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“Should I Do a Coding Bootcamp?” 3 Questions to Help You Decide

When my senior year of college rolled around and my brilliant friends were receiving insanely lucrative job offers to work at Google and Facebook, I started to regret my decision to study psychology.


Why hadn't I studied computer science?

I blamed the patriarchy. I convinced myself that I could have been an expert coder if only everyone at my high school hadn't told me to stay away from coding because it would be too hard.

So when I started hearing about coding bootcamps, I thought maybe I still had the chance after all. It wasn't until serious reflection and actual time spent coding that I began to realize what I already knew deep down - I didn't want to be a software engineer, and coding bootcamp was not the answer to my end-of-college existential crisis.

Coding bootcamps are immensely helpful if you want to make a career switch and you want to become a developer... but coding bootcamps aren't the right path for everyone.

There are several resources you can use to determine whether a particular bootcamp is worth its salt, but first you need to be sure you're considering it for the right reasons.

Because ultimately, the answer to "are coding bootcamps worth it?" depends on you.

Here are three questions you should ask yourself before applying.

1. Do you love to code?

This is the first and most important question to ask yourself. It's okay to be drawn to a coding bootcamp because you want a "sexy" job at a brand-name company with a high-paying salary. Or because you hate your current job and want out. But as Avi Flombaum, the dean and cofounder of the Flatiron school says, that's not enough.

If you don't love programming, you'll never become great at it. Bootcamps teach you enough so you can land a job, but that's just the beginning of your ongoing education as a programmer. If debugging broken code doesn't get you excited, you might be headed down the wrong path.

If you're not sure if you love coding, try a free course and actually build something before applying to bootcamps. If you do decide to apply, you'll be more prepared and more likely to be accepted.

2. Do you want to be a developer?

The answer to this doesn't necessarily have to be yes, but in most cases, it should be. Most bootcamps offer some sort of guaranteed job placement, so if you don't plan to take advantage of this, make sure you can you clearly articulate why a coding bootcamp will help you reach your goals.

Maybe you're an entrepreneur eager to build your own app, and you'd rather not be dependent upon someone else. Great! Just make sure you've considered all your other options first.

3. Is a coding bootcamp the best way to reach your goals?

Lastly, consider whether a coding bootcamp is the best way to achieve your goals. Your two other options are self-study or attending a university program.

As compared to universities, bootcamps are more focused on providing practical, in-demand skills that will help you in the job market. Unlike self-study, in-person bootcamps provide you with a dedicated time and place to study; when you've been poring over your code for hours and still can't figure out why it's not working, having a second pair of (experienced) eyes can be a lifesaver.

Choosing the Bootcamp That's Right for You

Once you've decided that coding bootcamp is right for you, the real fun begins – applying and deciding where to go. Coding bootcamps have come a long way in terms of variety; you no longer have to be able to commit yourself to a three to six month immersive camp. You can even search the Best Coding Bootcamps for 2019 by full-time vs. part-time, online vs. in-person, cost, and more.

With 95 full-time bootcamps as of 2017, it can be hard to know how to begin your search. But don't get overwhelmed, there are plenty of guides to help you organize your search and find the right fit; you'll be the envy of all your non-developer friends in no time.

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Why Female Presidential Candidates Are Still Told to Be Chill, Not Shrill

The Dated, Everyday Tech Stifling Women's Voices Shows the Importance of Diversity in Tech

"You're not like other girls. You're so...chill."

I've gotten that "compliment" from multiple guys in multiple contexts — and I'm ashamed to admit that until a few years ago, I took it as one.

Occasionally I'd wonder why. After all, anyone who knows me well knows I am the Anti-Chill: a tightly wound stress ball, ready to explode into tears at any given moment.

So what was giving these guys the wrong impression? As it turns out, it was my voice. My cool, unnaturally-deep-for-a-woman, never-shrill voice.

And if I'm honest, I always prided myself on not sounding 'like other girls.' No uptalk or high-pitched squeals of glee from me. I thought I sounded smarter and more serious. Talk about internalized misogyny.

This isn't just me though. There is a societal double bind that forces women to spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about the right pitch and tone for each situation.

Just consider the advice that Democratic-debate coach Christine Jahnke gave female candidates to avoid being labeled as shrill: "… go slow and low. Very purposefully slow your pace and lower the tone a bit, because that will add meaning or gravitas to whatever it is you're talking about."

In a nutshell: try and sound chill, not shrill.

What I didn't know, until recently, is how this bias against women's natural voices is being reinforced and amplified by century-old technology. (Just one of many examples of how technology designed by and for men ends up hurting women in the long-run.)

Author Tina Tallon explains this little-known fact in her recent New Yorker article, summarized below:

How 20th Century Tech Is Holding 21st Century Women Back

With the rise of commercial broadcast radio in the 1920s, women's voices began getting critiqued. As Tallon explains, station directors asserted that "women sounded 'shrill,' 'nasal,' and 'distorted.'" So when industry standards were set, directors didn't take women's voices into account.

When Congress limited the bandwidth available to each radio station in 1927, station directors set a bandwidth that would provide the minimum amount of information necessary to understand "human" speech.

They used lower voices as their benchmark, so the higher frequency components of women's speech necessary to understand certain consonants were cut, making women's voices less intelligible.

  • Researcher J.C. Steinberg asserted that, "nature has so designed woman's speech that it is always most effective when it is of soft and well-modulated tone." He explained that if a woman raised her voice on air, it would exceed the limitations of the equipment. As Tallon says, "He viewed this as a personal and biological failing on women's part, not a technical one on his."

Why You Should Care

Women have always been told to lower their voices, but this 20th century approach to sound frequencies is still accepted as the standard, literally forcing women to lower their voices if they want to be heard.

  • To this day, many algorithms and speakers distort women's speech by limiting higher frequencies, causing women's voices to lose definition and clarity.

Tallon sums it up well:

"Consequently, women are still receiving the same advice that they were given in the nineteen-twenties: lower the pitch of your voice, and don't show too much emotion. By following that advice, women expose themselves to another set of criticisms, which also have a long history: they lack personality, or they sound 'forced' and 'unnatural.'"


----

So as we continue to grapple with implicit biases against women, from what it means to be "presidential" to who's considered an "innovative leader," let's remember the importance of diversity in tech.

Had a woman been involved in researching/setting the standards for radio frequencies, she might've been able to steer the industry towards a voiceband that would allow men and women to be heard equally well. And perhaps had a more impartial voiceband been established, I'd have heard a more diverse range of female speakers growing up, and internalized fewer biases myself.

That's why we care so much at PowerToFly about making sure cutting-edge companies have diverse teams.

Times were different then, sure, but the fact that Depression Era standards are still impacting how we hear (or don't hear) women's voices is a vital reminder that what we do today impacts our world for centuries to come.

Agree?

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