The software development industry has been gaining a lot of attention lately, and for good reason. With the opportunity to make extremely good money with the flexibility of working from home, there is no question why more and more young individuals are becoming interested. But what is the realistic path to get there? The general consensus will tell you to pursue a computer science degree, or something closely related. But as college tuition skyrockets every year, and more students rack on thousands of dollars in debt… I believe it should be strongly encouraged to explore other options.
Lazy Gen Z
I graduated high school in 2017, with an initial plan to acquire a bachelor’s degree in computer science. I hadn’t really questioned going to college, because everything around me displayed it as the necessary next step. It truly seemed like the only option. I had been suffering from burnout my senior year of high school, and the idea of moving onto college just to take another 2 year of basic level classes was a bit depressing. But nonetheless, I enrolled in my local community college and began the journey.
Only one semester in, I knew I wouldn’t be able to force myself to continue for another 4 years. It’s not that I was lazy, but the classroom environment had really taken a toll on me. I was quick to express my feelings with my parents. I explained to them that I was extremely interested in computer science, but I couldn’t force myself to attend these basic classes for another 2 years. It just seemed like an extreme waste of time and money.
My mom was the one who actually brought up the idea to see if any “trade schools” existed for coding. Some type of education platform that would teach me coding only, and not force me to take any random classes. A quick google search later, I had stumbled on the term coding bootcamps.
My Experience at bootcamp
I had no idea coding bootcamps existed. The idea of only having to learn for 4 months to become a software developer sounded extremely unrealistic. But after reading reviews and testimonials of a local bootcamp where I lived, I knew without a question it was the right move for me. I applied and was quickly accepted into a 3.5 month bootcamp at 19 years old.
The first thing I noticed on my first day, was that I seemed to be much younger than everyone else attending. And after everyone introduced themselves, it made total sense why. Every other person in my boot camp had come from some type of past professional experience. There was a marine biologist looking to switch careers, a salesman who wanted more freedom and a teacher who was hoping for a better salary. Everyone there had already experienced “real jobs”, and was just looking for a better career. Then you had me… A high school graduate who was just looking for an easier route than college.
I was extremely lucky to attend the bootcamp I did, because they focused on teaching us not only technical skills, but skills that would help us pass interviews. They taught us how to create a strong resume, how to ask the right questions and how to know if the job would be a good fit for you. These were all skills I was extremely fortunate to learn there, considering I had no past experience with any of them.
By the time the bootcamp was even finished, 95% of my classmates including me had received offer letters. I could not believe how in demand students from a bootcamp were. Now keep in mind this was based in San Antonio, a city with a fast growing tech scene… But it still blew my mind! Of course, my offer was lower than most of the other students I talked too, due to my non existent career at this point. I was offered $42,000 as a junior developer at Accenture. It wasn’t terrible money, especially for my age considering San Antonio has a very low cost of living.
I decided to take the offer to get my official entry into the industry. I ended up only working there for 3 months before I explored other opportunities. I landed an interview with a new company, and ended up getting an extremely good offer of $60,000. It was an amazing job where I got to work with a great group of developers, and very modern technology.
About 8 months in, one of the senior developers had actually moved on and recommended me for his new gig. I interviewed with them and couldn’t believe the offer they gave me. $72,000 starting with the added luxury of working full time remote. I am still currently with this job, and have been loving the remote life. The fact that I was able to go from absolutely no developer experience, to 72K in under a year is living proof you can make it without college.
How do you choose?
Now I am not gonna sugar coat it, bootcamp itself was not cheap. I had to take out a loan for $15,000 for the 3.5 month experience. It still ended up being a much cheaper experience than my planned college, but it is definitely something to keep in mind. Another thing to realize is you will have to do a lot of self learning on the side. Bootcamp will teach you the basics of development, and it will be up to you to take it to that next level.
I am fortunate enough to be debt free, making excellent money for my age all thanks to coding bootcamp. If you are having doubts about college, I highly encourage you to look up local or online bootcamps to see if any catch your interests. There are thousands of testimonials out there that will help you pick the right one. Just remember to always keep learning, and you can truly set yourself up for a great career!