How to land a job after a coding bootcamp

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Many people are turning to coding bootcamps as a cheaper and more accessible method of building up their coding skills. Attending a bootcamp can be an economical option for those who can’t afford a four-year degree, and it also takes significantly less time to accomplish.

According to Course Report, coding bootcamps are a $240 million industry, with roughly 20,000 developers graduating in 2018 alone — 9 times the size of the graduating class in 2013. With more and more people taking on these bootcamps, companies are seeing an influx of coding experts without formal degrees.

However, the increasing interest is also creating an increase in competition in an already competitive field. In order to improve your chances of landing a coding role relatively quickly after a bootcamp, consider the following tips and advice.

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Maintain realistic expectations post-coding bootcamp

On average, it takes six months to find a job after a coding bootcamp. This can be a long six months, especially if you went into the bootcamp with expectations of earning your next role in front-end, back-end or full stack development within weeks of graduation. Unfortunately, it’s not always that easy. It’s important to remain pragmatic about your post-coding bootcamp job hunt in order to stay optimistic about the programming field.

Set achievable salary expectations

Though developers tend to earn higher salaries than many other careers, you should be realistic about what you’ll make right out of the gate. New grads probably won’t struggle with this, but those looking to switch their careers later in life after a career in another field might struggle to accept a role with a salary below what they’re used to.

According to Course Report, coding bootcamp students that lack a formal four-year degree earn an average salary of $58,000 in their first role after graduation, which is a 55% salary increase from pre-bootcamp roles. In comparison, bootcamp grads that hold bachelor’s degrees see a salary increase of 58% from their previous pre-bootcamp role (an average of $75,370).

Be prepared for entry-level positions

You might have spent the cash and the time earning your certification and honing certain skills, but you still lack the real-world experience of working as a coder at a professional organization. Because of this, you should be aware that you likely won’t land, for example, a full stack coding role right off the bat, seeing as full stack development careers typically require a bit more experience than you can gain during a 12-week bootcamp.

If you’re lucky, you’ll end up at a company that values coding bootcamp graduates, such as The Zebra, which has an engineering team made up of roughly half non-traditionally educated tech experts. Many companies value this type of coder, as they’re helping to remedy the shortage of qualified STEM professionals in the field.

However, not all companies are ready to embrace coders without formal degrees. According to Indeed.com:

An impressive 72% of respondents consider bootcamp grads to be just as prepared and just as likely to perform at [as high a level as] computer science grads. Some go further: 12% think they are more prepared and more likely to do better. By contrast…17% have doubts.

While most employers tend to be optimistic about the growing crop of coding bootcamp graduates, some companies are doubtful and resistant. With 17% of respondents to the Indeed.com survey quoted above having doubts about the skill of coders without formal degrees, you should know that you won’t win everyone over.

Optimize your chances of landing a coding opportunity

Coding bootcamps enable late-career switchers and technical degree holders alike to learn and hone their coding skills in a relatively short amount of time for significantly less money than a traditional university. That being said, coding bootcamps can’t teach you everything in such a short timeframe, and many bootcamp grads struggle to find work with their very limited months-long experience.

While landing your dream tech role can seem like a pipe dream right out of coding bootcamp, there are specific things you can do to increase your likelihood of success.

Focus your skill set

While you’re applying to coding jobs, don’t forget to keep practicing and honing these skills so you stay sharp. Your coding skills can get rusty in a hurry unless you take the time to practice and read up on a limited set of tools and frameworks.

You don’t want to apply to every job that you come across either. Instead, pick a single tech stack or a handful of specific skills that you feel the most confident in and apply to roles related to it. If you choose to apply for every single role that you come across, you’ll spread yourself too thin, meaning you’re more likely to let certain skills gather dust.

Use online coding challenges

Remember to take advantage of free coding challenges. Not only will this keep you sharp on your newly developed coding skills, but it will also give you an opportunity to practice a similar format of coding that you’ll likely need to reproduce in your interviews. You can find these coding challenges online, but also remember to check with the coding academy you studied at. Sometimes, these bootcamps will allow students to continue practicing on location while they search for a job.

Take advantage of networking opportunities and meetups

If you’re lucky, you might have made some valuable connections during your coding bootcamp that could earn you a job quickly after graduation. If you aren’t as lucky, that just means you need to try even harder to network with professionals that could be your link to your next role. Make sure to attend as many networking events for coders and programmers as you can in order to make these valuable connections.

Meetups can also be an effective way to network while keeping your skill set sharp. Consider looking into local chapters for some of these useful groups:

Build up your resume and online portfolio

Make sure you reflect your newfound experience in coding and tailor your resume for different roles. Whether you’re pursuing front-end, back-end or even full stack development, make sure your skill set on your resume reflects applicable skills. This will also help you zero in on what skills you need to practice. As previously mentioned, focusing in on just a few skills to keep sharp will save you a lot of time and energy during the job search process.

It’s also important to keep an updated and clean online portfolio (such as a GitHub account) for employers to reference when applying to jobs, as well as a place to point contacts that you meet during networking events. You should link to your online profile on your resume as well.

Keeping an updated online portfolio is important because it allows you to show off the projects you worked on during bootcamp, which can make up for lack of experience — something a lighter resume tends to highlight. In addition to information about projects you completed during bootcamp, remember to include any related work from previous roles on your online portfolio.

Make the most of life after a coding bootcamp

Getting a job after a coding bootcamp is easier said than done, but by managing your expectations and continuing to hone your skills every day, you’ll set yourself up for success. The best ways to increase your likelihood of earning a position at a great company are by staying active in your job search and continuing to network.

Coming from a non-traditional educational background, coding bootcamp grads have the extra obstacle of proving their aptitude in programming to resistant companies. But with the programs’  increasing popularity and quality levels, tech employers are more willing to hire bootcamp graduates than ever before, making this an affordable and quick means of career advancement.

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