Adrian Horning's Blog

Should I go to a coding bootcamp?

November 11, 2018

It depends. Do you have the money to pay for:

  • The tuition of the bootcamp?
  • Housing/food during the bootcamp?
  • Housing/food for the job search (6 months - 1 year after you graduate)?

If you do, or your family will help you out, go for it.

If not, I don’t think it’s worth it to do it.

I got accepted into Hack Reactor and App Academy and was in the Dec ‘17 cohort at App Academy.

I pretty much had nothing when I got accepted to App Academy and had to save 12k to get in and have enough for food/housing during the bootcamp, went into 3k credit card debt, and had to work at nights while job searching.

And now I am paying them back 23k.

App Academy has even open sourced their curriculum, even more of a reason to reconsider paying for a bootcamp.

I’ll tell you what we did at App Academy, then give you some resources that will help you get to the same point that I was when I graduated, and for 1/100th of the cost of App Academy.

App Academy

  • First 6 weeks was pair programming. Basically just building (not fully finishing) a bunch of games in ruby. Like tic tac toe and chess.
  • 4 weeks of building 3 projects (2 of which I used tutorials I found online).
  • 2 weeks of job search, which was going over data-structures mostly. Honestly, I didn’t get much out of it because it was too much information in such a short time.

Here are some resources you can use to get to the same point I was at when I graduated:

Initially Learning How to Code

Building Projects

Other Random Things to Do

Resources to Use to Get a Job

  • Clearbit chrome extension - look up almost anyone’s email

What I Would Do If I Was You

Learn JavaScript

I would start off with Wes Bos’s courses Beginner JavaScript and JavaScript30. After doing those you will have a SOLID understanding of JavaScript. After that solid understanding, you should learn some frameworks, the most popular being React.

Learn React

Use Wes Bos’s React For Beginners, then his Advanced React course.

Clone 1 or 2 of your favorite web apps

Here are my recommendations regarding what to use. I recommend these because of their popularity.
Frontend = React
Backend = Node
API = REST (I would make sure you really know how REST API’s work)
Database = MySQL/Postgres
Deployments = Heroku

Copying what someone else did for me was SUPER helpful. Especially for learning CSS. If you don’t know exactly how to position an element, looking to see how some experts did it is super helpful. I cloned Asana. Trello, Discord, Slack, Twitter, or Facebook are also good.

When looking for a job, don’t just apply online

  • Look up engineering managers or CTO’s at the company you want to work for, go to Clearbit and find their email
  • Send them an email asking them to get coffee or chat on the phone
  • Check out this video for a detailed explanation
  • If they don’t email you back, follow up 5 times (leave a few days in between follow ups)
  • I had INCREDIBLE success with this method. Went from ~2% response rate to ~50% response rate.
  • Many times they’ll just put you in touch with the Hiring Manager

One Last Thing to Consider

It is better if you can tell people you are self-taught.

Shows you are a go-getter who can figure things out.

Whereas telling people you went to a bootcamp implies you are in the career just because it’s high paying.