Are Coding Bootcamps Worth It?

I watched a John Sonmez video today on "Why Are Coding Bootcamps SO EXPENSIVE?" which is embedded below.

Normally John gives great advice but I have to disagree with him on this topic. Yes bootcamps are expensive, but the real questions is, are they worth it? I don't think so and here is why...

I am the Software Development Manager at LSQ. Over the past six month I've had both front-end and back-end software development positions open. I've read thousands resumes and interviewed hundreds of candidates who have come straight out of coding bootcamps looking for a job. The reason why I haven't given any of them a job offer is due to the problems I describe below.

The first problem I've found with bootcamps is that 3 months (or less) is not enough time to gain adequate knowledge that would equip someone to make an impact on the job. During my interview process I ask candidates to write code (using CoderPad) and most of the time they fail. For example, I asked one candidate to list a number of things using HTML and CSS. Inside each item in the list there was one element aligned to the left and one to the right. The candidate was having trouble doing this so I suggested using floats. The response I got was "What are floats?". Incredible! Three months just isn't enough time. That is basic stuff though - I wonder why they don't cover it?

The second problem is that candidates have no drive. They think they deserve everything even though they've done nothing. They're thinking is, "If I shell out $10K for bootcamp"... "companies will be pounding on my door with $100K/yr job offers.", which is such a lazy mentality that it's scary to think that that's how our society thinks. You won't get a (good) job with no experience. On top of that, candidates don't do any research into the company they are interviewing at. I want candidates who are passionate about what LSQ is doing. I'd like to see someone figure out and tell me what our problems are, and potential solutions, when they come to the interview: study and be prepared!

The third problem is that every candidate looks exactly the same. Exactly. The. Same. They all have github accounts with the same repos for the same projects they completed during the same bootcamp. All of the repos have the same boring code in them. There is no Art, Creativity, or Craftsmanship in the code candidates write. If you want to distinguish yourself from everyone else you need to stand out. Work on open source projects outside of the bootcamp; create a fictional company and build solutions for solving the problems that company would face; whatever it is you need to do to stand out - do it!

In conclusion, bootcamps aren't helping anyone. They're not get rich quick schemes. Software development is a craft. If you're interested in doing it as a career it's better off to learn on your own for a longer (than 3 month) period of time. Take an internship to get you in the door. Start small and build a foundation that a career can be built on.

Follow Up

I should have mentioned this in my original post, but, a couple of nation-wide coding bootcamps have shut down recently. Both "Dev Bootcamp" and "The Iron Yard" will cease to exist. This is a good indication that bootcamps are not worth it! You can read more about the closures here.


Rush Frisby

Rush is a software architect who loves solving problems. You'll usually find him writing about security concepts and sharing solutions to problems he's faced.