“Why do you need a web development Bootcamp?”, an old classmate from college asked me. I had just told him I was attending Ironhack’s web dev Bootcamp, and what would have been an ordinary catch up turned into a challenging discussion about what a developer can take from an intensive course of coding. I understand it may seem an unlikely career choice, so I decided to share some lessons I, a junior developer, learned from my bootcamp experience.
Self learning is not always the best learning method
It’s common knowledge that the most important skill a developer can have is not their knowledge, but their capacity to learn. The tech industry moves fast, so every ambitious developer knows they can never settle for long. And that was also what my Bootcamp was about. I didn’t learn formulas but how to look for the solution to any particular problem. Of course, in terms of contents, I could self learn the same, but it would be like exercising on my own: I can do it, but the compromise of going to the gym and having qualified staff supervising my workout enhances my performance. During the classes I was privileged to have teachers replying to my questions immediately, reformulating explanations if required, reviewing my code and motivating me to overcome my difficulties. I spent more than 8 hours a day with inspiring colleagues, with different backgrounds and objectives, with whom I built a solid support group. This was a meaningful experience I could never get from online tutorials.
A bootcamp experience can be as efficient as formal corporate training
Any company provides their employees the required training to work with their technologies. Sometimes these training programs work very well, but sometimes don’t. My first developer experience had an on-the-job training. The first months consisted in watching Udemy courses and having some classes to learn the project stack. I learned a lot trough both approaches, but the first revealed to be less efficient for me. While watching tutorials I could organise my schedule as I wanted but it was tiring, lonely and demotivating. The classes had a dynamic flow. After that learning period, I developed some projects with the other interns, who were as lost and confused on their first job as I was. Seniors always supported us, but it’s understandable their focus was client projects. Also, their explanations were not always clear for an entry role. And that’s ok, a good developer is not required to have teacher skills. Having education professionals only dedicated to my learning process was a completely different situation. Having some previous experience ended up being beneficial in that I didn’t have to deal with the frustrations of learning coding concepts for the first time and I was able to deeply understand them instead.
Finding a full-time job is a full-time job itself
“You don’t even need a degree to get a nice dev job”
“If you do engineering school you’ll get hired before you finish”, “create a LinkedIn profile and you’ll have so many offers you’ll need to deny jobs”, “ you will make a lot of money right in the first job” are just some of the misconceptions about starting a tech career. I also had some romanticised ideas about this subject and was taken by surprise when I started applying and found out many companies don’t even reply and recruitment processes include very demanding technical interviews. I ended up not being admitted to the companies I most wanted to work for and actually struggled a bit to get my first job. Then I started to attend tech events and realised the importance of networking. In these events, I was able get in touch with people from startups, multinationals, entrepreneurs, etc, and often could get a follow-up. I was happy to find out the bootcamp takes this factor into consideration as well. Every bootcamp ends with an exclusive job fair, where recent-graduates have direct contact with several companies. My web dev class was also privileged to attend Landing Festival and to visit Volkswagen Digital Solutions hub.
The importance of building a portfolio
As a low experienced junior developer, I don’t have many projects to show my value to recruiters. In my first interviews I was frequently asked about college projects, my most relevant experience at the time. But the majority of them didn’t follow a TDD approach, neither a design pattern, some of them were stored on GitHub with block comments, console logs, no documentation and noticeable bugs. Moreover, my web apps were not deployed and my mobile apps were not available in the store. It’s hard to admit that my portfolio was mediocre but that’s the truth. After one year of experience, I had professional projects to add to my CV, but they are mostly products not publicly available. So the bootcamp was an opportunity to improve my personal portfolio. I took advantage to the lessons focused in good coding practices and from the pull request revisions made by the teachers to develop projects with better quality code.
Coding bootcamps are best known for successfully helping people with no prior experience to land developer roles. However, the benefits from joining an intensive coding course go beyond it. Bootcamps are specialised inteching modern technologies, mentoring students for the recruitment processes and creating a supportive environment that lasts when the bootcamp is over. Therefore, for someone like me, who already has a tech career, the bootcamp is the perfect opportunity to level it up!
About the author:
Mariana Vargas is a full-stack developer and UX/UI enthusiast based in Lisbon, Portugal. She is an Ironhack web-dev alumna and was part of the teaching team in the first Ironhack’s B2B Bootcamp.