Career Planning

How to Get Into Any Coding Bootcamp (By Showing Your Work)

Clayton Wert
December 2019

If you’re reading this, probably you’ve heard this pitch by now: “Become a programmer in as little as twelve weeks, and only pay once you land a job!”

It’s no secret thousands of people have changed their careers, increased their salary by 10x, even pulled themselves and their family out of poverty by attending a coding bootcamp. But since their initial inception in 2011, the landscape has changed. The market is saturated. They are increasingly more competitive. There are programs for front-end and back-end development, UI/UX design, data science, and more.

Knowing which is the best fit for you, and being accepted, is the first step to changing your career. Being accepted into a coding bootcamp like Flatiron, App Academy, or Hack Reactor is a challenging process. It takes patience, hard work, and a lot more to ultimately make such a big change. (As a professional working in this field for the past three-plus years, I would not advise quitting your job today with no backup plan to join one.)

Psst. Already decided to pursue a coding bootcamp, but not sure which one? That’s exactly why Career Karma exists.

Once you’ve decided which coding bootcamps you want to apply for, there are a number of things you can do to increase your chances of being accepted. Bootcamps have interviews and intensive application processes–similar to getting a full-time paid position. So here are a few examples of the tools, tricks, and tactics you can utilize to get into any bootcamp.

1. Stop reading, start learning.

Ultimately, the fastest and easiest way to being accepted into a full-time intensive programming school is to gain some fundamental knowledge beforehand. This can be done by searching for classes in programming on Coursera, Treehouse, Stanford’s Lagunita online learning platform, or even first pursuing one of the nanodegree programs on Udacity. It’s best to test the waters by dipping your toes in before diving headfirst into an application. Bootcamps are competitive, and ultimately, those on the admissions team will want to have an understanding of your ability to learn. Previous coursework and proof of it will give you a huge competitive advantage.

2. Become a thought leader on coding bootcamps.

Trust me, it’s not as bad as it sounds. Simply learn by doing, and it coincidentally will increase your chances of being seen and heard by talking about it.

As you’re taking a foundations course on HTML and CSS, create a recap video of what you learned on YouTube or write a quick blog post about your experience on LinkedIn or Medium. This will not only help land you a spot at one of the top bootcamps mentioned above, but it’s going to help you immensely down the road as you continue your journey to learn to code and eventually land a job.

Simply learn by doing, and it coincidentally will increase your chances of being seen and heard by talking about it.

Guaranteed, hiring managers and recruiters will reach out to you and tell you how much they enjoyed your blog post or video if you make content-creation a consistent practice. But before you get there, use this as a tactic to acing the bootcamp application.

3. Utilize GitHub early.

What the heck is GitHub? The SparkNotes version of this great tool is that GitHub is a place that allows developers to store, share, and build their code. Individuals and teams all over the world use it to collaborate with each other on virtually any kind of coding project. I like to explain GitHub as the “Facebook for Developers”, and there are zero reasons why you shouldn’t create an account right now.

Similarly to how you should brand yourself through your content from the previous point, keep a consistent practice of writing code during all of your coursework and pushing it publicly to GitHub. Bootcamp admissions advisors, instructors, and career coaches across the board will be satisfied and excited to see you’re already in the habit of showing your work–a practice widely-used by developers looking for a full-time position and working on independent projects throughout their career.

4. Lastly, put in the research.

You are already (hopefully) doing that if you’ve found your way to this blog post. But that means also trying to do a Google search before you ask others for answers. This is another strategy I would recommend for anyone remotely interested in becoming a software developer. The general rule of thumb to learning any tool or technology in this industry is to research, do some more research, and then research some more on how to tackle anything technical. And then, if it’s needed, ask others for help.

Narrow down what you’re looking for in a bootcamp. Which program is best for you? Which technologies are most in-demand? Are you more of an in-person learner, or would an online program benefit your schedule? These are all things to consider when narrowing down which programs you should be applying to–because finding the right program for you is more important than just joining any program that will accept you. Refer to great coding bootcamp review websites and aggregators like Switchup, Course Report, or Career Karma for details and insights to all of the programs you may or may not have already heard of. 

Learning is not a one-way street. It’s why education is in its current state and why these sort of workforce acceleration programs even exist. Figure out and decide which program is best for you, then develop a strategy to ace those applications! 

As you prepare to enter any coding bootcamp, it’s crucially important to begin learning on your own to ensure you have a passion for programming–and to gain fundamental technical skills. Research, publicly creating content, and publicly making contributions to your own projects and others are just a few of the tools you can utilize to land yourself in any of these programs–as well as take the eventual technical assessments. 

There are many choices out there–decide which one is best for you, then dive into it. And if you’re interested in learning more, I would be more than happy to help you navigate the waters. Feel free to reach out to me here, and best of luck in changing your career!

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