Coding Bootcamps: Not all they’re made out to be?

coding bootcamps

Bloomberg is running a story suggesting coding bootcamps and code schools aren’t all they’re made out to be. You pay them to train you in the most basic programming knowledge, usually focused on web development and then they try and hire you out. However, since you’re effectively a junior developer, you will be competing against other junior devs who have computer science degrees and freelance experience.

The coding bootcamp may not have taught you the knowledge necessary to pass even a first interview:

It was a calamitous job interview two years ago that prompted Jose Contreras to demand his money back from the coding school he attended. His interviewer, the chief technology officer of a startup, watched as Contreras struggled with basics on JavaScript, a coding language he was supposed to be learning during his courses. “Given you can’t answer this question,” Contreras, now 27, recalls the interviewer saying, “You should ask for a refund.” A few months later, jobless and out $14,400 in tuition and fees, Contreras followed his advice.

In the case of this coding bootcamp, Coding House, they were found to be making false statements and numerous other violations of California law:

On its website, the school advertised a 95 percent hiring rate within two months of graduation from the academy, but the BPPE said that only 57 of 70 graduates had reported employment and salary information.  The bootcamp lists 21 companies in its “Where Our Graduates Work Now” section. But the BPPE said its review of Coding House’s data showed only two graduates were hired by any of the 21. James said in an e-mail that “of the total population who were part of our program, most were employed within two months with average starting pay of $91,000.”

In September, students were required to sign agreements prohibiting them from publicly or privately disparaging Coding House, the BPPE said. If negative information was traced back to any students, the school threatened to hold those students liable.

After the initial rush of enthusiasm for cheaper labor, companies are finding that junior developers that you don’t continually train do not grow into intermediate or senior developers. The value proposition is too low for the salary provided:

interviews with more than a dozen coding school graduates reveal that when they do land a job, often their engineering education doesn’t cut it. Many admit they lack the big-picture skills that employers say they want. Training them often requires hours of hand-holding by more experienced staff, employers say. The same holds true for graduates holding computer science degrees, but those employees generally have a better grasp of broader concepts and algorithms, recruiters said.

While we want more people to learn to be programmers and everyone to have the skills, we do not want the labor market to be distorted by an influx of inexperienced developers. Surprisingly, the big tech companies that will collude to suppress wages in our industry are also avoiding coding bootcamps:

“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,” said Maggie Johnson, Google’s director of education and university relations, in a statement. “We generally don’t hire from coding schools,” said Robyn Blum, a spokeswoman for Cisco. “Coding schools haven’t been much of a focus for Autodesk,” said Raymond Deplazes, a spokesman.

We do not want prospective developers to be scared off from our industry because they had poor teachers and were treated like suckers by coding bootcamps.

Our advice to anyone looking to program is to try out a course at a local college or buy some books and video courses. Both are cheaper options than coding bootcamps and you’re likely to learn more. If you still would like to attend a coding bootcamp, try and find the cheapest one that provides the most knowledge and thoroughly read their terms, try and attend one that will give you a refund after a few lessons or if you are not able to find a job.

Also published on Medium.

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