Jen Kramer: HTML, CSS, No-Code Technology.

The only two things you get out of academia or bootcamp

Whether you’re learning how to code at a bootcamp or through academia, there are only two things you ultimately get from the experience.

First, you get an amazing network of friends who are committed to helping you early in your career.

Your institution’s alumni program offers assistance with resumes, job searching, online webinars, and an institutional name that gives you something in common with other graduates. Some programs partner with specific employers, waiting to hire graduates.

Sometimes the alumni program has a time limit on it, particularly with bootcamps. Take advantage of this. You’ll never have anyone else who can be this helpful in finding you a job.

Jen at Frontend Masters, assisting two students with their code.

Second, you learn how to learn technology.

Your tech education starts expiring while you’re in school! Techniques you learned early in the program may be out of date by the end. (They may also teach you dated techniques, but that’s a rant for another time.)

If you don’t keep learning and practicing your tech skills, you’ll be out of the field. Within 6 months, your education is dated enough that it will be hard to jump into the workplace. In a year, you’re completely out of date and will have a significant learning curve to jump back in.

But I’m watching video education from X provider in class – I could do this on my own without school!

True. But you don’t get the two items above, which are extremely valuable to getting into the field quickly.

Furthermore, someone curated those resources. They told you what resources had the most value. They are teaching you where to look when it’s time to learn a new skill. They are choosing resources that are (hopefully) factually based, up-to-date, and reflect current thinking in the field. Anyone can post videos on YouTube and post courses to Udemy… and they frequently do. Boasting 75 hours of learning time does not make those materials good. It just makes them long.

When people say you could learn X on your own and you don’t need school, they are correct. School offers you the structure and accountability to get it done, though. And you’ll never get the resource curation, alumni network, or practice in learning that you get at school. Consider this as you’re trying to decide how to get into the field.

Jen Kramer @jen4web