If you're looking to begin a programming career, you may be wondering how to get into a coding bootcamp. The decision to enroll in a bootcamp is one that requires considerable research and preparation. The good news is that many bootcamps do not require applicants to have any prior coding knowledge.
Nevertheless, as bootcamps increase in popularity, enrollment for some bootcamps has become more competitive. So how do you stand out among a pool of highly qualified applicants? In this guide, we explain how to get into a coding bootcamp and provide tips to increase your admission chances.
Prepare and Build a Portfolio
Before you start applying to coding bootcamps, there are a number of things you can do to increase your likelihood of admission. If you don't have any experience with programming, you should consider taking free or low-cost online coding classes before applying to a more intensive bootcamp. Udemy, Udacity, edX, and Codecademy are also popular platforms for taking short, introductory coding courses.
Taking an introductory course like this can greatly benefit you when it comes time to sit for an interview
Since you don't need any coding experience to enroll, online classes can help you learn basic coding concepts and gain some familiarity with programming languages. Taking an introductory course like this can greatly benefit you when it comes time to sit for an interview, as well.
You may have the opportunity to begin building a programming portfolio if the course includes a significant student coding project. Courses sometimes offer some kind of certificate of completion, which you can also add to your portfolio. Programmers typically house their portfolio on a personal website, a GitHub profile page, or the professional networking site LinkedIn.
You could also consider taking a bootcamp prep course, which some bootcamp providers offer to prepare prospective students for the demands of their intensive programs.
Flatiron School, a leading coding bootcamp, hosts a free prep course that features on-demand support, more than 75 hours of programming lessons, and an interview prep curriculum. Completing a prep course can significantly enhance your programming portfolio and is one of the most effective ways to get into competitive coding bootcamps.
Like any other field, networking can be highly advantageous for aspiring programmers looking to enroll in a bootcamp. Many coding bootcamps hold virtual meetings and in-person events, giving individuals a chance to network and meet people who can share detailed knowledge about a particular program. While networking alone likely won't secure you a spot in a bootcamp, taking advantage of these opportunities can help you gauge whether a particular coding bootcamp is a good fit for you.
While every bootcamp teaches basic programming concepts, they may focus on many different career tracks and coding languages, such as Java, Python, and Ruby. As such, you need to determine your career goals and choose a bootcamp that teaches the languages and skills you need to succeed in your target role.
For many individuals, the bootcamp location and format may be the most important factors in choosing their bootcamp. Many programs are entirely online, making it easier for prospective students to balance their work and family obligations with their education.
Online bootcamps can follow a full-time, part-time, or self-paced format, and they require a reliable internet connection and a computer that can support the required programming software.
In-person bootcamps require students to travel to a campus to learn and work on projects in a traditional classroom setting. In-person programs can be full time or part time. Part-time coding bootcamps often take a considerable amount of time to complete, but allow students to maintain their jobs throughout the bootcamp.
Full-time, immersive programs are best suited for individuals who do not need to retain simultaneous full-time employment and want to complete a bootcamp in the shortest time possible. Immersive bootcamps typically last several months and require students to commit 40 hours or more per week to instruction and assignments.
Research Payment Options
Coding bootcamps can be more affordable than a four-year degree, but they are far from cheap, ranging from a few thousand to tens of thousands of dollars depending on the bootcamp provider and program length.
Since bootcamps are not accredited, degree-granting institutions, aspiring bootcamp students usually do not qualify for traditional student loans. Fortunately, many coding bootcamps have financing options and loans available if you are unable to make an upfront payment for your education.
Payment options like deferred tuition and income share agreements have become popular options for students in recent years, though they are not offered by every bootcamp. Deferred tuition plans allow you to pay no or very little upfront costs; you then pay a fixed amount in installments once you obtain a job after graduating from the bootcamp.
Aspiring bootcamp students usually do not qualify for traditional student loans.
Income share agreements are similar to deferred tuition plans in that you pay no or very little upfront costs. However, instead of paying a fixed tuition amount, you pay a set percentage of your salary once you obtain a job after graduating. Often, your salary must meet a minimum threshold before the income share agreement kicks in.
If the bootcamp does not offer a deferred tuition plan or income share agreement, you may want to consider taking out a loan from a lender such as Climb Credit or Skills Fund. In addition to loans, you may also be eligible for scholarships and discounts offered by the bootcamp.
Bootcamps may offer scholarships based on a student's gender, academic record, and financial need. Scholarships usually do not cover the full cost of tuition, but they can certainly help alleviate some costs.
Apply to Bootcamps
Once you have decided on the specialization and learning format you are looking for, you can start applying to bootcamps. Unlike most college applications, bootcamp applications usually do not cost anything.
As such, if you find multiple bootcamps that suit your needs, you should consider applying to each of them. This will give you the opportunity to assess each bootcamp's culture and curriculum, and ask the questions you need to make a decision.
The application process is typically found on the bootcamp's website. You will probably need to provide basic background and personal information, such as your name, email, and the level of education you have completed.
You should also be prepared to indicate what type of programming you are interested in studying. Highly selective bootcamps may also require essay components. The topics are usually focused on your programming background and why you want to attend. Once you have filled out an application, you should start preparing for an interview.
Nail Your Interview
Many bootcamps require an admissions interview, or even a series of interviews as part of the application process. These interviews assess your culture fit and technical competencies. You should begin preparing by researching information about each of your prospective bootcamps.
Interviewers may ask you questions about why you want to attend, why you think you would be a good fit, and your career goals. Ultimately, they want to know if you will positively contribute to the bootcamp community and whether your professional goals align with their program.
In addition, you will likely have to code or complete a "coding challenge" during the interview. For the technical interview, you will likely be paired with an instructor who will ask you a series of questions and deliver a set of coding problems for you to solve in a certain period of time.
This is why it is important to brush up on your programming skills or take introductory coding courses before the interview; demonstrating strong technical abilities can give you a competitive edge over other applicants. To help you prepare, Flatiron School provides a guide with helpful tips and resources to give you a leg up on the technical assessment.
Additional Interview Tips
While your technical knowledge can be important for getting into a competitive bootcamp, the level of passion and engagement you display in the interview can also greatly impact your chances. Below are a few tips to help ensure you are prepared for a successful interview.
- Show Passion:The admissions team wants to know you are passionate about programming and serious about pursuing coding as a career. If you have a portfolio, talk about some of the coding work you have done in the past and what you enjoyed most about it. If you do not have an extensive background in programming, talk about other projects or hobbies that you are passionate about and how those interests may be relevant to a coding career.
- Be Determined:Learning how to code is no easy feat. It requires a great deal of patience and determination to become good at it. During your interview, provide an example of a time when you started a project that didn't go as quickly or as smoothly as you anticipated. Talk about how you stayed persistent and overcame the challenge, as well as what you learned in the process.
- Demonstrate Skills:Passing an interview coding challenge is a great way to demonstrate your programming knowledge, but your coachability, problem-solving skills, and communication skills are also important to the admissions team. During the technical interview, make sure you are attentive and receptive to feedback. These soft skills help demonstrate a willingness to learn and improve.
- Be Yourself:The technical assessment is an important part of the interview, but the admissions team is also interested in your character and personality. Talk about your perspectives, values, and personal interests. The bootcamp is looking to admit individuals with diverse backgrounds and experiences that will add value to the bootcamp culture and the wider programming community.
Determine Your Start Date and Payment Plan
Once you are admitted into a bootcamp, you will need to determine your start date and how you plan to pay for your education. As mentioned earlier, bootcamps sometimes require payment upfront. If you are unable to provide a lump sum payment at the start of your program, you should look into alternative payment options.
When it comes to selecting a start date, coding bootcamps are usually pretty flexible. If you attend a bootcamp offered by a large provider, you may find start dates every month throughout the year. Smaller bootcamps may have a more limited schedule. Be sure to check available start dates for a bootcamp early in the application process to avoid a situation in which you are unable to attend after being admitted.