Looking for advice; bootcamp, grad-school or something else?

Hey everyone,

My boss, knowing that I’m not terribly interested in remaining in my current position (I’m a Learning Support Assistant for children with autism) just offered me a deal: if I agree to remain with him for another 3 years, he’ll pay for my furthering my education.

Super awesome opportunity here, I know!

Many of the details still need to be ironed out between me and him but, the basic idea is that I still need to be able to work full-time for the next 3 years and he specifically mentioned paying for a distance-learning Master’s for myself. I have yet to bring up the possibility of bootcamps to him.

My question for you all is given the time I have, should I go for a MS or wait it out and do a bootcamp after the time I spend here?

If you’ve stuck with me this far, here’s some other constraints: I live and work in Shanghai, my Mandarin isn’t at a level where I could be taught in it, I travel to France for the summer (5 weeks) and winter (3 weeks) breaks, my current degree is a Post-Grad in Criminal Justice.


First and foremost–what do you want to do/what is your goal? I assume because you’re asking here, you want to learn (web) development and get a job as a developer? Are you a Free Code Camp student/how far along are you? What do you mean a distance-learning MS? It’s somewhat hard to understand from your post what your goal is and why you’re considering these options.

  1. Grad school? If your goal is just to become a developer, while it’s nice-to-have, you don’t need a master’s degree. Depending on the master’s degree, there might not actually be that much practical coding in your studies, which means you’ll have to add on the 6, 12, 24 months (depends on your speed) you need to pick up the practical code and language experience you need.
  2. Bootcamp? Shanghai is pricey, but if you’re thrifty, you could probably just save the cost of a cheaper bootcamp like Dev Mountain which also provides housing (~10k USD) in 1-2 years on your own.
  3. Something Else? Given this is the Free Code Camp forum with a strong emphasis on self-driven study, I think the most obvious feedback you’ll get here is… Just study FCC and other online resources if needed in your spare time–it seems like you have generous summer and winter breaks for more intensive study. Location isn’t important when you’re learning online.

Personally 3 years sounds like forever to me, especially at a job I’m not interested in.

Edit: I checked out your profile and see you’re on your way on the Front-End track. Personally, I can tell you there’s still a lot to learn if you want to get a developer job, but I live in Beijing and did it all online. Shanghai also seems to have a lot of digital shops with mixed foreign/Chinese developers, so if you feel ready I think you could consider looking for first jobs in the city.


Thanks for your thoughtful reply. There are more considerations at hand as well, a pregnant wife being one of them, and while I’m getting more comfortable programming in HTML, CSS and JS I don’t have the confidence at the moment to pursue anything seriously. I’d like to at the very least finish the fCC front-end curriculum.

To answer your questions, I’m not terribly interested in web development but, I have not found a better resource than fCC when it comes self-teaching.

If/when I get a job I’m hoping to either start in the back-end or be able to transition over there after a while. From there I’d like to further myself by jumping into learning Python, C or another language that is nearer the CPU; I’d really like to get into any position where I’d be involved in some way with astronomy. At this point, how connected to astronomy is an afterthought.

The above will take a while, I know but, that’s okay with me. If I have to spend five years mucking about with Python only for databases, that’ll be five years getting better acquainted with Python.

As for the distance-learning MS, all that means is a Master’s degree earned predominantly without having to show up to the uni, either fully or mostly completed online.

Are you working as a developer in Beijing? How’d you get to that position? How’s your Mandarin?


I can understand why you’re willing to play it more conservative. As for the MS, I was mostly curious about a degree in what subject and how it would bring you closer to your goal. It sounds like your interest is actually more academic than most FCCers, so I can see why it’s with your consideration.

Here’re a few thoughts:

  • Python: As you’ve pointed out, scientific data crunching, the back-end, and data science in a commercial setting can all be done with this language. Two out of those three are reasonably lucrative if you need that, but having three of paths to choose from is one more than most JavaScript programmers! It’s not as close to the CPU as C, but should offer you access to other stuff you’re interested in. I would definitely recommend finishing the Front-End Certificate (great to have certificates on your resume), but then why not switch to Python? Various campers on the forums have written about going back and trying the algorithm challenges manually with other programming languages for practice. As for learning resources, I’ve been really really impressed with the quality of tutorials on Udemy (check the ratings, though). They’re currently having a pretty awesome sale. That said, check these forums for other recommended free and paid resources.
    *I felt similarly about not feeling ready to jump into a real developer position for a while, and I would still advise you to first finish the FE Certificate, get on the back-end and see if you actually enjoy it and it clicks, and maybe even still pick up an front-end framework like React or Vue. When you feel like you have a solid foundation in the day-to-day development needs of your given preference, start looking! My developer friends with years’ of experience continually encouraged me to start looking for jobs and get working on a real project because it’s essentially getting paid to keep learning and practicing just like you are doing now–except faster and more content. The experience comes fast for those who are eager to learn, and I think lots of FCCers, myself included, have benefitted in the job search by demonstrating our drive in self-studying. This takes a bit of obsession/geeking though… All of that said, it sounds like you have steady work for as long as you need to support yourself while you study, so really make the choice that makes sense to you.

As for me, I in fact just started working as a front-end developer last week in Beijing. I started studying web dev at the end of January after work and went part-time in March to focus on studying. I finished FCC front-end in July, took a couple of Udemy courses to get the basics of Node/Express and deep-dive in React/Redux. Tested myself by building a little React/Redux app with a Node server in September, and started applying for front-end jobs in Beijing in late October. I’m not a great example, however, as I do know Chinese and I used to work at a tech company in Beijing so had plenty of helpful connections to pass my resume to. That said, I received a very positive reception for what I had learned on my own via FCC, Treehouse, Code School, Udemy, and lots and lots of blogs and online reading. And I was only inspired to start this path in January after I met a self-taught (front-end/php) dev who landed a job in Beijing without knowing Chinese. Starting salary is pretty low in China, but it’s enough to live on, and I’m happy to get a foot in the door and not have to leave Beijing.