Why Bootcamps Don’t Work And What You Can Do About It

Bootcamps are expensive but they often don’t live up to their claims of getting you ‘job-ready’ within three months. This article looks at why bootcamps don’t work and how coding bootcamp grads can improve their chances of getting hired.

Being in technology recruitment, we regularly hear frustrations about bootcamps from both sides: students and hiring managers. Students are often unhappy that they still can’t get jobs as developers after heavily investing their time and money. Likewise, employers often complain that the coding bootcamp graduates they interview just aren’t worth hiring.

Below are the most complaints we hear from both sides and how you can use them to your advantage as long as you’re prepared.

Smiling bootcamp students giving their course thumbs up
Bootcamp course providers often brag about the success of former students but how do you know these claims are true?

Coding bootcamps often brag that students can become fully-fledged developers in less than three months. Or that 90% of attendees go on to land programming jobs within a month of completing the course. But what evidence is there to back these statistics up? Moreover, who are they regulated by?

Unlike with computer science degrees, there is no regulatory framework that monitors the teaching standards within bootcamps. Although independent review websites exist, such as Course Report, which monitor the outcomes and demographics of the bootcamps available globally.

Don’t take a coding school’s word for how successful they are. Instead, use independent review sites and check out what people say on social media. Keep in mind that coding schools employ IT salespeople to encourage you to sign up for their course by telling you what you want to hear.

When employers have several junior coding vacancies available, they will often work with bootcamps to fill them. The company then sets the standards according to the tasks they expect junior developers to achieve. Many students will indeed go on to land jobs with these employers successfully. However, it’s important to keep in mind that these employers will only hire the best students out of any cohort. Therefore, it’s unlikely that other companies will employ individuals who don’t make the cut.

It’s advisable to do thorough research before signing up for a course to determine which employers the coding school works with. Find out the names of previous successful alumni and look them up on LinkedIn. More often than not, people are keen to share their experiences with others and will often speak candidly about what it’s like to be a student with your chosen course provider.

Employer questioning why bootcamps don't work. He looks inquisitively at the camera from his chair in front of a huge window
Let’s say your chosen bootcamp is sponsored by one employer. What will your chances of employment be if you don’t meet his requirements?

When studying for a Computer Science degree, university students spend a great deal of time learning about the fundamentals such as:

  • Computer language syntax
  • Data structures
  • Computer science concepts
  • Algorithms

Bootcamps may present some fantastic opportunities to learn specific computer languages or for Web Developer to get a taste of what Cyber Security is like. However, they can never provide students with the same breadth or depth of knowledge as a degree course.

Consider your motivations carefully. What are your long term career goals, and how will your chosen course of study help you achieve them? Once the course is over, you should continue to practice coding as much as you can.

Students often sign up for bootcamps with unrealistic expectations of what they can achieve once they graduate. For instance, bootcamps are extremely popular with career changers who may have absolutely no prior coding experience. Yet upon completion, they expect to walk into an £80k job as a Software Engineer. Newsflash… it ain’t gonna happen!

What is your starting point vs where you want to be? Research bootcamps thoroughly before signing up to find out if your goals are realistic for your level of knowledge. You may have to realign your expectations with what’s realistically achievable upon completing the course.

Learning to code comes naturally to some people, but others find it more difficult. Therefore, some individuals will successfully secure a job placement with ease after completing a bootcamp. On the other hand, some people may struggle so much with learning programming languages that they decide to pursue other subjects.

There are bootcamps available to prepare for students many different job roles. Most opt for Software Development because they think that’s where the most available jobs are. While it’s true, there is an abundance of job vacancies requiring experienced developers at present. There is also a glut of entry-level job seekers with minimal experience. Therefore, it’s worth considering other options such as Cyber Security or DevOps if you want to increase your chances of finding employment.

People often think that because bootcamps are shorter than a degree in computer science, they won’t be as difficult. In fact, often the opposite is true. Bootcamps can be more intense because they have a lot to cover in a shorter space of time. Hence the name.

Go on Reddit or find a Facebook group to find out about the experiences of previous bootcamp students. Try and get different perspectives from total noobs to those with prior coding experience. Better still, speak to someone who had your level of experience beforehand and ask how hard they found it.

Lots of sweaty, muddy men on a physical bootcamp
The clue is in the name! Bootcamps can be a lot of fun but they are also intense and extremely hard work.

Just like well-respected artists, talented programmers develop their own unique style. With style comes the ability to produce code that other programmers can easily understand, update and debug. These are not technical skills that course leaders can teach in a classroom. Instead, such soft skills only come with a deep level of understanding that you acquire over time.

Accept that bootcamps are only there to help you reach a certain point in your learning. Your curiosity and eagerness to learn more are what will take you to the next level. Experienced Software Developers will tell you that they are constantly developing their skills; it’s one of the things most love about their jobs.

This last one may sound like a cop-out, but it’s true. The coronavirus pandemic forced many jobs online. This online exodus made it much harder for entry-level candidates to land that all-important first opportunity. Employers just weren’t willing to invest the time, effort and extra staffing to training people virtually. So despite a rise in the availability of online courses throughout the pandemic, there were no jobs available for successful alumni.

As the economy recovers from the crisis, we are seeing an increase in the availability of lower-level positions appearing in job searches. However, employers behind these vacancies still require successful applicants to work from the office, which many are reluctant to do.

Be patient and be willing to accept that you may have to return to the office for a few years until you build trust and respect with your employer.

No matter your long-term career goals, there is a course out there that will help you achieve them. From full-time classroom courses to part-time online study, there are bootcamps available to suit all learning styles.

It’s wise to consider your long term career goals and thoroughly research the best course to help you achieve them before parting with any money. If you’re in the UK, it’s also worth checking out the list of skills bootcamps available on the .GOV website. These are free courses funded by the government to boost the availability of in-demand skills.

After reading this article, we hope you have increased your chances of becoming the tech talent employers are so desperate to hire. If you found it helpful, please share it on social media where it can help others too.

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