Software Engineering Bootcamp Spotlight

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portrait of Sharon Wilfong
by Sharon Wilfong

Published March 7, 2022

Edited by Madison Hoehn
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The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 22% job growth for software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers between 2020 and 2030.

That makes software engineering one of the fastest-growing professions nationwide, with around 189,200 openings projected on average each year over the decade. These jobs have a median annual wage of $110,140, as of May 2020.

Traditionally, software engineer jobs require a bachelor's degree in computer engineering, computer science, or a related field. However, many companies prefer candidates who have practical programming and coding experience. A software engineering bootcamp can prepare graduates with practical experience.

But are coding bootcamps worth it? We are asking graduates what they really think in a series of interviews with bootcamp graduates.

This time around, we talked with Zach Hendrix to find out how a software engineering bootcamp prepared him for his career.

Who Is Our Software Engineering Bootcamp Graduate?

Zach Hendrix is a Nashville native who wanted to develop an app that helps homeowners find, schedule, and pay for lawn care. And so, he co-founded his tech company GreenPal with that very idea. However, he didn't have any software experience under his belt to enhance his website.

So he decided to change that.

Hendrix enrolled in the Nashville Software School after paying too much money to a dev shop for the app's first version. His goal for enrolling in a software engineering bootcamp was to enable in-house software development. That way, the company could have more control and save money.

Hendrix says his mentors from Nashville Software School (NSS) and the new skills that he gained in the bootcamp enabled him to build the foundation for what is now a nationwide app.

Mentors are vital in helping students work through challenges in the classroom and in interviewing for new jobs. It is a good idea to examine a program's student support services as you are exploring software engineering bootcamps.

The Software Engineering Bootcamp Experience

There are three basic tracks in web development. Front-end developers use HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to create everything website users see, from colors to navigation bars. On the other hand, back-end developers work on the server-side to ensure a smooth user experience.

Full-stack developers do it all, combining skills from both realms. Hendrix graduated with the second cohort from the NSS full-stack bootcamp, which helped him develop front-end skills in CSS and JavaScript and back-end programming skills in Ruby on Rails.

The software engineer says he "also studied database concepts in MySQL and PostgreSQL."What's more, Hendrix says the opportunities the NSS bootcamp offers have expanded in the past eight years.

Today, the bootcamp provides multiple programs focusing on different disciplines — from programming languages to data science and more.

Hendrix says, "NSS offered great career opportunities and services, and I definitely could have found job placement ..."

When he was a student, NSS held a job fair so local companies could view students' capstone project presentations. Like NSS, the best coding bootcamps establish partnerships with businesses looking to hire graduates.

For example, Claim Academy maintains partnerships with over 200 employers such as MasterCard and Carfax. Similarly, Coding Dojo offers bootcamps covering Python, MERN, Java, and .NET/C# programming languages. The best part is that graduates get lifetime career support services.

Advice From a Coding Bootcamp Graduate

Today, Hendrix is the chief technology officer at GreenPal. Not only that, but the app has users nationwide.

"The software bootcamp I attended and the people I met helped me assume control of and manage all of our development initiatives," he says.

Hendrix's situation was slightly different than other graduates because he and his co-founder had already started GreenPal. Typically, the main goal of students who attend these bootcamps is to prepare for software engineer jobs.

Why? Because a top software engineering bootcamp, such as General Assembly, can lead to a lucrative career shortly after graduation.

General Assembly's 2018-2019 Outcomes Report indicates over 91% of graduates started their new career within 180 days of completing bootcamp. Not only that, but their graduates found work at companies including Amazon, Google, and IBM.

You may be wondering, are coding bootcamps worth it?

Yes, according to Hendrix.

He says, "In the early days, I was writing every line of code of our platform, front- and back-end ... and managing our database. I was applying every skill I learned in my bootcamp to our business."

Hendrix has since transitioned to managing teams of developers to focus on different aspects of the application.

"What I learned in the bootcamp allowed me to personally build out our application and now make educated and efficient decisions in managing our software development processes and strategies," he said.

The right bootcamp can also help you build a solid foundation for many software engineer jobs.

Frequently Asked Questions About Software Engineering Bootcamp

Can you become a software engineer through a coding bootcamp?

Yes, the right bootcamp can prepare students for software engineer jobs, including web developer or computer programmer.

According to Indeed, 72% of employers think bootcamp graduates are just as prepared as graduates with a computer science degree. Also, 12% of employers surveyed said they are more prepared and more likely to be high performers than computer science graduates.

What programming languages are taught at software engineer bootcamp?

Coding bootcamps teach widely used programming languages and frameworks, depending on your track. Front-end languages include CSS, HTML, and JavaScript. Common back-end languages are Ruby on Rails, Python, and PHP.

Software engineering bootcamps are also project-based, so students can practice their skills and build a portfolio.

Are coding bootcamps good for beginners?

While you might not have any coding experience as a beginner, you still need solid computer skills. You will also need excellent communication, teamwork, self-discipline, determination, and problem-solving skills.

Plus, coding bootcamps are an intense, highly concentrated learning experience. So it is important to pick the right one.

Feature Image: Maskot / Maskot / Getty Images

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