Thoughts on coding bootcamps? 2020 edition
February 21, 2020 3:18 PM   Subscribe

Partner is thinking of jump-starting her coding skills with one of the local (Seattle area) code programs, namely General Assembly, Hack Reactor, or Ada. Have you been through one, run one, applied to one? What are your thoughts and recommendations on what to expect and what utility they provide?

She has some CS classes under her belt and some experience working and building in a couple common languages, but is not a seasoned coder by any means.

We're very aware that these programs don't provide a guarantee of getting a coding job or anything like that. There's lots of criticism online to the effect of "it's a rip-off, just teach yourself!" Not super helpful! But we'd love to hear specific tips, concerns, experiences with bootcamps to help provide a little context or preparation. Thanks in advance!!
posted by BlackLeotardFront to Education (7 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
The main advantage of these after my asking (check my history, there was also a recent question this week same subject) is
1. Focused, very directed learning (I have ADHD so long-term motivation is very hard, "Teach yourself for months!" is not a workable strategy for my brain)
2. The pipeline/network into recruiters and companies directly (this lets you skip some nightmarish things like one of the most recent Blue posts all about how shitty software interviewing is)

I talked to one MeFi person who had done Metis and he was very complimentary of their recruitment and indeed, had an offer paying quite a bit directly after graduating. That was for data analysis though.

To me the question was Bootcamp vs. Grad school. Quit my job/spend the huge chunk now vs. keep my job/spend it over time with slower results. You will get answers from people saying "My company would never look at or care if someone had a certification" and some people who will say "My company is like 25-50% bootcamp grads." Who is right? I don't know! But I would just a bootcamp based on their CONNECTIONS TO THE INDUSTRY and DEDICATION TO JOB PLACEMENT. That's really it. Those have to be the top-tier.

Because the point is to get a job.

edit: my grad school is full of people who are doing the actual jobs I want already. I just talked to one guy at a class break and he invited me in to meet his team and watch what they do for an hour or two next week. That alone is worth quite a bit as an in to an industry.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 3:57 PM on February 21

Ask specifically about post graduation placement and employment. Some of the ciders I worked with were getting $15-$20 am hour at placement and there may be restrictions on leaving or looking to be placed somewhere else. $15-$20 might be an improvement but around here (so fla) it is barely a living wage (most of them had roommates or parents who they lived in houses of (it was the family second home, etc).

The group I ended up with was young and slightly unhealthily mysoginistic and quite “I got mine so I’m a libertarian now” but ymmv. They first worked for the boot camp and were paid through the boot camp, then signed over to a temp agency that essentially handled the HR for a bunch of the feeder companies these coders did work for.

So Umbrella Corp, runs temp agency, has a bunch of little LLCs that hire coders through the boot camp (and hr is handled by the temp agency). Umbrella Corp is also a sponsor of the coding academy (all the umbrella corps are, and the boot camp also gets federal and state grants in addition to tuition or % of student salary).

It’s basically a coding and business fraternity/sorority. I’d pay for it for my kid is ThatS what they want to do; I did vo tech high school and came out okay. But I can afford to float them along awhile while they sort their life out, like my folks did with free rent and a couple grand starting cash.

That all said, I am nearing 50. I do have enough cyber security experience that I could take a CISSP-certified course and get my certification: it would be worth the 10 grand or so. And it would bump me up probably about 25 grand salary wise, as well as make me much more employable than I am right now as a developer advocate tape.
posted by tilde at 4:17 PM on February 21 [1 favorite]

Ada is in a very different league from Hack Reactor and General Assembly.

A good friend of mine went through Ada and had a really good experience. They got a job right out of the program. I think they learned a ton and they seem happy. From what I heard, it seemed very rigorous. I worked with a few other Ada grads at a startup and I thought they had solid skills too. Worth it, I think.

Hack Reactor and General Assembly left me angry. One friend went through Hack Reactor and came with some okay-ish skills, but not enough for a job. Another friend went through the General Assembly full stack program and left with barely more knowledge than they started.

I think HR and GA can be useful if the student is a reasonably confident self-taught dev. Their placement programs can be just the right boost to get you in to a job. Their programs are too short and instructor quality is very poor. They do have good connections though, so weigh your options.
posted by thebigdeadwaltz at 5:11 PM on February 21 [2 favorites]

Also look at online programs from universities. UPenn offers an online masters degree meant for people who don’t have a CS undergrad degree. Syracuse university has an online masters CS program. IIRC, U of Oregon does, too. My wife looked at bootcamps when she was making the same decision and ultimately chose the UPenn masters program. She’s happy with it, and doing well, so far. The only downside is that there’s no built-in pipeline to network you into a job when you graduate.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 8:34 PM on February 21

Yeah, Ada is on a different level than the for-profit bootcamps.

My spouse went through Ada and into a software career, plus I work in software development with several Ada grads. I'm impressed with pretty much everything I've seen from them.
posted by Sauce Trough at 10:25 PM on February 21

A close friend of mine is successful after Ada, and I started the application and realized pretty quickly I wasn't really that into the application process and stopped haha.

They have refined their application process over the years and have a very rigorous curriculum, very different from the other two you listed.
posted by yueliang at 7:59 AM on February 22

Thanks for all the input, mefites. This is very helpful! I'm going to leave the question open for now in case anyone drops by with an opinion over the next few days.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 12:52 PM on February 22

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