Coding Bootcamps

For the past several months I have tossed around the idea of learning to code. There are a lot of free resources online and I have bought a few cheap courses, but I have been unable to really stick with any program and learn something tangible. The idea of going “all in” to a coding bootcamp is appealing. I would have to put my money where my mouth is, which would undoubtedly give me a much higher level of compliance. It would also ensure that the curriculum I am learning is geared towards a particular type of development. Right now I’m basically jumping from video to video with no rhyme or reason. A coding bootcamp alleviates this. It will ensure I have good instruction and follow a logical progression. Theoretically, I should also have help from an expert when I get stuck. If I get stuck now and can’t figure something out in 20-30 minutes I just move on. The idea is very appealing

However, going into a coding bootcamp comes with a few downsides. The good ones are pretty expensive and they are intended to be difficult. The desired end result is that you get a software engineering job at a tech company. If I went full time with a coding bootcamp i would have to quit my job. ~$10,000 + no salary for 6 months is pretty expensive. If I decided to do it part time I would basically have no social life for close to a year. I would be in night school 5-6 nights a week on top of working a full time job. That sounds miserable and If I kept that up for a year I might have a mental breakdown.

In an ideal world I could find a job or internship that would teach me how to cod even though I have little to no prior experience. In descending orders of attractiveness I would get paid to learn, work for free, and as a last resort pay for someone to teach me. The quality of the education is a big question mark here. Obviously these would all be much different experiences and there is no way to look at the quality of the education on a spreadsheet before picking one.

Despite these negatives I can’t shake the feeling that I want to code. You can read more about my thought process about that here. Although I am not sure I will go into a bootcamp I have done a fair amount of due diligence and narrowed it down to four potential programs. I went through the application process through all of these and was accepted. Below I have a rough summary of the experience as well as a summary of the pros and cons I have found on reddit and twitter.

Lambda School

Lambda School is a VC backed bootcamp that takes you from 0-100. This means you need 0 prior coding experience to join. I went through the application process which was pretty easy. There is a 30 minute test with basic math and some typing exercises. If you have a calculator the test flies by. There are a few basic stats questions but I think most people with a high school education could pass. The typing test was comparable to watching senior citizens take a typing class at the Apple Store.

Lambda is also one of the longest programs available. The full time course takes 6 months. It was just shortened from 9. The part time course takes 12 months and is still 18 hours a week. Their founder is on Twitter and is a really smart guy. To be honest his Twitter account is what made me consider them. There is a lot of bad press on Reddit though. All coding bootcamps get some heat but Lambda has more bad press than most. A lot of people say because it is VC backed they have prioritized growth instead of the curriculum. They quality of teachers also seems to vary a lot. Because they are growing so quickly the quality of the teachers has deteriorated. These were pretty valid concerns and I was ready to write them off until I “met” Jordan O’Conner. He is an entrepreneur and self taught developer. I really enjoy his blog and his twitter. He recommends Lambda if people are looking to do an immersive bootcamp. He credits this to the fact that although they are experiencing growing pains they are updating their curriculum faster than anyone else. I want to speak with several people who have actually gone through the program to determine is this is the right fit.

General Assembly

General Assembly seems to be a little more respected than Lambda and you have to jump through several more hoops to get in including pre-work, a coding test, and a virtual phone interview. I really like this about the bootcamp because you can get an idea of what the program is actually like. Places like Career Karma have rated them extremely high. This is reflective in the $14,950 price. For a 4 month coding bootcamp that is extremely expensive. However, they get results and the fact that they actually turn some people away is a good sign that you get a quality education. However, once those people get you on the phone they won’t stop calling. They have a relentless sales team that is trying to get you to complete pre-course work or cut the check. After my first phone call they gave me three days to do a bunch of work. I’m looking at starting this at the absolute earliest next January (It was early September when I was going through this). So I blew off the work they gave. I was in no rush to complete it. They started calling me incessantly trying to get me to submit it. To be fair I never told them to stop calling but it started feeling like harassment. I made it clear on the phone I would not start until next year. They go with the hard sell here and it is pretty off putting.

Update: I went through the required pre work and I thought it was excellent. It was put together very well and followed a logical foundation building on the foundations of html and progressing to CSS and then Javascript. I finished the retired work but there are more optional exercises available which I will definitely complete. I think this was much better than the pre-work given out by Lambda (nothing) and Flatiron (long videos and text followed by exercises). General Assembly kept the tasks extremely short breaking problems into smaller units to work through instead of long problems with open ended direction.

Related Post