Deciding to pursue a career in technology is not one to be taken lightly. Not only does this require a significant contribution of time and money, but it could also lead to a complete change in your life and career direction. There are many questions that you need to ask yourself, your family, and the Coding Bootcamp before you arrive at your final decision.
Before you decide to leap, go through this guide of questions. Not only will it help you decide which career path to embark upon it will also give you clarity on your next moves.
Preparing Your State of Mind
Before you transition to a new career, especially one as rewarding and challenging as a career in technology, you need to make sure you are in the right mind frame. There are several things to remember throughout your learning experience:
- Keep an open mind — You will be learning many new things, and some of them may not make sense at first. Do your best to keep an open mind throughout the process.
- Utilize your life experience — Apply your personal and professional experience to maximize ways to see the bigger picture.
- Be focused — Stay present at the moment throughout each new step of the process. Try not to get lost in the past or worry too much about the future.
- Have fun — Life is a journey and you are just beginning a new chapter. Remember to find joy in the little things, especially when times seem the hardest.
Keep your eye on the prize. Remember that your view is your choice. You can choose to look at a challenge as an opportunity or as a hurdle. Choose opportunity each time, but also look at it realistically.
Every choice that has led you up to this moment has been a part of your journey. They have taught you who you are or are not, what you deserve, and what you will need to make you stronger. Your thoughts decide your future.
Defining Your Personal Vision
You must define your vision of what it is you want to achieve before you move. Without defining that personal vision, you may find yourself halfway through the journey and lost. Being lost could make you lose determination before you have a chance to succeed.
The following questions will help you build a solid foundation and remind yourself periodically of why you are doing this.
i) How Satisfied Are You With Where You Are Now?
On a sheet of paper write down various areas of your life and grade them on how satisfied you are with a scale of one to 10.
These areas may include, but are not limited to:
- Life purpose.
- Life or career direction.
- Career fulfillment.
- Work/life balance.
- Time management.
- Pursuing your passions.
- Confidence and self-esteem.
Be sure to include other life and career areas you want to examine. Remember to revisit this list periodically throughout your educational and career journey to measure your success along the way and adjust your path if necessary.
ii) What Goals Would I Like to Achieve?
What does success look like? Whether you are looking to change careers, boost your skills in your current career, or just getting started in the workforce, knowing the goals that you are looking to achieve helps you plan your next move. Are you searching for a life of purpose? Are you seeking power and influence? Does this path fit with your passion in life? Is it simply about the money?
iii) What Has Blocked You from Achieving Your Goals?
Look deep into yourself to find the blockers that have stopped you from achieving goals and may stop you from proceeding in the future. Do you fear success? Do you feel you would not be able to complete the education required for a tech career? Do you feel like you would not fit in or be worthy? Be honest with yourself and confront those blockers head-on.
iv) How Will Switching to a Tech Career Help Achieve Your Goals?
Transitioning to a career in tech is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It is important to examine your goals and realistically compare them to potential opportunities you will find after graduating.
v) How Vital Is a Coding Bootcamp Education to My Goals?
Some of your goals may be achieved without attending a structured course like a Bootcamp. For example, if you need to build great websites for your current job or side business, joining one may not be worth the time and effort to learn in-depth skills when you can simply take advantage of the many tools available.
vi) What Other Options Are Available to Me?
Depending on the level of skill you are looking to obtain, there may be free or more affordable options to boost your skills. Make sure you examine as many as you can before committing.
vii) How Much Demand Is There for the Skills I Will Learn at a Coding Bootcamp?
There is a lot of homework that needs to be done in this area. The last thing that you want to do is to spend the time and money learning skills that are not in demand.
viii) What Are the Hard Skills That I Will Learn?
Hard skills are defined as teachable and measurable abilities, such as programming. Compare the hard skills you will be learning to the skills you already have. How will combining them help advance your career?
ix) What Are the Soft Skills I Will Learn?
Soft skills are defined as personality traits that can make you a good leader or employee. These skills can be learned, but some are simply your personality. The more soft skills you possess, the more they will complement the hard skills.
x) How Will I Pay for Coding Bootcamp?
There are numerous resources available to those who want to figure out how to pay for Bootcamp. Whether they are income share agreements, loans, grants, scholarships, or payment plans, be sure to explore every possible avenue to help you better afford an education.
xi) Do I Want to Attend Full-time or Part-time?
You need to determine how much time you can realistically devote to learning. An existing job, training, hobbies, family, or other obligations will affect how much time you have available each day. Look at your existing obligations and do your best to not overestimate the time you can devote to learning new skills.
xii) How Do I Learn Best?
Do you prefer reading, hands-on coursework, videos, or lectures? Will you thrive in a fast-paced environment or do you prefer to learn on your own? Do you prefer online or in-person courses or a combination of both?
xiii) How Well Am I Able to Handle High-pressure Situations?
Many coding boot camps will teach you a lot of information in a very short time. This means your ability to absorb and apply this information may be pushed to the limit. Be realistic with your assessment of how well you handle high-pressure situations.
xiv) How Much of My Off-time Can I Devote to Practicing?
Courses will likely be pretty intense and if you want to succeed, you will need to practice outside of class. Gauging prior obligations accurately will give you a better understanding of how much time you can realistically devote to practicing in your spare time.
xv) Where Do I See Myself in the Future?
Envisioning where you see yourself in the next one, five, or 10 years will help you to see the big picture and then work your way back to determine the steps you will need to take within that time. Things will change and new challenges that are unforeseeable will appear, but change can give you a clearer image of the steps you need to get where you want to be.
xvi) Am I Committed to Completing a Coding Bootcamp?
This may sound like a no-brainer, but your success will depend on your commitment to succeeding. If you are only half committed, your odds of success will only be half. If you find that you are wavering in your commitment, remind yourself of the potential rewards ahead. It may be helpful to write down a statement of commitment and keep it handy for when you need reminding of why you are doing this.
Questions to Discuss With Your Family
If you have family and child care responsibilities, it is important to make sure that you have the support you need to fulfill the time commitment of pursuing a coding Bootcamp education. For those just entering the workforce out of high school, you may need extra support from family members as well.
a) How Will I Handle Childcare?
For those who have small children, look into the various ways of securing childcare so as to avoid distractions during class. Ask family and friends if they can help you with childcare. There are also online services that help you find licensed babysitters or nannies on short notice. Additionally, some regions may offer childcare assistance if you are in school. If not, some religious organizations may help.
b) How Will I Take Care of Domestic Duties?
Make a schedule and stick to it. If your children are old enough, teaching them skills to help out with chores will be a tremendous help. If you are able to afford it, hiring a cleaning service could help maintain your focus.
c) How Will I Maintain a Good Work/life/school balance?
Finding a balance in life between family, work, and school is one of the most difficult aspects of continuing your education. But, it is also one of the most vital aspects of maintaining good mental and physical health. Make sure you find time to enjoy life and not make it all about school and work.
Questions to Ask During the Bootcamp Interview
The following is a list of questions to ask during your Bootcamp interview. These questions are vital to helping you choose the right Bootcamp. You may want to create several copies of these questions and fill them out as you do your research and attend interviews. This way, you can compile all of the information into a simple list to narrow down the perfect coding Bootcamp for you.
1) What Type of Pre-work Is Required and What Is the Purpose of It?
Many Bootcamps require some form of pre-work to determine your skill level and help with placing you in the correct classes. Each Bootcamp is different, some require pre-work and some do not. If pre-work is required, be sure to ask about the level of difficulty and how many hours are required to complete it.
2) What Is the Acceptance Rate for the Program?
Knowing the acceptance rate of a Bootcamp may be an indicator of the level of difficulty of the overall program. However, if the acceptance rate is low, ask the interviewer why. For some smaller Bootcamps, a low rate could mean that they simply do not have enough faculty to effectively manage all of the student applications.
3) What Is the Yield Rate?
The yield rate is the number of people accepted into the program versus how many actually start. While the yield rate may or may not be important to view, it may spur you to review the course further before accepting it.
4) How Do You Choose Instructors and What Is Their Education Level?
Will you be learning from instructors with advanced degrees or will you be learning from instructors who went through the course themselves? How many years of practical experience do the instructors have? Are they industry professionals? How often is the curriculum updated? The more you know about the instructors and how they are chosen, the easier it will be for you to recognize a good program versus a not so good one.
5) What Is the Teaching Style?
Is the teaching style left up to the instructor? Is there a schoolwide basic teaching style that applies to everyone? Will it be hands-on or hands-off? If you need one-on-one instruction will you be able to get it? Is tutoring available? Try to get as much detail as you can to determine whether an instructor’s teaching style fits your desired learning method.
6) Are There Opportunities for Outside Work or Extracurricular Activities?
Outside work and extracurricular activities are great ways to build your skills beyond a classroom. Will the school leave finding outside work or extracurricular activities up to you? Or does the school have planned activities for all students to participate in?
7) What Is the Average Class Size?
What is the teacher to student ratio? Are class sizes determined by the skill level of students entering the program? Also, ask about diversity in the student body and instructors. It is amazing the skills you can learn when classes mix different skill levels and your cohorts have a diverse set of skills.
8) What Are the Graduation and Dropout Rates?
Knowing the turnover rate can help determine how good a program is. If a program has a high attrition rate, it may be because it is either extremely difficult or that instructors are not teaching the skills that students feel they need to succeed.
9) Is Passing a Final Exam Required to Graduate?
If passing a final exam is needed, ask how the exam is scored and what minimum score is needed to graduate. Also, ask if you will need to pass it to receive career support. Find out if you will be able to retake the exam if you fail or if you are required to repeat the program.
10) If an Emergency Arises, Will I Be Able to Put the Course on Hold?
Emergencies happen and you may need to take some time away from lessons. Ask if you will be able to pick up where you left off or if you will need to re-enroll. Also, find out what happens if you fail the course. Will they let you repeat certain segments or will you have to repeat the entire course?
11) What Is the Refund Policy?
Knowing a course’s refund policy could mean the difference between your success and become discouraged if somehow you are unable to complete the program. Some Bootcamps may not offer refunds and some may offer refunds only in a certain timeframe. Be sure to read the fine print of this area.
12) Do You Offer Job Placement Assistance or Guarantees?
Job placement assistance or guarantees are a great tool to immediately begin working after graduation. But there are some caveats you should know about before signing up.
Find out what level of career support is offered during and after the program. For example:
- Does the Bootcamp have a dedicated network of employers they work with to place graduates?
- Do they offer rebates for accepting a job with a partner employer?
- What is the job placement rate?
- What do you count as being employed?
- Are contract work, part-time work, or internships classified as employment?
- What is the average annual starting salary for graduates in my field?
- What happens if you decline a job offer?
- Is there a restriction on switching jobs?
- What happens if you are fired or laid off?
- How long will career assistance be offered after graduation?
There is usually a lot of fine print included with these types of guarantees. Make sure you have all of the details on the job placement guarantees before you judge whether a Bootcamp is right for you. Above all else, make sure you have a backup plan in case something does not work out how you had hoped.
13) Do You Offer Tuition Assistance Programs?
Income sharing agreements are a way for you to get the skills you need and pay a portion of your income after graduation toward your tuition. Again, this is one of the areas that usually have a lot of fine print attached, so you will want to perform your due diligence before agreeing to this type of tuition assistance program. Remember to also ask about scholarships, grants, loan partners, and monthly payment programs the school may offer.
14) What Does Tuition Cover?
Find out if tuition solely covers class time or if it provides you with a laptop, software, or discounted products and services. If it does provide you with separate tools, be sure to ask what happens if for some reason you do not complete the program. Will a laptop need to be returned? Will you lose software licensing?
Hopefully, this guide has prepared you to understand yourself before committing to a coding Bootcamp.
While there are many other individual considerations that you should probably take into account before making the final decision, the information above will undoubtedly give you a strong basis to move forward with whatever decision you make.
If you are still in doubt, consider speaking with a career coach to help you find the right answers and break away from fear and doubt. Cheers to your success!