The Profile of a Great Coding Bootcamp

There is a big difference how the different coding bootcamps teach students how to code and prepare them for the real world of startups and tech companies.

That said, the best coding bootcamps share several characteristic that allows them to achieve exceptional outcomes and puts them well above the pack. Here’s what you want to look for in a great coding bootcamp:

Factor One

High Quality Instructors and Coding Mentors

Coding mentors and instructors need to combine a solid background in coding with teaching experience. Having a good grasp on coding and web development is something that comes from professional work experience at a great tech company.

Teaching experience comes from hours of explaining complicated technical details to somebody with very little technical background and understanding. Mentors and instructors who have this kind of teaching ability are able to accelerate the learning of any student and are often regarded as “the teacher with whom everything just clicks”.

Factor Two

The founding team and majority of their team can code

Participating in a coding bootcamp where the entire staff can actually code and build web applications is often a really good indicator of a high quality coding bootcamp. By having everyone on staff understand what it takes to launch a web application and land a job as a web developer, the entire structure of the bootcamp - from installing software on your computer to training you for technical interviews - is aimed at helping you achieve your goals.

In addition, the mentor and instructor quality at “technical founder” bootcamps are often times an order of magnitude higher. This comes from the fact that a technical staff who knows how to code can judge and evaluate a potential new instructor on a completely different level than, say somebody who doesn’t know how to code.

In short, a coding bootcamp with a founding team that consists of actual web developers and where the vast majority of the staff can actually code will almost in all cases give you a much better chance at reaching your personal goals.

Factor Three

Students are prepared for the real web development world from day one

Web development at startups and tech companies is almost exclusively done through a team effort. In this team effort, a group of web developers, splits up a big new feature into individual coding tasks, each team member finishes her coding task and then the entire code to make the feature work is assembled, tested and launched.

Being effective inside such a professional web development team and collaborative coding environment is absolutely critical for a junior web developer.

The best coding bootcamps realize and understand how features and apps are built in the real world and actively train their students to be effective in such an environment from day one.

This means that a great coding bootcamp will not only explain how this real-world web development process works in detail, but actively engage students in group coding projects. Throughout those group projects, students are required to take a complex feature assignment, break it into smaller coding tasks, ask for help on complicated steps and coordinate with other team members on the best approach of building and launching the feature. Communication during this collaborative coding phase will rely heavily on the same tools as professional developers use (mostly git and GitHub) and teach students not only to write good code, but also evaluate other people's code, give effective feedback and make decisions based on quality and compatibility with their own code.

Having group projects that result in web applications that solve a real world problem is an integral part of the best coding bootcamp curriculums to prepare students for the professional web development world.

Factor Four

Full-time and dedicated technical teaching staff

This is a topic that really should not be part of this guide. Unfortunately, too many non-technical founders still don’t put enough emphasis on having dedicated and technical staff be part of the full-time team.

If this sound crazy to you, that a place that teaches you how to code and launch a career as a web developer doesn’t have a single full-time instructor on board, you are not alone. But sadly, many instructor and curriculum designers are only hired on a temporary basis or as part-time help while they hold full-time jobs at another place.

When only having access to part-time instructors, it’s easy to see how the educational outcomes and attention to every single student is less than ideal. In fact, it’s not uncommon that students don’t see their part-time instructor for several days if full-time job deadlines take precedence over teaching a class and caring about individual students goals.

Make sure your coding bootcamp of choice employs full-time and dedicated coding instructors, so you are not stranded without help.

The things to focus on are:

  • High Quality Instructors and Coding Mentors
  • The founding team and majority of the bootcamps team can code themselves
  • Students are prepared for the real web development world from day one
  • Full-time and dedicated technical teaching staff (even though it sounds obvious, some coding camps don't have this)
Chapter 3Alec Babala