With just one week left of my foundations bootcamp, I’ve been thinking a lot about where my next steps should take me.
The bootcamp has been a great experience and provided me with a lot of ideas, support, and opportunities for self-reflection…but it also mainly covered everything that I had studied in the weeks prior to starting, and brought some difficulties for me in terms of timetabling and stress levels.
With the course soon coming to an end, I now face a difficult question – should I apply to the next, 6-month course, or can I possibly save money and learn online with a program that more closely fits around my lifestyle and pre-existing commitments?
The Bootcamp path
Coding bootcamps have become incredibly popular over the past 20 years, and the reason for that is simple: they work.
Providing structure, real-time feedback, and ample opportunities to make the sort of connections that can lead to your very first job in IT, they’re a tried-and-tested route to getting where you want to be, as fast as you possibly can.
On the downside, they’re also incredibly expensive (with some of the cheapest sitting around $10,000) and are businesses, not just schools. Bootcamps promise to make you employable in just 3 months, and then the race is on to get you placed in a job in order to keep their placement ratio high (which is why some bootcamps actually employ their own students as ‘instructors’ or ‘lecturers’ not long after graduation).
For the duration of the bootcamp, your life revolves around it. If you start to fall behind, you can quickly lose your way – the responsibility of making sure you get the most out of your high investment falls squarely on your shoulders.
The Bootcamp I’ve been going to is definitely one of the better ones, and I can definitely see that they care about the welfare and success of their students.
However, at nearly $10,000 dollars for a six-month course that will take over my entire life, I’m not sure if it’s the very best option for me.
The self-study route
This is the 21st century, and the sum of all human knowledge is always just a few clicks (or taps) away. As a result, the number of self-study options for an aspiring developer such as myself are almost overwhelming.
From paid online courses like Codecademy or TreeHouse to free learning resources such as Free Code Camp or The Odin Project, there’s no shortage of structured self-study paths that I could take to help me get job-ready.
After checking out several online forums and communities filled with people who have taught themselves well enough to land high-paying jobs, I’ve come to the conclusion that coding is one of the few skills that doesn’t require a fancy degree or school to learn – all that matters is determination and will-power (and I like to think that I have a decent amount of both).
As a 20-something with little access to financial support, I like the idea of saving money and learning on my own terms. I also feel that being able to teach myself the skills to land a job would be a good way to ensure I’m ready for all of the learning that I’ll need to continue doing to keep on top of the ever-changing world of technology in the future.
The only downside, however, is the lack of real-time feedback, job-seeking support, and opportunities to network with local companies that might lead to that vital first position.
Of course, the question is whether or not those missing components would really be worth a third of my current yearly salary, which is what I would need to pay to receive them.
I have a lot to think about going forward – here’s hoping I make the right decision for me!