Part 2: Every rose has its thorn…
I was enjoying working on my own, but I needed a definitive way to turn my passion into a skill set that would add value to a company. As part of my self development, I attended several Ruby meetups in the Atlanta area. While there, I met some recent graduates from an immersive bootcamp. While some of the individuals from the frontend course had managed to find jobs, none of the backend developers had shared their fortune. The more I researched, the more I found a common theme among prospective employers:
I was hiring for a ____ startup based in NYC and got some referrals to some recent ____ grads. I bit and went ahead and scheduled some interviews. It was a total joke, honestly. The graduates glossed over the entry-level interview questions with a lot of handwaving (I would ask them things like “How would you do x given y?”) and quoted rates upwards of $100/hr even though their total experience was the 10 week course @ ____ campus.
I was so turned off by that experience that I just never even considered hiring from a ‘hacker bootcamp’ again. I’ll echo what others have been saying as well: You can hire them, and maybe they’ll perform for a while - but the amount of time you’ll need to spend to get them up to speed on CS basics will more than likely not be worth the investment. You’re better off hiring a recent college grad whose only experience is working with Java - at least they have the fundamentals and can build on top of them instead of backtracking.
While I took that with (a rather large) grain of salt, as not all bootcamps are created equal, it did pose as a cautionary tale. For the time being, I tabled my interest in bootcamps and continued my soirée into more projects.
Something to believe in…
A bit jaded, I looked for every opportunity to create a project, work through a book, and sharpen my skills. Fortunately, my wife happened to work for an Atlanta based marketing agency as an Associate Director of SEO. I was able to work on several side projects for her, culminating in an app that assisted her team with evaluating the accuracy of local listings. It was an immensely enjoyable experience and further confirmed that software development is my passion.
As 2016 neared the end, I began looking again at options that would take me over the hump. We had a mortgage and a great life. The prospect of a full-time, immersive school seemed unreasonable at this point. I joined a slack for veterans called Operation Code and began to learn about various educational opportunities that I could take advantage of while still maintaining my full time job.
While I wasn’t necessarily looking for a bootcamp, Bloc caught my eye for two main reasons. First, I could complete the course while still working. But, more importantly, they offered a much more intensive Software Development Track. In addition to the standard web development track, Bloc offered two additional training phases:
- Phase IV Software Principles, where students learn more hardcore computer science principles, to include in-depth looks at data structures, algorithms and complexity analysis, databases and advanced SQL, and frameworks architecture and design patterns.
- Phase V Open Source Apprenticeship, where students collaborate with professional engineers and contribute to real open-source projects.
To start the new year, I secured a source of funding and jumped in with both feet.