Guide to Bootcamp Career Support Services
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- Bootcamp career support services provide career counseling and development to students.
- Career services include help with resumes, portfolios, interview prep, and networking.
- These services are often offered as part of a coding bootcamp.
- Students can get assistance in becoming employer-competitive — to help land that job.
Bootcamp career support services are offered to students as part of a bootcamp, a short-term educational program in a specific discipline, typically coding.
Coding bootcamps are offered online or in person to help students gain skills, become more competitive in the job market, and get a job.
Unlike a traditional four-year college degree program, bootcamps prepare students to enter the workforce sooner —usually in a few months.
Bootcamps are typically not accredited. But, "33% of business leaders felt bootcamps provide a similar amount and/or level of training as an undergraduate degree," according to BestColleges' Bootcamp Trends Report.
There are over 500 bootcamps worldwide in 2022, according to Course Report, an organization that tracks bootcamps. Many of these vocational training programs offer career support services. Employment in computer and information technology occupations is projected to grow 13% from 2020-2030, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The specific bootcamp you choose depends on what you're interested in learning.
There are dozens of coding bootcamps that each focus on a single discipline, including web development, software engineering, data science, cybersecurity, UX/UI design, data analytics, digital marketing, and project management.
BestColleges has a free bootcamp matching tool — along with this guide to bootcamp career support services — that can help you find a bootcamp that is right for you.
What Is Career Support Services?
With career support services, bootcamp students have access to career counseling, workshops, and training to support their job search and career development. These services also provide networking opportunities to help students achieve their career goals.
Services vary by program. They typically include help with professional materials like resumes, LinkedIn profiles, and online portfolios. Individual guidance customized to each student includes one-on-one career coaching, practice interviews, and mock coding challenges.
Networking opportunities —including career fairs and demo days — are often also available through career support services.
Career support services can help students become employer-competitive, set goals, gain job referrals, and have a better understanding of the industry and employment outlook. Introductions between students and companies can also be set up through career support services. This can make landing a job more efficient.
What Career Support Is Available?
- Resume writing, including guidance on resume structure, content, language, and style — with the goal of creating an effective resume.
- Career counseling, where students discuss their experience and career goals and receive actionable feedback and guidance to become employer-competitive.
- Coding and technical interview prep, where students participate in timed, real-world coding challenges and prepare for coding interviews. These are a critical component of the interview process for many technology-related jobs.
- Mock interviews in which students practice answering questions about their career journey, soft skills, and goals.
- Portfolio reviews, including in-depth reviews of coding portfolios like GitHub and professional networking websites like LinkedIn.
- Workshops on topics like salary negotiation and networking designed to enhance career development and connections.
- Soft skills training on skills typically not taught in the bootcamp classroom. These include written and verbal communication, teamwork, critical thinking, and time management. Problem-solving, conflict resolution, adaptability, and emotional intelligence lessons are often also included.
- Networking opportunities with employers and recruiters, including career fairs, demo days, company visits, and on-campus interviews. Students can also take part in networking events with companies, professional organizations, and alumni.
What Should I Look for in Bootcamp Career Support Services?
Students should look for career support that is robust. Sufficient staff and resources should be available to meet the needs of all students enrolled in the bootcamp.
Prior to bootcamp enrollment, it is important to speak directly with someone there to learn more about their career centers. Find out about career services offered and their track record of success in helping graduates find jobs.
Other things to ask about:
- Employment rates for bootcamp graduates
- Average time it takes graduates to find jobs
- Where their graduates are working
- Graduates' roles at their jobs
- Educational and professional skills they had prior to attending bootcamp
- Graduates' compensation levels at their jobs
Finally, ask how long you will have access to the bootcamp's career support services. Is there a limit to how often you can use their services?
Not all bootcamps provide career services or the same level of services. The following are some bootcamps that offer career support services:
Employer-Ready vs. Employer-Competitive
To maximize their potential for success, students should strive to be employer-ready and employer-competitive. Attending a bootcamp can help you become employer-ready. Utilizing bootcamp career services can assist you in your journey to being employer-competitive.
Employer-ready refers to a person having the skills and training needed to enter the workforce. People who are employer-ready are prepared to immediately start working in a role with little or no assistance.
Employer-competitive is when a candidate stands out from others during the recruitment or interview stage. Students can work with career support services to become employer-competitive. This includes creating professional materials like resumes and online portfolios, improving interviewing skills, and practicing for timed coding and technical challenges.
Other Career Resources for Bootcamp Graduates
While career services are important for bootcamp graduates, not every bootcamp provides career development. The following resources may help all graduates, including those whose bootcamp programs did not offer career services:
- Technical interview prep with online tools like Pramp, a free peer-to-peer technical interview prep conducted live with engineers via video and a collaborative code editor. LeetCode, a social platform, is also designed to help users prepare for technical interviews.
- Coding practice and coding challenge preparation with HackerRank, an online tool with more than 18 million developers.
- Books like "Cracking the Coding Interview: 189 Programming Questions and Solutions" by software engineer Gayle Laakmann McDowell.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bootcamps and Career Services
Do bootcamps get you a job?
Bootcamps can't guarantee their graduates a job. However, these programs are designed to train and prepare their students to work in a variety of technology roles -- without a college degree.
Most bootcamp programs offer career support services to help graduates find employment. Many students find that coding bootcamp is worth it.
Even if students have not studied or worked in a technology field, accelerated bootcamp programs are designed to help students be successful. This can include roles as coders, UX/UI designers, and project managers. Many bootcamp graduates find full-time employment, according to Course Report.
What does a career coach do?
A career coach meets with a student one-on-one to discuss the student's career journey, skills, experience, and goals. A career coach can offer insight, guidance, and advice. Also, feedback, strategies, and resources may be provided that can help the student in career development and with finding a job.
A career coach often conducts resume, cover letter, and portfolio reviews, and mock interviews. These coaches also may lead workshops on topics like networking, mentorship, and salary negotiations. They may even provide job referrals.
Career coaches are often employees working in career support services at bootcamps. But, they may also work independently. Career coaches can be invaluable to graduates entering the workforce for the first time, seasoned professionals, and career changers.
Do you have access to career services after graduating?
Some bootcamps provide access to career services after graduation, while others do not. Flatiron School, for example, offers up to 180 days of one-on-one coaching post-graduation.
Before you enroll in a bootcamp, it's important to discuss the availability of career support services so you understand the resources available -- during and after your program.
There are plenty of independent career development resources available to bootcamp graduates, regardless of which bootcamp they attended. These include online tools to practice coding and prepare for technical interviews.
Which bootcamps have the highest job placement?
It's difficult to determine which bootcamps have the highest job-placement numbers since there is no universal standard for recording this data, according to Business Insider.
The nonprofit Council on Integrity in Results Reporting (CIRR) has created a standardized system for measuring and reporting outcomes. However, not every bootcamp reports their numbers to CIRR.
There are ways you can research job placement.
You can ask the school what their placement numbers mean and inquire about how the statistics are generated. If the job placement rate seems high, like 90%, then ask if this number includes students who didn't graduate and/or graduates who started their own company, work as freelancers, or took a job in another industry.
Also, ask which cohorts these statistics include and what are the average starting salaries. Finally, ask about the timeframe it took graduates to get a job. Do these statistics include students who found a job within three months of graduation, one year, or both.