The only way to find the best coding bootcamp for your career goals is to ask the right questions. Here are 9 essential questions you should ask bootcamps before you sign on the dotted line!
1. What percentage of your graduates find work as software developers?
When it comes to hiring statistics, transparency matters. Are hiring stats readily available on the bootcamp's website? If not, why not?
2. How quickly do graduates find work, on average?
This question is key. After all, it costs money to be unemployed! Here's what you do (and don't) want to hear:
- A good answer would be that the majority of graduates are in work in 2-4 weeks.
- Consider it a red flag if more than half of their graduates are still unemployed after 4 weeks... Or if they won't tell you at all!
3. What starting salaries can graduates expect?
A hard-hitting question, yes, but an important one. A coding bootcamp is an investment so you need to be sure it will pay off in the form of a well-paid job when you graduate.
In the North of England, look for an average starting salary of £23K+.
4. Do students work alone on their projects, in pairs, or in teams?
If you learn that students spend the majority of their time working alone, run!
Hiring managers are on the lookout for graduates who have experience working collaboratively — after all, many businesses enforce pair programming these days, so you want to hear that there will be plenty of opportunities to team up with your fellow students.
5. What's the ratio of students to teaching staff?
Don't want to wait in line for an hour for help with a tricky project? Be sure to ask this question.
A staff-to-student ratio below 1:10 is generally regarded as good, with anything above this seen as poor.
Learning code is a hands-on exercise and close support from trained technical staff is what you're signing up for. The more hands on-deck to help you learn, the better.
6. Do you offer 1-to-1 mentorship?
YES is the only acceptable answer to this question.
If you wanted to spend hours alone struggling to write functional code you could, but that's not the point of a coding bootcamp.
Bootcamps exist to support you while you learn a new skill. Some level of personalised support is crucial if you want to fast-track learning and get the most from a coding bootcamp experience.
Your mentor will be able to point you in the right direction when you lose track (trust us, this will happen often) and be there to offer your additional technical support when you need it most.
7. What proportion of your staff can code?
'We've got a support team of 50' means nothing if 90% of that team can't code or only work part-time.
A team of staff that can code, especially when led by people who can code, is a great indicator that the coding bootcamp is built by people who understand how the world of software development works.
You want to hear how many coding instructors and mentors work on a full-time basis. Some coding bootcamps cut corners by relying on part-time staff. This will give you a clear understanding of whether the support will be there when you actually need it.
8. Do you have an application process? How stringent is it?
Your technical interview should be a test of both your basic understanding of coding and of how committed you are to learning new skills.
Well-defined entry standards are a great indication that the coding bootcamp you're applying to is committed to helping you reach your goal of becoming a Software Developer.
No application process at all? Run the other way!
Learning to code from scratch isn't easy. It's fun (a lot of fun) but it's also hard work. To succeed on a coding bootcamp, you need to have the aptitude for coding.
You must be committed to pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. Eager to research and experiment with the vast array of tools available to developers. Happy to try, try and try again when faced with a difficult problem.
The application process is there to ensure that if you invest your time into the course, you'll get the results you expect. It's not there to catch you out or trip you up. It's there as a safety net for you.
Want to breeze through your interview? Avoid these common coding bootcamp interview mistakes!
9. Do you ever reject applicants?
Have you heard of a coding bootcamp where you're guaranteed to be accepted? If you hear a confident NO when you ask this question, be wary.
It's unlikely that every bootcamp will be a good match for every student's professional and personal coding goals.
Read our blog post on why entry standards in coding bootcamps matter to learn more about why, in this scenario, rejection is a good thing!