Google ‘learn to code’. Now search for Donald Trump, Walmart, Harry Potter and Kim Kardashian. Did you notice anything? Yes, that’s right. The media endemic Kim Kardashian and Donald Trump – number one most Googled celebrity in 2016, as well as the corporate powerhouses that are the Walmart – world’s biggest company by revenue, and the Harry Potter franchise – third most read book in the world, all come up short – none of them produce as many Google results as ‘learn to code’ does.
Coding has become the newest buzzword and we’re being told left and right that learning how to code could be the make-or-break skill in our career. But where did this hype come from?
That’s not to say programming isn’t essential and lucrative in certain professions, but it is also undeniable that those spurring on this hype, telling you ‘code or fail‘ may just have entrenched financial interests in telling you to do so. Coding bootcamps, for example, benefit highly from this hype as more and more individuals sign up to their ‘high-speed, high-impact’ programmes. They certainly won’t turn you away and tell you that coding isn’t for everyone.
But that’s just it. Coding – and especially coding bootcamps – isn’t for everyone. It’s worth evaluating critically whether attending a coding bootcamp is really your best option. Hold on to your socks, we’re about to get a little controversial and play the devil’s advocate.
The Devil’s Advocate: Reasons You Want to Learn to Code and Reasons Why You Shouldn’t
#1 You Have Little Technical Skills and Intend to Learn to Code to Land a Junior Engineering Role
- Before splashing out on a coding bootcamp, consider this
Sure, there’s a high demand for developers and salaries are well paid. Jobs at Google and Facebook are more than attractive. But realistically, it’s incredibly difficult for individuals who have just graduated from bootcamp to secure even a junior engineering role at a non-brand name tech firm.
As an individual who has spent somewhere between eight to twelve weeks in coding class, you’re up against Computer Science students who have been studying programming for at least three years and most likely spent a summer, or two, gaining practical experience.
Of course, some will point to the high industry placement rates that are published by prominent bootcamps. But before you get blown away by these numbers you should consider that there is no standardised way to calculate these. In other words, bootcamps can use favourable factors – or adapt the values – to spin their statistics positively.
How? Well bootcamps can change the width of the post-graduation placement window, or they can decide to include unpaid internships, contract work or even non-programmer jobs in what they consider to be successful post-graduate employment, to help increase their statistics (Stanley and Joey talk about the flexibility under which ‘success’ is defined at coding bootcamps).
So, whilst the numbers may look nice and shiny – truth is, it’s actually pretty difficult to determine what placement rate among software bootcamp graduates really looks like since there’s no standardised way of measuring so.
At the end of the day, if you want to become a coder (and that’s totally cool), you’ll have to invest the appropriate amount of time and money into it. You can’t put in a cheat code by going to a coding bootcamp. Malcolm Gladwell put it best – greatness isn’t easy. It takes time and effort. If you want to really achieve world class expertise in – well, anything – you’ll have to put in at least 10,000 hours of work. Not eight to twelve weeks.
#2 You’re an Aspiring Non-Technical Founder Learning to Code to Build an Early Prototype of a Product
- Startup jobs in London. Get recommended through www.kandidate.com
But are you sure that there isn’t already a web app and/or software solution out there that could do the job for you? Websites like Unbounce, Squarespace or even WordPress lets you create a fully-professional looking website landing page with little to no programming knowledge. Here at Kandidate we use Unbounce and swear by it.
Tools like Zapier and Iftt let you create automated workflows without writing a single line of code. Shopify allows you create a fully functional e-commerce transaction and Sharetribe allows you to take part in the marketplace business. Chances there is some sort of a web app that already does what you want to do – for less money and less time than bootcamps.
And if you need more product development? Sites such as Toptal help you find pre-vetted developers to bring on to your project on a demand-basis. This gets the job done – because the truth is for the amount you’re paying for a bootcamp, you can afford a developer for a similar, or even cheaper, price. And, best part is, by working with an experienced developer, you can learn by doing.
For the top 10% of sales & marketing people who want to get hired by leading startups like Uber & Rocket Internet. Find out more on www.kandidate.com
At the end of the day, by working with a freelance developer until you find your CTO, you can focus on your priorities and double your core strengths. Say, if you’re a marketer, instead of using your time to code, you can actually focus on gaining traction for your product and building up effective campaigns. The harsh truth here? We can’t name one successful startup with a founder that went to a coding bootcamp.
#3 You Just Love to Learn and Want to Pick Up Programming as a New Skill
Okay, but what exactly is it that you want to learn? The more specific you are, the more can get for the time you invest. Programming is an extensive subject, and coding bootcamps are naturally standardised since it’s for a broad range of people in the same class. Sure, you’re going to learn something in these classes, but you may not learn what you really want to learn. So think: what is it you really want to learn?
Look Beyond the Hype
We’re not anti-coding, but in the midst of the ‘let’s all learn to code’ hype, propagated by million (or even billion) dollar bootcamp companies, we want to encourage people to think critically and look past the frenzy before investing time and money into learning to code. Might your time be better spent boosting your key strengths, instead of picking up new skills that you may only ever be mediocre at? And if you do decide that there’s tangible value in learning to code for you, might sites like teamtreehouse or codecademy – which cost a fraction of bootcamps and allow you to customise the course to your needs – be a better option?
Join leading startups like Uber & GoCardless on www.kandidate.com