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

Looking to fast-track your tech career? Find out if a dev bootcamp is right for you, how to pick the best one and how to get the most from your experience. By Chris Belanger.

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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:

Purpose-driven bootcamps put more of the work of finding a job on your shoulders, but also have more potential for landing a job that you’ll be happy with in the long run.

  • Is the bootcamp pipeline-driven or purpose-driven? Pipeline-driven bootcamps are judged on their placement rates — which sounds good, until you realize that they’re focused on getting you a job, and not the right job for you.
  • Do you work solo, or are you a team player? Most devs work as part of a team, even if that team is remote. A cohort-based bootcamp is actually a good way to flex your social muscles and build your team experience.
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: