I'm an electrical engineer looking hard at web development bootcamps. How was your experience transitioning from engineering to software? Did you do a bootcamp, self study, or something else? The bootcamp is full stack and looks pretty comprehensive, but I'm just so nervous about such a big commitment.
and oh boy did I feel like I had more to say. I ended up writing enough that I felt like maybe I should go ahead and put it in a blog post as well. I’m going to add some annotations to this to make my intentions even more clear. Here goes (again):
I actually found transitioning from engineering to software to be fairly easy. Hiring managers are more likely to take you seriously (versus if you had a philosophy degree ). Granted, a lot of what I’m going to say is assuming you currently have a job. If you do not, a boot camp is not a bad idea. If you do, a boot camp is 100% not worth it . I’ve heard many people who went to boot camp say that they valued it for giving them projects and deadlines but that they basically taught themselves. If you require external deadlines to learn, that’s about all a $15K boot camp is going to give you. Here’s what I would recommend:
1) Find a language that does what you want to do. If you want to do more data-focused work, choose python. Web development? Ruby. Systems programming? Rust or C. There are a lot more (so. many. languages), but you want to make sure it’s common enough that there are resources and you can get a job. Then learn it. Not completely, but enough to get started on projects.
2) Practice and get feedback. Exercism.io is perfect for this. You can do exercises in any language and, once you’ve submitted your solution, get feedback from mentors and also give feedback to other users.
3) If possible, code at work. Automate tasks that you do regularly. When I worked at MailChimp, I was able to write scripts to automate log parsing. Again, this might not be possible! But think outside the box, because if you can do this, it can go on your resume under your current job.
4) Have one or two good projects on Github. These are projects you want to show a potential employer to effectively prove you can code. It doesn’t have to be huge! If you wrote a great script that is really useful, that counts. If you wrote a web app, that counts. Just get some friends to review the code, maybe do a bit of QA on the app and open up issues for things you want to fix.
5) Another alternative (or in addition if you are feeling extra ambitious) is to find an open source project or two that you find interesting and contribute. In many ways this is better because it means someone else will have reviewed your code. But it’s often harder to find a project that you feel confident putting up a pull request.
6) NETWORK. Oftentimes bootcamps tout this as a benefit of the bootcamp, but really they just send you to local meetups. You can do this on your own! Meetups are almost always free.
7) Review some basic CS concepts. I hate that people interview this way, but enough people do that it’s worth your time to do a small amount of studying. This video series by Rob Conery covers most of what you need to know, but you can also do a lot of googling because everything is out there.
8) Just start applying to jobs. Even if you don’t feel 100% ready. You’ll be applying for junior positions and no one interviewing you should expect you to know everything (or even most things). You might get questions that feel that way, but they are just trying to gauge your knowledge level. Or maybe they are assholes! But then you don’t want to work there.
1. There is nothing wrong with a philosophy degree! One of the best developers I know has a degree in Classics. However, many developers still think that having a liberal arts degree means you are less technical and will have more trouble as a developer. This is not true, but you might encounter it.
2. I know this is a strong opinion. And it’s just an opinion. I know great developers who went through boot camps. However, I am quite certain that they would be great developers without the boot camp.