How long will the bootcamp program take? How much will it cost? Should I look at bootcamps exclusively available to women? What are my options coming out of a bootcamp? If you’re anything like me, you’re probably asking those questions now, as you consider attending a coding bootcamp. The answer is: It depends, and will differ based on your goals.
How do you pick the right bootcamp?
I’m a copywriter by trade, but due to the job market, I began considering coding as a new career option. I looked into bootcamps all over the country, including right here in my backyard of Denver, Colorado.
Aside from women-specific programs, I mostly assumed I would be either the only or one of a few women, which was okay with me. I’ve been a tomboy my whole life, working in bike shops and ski shops, and generally feeling comfortable in a room of men.
In the end, I found that Coding Dojo met the greatest number of my needs, including having a place to stay rent-free, thanks to a good friend who encouraged me to go into the program.
What’s it really like?
I was pleasantly surprised to have two other women in my cohort! We each thought we’d be the only one, and it was a great way to connect. The cohort before mine had two women as well, so we had strength in numbers! I might be a tomboy, but nobody understands the need for a good frustrating cry quite like another woman. It was perfect. And just what I needed, because the program was HARD.
I definitely expected a challenge, but I don’t think there is a way to be prepared for what a program like this entails.
I was at school almost every day by 8:00am, and rarely left before 7:00pm. About half the time, I would use my train ride back to the apartment as a break so I could study more when I got home.
It was great to have supportive teachers and other students going through the same thing at the same time. I think my other added benefit, in all honesty, was being away from home. Sure, going weeks without seeing my husband and dogs was a little depressing at times, but it allowed me to focus my entire being on just learning. No worrying about getting dinner made or cancelling plans for the fifth week in a row; I was in Chicago to get educated, and that’s what I did.
Which stacks should I learn?
I may only be a month or so out of the program, and have plenty of hard work ahead of me, but feel like I was given the tools to seek out what works for me. When selecting stacks, you should consider your interests, career goals and the job market where you’ll be living. Which languages are employers seeking? Which languages interest you?
My dream job would be data-mining front-end processes to see how they can be improved for better user experiences. Is a site easy to navigate? Can a user find what they want? If not, how can I change the front-end to make that experience better? It’s not an entry-level position, but I have a goal to work towards, and that will keep me driven.
What should I keep in mind?
My advice to anyone who is interested in a bootcamp is to research where you think you will fit in best.
I passed up on programs in Denver because I didn’t feel like they were tailored to what I wanted out of the experience. If you’re a woman who is unsure about entering such a male-dominated field, ask the bootcamps how many women have come through and completed the program. Our learning and communication styles are different from men, and it’s important that someone understands your needs in an intensive program like this.
Make absolutely sure the program you’re going into meets your end goals. Do you want to be a master at a single language, or do you want to know how to learn multiple languages, even if your grasp on it isn’t as pervasive as it would be in a single-stack program? Are you more interested in front-end development, back-end dev or full stack? I am beyond thrilled that I know how to build a web application from the ground up, but found the front-end languages more to my liking.
My final words of advice for anyone, man or woman, who is considering a web dev bootcamp as the next step in their career? Find a place that speaks to who you are, prepare to work harder than you probably ever have in your life (or at least in a very long time) and reap all of the benefits your program has to offer. Good luck, and happy life changing!
If you want to read a week-by-week account of Abbey’s Coding Dojo experience and keep up with her post-grad life, you can read her blog, mountainwifey.com, or follow her on Instagram at @mountainwifey, where she also posts way too many pictures of her dogs.