Recently, a friend who had joined a coding bootcamp asked me for advice on landing a job afterwards. Keep in mind that this is just my perspective as a hiring manager who has interviewed hundreds of software engineers (including bootcamp grads), and shouldn’t be seen as the final answer on the topic. There are probably companies out there that will hire directly out of bootcamp without expecting all the extras I suggested to my friend.
All of the following can probably be tl;dr’ed down to: use bootcamp as the starting point, not ending point, towards beginning a good software development career. Nothing matters more than actual experience, so it can be risky to depend solely on bootcamp to land your first full-time software gig, but it could work out.
Bottom Line: Experience matters more than anything else to hiring managers. So how can you get your foot in the door if you don’t have any experience? Keep reading!
Here are some things you can do to boost your experience before you start looking for a full-time job after bootcamp:
Build your own web app that’s more complex and potentially useful than any of your bootcamp projects and deploy it to a public hosting service. Yes, you’ve done plenty of projects in bootcamp, but they will be team exercises and hiring managers will have a hard time figuring out your contribution to those projects. Also, I’ve found that a lot of the bootcamp projects are trivial compared to even the easiest professional projects.
Start contributing to a well-known open source (OSS) project as soon as you can, even if it means starting out fixing trivial bugs. Some believe that contributing to a well-known project is even more valuable then building your own solo project because it shows that you can contribute and collaborate with a team of distributed developers.
Seek out a software engineering internship after bootcamp. Nothing beats real-world experience when you are trying to get paid to do software development. Scoring a software engineering internship at a well-known company is pure gold, but any internship is better than none.
Build your social media brand as a software developer. Use that brand to drive views to your writing (on a blog or on Medium, whatever) about your work. Write about what you’ve learned and how you figured out solutions to tough problems; don’t just make it a dear-diary of tasks you completed (that’s what code commits to GitHub are for!) Tech recruiters for good companies actually do search social media to scout for talent. (One of my developers successfully leveraged Twitter to land his current job at Microsoft!) Also, many hiring managers want to see some communication skills and a blog is a great way to show how you can explain technical concepts to both technical and non-technical audiences. Strong communication skills can be a positive differentiator!
Why Bootcamp Isn’t Enough: Consider Your Competition
I’ve been hiring software engineers for about ten years, and I’ve found that bootcamp grads with a good summer internship or six months of consistent contributions to good open source project PLUS an active, meaningful social brand are
1) usually more competitive than new computer science grads with an unremarkable GPA and no internships or personal projects or OSS contributions
2) at least equally competitive than new computer science grads with a good GPA and no internships or side-projects
3) marginally competitive with new CS grads possessing both an excellent GPA and an internship at a well-known company
4) occasionally competitive with candidates possessing one year of professional software development experience, regardless of training, internships, or side-projects
5) rarely competitive with candidates that have two or more years of professional software development experience, regardless of background.