What to Look for When Choosing a Bootcamp
This piece was written by Erica Freedman, Client and Content Specialist at SwitchUp.org
For many, a coding bootcamp can be the perfect opportunity to switch to a tech career. These programs can be offline or online, part-time or full-time, and generally require far less time and investment that a four-year degree.
If you think a coding bootcamp could be a great fit for your career goals, you're probably wondering how to get started.. What do you look for when trying to choose a bootcamp? How do you know if it's the right fit? No matter the focus, the core components that make the best programs stand-out from the rest are consistent. To make things easier, we've compiled a list of the most important things to consider when comparing coding bootcamp programs.
What Are Your Goals?
Much like college or university, we ask potential students to consider their personal, financial and career-focused goals. Are you trying to:
- Acquire new skills?
- Increase your salary?
- Land your first job?
- Find more fulfillment at work?
These are all vastly different reasons to invest in bootcamp programs. Some bootcamps are focused on job placement while others are targeted at university graduates looking to transition into more specific career tracks.
Read school summaries or about sections as a first step towards understanding the program and school. You'll also want to weight whether the format of the school is the best fit for your goals, as bootcamps range from part-time, online programs to rigorous in-person courses.
Capitalize on Free Events
Don't be afraid to go to the school for a free coding session or info session. Often, code bootcamps have these events listed on Facebook and Eventbrite. Some schools host events on a monthly or even bi-weekly basis, and offer intro courses, basic code skills, or a deeper dive into their program.
Attending one of these sessions may enable you to:
- Connect with teachers or administrative staff
- Give you a taste of their learning process
- Clear up anything unclear on the school website
Such sessions are both cost and risk-free. Plus, many schools offer them in an online format, so you can easily attend from anywhere! You only have skills and experience to gain from attending.
Many schools boast one-on-one mentorship, a career services team or even a job guarantee after you graduate from their program. With a strong career services department, a bootcamp can help students land high-paying, quality careers that are aligned with their personal and professional goals. When you research a bootcamp, see if they:
- Offer mentorship
- Help you practice interviewing
- Aim their curriculum towards portfolio development
- Guarantee jobs after graduation
Note: We used the word quality when referring to job placement above. Transparency is key when looking at job placement statistics. Make sure you ask not only if students are being placed in jobs after graduation, but also typical job titles and graduate salaries.
When comparing job outcomes statistics, be sure to ask your school for a third-party verified outcomes report. These reports will give you a detailed breakdown about how a school reports and publishes outcomes.
Pricing and Financial Support
Compared with university programs, bootcamps are known for offering significantly lower upfront tuition. Many programs offer additional discounts or scholarships, or in-house financing that offers interest-free loan options. If you are intimidated by the thought of funding your dream, know that there are options.
The cost of the bootcamp itself can also play a huge role in determining your perfect program. Bootcamps can have very low costs depending on their location, level of one-on-one support and a slew of other factors.
Scholarships are also a great option for students in a financial bind. Many bootcamp programs offer diversity scholarships. This comprehensive Women in Tech Scholarship list offers bootcamps focused on bringing more women into the tech space.
Are you a veteran? There are bootcamps that accept the GI Bill as well.
See What Students Have to Say
Because regulations for tech programs vary, prospective students can depend on the experiences and feedback of alumni to find quality programs. "There are currently 120 in-person bootcamps and hundreds of part-time and online programs available worldwide," based on SwitchUp's research. While choice can be good, it can also make it difficult to find what is just right for you.
Personal accounts are important because they take students beyond marketing statsor publicity, and provide valuable first-hand experience. Their on-the-ground perspective is unlike anyone else's. It can help you understand the big picture, from the beginning of your research through to your career in tech.
The reviews on Switchup include how programs helped students before, during and after their attendance. If you're curious about pre-work, info sessions, career services or even the application process, all of these details can be found on the alumni reviews page for each individual school.
There is a lot to consider when choosing a coding bootcamp, but the research is worth it. This is a huge investment of time and money. A little effort will go a long way as you change careers and follow your dreams.
5 full-time work-from-home roles that pay seriously well
We—we being the internet in general, as well as PowerToFly specifically—often talk about remote work as this glorious thing: you can find professional fulfillment, friendly co-workers, and career growth potential from the comfort of your own home. All while collecting a check!
But where should you look if you want that check to be as big as possible?
Start with this guide to the best high-paying remote jobs. These career choices (and the example companies hiring for them) don't skimp out on paying remote workers well, and you'll still get all the work-from-home flexibility you're looking for. I've linked to specific job posts for each category below, but also look through the 300+ remote jobs on PowerToFly's always-updated remote job board for more.
As you apply and interview, keep these work-from-home interview questions in mind. If you find yourself with a salary offer that's good, but not quite as good as it could be, reference these salary negotiation tips for remote workers to advocate for what you deserve. And when you get the job with a great salary, make sure your home office is set up for success. And then send me a note to tell me how you're doing!
1. Senior Software EngineerBusiness woman using laptop
Why You Can Do It Remotely: Like most heads-down-and-create work, developing software and programming are best done with minimal distractions. You'll collaborate with your team for check-ins and bug fixes, but you'll be able to focus on your project work from a home office.
Average Annual Salary: $131,875
2. User Experience Researcher ManagerYoung adult woman working with laptop at mobile app
Who It's Good For: Proven researchers who know how to understand the behaviors and motivations of customers through feedback and observation, who have experience synthesizing insights into a brand story, and who have managed teams.
Sound Like You? Check Out: Senior Research Operations Program Manager at Zapier.
Why You Can Do It Remotely: As UX researcher Lindsey Redinger explains in her helpful Medium post, remote research allows companies to reach users all over the world, not just within driving distance to their headquarters, and can be cheaper for companies and easier for participants.
Average Annual Salary: $105,810
3. Senior Product DesignerFemale graphic designer smiling at desk in office
Who It's Good For: Creatives with technical chops who like the challenges of evolving and improving the production of current products, leading designers, and collaborating with other parts of the business.
Sound Like You? Check Out: Senior Product Designer at SeatGeek.
Why You Can Do It Remotely: While design teams definitely need to share lots of feedback, there's technology out there to make that easy. The Help Scout design team has shared their favorite tools and tricks to collaborate remotely, which includes recording daily videos of new designs to explain features and ideas in a way a photo file just can't express. (They're also hiring! Check out open Help Scout jobs here).
Average Annual Salary: $107,555
4. Senior Security AnalystDeveloping Concentrated programmer reading computer codes Development Website design and coding technologies.
Who It's Good For: Thoughtful, vigilant thinkers who enjoy identifying and fixing gaps in a company's security posture, including through ethnical hacking (hacking a company's system before outsiders can, and addressing the weak points found) and incident response (containing the negative effects of a system breach or attack).
Sound Like You? Check Out: Data Protection Security Analyst at Deloitte.
Why You Can Do It Remotely: Not all security analyst positions are remote-friendly; sometimes they require working with very sensitive data that can be compromised if taken off-site or accessed from a VPN. But with the right data processing policies—like using a privacy filter over your laptop, only using secured wifi, and encrypting your data, all suggested by WebARX security's all-remote team—remote work as a security analyst is definitely possible.
Average Annual Salary: $108,463
5. Technical Project ManagerA strong wifi connection makes for a strong relationship
Who It's Good For: Tech-friendly jack-of-all-trades with a sweet spot for spreadsheets and other organization tools.
Sound Like You? Check Out: Technical Project Manager at Avaaz.
Why You Can Do It Remotely: Project management can sometimes be like herding cats, but you don't need to be in the same room as your feline team members in order to direct them around. With collaborative software (and a highly organized home office, like PM pro Patrice Embry recommends), you can PM the most complicated of projects from wherever you're located.
Average Annual Salary: $95,129
Other high-paying remote-friendly jobs include certain roles in healthcare (like nurse practitioners and psychologists, who can check in with patients via video conferencing and phone calls), app developers for both iOS and Android products, actuaries and tax accountants, and data scientists.
And remember that even jobs that don't seem remote-friendly at first, could possibly be done from home or on the road. If you find a well-paying, exciting job that doesn't offer remote work immediately, it might be worth negotiating a more flexible schedule with a 1-2 day work-from-home option. Both you and the company can see what remote work actually looks like in action, and if it goes well, you can make a pitch to transition to remote work full time.
Other resources you may want to check out in your quest for meaningful, well-paid remote work:
Today we celebrate our partnership with Braintree! Check out this video to see highlights from our recent networking event.
If you missed the event, fear not! Stay connected by following Braintree on PowerToFly and email us at Hi@PowerToFly.com for future events near you.
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