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Reality Check: Landing a Job after a Coding Bootcamp

8/22/2023

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A golden ticket to a six-figure job? Not exactly. An intense learning experience that can launch a new career? Bingo.

Coding bootcamps have been around for a little over 10 years, and in that time they’ve gained a very mixed reputation. Some people say they’re a scam, others say they changed their life in 6 months. So what’s the reality?

The answer is - it’s complicated. While success stories are possible, the truth is, landing a job as a beginner is a real challenge that requires hard work. Choosing to embark on a learning journey with a coding bootcamp is a smart choice. However, there are many factors that can affect how quickly you can land a job and many ways in which bootcamps might influence their job placement rates to paint a rosier picture.

At Code Labs Academy, we believe in transparency and equipping our students with a balanced perspective. Our aim is not just to catapult you through an intense learning journey, but also to empower you with the right mindset and tools to navigate the challenging terrain that follows.

In this blog post, we're pulling back the curtain on the truths about coding bootcamp job placement rates, the often-overlooked aspects of securing a job post-bootcamp, the challenges you’ll need to be prepared to face, and how Code Labs Academy prepare you for it all.

The Truth about Coding Bootcamp Job Placement Rates

While high job placement rates can be a testament to a bootcamp's effectiveness, unfortunately, it’s often used as a marketing technique to win over potential students.

It’s crucial for prospective students to delve deeper and be wary of practices that may be used to reach placement rates that seem too good to be true. Understanding the nuances behind these numbers and asking the right questions can provide a clearer picture of what to expect post-graduation.

Here are some practices that can skew these statistics:

  • Selective reporting: Selectively showcasing data that paints them in a favourable light, also known as “cherry-picking”.

    • Highlighting the success stories of their top-performing students while downplaying or omitting the struggles faced by others.
    • Collecting data through voluntary surveys. This can lead to a skewed representation as those who have found success might be more inclined to respond, while those still struggling with job placements might opt out. It’s important to consider that the timing of these surveys matters, too.
    • Not including data of students who dropped out or were kicked out.
  • No defined standard for what data is being used- what this commonly looks like is including all sorts of jobs in placement rates. In this blog article from 2015 they write, “the data represented may be meaningful, but since there’s no standard, it doesn’t make sense to compare rates from different bootcamps to each other. Some kinds of employment that may be counted within a job placement rate include:

    • Returning to Previous Jobs: When graduates return to a previous job they had before starting the bootcamp, this is sometimes included in a bootcamp’s placement rate.
    • Part-time Jobs: While part-time roles can offer valuable experience, they might not provide the stability, benefits, or salary that full-time positions offer. However, in employment statistics, these roles might be lumped together, giving a false impression of success.
    • Internships: Internships can be a stepping stone into full-time roles, but they often come with lower pay and might not always lead to permanent positions. Counting internships as successful job placements can inflate employment rates.
    • Unrelated Roles: A bootcamp graduate securing a position in a field unrelated to their bootcamp training isn't necessarily a testament to the bootcamp's effectiveness. Yet, some bootcamps might include these in their employment statistics to bolster their numbers.
    • Contractual Work: Temporary or contractual roles, while providing experience, might not offer long-term security. However, they can be counted as employment, further complicating the interpretation of success rates.

What’s Behind "Guaranteed" Job Placements?

Another popular tactic used by bootcamps is the guaranteed job placement (or your money back) guarantee. While the promise of a job might seem unconditional, there are often requirements that students must fulfil in order to qualify for full refunds.

  • Strict requirements to apply to a set number of jobs every week, attend all networking events organised by the bootcamp, or even take additional courses.
  • Requirement that students be open to relocation, limiting the guarantee to specific cities or regions. This can be problematic for students with family commitments or those who are not in a position to move.
  • Condition that students must be open to a range of roles, not just the specific role they trained for. This could mean a web development bootcamp graduate might have to consider roles in tech support or QA testing to fulfil the guarantee's criteria.
  • Only partial refunds are granted if all requirements are not fulfilled. This means students might still be left with a significant financial burden.

A refund, even if full, cannot compensate for the months of effort, time, and opportunity cost that students invest in the bootcamp. The emotional and mental toll of job searching, coupled with the pressure of financial commitments, can be significant.

It's crucial for prospective students to understand the terms and conditions attached. It's always advisable to approach such guarantees with a healthy dose of scepticism and to conduct thorough research before committing to any program.

Factors that Influence Job Placement

The speed at which someone can find an entry-level role in tech after graduating from a bootcamp can be influenced by several factors. These factors interact with each other and can vary from individual to individual. Here are some key considerations:

  1. Skill Level:The most critical factor is your level of skill and competence. Bootcamps provide intensive training, but your grasp of the concepts, programming languages, tools, and frameworks will impact how quickly you can contribute to a real-world tech job.
  2. Portfolio: A strong portfolio showcasing the projects you've worked on during the bootcamp can greatly enhance your prospects. Real-world projects demonstrate your abilities and dedication to potential employers.
  3. Networking: Building a professional network is essential. Many job opportunities are found through referrals and recommendations. Attend tech meetups, workshops, and conferences to connect with industry professionals.
  4. Location: The location you're searching for jobs in matters. Tech hubs like Silicon Valley, Seattle, New York, Berlin and others have more opportunities due to the concentration of tech companies.
  5. Job Market Demand: The demand for tech professionals can vary based on industry trends and economic conditions. Research the current job market to understand where the demand is and align your skills accordingly.
  6. Resume and LinkedIn Profile: A well-crafted resume and LinkedIn profile can help you stand out. Tailor your resume to showcase your relevant skills and experience, and use your LinkedIn profile to highlight your projects and accomplishments.
  7. Interviewing Skills: Entry-level tech roles often involve technical interviews that assess your problem-solving abilities and coding skills. Practising coding challenges, algorithms, and data structure problems can improve your performance in interviews.
  8. Soft Skills: Communication, teamwork, and adaptability are crucial in any job. Highlighting these skills can give you an edge, especially if you're competing with candidates who have similar technical skills.
  9. Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives: Many tech companies are actively seeking to diversify their workforce. If you belong to underrepresented groups in tech, companies with diversity and inclusion initiatives might be more interested in hiring you.
  10. Job Search Strategy: Effective job searching involves targeting the right companies, customising your application materials, and following up. Cast a wide net but also focus on roles that align with your skills and goals.
  11. Salary and Compensation: Your salary expectations should align with the industry standards for entry-level roles in your location. Research the average salaries for your role to ensure your expectations are realistic.
  12. Continuous Learning: The tech industry evolves rapidly. Demonstrating a willingness to learn and adapt, as well as staying updated with industry trends, can make you more attractive to employers.
  13. Persistence and Patience: Finding a job, especially in a competitive field like tech, might take time. Be patient and persistent in your job search, and consider taking on freelance or contract work to gain experience while looking for a full-time role.

Remember that the time it takes to land a job can vary widely based on these factors. It's important to be proactive, continuously improve your skills, and adapt your approach based on the feedback and experiences you receive during your job search and personalised career services.

Challenges to Expect After a Bootcamp

  • High Demand for Tech Jobs: The tech industry's appeal and potential for high salaries have attracted many to transition quickly into tech roles which has resulted in an oversaturated job market.
  • Economic Downturns Affecting the Tech Industry- The tech industry experienced significant layoffs in the latter half of 2022 and into 2023. These layoffs led to an increase in experienced professionals searching for jobs and a decrease in overall hiring.
  • Shift in Hiring Priorities- Companies are now prioritising quality over quantity in their hiring processes. With a surplus of junior developers, companies can be more selective, often preferring candidates with robust portfolios.

How Code Labs Academy Sets Students Up For Success After Graduation

Beyond the curriculum, the support a bootcamp offers after graduation can be a determining factor in its value. This includes career services, networking opportunities, and continued access to learning resources.

The job search will often be competitive, and graduates should be prepared for potential rejections and setbacks. A proactive approach to job hunting can make all the difference. This might mean applying to numerous positions, seeking feedback, and continuously refining one's approach.

This is why Code Labs Academy offers graduates 6-month access to personalized carer services and career management resources. Here’s how it works:

  • Graduates move through the resources provided, check off the actions they’re taking, and update our team with challenges they’re facing in their job search.
  • Through 1:1 career sessions, participants receive recommendations and support on how to face their challenges.
  • Gain access to a network of tech professional mentors they can reach out to for advice and support.
  • Gain feedback on their personal projects, and portfolios from professional mentors, peers, and past alumni.
  • Special attention is paid to taking care of the demand job searches can have on mental health, and tips on how to keep a resilient mindset.

The Bottom Line

While bootcamps can provide the skills and knowledge needed to enter the tech industry, they don't guarantee employment. The job search will often be competitive, and graduates should be prepared for potential rejections and setbacks, those are likely to be part of the road to success!

Curious to learn more? Check out these blogs written by people who attended bootcamps and what they learned from their hard work to land a job.

Ready to start your learning journey with Code Labs Academy? Our cohorts for our Cyber Security, Data Science, UX/UI Design, and Web Development bootcamps are open now for October 23rd starting date. Apply now!


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