Why would a company hire you, who just finished a boot camp, as opposed to someone who have years of coding experience and knowledge?
Because the market rates for Bob who just finished a boot camp and Cindy who has years of coding experience are very different numbers. (I also expect the market clearing price for Bob and Dave, who recently graduated Stanford CS but has no professional experience, are also different.)
Concrete example: the going rate for 3-5 years of Rails experience in the Valley is creeping above $140,000 right now. I'm willing to bet you can get many bootcampers to agree to work for $80k. If you're willing to put them on a team with experienced Rails programmers and mentor them a bit, that's a heck of a lot more bang for you buck for e.g. just wiring up actions and views. You probably won't have them rearchitect a payment processor's queuing systems by themselves over the weekend while live transactions are flying over the wire but, hey, that's not a requirement for most Rails work (by count or by weight).
Does this exploit Bob? Well, if we assume that prior to the coding camp Bob was a generic young liberal arts graduate, Bob's employment prospects in 2014 are a) not that great and b) likely offer a salary in the $30k a year range. $10k plus a few months of work plus opportunity cost strikes me as "More than possibly worth it" to secure an $80k a year job and the career trajectory that programmers have as opposed to the one that e.g. baristas or office managers have.
The problem with the bootcamps is that coding is now seen as a desirable and profitable career and the bootcamps are a lightning rod for people who want a good career but don't have the right temperament for professional programming.
In theory a good bootcamp should accelerate your learning and give you a strong multiple over what you'd learn fighting your way through online resources. In practice, someone who does the latter is a much stronger signal to me as a hiring manager. In a way it reminds me of my experiences trying to work with outsourced teams in India 10 years ago where it was obvious that many of the programmers were there were simply clock-punchers encouraged to enter the field by their parents and saw programming more as a rote exercise of finding the right recipe rather than as a craft to be mastered through deep mental engagement.
Exactly my sentiment. To me, coding is a highly skilled knowledge that is acquired through experience and practice. Doesn't matter how many 12 hour session (thats a stupendous amount of time coding per day for an experienced programmer) you have had in 3 months, I can't even imagine a person being job ready in three months. Unless that person is exceptionally talented and has prior programming experience.
I finished one a few weeks ago and had a lot of callbacks and several interviews within a week. I ended up taking my first offer since I liked that company the best out of the ones I had applied to, but there were two other companies who were moving towards an offer.
You can learn a lot by coding for 12+ hours a day for 12 weeks in an environment with a) more experienced people readily available, and b) other students working on the same or similar problems. I had been teaching myself for about two years prior to attending, and having other people to talk about coding with (SO does not count in the sense I'm referring to) was a huge help. The staff were also pretty legit.
I don't think that people will generally choose a bootcamp grad over someone with multiple years of coding experience, but that is primarily because they're not competing for the same jobs. I think as a bootcamp alum you're competing initially against recent CS grads.
I just completed a dev camp in november and the answer is yes. 80% of my class had positions as devs within two months of finishing. Our best student (who had taught himself a little code before) was hired within a week.
Not saying all the schools are good. (some look slightly sketchy to me)
"Why would a company hire you, who just finished a boot camp, as opposed to someone who have years of coding experience and knowledge?"
An odd premise, its like asking why a company would hire someone straight out of college.
Companies hire from devcamps because the good ones are taught by people who work in the industry and know what they would want a colleague to know, furthermore they ask the potential employers what they are looking for and teach that in a hands-on environment.
A person who came straight out of college is likely to have at-least 2-4 years worth of programming experience as opposed to someone who attended a bootcamp for a few months.
I am still not convinced that this is anything more than a scam. Unless you are exceptionally brilliant at learning new language, no matter how much you push yourself, you will be barely good enough to even know the rudimentary concept of programming in 2-3 months.
To me the best way to learning programming is to make fuckton worth of crude programs and then make insanely silly and sometimes good mistakes in the process and then try to figure out how to fix those mistakes by yourself (or at least with some help).
2-3 months is barely enough time to understand _WELL_ rudimentary concepts of programming let alone learn from your mistakes.
If you already have prior programming knowledge and know at least one programming language, joining this camp is silly and it doesn't prove anything one way or another. If you already know one programming language, learning a new language should be fairly easier than for someone who have never programmed in his life.
>> If you already have prior programming knowledge and know at least one programming language, joining this camp is silly and it doesn't prove anything one way or another
I have to disagree here. If you taught yourself enough for what you needed at the time and never knew any other programmers then you face a huge impediment to learning. Every time you hit a wall where you know how to describe the problem to a human but not to google or stack overflow you can spend hours (notice I didn't say waste) hunting down what is the proper way to describe the problem. While this can be extremely educational in the broad sense it can be slow in terms of actual progress towards being a better programmer since the overhead associated with troubleshooting/debugging is multiplied when it is most costly.
Also, if you're spending 12+ hours a day writing code on average (in my program we did) for 12 hours a week, then you're putting in a hair over a thousand hours of coding time. Assuming a 12 week semester, 2 semesters a year, and 4 years this comes out to about 10 hours per week of actual coding. This clearly isn't the best student in a 4 year program's work schedule, but it's not unrealistic for an undergrad. It takes time to get situated with a given problem and into writing code, but if you're essentially on a 12 week coding binge where you take breaks to sleep and eat then that context switching overhead is reduced. The productive hours of a 12 week bootcamp may seriously outpace the hypothetical student who spends that raw time over 4 years.
>If you already have prior programming knowledge and know at least one programming language, joining this camp is silly
As someone in this group, I'd have to disagree with you.
I work in a life sci research setting, and am usually the only person with any programming knowledge or experience whatsoever. In research, "it works," is generally the only quality control placed on bespoke software. I'm capable of writing working programs to perform simple tasks & do on a regular basis, but I could not begin to write a large web application using best industry practices. I've also never spoken at length with other programmers regarding the problems I'm facing, and as such, I would have a significant degree of difficulty discussing conceptual frameworks with a team.
Having spoken to a few people who attended these schools, it seems that they have a thing or two to teach someone like me.
Perhaps it's not worth $10k, but I think that's a separate argument.
Yes. I taught myself initially and was writing lots of small utility scripts. Towards the end of the bootcamp I attended I got a call to update one of the things I had written before. The difference between before and after was enormous. When you're teaching yourself for practical purposes it is very easy to achieve "working" code that would be totally unacceptable in an environment where the code was the primary driver of value. Additionally, if you're the only programmer in your office/program, it is very hard to progress since you must be the creator of your own curriculum. It's a good exercise and self-education is an important skill, but it's hardly the most effective way to learn.
How many people are going to these bootcamps with zero experience? From the colleagues and friends that I know who have attended them all are programmers by trade. All of them have many years in the industry. They go to get training in new languages and patterns and work is paying for it.
But if these camps are letting just about anyone in I would have a problem with that. You have to have a solid foundation in the basic of CS at least.
Not an odd premise at all. In a startup context, I won't even hire people with a fresh CS degree unless they have something else (personal projects, significant open source effort, real work experience) that convinces me they won't be a liability in a production context.
I'd love to find out who's hiring these people, and how satisfied they are with the results. The two conditions where I can imagine hiring somebody with ~3 months total coding experience are A) when it's mainly a filter for ability to learn, and I expect to invest a lot of time getting them to the level of a production coder and then supervising their work, or B) a situation where output quality doesn't really matter.
I'm hoping all those people end up in situations like A. But there are definitely things that fit B. Back in Bubble 1.0 there were people selling themselves as an "HTML programmer". And there were consulting shops billing total idiots  out at $1500/day plus expenses. Your developers don't have to be very good if your sales guys are great and you have at least one solid technical person to put out fires and impress clients.
There is a third possibility - the company hires the person but makes no investment and they can either quickly come up to speed on their own or they're canned. Seems like very few companies want to make any sort of investment in their people.
Depends on what you consider prior coding knowledge. I went to one of the bootcamps. The people who spent substantial time learning on their own but had no formal CS background had little trouble landing full time jobs at the end of the program. Those with less experience had a harder time and tended to land internships, but everyone who finished the program landed a job within 3 months. The people who really did come in with zero knowledge ended up getting kicked out of the program.
To your last question - why would a company ever hire a less experienced person? Everyone in the valley wants experienced developers but they seem to be in short supply these days. The best of the recruits from these bootcamps are making substantial contributions at their respective companies within a couple months on the job. In this hiring environment, there is value in taking a flyer on a less experienced but highly motivated candidate.
I've worked with people that went through code bootcamps. It's anecdotal, but even after 1 year+ spent working as a programmer lots of hand-holding still involved. More so than a typical "junior" hire that went through uni + internships.
I was originally keen on the idea of bootcamp hires because I've tutored a good number of people over the years but I'm beginning to see that it's closer to O'Reilly Cookbooks than SICP.
Edit: To be more topical, while I'm generally irritated by anything that could be perceived as nanny-state brigading I have a hard time working up any froth on behalf the bootcamps after the experiences I've had with their students.
Possible biases: didn't go to uni, self-taught programmer, some class-based baggage.
I attended one of these bootcamps with zero coding skills (I waitressed & had two jobs before I attended) and had major difficulty finding a job as I learned a ton of incorrect information.
It took me almost a year, until I found an unpaid internship, followed by another company who hired me because they found I had potential. I learned way more from working with companies who took more time to help me develop my skills than the main instructor at the school I attended. It was both embarrassing and frustrating to find that I was neglected to the point of learning false methods. Not to mention that the main instructor spouts so many prejudices against software practices/languages (TDD, Ruby, etc.) that it could influence a person against marketable skills that are actually fairly valuable.
The thing that's made me hirable to companies is my determination to learn, and my ability to learn. Books, projects, internships or positions at companies with CTOs who are willing to take the time to say, "Hey, you don't know this. Learn it." is what will get you far, not a coding Bootcamp, in my opinion.
Alternatively, if you want to be making 6 figures, the school's networks are amazing and they will definitely hook you up with jobs. I didn't get the chance to use the network too much, but I know that others have landed jobs immediately, and with great companies.
I would say, if you have a ton of money, want the connections, and you're fairly technical already (ie. you know how to do some coding), this is for you. Otherwise you are absolutely capable of learning to code and find a job on your own. There are billions of resources online and at meet-ups that will give you a similar curriculum, basically for free or very little.
To answer the 'Why would any one hire you?" -- They won't unless they really like you & your potential to grow.
As someone who runs a software business I can't even begin to imagine to hire someone who has only 3 months programming experience. Even if it was a super low paid position - it still would be wasted money.
I guess companies in the valley are becoming really desperate - or they build trivial products where someone with almost no programming experience can productively fill a role.
Companies, particularly startups, need warm bodies in order to get investment and/or sell their company. If those bodies also happen to make a great product, all the better. If someone doesn't have the background, they can be made out as prodigies. As long as there is something resembling a product, x number of developers, and maybe some patents, certain types of investors don't seem to care. Developers are self taught by necessity. Someone decided to conflate this with the idea that self teaching doesn't really take any time at all. People who invest money don't study development so believe a six week course is all it takes, and sometimes it is if the product is a flashy but basic startup showpiece app.
In my opinion this is the market that boot camps are preparing people for.