You're probably here because you hate your job.
Or you can do your job in your sleep so you'd rather stay in bed than get up and actually do it.
Or your friend who completed a coding bootcamp won't shut up about what a life-changing experience it has been.
This guide is for you if you want to make a career shift into web development. A lot of the steps outlined here are written with a lean toward entering a bootcamp to kick start that journey. There are so many ways to pivot to a web development career, and this is just one of them.
Step 1: Are you cut out for coding?
I know nothing about you, but I can already respond with a resounding YES.
The only person you have to convince, is yourself.
So to do that, try out some free resources online to get a taste of it.
I used Codecademy to guide me when I had little to no professional experience with coding. It focuses on the foundations and it is interactive. It offers "paths" to help you advance to concepts that are both timeless and in demand.
Step 2: Determine if a bootcamp is right for you
Despite its prevalence, a bootcamp is not a necessity to become a developer quickly. I chose to go through one because I wanted a community to hold me accountable. A bootcamp is a temporary (but deep) commitment where you typically have to quit your full-time job. Some go about this more creatively and go on a sabattical/unpaid leave from their job. I wanted to go into it with no distractions or 'safety net', and planned accordingly.
I chose to go through the bootcamp route because I love learning by doing, and having someone guide me through that doing. Bootcamps are different from traditional universities in that the lecture is the hands-on aspect. The projects reflect the real-world expectations.
I was assigned a new project to complete from start to finish every week. We did presentations. We played games to test our knowledge. We helped each other. Ask yourself if this is a format of learning you are interested in.
Step 3: Budget and save up
If you've decided to go through the bootcamp route, do some personal financial planning. When I took the bootcamp in 2016, there were no financial assistance programs available specific to bootcamps. At the time, your options were lines of credit or personal savings.
Fortunately, some schools are starting to become creative with their financial assistance, offering Income Share Agreements where tuition is a low upfront cost, and repayment is in installments when you land employment.
In whatever plan you craft for yourself, it's recommended to focus on attaining full-time employment after the bootcamp. Full-time employment immerses you in an environment and daily work of a developer, early and often. If you find that working for a company isn't your style, understand the pros and cons of freelancing especially when you're just starting out.
If you decide to take the path I took, I would recommend the following budgeting plans:
- Save 4 months of living expenses: 3 for bootcamp, 1 for job search.
- In addition, it's a good idea to be open to freelance opportunities or any job soon after you complete bootcamp.
- Save 6 months of living expenses: 3 for bootcamp, 3 for job search.
- The average length of time to find a job is typically 4 months after graduation, depending on the job search support of your bootcamp.
- Save 8 months of living expenses: 3 for bootcamp, 5 for job search.
- This is best if you anticipate another pandemic happening in the world, or sudden life-altering experience (family or personal health emergencies, loss/reduction of household income, etc.)
I landed mine within a month, and some have landed theirs sooner/later. It all depends on timing of company's approved budgets, your persistence, and how you present yourself to employers.
Step 4: Investigate your options
Before you lay down the cash or sign that agreement, do some research on bootcamps. Google Reviews, Yelp, and Course Report are sites with plentiful detailed reviews on every bootcamp.
If you're not so keen on reviewing pages and pages of 5 star reviews, you can also:
- Do a search of the bootcamp's name + reddit (people on reddit love to dish dirt)
- Do an advanced LinkedIn search on students who attended bootcamps you have your eye on. Strike up a chat over messages or ask for a half hour phone call. To get the most out of these meetings, have specific questions ready to ask.
- What were some things you got out of the bootcamp, that you wouldn't have by yourself?
- What are some things you learned in the bootcamp that you use every day in your job?
- What support did the bootcamp provide after you graduated?
Step 5: Lock in your cheerleaders and prepare your exit
Hopefully by now you've had positive conversations with your family and friends (or anyone who relies or cares about you) that you're making this big decision. They need to know that your attention will be focused on this new chapter of your life, and that you need their support (emotional, financial, domestic, etc.) through this journey.
Figure out and agree on how household duties or family care obligations will change. Describe how you'd like to be supported and communicate openly and frequently.
Select the start date and plan your resignation or leave of absence from your current employer (if applicable). Give as much time as you can to help hire and train your replacement, and earn as much as you can before you are without income for sometime.
I'm accepted! Now what?
Saunter over to the next article: Thriving in bootcamp.