Software Engineering Bootcamps (worth consider?)

Hi, dear Software Developers. I have a question.

I’m currently 23 years old, second year robotics engineer student. I’m finishing my second year now and I realized, that it’s not what I really want to do in life. I really have a passion for software development.

Currently, I have some skills in C++ oriented programming and C. Also learned HTML and CSS, before attending uni. After enquiring about software engineering major, it became obvious that it will take for me approximately 3 more years of study full time.

I’m seriously considering the software engineering bootcamp option (5 months program) during summer break and 1st semester, as I want to get to the work-field as soon as possible, as the idea of studying 3 more years, looks very daunting to me.

I had a look through their academic course plan and they do cover most commonly required skills that many employer look in software developer, like Ruby-on-rails, .NET, SQL etc. Its mostly a web-developing + oriented programing and database programing language skills. It looks very like a skillset needed for final year software engineering project.

My motivation is to get into software industry as soon as possible, as I am afraid, that after finishing university, at the age of 26, I will have minimum to no work experience. I really want to start something right now and have more or less stable job at my age.

My question, is it possible to get any software development jobs (I understand 5 months may be not enough for software engineering position) after finishing bootcamp? Or is such courses designed to be more like a general skill enhancement program?

Thank you!

Welcome there :wave: ,

I have a degree in Mechanical Engineering, and, in my second year, realised I would prefer a career in software development/engineering.
I finished my degree, because:
a) I really enjoyed the courses. Every single class (bar one) was something I was interested in.
b) Throughout the course, I still learnt Software Engineering skills.

So, do you enjoy your Robotics courses?

Very similar to yourself, in my second year, I had experience with MATLAB and Python, and learnt some of HTML and CSS before uni.

Employers wanted this - my “varsity approved” programming experience, and my example of self-taught “programming” knowledge.

If this is 3 more years for a Masters, then that sounds bog-standard, and about right. Otherwise, if this is adding 1-2 years above the degree you planned to get with Robotics, then I understand the hesitation.


I have never done a bootcamp. However, I would be surprised if they covered 1/4 of the same things you would in a Software Engineering degree. In my third year, I took a Software Engineering course, and, by that time, the lessons on programming languages were below what I knew from self-teaching, but that is because majority of the course focussed on architectures/principles that employers cared about during interviews; oddly, none of my interviews involved a technical question, but all of them wanted me to explain the Waterfall Model or similar.


Before finishing varsity, my work experience came from:

  1. I took a gap year between college and varsity (worked as a small-plant mechanic, and a “web assistant”)
  2. Some Summers, I was worked with a varsity society on some project (developed the energy model for a new university building)
  3. Worked one internship (robotics, actually :slightly_smiling_face: )
  4. Worked part-time for MathWorks

Numbers 2 and 3 were very easy to do (get into), and most varsity students do them. So, this is where I would expect you could as well. The others were bonuses that I was blessed enough to get into.

The reason I mention all this is, I do not think a bootcamp necessarily provides as easy a time to get work experience. YMMV


There are definitely people who do it; there are definitely companies who hire bootcampers with “only” that experience.

However, my bias against many bootcamps does not hold such high expectations.

From what I have seen, most of these bootcamp courses are advertised as the “all you need” variety. That is, they try to guarantee graduates a job.


Summary

It is always up to you, and I have a negative bias towards bootcamps.

Personally, I took Mechanical Engineering, because I enjoyed the topics/courses. I did not do a bootcamp, because software development is easy to self-learn. However, I distinguish between Software Development and Software Engineering - I do not consider Software Engineering easy enough to self-learn; it usually requires a lot more theory (something lectures are, IMO, better at giving than a custom, online curriculum).

Essentially, if you enjoy your current course, the skills you learn are easily transferable (and marketable). In which case, you might benefit from completing.
If you do not enjoy your current course, then you may well be better off transferring/leaving.

This is all my opinion based on little information

I hope this helps somewhat :slightly_smiling_face:

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This would mean you’d spend 1 more year in school (5 years) to pivot to another major. I personally don’t believe this should be a big factor, unless there are other stresses, such as hard-timelines against you staying in school 5 years. Something like having only enough money for 4 years, might impact your decision vastly more than just the time required to get through it.

Ultimately, spending 1 year to get your degree in what you want is vastly more beneficial, if that means you can spend the rest of your career doing what you want. 1 year isn’t much time in the grand scheme of things.

There is also the idea that 26 is “too old for a developer”, which is a fallacy. I graduated with multiple people close to and over 30, all of which got developer jobs without problems.

There are multiple ways to get that experience while in school, while also getting your degree. A few that come to mind are:

  1. Join a club related to what sort of experience you want, or possibly make your own.
  • Will look great on resumes
  • Will allow you to network with similarly liked peers
  • Will allow you to work with your school’s staff, which is experience in itself, along with exposing you to more experienced parties.
  1. Do projects for classes
  • Most classes for Software Engineering/Computer Science will integrate projects into your classes. Each of which you can use as “experience markers”.
  • These can also be portfolio fillers, which you would be getting rushed through in a bootcamp.
  1. Do research with upper grads, and faculty
  • This is an optional opportunity very few take advantage of, but could be the single deciding factor that gets you picked for a job over another candidate. Its more work, but doing graduate level work as an undergrad and ending up with a research paper with your name on it is something that will stand out on an entry-level candidate.

In general, the advantages of going to higher education ultimately comes down to optional opportunities you get access to. Not as many take advantage of these opportunities, but those that take advantage of them end up coming out with a lot of experience by the time they graduate.

At the same time, a college usually is the location where employers look out for new candidates, along with providing support for events, and organizations. Stuff like job fairs, clubs, and competitions can all be taken advantage of as a student, and companies can then look out for students you join and participate for them.

A bootcamp might focus on employable skills, but a college provides vastly more.

The quality of bootcamps varies greatly. Regardless of the quality, the cost usually comes in higher, to vastly higher than a traditional college in the same amount of time. You only can learn so much in a given time, so its very possible you end up learning less than a college degree.

Finally, due to the variety of bootcamp quality, you could spend all that money and time in a bootcamp, get burnout and end up with less to show for than if you spent that amount of time doing extracurricular at you school which then look more impressive on your resume.

So I suggest leveraging the opportunities available within your school, rather than looking outside of it. Ultimately, when companies are looking to higher entry level, they exepect a learning curve. The key is to show you can learn that curve, rather than you are past that curve.

Regardless of what you do, good luck, keep learning, keep building :+1:

I guess I’m a little unclear on your goal. Are you considering leaving school now and attending a bootcamp instead? I wouldn’t recommend it.
Are you considering completing your current degree, but also trying to do a bootcamp? In that situation I would recommend either trying to add more programming education through free resources and electives (possibly even accomplishing a minor in computer science) or changing your major and sucking it up for another year. Doing a bootcamp instead of an extra year probably doesn’t really save you time or money.

Finishing a degree at 26 isn’t a big deal. Lots of us do it for various reasons. Having “minimum to no work experience” is avoidable. The majority of CS students work in their field while in school. Either during summers, or part time all year, internships are a big part of the education process.

Getting a degree in robotics also doesn’t preclude a career in software development, especially if you have some experience with programming in higher level languages. Larger employers will often be open to anyone with a STEM degree and an interest in coding.

All that said, if you are seriously considering a bootcamp then I suggest reading Quincy’s Coding Bootcamp Handbook.

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What makes you want to quit robotics engineering to go into software engineering?

Work is work at the end of the day you’re going to face a hard slog no matter which profession you enter… You’re already on one path why switch over to something else entirely?