8 min. read

December 20, 2021


The Ugly Truth About Coding Bootcamps

It’s time to confront the truth about Coding Bootcamps: they actually work — and we can prove it with stories and facts


Luis Minvielle, Freelance Writer and Editor

In the programming world, few aspects seem as inescapable as the infamous coding bootcamps. One way or another, you’ll hear about them: From scanning through your best friend’s resume to checking your LinkedIn feed, you’ll eventually come across a glimmering Bootcamp diploma with titles such as “Full Stack Ninja” or “DevOps Swiss Knife.” Bootcamps, which claim to be short, intensive training plans that will teach you programming skills, seem too good to be true. Their premise — help you learn to code a mile a minute — seems as fishy as the magic stuff that only swindlers, fraudsters, and snake-oil sellers could ever offer.

It's time to confront the ugly truth about them — for all their bad rep, bootcamps actually work. Yes, really: they do. Bootcamps teach how to code and bring that knowledge to the workplace. These cross-discipline programs — that could cover Python, JavaScript, or sysadmin fundamentals — help professionals with no coding experience become, well, somewhat more experience with code. We collected the facts to explain why bootcamps work and help you understand if a coding bootcamp is right for you at this moment of your career. 

Coding bootcamps harness your experience — and your age

Do you remember the story of how a 13-year-old Bill Gates learned to code on his own? According to legend, he sneaked into a school in the middle of the night and used the school’s computer to become a coding expert. Unfortunately, you’re not Bill Gates — and you’re probably old enough to gather the necessary energy that it takes to wake up at 3 a.m. and break into a high school. But don’t worry: Coding Bootcamps know this — and they make it work in your favour. The median age for bootcamp students is 31, and, according to data, most have a Bachelor’s degree and have amassed professional experience in varied fields.

“Bootcamps are extremely practical,” says bootcamp alumnus Nicholas Hape. The agile programs are meant for professionals who have already lived through dull university classes and endless Zoom meetings and have no time to spare. Bootcamps consider that the turnaround from student to dev should be quick, and their length usually consists of just weeks. Being practical also means being hands-on: besides the theoric input, bootcamps include opportunities to jump into coding with the help of skilled devs.

You may not be a teenager as Mr Gates was when he began his transformation into a coding behemoth, but don’t let the fact put you down. It’s never too late to learn — it’s just a manner of understanding the best way for any age. 

You’ll probably get a job

Bootcamps are intensive plans that will teach you to code. But the training plan is not just about knowing the nooks and croons of a programming language. Elif Dilan Ayaz, Technical Talent Acquisition Manager for Doctolib, explains that candidates bring “lots of transferable skills” from previous experiences.

Alumni are valuable human capital: they combine professional careers, degrees, and coding skills. That’s why, in 2020, 79% of bootcamp attendees got a job 180 days after finishing their course. It doesn’t seem to matter if the alumnus comes from a background in Economics, Cognitive Science, or Engineering — the jobs will show up shortly after picking up the diploma.

It’ll help you narrow down what “programming” means

Who should develop a web app? A programmer. And who should extract insights from unstructured data? Well… a programmer, as well. Programming — and its languages — can seem so all-encompassing, but specific disciplines need proper specialization. Coding bootcamps are varied — and distinctive.

Do you want to develop eye-catching, incredibly functional web pages using CSS and Node.JS? Then the Full Stack Developer course may be for you. Instead, do you want to go through noisy, chaotic data and structure it to get new truths from it? Then the Data Science course may be down your alley. Bootcamps are concise ways of understanding where you should start in the world of devs — and then pick which road you want to go down.

You can keep on being an entrepreneur

Bootcamp alumni usually get jobs (and very fast), but they also work if you want to get a startup running. Bootcamps are hands-on, require pitching your ideas, and expect you to turn those ideas into actual tech. Your final project, for example, can turn into an app.

That’s the case of Nora von Breitenbach, who pitched her project Quouch while doing her Full Stack Developer course at Le Wagon Coding Bootcamp in 2021. Quouch, a CouchSurfing solution made from a Female and Queer perspective, was founded by von Breitenbach and two project aides she met… during bootcamp. They’re now on the lookout for funding. “It’d be a breakthrough,” she explains, “since we wouldn’t need to look for proper jobs.” 

See for yourself

Everyone has their own journey. I can’t say it’ll work out perfectly for sure (no one can!), but I can say companies and recruiters are increasingly open to bootcamp graduates. There have been a lot of success stories and also horror stories about coding bootcamps — in the end, the decision is up to you, weigh up the pros and cons and see what makes sense. I would highly recommend it to people looking to change careers completely, you don’t have time to go back to university for three years or apply for year-long internship programs. 

Honeypot made a documentary series about coding boot camps to discover what they were all about: the process and the result. If you’re considering a career change or just want to get a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes, I highly recommend checking out this three-part series! 

Episode 1: ‘You’re gonna have nightmares’

Episode 2: ‘Shitloads of stuff to learn’

Episode 3: ‘Great Pitch, Shit Website’ (The Final Projects)