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ITers - Your thoughts on coding boot camps?
Old 11-15-2017, 02:51 PM   #1
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ITers - Your thoughts on coding boot camps?

Hey fellow IT professionals.... What are your thoughts and opinions about coding boot camps?

Background info: My DS is 28, married, has a BS degree (anthropology!) but basically can't find his 'career path' and he's tried quite a few of them. When he started exploring careers during his Freshman year, I encouraged him to consider I.T. (my 40 year profession) because I knew he'd be set for life if he did. Plus, it fit his personality perfectly and Technology always showed up as a good option on Strengths and Interests tests he took. Unfortunately, he didn't think he could sit in a cubicle all day staring at a monitor. Today, he is struggling to find a satisfying, decent paying full-time job.

He recently became more interested again in Technology and began taking self-directed web design courses online. He's done well and the courses have really got him motivated to pursue a career in I.T. Unfortunately, he has a LOT of financial commitments so he can't just quit his current job and go back to school to get an I.T. degree. The online courses (Code Academy) are good but he and I agree that they probably won't properly/thoroughly prepare him for a new career.

This week he came across a "Full Stack Web Development Certificate (Coding Boot Camp)" offered by the local state university - a very respected academic institution. It's a combination of online and classroom - nights and weekend - and the duration is 24 weeks. But.....the cost is $10k! The University has a great reputation among local employers and a good social network to use for getting jobs for its graduates so hopefully someone would hire him.

This setup would be perfect for him but I sure worry about him investing another $10k into his education with no guarantee that he'd find a job when done.

Just thought I would pose the question/concern here and see if anyone had any experience or opinions about 'coding boot camps' and how successful they are in terms of producing graduates who actually found a job in the field.
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Old 11-15-2017, 02:55 PM   #2
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I think he should be able to talk to someone there (Dean?) and find out how many of their graduates landed jobs. That's the kind of thing they should be proud to tell him.
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Old 11-15-2017, 03:06 PM   #3
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Things may have changed, but I saw an awful lot of coding jobs head offshore. A star coder may make decent bucks, but a lot of it is boring grunt work.

The bucks (and interesting stuff) are in computer forensics, network administration, and systems administration. It costs almost nothing to start out with a Raspberry Pi and learning Linux.
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Old 11-15-2017, 03:09 PM   #4
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I think he should be able to talk to someone there (Dean?) and find out how many of their graduates landed jobs. That's the kind of thing they should be proud to tell him.
+!

And if they have a good track record of getting the kind of jobs he'd be interested in, it seems like a good investment.

If that is the case, can you loan, or give him the $10K? He seems sincere, and seems to have a knew respect for the work.

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Old 11-15-2017, 03:18 PM   #5
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I think he should be able to talk to someone there (Dean?) and find out how many of their graduates landed jobs. That's the kind of thing they should be proud to tell him.
+2

In addition, see if they know what types of jobs, initial pay, etc. With these coding jobs you are competing with a world-wide audience. In many cases the pay is more globally based than U.S. based. The vast majority of my own Megacorp's coders are overseas.

As was mentioned above, the better money is is administration, technical architectures, automation, security, and troubleshooting, to name a few. In fact, I would look for as a priority a bootcamp that contains a significant exposure to IT/cybersecurity aspects.
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Old 11-15-2017, 03:55 PM   #6
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Old 11-15-2017, 04:25 PM   #7
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+2

In addition, see if they know what types of jobs, initial pay, etc. With these coding jobs you are competing with a world-wide audience. In many cases the pay is more globally based that U.S. based. The vast majority of my own Megacorp's coders are overseas.

As was mentioned above, the better money is is administration, technical architectures, automation, security, and troubleshooting, to name a few. In fact, I would look for as a priority a bootcamp that contains a significant exposure to IT/cybersecurity aspects.
+1

Spent 30 years in the industry.

My education was more or less boot camp through a trade school. A year of nights. I'm sure it's different today but here's something to think about.

Our year long class started off at 50 students, 3 months later after intro and basic there were 43 left. We had 12 weeks of mainframe assembly language next(1983), 7 people were left at the end of assembly, they all finished the year. YMMV.

Coders are not appreciated today security, performance, architecture, and troubleshooting are better skills today. Security is the one you can get formal education in. I did the others, but I don't know how you teach those things. Believe me Megacorp asked.
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Old 11-15-2017, 04:31 PM   #8
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This is what Google has to say about job candidates from boot camps:

"“Our experience has found that most graduates from these programs are not quite prepared for software engineering roles at Google without additional training or previous programming roles in the industry,” Maggie Johnson, Google’s director of education and university relations, told Bloomberg in a longer feature about coding schools in Silicon Valley."

Google says coding bootcamp graduates need additional training - Business Insider
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Old 11-15-2017, 05:27 PM   #9
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Boot camp cannot offer anything more than he can learn by online courses and trying stuff.

What he needs to do is get that first job, then put his learning to practice. You don't need a degree/certificate to do that, but of course it helps get in the door.

I would not add 10K debt for a door opener, as they are pretty weak in that role, much better is to learn, actually code, and be able to show via his own website (his own domain owned) what his skills are. Again with a focus as others have mentioned on security, as coders in India cost $2.00/hr.
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Old 11-15-2017, 05:44 PM   #10
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Here is my story. Three years ago my DS asked me to front his 12k tuition for a boot camp in Chicago, telling me he would find a job making 6 figures soon after. He had a BA in economics with no programming experience. After a couple of jobs that offered experience but little money he got that 6 figure income in SF. While Google would not hire a “boot camp” coder there are a lot of jobs for those willing to do the work. During BC he would code 12 hours a day, it was an intense submersion.

I would agree with talking with as many graduates of the program as you can find to see how it has gone for them. My son’s BC has gone out of business.
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Old 11-15-2017, 06:00 PM   #11
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Boot camp cannot offer anything more than he can learn by online courses and trying stuff.

What he needs to do is get that first job, then put his learning to practice. You don't need a degree/certificate to do that, but of course it helps get in the door.

I would not add 10K debt for a door opener, as they are pretty weak in that role, much better is to learn, actually code, and be able to show via his own website (his own domain owned) what his skills are. Again with a focus as others have mentioned on security, as coders in India cost $2.00/hr.
I did the portfolio and free work for non profits route when I went back into tech roles from management so I could work from home after we had kids. The classes at the local community college and university extension didn't cost too much and I learned enough to get my first paying contract.
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Old 11-15-2017, 06:06 PM   #12
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I don't know how helpful this will be, but I can share my experience. I worked for mega-, medium- and mini-corps that focused on technology and I hired and managed people in software engineering roles at all of them. In my experience, a bootcamp certificate is definitely not going to qualify him for a job at a company where the primary business is to churn out software that gets sold to the public as a product or as part of a product. I.e, he should not expect to get a job at Microsoft, Facebook, Qualcomm, etc with a bootcamp education and no other IT experience, even if he already has a 4-year degree in something else.

I can also say that he should not look for work writing software for the U.S. government or at a government contractor. The 4-year CS or CS-adjacent degree requirement was stricter there than anywhere else I worked.

The one place I worked where I did hire people with bootcamp certs was at a digital marketing agency, and the main reason they worked for us was because they couldn't get a job in IT anywhere else. The main reason we hired them was because we didn't have to pay them very much. I had one guy who was a former English teacher and another who had been a bank teller, both of whom had done bootcamp type schools. I also had two front-end web devs who had graduated from the Art Institute in a 2-year web/graphic design program. All were great guys but they needed a lot of OJT and hands-on experience to develop the skills it takes to be successful in a dev team. (It was a huge managerial issue for me, and the lack of financial support for hiring decent devs was a big reason why I left there.) Basically, these guys would work for us for two to four years and then they'd be able to move on to something else. I know one of them now has his own business building web sites for other small businesses and one is the web master at a large real-estate group. The other two are working for companies whose names I don't recognize, but it looks like they are in the IT depts at firms whose primary business is not technology.
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Old 11-15-2017, 08:44 PM   #13
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Boot camps, eh, maybe. Like a previous poster says, get a feel for how previous graduates do.

I'm thinking certifications are good. Some certifications are harder to get than others, and some are in more demand than others.

Look at the jobs available and see what certifications they're looking for, then land those certifications. One way is through books; sometimes they have a book where you go through and do everything / learn everything you need to pass.

Another possibility is to pay a bit of money to study online. Something like "IT Pro TV", is one I have heard of, but there are probably many. It would be cheaper than a bootcamp, and I think the result (certification) would be worth more.

As to the previous poster's comment about boring grunt work, it's in the eye of the beholder. To one person, it's a puzzle that you can't put down until you solve it, to someone else, it's grunt work. That's the problem with boot camps (and people from unnamed non-US countries that crank out "programmers"). If they're just in it for the pay check, if their heart ain't into it, and they don't have a head for it, they're going to be unhappy and they're probably going to be a sucky programmer.

If your son doesn't have a knack for it, you're doing him no favors pushing him in that direction.
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Old 11-16-2017, 09:32 AM   #14
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Great feedback. Thanks to all for sharing your thoughts and experiences.
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Old 11-16-2017, 10:14 AM   #15
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While I've spent 20+ years in full web stack development... I can't say I ever took a boot camp. Most of my jobs, they've looked at stuff I created... And for the last 10 years.. I haven't had a real job.. just creating stuff I like online.

With programming specifically, stuff changes so fast that you need to be able to read the manuals and teach yourself. I think some courses could help you get a jump start on what you need to learn.. but ultimately, you're going to need to understand the specifics.
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Old 11-16-2017, 10:20 AM   #16
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I've interviewed a fair number of boot camp graduates. I now avoid boot camp applicants unless they have other relevant experience or something that makes me think "This person is really interesting".

One large turn off is the dishonesty I see coming out of the programs. They're counseling their graduates to have impressive looking resumes. Most have no prior programming experience so they try to pass their boot camp projects off as actual work experience, using words like "Project manager" and "Senior developer" to describe projects that lasted a couple weeks.

If he does go down this path I advise he get involved in his local tech community. Attend, and speak at, meet up groups and free local conferences, and participate in team based hack-a-thons. It'll take leg work, and a lot of his free time, possibly 6 months or more of it. A resume with a bootcamp and no relevant work experience won't get him past a recruiter screen, but the people he meets in the tech community just might.
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Old 11-16-2017, 10:47 AM   #17
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This site saved DD much grief.
https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/

You can dig into US Education website for more info about different programs.
Those horrible for profits you see advertising on tv made the DoE review everyone's effectiveness.

As others have said, why learn coding when it's so easily offshore D and the US government actively works to hold down salaries in the field via H-1B visas.
I think forensics and security would be top of my list if I was staring over.... But then it's on everyone else's list too. COBOL coders are going to be in big demand soon.
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Old 11-16-2017, 02:09 PM   #18
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Again, great information from everyone and I thank you all. Btw, DS lives in the Twin Cities and the boot camp is part of U of M’s continuing and professional studies.

https://bootcamp.umn.edu
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Old 11-16-2017, 02:40 PM   #19
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Again, great information from everyone and I thank you all. Btw, DS lives in the Twin Cities and the boot camp is part of U of M’s continuing and professional studies.

https://bootcamp.umn.edu
I haven't had any classes lately, but I looked at the first page of the link and there's quite a bit of skill sets to learn in 24 weeks. Maybe I'm just slow, but I've had full semester courses in classes like C and Java and was hardly an expert at the end, let alone on top of learning all the other items they list in the same time frame. Plus, when I took those classes I had an IT degree and years of full-time programming work behind me (just not in web development).
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Old 11-16-2017, 03:27 PM   #20
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In that short a period one can learn only IT basics barely suitable for an entry-level coder position. If that's the goal, I think it can work. If the goal is a higher-paying IT job, or one with more autonomy, it'll take more study, perhaps even a CS degree program. Music might serve as an analogy: a short course can teach you how to play an instrument, but if you want to compose something worthwhile yourself you'll need to study more.
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