It’s easy to see why coding bootcamps may appeal to the career changer. After graduating with another degree, heading back to school costs time and money they may not be in a position to part with. Another four years and upwards of $100,000 in tuition is hard to compare with an accelerated bootcamp for a few months at 1/10th the price. But how do the two options compare when it comes to being a high-quality job candidate? As a hiring manager, should you look at candidates from both paths with similar expectations?
“It turns out, it doesn’t matter where you learn to code. It just matters how good you are at writing code. If you can do the job, you should get the job.” –President Barack Obama
It seems pretty straightforward, but let’s talk about why prioritizing skills over credentials can work in your favor.
Faster, focused learning
With condensed learning and smaller class sizes with guided support, students learn faster. To earn a bachelor’s degree in computer science, much like in other degrees, you’re required to take a broad spectrum of classes, even if they aren’t going to be relevant for your particular specialization. That’s not the case in bootcamps, a condensed program with room only for what you’ll need in the role you’re aiming to get. Depending on how you look at this, it could also be a disadvantage in that they won’t have broad knowledge in the field.
Curriculum amongst bootcamps isn’t standardized, so grads from different places can have different knowledge. They also spend more time on practical skills than theoretical skills you’d pick up with a computer science degree. Keep this from being an issue by focusing your search to those with the best reputation. Or, simply offer a test before hiring with a variety of skills you need your new hire to have. Plus, most people will have their work on GitHub to back up their skills. Take a look.
Your competition is doing it
Most bootcamp grads find their first job within six months of graduation. Bootcamp grads have secured jobs at FAANG companies as well as non-tech companies like JPMorgan Chase, Accenture, Goldman Sachs and more. Let’s face it: if they’re good enough for them, they’re probably good enough for anything you’re going to throw at them. Startups might have a hard time competing for top tier talent, but rest assured, you’re fishing from the same pool when it comes to bootcamp grads.
There are often deferred tuition and income-sharing agreements that can help with fees until you get a job. Flexible study options like part-time or self-paced, online or in-person attract a wide range of people who might not otherwise be able to participate.
According on one study (https://www.coursereport.com/blog/data-dive-gender-in-coding-bootcamps), 21% of people in traditional computer science programs are women as opposed to 36% of people in coding bootcamps, many coming from online programs. In the 1970s coding was primarily done by women. That changed when personal computers came out and were marketed to boys and men, changing the narrative.
The bootcamp grad pool is a great place to look for diverse candidates. The financial incentives designed to attract candidates from different backgrounds, races and age groups to the field via bootcamps diversifies the field even further.
Soft skills included
Bootcamp grads are coming out with a lot of soft skills (link to other post) you should be looking for as well. Pair programming is an important part of bootcamp curriculums, something that teaches communication and teamwork. They’ve also proven that they’re not afraid to upskill, a trait that will pay off for the rest of their career.
Most are highly motivated people who have actively made the decision to change industries and who go after what they want. This translates to having a growth mindset and the ability and initiative to work and learn independently.
They come with other experience
Bootcamp grands have often done other things with their lives and decided to change course and dedicate themselves to coding. As career changers, they tend to be older than someone just coming off of undergrad and offer experience. Even experience in a different industry can pay off for your company. For example, if someone was a teacher, they might be helpful with bringing new hires up to speed. Former social workers might have a higher degree of empathy for your product that will guide their work.
Stay on top of the curve
Bootcamps and revise their curriculum faster than traditional universities. That makes it easier to stay on top of trends in the industry and new technology. If you’re looking for employees with their finger on the pulse, there’s a chance bootcamp grads have computer science students beat.
In a post-pandemic environment, with layoffs at big tech companies, it’s possible for companies to find out-of-work experienced developers leaving bootcamp grads with more competition. But considering the points here, we stand behind the benefits of hiring someone who has dedicated their time to taking the leap.