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Is a Dev Bootcamp Right for Me? How to Make an Informed Decision

The prospect of enrolling in a dev bootcamp generates a whirlwind of questions in the minds of aspiring developers. ‘Is a dev bootcamp right for me?’, ‘What value will I gain from it?’ and ‘How do I pick the right coding bootcamp’ are questions that have probably crossed your mind if you’re in that situation.

Enrolling in a dev bootcamp can be a solid investment in your future, but it’s essential to ensure that bootcamps align with your personal learning style and, if so, that the bootcamp you choose will help you get where you want to go in your career.

What You’ll Learn

  • Why picking the right bootcamp is so important and some common pitfalls to avoid when making that choice.
  • Which questions to ask yourself to determine if a bootcamp is your best option, and how to apply them to pick a bootcamp.
  • How to maximize your success during the bootcamp and after you graduate.
If you’re interested in coding bootcamps, take a moment to check out Kodeco’s Accelerator bootcamp, which makes learning both flexible and accessible. Learn from anywhere in the world, at a pace that fits your lifestyle. With live sessions and asynchronous mentorship, you’ll never be without support on your coding journey.

Learn about Kodeco’s Accelerator Bootcamps

Now, you’ll start by looking into some questions you should ask before diving into a bootcamp.

Evaluating a Coding Bootcamp Is Difficult

Enrolling in a bootcamp seems like the fastest way to get where you need to go, whether that be entering the tech field, upskilling from a different role in tech or brushing up on skills you haven’t used in a while. If you don’t have time to go back to school, if you don’t want to spend years learning, a bootcamp is an effective shortcut.

However, keep in mind that dev bootcamps make some big promises — but they don’t always deliver. Everyone seems to be offering bootcamps, and not just for coders. You can find bootcamps for careers as different as product management, digital marketing and more. And while they might sound like a grassroots movement, they’re a multi-billion dollar business — which is something you should keep in mind when evaluating offers.

So yes, you can get tech jobs after graduating from a bootcamp… but it’s not a sure thing. Bootcamps vary widely in quality and effectiveness. To have a good experience, you want to be sure that:

  1. The bootcamp offers a solid learning curriculum.
  2. It matches your personal needs as a student.
  3. You end up with a job that you’re happy with, not just any job.

But how can you tell ahead of time?

Wrong Ways to Choose a Coding Bootcamp

You might think that the best way to choose a dev bootcamp is to simply pick the most expensive one you can afford. However, price is a poor indication of quality. A free bootcamp might suit your needs better than bootcamps that charge five figures to enroll. So don’t think that the more you pay, the better your results will be.

Another tempting offer you might see is a bootcamp that guarantees you a job after graduation. The problem with these programs is that they are graded on finding you a job, which means that they won’t be very picky about where you land — or if you’re happy there.

But you’re not just any person, and you don’t want just any job. A role that makes you miserable in the long run, or one that you’ll leave after a few months with not much gained, is a waste of your time, effort and money. Avoiding guarantees gives you the freedom to find a job you’ll find fulfilling.

And you might think that skills are the key to the right bootcamp. Of course, if you want to be an iOS developer, a bootcamp offering iOS skills is a good idea. But if the boocamp is a bad fit for you in other ways? Well, a lot of companies offer the same skills… and a lot of tech skills are transferrable. So really, they’re not the big decider they might seem.

Surprisingly, the best way to evaluate a bootcamp is a factor you might not even have considered… the people you’ll be working with, and how well what they offer fits your personal needs.

Creating a Plan to Pick Your Dev Bootcamp

Woman looking at her computer

Unsurprisingly, there’s no one right bootcamp for everyone. We’re all individuals with different situations, study preferences and goals for the future. So the first step in deciding on a bootcamp is to evaluate your own personal needs. Before you decide on a course of study, ask yourself:

  1. What’s your learning style?
  2. What are your end goals?
  3. What kind of support do you need to succeed?

Next, you’ll look at each of these in detail.

How Your Learning Style Guides Your Bootcamp Decision

While it’s true that the old way of dividing people into learning styles is a myth, it is true that we don’t all learn the same way. And your individual preferences will influence which bootcamp is right for you — or even whether a dev bootcamp is the right choice at all. Here are some critical questions to help you evaluate your choices:

  • Learning on your own or in a group? While bootcamps involve a good amount of self-study, the cohort aspect is really important as well. If you want to learn totally on your own, you might prefer a self-paced bootcamp or an online course instead of a live bootcamp.
  • Time-limited or limited time? Do you thrive with an aggressive schedule, or do you prefer to set your own pace? Bootcamps, especially those that last for 10–13 weeks, can be intense, time-wise. If you don’t thrive under that kind of pressure, look for a longer bootcamp, a self-paced bootcamp or a college course.
  • Face-to-face or Facetime? If you hate being on video calls, a remote bootcamp isn’t the place for you. Instead, look for in-person bootcamps or a college experience.

Takeaway: How do you decide if a bootcamp fits your learning style? Talk to them first. If a bootcamp doesn’t want to answer your questions, that’s a big red flag. Good bootcamps care about retention, and they’ll work with you to ensure that you’ll thrive if you enroll.

Now that you’ve considered your learning style, it’s time to think about your overall goals.

Applying Your Goals to Your Study

What are your career goals? Are you looking to make a big difference in the world? Be highly successful at a big corporation? Work in a position where your job is safe and your coworkers are top-notch? There are lots of ways to define success, and you need to know what is important for you before you know whether a bootcamp will help you get there.

Remember that anyone can get “a” job, but you really want “the” job for long-term success. Here are some things to consider:

Takeaway: Begin with the end in mind. Working on what you believe in is the key to joy in your work. Make sure your bootcamp aligns with where you want to be in life.

What Kind of Support Helps You Thrive?

A group of developers sit in a circle and study

We would all like to believe we’re invincible, but at the end of the day, having a strong support system greatly improves your chances of graduating — and thriving! — in a tech bootcamp. If and how a bootcamp provides the support that you need should be a determining factor in whether you enroll or not. Here are some examples:

  • Hands-on or arm’s length? Some bootcamps provide a lot of support — which can be just what you need… or overwhelming. If you feel pressured to perform, as opposed to feeling supported, that kind of bootcamp might be wrong for you. On the other hand, there are bootcamps that provide you with information and rely on you to do the work, which can give you a lot of agency or leave you feeling lost. Which one works best for you?
  • Channeled or prescriptive learning? Some bootcamps teach you “one true way”, which can feel clear and simple or overly prescriptive. Others give you information and let you find your own path. Which feels better to you?
  • Resource-rich or resourceful? No bootcamp has all the resources. You will need to investigate for yourself. A good bootcamp will encourage and help you find the resources you need to succeed.

Takeaway: Support systems and support people will only help you if you communicate, so communication is key to progress. Asking questions, engaging in the materials and keeping in touch with your cohort during and after bootcamp is key to your success.

Succeeding in a Bootcamp

If you do decide to move forward with a bootcamp, you can take steps to help ensure you get the best possible learning experience from it. Here are some tips:

  • Take advantage of the buddy system: One of the strongest advantages of a good bootcamp is the fact that you’re learning along with a group of students, each of whom has their own strengths and perspectives. Take advantage of that community whenever you can. In fact, finding a buddy to study and review with is a huge help. Not only can you learn from them, but you’ll learn better when you teach them concepts you know well. It’s much harder to succeed on your own.
  • Prepare for your sessions: Yes, you’ll have mentors to teach you, but be sure to set aside time to review the material before class. You don’t have to understand everything, but if you haven’t prepared, you won’t know what questions to ask. Stayhing ahead of the game helps you have informed interactions in class.
  • Research effectively: Don’t expect development to be a smooth and easy path; most coding professionals spend a lot of time searching for obscure answers to questions. Be sure to brush up on your Google-fu before starting. Familiarize yourself with places to find help, such as Stack Overflow, the Kodeco Chat Discord server or even ChatGPT. Your mentors and cohort are also there to support you, but getting to know the other resources available to you will give you more options.
  • Bring your passion to your project: In a coding bootcamp, you usually build a project of your own. When deciding on your project, try to bring your personal passions into it. That will enable you to speak more authoritatively about your target audience’s needs in an app, while also making the work more interesting and exciting for you. That passion will shine through in your end product.

Key Takeaways

Is a bootcamp right for you? And if so, which one should you pick? Only you can answer those questions, but here are some important things to remember as you do:

  • A bootcamp’s size, cost, and even curriculum are less important than a good match to your individual needs.
  • When considering what those individual needs are, consider your learning style, your end goals and what kind of support will be most helpful to you.
  • No matter which type of study you choose (bootcamp, college or self-study), be prepared to put in the effort to have the best possible learning experience.

Where to Go From Here?

Could you use some additional resources? Here are some good places to start:

About the Author

Chris Belanger is the Head of Community at Kodeco. With over 25 years of experience as a developer, he has aided countless aspiring developers in deciding whether or not Kodeco’s Accelerator bootcamps are right for them. Helping other devs learn and grow by building healthy, supportive communities is one of his greatest passions.

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