So you’ve decided that you’d like to turn your aptitude for all things coding, into a career. You know a few of the basics and have an end goal in mind. Brilliant. Now you’re at the first of many crossroads – self-taught courses vs coding bootcamps. It can be a tough decision, especially when resources are finite and time is of the essence. In this post, we break down the main differences and shed some light on these forms of learning to help you make an informed decision.
Personalised pace vs an immersive experience
Individuals who are self-starters and are willing to spend a generous amount of time on gaining practical insights often gravitate towards teaching themselves to code. And there’s a lot to be said about that level of dedication. But it’s easy to get distracted and fall into the procrastination trap. What’s great about teaching yourself to code is that you can do it at your own pace, in your own time.
Bootcamps, on the other hand, are immersive experiences. It’s about eating, drinking, walking and talking code for a specific amount of dedicated time. Bootcamps are faster-paced than university or college qualifications – so expect them to be intense and comprehensive. For some, that’s exactly what’s needed – a crash course on everything you need to know so that you can take the next step.
Independent learning vs mentorship
Massive open online courses (MOOCs) are great for people who can’t stand group work and prefer to be in control of the entire learning experience, from the time they dedicate to certain tasks to which learning areas to tackle first. Independence and learning on your own terms may be how you prefer to work, but developers from all over the world seem to agree on one point – coding mentorship gives you an edge.
As Ken Mazaica puts it, “The best developers seek out coding mentors who can challenge them and lift them beyond their limits.” The most effective bootcamps assign mentors to students. Mentors serve as guides, fellow problem-solvers and coding peers. Some coders develop lifelong friendships with their mentors. The general consensus is that when it comes to bootcamps, mentorship is one of their best selling points.
Self-driven learning vs networking opportunities
With a MOOC, you’ll gain access to valuable content. Self-taught courses seemed to lack real quality in the past, but MOOC providers have really levelled up. Today, there are countless coding MOOCs that provide students with a learning experience that’s pretty much on par with formal learning. However, a good bootcamp not only provides valuable content, it offers potential for networking with like-minded individuals.
Some of the people you meet may be future colleagues, teammates, employees and clients. Some of them may be the key to unlocking employment opportunities. Socially-driven individuals flourish in this kind of environment. So if you’re not afraid to put yourself out there and enjoy meeting new people, a bootcamp may be exactly what you need to kickstart your career.
Flexibility vs structure
MOOCs are perfect if a flexible schedule is what you’re after. Self-taught learning has a certain mix-and-match character to it – you learn what you think you need to learn, as you go. A lot of coding when you’re self-taught comes with trial and error, and for some coders, that’s the best way to learn.
With a bootcamp, however, you’ll work systematically through a strategically planned structure of content. You’ll build your skills one level of mastery at a time, and be assisted by mentors who will help you sift through some of the complexities you’ll face along the way. For some coders, there’s a sense of security and comfort in this level of structure and support.
When it comes to self-taught courses vs coding bootcamps, it’s important that you know one thing – no one course or qualification can teach you everything you’ll need to be a great coder. A blended approach is what works best. As an aspiring coder, your first bootcamp may set you on the right path or inspire your next move.
Ultimately, you’ll always be learning and evolving – it’s the nature of the industry. Somewhere along the line, a self-taught, independent method of learning will come into play. Know that you’ll need to be dedicated and persevere. For many, coding becomes so much more than a career, a side hustle or a fun pursuit. It’s a new way of thinking about the world around you. And that requires a paradigm shift that happens over time, with lots of thought and lots of action.
Thinking of enrolling in a bootcamp? We can help you with that. Check out our different bootcamps and ask us questions – we’d love to get to know you.