a PhD in CS from a big school? No. Can a good* bootcamp help someone smart and driven get their foot in the door? Sure.

You might really like the CodeNewbie podcast too.

Caveat: I'm just like you, and in a similar situation.
*I think this is a big IF. Boot camps can vary wildly!
posted by jrobin276 at 2:46 PM on June 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

I did this 1.5 years ago, possibly at the same bootcamp you're going to. Best decision I've ever made--I'm currently employed in my field, as are most of my former classmates.

I think the most important thing to keep in mind is that the bootcamp is just a launching pad, but before, during, and after the bootcamp (like, years after), you need to be consistently working on improving your skills. A bootcamp may land you a very junior job, but then it's up to you to put in the extracurricular work to actually advance in your career.

The people who got their first job fastest mostly had some other complementary skill--journalism, UX &/or UI design, ???--or took up a specialty in order to stand out a bit from the rest of their classmates.

If you're going to the same one I went to, I may have more specific info--feel free to drop me a memail if you like.
posted by sea change at 3:26 PM on June 2, 2016 [2 favorites]

I attended an iOS bootcamp in Vancouver last year and it was the best professional experience of my life. I still talk daily or every other day with people from my cohort and later cohorts via Slack; with iOS devs and web devs from the other side of the fence [my bootcamp does both], as it were.

If I had to do it over, I'd have spent a lot more time working on Objective-C courses (we didn't spend a lot of time with Swift at the time, though one guy in my cohort did all his work and exams in Swift as a trial/pilot project; now I use it exclusively for iOS apps) from Ray Wenderlich and Lynda. Don't sweat these though -- everyone learns differently and those sites you mentioned are fine if they work for you (I actually prefer books and good written tutorials to videos, I find insight sometimes hard to glean from video tutorials and they frickin' take *forEVER* to sit through).

You're doing the right things and in the right timeframe. Just be aware that sea change is absolutely right, you must put in the hours to move forward once you graduate. A bootcamp cannot give you everything you might need, but it can give you enough to make a start in development -- just be aware that you are responsible for your own success when it finishes.

If your bootcamp has regular demo day-type events, go. Talk to recent grads and current students before you begin. It can be a tough slog, especially if you are coming to it without a background in tech. But you have the right attitude, and that does count for a hell of a lot, especially once you find that company willing to take a chance on you as a junior developer. And trust me, you will.

You will find lots of companies will take a pass on you, and there will be the usual jokers, and then you'll find others that will sit down with you and want to work with you. It's the same as anywhere else -- the one thing I learned at bootcamp was that I could do it if I set my mind to it. And so can you! I'm happy to share my experiences in more detail via MeMail if you're inclined.

Believe in yourself, have fun, and you will go very far. I'm really excited for you!
posted by northtwilight at 12:02 AM on June 3, 2016

I did a javascript immersion course from Jan 2015-May 2015. I loved it, but eventually realized that the industry isn't for me anymore.

In order to succeed you need to spend extra time outside of class practicing and finishing projects. Build a great GitHub account with lots of code - this will impress hardcore developers who have a ton of input into hiring decisions. Your GitHub username is something you can take to the bank - make it look good. Go to as many meetups as you can, they're a great way to meet both recruiters and Angular experts.

For group projects do whatever you can to work with the best students in your cohort.

Good code schools will have a person who talks to business owners in the community who are willing to hire junior developers. My code school sent out emails every time they heard about a new position. There are definitely companies who love hiring code school grads, especially if the person hiring is an alumni at your school. Some even have a money-back guarantee if you don't land a coding job in a set amount of time.

Network as much as you can: meetups, meet with recruiters, with employers, if your school has a presentation of capstone projects make yourself business cards and talk to as many people as you can. Just put yourself out there.

I went to a javascript meetup months after my class was over, did a two minute presentation of my group's final project and said, "I need a job." I actually got a job lead right then and there.

My school also did a bunch of company tours where we talked to HR people and developers from a whole bunch of companies. That alone gave me two good job opportunities. For our capstone projects we were paired with one of the companies we had toured and they gave us a lot of good advice in an advisory role. I later snagged a good contract job with our advisors.

I was the only woman in my cohort, but that doesn't seem to be very common anymore.

Feel free to MeMail me.
posted by bendy at 7:43 PM on June 3, 2016

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