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Let me give you a list of the top scams coding bootcamps use to steal your money (twitter.com)
331 points by ZeljkoS 16 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 183 comments

I know the author would chalk my experience up to 'survivorship bias', but my bootcamp experience was life-changing and 100% positive. I don't know if the quality of bootcamps have gone down, but I did one ~5 years ago, and was very impressed by the talent of my classmates and felt lucky to be with them.

Backgrounds were extremely diverse, from Ivy-league graduate math majors to a former horse trainer. The graduation rate was around 85%, and among the graduates, the 'true' job placement rate was probably around 90%. I was able to hit the ground running in my first software engineering job at a well funded startup, and was on par with other fresh cs degree graduates. Over the next few years I was the first among that class to be given a team leadership role.

Looking at LinkedIn, the other graduates from my bootcamp seem to be having their own successes at FAANG jobs and other strong positions. While I believe my experience was somewhat typical for my bootcamp cohort, (like college) I think quality can vary greatly based on the bootcamp, and I am sure some are bad deals in the ways Zed has outlined.

edit: For those who are wondering if the successful bootcamp grads would have been successful anyways without the bootcamp - 100% no way for me. I had already been self-studying programming before the bootcamp and it was a night and day difference. It would have taken years of self study to learn what I did, and with a good chance that life would have derailed me along the way.

5 years is a long time in tech, software and bootcamps, i imagine much has changed since your bootcamp experience.

I did one 5 years ago as well and while I don't regret it, I don't think it was quite as life-changing for me and whether I'd recommend one, the answer is 'it depends'.

For me it really just accelerated my learning - forced me to quit my job and study full-time. 12k for a two month program at the time, it took me about 9 months to find a job afterwards.

Admittedly I had a couple of interviews early on but performed pretty poorly on them - was not well-prepared but they helped me learn and prepare for the job I eventually landed.

I think about 90% of my class graduated and sadly only 50% or so have found careers as engineers or in tech - Ruby/Rails just wasn't a great choice of stack for the area imo (at least vs js, c#/.net or java - which the bootcamp now offers)

Fast forward to today and I'm a tech lead at a "unicorn" and feel very capable in my skills and ability to continue learning - always be coding :)

The most obvious way to unify your experience with the details in the original thread is that they have gone down in quality over the past 5 years. Given the massive number of new bootcamps that have launched (and shut down) it seems natural that not all of them would be up to the quality standard you enjoyed at the time.

That would suggest that choosing a bootcamp that was around 5 years ago would be a far better choice than one started more recently.

Alternatively you could look at quality directly instead of using a proxy. At least use a better proxy, like length of program.

And when do you look at quality directly (from the outside, as an applicant), given the way some programs misleadingly report their placement numbers?

You look at audited placement numbers, consistently measured across multiple boot camps.


> CIRR standards are transparent. We've fixed the problem of schools manipulating or hiding their outcome data, by requiring that for CIRR members, the outcomes of every enrolled student must be reported in a single, simple, clear report. How many graduated on time? How many accepted a full-time job in the field for which they trained within six months? How many secured part-time jobs? Did the school itself hire any graduates? How many students jobs are in fields outside of what they studied for? What are the salaries of grads who started jobs in their field of study? In addition, schools must annually have their numbers – and the records they keep to prove them – verified by an independent auditor.

Seems reasonable, although that would limit you to just the handful of programs that report to CIRR. What about the rest of them?

Or that the demand has changed, perhaps in accord with macroeconomic factors related to debt. Consider the ipo’s last year.

Mind if I ask what bootcamp you went to? I went to Dev Bootcamp back in 2013 and it was a blast and a life-changing experience for me. I've not doubt that there are very scammy bootcamps out there, but the one I went to was an example of how a bootcamp can really work for people.

I didn't go through a bootcamp but I know plenty of folks who have, and in my experience the overall average quality of bootcamps did seem to be significantly higher several years ago.

In my previous roles as lead developer at startups in NYC and SF I interviewed roughly 30-40 bootcamp graduates looking for RoR jobs. The bar for a jr. position was extremely low and still none of them were able to pass. Many knew they course material very well, but as soon as you threw any real world problem that required any deviation from their established lane they completely floundered. Eventually we just started filtering out anybody with that background.

Saddest thing is I keep hearing stories of people saving up huge amounts of money to go to these bootcamps with this dream that they can jump from a 30k/year retail job to a $120k/year SWE job with a 4 month bootcamp. I just do not believe it ever happens.

You don't believe it ever happens? My friend did it 3 months ago.

Is it as common as these bootcamps claim? Who knows. It definitely happens.

I can relate about the interviews, though. At a previous company, we interviewed about 20 or so from several different bootcamps. We were excited for this new opportunity. We needed a few juniors. And we thought it would be super easy to find them now.

I think if they hadn't all been coached to interview with overconfidence, we might have hired a couple. But we just couldn't stomach how they would be so completely wrong, not know a certain data structure or algorithm or whatever, and pretend like they do. They weren't necessarily much worse than other candidates, but we just didn't want to deal with the overconfidence.

We still interviewed bootcamp grads on occasion. We never hired any. The only thing that we screened for were bootcamp students that listed projects on their resume in a way that was misleading and made it look like they had a full-time job. We immediately passed on these candidates. That was the majority of the bootcamp candidates, though.

If I had to guess, "being the kind of person who's friends with a developer in tech" is a very good predictor for "someone capable of being successful in tech". If that was the case, most friends-of-techies that did bootcamps would succeed, leading to a general impression by techies that the programs work - even if they fail horribly for 90% of the people that take them.

The other thing to consider is that if 90% of bootcamp grads get an offer (and accept that offer) after their first interview but the remaining 10% are unhireable and proceed to interview with 100 companies each before giving up, you'd have to interview 10 bootcamp grads to find one worth hiring. (Assuming random distribution, that is - if you're the company that bootcamp grads apply to after failing the first interview, you might never get a good applicant) The applicant pool might not match the graduate pool, in other words.

Good point about the pool.

In my case, the friend was someone I play basketball with. I was his only tech friend before he got his job, so I'm not sure how much that helped.

I have run across the same attitude and it can be very irritating, and often a pretty reliable signal of someone who, if hired, would be a real pain to work with in general.

These bootcamps must be pushing the "fake it until you make it" advice to an extreme.

They'd probably be better off doing FreeCodeCamp, and then spending 1 hour per day on ProjectEuler, blog about their algorithm's, and post 1-2 tutorials per week for 6 months. Eventually they'll cement their understanding as well as get people to 'trust' they know what they know.

FCC is how I got into the game. Someone pointed me in that direction from reddit. That was in late 2015. I went to a bootcamp in the midwest, one of only two or three. While I certianly didn't experience any of the hazing or punishment, per se, the long days and vague projects that don't necessarily teach how to solve problems hit home - I learned how to google well pretty early on and I'm glad I'd been teaching myself prior to the bootcamp because holy hell, it was hard and utterly relentless.I have a great job now, but that's after two years of dipping in and out of positions at other companies because I had no idea what to expect out of a workplace in regards to what I wanted and needed (environment, dev setup, peers, mentors/teachers, remote work, etc). the last three years of my career (graduated April 2017) have been a wild ride and not an easy path, but it's certianly taught me that I am resilient and can find a way to survive.

I thank freeCodeCamp for my career too. I spent around 3 months in 2017 studying full-time solely through freeCodeCamp. Then another 5 months building my own products based on tutorials and official documentation. Then got a good job as a frontend developer.

I'm a few years older than you it sounds like but likewise, I found FCC through reddit and finished my front end cert (back when it was still AngularJS based). It definitely wasn't easy getting my first job, and I was lucky to have helpful bosses/mentors to help me bridge the gap from "self taught" to senior dev, but it showed me that it's definitely possible to make it in this industry with a bootcamp or other non-traditional background. I agree with the tweets that you should take graduating/hiring numbers with a grain of salt and be weary of income sharing, but I think the people in this thread totally dismissing bootcamps as a valid path to development are off base.

I think there are two very different types of people. The first group is the group that can do what you say and if that works for you go for it. The second group is the group I fall into. I spent 3 months trying to do this and had a very hard time focusing my growth. Then I signed up at General Assembly and it worked out great for me. You definitely get out of it what you put in, and you need to have an aptitude for coding no matter what, but for some people like me the structure of the class is something sorely needed.

If the self-study path takes a few months longer, it probably isn’t worth it from the perspective of opportunity cost.

Spending $10-20k to get that tech job a few months sooner is a good deal.

Except if you spend 10-20k and you STILL don't get that job. There's still no guarantees. Even w/ a 4 year degree. At least self-taught you're not wasting money and you're basically learning the same thing.

Good advice but 100% not sexy.

As a freelancer it's basically my game plan... Keep adding to portfolio. Keep writing articles. Keep building stuff. Keep moving forward. I'm not always as organized as I'd like to be, but as long as your 'body of work' grows you'll become more valuable. It's not sexy, but it DOES work.

It is very not sexy at all, and all the bootcamps don't want you to know that either as they swindle you out of $10k. The cold hard truth is that not everyone has the aptitude to learn software, and there's nothing wrong with that.

I encountered _so many_ "I was a teacher and I wanted a new career" types that quit their jobs and moved in with parents/family/friends to attend bootcamps, only to find that they actually hated programming, and afterwards couldn't find a job and had to return to their original industry.

Of course, the schools don't care, they make their money either way.

“only to find that they actually hated programming”

That’s an important point. A lot of people will find programming very boring and tedious. I wouldn’t recommend this career to most people.

Yeah most of the stories were from people that were lured in by huge salaries and relative "ease" to finding a job.

What I ask people is, "Do you like solving puzzles?"

Because as a programmer you get paid to solve new problems, not old ones.

The vast majority of the effort in the software development field is essentially writing the exact same code over and over again, dealing with other people, and spending hours tracking down why your implementation of a super common pattern is broken because you misplaced a letter somewhere.

Maybe 1% is actually solving new or "interesting" problems, which is good, because imagine if other fields were like that. Imagine if a plumber had to re-invent the wheel every time they installed a shower or faucet.

Yeah a better way to phrase "do you like puzzle solving" is "do you like starring and tinkering with something for hours just trying to understand a logical reason for its breaking"?. I think that's a better description of what he was going for. Luckily I do legitimately enjoy that.

Even as a kid I was would never let things go that didn't "fit" into my brain's understanding of the world. So I felt well suited for bug hunting once I started doing it. But yeah 90% of my time is spent copying code, finding a missing letter, or meetings/phone calls. To me this is much better than other jobs. But it's not exactly glamours.

Idk what most non-programmers envision programming as, as I honestly couldn't have given someone a remotely accurate description of it before I actually started doing it.

Also no idea what he is talking about solving "new" puzzles. The vast majority of work is already completed by somebody else or at least in a similar manner and can be adapted to your own problem.

I dunno, my friend is an electrician and he said he is constantly solving the problem of how to route the conduit pipe around all the existing stuff in the available space. Every day is a puzzle and he has sent me pics... sometimes progress is less then one foot per hour, after all the bending and planning.

They may not be "inventing" the faucet every day but I wouldn't count tradesman out as not solving problems.

”Because as a programmer you get paid to solve new problems, not old ones.”

In a lot of programming jobs you will repeatedly solve the same problem or a variation of it.

Yep, there’s always the job available of "customer wants a new form" and "make this wordpress site match some designer's PSD" out there

"it's like facebook, but for [X]"

Careful with that question. I have been programming for 25 years and love it, but you won't find me solving just any puzzle just for fun.

I think you are right overall, but depends on how you ask. I like programming puzzles but hate the Rubik's cube, Sudoku, crossword etc...

me too, I think it's probably due to the fact solving a Rubik's cube is pointless and accomplishes nothing as opposed to the puzzles in programming which do. I's rather write an algorithm that solves Sudoku than actually do Sudoku.

Well, there are a lot of old problems to solve as well, but in general productive developers develop proficiency at using established solutions to them. There is a real skill in being able to find a solution to a similar problem and convert it to fit the new problem as well as being able to break a new large problem down to a number of small old solved problems a few new small problems.

>Of course, the schools don't care, they make their money either way.

Why should they? They take a bunch of people looking for a shortcut to a career that pays better money, and offer them a shortcut education in exchange for better money than they'd get teaching a curriculum elsewhere.

I've definitely seen it happen in SF.

I've personally been part of hiring at least four dev boot campers. All were green but you could tell they fundamentally understood logic and would eventually figure out the stack given enough mentorship. They all turned out to be great jr hires.

Most previously had compelling careers in other fields before switching. I can remember a lawyer. And one worked for the CIA?

Natasha Murashev was one of them. I see her travelling the world, speaking, and has a large dev following on Twitter. https://twitter.com/natashatherobot

I know a couple folks who did well after bootcamps, but they already knew how to code and were in analytical roles beforehand. I suspect that they probably could have gotten the jobs on their own eventually, but the bootcamp probably didn't hurt except for the cost.

How much real world experience does any new grad have? Unless they happen to have internships, I suspect even most top CS school grads would struggle a good deal with that.

Mind you, the college grads have had 4 years to tinker with side projects in the framework of a traditional college experience (winter breaks, summers, etc). Most of the bootcamp grads have had much less time to do ambient programming and probably have more "real world" obligations.

I've personally known a number of people where exactly this thing happened -- from very low paying job to SWE. And on the hiring side of things have hired a few myself (with varying degrees of workplace success admittedly, but I think that's more on us than them, from a mentorship perspective).

>> but as soon as you threw any real world problem that required any deviation from their established lane they completely floundered. Eventually we just started filtering out anybody with that background.

I don't think this is the measure of people new to coding.

If 40 people have gone to the trouble and effort and cost of doing a bootcamp and not a single one of them is good enough for you then maybe it's you who are wrong.

The correct measure for people new to coding is work ethic/effort and enthusiasm and energy and friendliness and ability to communicate about ordinary non technical things. Pretty much nothing else counts. If someone works really really hard at learning to program then they'll get there eventually.

Tell me who it is that starts to learn to program and can instantly "get real world things done"? It would make no sense if someone was both new to programming and also could "get real world things done".

People develop their ability to get real world things done over time - it means nothing if a newly minted programmer comes out of the gate without an impressive ability to get "real world things done".

Programming starts with fumbling around finding your feet, then struggling with syntax, then after lots of enthusiasm time energy practice and effort people develop the skills to get stuff done.

So sorry I do not agree with your assessment of 40 coding camp graduates being unemployable - you just don't know how to assess brand new programmers.

You're making some big assumptions about their interview process. Maybe new CS grads from 4 year programs are passing the interviews (and being successful on the job), in which case their filter may be working well.

None of the graduates I talked to could handle CS grad level questions, especially the typical ones you get at any given tech startup large or small (sorting, binary search, etc), and I never approached my interviews with them that way.

Here is a real-world way I would try to asses somebody's capabilities fairly given their experience. Each candidate generally has a capstone project. Some kinda small app like a todo list or something written in Rails. I would have them walk me through the app they built, explaining some things that they did and asking why they made decisions a certain way. This was an incredibly soft test just to make sure THEY actually wrote it, as frequently code would be shared or TA's would help a lot. I wanted to know that they knew why they did something. If that went well, which it often didn't, I would give them a small feature to add. Something like "how would you expand your authentication to have a password reset", then hold their hand while we walked through adding this feature.

I'm all for non-traditional educations especially when it comes to SWE, but at the end of the day you are applying to a 6-figure job in a competitive market. The failure here is on the Bootcamps that convinced these people that 3 months of study can qualify your for ANY 6 figure job. Compare this to a traditional vocational school. I get the spirit of the parent comment, trust me I really do. But I can sign up for a 28-week metal fabrication course and be guaranteed that I will learn how to weld and get a $60k/year job as a welder. Startup bootcamps are marketing to the same people, with the same vocational messaging. It just is not the same, and it's bad for everybody.

Questions such as pseudocode a "(sorting, binary search, etc)" algorithm on the whiteboard are BS questions used to haze interviewees and make the interviewer feel like the big man on campus. Almost no working programmer ever implements any of this BS unless they are doing very specialized work.

I've interviewed 100s of programmers for several very well known tech company and specifically tried to get tech interviewers to tone that down. Doing so allowed us to hire some great non-CS JR programmers who are now team leads and even CTOs at other companies.

I completely agree

Sorry, but if some "brand new programmer" can't get any real work done, then it is not a programmer at all. There can be even excellent students or someone to invest further time and resources, but professionals, they are not.

>> but professionals, they are not

This is exactly correct. And if you're interviewing juniors/graduates trying to find "professionals" then you really don't understand hiring.

"We're looking for professionals with no commercial experience." It's a contradiction in terms.


For a corporate setting that may have the resources to hire people for the potential and long term maintenance of their cogs, sure, hire "recent graduates" with zero ability to produce any value to the company.

But don't tell me that you can't find young people with little to no experience that are talented enough to run circles on any "experienced professional" and actually be useful from the start. I've done it myself more than once.

So you want to pay someone to train them.

Why not? That's how it used to work. Provided they can demonstrate a minimum of CS fundamentals, things like tools (git, ssh, etc.), how to work with a large code base, good style, and any number of things that a new grad needs to know to become a competent junior engineer can be taught.

I think this is exactly what the original comment was taking issue with for the bootcampers.

>but as soon as you threw any real world problem that required any deviation from their established lane they completely floundered

He quoted it himself, but failed to notice the issue. I myself have noticed people who went through 4 year programs tend to be much more adaptable as the universities tend to do a better job of building a solid foundation.

Absolutely agree. Juniour doesn't mean "without experience". I will venture far enough as to say that a juniour developer should have very solid tech skills and real world experience.

I've known many people myself included who had 1-2 years of professional experience by the time they graduated from university. And naturally these folks would hit the ground running when hired post graduation, which is as it should be.

Setting aside all of the anecdotes for and against bootcamps in this thread and the one on Twitter, consider this: compared to the rest of the job market, software engineering in 2020 is a ridiculous gold rush, no matter which way you slice it. And bootcamps are a vague-but-lucrative new business sector that capitalizes on this reality with hardly any regulation or accreditation system.

Historically, whenever there's been a lucrative new business opportunity with little oversight it's almost guaranteed to be rife with corruption and scams. That's not to say that legit bootcamps don't exist - my own partner had a successful experience with one - but the marketplace is a minefield of potentially life-ruining opportunities, and the only way to tell good from bad is through anecdotes and he-said-she-said. That's a big problem.

Yeah, a gold rush, and old SF hands know the way to cash in: stay in town, sell shovels and Levi's.

Old SF hands might be cashing in, but many people are getting >$150k-$250k jobs out of it. The shovel analogy is stretched thin. It's more like selling gold shovels at this point: both sides get rich, but one a little more than the other.

Look at the risks.

I mean the ISA-style bootcamps don't make any money unless you get a real SWE job (being a TA doesn't trigger the ISA) and there are good ones out there.

They also make money by reselling ISAs to hedge funds. This could stop happening in a few years if the ISAs don’t pan out, and the hedge funds stop buying them. But right now the school is protected regardless of outcome.

The other issue is that bootcamps can collect that money even if they provide no value. Say a student gets nothing out of the bootcamp, and spends the next three years on rigorous self-study.

The only upside for students is if the bootcamp fails, and they totally give up on a career in programming. If you have an ISA hanging over your head that might cost you upwards of $30k, I’d say it’s more likely you’ll give up than if you blew $7k up-front.

i've not heard that about reselling ISAs. what's the source? which camps do that?

the "other issue" is not true of the ones I've seen. most ISAs have an expiration date far shorter than 3 years. the ones in SF I've seen are 1 year.

the "catch" that most people don't talk about with ISAs is that you have to actively job hunt and the school with hold you accountable for that e.g. submitting an minimum number of applications a week, going to networking events, reaching out to recruiters, etc., and if you fail to meet a minimum weekly threshold then you could trigger repayment. that is a big motivation to keep trying to get that first job.


"In the meantime, Lambda shifts the equation: For about half of the ISAs, the company sells the rights to a portion of its returns to investors; in return, it gets cash up front."

You can even see a "Sample Offering" for Lambda School on Edly, a marketplace for reselling ISAs: https://edly.info/investors/

You do realize Lambda has to persuade investors that these ISAa will pay off, right? They’re still highly motivated to get their students making money either way.

If they hold the ISA and the student doesn’t make any money they don’t make any money. If they sell the ISA and their students don’t make any money soon they won’t be able to sell them and then they don’t make any money.

Never underestimate people's willingness to grab money now even when the rational long term strategy would ultimately pay more.

Ok got it - but what's the issue? This is similar to invoice financing, which is a pretty common practice.

The only way I see this impacting student outcome is if the school loses motivation to help students post-graduation, but the discount for selling these ISAs must be very high.

Bingo. ISAs are financed one way or another, whether it’s with VC or with an ISA-backed financing mechanism.

Lambda School is still on the hook and loses money until the students are placed and have paid back. It’s about incentive alignment.

I'm not the OP. I don't know of a good source. I just want to point out that the second tweet in the linked Twitter threads talks about reselling ISAs.

That’s not how ISA-backed financing is structured.

Oh, hi Austen! For some reason you've blocked me on Twitter. Since I have you on the line, maybe you can answer a question.

I've had a few email exchanges with California' Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education. They fall under the Department of Consumer Affairs, and they were put in place due to California's problems with diploma mills.

The BPPE told me that because Lambda School is operating illegally, if a student has an issue with your company, it's impossible for the BPPE to do anything. Would you agree students should know about this risk, since many of them are likely in a position where they can't afford legal representation?

Hi! We submitted our application to the BPPE almost a year ago, and we’ve been in close contact with them and working directly with the BPPE since then.

There’s a lot happening behind the scenes we can’t talk about publicly just yet, but hopefully soon!

You didn't answer my question.

Is what the BPPE saying incorrect? If it is correct, don't you think students should know about this?

You don't understand!

Austen has zero intention of answering you!

If you could please stop bothering him with your plebeian concerns, that'd be great!

FWIW I went through one of the more reputable well-known in person bootcamps this past spring/summer.

I'm in a unique situation where I've been in tech in non-eng roles for a number of years and did it more for the mental model rather than becoming a full time engineer so did not do the ISA and rather paid up front, but just off the top of my head most people have found jobs by now, including at Twitter, AWS, ServiceNow, Yelp, Branch, some smaller YC companies, etc.

I'm a bootcamp graduate who successfully inserted myself into the market and within three years (2016 - 2019) gained a senior title at a large company (~2000 employees) as a software engineer.

I attribute my success to having a computer science background from being a gigantic nerd my entire life (first code written was QBasic in 3rd grade and you KNOW I was at every lan party in high school) and luck (Had someone willing to hire me to maintain small fry websites for a year which helped my resume quite a bit although at a poopy salary).

Both my brother and I went this route after getting unrelated bachelors degrees from a large university. I think a lot of people don't become competent after these bootcamps because they just aren't technical enough to grasp the concepts at the pace they're introduced in class.

The people in my cohort have been fairly successful. Without checking I think about 50% of them have jobs as web developers now.

Anecdotally, I agree with this. All of the successful dev bootcamp alumni that I know had been writing code for one reason another for at least a year before they joined one of the bootcamps. They probably didn't need a dev bootcamp to get them off the ground, but it probably helped with giving them structure and routine to fully follow through with retraining and transitioning careers.

Generally there seem to be three schools of hiring: (1) people who have been classically trained, (2) people who seem generally smart and willing to grind, (3) people who have done the work before.

#1 you mostly only get from a 4-year degree program, and colleges generally filter for #2. The other way I see people in category #2 hired is when they transition into a dev job through ad hoc circumstances (e.g. data analyst who needed to do more and more coding on the job). #3 is just having been a programmer before.

If you go to a dev bootcamp, you won't have #1 or #3. You're depending purely on #2, and that's the one category where it's mostly about you, not the dev bootcamp. The dev bootcamp is just there to give you structure and to signal something to employers.

> after getting unrelated bachelors degrees from a large university

This seems to be the common denominator in boot camp graduate success stories: they've completed a college degree already, so they have at least some foundation, they just need somebody to walk them through the details of software development. I'm curious what your degree was in - did you have a math(ish) background already?

The question is... did the bootcamp help? Or could you have done all of this skipping the bootcamp?

I also was a nerd growing up, wrote QBasic code in 2nd grade, got an unrelated bachelors degree (Philosophy).... but I just used side projects as my resume to get my first job 15 years ago.

Did you need the bootcamp, or could you have entered the industry without it?

The answer to both questions is yes. A bootcamp helped me because it put me into a collaborative environment where I had some kind of obligations to show up and complete projects. Ultimately, you really only need side projects. I'm actually struggling in my job search right now, despite getting my foot in the door and doing great work for about 3 years, as having one company on my resume is not making up for my lack of newer side projects.

I go to a gym to do excercises using mainly bodyweight and perhaps three different accessories. I know how to do the excercises and I have everything I need to donit at home and save $150/month and yet I don’t.

I think it helped me because a structured curriculum with expectations really helps me to actually get the work done. The other big plus was having access to the teacher and the TAs as a resource who I could actually walk over and talk to. I definitely could have achieved the same level of understanding without attending the bootcamp but it would have taken much longer cause sometimes I'm a lazy asshole.

I found the in class experience, working with people, being able to ask an instructor who has lots of experience questions immediately HIGHLY valuable.

Half getting it, and a thing working, from some internet tutorial / classes just doesn't compare for me.

Those "Hey does that mean that X, Y, and Z would me an A, B, C? Does it work that way?" moments are key for me to grok something.

You can definitely do the stuff yourself. The difficulty in it is setting your own goals, sticking to them, and trying to do it all yourself. It's dreadfully hard most days especially since there is literally no reward for it whatsoever except for the potential of something greater.

I graduated from my bootcamp in early 2017 and am angling for a promotion from Jr. Developer to Associate by the end of this year. I think most everyone from my cohort is still at their dev jobs.

This part of your reply stood out to me:

"I think a lot of people don't become competent after these bootcamps because they just aren't technical enough to grasp the concepts at the pace they're introduced in class."

because I think it's 100% accurate. I had a lot of education to carry out alongside my job, where I was learning a ton of programming concepts in the real world and let me tell you, it's not easy stuff. But, luckily for me, with the right supervisor or mentor or peers, you can climb the mountain a little easier.

I think bootcamps work best for people who are already technical but aren't specifically trained as programmers.

I have a friend from college that was a biochemist for a while, took a bootcamp course, and is now a dev at Microsoft.

Take anything Zed Shaw says with a grain of salt, given that he has his own very strong views on how to teach/learn coding (as shown by his books).

For example, "FBTA"s are real and I have encountered them in real life. There are definitely bootcamps that game the system by hiring their own grads.

On the flip side, I think ISAs are a really promising way to align incentives between the school and students. Compare that to people going into massive debt by going to uni and then failing to find a good job - only the gov't cares if you're able to repay your debt or not.

On this note, I'm surprised ISAs are not more common for higher education (ie. college, university). I know a couple of smaller liberal art schools (ie. Purdue) have been testing this.

Are you referring to the only Purdue I know of, which is a flagship state university known for its engineering programs? I guess it's small compared to Ohio State and liberal arts-focused compared to Georgia Tech.

Zed is definitely a very opinionated author and you need to factor in bias in his messaging.

However based on the discussion threads here it seems to be no smoke without a fire.

Made the mistake of suggesting a bootcamp to an unemployed relative. She passed the initial screening/interview stage but really seemed to be struggling with the prerequisite material. The bootcamp didn't seem to care and kept trying to pressure her into signing the ISA. She probably wouldn't have been able to complete a basic beginner MOOC much less an intensive 8+ hour a day bootcamp. I eventually talked her out of moving forward but it was not encouraging to see how aggressive the bootcamp wanted to admit a clearly under qualified student.

That’s exactly why Lambda School starts with the precourse work. It’s not a fit for everyone, and the 40+ hours of precourse work helps us discover who that’s true for.

What's was in that particular ISA? What would it cost if she got a non-bootcamp-boosted job?

It was Lambda School, so whatever their terms are.

Austen seems to be working exceptionally hard to get around the fact that they're operating illegally in CA. California laws are often garbage (overbearing, ill conceived, whatever) but damn is it frustrating to see so many vulnerable students saddle themselves with so much debt in pursuit of making a stable living.


> Austen seems to be working exceptionally hard to get around the fact that they're operating illegally

You mean trying to fix the fact?

As far as I've seen (Allred comments on HN), Allred/Lambda certainy test the boundaries of law and enforcement, but Allred is consistently respectful with CA's rulings, does what CA agencies demand, and keeps the school/"school" open. Yes, Lambda moves fast and breaks rules and pays penalty costs, but they don't deny the legitimacy of the laws and try to weasel out.

>but damn is it frustrating to see so many vulnerable students saddle themselves with so much debt in pursuit of making a stable living.

It sounds like you're talking about traditional American colleges with this criticism, not Lambda school. I'm confused.

My personal experience around bootcamps echoes all of these points. I've interacted with several codeschool grads and several of them took those exact TA positions to boost employment %s. Of all the bootcamps I've ever seen, HackReactor is probably the only one I'd ever hire from again. Their grads (without asserting anything about the ethics of the school) seem to be more employable than the rest post-schooling.

Someone who went to HackReactor & got a job at Airbnb making 6 figures was telling people not to go to a Bootcamp because the job situation is getting worse and all the best parts of the course are available either for free online or $10 on Udemy (vs $20k for the bootcamp).


Why should anybody go to a 4 year university if they can do a $10 Udemy course? Even a bootcamp of questionable quality still confers some sort of credential, much like a Bachelor's degree does.

Maybe people who go to bootcamps know that watching videos from home doesn't work for them?

That exact point is addressed at the 3:00 mark.

Edit: For context, his argument is basically: "If independent learning is not your forte then that's a much larger problem, because you will need to do significant independent study regardless of the bootcamp."

It's not a great argument. Yes, being able to learn/research independently is an important skill that everyone should have, but it's a spectrum. Teaching yourself programming in six months through self-study alone is VERY FAR along on that spectrum. I would bet there are far more people who can get a job with the structure/forced deadlines/etc. of a bootcamp + a heavy amount of self-study to improve their skills, than there are who can do the entire thing themselves.

Also, self study is far from the most efficient way to learn most things. Having someone to help unblock you when you have a bug you can't figure out, or when there's a concept you're not quite grasping can make a huge difference in your overall rate of learning.

Then either transcribe it or tell us what they said. Life is to short to watch YouTube videos when text exists.

Boot camp combined with apprenticeship model is way better.

LaunchCode https://www.launchcode.org/ is non-profit, no ISA, no fee to applicant. Offers a free slower paced bootcamp (after work hours) that teach you the basics (two programming languages, git, mvc style web programming), but then you interview and place into a paid apprenticeship, about $15/hour, at an employer who trains you for the Job they want you to do (3-6 months), after which if the apprenticeship works out they hire you on with full entry level tech salary for that area.

The catch is it's only in Saint Louis, South Florida, Kansas City, and Tampa Bay.

Not to say any bootcamp wouldn't work, it's just the key to bootcamps working, is getting hired by a company that invests in training their Junior Devs, which is MUCH more important than the bootcamp itself.

Strong agree on the key to success being a company that will invest in training juniors. I think a lot of the noise around bootcamps misses this key fact - it's not really the education which makes people employable, it's the real-world work experience.

I think that just having a directory of companies that are willing to hire people with minimal experience at slightly-better-than minimum wage is a much better approach to the problem then trying to delude people that anyone can make six figures after a two month boot camp.

Some can, sure, but it's a much less reliable method than working in the industry for a few years.

I'm glad to see Income Share Agreements (ISAs) as #1. They're a tax on the poor and just as bad if not worse than predatory student loans.

This "don't pay unless you get a job education model" costs you far more than those who have the means to pay for a bootcamp outright.

BTW, as someone who hires developers at all talent levels I'd never put any value in a diploma, from an Ivy League or a boot camp. The only thing I want to see is the most interesting thing you've built recently. From there we can talk technical details and cultural fit.

> I'm glad to see Income Share Agreements (ISAs) as #1. They're a tax on the poor and just as bad if not worse than predatory student loans.

They’re a loan that you don’t need to pay back unless you’re making money. The idea that they’re as bad as a normal student loan let alone a predatory one is nuts.

Certainly they should be capped so there’s a maximum amount you’l you can possibly end up paying, not uncapped like App Academy’s but you’d have to have a very high proposition of an income share or an extremely long term for them to be as bad as a standard student loan.

Some collect $40-60k over the life of an ISAs while normal tuition is around $10-15k.

If the ISA is capped at the tuition or sightly higher it's a wonderful program. Very few are.

Student loans are often predatory but I'm not sure if any topically collect 4x the total tuition over the life of the loan.

I know multiple people who could not have attended a bootcamp if not for ISAs. I also know one who could afford to pay but still chose to go the ISA route. They are all happy-to-thrilled with the model. I would love to know your reasoning for describing them as "just as bad if not worse than predatory student loans". I can't conceive of a worldview where that would be true, so I think I'm missing something in your perspective.

Thanks for being inquisitive.

It's easy to look at this as giving education to those who wouldn't get it otherwise.

But there is a dark side: https://medium.com/@kevgardner83/the-true-cost-of-income-sha...

> The average up-front tuition amount for coding bootcamps is $10,000 to $15,000, according to Course Report, which collects data and reviews on coding bootcamps. The idea to not pay thousands of dollars at the start of the program may be attractive. But, let’s say you agree to an ISA. And after completing the a coding bootcamp, you’re hired with a salary of $60,000 a year. If you pay 20 percent of your salary for four years, you’ll end up paying $48,000. That’s more than four times the average cost for an up-front payment to a coding bootcamp.

It's basically charging those with the least money more tuition. It would be fine if they capped it at the tuition price or even a nominal interest rate, but some programs make 400% more from students that can't afford upfront tuition.

It's fine if you want to charge everyone in your bootcamp under the ISA model, but if you offer a $10k tuition and a $40k ISA you're basically offering the same product at vastly different prices to two different economic groups.

This seems to be more a concern on the terms rather than the instrument. You can structure any financial instrument (ISA, loan, whatever) to be predatory if you're willing to play with the variables sufficiently.

I don't know if those are real terms in your example, but they do seem pretty bad. (Although still better than a predatory loan IMO, since they are contingent on the student actually having a somewhat successful outcome).

By contrast, something like Lambda's ISA ($30k max payment vs $20k upfront tuition; 15% of income for two years; min $50k/y salary as software engineer) strikes me as not predatory in any way -- I would guess they make less money from their ISA students on average than from their tuition-paying students.

Yeah 50% more is still high but not as bad as 400+%.

> It's basically charging those with the least money more tuition.

It's charging those who are less risk accepting more money, but risk aversion is a reasonable thing to pay a premium for. Its perfectly reasonable to view $48,000 if it gets me a job paying $60,000 a year for four years as being a better deal than $10,000 unconditionally.

OTOH, a high ISA multiplier should be a sign of a low expected successful placement rate.

> Its perfectly reasonable to view $48,000 if it gets me a job paying $60,000 a year for four years as being a better deal than $10,000 unconditionally.

True, but I doubt you could find hiring data that supports a 4x higher employment rate among ISA cohorts.

If bootcamps wanted to publish they're employment rate and average salary for both cohorts so students could do the math that would be better.

My guess is employment and salary are much more tied to ability and location than thyey are to wether you opt in to an ISA.

> True, but I doubt you could find hiring data that supports a 4x higher employment rate among ISA cohorts

Sure, but the disutility of a $12,000 bill for four years when making $60,000 may be much less than five times a single $10,000 bill when making whatever you’d make if the bootcamp didn't payoff. The impact of $1 isn't equivalent across different income circumstances. You have to account for both success rate and declining marginal utility of income with greater income.

What sorts of things are you looking for as far as "cultural fit" is concerned?

No way, the bootcamps hire some of their students as teaching assistants which the students put on their resume?! What a scam! What kind of organization would ever do this. Oh wait, every college. Not a scam, duh.

Want to hear the biggest scam? There are organizations that charge $200K up front to teach you things regardless of whether you get a job. Most of what they teach you can be acquired FOR FREE on the internet. Many many people never get a job in their field and spend decades paying these organizations back. Many of these organizations have tens of billions of dollars in endowments. You may have heard of some of them: Harvard, Yale, MIT. Something seriously must be done about these scam artists.

The author appears to run this website: https://learncodethehardway.org/ which directly profits from people not doing bootcamps but rather, teaching themself to code (using his books). So maybe not the most unbiased source (even if some of the content rings true).

Everyone - everyone - always has an angle.

On the other hand, I know of a couple bootcamps that recommend his website and books as prep and supplementary material.

When it works, it works. Myself and a friend started learning programming at the same time, both with the goal of switching careers. I worked in tech in sales, he had a job translating subtitles. He did a bootcamp, I taught myself. I'm finally on my first job as a SWE at a tiny startup with no funding, making a little less than I was in sales. He has been promoted 3 times to engineering manager at a well established international company with $xx,xxx,xxx in funding, and just bought a house. Maybe don't throw out the baby with the bathwater.

I guess I'm confused why he calls ISAs a scam. They're remarkably straightforward and making 100k - 25% or whatever seems a hell of a lot better than making 30k

His phrasing is pretty strong, but I guess there's a difference between "ISAs are scams" and "shady bootcamps can use ISAs as scams".

In particular, harsh ISAs are almost completely dominated by student loans, charging like a loan if you have a bad job and much worse if you have a good one. Say a bootcamp with $15k tuition offers an ISA at 20% of income above $10k for 4 years, capped at $85k income. That's unusually bad, but not a blatant scam.

If the bootcamp gets you a good job at or above cap, you pay $60k over 4 years. Much higher than tuition, but on some level who cares - you're still way ahead overall.

If the bootcamp doesn't help you at all, and you keep a prior $35k wage job, you'll wind up paying $20k total at $415/month. A 7%, four year student loan for the full tuition would only have cost ~$350/month.

So you only really "win" if you're unemployed or down near minimum wage. (Or drop out, perhaps? I don't know what happens to ISAs in that case.)

I think most ISAs are better than that, especially wrt salary floor. But paying a double-digits percentage of income even if the program hasn't helped you get a better job isn't necessarily much 'safer' than taking a loan directly. It could still be better with poor credit or high prior debt, but ISAs aren't generally promoted on that basis.

Zed’s follow up to initial thread on bootcamps:


My recommendation for people interested in bootcamps is to focus on one that offers a skillset in a particular area like Wordpress, that doesn't require education on formal CS concepts. You can still get exposure to databases, security, UI/UX design etc doing Wordpress, without bankrupting yourself paying 5-figure bootcamp fees.

Best of all, you can get a real job building marketing websites/some basic apps, as opposed to pie-in-the-sky dreams of working at Netflix's Data Science department.

BTW, my bootcamp (I took a JS course), paid me $500 to post about my experience on Quora. I wrote a 1,000 word article about what I learned and how I applied in a project. To the bootcamp's credit, at no point was I asked to embellish my experience or attribute getting a job solely due to the bootcamp.

I went to Makersquare(now hack reactor) and I can tell you #10 is definitely true. There is no network of job openings and most people found jobs outside the school. Half found jobs half didn't. The ones that found jobs out of the bootcamp were extremely smart.

The TA point is also true. The letting go of lower quality applicants was also true.

I think the Camp was more fulfilling for me because I had previous programming experience so I could dive deeper into the material since I had some fundamentals already in place. If you have no previous experience, you are f'ed because the material goes by to quickly to deeply learn anything.

I just want to say that, as is usually the case for any label or collection of people, you have to end up judging bootcamp grads on an individual basis. At my company, we have interviewed and hired quite a few bootcamp grads, most of whom were previously bootcamp TAs. And yeah — a lot of them are very mediocre, you know, the kind of engineer you would never select to be on your dream team, but at least one is a really amazing hire, a great co-worker, extremely conscientious and forever learning on and off the job, pushing the rest of us forward, etc.

"Many bootcamp grads are unqualified" is sort of a weird complaint in a field where it's common (and I think accurate) to complain that many degree-holders with a decade of experience are unqualified.

It's not obvious to me that this is any special weakness of bootcamps, rather than just another consequence of the fact that programming doesn't have much standardized education or trustworthy credentialing.

> #4: These Fake Bootcamp TAs (FBTA) will claim any previous job that is within 20 miles of "tech" is a qualification to teach computer science. FBTAs have used:

> Geology

> System Administration

> Accounting

> Law

> Civil Engineering

I'm gonna have to disagree with System Administration as not being "tech" or not qualified. Skillsets of Syadmins and Netadmins may vary greatly, but someone with a background in bash and some knowledge of the Windows Registryis going to be light years ahead of someone coming in with a background in geology or law.

That stood out to me also.

There are sysadmins, even very experienced ones, who have never written code or code-equivalent scripts. But there are lots who have, and "tell me more" seems like the obvious reaction. For that matter, anyone with a recent Civil Engineering degree has probably done a fair bit of Matlab programming, and even some geologists do heavyweight climate modelling. If we agree that a background in physics is potentially a good qualification, it's worth asking most of these people what specific work qualifies them.

Maybe the complaint was specifically about those people teaching programming, though? "Sysadmin + bootcamp" could definitely prepare someone for an entry-level programming job, but it does sound worrying if a bootcamp loads up on TAs who don't have education or experience in software beyond the bootcamp itself.

I accidentally posted in another thread* earlier today about my curiosity over point 7 which included reports of bullying and "FBTA's" forcing people to do pushups.

Tried Googling and couldn't come up with any results, but have any of these reports been published or written about? That sort of behavior should absolutely be put in the spotlight and strongly rebuked.


i was curious where this came from too. is he latching onto one single hearsay experience or is this widespread. nobody i know that went to a bootcamp was hazed.

Anecdote time:

I did a camp tied to Trilogy, that ran through a local University (but really was only administered it, no 'educational' ties).

It was a good camp IMO, it had plenty of flaws, but overall I think it was a good camp.

The real issue ... they don't filter who gets in enough. Admittedly that is a HARD job as you don't know who will do well. In my crowd of folks who did well there was "accountant tired of accounting", "VP or something or other who just wanted to do a coding camp", "director of something or other who just didn't want to manage people", "bank teller who wanted a real job", "musician who wanted to try something more profitable", and a collection of other not great job / folks who didn't do much in college. These were a mix of young and old, age didn't matter, and they all did great.

But on the down side I'd say that at least 50% of the class "graduated" and were IMO, unemployable. I'm not talking about passing an interview, I just don't think they were ever going to learn.

I often think of them and what happened to them. I expect some amount of that but the costs involved were high, I hope they didn't take a serious financal hit.

Personally I'm doing fine, as are the other folks who did well in class, web dev now and happy to be coding away.

Why do we have bootcamps for coding when we could apply the same methodology to law, minor surgery, accounting, policing, and jobs we actually need more people in because the prices are so high?

We could teach elementary school kids to set bones, do stitches, manage projects, and treat flu. If people have a problem with this, they should have a problem with subsidies for teaching people to code as well.

My parents are both practicing physicians, and I am a bootcamp graduated developer. We have talked about this at length, and their conclusion is that there is no real reason why parts of medical education can't be done in a similar manner.

90% of what they learned in medical school is irrelevant to their specialties, and the vast majority of the medicine they practiced was learned 'on the job'.

Medical education is heavily regulated and controlled by licensing organizations, and this is the primary reason why there would never be a disruption in the education model like this. Whether or not this a good thing is tough to answer.

Parts of the medical field are done in a similar manner.

We call them nurses, PAs, and paramedics.

And every single one of them has a training program already more rigorous than most bootcamps.

Entry-level Emergency Medical Response training is 90 hrs.


This is equivalent to coding bootcamp.

An EMT-Basic's scope of practice is so small, there isn't an analogy applicable to software.

If a doctor is equivalent to a software engineer, than an EMT is equivalent to a business analyst who can only work on 3% of your projects and is only present a few hours per week.

I have nothing against EMTs. I earned an EMT-Basic license a number of years back.

You are right, and even doctors learn most of their practice on the job. It makes you wonder about the value of 4-year medical school relative to the high cost.

Nurses get BS degrees, PAs go to med school. EMTs don’t have a high bar to entry, but their scope of work is very limited.

On the other hand, knowing what not to do is sometimes more important than what to do.


Yeah I was gonna say this too. Part of the point of making the process convoluted is to sort of "vet" the people who want to peddle nonsense, and people who legitimately understand how things react with the human body.

Probably because software engineering doesn't have consequences as impactful as those fields do. If your lawyer screws up, you could end up in prison (or worse). If a surgeon screws up, it could kill the patient. Same with policing and real world engineering, which have terrible consequences for failure (though the former seems to have a real problem with quality control itself).

Meanwhile if your average developer or software engineer screws up, it's usually not a big deal. It might be in a few specific instances (like if they're working with medical software or systems onboard planes), but in most cases it's just 'some small business' website goes down' or 'a video game crashes'.

Massive privacy breaches? Self driving cars? Outer space?

Medical implants? Robotic surgery?

AI referees?

Edit: Social Media, Elections, Politics, News, etc

There are definitely use cases where software engineering can bring about harm if done poorly/maliciously, but they're outnumbered by ones where it really won't/can't. How many people are working on those things you list above compared to say, websites or CMS plugins or video games or marketing banner or emails or what not?

That's another huge difference between software engineering/web development/coding and something like medicine; there are few parts of the latter where screwing up won't have major consequences, and many parts of the former which won't.

In that sense, I guess you could say tech is less like a 'field' or 'industry' and more like part of life that a bunch of different fields or industries depend on. It's like how 'writing English' covers lawyers writing documents for use in court, teachers teaching students in schools and colleges, authors writing novels and businesses writing copy for their websites/brochures.

The former two cases would have some sort of licensing because they have actual consequences if someone doesn't know what they're doing, whereas the latter clearly wouldn't.

It's cool. They will have one proper "engineer" to verify and sign off on everyone else's cheap and/or shoddy labor.

Which recent bootcamp grads are writing spacecraft software and cars?

That isn't the point. The point is that it's not the case that software failures are inconsequential. I'm sure there are some bootcamp grads who would like to work at SpaceX; I happen to have a personal contact who I wouldn't trust to code his way out of a paper bag who just got a job at Equifax.

Because "Software Engineering" isn't (currently) held to the same standards of certification, ethics, and peer review that other Engineering and Medical fields are. Maybe some day.

Yeah, this.


On the one hand the idea that you can become a well-paid programmer starting from one of these bootcamps is almost insulting to me as someone who dedicated much of his life to the field.

On the other hand, a lot of people do it. I've worked with them. They don't all suck.

Have I wasted my life on trivialities?

What does my knowledge and, yes, mastery count for if Joe Bootcamp can solve Jane Businessman's problems with a few months of training and a bolus of javascript?

I didn't get a Computer Science degree to build web apps. I got it because I enjoyed learning about the field and technology. I build web apps to pay the bills

In my experience, you will be the one called in to fix it when Joe's solution goes pear shaped.

If these standards were required, would we have less hostile UI/UX, would we have less shady banner ad auctions, would there be less malware, etc? Not sure it would matter, especially since those standard requirements would only apply to the country in which they were enacted. Old eastern bloc countries would still have no problem filling the void. So essentially, the same bad actors would still act bad.

> would there be less malware, etc?

There would be MORE malware.

People who couldn't meet the high standards could find income in the lucrative field of malware.

And that's exactly the issuem Software Engineering is just as much engineering as anything else, requires the same quality and lessons in ethics, and nowadays costs more people their lives than many other forms of engineering.

The MCAS of the 737-MAX wasn't designed by mechanical or civil engineers ;)

If you already have a degree, in the UK, you can get a law qualification equivalent to an undergraduate degree in a year:


A bit longer than a typical bootcamp, but not a long time.

Which you can then use to go to school to become a solicitor or barrister? Does it have any directly associated jobs?

"The GDL is one (full-time) or two (part-time) years long, and successful candidates may proceed to either the Legal Practice Course (LPC) for solicitors or the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) for barristers."

1 word:


Law - you have to pass the bar

Accounting - you need to be a CPA (although mostly for a specific career path)

Surgery - do you really want some schmuck performing an operation solely from a 2 month school that teaches how to fix people?

Policing - well the union's a big one...

Paralegals, paramedics, ...paraprogrammers?

Pair programming?

Zed Shaw writes books targeted at new programmers. From my standpoint, he has a financial incentive to not appreciate bootcamps, especially those with ISAs and similar that don't require up front investment from students because they are cutting into his book sales.

Some of his points are definitely true at some schools, but it's worth taking most of them with a grain of salt.

Do you think that it's very likely that someone would forgo buying a relatively cheap book in favor of going to a bootcamp? This seems like two very different markets, and I would suspect that many people in the space where they overlap would do both (i.e. buy the book and go to a bootcamp).

Potentially. They're both marketed to the same audience and they're often sold as no upfront cost, which can be really appealing.

It's completely anecdotal, but I know several people that have chosen bootcamps over books and they're much happier for it.

"Learn Python 3 the Hard Way" on Amazon: "68 used and new from $11.95". New it's essentially $18.

I have trouble imagining that anyone who might have wanted to learn from a book would have baulked at a <$US20 purchase. There are plenty of people who don't like learning from books, which is fine, and I'm certainly not denying their existence, but those people wouldn't be in Zed's market anyhow.

I agree with the points but I can't bias my opinion just because someone went to bootcamp. You can find good or bad candidate everywhere. Once I interviewed a candidate form one of the well known state funded school and the person can't even write a for loop.

Also IMO coursera/udacity/community colleges are more reliable than bootcamp.

I attended a Big Nerd Ranch Advanced iOS bootcamp, in 2012 (It was still ObjC, back then).

It was an excellent (and expensive) experience. One of my fondest memories of the last decade. I feel it was worth every penny of it. My company did not pay for it. I took a week's vacation, and paid for it out of pocket.

I don't pretend that it was anything more than a fairly basic "primer," to get me "back on the bicycle again," but it did a great job with that.

That said, it was a different animal from the types of bootcamps that the author is talking about. It was a "prototypical" bootcamp; a week-long, immersion course, with a fairly narrow agenda.

"#6: Gotta keep that 95%-100% job placement rate up, but did you know that it's 95% of "graduates" get placed in jobs? Well, if you can't increase placement, then decrease the number of "graduates". Best one is the school that calls you a graduate once you get a job. 100% baby!"

I've seen that one with a for-profit college. It requires a paid "internship" thingy to graduate. Then gives out really uninspired internship openings. Sure, you've got a job, though.

I will try to refrain from being anecdotal here, but some of it will leak in, I’m sure.

Boot camps usually strap in their students for about 3-6 months and make them learn extremely basic coding in some modern stack with html/css.

Depending on the company, this may be a better/cheaper alternative to starting talent that was in the grinder for 4 years but may not have any other business knowledge - or sometimes lack knowledge aside from c++/java. (Not arguing the merits here, personally I prefer depth of understanding to a mechanical and superficial understanding, but business needs do differ)

So is it fair to say boot camps are stealing your money? The same way that any for-profit educational institute might. At the same time, they have a similar function to other educational institutions in that they are largely a culling mechanism and not an educational one - but that is a problem across the board.

It’s unfortunate that they market and promise what they do, as it’s just unrealistic - but that doesn’t mean that they don’t do anything. I don’t have the data anymore, but from multiple cohorts what I saw was a slightly skewed bell curve, where the top of the class (~1 out of every 10 or so) tends to do well and find a decent entry level job in 3-8 months, the bottom of the class just flatlines and really don’t learn a thing (1-4 of 10), and the remaining hustle hard to break into the industry for ~2 years or decide it’s not for them.

I haven’t run the numbers, but I know a lot of my college educated friends are not working in what they studied, so for those that ended up not in a code related role, but did not bottom out (I.e. they did learn some basics of how code works), were they scammed by the universities? (Okay, actually, as a victim of this myself, I’d say yes here, but again, I’m just pointing out this may not be isolated to boot camps)

Summary: only go to a boot camp if you have your eyes wide open and know it is a culling mechanism and that if you’re not in the top of the class or exceptionally lucky, you will not have an easy time finding employment. Even the top of the class won’t have an easy time, but it’ll be easier than you. You will probably leave knowing more about code than before regardless, but also be aware of how shallow your knowledge will be, regardless of how long or intense your boot camp is.

Ooh! Ooh! Here's one! Offering you "free" training and job placement, then making you sign yourself into two years of indentured servitude, falsifying your CV and phone screen to get you work, and because of that contract you signed if you back out you're on the hook for the cost of your "free" training, which they assess at $20,000.

Former instructor here: don't spend your money on this. My bootcamp, as far as I know, didn't abuse anyone; just innocently failed to provide the students with the value. Three months isn't enough time. One year isn't enough time.

If you had a good experience at a bootcamp, then you probably would have been fine on your own. Most students at bootcamps are like most students at any school (lazy/cheating) except in the case of the bootcamp, the school has less to offer in the first place and essentially no incentive to grade you rigorously. So even more than usual, you get out what you put in.

Bootcamp grads flooding the industry have put such a burden on hiring, performance reviews, and firing, that we now live in a world where "senior" means "second year" and asking someone to perform a tree search on a white board is literally torturing them. Making good software, dealing with other humans, providing value and earning money -- it's not easy; and it's ridiculous to assume that these bootcamps can come anywhere near the (lack of) preparation you get from real schools.

How do people even read on Twitter? All I can see on their desktop website is a single tweet with a "Show this thread" link that doesn't do anything.

Does anyone here have experience with Codefellows? Considering taking one of their courses.

As I mentioned elsewhere in this thread, I attended a bootcamp(Dev Bootcamp) and it was a life-changing time for me.

However, I will say this:

- When there's a gold rush, there are going to be people trying to make money selling shovels. Some of those shovels are going to be crap. Perhaps most. That doesn't mean that some people aren't running an honest business(or in this case, a bootcamp).

- Bootcamps are what you make of them. If you expect them to be like a school where knowledge is just dumped on your lap by a professor, you're going to be in for a world of disappointment. If you're willing to take charge of your learning and are willing to spend the time sharing knowledge with others, and dedicate yourself to maximizing your time(studying, projects, failing in a good way), then a bootcamp will be for you. I spent as much time as I could learning, and was often the last person to exit the building in the early AM.

- In relation to the previous point, you may not necessarily need a bootcamp. If you have the passion and the will, you can acquire the knowledge and skills on your own. You could take the tens of thousands of dollars you'd spend on a bootcamp and quit work for a while to study and do projects at home, go to hacker spaces, and attend developer meetups, and you'd get something pretty close to what a bootcamp will give you. However, a bootcamp will bring you together with a bunch of other people in the same position as you in somewhere like San Francisco where there's nonstop action going on. By going to Dev Bootcamp, I was immersed in a world I otherwise wouldn't have been exposed to and had experiences with people I might not have had otherwise. All in all, most of the value of a bootcamp is being around people you can learn from and with. If you find that on your own, then you might be able to save by not having to pay that bootcamp tuition.

All that said, I don't completely disagree with Shaw's tweets. A lot of bootcamps are clearly(IMO) predatory. Ultimately, a bootcamp can't make any guarantees as to whether or not you get a job. That task is ultimately up to you and, as much as it's not fair, your success will mostly stem from your ability to sell yourself. You can be a completely shit programmer but charm your way into a career. Income share deals, I think, are a bad idea, even if they work out for a few. At that point, you might as well save money by skipping bootcamp and do the learn-on-your-own approach I described earlier. There are many bootcamps that act like they have standards but will actually take just about anyone, even if they aren't really the type that can handle the self-responsibility of going to a bootcamp.

Shaw might be painting with a broad brush, he's not totally wrong.

Typical replies... "this doesn't represent ALL bootcamps!" Oh, I didn't know that excuses it. Less than 100% of them operate immorally so let's just not talk about it.


I feel like most bootcamps are bad, and the metric I measure it by is how many people actually end up with careers. Sample size of friends, coworkers, and coming across random profiles on Linkedin or Twitter or whatever.

Hackbright is the best one from what I've seen when it comes to placement and career retainment, and it's free too, but it's only available to women. Hack Reactor seems ok. App Academy seems ok too. DevBootcamp seems like it used to be ok, but is now bad after it was sold.

Which other bootcamps have you hired people from?

The question isn't whether there are smart, motivated people who graduate from a boot camp and succeed. Of course there are. But what's much less clear is the value add of a boot camp. Yes, smart, highly motivated people will succeed after a boot camp, but there's plenty of reason to think they'd succeed regardless.

What is worse is the not-so-smart people who spend five figures in a boot camp, and get nothing out of it. The fact that so many boot camps feel the need to goose their numbers by hiring the failgrads is a pretty clear sign that this happens a lot.

@zedshaw - any idea of if/when you'll write that rant on why pickaxe book ruined ruby?

Good to see Zed Shaw back.

Wonder what’s he’s doing these days....

follow link, reads twitter bio He's teaching people how to code, the hard way.

Zed certainly knows how to ruffle feathers. He's a rare voice in the tech world that will cut through the bullshit.

Ha! I met him once IRL. It took him two sentences to insinuate that I might be an asshole.

Me: Something about FOO.

Jed: "Most people I've met who are into FOO are assholes."

Me: ...

Nevertheless, I find him entertaining, and he definitely will cut through the bullshit.

"cut through"

I think you misspelled "generate a metric ton of".

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