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3 July 2023 - 7 minutes

How to Choose the Best Bootcamp

Trying to make that tough decision? Here’s what to keep in mind

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So you’ve made a big decision: deciding to start a bootcamp! But now that this decision is out of the way, there’s another one looming: which bootcamp should you choose? There are lots of bootcamps out there that offer a wide range of options: in-person, remote, hybrid, part-time, or full-time. Which is best for you? And what are other factors to keep in mind? We’ll dive into these and much more in this article. 

The Basics of Bootcamps 

Before we start choosing bootcamps, we should probably understand what bootcamps are, right?! They’re quite different from traditional learning methods, such as university degrees, but are quite valuable, especially in tech. Why? Well:

  • Bootcamps provide you with a high-quality and specialized education in a specific area, teaching you lots over a short span of time and preparing you to enter the workforce immediately after graduation. 

  • Many bootcamps boast extensive flexibility, letting you continue to work or study full-time or maintain other commitments while taking a part-time course. 

  • They are significantly cheaper than a four-year degree or year-long certification course but still prepare you to enter the workforce. 

  • Since they take place every few months, bootcamp instructors are constantly updating and reviewing their syllabus to ensure they’re teaching the latest market trends. 

There’s a lot of advantages to bootcamps, as you can see. And while the vast majority have everything we described above, the actual details of each institution will vary significantly and it’s crucial to carefully determine exactly what matters most to you and find the right fit. After all, taking a bootcamp and making a career change is a major choice and you owe it to yourself to make this decision carefully. 

Choosing the Best Bootcamp 

The word best is subjective, of course, and ultimately the most important thing is that you’re content with your choice. But when you begin the search, you may be overwhelmed by the pure number of options that exist. We get it and here are our tips and tricks to making sure you’re looking at the right things.

Bootcamp topics

As we mentioned above, bootcamps are effective because they focus on an incredibly specific topic. Be wary of courses that say they can teach various topics in a short period; your knowledge will be surface level and not help you land a job. Just like with most things in life, it’s best to focus on one thing at a time, become proficient, and then tackle another area. 

Lastly, make sure your chosen subject aligns with both your professional goals and your interests. For example, if you’re set on working as a data analyst, make sure you pick a program that specifically prepares students to enter the workforce in data analytics, and not one that is more focused on the coding side of tech. 

Bootcamp costs 

For most people, this is the deciding factor when it comes to choosing a bootcamp. The financial commitment of taking a bootcamp is enormous and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Make sure you know what you can realistically afford, taking into account your current responsibilities and financial situation. If you would have to quit your current role or pay for childcare to attend a bootcamp, consider that when looking at course costs. 

Bootcamps are incredibly intensive and require a serious time commitment; if you have to take on a second job during the middle of the course because you can’t make ends meet, you will struggle. Lots of programs, however, offer financial services to help you with the cost of the bootcamp. Look into income share agreements, scholarships, grants, government assistance, or payment plans to see what is realistically an option for you.

Bootcamp career assistance

You’re probably interested in your chosen topic, but you’re really doing the bootcamp for one reason: getting a job in that field! When researching bootcamp options, think about these questions: 

  • Does the institution offer career services? 

  • If so, what can I expect? Is it generalized or personalized? Does this help continue after graduation? 

  • Do they publicize the job placements of alumni or is there little to no information about success stories? 

  • Does the institution help you prepare for the job search?

Depending on your situation, these are all crucial things to keep in mind. If you’re coming from years and years in the workforce, your CV is probably up to par, but you might need to polish those interview skills. Think about your specific situation, what matters to you, and what you need and don’t need from your program. 

Bootcamp level of difficulty 

The vast majority of students choose bootcamps because they want to dive into a new career and are starting from scratch. But no matter if you have absolutely no previous knowledge on the topic or are pretty well-versed on it, make sure you check out the entrance expectations. Some coding bootcamps, for example, will require you to have some programming language knowledge before starting the course. Others specifically note that no experience is required and include the basics in their curriculum. 

You don’t want to make a significant impact on your education and show up day one to be thrown into something you’re not ready for or, on the other hand, be taught things you already know. When checking out courses, ask the admissions team for the typical knowledge that students have had for past bootcamps and that should give you an idea of where you stand.

Bootcamp content 

Similarly to checking out the difficulty level beforehand, make sure you ask for a copy of the bootcamp syllabus to ensure you know exactly what will be taught. Some branches of tech can be quite specific and if you’re set on focusing on one area and it turns out that isn’t taught, you’ll be disappointed. For example, if you want to learn Java and the course only teaches Python and CSS, it’s not worth your time nor money. 

This is also a good opportunity to check in with yourself and be realistic about your own abilities and how you learn. If you learn better from hands-on projects and assignments but the course you’re looking at is more lecture-based, it may not be right for you. The syllabus can also give you a better idea of the amount of information taught and the speed at which it moves, helping you determine if it’s the right fit. 

Bootcamp students 

Lots of job opportunities are passed through word of mouth and tech roles are no exception. What’s the typical profile of an incoming student at the institution? What about their background and career goals? Are there collaborative projects or is the course quite independent? These might seem like minor points, but at the end of the day, the answers to these questions could be the difference between you landing a job post-graduation or not. 

This is a good time to check out the environment and vibe of the institution as well. Does the campus offer networking events with other students or companies or speaker events where you can learn directly from professionals? And if you’re taking a remote course, is there still a sense of camaraderie between students that you can take advantage of when you start advancing in your career? 

We know that was a lot of information, but this is a big decision! There are tons of bootcamps out there and choosing a certain bootcamp could be exactly what you need to land your dream role. In addition to what we just mentioned, it’s important to keep these in mind as well: 

  • Time commitment: if you choose a full-time course, are you able to dedicate the majority of your time to classes and studying outside of class? Do you have any financial obligations that require you to maintain your full-time job? Do you have lots of weddings coming up, meaning you won’t be able to study on weekends? It might seem minor, but your bootcamp will be tiring enough: don’t add more stress on top of it! 

  • Location: everything is online these days, but do you learn better in person? Or is the closest bootcamp an hour drive away, meaning your time commitment will be even higher? Carefully consider in-person vs. remote options, being realistic with how you learn and if you will benefit from an instructor and classmates right next to you. 

  • Motives for doing a bootcamp: why are you signing up for a bootcamp in the first place?! Ensuring your reasons are clear will help maintain your motivation in tough moments and validate any sacrifices you’ll make as you get started in your new career. 

Choosing the best possible bootcamp depends on you and your circumstances. Reflect on the aforementioned points, have clear answers to our questions, and then search around until you find the perfect fit. And if you know that Ironhack is ideal for you (we think so!), we’d love to see your application soon. 

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