Coding Bootcamp Research Strategy

The best coding bootcamp research strategy includes four important steps. First, it all starts with you and your personal and professional coding goals.

If you know what you want to get out of a coding bootcamp, your research will be laser focused and more efficient. Second, you need to understand the general technology differences between large tech corporations and mid-sized and startup companies. Third, we give you a framework and set of resources to find in-person and online coding bootcamps. Lastly, this chapter will help you find, discover and "objectively" read coding bootcamp reviews.

Let's dive in.

Communicating Your Coding Goals - Know What You Want

Before you looking at all the different coding bootcamp options available, you need to take a step back and start understanding your own coding goals in depth. Learning to code is a means to an end and before you start asking the "how do they do it?" or "what are they teaching?", focus on "why do I want to join an online coding bootcamp?".

Right now, grab a pen, open up a word processor and get ready to write down your personal coding goal. Do it!

Use the following thought to get you started with formulating your personal coding goals:

Fast forward your life to where you will be after you complete the coding bootcamp.

Describe in as much detail how your ideal situation would look like and how you will use your new coding skills.

Focus on the specifics, they matter the most. To give you some examples, look at a few goals from students with different priorities.

Job Seeker Goal

“After completing the coding bootcamp program, I will have the skills I need to compete and gain a job as a junior web developer, in the city I live, which is Boston. I will work for a start-up, that uses cutting-edge technology and has a strong team culture. I will spend most of my day sitting at my computer writing software, and spend as little time in meetings as possible. My starting salary will be around $70k-$80k, a comfortable living, where I won’t have to worry about paying my bills”

Entrepreneurial Goal

“After completing the coding bootcamp program, I will have the skills I need to launch my own startup idea, which is an Uber clone for a different market. I will move out to Sacramento California, where I will launch my product, and since I know how to code I’ll be able to react to user feedback without being dependent on a technical co-founder. After getting initial traction, my product will be solid enough for me to raise a small seed-round and start hiring employees.”

Remote Work Goal

“After completing the coding bootcamp program, I will have the skills I need to work remotely for a large enterprise. Working for a large company will give me the stability and assurance that I’ll get paid on time and I’ll likely stay there for the next 5-8 years when I’ll retire. A retirement plan, and not working more than 40 hours a week is important to me.”

Get Cutting Edge Skills Goal

“I already have years of technical background and have been coding in Java, C++ and C for a long time at my big tech company. But I never build anything for the web that people could simply use. Through this program I want to learn the cutting edge skills, that are needed in today's markets and also build and launch my own web applications.”

Everyone's goals are different and by specifying exactly what you want to get out of a coding bootcamp you will be in a much better position to evaluate each option.

Technology Differences - Corporation vs Startup

Depending on your coding bootcamp goal and especially if you want to land a job after graduation, it is critical to understand the different technologies that are used by larger corporations and mid-sized and startup companies. Knowing which languages are in demand for different company types will help streamline your entire coding bootcamp research process.

Use the overview below to understand the different technologies that are generally used in different companies.

Technology profiles of different companies

Software Developer at a Big Corporation

Learn one of the following coding languages: Java, C#, or VB.net

Java

Java is the coding language that backs much of the non-consumer facing aspects of large corporations. Java Spring, as well as Hibernate are particularly in demand.

Groovy and Grails is built off Java, but doesn't have much of a demand in most organizations.

C#

If you're looking to get a job at a big company building Desktop applications that run on Windows, C# is the way to go.

Web applications can be built in C# with ASP.NET.

C# is one of the goto languages of companies that are nervous about open source technology and only want to use technology that is backed by a big player like Microsoft.

VB.net

Visual Basic.NET is the language to go to if you're looking to get a job in the financial services industry. There are many jobs available using this technology because the related skill of VB6 and Excel Macros causes this industry to use VB.NET for more advanced applications.

Web Developer at a Startup or Mid-sized Company

Learn one of the following coding languages: Ruby, Python or Javascript

Ruby

Whether you're looking to build web applications to launch your startup idea, or work in a start-up, small company or mid-sized company, Ruby is a safe bet.

There are also many "boutique consulting agencies" that focus on building out web applications rapidly for Fortune 500 companies, using the same technologies as startups, most of which use the Ruby Framework (and they often have an emphasis Ember or AngularJS as well).

Python

Python is a coding language that has become popular in data science and scientific computing. It's used by companies like Google and Yahoo!

JavaScript

Javascript is the language of web browsers, and recently a cutting edge technology called NodeJS allows you to run the code in servers as well.

iPhone App Developer

Learn one of the following coding languages: Objective-C, Swift

Objective-C

If you're looking to land a job building iPhone applications you'll want to learn Objective-C. While swift is newer, most companies having existing applications written in Objective-C and they'll want you to be able to work with them, rather than scrap everything they have and re-write it in Swift.

Swift

If you want to build your own idea out, and it's an iPhone app, using Swift will probably be easier for you to learn.

Android App Development

Learn Java

Java

If you want to build out android applications, you'll want to learn Java and the Android SDK.

Windows Phone Development

Learn Silverlight and the .NET framework.

Silverlight

If you want to build out Windows phone applications, learn Silverlight and the .NET environment.

With all that said, don’t focus on the individual technologies too much.

Programming is all about learning new technologies, languages and frameworks every single day. Once you learn one coding language, learning more coding languages is a lot easier than when you started with your first language.

Hint: If you want to be a web developer at a startup: Learn Ruby, Python, or Javascript.

One word of caution: Many prospective students end up with analysis-paralysis, where they can't decide between learning Python, Ruby or Javascript. That's not the place where you want to end up with. Remember, as long as your chosen language is reasonably congruent with your goals, any of the options is fine.

Don't procrastinate! Make a choice, pull the trigger, and start learning.

Finding Coding Bootcamps

In Chapter 4 we learned about the important differences between in-person and online coding bootcamps. Make sure you include in-person and online coding bootcamps in your research to get the full research picture and understand both sides in detail.

For a quick gut-check if an in-person bootcamp would work for you, answer the following questions:

  • Can you afford to quit your job and consistently dedicate 40+ hours a week to the coing bootcamp?
  • Are you willing to relocate to the in-person coding bootcamp location?

Now we know what we’re looking for, and can start the search for the coding bootcamp that helps you achieve your personal and professional goals.

Finding Coding Bootcamps

Google

Find in-person bootcamps in your area by searching for "coding bootcamp Boston".

Bootcamp Directories

Use tools to search for in-person and online coding bootcamps: CourseReport and Switchup have by far the highest number of good coding bootcamps in their databases.

Join the Conversation

Head over to Quora and follow some of the popular coding bootcamp discussions, here, here and here.

Find and Discover Coding Bootcamp Reviews

After finding a handful of in-person and online coding bootcamps and doing some initial research on Quora we should dig a bit deeper and actually find some student reviews of the actual coding bootcamp. By reading student reviews we quickly want to get a sense for what other students say about the coding bootcamp and understand if there are any big read flags.

Why You Can't Trust Testimonials on Bootcamp Websites

It can be tempting to read the reviews on a particular bootcamp’s website and simply trust it. The company has done the work of getting reviews of their product, and they’re sharing it with you. It may seem generous, but it’s actually self-serving.

The reviews that are listed on a coding bootcamp website are the best reviews they’ve ever received and get students fired up about joining their program. What we’re going to look for are the outlier reviews. The ones at the most positive end of the spectrum and also the most negative end.

That said, most students will be motivated to leave positive reviews, because it will make them be perceived as a more competent individual. If you think about it, if you publicly state: “my entire coding experience has been through [Bootcamp X], and I got nothing out of it”, you’re basically saying you have little coding experience and are not hirable. That's not a very good position to put yourself into, so why do it in the first place. On the other hand, if you find such a negative review, mark it down as a big red flag for that particular coding bootcamp.

Finding Trustworthy Online Coding Bootcamp Reviews

The best positive and negative coding bootcamp reviews can be found on independent and unbiased third party websites.

Here's a list of websites with the highest trustability when it comes to coding bootcamp reviews. We ranked the websites in order of trust-worthiness.

Quora

Go to quora, hit the search bar and search for "[Bootcamp X] review" and click the first few links at the top of the search results page. This usually gives you trustworthy and good reviews of a coding bootcamp.

But let's be real. Almost every question you see on Quora about coding bootcamps is littered from coding bootcamp employees throwing marketing copy at you, explaining why their bootcamp is the best. Because of that you really want to look for the trustworthy reviews on Quora and make sure you're not falling for any of the many marketing and sales write ups.

Techendo

Techendo is a bootcamp review site that doesn't have too many reviews yet, but the ones you can find are very good.

CourseReport.com

CourseReport is a bootcamp review site and similar to techendo, the reviews are good and trustworthy.

Yelp

There are not many coding bootcamp reviews on Yelp, but you might get lucky if you search for "[Bootcamp X]" in your city.

Facebook Reviews - Don't Trust Them

Half the reviews on Facebook are written by people who are reviewing the Facebook Ad about the bootcamp, when you are looking for a review of their experience at the coding bootcamp. That's why you can safely ignore negative and positive reviews on Facebook, when doing your coding bootcamp research.

After completing this chapter you should have a much better understanding of your personal goal and a first list of coding bootcamps that you want to focus on. But before we start talking to the coding bootcamps on your list, let's first understand "what actually matters" in a coding bootcamp in chapter 6.

Chapter 5Alec Babala