A coding bootcamp worked for me 😉

A photo of web developer Michelle Wong Hello, hello! It's Michelle Wong, here. I’m an Immunology and Health & Disease graduate turned Frontend Developer at Rumie.

I successfully completed a web development bootcamp in 2022, and I can confidently say that investing in a coding bootcamp was worth it for me.

But is a coding bootcamp right for you? We know a bootcamp is a serious commitment of your time and money. 

You’ll want to consider:

🕵🏽 Commitment level

🕵🏽 Earning potential

🕵🏽 Budget 

🕵🏽 Work style

I’ve got you covered! Let’s look at the specifics 🔎

Is it better to go to a coding bootcamp or college?

A person with a headset on asks,

After five years of university, I was partially in student mode…and very partial to employment! Enter: the bootcamp solution.

Off the bat, it’s important to be realistic about the cost and time investment of each path. Consider your short and long-term goals to help you decide whether college or a bootcamp is for you.

What does a coding bootcamp program look like?

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Bootcamp Cost

  • Very high

  • Ranges from $3500 - $20,000

  • Scholarships and payment plan options are often available

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Bootcamp Length

  • 12 week program on average

  • Plan for a six month job hunt

  • Not as lenient if you need to take time off for illness

For me, a coding bootcamp offered exactly what I needed:

  • A fast-track program: This was the fastest path to my goal of working as a software developer.

  • Structure: Some developers are self-taught,butI simply didn’t trust my own self-discipline to reach my goals in a timely manner. Anyone relate? 👀

  • Guidance: Since my degree is in a vastly different field, I knew I would need career and networking support to get a job.

Here are more ways the bootcamp's routine was manageable:

Hours: 10:00AM - 6:00PM

Practice time: There was a mix of lecture and group activities to solve coding problems.

Tutorial Time: If a project due date was coming up, the last hour of class was tutorial time.

Dynamic instruction: Mixed in between lectures was a code-along, almost like a cooking show for coders!

GIF: Chef Gordon Ramsay tells contestants,

🌍 Did you know there are over 600 bootcamps around the world? Find a coding bootcamp in your country

What does a college coding program look like?

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College Program Cost

  • Very high

  • Cost varies by location and for international students

  • Student expenses

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College Program Length

  • 2-4+ years

  • Less career support

  • More lenient with taking time off for illness

A college coding program may be for you if you want:

  • Access to fancy opportunities: Universities and colleges sometimes have partnerships with major technology companies for internship and co-op experiences.

  • Prestige: College probably looks the best from a resume standpoint due to the stigma of accelerated learning.

  • Want the college experience: You may be attending college for the first time, or want a fresh start as a transfer student. For me, I was just finishing up my degree, and super ready to move forward with my career.

Is it cheeky to say that the college option was not very appealing?

I simply had no desire to:

❌ Spend another 2-4 years in school

❌ Wait months between applying and the start of program

❌ Pay tuition

❌ Pay application costs

🚨Still unsure? Check out success stories! When speaking to software engineers in my network, multiple people mentioned coworkers who attended bootcamps. 😌

Are coding bootcamps good for beginners?

🎥 Picture this: It's your first day at bootcamp. There are a lot of unknowns, and you're feeling excited to get started. You've bantered with some of your new peers — your instructors are nice, too!

Image: Three youth networking in a sunny foyer

It's time to do your first activity, so you grab a coffee, open your laptop, and...CUT! 🎬 You realize you have no idea what you're looking at 🤦

Here's the truth...

You do need a baseline level of coding 🧡

The admissions process will tell you (and the school's advisors) whether you're ready or not. Coding bootcamps have a prerequisite for a certain level of understanding, and yes, there is a test.

Seth Meyers writing with a pencil frantically and with a confused expression

For me, the whole application process took about 1-2 months. Admissions processes will vary, but here's how my bootcamp gauged my level of interest and aptitude for the coding bootcamp:

  • Filled out the online form on the website.

  • Attended an intake phone call with an advisor.

  • Took a timed 10-question test on HTML & CSS best practices, and I received my results in only two days. Test questions included:writing clean and tested code, when to use what tags, and making sure certain accessibility tags are written into code.

  • Had a longer interview with the admissions team to share my intentions, such as: why I chose that bootcamp, and why I'm making the transition to coding.

  • Acceptance! 🥳 There were only two weeks between my acceptance and the start of the program.

Want to start coding today? Here are some tips on how you can code for free

Image: Person coding on a laptop in an office building Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

How do I prepare for a coding bootcamp?

Knowledge is power! There are a few ways you can research the field.

Book an informational interview

Informational interviews are an effective way to determine your compatibility with, well, any new subject! I planned informational interviews with developers that were recommended to me by the bootcamp, and folks I knew in the field.

I'd heard a ton of success stories, had friends that are developers, and most tempting — they described the great job offers they received after the bootcamp! 🙌

Image: Virtual Zoom chat window Photo by visuals on Unsplash

Close some of your knowledge gaps

If you're serious about an intensive training program, I strongly recommend digging deep into the curriculum to see if it's worth it to you.

Let's make the terminology easy to start. Here are the key skills I learned in my own web development bootcamp journey, and what the (rather random) words mean:

💻 HTML5 & CSS3: HTML plops the content on the screen, and CSS designs the style of the plopped content.

💻 Responsive Design: This is where the code interacts with the device's specs. Think: flipping your phone over to watch YouTube with full-screen.

💻 JavaScript & React Fundamentals: Javascript is a programming language that makes a website interactive. For example, making the text expand when the mouse hovers (see GIF below), that's what Javascript can do.

React is a library of frameworks/templates that allows you to build user interfaces with Javascript (like the home page on your phone).

A dialog box that reads: branding, digital strategy, social media designs, audiovisual media, website designs

💻 REST APIs & Firebase: An interface that allows programs to interact with each other & allow you to receive the info you need. Sort of like ordering from a menu at a restaurant — the menu (API) lists all possible options, you order what you'd like, then receive it. In this case, I learned about one of the database hosting platforms, Firebase.

💻 Git & Command Line Tools: Similar to an inventory or stock room, Git stores code in organized projects.

💻 Web Accessibility Requirements: This is how to design a website to accommodate disabilities, such as Dark Mode for those with certain vision disabilities.

Image: Visual UX exercise on a wall with a use case example and connecting each screen with thread to understand user's journ Photo by Alvaro Reyes on Unsplash

💻 Version Control, Wireframing & Scope Documentation: These are process terms used on projects to; keep track of edits to code documents, map out a website concept and create a project plan.

I hope this clears up some of the mystery!

Now how do you get a job, you ask? 👇

Will a coding bootcamp get you a job?

Although the job hunt was pretty tough, it only took me two months to find employment. I got really lucky to land a job at Rumie. The team is awesome 😀

I'm in good company for employment success, too. The Council on Integrity in Results Reporting (CIRR) report found the average percentage of bootcamp graduates employed in the field 180 days after graduation is around 79%. 🥳

You may be wondering: why do bootcamp alumni tend to succeed at the job-hunting process? Because the job hunt is built into your schedule and curriculum.

You'll lay the groundwork early on 🌱

A great coding bootcamp will understand your new career as a web developer requires a new resume, new industry knowledge, and dare I say it — a bit of personal branding.

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A bootcamp that's worth your time will provide career education and services, such as:

  • Career counseling: I could book an appointment with a career services specialist.

  • Networking events: The bootcamp hosted panels and events with industry professionals.

  • Cold emails: We were shown how to send out introductory emails to companies and set up 1 on 1s with their teams.

  • Accountability check-ins: Each week, we checked in with the careers team to update them on our job hunt.

How to keep momentum after the bootcamp 🧗

I felt supported after the twelve-week bootcamp was over, but the work was still up to lil' ol' me.

So what is a bootcamp alumnus' secret weapon? The alumni network.

Image: Person with blonde hair wearing jeans sits in office building lounge for a virtual meeting with Western-printed pillow Photo by LinkedIn Sales Solutions on Unsplash

When you become a part of a bootcamp, you gain access to an entire community of bootcamp alums who are eager to help someone with a similar learning pathway.

It was super encouraging to see how past participants are doing well in web development, and how eager they are to share their experiences, tips, tricks, and mistakes!

To make the most of the alumni network, I would:

✅ Ask for job search advice on the alumni portal

✅ Request if they could connect me with specific employers

✅ Schedule an informational interview

✅ Connect with alums on LinkedIn after our meeting

In the end, I applied to about 20-30 jobs before starting at Rumie 🙂


Shonda is trying to decide if she should go to a college or a bootcamp for web development. She has a degree in Psychology, some professional experience in administration, and rent to pay for a new apartment. What might be a good choice for Shonda?

Can you fail a coding boot camp?

Yes, you can fail a coding bootcamp!

🚨 However, I promise your grades matter less than leveraging the bootcamp to gain employable skills.

IMHO, it's important not to over-intellectualize web development so we can make a coding career more accessible for all. If you wanted to apply for a coding bootcamp tomorrow (and you meet the admissions requirements to do so), I believe you would succeed.

Look no further than the developer stereotype created by the media in shows like Silicon Valley or Mr. Robot. The leads are often cis-gender males portrayed as geniuses who will "transform the world as we know it" 👻

Person in black and white mask and a black hoodie sits in the dark with a blue light and a laptop, implying they are a hacker Photo by Clint Patterson on Unsplash

What coding really looks like: Hovering over a laptop with your peers in a well-lit space and (hopefully) well-managed expectations for productivity!

Image: Two people look at a screen to review work together in a conference room with a plant. Photo by Surface on Unsplash

More than passing or failing the bootcamp, you're going on a journey to prepare yourself for real-world problem-solving in exciting industries like:

  • E-commerce!

  • Digital infrastructure!

  • Climate innovation!

The moral of the story: coding belongs to everyone 🧡

...Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk 🎤 😂

GIF: Person giving Ted Talk says,

So without further ado, here's my honest experience with the learning curve:

  • HTML & CSS were straightforward to learn: Things got a lot more complicated once we started Javascript, and even more so with React. But no matter how complicated something seemed, Google was always there to save the day.

  • The coding community is beautiful: Almost all code issues are solvable, thanks to the active and welcoming coding community! It's likely someone has posted about the same or similar problem and found a solution.

  • My best lessons were in the problem-solving process: At first, I focused on understanding concepts. Though important, practicing writing code gave me opportunities to look at the concepts in new ways. I improved, and I got faster.

  • The cohort's Discord channel is a vibe: After class, it was huge having a class Discord to stay connected with my cohort mates! We could vent, help each other through difficult problems, work through coding challenges, study together, and this continued post-bootcamp as well.

Take Action

A photo of Michelle Wong I hope you feel more empowered to make a decision 🙂 Time to take your coding bootcamp research to the next level!


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