A few things to think about before deciding on a programming bootcamp...

As I get older, I have noticed that I am more skeptical about certain matters, but I’m also more optimistic. Most individuals contemplating joining a coding bootcamp likely have some dissatisfaction with certain things in their life. Perhaps, she feels she can do more with her life, or maybe he feels underpaid and undervalued. The one underlying notion is hope. We hope we can get a better job. We hope that we can learn a new concrete skill. We hope that we can provide for ourselves and our families. Finding the right coding bootcamp to fit your needs is tough. We have so many different variables to think about and not a lot of good information out there. Some factors to ponder include location, job rate, and the instructors. I’m going to touch on why it’s so difficult to choose an iOS bootcamp, in particular, and how to choose the best one for you.

Understandably, it’s actually quite difficult to find bad reviews about bootcamps. The most insightful article I was able to find was from Fast Company, titled: “Become an iOS Developer in 8 Weeks”: The Truth about Hack Schools by Alice Truong. It kicks off by following Ray who sold his car to attend a bootcamp and still has no job. This story was written back in December 2013. It has been well over a year since the article was published and we must assume that hopefully the bootcamps have gotten better over time. No word on whether Ray found a job yet.

Most people that attend bootcamps seem hesitant to write bad reviews about the bootcamp they attend; likely because they are still job searching and don’t want to hurt their chances by bad mouthing the bootcamp they just attended. Completely reasonable. I emailed around and found a few people on Quora who mentioned that they attended a bootcamp and cold emailed them and asked if it was worth it to them. Two of them stated that looking back on it, they probably would’ve/could’ve learned it on their own. The other was glad that they attended the bootcamp because he learned a new skill that is very valuable and has a job.

In January, Apple made $18.04 billion in profit, more money than any other company in history! Do I want a sliver of that pie? Hell yeah! If you search iOS developer jobs on indeed.com, it says that are 7,347 jobs. The average salary is between $70K - $90K. In SF, it’s more. For the price of roughly around 10K, in my belief, it’s worth it. I knew iOS is what I wanted to do, so it was a matter of finding the right bootcamp for me. In my first post, I stated that I looked at Mobile Makers, Code Fellows, and DevMountain. Online options such as Bloc and Thinkful also exist.

One of the best decisions you can make before you choose a bootcamp is to actually know how to program before you attend. What?! Are you saying that I should learn to program before I attend a bootcamp so I can learn to program? Yes. Keep reading until your eyes are bloodshot by staring at your screen without blinking for too long. Your head is going to hurt trying to figure out what pointers are. It absolutely makes no sense in the beginning because it is exactly like a foreign language.

I’ll likely elaborate on this in another posting but it took me Codecademy exercises, Big Nerd Ranch’s Objective-C programming, a few of Simon Allardice’s iOS Lynda classes, a month of Bloc (online bootcamp), half of the Big Nerd Ranch iOS Programming book to kind of feel comfortable. So that’s 4 months learning on my own and about 2 months learning it with guided help.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t do it though. You absolutely should toil away and struggle on your own and get fed up with yourself for feeling dumb as you fumble your way through this logical language that makes no sense. To top it off, Apple came out with Swift! I need to learn another language when I can barely get this one down? I’m not too worried about this. While I am still a bit late in the game for Swift because independent developers are absolutely developing in Swift, I know that knowing Objective-C will make it easier for me to learn Swift later and also help me find a job quicker.

Price is a factor that you will obviously have to think about. You’re going to spend anywhere between $5K - $18K. It’s expensive. Save as much money as you can. Collect unemployment if you can. Get foodstamps if you must. Go make a gofundme page. If they offer free food or coffee, freaking take it. Do whatever it is necessary to save as you burn through your funds on the bootcamp and eating junk food in the short amount of time you allot yourself to eat. Let me reiterate, $18K!? It absolutely is expensive. So it better be worth it. But when I say that, it means that nothing else matters except for coding. You are attempting to learn a new language in just a few months. Make the commitment.

Location. Bootcamps are obviously in the larger cities across the U.S. The tech hubs. Chicago, New York, Seattle, SF. I chose Utah. I think the answer on this is, it depends. I won’t go over the benefits of each one because that’s easy to figure out by going to their respective websites. Do I think it’s easier to find a job where you did your bootcamp? Definitely. So judging by that I should’ve gone to a bootcamp in either New York or SF because those are the places I’d prefer to live. Probably. So why Utah? I live in San Francisco, and I plan to stay there as long as I can. It’s an awesome place. San Francisco will always be there for me. Utah is a place I’ve never been and I just felt something about it called to me. Perhaps hope? Finding a place that will provide you comfort in the quiet times is what will be the best place for you. I decided to leave SF because I wanted to have time to myself and not have the temptation of distraction when really all I want to focus on is to code.

Really, none of this matters if you’re putting in the work. Ultimately, the point of a bootcamp is to provide you with a code base and teach you how to learn to read the documentation while learning a few shortcuts along the way. Can this be done on your own? Yes, I think so. Is it difficult? Yes. Is a bootcamp difficult? Yes. It will be treacherous, stressful, and it’s going to suck feeling so confused so often. So keep studying and studying and choose the bootcamp that makes you feel comfortable and welcome because it really doesn’t matter which one you choose as long as you choose one. There is incredible documentation out there. How did people learn to code before bootcamps? Before StackOverflow? Documentation. Without prior programming experience, it’s just hard to understand until you learn the gist of it. To conclude my ramble, I leave you with this in the spirit of Apple Watch being announced:

“Everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer…because it teaches you how to think.”

  • Steve Jobs