The Problem With Dev Boot camps

Posted June 8, 2017

Programming boot camps are becoming more popular than ever, and in the past few months I have seen the effects first hand. Friends of mine are changing career paths with boot camps, and recent grads of these programs have reached out to me for advice on how to get a job. I think boot camps are great in that it allows people to break into a booming industry with many in-demand job openings, and the possibility of building a great career. However, there are some issues with the mindset and expectations of boot camp students that I have experienced first hand, and I felt the need to write about.

The biggest issue I see stems from how students are representing themselves on platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter and their resumes. One recent grad who reached out to me for some job advice, had “Full Stack Developer” plastered all over his profiles, and was listing school projects as though they were full-fledged applications in production. Another friend of mine who just connected with me on LinkedIn lists himself as a “Full Stack Developer” as well, while his profile indicates he is still enrolled in the boot camp. This is a problem not only for potential employers, but for the candidates themselves. Companies will see these titles and expect a much higher level of experience than the candidates will actually have. If the company has quality interviewing practices, they will quickly realize the truth behind the candidate, if they are interviewing truly for something like a “Full Stack Developer”. This is problematic for the candidates because they have expectations of landing a job with such a title, when they should really be applying for junior roles at best.

I have a feeling the boot camps are telling students to make these changes to their titles, since it’s hard for me to believe someone to inexperienced would call themselves full-stack on their own accord. While talking with the recent grad from the bootcamp, I posed a number of full stack-related questions, all which he struggled with. The boot camps are causing candidates to believe they are indeed full-stack developers just because they made the front-end and the back-end of an application. They aren’t taught anything about navigating Linux, building servers, deployment, advanced git techniques or SSL certificates. All of those topics are well within the wheelhouse of a full-stack dev, and are mostly things you will learn on the job, not from a boot camp.

I have a lot of respect for people who are going through boot camps, it takes a lot of self motivation and hard work. I really want the instructors and teachers in the program to give realistic outlooks on what their students are learning and what they have yet to learn. Even more importantly, I want instructors to give a realistic outlook on which jobs are appropriate for recent grads. The world needs junior devs, not junior devs who think they’re ready to tackle the whole internet.

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