Listen, we’re not pretending that students leave tech bootcamps an expert in all things web development or cybersecurity; in fact, we pride ourselves on doing something different: preparing our Ironhackers to enter the tech workforce with the necessary skills to land a job and then continue to grow and develop as a tech professional. What does this mean? Well, that’s exactly what we’re going to explain here.
When you think of tech, you might think of hard skills such as coding or data skills as the main or only requirements for landing a job. After all, if you’re hired as a front-end developer, you’ll just need those skills, right? Unfortunately, no. Tech is one of the most complex fields for a few reasons:
Tech is constantly evolving and changing and will require you to keep learning over the course of your career, ready to master the newest in-demand technology or skill.
The knowledge needed for a successful career in tech isn’t limited to just hard skills; you’ll need to finetune your soft skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, and teamwork to truly be successful.
Before we dive into exactly how to hone bootcamp graduates’ tech skills once they’ve landed that first job, let’s review what bootcamps are, why they’re effective, and what makes them different from traditional learning methods.
The Basics of Bootcamps
You’re reading an article about nurturing tech skills after completing a bootcamp and landing that first job, so you’re probably pretty up-to-date with bootcamps and what they offer. But just in case you need a refresher, let’s cover some of the basics.
What is a bootcamp?
A bootcamp is a short and intensive course where students dive right into the nitty gritty of the subject they chose, learning the most in-demand skills of the moment so that they’re prepared to enter the job market as soon as possible after graduation. Tech bootcamps have become increasingly common in recent years, thanks in part to the dizzying speed at which tech is moving. Lots of bootcamps also offer career services to students, ensuring that their resumes, portfolios, and pitches are perfected prior to beginning the job search.
Are bootcamps effective?
It’s totally fair to doubt the effectiveness of bootcamps; after all, can a person truly be job-ready in just 9 or 24 weeks? We’d say yes, thanks to expertly designed curriculum, a dedicated teaching staff, and hands-on practice that our students get. Think about it: the tech workforce is severely lacking in qualified candidates and applicants; we look at exactly what hiring managers want and teach our students these skills, ensuring they’re filling in those gaps.
How do bootcamps differ from other courses?
Lots of educational programs have lofty requirements, such as expensive tuition, demanding time commitments, or long durations. As they’re typically held over just a few months or even weeks, bootcamps take advantage of the time spent in the classroom to provide you with necessary instruction, eliminating filler courses or old technologies that simply aren’t useful anymore.
Bootcamps are also usually quite flexible, offering you part or full-time options, in addition to remote or in-person options to help you take the course around your schedule and other responsibilities.
Why do employers hire bootcamp graduates?
Employers are typically big fans of bootcamp graduates, thanks in part to the reasons we listed above. Let’s discuss a few more:
Tech is moving so fast and university graduates are simply unable to keep up with the in-demand tech skills. Imagine that you sign up for a four-year computer science degree; when you graduate, you will be highly skilled in the tools you learned, but since tech moves so fast, there will be a whole batch of new and important tools that employers look for. Bootcamp graduates study a recently designed curriculum that researches what employers are looking for, meaning they’re uniquely suited to tackle the newest challenges in tech.
The majority of bootcamp students come from other industries, supplementing their newfound passion for tech with a whole separate skill set that is extremely valuable. As more and more companies adopt digital practices in their day to day, the tech sector is expanding to practically every industry and employees with skills and experience in other areas are highly valued. These skill sets include both hard and soft skills, which are an absolute necessity in the tech industry.
Bootcamp graduates have spent an intense period of time becoming skilled in a very specific area, making them the ideal candidate for an incredibly specific job. Many graduates that come from traditional university settings have much more of an overview and theoretical approach to tech, meaning they’ll need more practical experience to become self-sufficient in their role. Bootcamp graduates, on the other hand, began their hands-on experience from day one of their course, building their portfolio and skill set.
Bootcamp graduates come from more diverse backgrounds than those who studied traditional learning methods. Let’s think about it: four-year universities or long courses require a significant financial investment, in addition to a large time commitment that can become a barrier to those with other responsibilities, such as childcare or familial duties. Tech companies that have diverse voices at the table benefit from increased productivity, higher profits, and better performance.
Okay, you get it, right? Bootcamps prepare students for the workforce in a short period of time and allow them to maintain previous responsibilities until graduation, lessening the financial or personal commitment. But once they reach graduation day and land their first tech job, what comes next? What do employers need to know about bootcamp graduates? What can they expect from their new employees? Let’s discuss.
You’ve done it: you’ve hired a bootcamp grad who has limited experience in tech, with just a bootcamp under their belt. In fact, they’re a career changer, meaning they worked for years previously in a completely different industry. So what now? How can you continue supporting your new employee and encouraging further learning?
Well, their diverse experiences before they made the move to tech are extremely valuable; they probably boast both hard and soft skills that your other employees don’t have. Bootcamp graduates are typically the following:
Highly motivated: making a career change, especially after lots of years in another field, is quite the challenge. If your new employee chose to drop their previous career to join the tech sector, it means they’re up for a real challenge and truly motivated to do well. Take advantage of this motivation to encourage them to further their education and continue learning.
Open to learning: your new employee had very limited tech knowledge just a few months ago–and you just hired them for a tech role! This means that they’re open to learning and coaching with a strong desire to continue improving.
Smart: have you tried to make a giant career switch in just a few months? Bootcamp students have to be intelligent, curious, and smart–use this to your advantage and challenge your new employee to keep learning.
With this skilled yet novice employee at your fingertips, you may be lost on where to begin. Here’s what to do:
Foster a supportive environment
Your employee will probably make a few mistakes--and that’s completely normal. After all, they’re new to the field and probably have never worked in tech before. Set them up with a mentor that has more experience in the field (and maybe is a career changer themselves!) so that they have a support system in place at the office.
It’s completely viable that your new employee isn’t up-to-date on tech office lingo, what to do in case of an error, or where to go with questions. If you have a mentorship system that fosters a gradual and supported transition into the tech field, you’ll see better results from your bootcamp graduate.
Offer upskilling or reskilling opportunities
Most bootcamps continuously update their offerings to ensure they’re meeting market demands and teaching their students what companies are lacking, but it’s possible your job requires a different skillset or you want to move the new employee to a more advanced role in the future. Creating mentorship programs, in addition to training programs for your bootcamp graduates, can help them expand their tech knowledge and prepare themselves for a promotion or different role altogether.
Believe in the bootcamp methodology
The last thing any new tech professional wants is to be made to feel lesser or ill-prepared simply because they don’t have a computer science degree or years of experience in data analysis. If you’re making the choice to hire a bootcamp graduate, commit to that choice and ensure that you value that graduate’s choice to switch careers or study a bootcamp and work to fill in any gaps in their knowledge that they need to be successful.
In the last few years, bootcamp graduates have become increasingly popular with employers and now you know why. Overall, they’re an incredible asset to companies looking for skilled candidates with a zest for learning and knowledge: what are you waiting for? Ironhack’s graduates are skilled candidates with portfolios showing off all they’ve achieved and learned; they’re a great choice for your next open role. What do you think?