So you’ve just finished a degree. Woo! You got the paper, you got the photo, you threw your hat in the air…you can’t delay the inevitable question any longer. What now?
After graduation it isn’t uncommon to feel underprepared to enter the workplace. You may even have decided that the degree you acquired was not, in fact, within a field you are interested in (you did, after all, choose it 4 years ago). So what is the next step? Undertake a new 4-year bachelor’s degree? Commit to a 2-year master’s degree program in the hope of finding direction? Argh! Breathe. Relax. We’ve helped hundreds tackle these questions before. Get a cup of tea, plonk down on your favourite chair and read about the #careerhack that is helping thousands of graduates with the same concerns as you all over the world. Bootcamp.
In this article we are going to look at what you might have and might not have gained at university as well as noting the skills that are sought after in the tech industry today and seeing how these align with what a bootcamp can offer. We will also discuss what you can expect from a bootcamp and what happens when you’ve completed one. Buckle up folks - this ride might change your career path.
What I got (and what I missed!) at university...
If you are reading this article, it is likely that you’ve completed a university degree, or you are in the process of it. Great work! A university education can offer many rewards: a new model of thinking and problem solving, an exciting and novel network of friends and academics, an empowering experience, and, of course, a degree.
Throughout your degree you would’ve undoubtedly been exposed to a lot of material about how and why things happen. Generally speaking, this is what defines a university education - one that is rich in theoretical concepts where you learn about other people’s experiences.
Many university degrees are created with a particular career path in mind, though they do not necessarily offer a direct route to a particular job. A danger of this is that the curriculum of many degrees, especially those related to fast-moving industries, are susceptible to becoming stale. Subjects may be outdated by the time you graduate. That is to say that you and the world are likely pretty different from how you were 4 years ago when you made the decision to study what you did.
Practical versus theoretical knowledge
You’ve probably heard at least one educator in your life comparing practical and theoretical knowledge and how they represent two distinct approaches (you were listening, right?). Theoretical knowledge refers to the understanding of fundamental concepts and the comprehension of how something operates and its mechanism. Practical knowledge, on the other hand, refers to the understanding of something learned through personal experience.
A university degree, for example, gives one a lot of theoretical knowledge. It is expected to provide a foundational understanding of why things work, or don’t work, the way they do. It can impart a greater understanding of a concept by exploring the ‘why’ behind it. Generally speaking, it teaches the experience of others without many opportunities to apply said knowledge.
A bootcamp, on the other hand, offers students the opportunity to gain practical knowledge in a particular field. That is, they can provide a learner with a deeper comprehension of a concept through personal experience. Bootcamps subscribe to the mantra, ‘when you do, you learn’.
How about a table to compare the differences?
Short-term commitment (3-6 months)
Gain practical knowledge of tools used in the real world
Focused on specific subject area
Long-term commitment (up to 4 years)
Gain theoretical knowledge of concepts
Curriculum is slow to change
Both a bootcamp and a university degree provide students with skills, theories, and experiences in one way or another. Both are fantastic things to undertake! It all depends on what you want to get into and when you want to get into it! If it’s the tech industry and quickly, then keep on reading :-)
Should I consider attending a bootcamp?
Bootcamps offer the opportunity to become highly skilled in a particular area in a short time. You will learn to do things that companies need and thus become incredibly hireable in the process. Whether you’ve already completed a degree or not, a bootcamp can offer you a new direction and fast access to the wonderful and ever proliferating world of tech. Learn the power to create and join some of the world’s most innovative companies solving problems from domestic up to global levels.
A budding software developer, for example, is in very high demand. In 2020, 22.7 million jobs for software developers were posted on LinkedIn alone.
As a graduate of a bootcamp, you have a high chance of finding success in the job market after completing your program. Not only are bootcamps and their graduates highly respected but also, and importantly, bootcamps measure their success on whether you find a job or not, thus they will go to great lengths to assist you in getting that job. Cool, hey?! Note: bootcamps can be an asset to anybody! People with different experiences and levels of education can use them to enter the tech industry, redirect their career path or gain new skills for their present positions.
Practical knowledge is in high demand! Here’s why:
You will undoubtedly need at least some practical and theoretical knowledge to work in any field you wish to enter. If you’re considering a future in the tech industry, however, practical knowledge, like that gained from a bootcamp, is becoming more and more appealing to employers. A study conducted by Switchup in June 2021 found that just as many university graduates as bootcamp graduates were employed at the Big 5 (Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Google and Amazon).
Why? There are many reasons.
Bootcamps are no easy undertaking and completing one shows dedication and drive.
Employers see bootcamp graduates as individuals committed to their career goals and excelling in their chosen profession.
The portfolio of a bootcamp graduate often contains projects using material applicable to industry and established programming languages.
The skills developed in established programming languages by a bootcamp graduate will allow them to join and participate in projects nearly instantly when employed.
Bootcamp graduates are equipped to learn future programming languages on the job.
How is a bootcamp structured then?
A bootcamp is typically a short period of full-time or part-time study often offered both in-person and remotely. They are generally very intensive and packed full of fast and high impact learning, so passion and commitment to the cause comes highly recommended. In fact, we suggest that before embarking on one you give your friends and family notice in advance because you may be MIA for its entirety. But hey, it’ll change your life!
A typical bootcamp may include:
Full-time study, 3 months (9 hours/day, 5 days/week) / Part-time study, 6 months (3 days/ week)
Prework (preparation prior to beginning)
Setup (installation of necessary tools)
Core Modules (the core components of the bootcamp)
Career support: many bootcamps will offer a service following completion in which graduates learn how to market themselves and find employment.
Alumni program: a program may be offered that provides continuous learning, a community and a network for bootcamp graduates.
Mentorship programs: things can get tough, so support staff in the form of mentors can be on hand for you.
You won’t be alone in the process, of course. There is a lot of support provided in the form of knowledgeable teachers, teaching assistants, mentors and fellow students, not to mention a network of alumni and potential employers. Read about Ironhack alumnis’ experiences here.
So will I be able to find a job?
In 2019, 79% of bootcamp graduates were employed in the field within 180 days after graduation according to data collected by the Council on Integrity in Results Reporting (CIRR). But what of these presently unpredictable times with a pandemic and the shift towards remote study, remote work and remote hiring?
At Ironhack, bootcamp graduate support doesn’t end with the completion of the coursework. Over the last 5 years a specialised team of career coaches has been created with the sole purpose of assisting every student in finding a job. The team offers services such as extra hours focussed on developing soft skills and job-hunting skills. Yup. What a bunch of stars!
Oh, and the same team of stars has spent a lot of time fostering Europe’s largest bootcamp hiring partner network with over 600 Global Hiring Partners, such as Google, Visa, Twitter and Magic Leap. Amazing, right?
Whether you are seeking practical skills or seeking a new direction into the exciting and fast-growing world of tech and computer science, a bootcamp can help you get there with speed! You’ll come out of it with prized practical knowledge and a new and caring support network of alumni and career support services. If you’re interested in taking the next step towards your new career path, then have a look at Ironhack’s bootcamps in Web Development, UX/UI, Data Analytics and Cybersecurity. In just 9 weeks, you could be a bootcamp graduate and on your way to future you!