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Currently a Tech Recruiter with a Bachelors in Human Resources. I have signed up for a Node.js full stack bootcamp via Udemy.

Has anyone experienced a bootcamp as a limiting factor later in their career? Or is going for a Computer Science/Computer Engineering degree the best solution path?

I am targeting a Back End /Infrastructure related career path.

Thanks for your help!

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    My bad. Whoever had put in those definitions for the abbreviations was correct. Aug 11 at 23:38
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    Thank you for editing your question to explain the abbreviations!
    – LoremIpsum
    Aug 12 at 0:40
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    I removed the abbreviations altogether, as they were unnecessary because they were already spelled completely in the text. It's better to spell out completely, it's not like we have a character limit :0)
    – DarkCygnus
    Aug 12 at 0:52

3 Answers 3

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You are asking whether you can compete with people with some kind of full 2-3 year education after attending a "boot camp". The answer is you cannot. They will have vastly superior knowledge. They have studied about 15-20 times as long/much. That will show.

If you want to be a software developer, you will need a solid education. There is not really a career path to software development, where you can work your way up to software developer. Software developer is the entry level.

A bootcamp is a like an extended first aid course. It's great to have. It useful. It will not make you a doctor anytime soon.

It's in the name. Bootcamp is what soldiers go through as their basic training. Before they train for the actually assigned job in the military. You know how to know a country is losing a war? When they get so desperate they send their green, inxperienced recruits directly from bootcamp to the job, without further training in between.

You can certainly rely on luck and try to get in with just the bootcamp. Maybe you succeed. Maybe you don't. If you want more than a random diceroll for your career, you need an education. A bootcamp is not a software developer education. It's a bootcamp.

You said you have a bachelor in HR. Do you think anybody with a six week course of HR basics could be a serious competition for any job you want in that field?

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  • Not typically, however, even the company I recruit for looks at early to jr Software Engineer with a degree + bootcamp - though this has some limited capacity and typically people have to relocate. What you said makes sense. Thank you for your insight. Aug 12 at 15:06
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I run a training program in a software company, so I have some experience hiring entry level people from various different skill levels and paths.

I believe this strongly depends on a few things:

  1. The country you are in and how the value of formal education is perceived there
  2. Your dedication and motivation to succeed
  3. Your flexibility on how you get to where you want to go

Let me elaborate.

First off, I can speak about Germany and the UK, so I will write from this perspective. Other countries will vary, but from your name and question I assume you're in an English speaking country, probably the UK or Ireland.

When you start your career, your grades usually are important. In the UK, everyone almost always expects a degree for most jobs. There are quite a few graduate programs from large orgs that hoover up software engineering and computer science graduates. They care are lot about what uni you went to, and how good your grades are. This is probably not for you. Smaller companies on the other hand might be happy to accept your degree as long as it is good, and from a decent university, if you convince them otherwise. This is what we do at my work.

In order to do that, you need to show initiative. It may sound unfair, and I am not entirely convinced it's healthy, but one great thing about working in software development is that it is so much easier to teach yourself than it is in other professions. You're not going to be a self-taught hairdresser or car mechanic. But making software is very low-resource. You just need to know what you're doing.

To get into this industry on your own, you will have to do a lot of studying and practice. And you will have to accept that this will take time. A lot of time. I agree with the other answers that formal education has the benefit of having a lot more time invested and therefore having broad knowledge. I however dispute that this is better, because they often lack practical experience. And this is where you will shine.

A bootcamp can be a good way to get started, but as nvoigt says in their answer, it is only the bare minimum. If you have no idea where to even start, that might be for you. But on its own, it is useless. I have had applicants that did one paid 3 month bootcamp, and because they forked out around 10k pounds for it (which is horrendous, to be honest) they completely believed they were now entitled to work in this industry. This is not how it works, and you have to understand that.

Instead, a bootcamp can be the very first stepping stone to get you used to tools quickly. The most important thing you want to learn early on is version control such as git, which will mean when you screw up you can undo what you've done. And you will need to do that a lot (16 years on, so do I). It will also help you see progress you're making.

On top of that, and afterwards, find things to do. Do projects. Learn new things every day. This is where motivation comes in. Online projects such as 100 days of code are good to keep you going after you've finished your bootcamp. Try to do something and learn something new every day. Use github to keep everything you do, and use the skills you've learned in the bootcamp to version everything properly, make small commits with good commit messages. This will already set you apart from typical university grads who just dump their few uni projects into a github because companies want to see them.

If you write code every day, keep your mental health in mind. Do it when you are fresh, in the morning. Don't try to learn something new after a hard day at work, when you're tired. You'll not be able to concentrate, things will go wrong, and you will hate it. If you can't one day, skip it. That's ok.

There are a ton of free resources that you can use. https://roadmap.sh/ is brilliant to get an idea of all the things you should know. It takes years to master all the things for a backend developer, even if you have formal training, but very few of them are actually done in a typical computer science degree.

If you are more into the academic and theoretical side of things, take a look at https://github.com/ossu/computer-science. This is a collection of free courses you can do on your own to basically get the same qualifications than a typical comp sci degree, just without the paperwork.

When it's time to do job hunting, go for junior developer and other entry level roles. Don't worry too much about what technology they are doing.

You might have used a lot of JavaScript and node, or maybe you've done React or Python or Ruby. At the end of the day, what you have already built doesn't really matter for the job you're going to do. In my company we use Perl, which is not the most popular choice today. I have never had an entry level applicant who had used it before they applied to us. And that's OK. Programming skills are very transferable, and I don't care what language you've learned before, as long as you're happy to learn the one we need. You'll be faster picking it up if you have programmed before, and that's what matters.

I've mentioned github before. I look at personal projects a lot before I interview. Their technical understanding and professionalism can be judged by that. Someone who already writes good commit messages and clear, simple commits that tell a story is going to be much easier to train, so try to learn that early on.

Another thing you can do in the UK (and in Germany and most of the EU, though it works differently there) is an apprenticeship. You need less existing education for most of them, at least if you're going for level 3 or 4. They are often paid less than a "normal" entry level job, but they might be easier to get into, because you're a more experienced candidate, you have real work experience in real companies, so you know what work life is like. That's worth a lot.

Once you're in and you've done a few years worth of developer work, you can switch to whatever language you want, and nobody is going to care if you have a degree or not. You just need to be good and passionate about what you're doing.

Whatever you decide to do, it's totally possible to get there without the formal education. You will need to learn loads, but on the job training happens while you work, once you have a job. Don't give up.

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  • Thank you for your insights, Simbabque! I have adjusted my expectations accordingly and am looking into your resources mentioned. Aug 12 at 15:14
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I studied computer science myself, but I have had friends successfully getting into the field through some self-studies. I’m pretty sure it was harder for them to land their first job though, and they won’t have the same fundamental background as someone who studied for ~4 years. But in terms of job perspective I think only landing the very first job will be much harder, at least if your resume doesn’t look bad with that job and you can show you were successful in that company.

If you plan to get into backend and infrastructure I’m not sure a node.js full stack course is the best way to go either. Javascript on the backend is not exactly typical.

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