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Advice: How to find the right coding bootcamp - 5 aspects that you should consider

There was already a significant shortage of IT specialists in Germany in 2019: 124,000 positions remained unfilled last year. Many companies simply cannot find suitable employees who they urgently need for the advancing digitization of their business. The increasing demand for programmers and data scientists can no longer be met in the short term using classic training paths, as these usually take several years. We need a faster, more targeted alternative for imparting knowledge that is also suitable for people who are already working.

In recent years, many coding bootcamps have emerged that close this training gap and at the same time enable more people to pursue a career as IT specialists. Over a period of a few months, in an intensive course, they impart basic skills that allow lateral entry into the professional field. Bootcamps are especially suitable for people who are curious about programming and the endless possibilities it offers. But how do you find the right boot camp? If you are interested in taking this path yourself, you should take a moment and think about the following aspects:

1. Is a coding boot camp right for me?

Participants in a boot camp are taught very practical programming knowledge. This includes modern programming languages, libraries and tools that are conveyed using many concrete examples. The aim of the teaching is to prepare the learner as well as possible for the requirements of the future job and thus enable a smooth transition to the new position.

This is a key difference between studying and booting. The latter are shorter, more intensive and more practice-oriented. Confronting specific problems from everyday programming under the guidance of an expert enables many people to learn programming efficiently. In university studies, instead, theoretical backgrounds and larger concepts are increasingly taught and discussed. Thus, university graduates often lack concrete programming experience.

2. How much time can and do I want to invest?

Another important aspect is time: Many people in professional life are not able (financially) to take three years to study. If you are already dependent on a job for yourself and others, it is difficult to completely change your living conditions and to have to make do with a greatly reduced income while studying. A boot camp over a period of six to 24 weeks, on the other hand, is usually easier to reconcile with a wide variety of life situations and is often financially supported by the employment agency. When choosing a boot camp, you should know exactly how much time and energy you can invest.

3. “Up-Skilling” or “Re-Skilling”, what do I want to achieve?

Coding bootcamps often have different goals and focuses. They are aimed at people who want to expand their skills (“Up-Skilling”) or who are looking for a new beginning (“Re-Skilling”). Often people from scientific fields of work receive further training in bootcamps. But the compact format is also an interesting option for artists, nursing staff or consultants from a wide variety of areas. After graduation, many graduates work in start-ups and tech companies.

Bootcamps are aimed equally at both target groups. Learning in small groups based on specific tasks (it is programmed from day one) and the high speed make it easier for graduates to maintain the necessary motivation. Continuous work on the code makes results immediately visible. In the event of problems, a coach is always on hand to provide expert help. Because of the small groups, a much more intensive learning support is possible than in universities or at technical colleges. The intensity of a boot camp can also create a strong sense of togetherness among the participants, which in turn fuels learning success.

4. What can I expect from a boot camp?

One of the core competencies that is taught in the boot camp is the ability to develop one's own skills in a field of programming. Even if you cannot solve all programming problems afterwards, you have learned the ability to develop yourself further and to master challenges independently or with support from the new work environment. In order to become a successful programmer, it is not enough to sit back after the boot camp and hope that the knowledge you have learned is “sufficient”. Rather, it is important to continue working on your skills independently.

In most cases, graduates of a boot camp get a job afterwards. But you should be aware that a successful bootcamp conclusion does not always lead you directly to the top position. A career change can mean that you first have to start with a junior level position. The chances of getting a well-paid job are high, but only in connection with good self-marketing and other previous experience will definitely lead to success. Much can be made easier with sufficient motivation.

5. False promises - how do I recognize reputable providers?

There are already many boot camp providers in Germany, but there is still no uniform regulation for quality management. Here you have to take a closer look yourself to see what the respective training is for. For example, providers who advertise with a job guarantee should be viewed with caution. Among other things, because this can also create compulsion and the door to better options is closed. Even if the recruitment rate is very high, providers should still communicate the opportunities realistically and not make promises that cannot be kept. It is also advisable to take a close look at the statistics published and how they are calculated. It should be clear that the provider does not “make money”, but the teaching of programming skills is the focus of efforts.

An important quality feature of boot camp providers, for example, is ongoing support right through to the subsequent employment. “Can I still contact the provider? Are there any collaborations with business? "

Graduates now have to get used to the way application processes work in IT. If the provider has cooperations with local companies and organizes meetings, such problems can be quickly resolved in a personal conversation. It is also advantageous for companies to get to know potential employees in a relaxed atmosphere in this way. It can also be helpful to contact former graduates in career networks and to ask about experiences. If a provider tries to prevent this, caution is required.

Coding bootcamps - the solution for the IT skills shortage?

In conclusion, coding bootcamps are an important alternative to studying computer science. They have a different focus and are therefore not in direct competition. A boot camp is particularly suitable for people with professional experience who are looking for new paths or who have always wanted to learn more about programming. The career opportunities as a graduate should be viewed against the background of a realistic analysis. They offer very good opportunities for a new professional start. However, this only succeeds if there is a high degree of personal initiative. When choosing the right provider, you should also pay attention to the criteria set out here in order not to invest the money in the wrong place.

Although coding bootcamps are still viewed critically by some companies, there is no question that they will become increasingly important in the future. They have the potential to train urgently needed IT specialists who can be deployed directly in the relevant job. They are an opportunity to implement the concept of lifelong learning and to make jobs available for career changers for which a bachelor's / master's degree is out of the question.

Florian Herlings is lead coach for the full stack program at the Spiced Academy in Cologne. Before that, he already had 20 years of experience in the German technology industry as a full-stack developer, technical manager and lecturer. Florian taught himself to program and then started a career that took him from working on websites for agencies to developing large-scale applications. After training as a media designer and graduating in media informatics, he worked as a freelance developer for almost ten years. He founded his own e-learning startup.