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Ask HN: People who completed a bootcamp 3+ years ago: what are you doing now?
314 points by anm89 on June 8, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 332 comments
I feel like I have seen various waves of hype regarding programming bootcamps but the people who I have talked to about it are always people who are considering going or just graduated. Interested to hear from someone who's been out in the wild for at least a couple years.

What are you doing now? Do you feel that the bootcamp prepared you for the jobs you got? Do you think most of your cohort are still working as developers?

Note some selection bias may exist in the answers.

If you did a tech bootcamp three years ago and it went fantastically, you're probably reading HN today and will see and reply to this. The more success you had, the more likely you're a developer today!

If it went terribly, you might still be working at Starbucks and don't read HN very often.

Yes, it's aways good to think about the cognitive biases we all have before assuming "GREAT NEWS" from a sample of dubious randomness ;-)

I'm much more attuned to these things from the following podcasts and blog:




A few of my favourite episodes and articles:

- http://theknowledgeproject.libsyn.com/rory-sutherland-on-the...

- https://youarenotsosmart.com/2017/01/13/yanss-092-avoiding-t...

- https://www.farnamstreetblog.com/2017/06/habits-vs-goals/

Most relevant I guess:

- https://youarenotsosmart.com/2015/08/04/yanss-055-psychology...

You can't work at Starbucks and read HN?

Seriously, though, after some early career burnout I did a stint at a restaurant job to pay the bills while I decided what I wanted to do with my life...and that was by far my most productive period of time as far as keeping up on general tech news, personal projects, academic research/reading/conferences, etc...

A non-code day job can be a great way to have the mental energy to spend on non-job code. :)

> You can't work at Starbucks and read HN?

My point isn't that non-programmers can't or don't read HN. My point is that there are more programmers reading and posting on HN than Starbucks baristas. If you hated your boot camp, the odds of you reading HN is lower. Selection bias doesn't mean absolutes, it means probabilities.

> after some early career burnout I did a stint at a restaurant job to pay the bills while I decided what I wanted to do with my life

I really respect that. I think I'd like to do the same, but the mortgage can't be paid on minimum wage.

You can, but presumably your situation is rare? GP is specifically making an argument about selection bias, where frequency matters.

I'm sure my specific case isn't that common, but I'm fairly confident that there are a non-trivial number of people out there who can code but choose not to as a career path.

I'm not questioning the argument about frequency, I'm questioning the underlying assumption that "success" in a bootcamp is only measured by employment as a developer.

Why would someone that doesn't want to code as a career path go to a coding boot camp? I'm sure there are a few managers that want to understand the technology they are managing, but by and large, I can't believe that non-coders make up a significant fraction of attendees.

If you don't measure the success of a coding boot camp by "employment as a developer", what would you measure it by?

I was running a brick and mortar business. I just wanted the coding skills for more leverage. After finishing a bootcamp, I did take a job at a large tech company and then one at a YC startup but I never had any intention of a "coding career". I just wanted to continue learning and see the industry from the inside and to assess what the level of competition truly was in SF/SV.

It's been 4 years since my bootcamp experience and I very, very much doubt I'll ever seek "employment as a developer" again except in the case of failure as an entrepreneur.

I just met two vets at a makers faire. One was a cop for 8 years, the other doing sales for his small biz. They both are now enrolled in a local code camp (sorry, spacing name). They LOVE it. They're both deeply chagrinned they had never tried that "math geek" stuff before.

Now they're talking about starting code camps targeting other vets, help with transitioning to civilian life, build community, mitigate PTSD, work with kids, etc.

That's awesome! I'm glad it's working out for them.

You could be strict and limit this conversation to formal boot camps, but the reality is that this training is happening in a lot of different places.

I've been mentoring a number of our senior support folks on coding, and they've been doing something along the lines of a boot camp. My management finds that support team are able to better understand how things work, attempt to debug things they'd have been afraid of, and ask better questions of software engineers. Support engineers get to do something different and are building skills. They have seen "coders" move quickly through support to the engineering team. Another group manages our tools, but I hope they'll be able to hack on some tools for our team. Some people will stay in support, but it should be less stressful because they can understand how things work better. From a distance you can see how the online communications have changes between the two organizations.

From my past experience in Pharma I know there was similar interest from scientists to learn to code (if they didn't already). I also know that some of the designers working on electronic detailing apps for sales at the time really wanted to learn to code because they had to transition from Flash to HTML 5 and JS.

For these reasons, I think that the make up of coding boot camps may surprise some. A differentiation may be related to where someone is in their career. Someone laid off, or without a job is probably more like to jump to a boot camp than someone who has a job. Quitting to take part in a boot camp is probably a huge jump for people, if they are in the tech sector because they may have more awareness of what is involved, or other means to make the jump to coding.

No bootcamp myself, but I think more people learn to code than are employed as developers, although it may not be widespread. I switch between Product Design, development, and Program Management, based on market opportunity. Development is my least favorite, and I know many PMs and designers who take a short course with no intention to strictly switch gears (becoming a higher paid technical PM is a good example).

You are missing the point. It's not whether there are a trivial number or not. It's about the relative sizes of the groups in the population versus the sample.

The fact that there is not a single negative response is basically proof positive that people who don't succeed at coding boot camps do not read HN. Unless you happen to believe that almost everyone does succeed after coding boot camps. I find that notion incredible, personally.

> You can, but presumably your situation is rare?

That's exactly how my career started.

Which still doesn't mean it is not rare but maybe a bit less rare than you thought it was.

People who have careers in tech are likely to read an internet forum whose readership is directed at people who have careers in tech. So we aren't going to get much "people who don't have careers in tech" side of the story.

Hypothetical example: Say only 1% of coding bootcamp graduates find the program to be a "success" for them. All of that 1% read hacker news and zero of the 99% read hacker news. If you ask about bootcamp on hacker news you'll only get HN reader's perspective, then you'd believe bootcamps are wildly successful whereas the real number is the opposite.

All that matters is if P(reads HN | works on IT | completed a bootcamp) is different from P(reads HN | doesn't work on IT | completed a bootcamp).

If they are different, one can not make statistics out of the comments here.

I think that OP point was not that there is something special about Starbucks. It was that people who were unsuccessful after bootcamp or had otherwise bad experience are less likely to read these forums.

There is a YouTuber I like to watch sometimes because he occasionally uploads videos demonstrating really unique and high level programming skills.

His day job? A bus driver.

I saw that in the comment section of YouTube, people always ask him "why don't you go code for a job and make tons of money!". His response is that coding is something loves to do, and he wouldn't want to risk losing that love for it, by making it a job.

I love the idea but sadly in the US, living on a bus driver salary would be very difficult. He was based in Finland I believe, so I assume their bus drivers make more money.

living on a bus driver salary would be very difficult

As is often mentioned, that depends on where you choose to live. Around here, I know someone who was a bus driver and a homeowner. She was quite happy with it.

I suppose that's true, and I should keep that in mind more often. I live in California, and though some rural areas do reach that kind of affordability, they're also so remote and disconnected from society that I don't consider them an option.

remote and disconnected from society that I don't consider them an option

One person's bug is another person's feature :-)

I believe you're referencing Bisqwit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3bIcbnDXSRg

Bisqwit is a bus driver by trade? That's somehow surprising and unsurprising.

That guy is awesome. I love all of his videos.

You are correct sir!

No link? Give us a link, please.

I second that a non-code day job can be a great way to have the mental energy to spend on non-job code. I am a SAP consultant at IBM and my morning starts with checking out HN.

I search for next books to read by searching first on HN and also the constructive discussion that takes place here always leaves me being a bit smarter.

A buddy moonlighted in the kitchen of a 4-star DC restaurant. There's more to life than coding.

I'm a marketer and I read HN daily. I don't think this is as insular a community as it once was.

You are missing the point.

If you are now working in Starbucks, you aren't likely to read HN _because you are fed up with this stuff_. Not because you can't.

If they're only interested in tech to make money that's probably what set this hypothetical Starbucks employee up for failure.

Quite a lot of people are only into tech to make money.. and it's working well for them.

Perhaps, but it's much more difficult to learn what you're not interested in. If your only motive is money... do sales.

Unless you're good at technical thinking but not good at sales.

This was posted here the other day https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14497237

Most people outside of the startup scene, including myself, especially those over 35, are only in this for the money. That doesn't mean we can't find both personal and professional success.

I had a great experience, which I shared in another comment here. I agree, however, that there are plenty of folks I studied with who either washed out because they weren't prepared, or haven't accomplished that much because they frankly aren't that smart or hard-working. Those people probably aren't posting here.

Boot camps are no silver bullet. Like any kind of education, more is better, and the quality of the student is a factor. I will admit that while I got a great job, but there are fundamental CS concepts I'm still playing catchup with. Not sure if I would really be all the more effective as a developer if I did have a traditional degree, and maybe I would, but I can provide for my family and have no regrets.

All said, I think you might be right about some selection bias.

I'm glad you had a good experience, but I'm uncomfortable with your analysis here.

If plenty of folks enter a boot camp and wash out because they aren't prepared, I don't think that's much about the students. I think that's a huge failure on the part of the boot camp program.

The theory of boot camps is that you turn anybody who qualifies into somebody basically competent. E.g., US military boot camp drop out rates are around 10%. If ill-specified student quality is used to justify higher failure rates, then we end up with something almost tautological: only the quality students succeed, and the way you measure quality is by whether or not they succeeded.

>I don't think that's much about the students. I think that's a huge failure on the part of the boot camp program.

If you want a silver bullet for success, go to an ivy league or similarly-pedigreed school. There are plenty of people graduating from the top schools that burn out on their programs, but still get into successful gigs based on the reputation of their degree, and the connections they made.

Didn't study hard in high school, or Mommy And Daddy didn't send you to private school? Too bad. Life is competitive, and it needs to be that way if we want to make progress as a species.

No one is saying failure should come with punishments like unemployment or homelessness, but not every program out there needs to be as easy to coast through with C's as Harvard is. Not everyone needs to be a developer, doctor, pilot, etc., either. But the military needs almost everyone to get through boot camp.

This seems pretty much unrelated to what I was saying.

I am fine with the programs being hard. But these programs should only accept students who are likely to make it through. If they create a hard program but take anybody who can write a check, then it's a badly run school.

I thought your argument was that 'a school where many don't pass is a bad school,' but now I see you were saying something a little different, 'that they should only accept qualified students.' I missed that. But even if accepting qualified candidates, I'm not xonvinced everyone passing is necessary. It just depends on the goals.

I hope you can see how the above disagreements are still related... It seems self-evident, no?

The one I attended assumed their students have spent a good amount of time trying to learn on their own. They also had a long list of work to be read and done before the program even started.

In my limited experience, the ones that struggled most were the ones who simply didn't do the prework that was asked of them. Some people think education is something that will happen to them if they pay somebody enough, compared to those that went to a boot camp to accelerate the self-education they had already started.

Apart from selection bias of readers, there is completely different kind of selection bias, by which the person posting here has some very positive or negative views for bootcamps. It is well known in surveys and reviews. If the person reading this post has gone to bootcamp 3 years ago, they are much more likely to write their experience if he/she have failed 100 interviews, or if they became CEO of the startup, rather than say work as an average programmer which is the most common outcome.

I am a physician and read HN regularly. Lambda the Ultimate is better but requires effort to read, while this is fairly mindless entertainment.

Lambda the Ultimate? Some FP forum where it's all about Haskell and OCaml? :)

It appears to be a joke about doctors made by a programmer.

made my day, thanks.

I'm not a developer and I read HN multiple times per day. I think there a lot of finance people here, trying to stay on the cutting edge.

HN seems to be getting more popular as software "eats" up other industries. Topics on the site have definitely migrated away from pure programming and startups - not that that's a bad thing of course.

If I might ask, what is it exactly that you do in finance that requires you to stay informed on emerging tech/software? Is it more so just out of interest?

Renewable energy development and investment banking. I would say I'm a tech enthusiast. I rarely read the meaty programming articles, but there are a lot of other interesting things posted here. I actually considered doing a boot camp to change careers and reading this article was a follow up as to whether that might have been worth it.

Maybe a TMT group in an investment bank, or working as a trader/investor in tech. Don't forget that access to "good" bankers benefits tech companies.

Y Combinator is in the finance industry itself.

I do IT operations... sysadmin type stuff. I'm read HN all the time as well. The developers sometimes forget they're not alone here. ;)

Security team member checking in; we're here too.

Electrical engineer. Though a lot of our gear is used by data centers.

I think this comment is actually a good warning to typical readers, although the last line is distracting from the main point.

My guess is there would be more failure cases than success cases, but I don't see many negative stories here and suspect much selection bias here.

> the last line is distracting from the main point.

You're not wrong, I could have worded it better. Mostly I wanted to give a little more context on what I meant by selection bias.

I think its pretty obvious that there will be selection bias in any answers here.

HOWEVER, that doesn't mean the answers are uninteresting or of no value. It is still very interesting to see what what some people who have gone through a bootcamp do with their careers.

>>"What are you doing now? Do you feel that the bootcamp prepared you for the jobs you got? Do you think most of your cohort are still working as developers?"

I don't think selection bias is a problem for the questions the OP asked.

If (let's say) only 10% of boot camp developers went on to get a development job, and that's roughly the 10% that still reads HN, then they're all going to answer "Yes, I feel that the bootcamp prepared me for the job I got." the other 90% of bootcamp students will answer no, but if they aren't here on HN they won't answer at all. That's selection bias and it's a huge problem for the exact questions the OP asked.

If it went fantastic then you probably have a real interest in computers and technology in general versus the pay potential.

Perhaps, if you did a bootcamp and are gainfully employed, you are busy and have less time to read HN.

This was my immediate thought when looking at this.

For heaven's sake, it's a question on a message board, not a statistics thesis.

As always, relevant xkcd: https://xkcd.com/1827/

If three years after a bootcamp you're spending that much time on HN it probably did not go fantastically.

I went to Hack Reactor in 2014 and have kept in touch with many members of my cohort. Just about everyone has been and continues to be employed as a developer. A few have started companies. Three members of our 30 person cohort joined Google, including me.

I was a philosophy major who took some CS courses in college, programmed as a hobby and was working as a product manager. The bootcamp was a great way to build an understanding of the production software development process. It also allowed me to build a strong skillset within one tech stack (MEAN).

The bootcamp was absolutely not an end to my cs/engineering education. When I started at Google the learning curve was steep and I have been constantly taking at least one coursera/udacity/edx course for years as well as company internal classes. Hack Reactor wasn't an end all solution but it gave me a great lay of the land and was instrumental to landing a job of the quality that I did.

the Google interview process is notoriously tough especially for bootcamp grads. how did you navigate the process (apart from the usual CTCI stuff)?

After HR I stayed on for three months as part of their Hacker in Residence program. During that time I prepared and delivered lectures on various algorithms and data structures, which was great preparation for whiteboard interviews.

I also planned for the Google interview to be relatively late in my job hunt. I already had offers in hand and a lot of on-site practice going into it. I doubt I would have passed had it been my first on-site engineering interview.

Beyond that nothing special. A lot of CTCI stuff and daily practice.

that sounds like excellent strategy. i will follow this path.

The Google interview process is tough, but it is predictable.

You know exactly what they are going to question you on(algorithms), so it is straightforward to prepare for (which is not the same as "easy")

thank you

Disclaimer: My post-bootcamp experience (Chicago 2014) was probably very different from what I'm seeing today (New York 2017). Every meetup I go to seems flooded with bootcamp grads, and it appears the market is oversaturated with bootcamp grads. Overall, it seems like it's much harder to get that first engineering job

I graduated from Dev Bootcamp Chicago in 2014. Before starting, I was a financial analyst for three years, and had been teaching myself some rudimentary python for about a year.

It took me about two months to get my first job at a start up, where I stayed for a year and pretty much made what I was making as an analyst. After that I moved to New York, where it took me a month to find a (better) job at another start up. Now I'm at a third start up as a senior engineer, which also took me about a month to find.

The program was fun, I met some great people (some of whom I'm still good friends with), I think it helped me get a foot in the door in the industry, and I picked up a lot of good conceptual knowledge and soft skills related to building software.

However, the the technical skills I learned from the curriculum ended up being almost completely irrelevant the second I graduated. They focused primarily on back-end development, with a Ruby/Rails/SQL/jQuery stack. Since then, I've focused mainly on front-end, and worked almost entirely with Angular/React/Node/Mongo. Now I'm am starting to dip my toes into Scala and PureScript and have no intention of ever using Ruby again.

My cohort mates saw mixed (but mostly positive results). All the people who were clearly talented got jobs immediately after graduating. It was more difficult for those who had no prior coding experience, or had trouble picking up the material.

"However, the the technical skills I learned from the curriculum ended up being almost completely irrelevant the second I graduated."

I hope both boot camps and CS curricula will emphasize this point very strongly. The exact technology stack you are learning right now is probably not the one you will be using in the near future, and that's OK. Learning to learn, and understanding the fundamentals of what makes a good developer regardless of technology stacks are the key skills.

Anecdata: In a recent job search, the developers who had something close to the technology stack we use were bad on algorithmic questions, and we decided to hire the person who had almost no overlap with our technology stack but aced all of the algorithm questions.

The technologies we use in our backend have changed over time as our needs have changed, so it's very important to us the person filling this position understood the underlying algorithms well enough to have a good mental model of the key algorithms determining how the system will perform and write code that plays to the strengths of those algorithms. (Or pick a different system implementing different algorithms with different characteristics, if required.)

Yeah, that's what they told us at the time, but

1) How much can they really to teach you to learn in an 18 week period? I think it helped give me enough learning momentum to grab that first job and keep learning there, but I don't know if my fundamental learning ability was significantly altered.

2) Not only have I not used much Rails in my career, but I barely did anything back end development in the first year. And the back end development I've been doing recently has been a lot of mongo and GraphQL. While I've found knowing REST and SQL are definitely useful and necessary, those concepts aren't as useful for my day to day as I would have hoped.

3) They (understandably) didn't focus much on algorithms and CS. So we were kind of left up to our own devices to get the the real "meat".

Again, I found the whole experience incredibly useful and worthwhile, but I think teaching a relavant tech stack can add a lot if value for the job hunt and early job performance. These programs are mostly very expensive, and you have to derail your life for a few months and start your career over at stage 0. It's a big commitment, so I think grads need every advantage they can get.

The problem is that people misunderstand the point of getting a Computer Science degree. At the school I attended, the head of the department was upfront that what the degree would be teaching had nothing to do with any specific stack any specific company was using, learning those things would be up to us individually.

Personally, I ended up dual majoring in computer science and computer engineering. The idea was that the former is the abstract science behind programming (algorithms, complexity, etc.) and the latter is how and why computers actually work. Computer Architecture was probably one of the coolest classes I took in college.

A professor in college told us that we'd likely never use 90% of what we learned in our curriculum. He said engineering is largely an exercise in vocabulary: the core structures in CS are like "function" words (articles, prepositions, pronouns) in human language; they tie the other "meaty" words (nouns, adjectives) together. The nouns and adjectives are the specific technologies you use.

A CS degree teaches you the function words. A bootcamp teaches you a small set of meaty words with a sprinkling of function words. However, the meaty words are the most useful day-to-day. But you have to be able to discern and use new meaty words all the time, or you'll "sound" dated eventually. "Radical, dude! I'm stoked about these parachute pants!"

I've met many CS-degree-holding engineers who don't understand this vocabulary exercise. They choose a particular programming language they're most familiar with and proceed to reinvent the meaty words. They're doing it wrong, and will almost always be less productive and useful. Bogus!

If I'm going to build a machine learning system, I'm not going to open my editor and start writing parsing libraries and convex optimization algos in my favorite language. I'll find a well-supported framework and learn how to use it. If I need to learn the framework's language better, then I will.

Go for the meat first, and you'll be a great engineer.

While you'd be a very brave or silly individual to try to reimplement BLAS yourself, there is definitely value in knowing how to implement any library for yourself.

If programming is behaviour and data, then the deeper and broader your appreciation for data and behaviour in its many forms, the more tools you'll have in your toolkit.

Learning by doing is mainly the defacto way of learning for programming, and so while you may never use your own language to ship in production, there is still value in learning to build your own compiler.

When you use someone else's framework, you are using their abstractions and their mental model of the world. Lucky for you if it happens to be spot on with your own or aligns with your way of thinking. If the abstraction is too tight though, and the fundamental knowledge is not your own, then when "new-and-shiny" framework is outdated for "newer-and-shinier" framework, your framework-specific knowledge is completely redundant.

That's not even starting on confidence that comes with being able to roll up your sleeves and read anyone's code when you've earned enough chops by building various projects.

I often hear "You weren't a CS major?!?!". My common response is "You were?!?!".

I worked in finance as an equities trader for 6 years before taking a boot camp and switching over. I was heavily involved in hiring while in my prior role. One thing I found is that I was drastically more inclined to hire the English major over the Finance major. If they've managed to overcome the commonplace cognitive biases that work against them, chances are they are more intelligent/hard-working than the relevant educational background.

None of this is meant as a slight to CS grads, I'm simply pointing out the somewhat irrelevant dependence on an undergraduate degree. Technical mindedness is much more important than a 4 year rubber stamp.

It seems you're guilty of the same cognitive biases. "Screw those finance guys! Rosencrantz and Guildenstern over Oskar Morgenstern!"

Edit: On my first job interview out of college I was turned down by the head of engineering because I didn't have enough experience in C++. "Silly college kid can't do shit." I was called back and offered a job because another manager was impressed by my work at the speech recognition lab at my school. Three months into my employment they filed a patent on an algorithm I devised to build databases that were searchable through speech interfaces. The engineering head ate crow.

Hiring developers is a crap shoot, but it's hard nowadays to hire a truly incompetent developer. I've really only encountered one in my lifetime who was incapable of basic development tasks.

In the 15 years I've been a working engineer (and 25 in general programming), I've noticed the level of knowledge and skill required to build usable products has been greatly reduced. Why? Because there's been 15 years of advancement by seasoned engineers, prompted by business people, to build tools and frameworks that fit large swaths of business needs.

That cycle is ever present in tech. The obscure things become clearer and more accessible to laymen through the efforts of the experts. And you can bet those experts have deeply studied CS topics, whether at a college or on their own.

I definitely felt like this was addressed during my time at DBC, there was a significant emphasis on figuring out how to approach problems you haven't encountered before methodically, learning new tech stacks quickly, and how to think programmatically overall. We spent a lot more time on Sinatra as opposed to Rails because it gives you a lower level understanding of web development, yet I don't think a single person I know has a job working with Sinatra.

I graduated from DBC Chicago about 7 months ago, found a job as a Rails developer at a start-up here about 3 months later (I graduated right before the holidays though). Of my cohort of about 16 people I believe only about 2 or 3 haven't found jobs in tech yet, though some instructors told us we had a particularly strong group. I think it's true that you do probably have to hustle harder to stand out from other bootcamp grads for a lot of positions, but there are also now some bigger companies that have been happy with previous bootcamp grads and actively seek them out to fill new entry level positions.

In 2013 I attended Epicodus in Portland, OR. At the time, it was a 17-week Ruby on Rails bootcamp.

I moved back to my home state of Florida following graduation.

Within two months I landed a Junior Rails Developer position at Listen360 - a badass company in Georgia. I relocated and have been with the company for over three years now.

In that time I've developed JrDevJobs.com, a job board for junior devs. Built several side-projects, and taken on contract work at a growing rate.

Bootcamps aren't for everyone, and they don't guarantee success. They are a spring-board and structure for those who are committed and able to learn the trade.

Software development is hard as hell. It challenges your abilities in every way: decision making, risk assessment, empathy, time management, and your ability to handle stress. But for those that love it know the rewards to be worth the struggle.

I'd like to say my bootcamp prepared me for the job I have, but I also know that I was going to become an engineer regardless. I saw the bootcamp as a way to get there faster than learning on my own.

I've toured and given speeches at several bootcamps across the country. I've seen patterns amongst the students: there are those that think they're "done" once they graduate, and those that think they're just getting started once they graduate. The latter tend to outperform the former. Full disclosure, this is totally anecdotal.

I think bootcamps are great for those who love to learn, are always challenging themselves, have a competitive nature, and love technology.

Good for you!

I ask all the interns that I interview to hire, "why do you want this job?" I can pretty much tell by the answer alone whether or not they are going to work out. Those that say, "I didn't know what to study" or "I heard there was a good career in this" I can pretty much write off. They almost never want to learn anything except what they learned for a grade. Often its over for them after school, they'll never have the drive to learn what they really need to advance. I always tell them that dollar for dollar, we are one of the poorest paid fields. The amount of time we spend learning vs how much we are paid is way out of proportion even with our technical salaries. They never believe me.

It's those that get kind of that geekish giggle about some theoretical concept (state machines, some language concept they discovered they think is cool, compilers, etc.) I know are going to be great. These are the ones that I really go after. With these people it doesn't matter how much they know at that moment, because when they're done, they'll know more. They'll keep doing it too.

There's another aspect to this though. Programmers have to be smart and get things done. In my experience of interviewing and hiring these qualities can entirely orthogonal. I've hired people who program enthusiastically on side projects and study advanced topics at the weekend but are pain in the workplace; overcomplicating tasks and working slowly while others deliver faster and with better quality. At the same time I've worked with people who express no interest in any realm of computing outside their direct area of expertise. They work hard from 9-5 being extremely productive and I know that they don't think about so much as a bit or a byte until they come into work the next day.

> There's another aspect to this though. Programmers have to be smart and get things done. In my experience of interviewing and hiring these qualities can entirely orthogonal. I've hired people who program enthusiastically on side projects and study advanced topics at the weekend but are pain in the workplace; overcomplicating tasks and working slowly while others deliver faster and with better quality. At the same time I've worked with people who express no interest in any realm of computing outside their direct area of expertise. They work hard from 9-5 being extremely productive and I know that they don't think about so much as a bit or a byte until they come into work the next day.

Speaking of teams, I'm usually the least productive member of any team I've been a part of because I often fall into the role of project servant: someone who bounces across team members as they get stuck with something or another. The best compliment I've gotten is that the role is that of the guy who gets ammo from person to person at the end of saving private Ryan: not the sexiest job but someone is doing it.

> someone who bounces across team members as they get stuck with something or another

Helping them see what they've missed or otherwise get over the hurdles? Sounds like a senior dev to me.

>Sounds like a senior dev to me.

That's what I'd call them.

I've always like troubleshooter, though: when there's trouble, they shoot it.

> I ask all the interns that I interview to hire, "why do you want this job?" I can pretty much tell by the answer alone whether or not they are going to work out. Those that say, "I didn't know what to study" or "I heard there was a good career in this" I can pretty much write off.

I would be careful about making that assumption - it was only 4 1/2 years ago when I landed my first job as a developer after 2 1/2 years of searching for any career track job after leaving my PhD program in mathematics. I was someone who was willing to do anything and was open to a wide variety of jobs. I put in long hours outside of work early in my career to learn and grow, with the mindset that I was behind and needed to accelerate my learning greatly - I had a work ethic that might be seldom seen in the industry, and a proven intelligence to match.

Fast forward to today, I am right now actively interviewing and being hotly contested by many companies for senior, lead, and management roles, including the likes of Google and Apple with multiple onsites scheduled or being scheduled (4 alone between Google and Apple over the next week or so).

IMO companies should try to tease out characteristics of people - how do they handle difficult situations, how open are they to feedback, how hard are they willing to work (especially earlier on), and how smart are they? Positive answers to these questions when interviewing inexperienced people are probably the biggest factors in determining the likelihood of someone being successful IMO (don't ask these questions directly of course, but the answers should be teased out).

Yes, it's the soft questions that really answer, "will this guy excel," for me. I'm on a sabbatical and I'm using the time to develop a product, because that's what I like to do. I want people like that.

this is a fantastic answer. Have you blogged about developing and launching JrDevJobs? (presumably this is a side project that brings in a small amount of income? how do you market something like this?)

Your presumption is correct :) I've thought about blogging, but I just haven't made it a priority. I'm so thankful for the people out there that do. - Especially when I find their post about an obscure problem that I'm needing help with!

well, you know where to post it when you get time to write :)

Your site looks good. It reminds of Seek.com.au. I wish more general job boards looked like this. I hate Indeed.

College for me was a bunch of theory, yes is good to have it but once I landed a job I realized I didn't know anything about developing a software from bottom up, therefore in the past 3 years I've learned considerable more that in my five years of college.

I finished Byte Academy (New York) June of 2016, so only one year out. Before attending the bootcamp I was a petroleum engineer running an international drilling project management company. I really wanted to work in tech, so I left and moved to NYC and began the bootcamp. For the past year I've been constantly interviewing and have been offered 0 jobs. The bootcamp has been a terrible resource for careers (the main thing I was hoping for by attending a bootcamp, because I was transitioning from oil and gas to technology with no network in the industry), and although I've make it very deep in the process with many companies, I can't seem to get a break. I was hoping to use my project management background coupled with what I learned at the bootcamp to hop right in contributing, but nobody has shared my view. After a year of trying to break in with full force, I'm probably going to have to go back to my previous line of work. Zero people that graduated from the bootcamp I attended found a developer job in 2016, and I'm pretty sure the same for 2017 - and though some smart people passed through, most had to go back to their previous line of work. I see so many success stories posted above, and I can only look to my choice of bootcamp that crushed my dream of working in tech.

Bootcamps have a lot of haters who want to nitpick the details, it makes me glad I didn't think about it too much when I signed up, I just thought, "hey I want to code, they teach coding... I'm in"

first bootcamp (web dev) 5 years ago, second one (mobile dev) 3 years ago. Unlike most in my CoHort, I had no interest in a dev job, I wanted to provide contract work and perhaps join a startup for equity.

> What are you doing now?

CTO at a startup

> Do you feel that the bootcamp prepared you for the jobs you got?

It got me started, which is what I needed, so yes, but it took lots of work beyond the bootcamp.

> Do you think most of your cohort are still working as developers?

I'd estimate over half

IMO Bootcamps are great, you get a nice headstart with learning, you meet cool people, it's unaccredited so any job prospects are going to be obtained with your own blood sweat and tears anyways.

Out of interest, what were you doing before the code camp? Being CTO needs people and management skills which a lot of developers don't have.

I guess being CTO at a startup can be like being lead dev at a bigger corp.

Depends on the size of the startup. A startup CTO can be the equivalent of

The only developer, the senior developer out of 1 or 2 juniors, lead dev in charge of many, an actual CTO

I started providing wordpress websites in college (Economics Degree), custom solutions via code, was an extension of that. As others have mentioned, my CTO role could also be described as "Lead Dev".

The Startup started out as a Client, I made their MVP, and the app did well, got some traction, so here we are.


Sorry for OT, but this caught my eye - did you capitalize like this on purpose? If so, why? Just curious about language oddities like this :)

He's referring to the compliment of his Hort

Is anyone surprised by the amount bootcamp folks in this thread who are now in "Senior" roles after only a few years? I'm not trying to diminish their accomplishment; Their accomplishment is astounding. But are bootcamps really that effective?

I remember interviewing a ton of bootcamp grads from a couple of schools in Austin, TX and being largely unimpressed. You know that feeling after you interview someone where you're just _not sure yet_? Maybe you liked talking to the person; Maybe they did great on the coding exercises, but you're just not sure. I've since learned that when I'm not sure, that means no.

I think senior titles in general are given out too easily in the software industry. Compared to many other professions and industries, the idea of anyone -- bootcamp graduate or not -- being senior within 3 years is kind of laughable. That's not to say it doesn't happen in other professions, but it's often reserved for the truly exceptional -- being considered senior within a few years of starting your career is for the best of the best and isn't the "normal" path at all.

I think part of this is because of company/domain knowledge. It may not be that the person is necessarily "senior" level generic technological talent, but they have built up deep knowledge of the companies systems to become a key part of the team's brain trust. I feel like I see this leading to title advancement just as much as technical aptitude. The flipside is that it is somewhat specific to the exact employer, but it should signal ability and willingness to become an expert of the company's product domain. A lot of times I think that is more valuable than raw technical ability anyway, but it's harder to interview for.

generally startups hand out titles like cheap candy on a reception desk.

Regard notions of "senior" in the tech world as you would "vice president" in banking.

It's where the "senior" distinction isn't very useful I think... It's very possible to be leading/running a team in three years in nearly any profession if you are good at what you are doing. Does that make you "senior"? In relation to the people below you, sure... But maybe just using "team lead" or something is more accurate.

uhh in most industries its given out way too liberally.

A lot of the other comments mention valid reasons for this.

In my experience many of these folks are rails, js, or purely frontend devs. These circles seem to have a lower entry to those titles, for whatever reason.

I feel comfortable in saying, if I spent 2-3 years just on js or rails - I would have a higher title than if I stuck with what I am doing currently.

However, I'm not convinced on the whole that I'd be as competent in general engineering terms compared to if I just stuck with what I'm doing now. This is not to say some js or rails devs aren't quite brilliant - it's just a trend I have noticed.

This is from my experience interviewing rails and js devs, and also keeping in contact with fellow bootcamp grads that are currently js or rails devs. I am not suggesting this is a universal truth, it's just an observation

And to your point about fresh bootcamp grads being very green/not impressive. Unless you're interviewing the cream of the crop from the top camps (which usually have prior exposure to the field in some way) - you'll likely not run into any rockstars, or even anyone that impressive.

I'd be interested to know what your experience interviewing fresh college graduates is in comparison.

I expect that many people who enroll in bootcamps are coming from domains other than sw development. As such, they may have years of experience and skill-sets which complement the new skills they picked up at bootcamp.

Its not the bootcamp alone which is responsible for any person's success or advance, its a combination of factors, just like it would be if you replace "bootcamp" with "university degree".

Couldn't agree more. A bootcamp dev with 3 years coding experience might have 7 years of professional experience they are building on. I know several bootcamp devs with very relevant backgrounds too. For example, 5-10 years as a Certified Public Accountant before working at a fintech company. Or working as a nurse then going to a healthtech company.

>For example, 5-10 years as a Certified Public Accountant before working at a fintech company. Or working as a nurse then going to a healthtech company"

Can you explain how being a CPA would help give you seniority in a software engineer role at a Fin Tech company or how nursing experience would help give you seniority as a software engineer at a health based tech company?

Isn't being "senior" in this context of software engineering specific to your role and not the industry as a whole? I guess I'm failing to see the transitive relationship. If I previously worked as taxi driver would that help me as an SWE at Uber? Or if I worked in retail would that best me as as an SWE at Amazon?

I get your point, but here's how I'm thinking of it. Software developer A is 22 and just graduated with a CS degree. Software developer B is 29, has a CPA, and three years of experience managing more junior accountants.

Both get hired at a FinTech company. Is software developer A or B more likely to rise to the level of "senior" in the next 5 years? I'd say B... Already has tons of domain specific knowledge that will help him focus solely on the technical issues at hand (instead of trying to understand how Balance Sheets work or something), has 7 years experience as a working professional and all the soft skills associated with this, and has experience as a manager.

IMO, too many SWEs think that the technical stuff is the only aspect to their job. Often (depending on company size, etc) there are many, many other skills required to be a successful employee.

Keep in mind that "senior" or other title doo-dads don't really have a fixed meaning.

Also, depending on the workplace you may be undervaluing domain experience. Yeah, of course, a taxi driver isn't going to ascend at Uber because of Taxi driver skills. But a high-skilled experienced CPA with a knack for software development could do really well against 20-something SWE's at a fintech company.

>"Keep in mind that "senior" or other title doo-dads don't really have a fixed meaning."

Now your shifting the discussion a bit with the concept of title inflation. I think the intention of "Senior" is very clear with respect to junior and mid-level career stages. It is not a "doo-dad" in the same way that something like "Customer Success Associate" is.

At my company, and every other large company I have worked for titles absolutely have a fixed meaning. There are standard pay bands that are largely predicated on your title.

_Within_ any one company, sure, "senior" may mean something.

But looking across companies... Nope. A "junior" could easily change jobs/employers and land on a "senior" title or vice-versa.

>"I expect that many people who enroll in bootcamps are coming from domains other than sw development. As such, they may have years of experience and skill-sets which complement the new skills they picked up at bootcamp."

I don't doubt the value complimentary skills at all but 3 years of actual software engineering experience and exposure and say 7+ years are very different things. I don't think there's any substitute for "rubber on the road."

I have hired a few different students from a few different bootcamps in my area and found the students fell into one of two categories: highly motivated individuals who are looking to make a career switch and people who are "wandering" through life and see a quick fix.

The former usually have previous experience in the workforce and put in the required effort to really get the most out of a bootcamp to accelerate their career. It does not surprise me at all when I see them in senior roles a few years later. The latter rarely graduate on time and struggle to show any skill growth. They wash out of their new jobs within a few months.

Obviously when categorizing people's behaviors there are a million grey areas in between the black and white, but it has been my experience that these two different groups stand out in interviews. People in the first category would likely succeed no matter what they tried to switch into, they just chose coding bootcamps.

I mean, I should not be senior. I should not have been the only web dev as my first job out of a bootcamp. That is insane. But, bizarrely, in this world of start-ups and feature pushing, shit has yet to hit the fan.

I think it helps I routinely push for that promised, mythical senior developer and instead they give more more classes, pair programming with senior devs of my choosing, etc. Perhaps my complete (justified) awareness I am way over my head is the prerequisite fire to keep me always drinking from the fire hose of knowledge. Who knows.

I will say that it seems baby startups who have to choose between cheap(er) bootcamp grads who know how to get a beta out quickly, cheap(er) fresh CS grads who often don't know how to get a beta out quickly, and more expensive experienced people often chose the bootcamp grad.

I said in my interview they should get a senior dev. They said they couldn't afford one. And here we are 3.5 years later.

Or maybe you have prejudice + confirmation bias.

My "maybe" here is literal, not a snarky euphemism. It is a possibility you might want to check. Maybe you are right and that "not sure yet" feeling may be that lack of passion to learn that almost all of successful cases here mention about other not successful bootcamp colleagues.

> I remember interviewing a ton of bootcamp grads from a couple of schools in Austin, TX and being largely unimpressed.

My first reaction here is that there's a ton of variance in bootcamps. That's obviously true of colleges and even past employers, too, but the recent boom in bootcamps means there are a lot of them without a well known reputation.

Presumably the best and worst bootcamps differ somewhat like the best and worst colleges, ranging from "top notch" to "literally just a scam". So I suspect any article on the outcome of 'bootcamps' is a bit misleading.

It's also possible they're working for startups with few employees where they might be one of the only developers there (or the most senior after some turnover).

I've worked for startups early in my career where I was the "Lead" guy primarily because I was the only guy in the company with that job, and was thus forced to do run things.

Thankfully I'd already made and released well over a dozen apps and games I made on my own time for various platforms before then, so it wasn't like I had no idea what I was doing.

As another commenter mentioned - this is probably due to selection bias.

My best guess is that bootcamps aren't a bad deal for smart motivated people.

Your intuition is correct.

Bootcamps aren't learning institutions - they're fundamentally recruitment agencies. They connect companies with smart, motivated people who can learn things on the fly.

This is why there's such a massive variance between bootcamps. The best bootcamps have the luxury of screening for the best people.

I attended a coding bootcamp recently. It was fun, but it turned out not to be a good use of resources. I suppose I'll need to explain my situation there.

I had been coding in relative obscurity and isolation for some years, and (1 I wanted to pick up Ruby, which I'd read 5-7 books about but not really done much with, and (2 I had no social connections and no idea of my relative skill level. I'm still not entirely clear on that score but my teachers were pretty insistent that I knew more than them about the course material; I ended up dropping the program.

Either way, I spent a lot of time getting to know people there, of widely disparate backgrounds, who were mostly learning to code for the first time. After several months in company, I could probably pick out one or two out of the cohorts who I would feel confident in saying, "this person is going to be a 'Real Programmer' some day". And to me the difference was not necessarily about native ability; I think that there are quite a lot of people, perhaps even the majority, who can learn to code at a high level eventually. However, it also became clear that people had very different styles and rates of learning, and they had very different goals and reasons for being there.

I think it's probably possible to master all aspects of programming in a decade or two. I'm pretty sure that mastering all aspects of programming isn't even the goal of most programmers, and most people will never get there. That's not a bad thing in any sense; it's possible to have an excellent career as a programmer and never e.g. write a compiler from scratch.

So with the overall idea that people are on different paths, starting from different points, and progressing at different rates, I would probably say that [1] anyone who is three years out of a coding bootcamp with no prior coding experience should not be in a senior dev position, and [2] you may or may not be doing the bootcamp grads a disservice.

I was immensely impressed by the rate at which people were able to go from zero programming knowledge to being able to solve problems in whichever framework happened to be thrown at them in a given week. What is taught in bootcamps is not how to be a programmer -- no months-long course of study could do that -- but how to learn how to learn programming. The bootcamp grad is not a finished product, they're a work in progress. That may or may not be useful to you, but I would argue the merits of bootcamp grads as junior developers over the majority of CS graduates -- at least if this post were not already too long. Of course, if your position is simply that you do not hire junior developers, then that's a separate issue.

All said and done, I'd try to keep an open mind about bootcamp grads. They're not going to be well-rounded developers, but completing a bootcamp tends to mean learning a lot of different skills very quickly. I don't think I saw anyone at my school of which I thought, "this person really ought not to be here," or "they're never going to make it in the real world". If you saw a lot of bootcamp grads and passed on all of them, I'd say odds are you missed out on at least a few pretty talented people.

I did App Academy in New York two-three years ago (10-week bootcamp). I'm now a front-end dev and work from home making about 80k per year. I believe most of my cohort are in the same situation (App Academy appears to be above average for boot camps from what I've heard about other boot camps, but not by much). Although most of my cohort probably stayed working in New York or moved to SF and so make more money but don't get the luxury of working from home.

The boot camp served its purpose in preparing me for the job. Namely, serving as a commitment device to force myself to study the initial couple hundred of hours one needs to be able to do entry level programming from scratch. Plus having them provide a curriculum and teachers was nice too, I guess, but secondary to the commitment factor. Having graduated from that was also probably not a detriment to have on my resume and I keep it on there since I have no other programming related education.

I suspect my experience is not unusual-- that the boot camp's value is in being a catalyst that unlocks someone's ability to be a programmer and teach themself most of the skills they need, rather than in being an information-imparting institution.

Ahh, a couple cohorts in front of me. I think I know your first name, actually.

My cohort graduated about 23 and only 2 didn't find work. As far as I know, all but one of those that did are still working in the field -- mostly as Front End engineers. I've doubled my pre-App Academy salary twice over and am working as Senior Full Stack Developer.

I skewed more towards the experienced side of my cohort but I was sans-degree and had a previous career in tech. I mainly went through it because I knew it would be the fastest route towards getting my portfolio together and a job, albeit an expensive way to do that.

Most of what I learned didn't really prepare my skills (I've been writing code since I was 6), but it gave me confidence that I wouldn't have had otherwise. I don't do Rails on the job and I'm pretty happy continuing that way for now. One thing I did get though was an extremely solid foundation in SQL which has paid off in my career enormously.

My skill with data, sysops and ability to keep the whole project in my head are what set me apart from my peers. I'm the guy everyone calls to do 'weird, arcane shit' (not my words) with regexp, sed, awk, etc. Small scripts combining the power of Ruby with basic shell commands that replace large, crumbling applications. Things are going great.

I do wish that we had spent more time just practicing interviewing. I consider myself a weak interview and have missed some jobs I'm well-qualified for but didn't do as well as I'd like. Or at least I'd like the ability to go back and drill with folks going through that process now.

I'd been reading/posting on HN for years before I even considered the career change, btw.

I am a September 2013 SF App Academy grad, and I found exactly the same value as you in the program. Launched programming from a thing I had a good aptitude for and played around with a lot, and gave me an the engine that made me study a lot of marketable skills (as well as interview preparation).

I am now a lead engineer at a small company. I'm grateful for the experience, although I suspect the situation is tougher for current grads. It's pretty amazing seeing 90% of applicants for dev openings be fresh bootcamp grads.

I started to see the market for Rails devs on the junior end nosedive right as my cohort was graduating. Since then AppAcademy has been stricter about who they accept and for a larger cut of salary.

Big chunks of the recent cohorts I've seen are people with STEM degrees, usually from seriously good places, who didn't get much experience writing code in school. a/A is mostly throwing them at the large companies that hire large groups of recent grads.

Switching their JS framework curriculum to React probably helped a lot and most of the people I talk to there lean more on their JavaScript than their Ruby.

I'm grateful for the experience but I'm mixed for recommending it to others. It has to be a certain kind of person in certain lucky situations to begin with. I didn't have to pay rent while I did it, which made it all possible, really.

I graduated from General Assembly in the summer of 2015. That is less than 3 years, but I can tell you that my outcome was very positive. I am now a full stack developer team lead in a quickly growing web application company, and I was certainly empowered by the training I received. Self study is great, but I was able to leverage the kick in the pants I received from my teachers.

As for my colleagues, I believe most are employed, but I will offer that you only get what you put into that kind of intensive training. It's only meaningful and effective if you really care. The folks who might have been enticed by a cool job in a growth sector don't do as well as those who code simply because it's a compulsive habit and joy.

I'll submit that there are myriad things you can't absorb in a brief program, that's life. If I was rich I would live to go to college again. But I would also say that I've met plenty of CS grads of traditional 4 year programs that don't have the same drive or problem solving skills as that I've seen come from bootcamp students.

Worth it, especially if you're a grown up with the passion to push yourself and the maturity to follow through.

Hype is all nonsense.

I took on a position as the sole web dev as my first position, with promises that a senior dev would be onboarded within 3 months.

Instead, the company paid for me to pair program with experts in different areas (security, devops, general full stack) whenever I felt out of my depth; the first 6 months it meant I spent eight hours pair programming a week with the focus being on my learning rather than feature pushing. I found the people I wanted to learn from either from my past instructors at my bootcamp who really impressed me or from AirPair.

3.5 years later I'm .5 years from vesting 4% at a company that's closing its A rounds now. I work with people I love, I learn new things routinely, I regularly get technical level ups through pair programming or classes paid for by the company, and it's pretty awesome.

I renegotiated my compensation probably every 6 months. I'm quick to give pushback if I'm out of my depth or feel like I'm being treated poorly. It's a startup so it's been a learning experience for everyone.

I'm pretty damn happy how it all ended up.

That sounds like an insanely amazing experience.

1) To what extent do you think it was luck for you to find such a great company?

2) Any job search advice?

3) I'm curious - do you think the investment the company made in you has paid off for them?

I did Hack Reactor in 2013. My background prior to that included a year of college CS and a couple of years doing recreational coding challenges like Project Euler problems. I had been dreaming of a professionalizing my coding skills and getting a tech job, and Hack Reactor did that perfectly for me. I had several offers upon graduation and took one at a startup I was really passionate about. While there, I was able to work on and later lead a variety of projects, including a complete rewrite of our frontend and a large-scale database migration.

I'm now in the middle of my second job search after 3 great years there. I'm generally interviewing for "Senior Backend"-type roles that expect 3-5 years of experience. However, I have seen some prejudice against bootcamp graduates, and tend not to reveal that I went to one unless pressed. Otherwise, it's easy to be pigeonholed as unqualified to work on the backend. Interviews have gone well and I've made it to most of the onsites, with two offers already.

I don't keep up with most of my cohort but the ones I know are still engineers and generally seeing career success, though a few people have struggled. However, I think the market was much easier for bootcamp-level grads in 2013 than it is today. I don't recommend bootcamps as strongly anymore, especially for people with very little previous coding experience.

Graduated coding bootcamp 2.5 years ago. Currently on my 2nd developer job, making 750% of my pre-bootcamp salary. Most of my classmates continued on to do development professionally. Most commonly focused on Node and frontend JS frameworks, i.e. Angular 1 and React.

A handful tried and failed to get development jobs, and went back to their old career, or pivoted more or less laterally to a tech-adjacent field that pays less than development. I can tell you that 100% of the people who failed to get development jobs were people who, during the bootcamp, visibly put in the bare minimum of effort to skate by.

I attended a bootcamp Winter 2013-2014, after making a last minute decision not to attend grad school for something unrelated.

My choice was almost entirely pragmatic, and was heavily influenced by the book So Good They Can't Ignore You[0] by Deep Work author and Georgetown CS professor Cal Newport.

As for the bootcamp experience - I have trouble focusing for long classes, and would have benefited from a couple or more months of pre-study. (Classmates who did the best during the course had the most prior knowledge.)

However, the camp was a great launching point. I did work my ass off, staying up all night to work on individual and group projects in the lobby of the Ace hotel. If anything, the bootcamp helped solidify my own internal identify shift.

3.5 years later, I'm happy with my choice. I'm currently working remote for a startup and teaching evening intro to coding classes (yeah, at a bootcamp, so take my account with however many grains of salt). I really like teaching, and enjoy the intellectual challenge, salary and freedom provided by my day job.

Most of my classmates who I am in touch with are working as developers and seem to be doing alright also.

[0] https://www.amazon.com/Good-They-Cant-Ignore-You/dp/14555091...

Which boot camp did you attend?

I attended DevBootcamp October-December 2012. I was the third cohort of this Bootcamp, and I believe it was one of the first, I think I'm part of the rare ones who reached 4 years of full time work experience after a bootcamp - which is the length of a CS degree.

I've written a blog post about it here: http://jonathanfromgrowth.com/2017/03/14/From-Devbootcamp-to...

> What are you doing now? Senior engineer at Uber

> Do you feel that the bootcamp prepared you for the jobs you got? Definitely. My first job was at a small YC startup doing Rails (that's what I learned) and that first year there taught me a lot and was a perfect continuation of the bootcamp.

> Do you think most of your cohort are still working as developers? Yes

I'm part of jypepin's cohort (good to see you again!). I'm now a lead developer at GeneDx, and have been working there since I first graduated.

I was the first bootcamp grad hired at my company, and I was trained well enough there that we went on to hire three more bootcamp grads (of five new hires total). Those three are all still working with us.

At the time I applied to Dev Bootcamp, there wasn't any job/salary information for previous cohorts, so attending was a giant leap of faith that we'd be employable afterwards. My cohort seemed to be mostly made up of people who sincerely enjoyed programming and had an aptitude for it, based on my experiences pair programming with them. There were a few people from my cohort that I wouldn't hire, but I'd say they were in the minority.

Many people may have had negative experiences but I feel very few of those would post here, for a variety of reasons.

Agreed. Likely to get a good deal of survivorship bias here.

And self selection - I think people who read hn are more likely to survive than those who'd don't (not because hn is special, but because those who read hn tend to have certain inclinations)

From my class of 25 only two are not in technology anymore. Probably 20 are employed as developers. The other three moved to ancillary tech roles (product management, sales engineer, etc...).

This is 2.5 years out. Part of the issue too is that "bootcamps" is too nebulous. Some are 7 months full-time, some are 6 week night classes. It's not always apples to apples.

My program was Galvanize, six months full time.

I know a few folks who did a six month bootcamp almost exactly three years ago. At present they are: two front end devs, three back end devs, two 'enterprise' (aka Java) devs, a dev evangelist, a devops, a stay at home dad, a currently job hunting, and an agile consultant.

Went to a bootcamp in Detroit 7~ months ago, had a job offer before I finished the bootcamp, started immediately as a Java E-commerce Developer, and am happily working there still. Of the 8 or so people I kept in contact with, all had jobs within 2-3 months.

For me, it was a bit less about the technical knowledge ( I think I could have self taught most content, albeit a bit slower) and more about the networking and the structure that forced me to dedicate 8-12 hrs/day. The bootcamp was constantly directing me towards jobs and hosting employers. In fact, my current company came in and spoke at lunch one day and that's how I met them and got my job.

For people saying it's too expensive, I think that's absurd, at least in my case. My bootcamp was 6500, and it paid for itself with my signing bonus + first month of work.

I am still skeptical the model is sustainable, but seems to be working for now.

I'm guessing you graduated from Grand Circus? Congratulations on the new career!

I took the Javascript bootcamp there late 2015. I was under the impression that each subsequent cohort had a harder time finding a job since the market is getting more saturated. Especially with other bootcamps opening around the area.

It took me about 4 months to find a developer job, but I was also working during that time so I didn't have a full work week to devote to learning and job searching.

The bootcamp did give me a good overview of the things I didn't know, so that helped a lot in directing my learning.

Which bootcamp was this?

Yes, I was apart of the Java bootcamp at Grand Circus. I am also concerned that the market will become over-saturated, but they seem to be varying the programs enough and actually growing enough of a reputation that they seem to be getting more business.

I graduated from The Iron Yard in Charleston about a year ago.

I had a couple of interviews the week following graduation which didn't turn into anything. Since then I've been continually applying to jobs and trying to put a decent portfolio together. I can't seem to land an interview anywhere.

Realistically, I'm aware my lack of a degree and long list of irrelevant jobs are likely getting my resume tossed into the trash. I assumed at the very least that I'd be able to land a QA job that I could try to pivot towards development later.

It can be a bit difficult to stay motivated to code/practice/study/apply while also working a 40 hour week at a soul sucking job. I find myself pining for an entry level job so I can at least combine my desire to continue to code with a job. At this point it's the only reason I keep going.

Care to send me a CV?

sorhed at gmail

Sure, the info is in your inbox.

I'm in my second job as a .NET dev after boot camp. My salary has nearly tripled since when I attended the boot camp. The technical skills I learned at boot camp were a great start, but I'd say the biggest change is just how slow work gets done at an enterprise. Most of the work I've done since has not used the newer tech (Angular, ORMs) I learned at the bootcamp, but I've been a rather successful advocate for them.

Needless to say I am pretty happy about my choice, the ROI manifested in the first year. I'm not so certain the rest of my class did as well, as many of them struggled with the material and most of them did not understand our final team project. I would also have not gotten very far if I stopped learning independently and pushing myself after bootcamp.

Working as a .NET developer is relatively unusual for a bootcamp grad. That's not a bad thing - and you might find it to be a significant advantage in the long run.

It's one of those things that isn't likely to help you get a job at a hot startup, but is probably more bubble resistant than a skillset based mainly around something like React. And I say that as someone who uses and loves React. I get pinged by recruiters all the time due to having React experience, but if I had to put money on it, I'd say that my .NET and Java experience are more likely to be earning me money in 10-15 years than is my experience with React. The React/Angular/Node job environment seems a bit frothy right now - it feels a bit like the U.S. real estate market in 2007.

.NET is one of those things that flies under the radar of many HN readers but in many medium to large sized companies, it is everywhere. I can only speak from experience about Ottawa and Toronto, but I've seen a ton of opportunities for good .NET developers here. I've had friends who worked for the government of Canada, and they told me that some government departments would be completely unable to function without their .NET applications.

I've also met a few .NET developers who are doing phenomenally well with Sharepoint consulting. Sharepoint is, I think, one of those 'iceberg' technologies. Not very visible externally, but lurking beneath the surface in lots of large organizations.

Did you go to a .NET bootcamp?

People who completed a bootcamp 3+ years ago: what are you doing now?

I completed a Certificate in GIS at UC-Riverside's GIS Summer School, an 8 week bootcamp style program. IIRC, this was in 2002.

I currently do freelance writing and run a bunch of blogs. I have never had a job in GIS. I am currently homeless. On the upside, this month is the last payment on my student loan for the course.

I wasn't going to reply. I figure this isn't really the kind of thing you want to hear and trying to convey a meaningful reply would tend to run long and would also run the risk of the usual accusations that I am trying to make a spectacle of myself for attempting to participate in conversation.

But I saw some back and forth in the comments dissing the idea that Starbuck's baristas would post here. Yeah, I wish I was as successful as a Starbuck's barista. That would be a step up. Yet, when taken at face value, I absolutely fit the question as asked. I did complete a tech bootcamp 3+ years ago (not a programming one, but a tech one). Also: My loser self absolutely reads HN regularly. So there.

So, I am not going to bother to try to give the whole story or whatever. Let's just sum this up with:

Pro tip: Don't be born with a life threatening genetic disorder. Also, there are plenty of people here who are not currently wildly successful and well paid programmers. But some of them will refrain from admitting that in questions like this one for various reasons.

I went to a bootcamp 2.5 years ago. Before that I was working in tech and doing a bit of python for my job. I also took an evening course in front-end development at a different bootcamp school before applying. After the course I stayed at the school as a teaching assistant for three more months, and had several job offers within weeks of finishing that. I started working for a startup and am still there now. Looking into other options now.

Most of my cohort had some kind of experience in tech before, or had taken a community college class or a few CS classes in college or something. A few that didn't struggled a lot after - one just gave up and went back to his old career, one has been getting odd contracting jobs but nothing stable for the past two years. I'd say that it's definitely not the easy way to suddenly become and engineer, I would definitely recommend spending at least 6 months doing some self-study or taking courses before deciding to take the leap. Bootcamps are also much more expensive now than when I attended, so that's even more reason to make sure this is what you really want to do.

The rest of my cohort is still employed as software engineers, as far as I know. Some have been with the same company, others have switched around a lot. Everyone seems pretty happy when I see them at reunions. A few started their own companies.

As others have noted, this is a bit of the "bomber problem".

If in WW2, you would've noted that all of the planes that came back had tons of bullets headed to the underside, you might be tempted to reinforce that particular part.

But you're actually looking at the planes who survived -- not the ones who crashed.

You can put that to the "reading HN today" and "not reading HN today" crowds.

Not trying to be snarky at all, the formal name for this is Survivorship bias if anyone wants to do some more reading:


I graduated from Dev Bootcamp in San Francisco about 3.5 years ago.

Admittedly, I didn't really need to "learn how to learn" as many claim they did. That's fine for them, but I was already going in with that mindset. What I got was mainly an environment where I could study and hack on things with other people wanting to do the same, without all the distractions of everyday life. I could have done similar things without dropping thousands for tuition and a living situation, but I still may not have been exposed to more current technologies. If I had tried to study programming on my own for the same amount of time, I might have still been writing Python 2.4 scripts in Notepad to do boring things with spreadsheets. I would have wasted so much time and avoided diving into Rails, Sublime Text, JavaScript, etc. I was pretty smart before going to bootcamp(I could at least do script kiddie crap) but very inept in many ways.

What mattered after DBC wasn't so much the technologies I learned but my willingness to come up with difficult ideas and say to myself "Sure, I'm gonna learn X (language|framework) to get this thing done". I had too much of an "I'm not that smart" mentality beforehand. I never would have dreamed that I would ever spend a month and a half sitting in Panera Bread with a friend hammering out a streaming video app to show to employers. And it worked! Poorly, mind you. It was pretty awful, but also glorious – it allowed you to build a shared playlist and watch YouTube videos with multiple people, all synchronized, with chat, a vote-skip button, and even a way to draw over videos. It did work, and we both got hired in another few months from writing it. Granted, my first employer was pretty crappy, but now I've ended up working 2 years somewhere that I've been very happy.

From what I can tell, those in my cohort who applied themselves actually made it after graduation. Those who couldn't shake the "knowledge on a silver platter" mentality didn't fare as well. Simple as that. There are so many opportunities in our field that it seems that even in 2017 someone with the drive and even average talent can make it.

EDIT: I forgot to mention where I work! I work at KPCC, a public radio station in Pasadena.

Did Front-End nanodegree at Udacity 1.5 years ago. It's an online self-paced program. Dropped out of college and worked part-time while staying at home. Took me 5 months to finish(with only have written my first line of code 2 months prior) and got a job the week I graduated. So from scratch only 7 months of study to land a job. Low paying (San Diego) but so much better than fast food

I feel the program prepared me well for the day to day things I do and projects I've been able to work on.

Currently working on my algorithms and data structures. Feels like it's time to move on. Been taking courses online to finish my undergrad degree but don't see the value in it at this point.

Considering moving to the Bay Area or remote work.

I'd definitely recommend an online program if you're disciplined. Worked out great for me personally. An in person bootcamp would help getting past sticking points a lot faster, but all of this can be learned online for free like others have pointed out.

Have seen others who took the program be successful in their careers

I graduated 3 years ago from a San Francisco bootcamp and got what I wanted out of the program. My trajectory since then has been:

Full Stack Software Developer -> Database Administrator -> Graduate School in Biostatistics + Statistical Programmer.

I really don't know how else I would've landed on this track (considering my bachelor's degree) but I quite enjoy the diversity of my education and just generally am a person who likes to learn things.

I went to Hackbright in 2012 and in 2013 started a kids coding education company First Code Academy (firstcodeacademy.com) in Asia, covering Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan today. We have taught over 4000 students since 2013 and growing strong :)

Hackbright paved the foundation for me to start my own company. Couldn't be more grateful for that!

Just visited your website, I see there is an issue in Title as it appends some html element to it, probably you are missing some closing tags on it. Otherwise it looks good and all the best to you and your company.

I graduated CodeFellows in Seattle 2.5 years ago.

I've been gainfully employed as a software dev since about 6 weeks after graduation, fist as an "associate engineer" then promoted to a regular engineer.

My bootcamp focused on Node/Mongo/Angular, but after I got my first job most of the work needed to be done in Rails. The bootcamp did not directly prepare me to work with Ruby, but it taught me how teach myself new skills and be okay with being in over my head. I was able to get up to speed after a couple months. I have gotten comfortable working with a lot of cool technologies since then - including Docker/Kubernetes, Kafka, and various tools for running distributed systems. Now I mostly work on the front-end of the product with React/Redux.

I feel comfortable working with much more complicated code than I did 2 years ago, and I keep getting good performance reviews.

I can say that going through the bootcamp definitely put me into the right mindset to be successful as a software developer. Often I was given vague answers left to figure something out for myself, which is pretty spot on to my current work.

From what I gather through Linkden and Slack, the top 2/3 of my cohort is in a similar situation, with the rest still getting Jr. level jobs and a couple who gave up altogether on the software thing.

I completed my bootcamp exactly 3 years ago (python), currently I am a Systems Engineer at a competitive start up in NYC, before that I was a Backend Software Dev at a fast growing start up in Seattle. There was some luck involved but overall my career change couldnt have gone better.

I think my bootcamp prepared me about as well as anyone could reasonably ask, 8 weeks included 1) decent introduction to algos + data structures, 2) overview of django / flask / pyramid, 3) introduction to machine learning + data science with python, 4) 2 portfolio projects, 5) overview of relational databases, 6) intro devops (i.e. deploy python app to aws). Probably missing a few things, but this was most of it.

That said I had done a significant amount of self directed learning prior to the bootcamp, 2-3 CS courses on EDX + a lot of tinkering. I think I eventually would have arrived at the same skill set without a bootcamp, but it was undoubtedly the right decision to go.

I cant account for everyone, but I believe most of my bootcamp cohorts are working as devs (at least, I run into them at conferences / see their updates on FB / etc). It took me about 10 weeks to find a job, the people with no prior coding experience took a bit longer.

Am happy to answer any more questions you may have.

Hai guysss; I'm a queer latina full-stack dev in SF and I went to Ironhack spring of 2015. I attended their second cohort in Miami (they're one of the first bootcamps in Europe, not so known here) and I been happily coding ever since. The biggest value that bootcamps offer is an opportunity to learn new skills at whatever point you are in life. This to me meant an entry point into software after a short career as a financial analyst -- despite the fact that I carry around student debt for two B.A.s from a top American uni. What other channels are out there for highly motivated individuals from non-traditional backgrounds? I def couldn't afford to go back to uni for a CS degree. Anyways, I got a job right out of Ironhack, took a break to backpack in Asia and moved across the country and now started a full-stack dev position at a company I'm psyched about in SF. NOTE-- being a dev is CONSTANT learning. I been taking classes online ever since I finished Ironhack to keep myself competitive and fill in gaps of knowledge. This is sometimes everyone does even if they got a traditional CS degree (right?).

And oh yeah, most of my peeps from Ironhack are still coding too.

I'm going to speak for my girlfriend who went to a bootcamp about two years ago. She says it didn't really prepare her (she did that on her own through self study) but it did open up doors. She's a data engineer at Airbnb.

which bootcamp was it?

Attended a local bootcamp-like program in my area. Afterwards started working at a local startup as a jr dev. The pay increase wasn't as astronomical as they hype at the time suggested but I knew it was expanding my opportunities way more than my previous gig.

The startup then got acquired and I got experience working with a larger company. Left that after a while and now have my dream job as a Developer Advocate! Literally the job I have wanted ever since I got into programming and attended my first hackathon. Can't believe where I am now.

To answer your other questions:

1) Did the bootcamp prepare me for the job? Yes, but only in that it taught me Rails and I could begin working at this startup that did mostly Rails. The startup took a chance on me, I think that's what really prepared me to succeed.

2) What about my cohort? During the program me and some other devs worked on projects outside of the class. We attended community events, hackathons, and worked on OSS with local devs. All of those that participated in stuff like that with me all went on to have successful careers. Those that didn't? I think they're still taking classes or interviewing for jobs.

I graduated from General Assembly's bootcamp in the fall of 2013 (1.5 years out of college). Found an internship 3 weeks after I hired via the developer Meet & Greet GA hosted, and was hired full time at a startup a month into the internship. I'm still with the same company almost 3.5 years later in an engineering team lead role. Like some other commenters said, at GA I learned how to learn. I graduated the program still knowing very little about programming to be honest and I was lucky I got hired at an early stage company that asked a lot of me and forced me to learn quickly. I never would have gotten the job I got without GA because at the time I learned better with the accountability and structure of a classroom setting. In terms of skills, I haven't touched Ruby since GA and I knew basic JS, but GA was critical in teaching me how to be comfortable working through problems I have no idea how to solve.

Of my cohort of 15, I think over half are developers, a few are in other product roles at startups, and 1 or 2 went back to their previous jobs.

I went to Dev Bootcamp in 2012. I was self taught beforehand, and had done a little bit of contracting work.

They focused pretty heavily on soft skills, like communication and pairing, and also somewhat on generic software construction ideas, on thinking through a problem and breaking it down into its component pieces. The curriculum used JS and Rails, although I didn’t feel that I had much more than a surface familiarity of either by the end of the cohort.

I think that, in general, if a bootcamp has a decent focus on software construction and doesn't totally fall down on teaching you the technical stuff, you’ll probably be prepared to work, at least, as a junior dev. But, you can't just rely on a bootcamp. You really have to spend a lot of time (like, a ton of time) learning on your own, writing code and reading code others have written.

Since then, I’ve been working steadily as a mostly front-end and sometimes full-stack developer.

My cohort was a little weird, people went on to do other stuff, like start their own bootcamps. But, I believe most of the people who wanted to be devs are still doing just that!

> My cohort was a little weird, people went on to do other stuff, like start their own bootcamps

I think that's really funny about the first ~3 DBC cohorts. A few grads of those first cohorts went on to start App Academy, Hack Reactor, and Hackbright Academy (I think) and others like it.

What do you make of it?

well back in 2012 was literally the first time a code bootcamp had been done. I think because of that, a lot of smart people saw you could take this business model and get started really cheaply and it could be huge, which is was/is.

If you look at the early cohorts of DBC, anyone of those people could have learned to program on their own or already was. I think a lot of smart risk takers saw a huge opportunity that was wide open and ran with it.

How much meditation and yoga did you have to do on Wednesdays?

I went to a code bootcamp 3 years ago. Now I make over 6 figures doing java in a LCOL state.

The code place I went to did a really good job preparing me for the actual work. I am a senior level contractor and actually get to work on interesting stuff.

I know over 10 people off the top of my head who also went to code bootcamps and are all making over 70k in LCOL locations. They are thriving and not hack's in the least.

> LCOL = Low Cost of Living (In case others don't know.)

What does HN consider a LOCL state?

SF / NYC are certainly not, Mississippi certainly is, but where is the threshold? Oregon? Colorado? Vermont? Pennsylvania?

What's the trick to getting six figure work in LCOL areas?

Work through a recruiter, find a java gig at a fortune 100 company, then demand over 6 figures as your rate. If you have a decent work history and are actually competent and well put together - they will pay.

Checking in - Iron Yard python/django graduate from summer 2015. I had struggled professionally for years before that, and I was hired as a Software Engineer at a startup within 2 weeks of finishing the code school. Today I'm a Software Engineer but at a larger corporation. My job is perfect. I love what I'm doing. I love python, open source, web development.

There needs to be balance to the discussion of code school. I'm kind of saddened to read comments that are either hostile against them, or cheerleaders who ignore the struggles that some students/grads face. Yes, lots of people from my cohort continued to struggle after the program. For a smaller number of them, doing the code school left them worse off. We can't forget about that because industry (and alumni in particular) has a moral obligation to an oversight role to some extent. Same as for conventional universities. Nevertheless, it was a career inflection point for me, and this would have never happened without the code school.

As a dev I've always suspected programming was easy, but never really thought it was this easy. Literally anyone can pick it up in a few weeks. That's surprisingly depressing.

Some people can pick up the basics of programming fairly quickly, but I'm not sure most people can. Someone who truly groks software development after only a few weeks is probably an outlier.

With a basic understanding, some people can start contributing to existing projects, but it's likely that they're going to make a mess, and it's unlikely that they're going to be ready to start designing and building robust systems.

It's common for inexperienced developers to have a lot of enthusiasm and pour tons of time and effort into projects that are then hard to maintain. Management often doesn't understand the cost of this in terms of technical debt and maintenance (maybe even thinking they're saving money by paying a junior developer less for the "same" thing).

I'm not trying to diminish anyone's aptitude or enthusiasm and I don't think everyone on a team needs to be highly experienced, but I've seen this anyone-can-do-it attitude (from both developers and managers) lead to a lot of pain and unnecessary costs, including opportunity costs.

While thats generally true, it can take years for people to get the hang of developing software, which I would distinguish from just programming.

That distinction clearly doesn't matter to employers.

As this thread demonstrates, anyone can make 6 figures after spending a few weeks learning to program. They have every bit as much market value as long time software developers do.

It's only a matter of time (a year or two at most) before we're all paid slightly more than janitors - the field clearly (demonstrably) has no barrier to entry whatsoever. Literally anyone can become a professional software developer in less time than it takes to pass high school algebra.

I think that certain parts of the developer job market are easy to get into. And in those parts of the market, things feel a bit bubbly right now. And so you're seeing big salaries for new entrants to the market. If you jumped into the market and took a new job, you'd probably be able to match or beat them.

If the dev job market is in a bit of a bubble state, your experience will serve you well when it bursts. This is especially true if you have experience with distributed systems, or database optimization, or any number of complicated things that newcomers to the market aren't as likely to have.

I could certainly be wrong about the bubbliness of the market, though. I've been wrong about things often enough before. :)

What you're posting is provably false. There's a huge barrier to entry that's obscured by being selective in reading replies and your own confirmation biases.

It doesn't contribute in any way to the discussion and is misleading and quite toxic to be honest.

Anyone can pick up painting or playing guitar. Doesn't mean it's any good.

According to employers, it's as good or better than anything I do since they get paid more than I do. University education and professional experience are literally worthless.

I don't mean to be insulting, but maybe you need to take an honest look at yourself. Good education and worthwhile experience are indeed completely worthless if you don't interview well and can't convey your abilities. You're not entitled to a solid career just because you got a degree, you have to convince others that you have value still.

Likewise, for all we know your professors passed you to get you out of their classes and you learned nothing in school and are undeserving of a degree but have one anyways and your experience is shit and every coworker you've had thinks you're a terrible programmer and create negative value. Maybe you're being paid completely what you're worth? Maybe too much? Those sorts of people also exist.

Probably all true, but it's probably also true all of that applies to most other "professional" software developers too. I'm rather average for a Bay Area developer (by which I mean people tell me I'm above average, but I self-evaluate lower than that).

I know it must be rough for you to hear that you're easily replaceable by anyone with a few weeks of spare time, but attacking me and imagining I'm full of special flaws won't change your reality.

This is obviously not true. I'm a bootcamp grad, I got a great job right out of my program and it has been an uphill struggle ever since. If you read the answers from the other bootcamp grad devs here you will see nearly all of them mention how hard this is, and these are the successful people. As is mentioned over and over, you probably aren't hearing from the folks that dropped out, gave up or just couldn't do it (of which there are certainly a good deal). More than anything the rate of bootcamp grad hiring just demonstrates the massive demand for developers right now and the understanding that you can generally learn this stuff as you go along. Most bootcamp devs get hired to do the most basic front end work and (maybe) move to more complex stuff from there.

Are you really not aware of the extreme selection bias that's going on in this thread?

There seems to be a 95% do-well rate among replies here, and that's on top of being a tech forum to begin with.

Today is actually the three year anniversary of me starting a bootcamp (Galvanize). So I'm about 2.5 years out. Everything is going great, work at a startup. Contribute just as much as our other developers with a CS background, have received three raises. Galvanize taught me the exact right tools and processes to start making meaningful contributions on day one.

I surely don't know as much technically in many areas, but having well rounded developers (have a business/analyst background) can really be a huge benefit to a dev team.

I'd say I have a much more product oriented role. Working closely with our business team, product manager, customers, etc... to guide the product/platform moving forward. Occasionally on trickier technical issues I'll need to consult with someone with a CS degree for 10-15 minutes for a bit of guidance, but by no means do I need any hand holding.

It was a great decision and it's worked out very well.

+1 for being mindful of cognitive biases. For that very reason, I'm almost hesitant to post my experience. The only reason I do so anyway is because HN's comment crowd is more mindful than average about their own biases and those of others.

I graduated from Dev Bootcamp's Chicago location in August 2013, and after almost 4 months of (quite stressful) job searching, I got 2 offers on the same day- a job offer at a technology consultancy and an apprenticeship offer from an ad-tech startup. Both companies were kind enough to let me pursue both offers (I did the apprenticeship first followed by the consulting role). And after consulting for almost 3 years in both San Francisco and New York, I recently accepted an engineering position at a unicorn in NYC. I'm glad I experience both consulting and startup life, because now I know the startup world is where I belong.

Starting my dev career as a consultant resulted in me becoming a "jack of all trades" to some extent, which has its pros and cons. DBC taught me Rails and Javascript, I spent my apprenticeship coding in Java and JS, and I spent my consulting career coding in Java, Objective-C and Rails again for a bit.

I'm glad I got such a broad exposure to different tech stacks, but I definitely missed out on "diving deep" into one specific tech stack. It's reasonable to believe I'd be much more qualified for a senior developer position at my current job if I had worked in a Rails-only environment for the last few years, although without a time machine it's impossible to be sure.

I enrolled at bootcamp at a time when DBC was by far the most well-known school of the bunch. The Dan Rather Reports clip had just come out, and it was a pretty glowing profile. If I were to do it all over again, I would consider Dev Bootcamp or Hack Reactor, as the latter focuses on JS frameworks, which seems applicable to a broader number of job opportunities than the Rails ecosystem (although Rails is certainly useful as well).

The diversity of experiences that you get from consulting has bigger longer-term value, IMO. You might be more likely to be a senior dev today if you had been working in one tech stack for those years, but I think you'll go farther in your career 5 years or 10 years from now due to the consulting experiences, than if you spent all those years focused on a single tech stack.

I went through App Academy in 2013, I'm a Developer for a small startup in SF applying some of the skills learned at the bootcamp. I feel like its pretty good prep for super entry level work. Most of my cohort is still employed as software engineers or has been promoted to director / CTO level positions.

The CTO/Director positions are really impressive. I'm curious if those people had proficiency in something other than software which is relevant to their business. I'm also curious as to the size of the companies they lead. The titles _sound_ great, but they're relative.

I'm not so sure. I've had a ton of CTO offers come my way and usually it's a situation where they're really hiring their first developer and want to pay more in equity than in cash. Most of the ones I bothered to talk to weren't really offering any kind of meaningful decision making power about the business.

This wasn't always the case, but it was overwhelmingly the majority. I'm not that impressed by CTOs of tiny businesses unless they're also co-founders and domain experts on top of that.

Someone in my cohort did a couple months of contracting, one job and then cofounded a startup all within like 8 months. He's the sole dev and his cofounder is a rich friend. Their business is in the California marijuana industry. I am not too envious.

Hey! I graduated from Dev Bootcamp in Spring of 2013 as part of the 3rd cohort of that year (when they switched from classes to cohorts), which I think puts me in the first ~150 or so of people who did a "bootcamp."

> What are you doing now?

I'm a programmer working for a startup company in Tokyo.

> Do you feel that the bootcamp prepared you for the jobs you got?

The primary focus when I went was learning how to "think like a programmer" and learn while building. This let me contribute at least marginally at my first job as I gained more experience through just building more.

It seems like the focus has shifted, though, from what I've seen. I don't think I would choose to do it now, given the current messaging.

> Do you think most of your cohort are still working as developers?

I haven't checked everyone individually, but at least 50%, maybe more.

I did Hack Reactor in 2014 and work at Google now as a software engineer (it's currently 2017).

That's awesome! "Where" in Google are you working? I'm naive to their team structure, but curious if it's in site-reliability, embedded systems, ads, search, etc.


Hi Luke. What cohort were you? I was also Hack Reactor 2014 and have been at Google for a few years. Just transferred from SF to SEA though.

23. There are quite a few of us around now. I know of at least a half dozen.

As a member of Dev Bootcamp's first class in Chicago (summer 2013), which was one of the very earliest coding bootcamps, I can shed a little light on outcomes for me and all of my fellow DBC graduates. Hopefully this avoids the selection bias being discussed.

All 14 graduates are today using the skills they learned at DBC. Here is where they are:

I am the founder of Code Platoon, a nonprofit coding bootcamp for Veterans, heavily modeled after DBC. Of the remaining 13, they are :

10 are software developers, 2 are founder/presidents of small tech-enabled companies, doing development as well, 1 is an instructor at Dev Bootcamp.

I think we would all agree the Dev Bootcamp had a profound (positive) impact on our lives.

Finished bootcamp mid 2014, currently a Software Developer (full stack) making 105k base (110k total package) with some great benefits (and no state income tax).

I had zero background before the bootcamp, and the bootcamp itself was pretty shocking.

The biggest part of the bootcamp was having it on my resume - giving my limited knowledge "legitimacy".

EDIT: My starting salary was mid 40s after I finished bootcamp. And I felt like I knew nothing for a good 6 months - luckily many employers are happy to take chances on you if you're willing to learn and have common sense.

I'd advocate something like freecodecamp to others looking at bootcamps that can't afford the "good" ones (hackreactor etc)

Hiring three people at $40k/yr each at the beginning is safer than hiring one experienced person at $120k/yr. Maybe one or two of the three don't pan out but, at least, you didn't invest all your time into one person who might ultimately be the wrong fit.

Only do this if you're comfortable doubling someone's salary quickly after they prove themselves. Most companies aren't.

I took a low offer and had to bust my ass and show up a few $120k/yr bad apples that we hired to get my salary raised to an appropriate level and that still took about 18 months over 3 raises.

It would have been easier if I'd left and gone somewhere else and for most other people it will be too.

on the contrary, if you find the right experienced developer, he/she will run circles around 5 or even 10 jr developers.

Agree. My experience is that an experienced (7-10 years experience) developer can do 8x the throughput of a junior developer.

I don't really use years experience as a metric.

We hired a guy with 7 years experience to be our Lead Frontend dev and he basically built nothing usable for 4 months before we fired him. He made twice as much as me but my title was still Jr at the time. He didn't add a single piece of infrastructure to make his workload easier. My boss and I threw out all of his work, split it up and got it done in a month.

7 years of experience can very easily end up being 7 years of 1st year experience. I want to see some kind of scale in their responsibilities/accomplishments.

There are some junior-experience people out there with the potential to get a lot done right now.

I stand corrected. Reflecting on my own experience you are absolutely right.

Wish more companies understood and practiced that.

From my experience, smaller private companies do. They don't have the prestige/money etc to attract top talent

Would you put freecodecamp on a resume or just the projects they work on?

I'd list the certificates and the projects. Obviously the projects are going to be more beneficial (job seeking and knowledge wise).

The bootcamp I went to did a group project at the end (that was a complete failure and waste of time) - however, I made it seem quite the opposite during interviews. I also built my own side project for a real business (very simple app, basic CRUD) that took 2-3 weeks to build (business owner is a family friend).

Talking about these 2 projects in interviews was invaluable, as was brushing up on common questions/terminology (SOLID, OOP, REST vs SOAP etc) and basic programming problems (FizzBuzz, fibonacci etc)

handbanana, no!

P.S. How did you know I like baked goods?

I attended App Academy nearly 3 years ago. I'm currently a software engineer at Airbnb. I haven't kept in touch with everyone from my cohort, but I know some of them are working at Lyft, Uber, Google, Slack, and 23andMe.

I attended Fullstack Academy in NYC, completed in February of this year. I had some CS fundamentals under my belt from college before I attended. I'm currently employed as a developer and I feel like my education has properly equipped me for the Junior Dev role. Many people in this thread are saying that they must continue learning after the bootcamp - I'd be really surprised if any CS major decided to stop learning about programming after completing college. I'm extremely happy with the quality of education I received at my school, but I can't speak to other programs.

I graduated from the Web Development Immersive at the end of 2014 from General Assembly.

I was able to take what I learned and apply it to a CRM that I had worked with for years prior to going to General Assembly. I was able to develop services around this CRM that my former employer still uses and I was recognized by the company that provides the CRM for my contributions within their CRM's community.

Right now, I am on my own, still trying to figure out where to go next. I think the biggest takeaway I got from the program was to keep learning; it's part of why I keep coming back to hacker news.

I did Dev Bootcamp and graduated in early 2015 -- have been employed ever since. Unfortunately I think the program has changed for the worse during the past year or so. They had been acquired by Kaplan around the time I started. About a year ago, it seems to have become a lot more focused on the bottom line: they are charging more, offering less, and have removed some of the soft touches that made it a great program.

Most folks from my era of the program are still in touch and we're all very supportive of each other from a professional/networking standpoint.

I graduated from App Academy NYC in January 2014.

I'm in my 2nd post-bootcamp developer job at a small-ish company, making double my previous salary before a/A. I love what I do and attending the bootcamp was the hardest and most rewarding thing I've done in my professional life.

I keep in touch with some friends of the bootcamp (my cohort and others), and they have gone to work at various companies like Spotify, Google, Thoughtbot, Bloomberg, Capital One, Vimeo, Tumlbr, WeWork, and lots of smaller companies.

Not an attendee. However, a client hired several older people who rejuvenated their careers with coding bootcamps and I find them to be extremely competent developers. Recommend.

I know a few physicists who did a data science bootcamp ~3 years ago. I was very unimpressed with the boot camp itself, but they've become solid data scientists.

looks like what matters is the decision to take on new things in life.

And an ability to put numbers on things. (Physics seems to be a good pre-data science field)

I completed a bootcamp about 3.5 years ago. I've been programming full-time with stellar reviews since then. I would say probably about 30% of my cohort are full-time programmers, but that's just a wild guess. I know some of them went into other things.

I've seen quite a few people graduating from bootcamps now that have struggled more to land that first job. It seems like the jr dev market is starting to get a bit saturated.

I have been a sys admin for ~5.5 years (in IT for 7). I took a MEAN stack boot camp Jan2015 - Mar2015. I am still a sys admin.

If I had to do it over again I would still take the class.

I know that is not 3+ years ago.

Even though I am not a developer I read hacker news because the article selection is usually of a high quality and the comment sections are full of reasonable conversations. People trying to find answers or make a point instead of flame wars. Usually.

App Academy 2013 (SF)

What are you doing now? SWE at Google

Do you feel that the bootcamp prepared you for the jobs you got? Yes! I had some background coming in and I learned a ton about the web, how to break down problems, and how to be productive.

Do you think most of your cohort are still working as developers?

I think so, but I haven't stayed in touch with all of them. I definitely think the market for juniors has gotten more saturated and I was very lucky to get in when I did.

Bootcamp grad from 2014 in Boston. Struggled for 2-3 months to get a job (probably did 40 interviews), got 3 offers in different states ranging from 30k-50k/yr. I took the 50k job and moved to a LCOL area but had a good tech market.

Before that I was 9 credits short of a degree and I was working in account management at a tiny start up in California. I chose the bootcamp in Boston because I didn't have any money saved up to live anywhere but with my mother. I was 30, swallowed my pride and moved home for 6 months. In hindsight that was one of the smartest decisions I made.

> What are you doing now?

Now I'm a senior software engineer at PayPal. I also finished my degree.

> Do you feel that the bootcamp prepared you for the jobs you got?

I went from couch to employable in 3 months so yes. I worked 60hrs a week on my craft for 2 more years though - now I'm one of the top contributors across teams.

> Do you think most of your cohort are still working as developers?

I think so but I have been really bad at keeping in touch. Our cohort was unfortunately competitive with each other so friendships and bonding was not easy to come by.

Graduated from Hack Reactor in 2014. I'm a Senior Software Engineer at a large company now.

I was prepared enough to not totally screw things up at my first job. I was an expert in Javascript and reasonably knowledgeable at data structures and how to implement basic web stuff.

I'm now more focused on back end things...AWS, infrastructure, services, etc.

As far as I know, most of my cohort is still working at good jobs.

bootcamps are pretty light on backend/devops type knowledge which turns out pretty critical for "real" jobs. Do you think this can generally be picked up later or should people in bootcamps do something like an AWS certification (just to pick an arbitrary skill proof point) to be sufficiently well-rounded?

You pick that up at work or on your free time. I'm less than a year out of a bootcamp. Just this month I made a small webapp for a project that my team's working on. I wanted to learn how to deploy something from scratch (using Docker -> AWS), so I read about that for a bit, peppered our DevOps people with a few questions, and then went and did it. I learned a ton! Just seek out opportunities at work to learn new skills.

I've never done an AWS class or have any certs, so I can't say for sure if its worth doing. In my case, I've mainly learned on the job and have had some really fantastic mentors to work with who have trusted me to make decisions and let me run with them.

I also read a ton of books on design patterns, architecture, deployment, ops, etc.

thank you. if you have any architecture/deployment/ops books to recommend I would love to hear it.

Deployment / DevOps changes so fast though - Docker and AWS didn't even exist a few years ago!

If you're totally new to deployment, I'd do something like this:

* Get comfortable with the basic Unix/Linux commands (basically, to the point where you can navigate the file system and mv/cp/rm files with ease, change chmod permissions, etc.)

* Create a simple webapp in the stack of your choice. Literally a webserver for a site that says 'hello world'.

* Deploy it on Heroku. With their CLI it's like a single command.

* Congrats! You deployed a site! Go on Heroku's management dashboard and take a look at the logs. They won't make much sense, but get a feel for what's going on.

* Go on digitalocean and make a droplet, which is a VM that's running on their servers. Pick the Ubuntu 16.04 droplet. (Note, you can pick 'One Click Apps' which are VMs that come preloaded with the stack of your choice, but don't do that now). Read about how SSH works. Now SSH into your droplet. Cool, now you're connected to your server!

* Learn how to install the dependencies for your webapp. I don't think the droplets even come with git, so you gotta install everything from scratch. Then get your app running!

* From here, keep playing with your webapp. Figure out how to make your server run your updated code. How to add a database. Do it until you're really comfortable with running your site.

* By now you've run into a ton of issues with the site breaking. It's hard to keep your dev env and the live server synced! Start learning about Docker. Dockerize your app and deploy your app to Digital Ocean as a Docker image.

* When you're comfortable with THAT, start learning AWS. Learn what a EC2 instance is, what RDS is, what you can do with S3, etc.

* Finally, deploy to AWS!

You can use the free account tier at Digital Ocean / AWS to accomplish all these tasks.

Good luck and have fun!

So are new grads though, this is typically learnt on the job.

Bootcamps don't teach you AWS because that would cost them money and eat into their profits if they showed anything useful. Plus they probably don't want to be on the hook for some student goofing up and running up a huge AWS bill.

I get alumni surveys all the time asking what things they should teach and the one thing that is consistently never on the list is ops/cloud-related training.

or maybe its something that doesnt matter for getting the job


Many, many HR grads followed a similar path and many read HN. I personally knew just about everyone in the first 7 cohorts. During that time I saw success after success from the other students with some getting promoted and leading teams with just a year or two. Several have now founded startups.

I'll also add that my account is 3275 days older than yours and isn't a throwaway.

Just missed you! I was in 9.

To the above poster that was flagged, it sort of sounds like you're accusing me of lying, but I'll give you the benefit of best intent and answer your questions.

Yes, I created this account just to make this comment. I was introduced to HN by someone in my bootcamp cohort. Never felt the need to comment on something until a post that was directed right at me. Never made an account either because no reason to. So, hope that clears it up.

I think you are assuming my tech progression started at Hack Reactor 3ish years ago. It in fact has been most of my life. I was building computers from spare hardware in grade school, learned some code in middle, took 2 yrs of college classes while in high school to prepare for the CCNA exam (cisco certified network associate). I entered college as a computer engineer.

Then I switched to a totally different career path from which I learned how to be an effective leader and teacher. When I hit the end of that path, I came back around and did Hack Reactor to work my way into an engineering role.

I became a senior in a relatively short amount of time because of my background but also because I learned a lot at my first startup gig after my mentor quit, leaving me as the only engineer responsible for the codebase. Thrown into the deep end for sure, as the business had to keep moving forward.

I have taken on volunteer work at my current job outside my normal responsibilities, give meaningful review to my peers, and work on large, impactful projects. I make it a point to get to know other engineers and get my name known in the org. I placed myself in the senior role and was rewarded with the title after.

Another point, many of the people in my class already had a technical background as well. More then half. I think among all bootcamps this is probably more rare today.

I had been "semi-technical" and messing with a WP blog and doing simple tutorials for years myself! When I attended HR, their marketing materials made it clear it was for taking you from "20 to 100" instead of "0 to 60".

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