Monday, August 10, 2015

How coding bootcamps are ripping people off

50% of all the emails I recieve are from people who are brand new to coding, and are struggling with how to learn the vast amount of knowledge required to become a web developer.  Their email starts off with why they don't think they can learn to code on their own, and why they need a coding bootcamp.  They go on to say that if they find the "right bootcamp, they can be making $80K  - 12 weeks from now!"

 I get so many emails that tell the same horror story about going to a coding bootcamp, and then being shocked and depressed when they couldn't land a job afterwards.  They ask for my advice and how they can stop waiting tables at the local restaurant.

Case in point, one of my QA coaching clients asked me to look into a coding bootcamp for them called Betamore. To the unexperienced eye who knows nothing about coding, and who doesn't actually know what companies are looking for in a web developer.  Betamore looks fine.

Here's the deal, I am going to help you cut through all the coding bootcamp hype.

Ready?  Let's go!

First off let's get clear on the objective.  What's the objective?  To land a paying web developer position!  It doesn't matter whether or not it's front end with Javascript or back end with Ruby on Rails.

Here's what you are not paying for:

You are not paying for a college education.
You are not paying to learn how to make websites.
You are not paying to just have a good time.
You are not paying to learn how to code.

Let me walk you through what in my opinion is a bad or certainly not a good bootcamp.  If you go to Betamore's site, you can see the typical "red flags".  First any bootcamp that doesn't really help you land a coding job, is not worth wasting your time on.  You can learn to code on your own, no need to drop a crap load of money on that.  You can go to local meetup groups yourself, you don't need to pay money for that.

On Betamore's site, you will notice that they make sure not to promise you a web developer job.  They will however put statistics on their site, about how much the average web developer in Baltimore makes: $87,000.  They also put on their site that the course is best suited for business owners.  They also promise to teach you how to make websites, not web apps.  Of course 'noobs' don't know the difference yet.

Here's an assignment for you, learn the difference between a website and a web app.  Don't feel bad, I didn't know the difference when I first started learning how to code.  Companies will pay for people who know how to make web apps, not websites.  If a coding bootcamp promises to teach you how to make websites, you should run!  If you find conflicting messages on the coding bootcamps website,!  If you aren't sure if you can get a job after attending the!  Right now wherever you are, you aren't sure if you can get a coding job, why pay a bunch of money to still be unsure???

If the course only has 6 hours of classroom teaching per week, for a grand total of 60 hours of in person instruction.  Ask yourself: "how are you going to be job ready in anything with only 60 hours of training???"  I'm sorry to be picking on Betamore, I'm sure for someone it's a good choice, just not for developers.  We've hit a coding bubble, 3 years ago I applied to the only coding bootcamp in the world for their 2nd ever camp.  I was one of 60 applicants that was chosen out of a pool of 600.  I never went to the bootcamp because I couldn't scrape up the money, I'm glad I didn't.  If you want to learn how to code, it will take lots of time and hard work and that's not a bad thing if you love learning.

Hopefully this post saves someone money and helps them cut through the coding bootcamp hype.   I'm sure I'll get a bunch of mean emails, so what.  If you want to go to a coding bootcamp, that's fine just be clear on what it is that you are actually getting.

If you want a great free online course look at Epicodus' free online coding bootcamp coursework:  Epicodus

Or for Javascript check out Free Code Camp, again I don't think this is the best way for beginner's, but check these places out before going to a coding bootcamp :-)