STORY BY SARAH BALDWIN, PHOTOS BY DAVID NEWKIRK
CODING BACK TO SCHOOL Bootcamp: How to jump start a new career in 12 weeks
f you aren’t familiar with coding bootcamps, they started cropping up five or six years ago in response to a shortage of software developers relative to the fast-growing tech industry. Since then, coding schools have taken off as a lower cost and shorter duration alternative to a four-year degree. And the amazing thing is—they work. I’m currently attending the Web Development Bootcamp at V School in downtown Salt Lake City. It’s a 12-week, skill-based program where students learn how to build websites and applications. They come out full stack developers, which means that they can code the frontend and backend of a website. The frontend is the look, feel and interactivity of the site; whereas the backend is how data is handled, including servers and databases. It’s wild how much ground can be covered in a 12-week bootcamp when spending every day doing hands-on, applied learning. The wildest thing of all, is that students at V School have a very high
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job placement rate within six months of graduation. On top of that, many are making the same level of pay as Computer Science graduates from four-year institutions. Odds are, that last part got your attention. When it comes to getting a job in the tech industry, the people who are hiring are more interested in your skillset than a degree. Above all else, they want to know that you can problem solve and code projects. So, when someone applies to a tech company, it’s common for the company to give the applicant a ‘code challenge’ that asks you to solve a problem or build an application. Here’s an example from interviewcake.com: “Write an efficient function that takes stock prices yesterday and returns the best profit I could have made from one purchase and one sale of one Apple stock yesterday.” Bottomline, it really is possible to get a software engineering job right out of a bootcamp like this. It’s possible to get one right out of learning in your basement, too—
but that’s a lot harder to do. Several V School students spun their wheels trying to learn on their own for years before committing to a bootcamp. The structure of a good bootcamp gets you further faster with a curriculum that ensures that you have the solid fundamentals needed to write meaningful code. At V School, class runs Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Students can start earlier if they want, working together on problem-solving skills, or even stay late for optional lectures. It’s an immersive environment where you are your only limiting factor. Becoming a software developer in 12 weeks is not a marathon—it’s a sprint. There is no downtime, no filler, no fat. Students should expect to be busy. There is so much to learn every day, and each day builds on the one before. The main difference between learning at a university and learning at a bootcamp comes from learning in an immersive, skill-based environment. There are no long lectures. We don’t write papers. We code. All. Day. Long.