Thanks to technology, information is now at our fingertips. Educating ourselves can be as simple as searching a topic on Google. There are even tons of free and paid courses on MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) to choose from, like Coursera or Udemy.
However, while others may still prefer the immersive approach of universities, not everyone has the time and money to do so. This need has given rise to coding bootcamps, which strip traditional four-year programs down to bare essentials to help students get a tech job in a sprint.
One bootcamp with a proven track record for tech beginners and advanced learners is General Assembly. With more than 40,000 full-time and part-time grads, the bootcamp has curated intensive programs that help students shift into tech careers in three months. Among its most in-demand courses is the Software Engineering Immersive.
Software engineering is a highly technical job, which begs the question, is three months enough time to learn how to code? We sat down with one of General Assembly’s Software Engineering instructors, Arthur Bernier, Jr. to find out.
4 Things to Remember When Entering a Coding Bootcamp
Much of the skepticism about coding bootcamps stems from the lack of understanding of the end goal: giving students the leverage to jumpstart their tech careers. Here are some helpful pointers from Arthur that will help ease you in your coding journey.
1. You Don’t Have to Start From Scratch
There’s a misconception that only geniuses and people with tech experience can enter the industry. While helpful, this is far from the truth. The industry is rife with opportunities that cater to different types of skills and interests that do not require a STEM degree or experience.
Many have successfully transitioned from other non-tech jobs, including Arthur. After getting injured in the military, he fostered his interest in coding by learning from free online resources and enrolled in a bootcamp to formalize his education.
Having been a beginner himself, Arthur emphasizes that there are plenty of resources you can leverage to start coding right away. “We live in 2022 where we have existing tools and technologies that can help you build anything without starting from zero. Students need to learn and interact with these technologies and improve on them…And whenever they reach that realization, it opens up a whole new world for them where everything is possible, and that they have what it takes to become tech professionals.”
He also finds it helpful to push the students forward by giving them hands-on experience through exercises and projects. Doing so takes away their fixation on their lack of tech experience and knowledge, allowing them to learn as much as they can, as fast as they can.
2. Companies Don’t Expect You to Know It All
Aside from teaching at General Assembly, Arthur is also the CEO of a web development and web design company and co-founder of a communications platform for members of the Black diaspora. As such, he has his fair share of insights into hiring tech talent.
Hiring managers like him look for candidates with a balance of hard and soft skills, enabling them to perform basic tasks. Breaking this down, Arthur explains that software engineers need to have a genuine interest in solving problems and fundamental programming skills.
Working as a software engineer entails finding solutions to unique problems every single day. To thrive in a demanding role, it pays to have a genuine interest in what you’re doing: “You see a problem, and you don’t know what it is, but you get excited about fixing it anyway.”
Arthur also underscores that having the right fundamental programming skills is essential as tech is a very fast-paced industry. Junior software engineers are expected to have the ability to at least create blog sites or to-do list applications without any outside assistance, for instance.
He stresses that you do not have to be an expert in everything, and hiring managers understand that, too. Hence, there is no reason for students to put so much pressure on becoming too advanced when they are just starting.
“Of course, you will not become a master in coding within three months [when you enroll in General Assembly]. But you will have the core skills to secure entry-level roles. You can become productive enough to be useful to a company,” he explains. If you are eyeing a more senior role, you will have to continue learning about new tools, frameworks, and technologies outside the classroom and keep furthering your experience.
Over 90% of students who graduate from General Assembly’s three-month immersive courses can secure full-time jobs within 180 days.Learn how here.
3. Everyone Makes Mistakes, and That’s Okay
Imposter syndrome probably tops the list of things that demotivate aspiring tech professionals. There’s a perception that software engineers must execute their jobs perfectly, at all times. But even those with decades of experience commit mistakes, which is normal!
To ease the worries of students, Arthur likes to encourage them to be more proactive and comfortable with vulnerability. For example, he would deliberately make typo errors during his coding demos and remind the students to correct him when they see mistakes. Doing so instills a mindset that they shouldn’t be afraid to make errors. Instead, they should focus on learning from them, sharpen their skills to minimize the same work blunders, and stay hungry for more challenges.
4. Preparation is Key
Entering an immersive bootcamp is no joke. Aspiring students are always encouraged to do as much research and self-learning as possible, familiarizing themselves with tech terminologies and concepts.
At General Assembly, students must complete the pre-work course before diving into the immersive. This allows them to glimpse what to expect and assess if the teaching method of the bootcamp matches their learning style.
For a more guided experience, you can also attend a free Intro to Coding workshop that requires no previous experience or knowledge. It is presented live by an instructor with real-life experience.
You can also meet the members of the General Assembly community through virtual events and get answers to your questions about a coding bootcamp. Almost daily, the bootcamp hosts heaps of info sessions, career development talks, and intro workshops to get you started.
Guiding Students From Novice to Expert
One defining feature of General Assembly that sets it apart is its team of instructors with significant industry experience. The bootcamp does not believe in following cookie-cutter teaching methods as it attracts diverse types of learners. Instructors are encouraged to interject their personalities and experiences to elevate their learning journey.
An approach that Arthur adopted from his military experience is EDIPS, which he uses in class. “It is a strategic teaching approach where you learn the topic, demonstrate how it’s done to the students, and allow them to imitate you. From there, you let them practice on their own and make them share with other people what they learned. By making everyone go through the EDIPS method, all types of learners are covered,” says Arthur.
General Assembly also has a variety of course materials in different formats—live classes, lab exercises, homework, and recorded sessions. Auditory learners, visual learners, and kinesthetic learners have everything they need to absorb concepts.
It is this student-centric method that makes the bootcamp an effective launching pad. Case in point, General Assembly has over 90 percent job placement rate for full-time job seekers. In other words, you’re in good hands.
Now we circle back to our question: Is three months enough to learn how to code?
The answer is a resounding, ‘Yes.’
Arthur is quick to add that while General Assembly helps you establish your foundation in coding, it entails continuous learning to master the skill. He also advises students to zero in on what they want to become before joining the bootcamp and entering the job market.
“The tech industry is so large, so it pays to know the type of place or role you want to be involved in as it gives you more direction. If you are more inclined towards design, learn about UX and UI design and build your portfolio. That gives you the edge and makes you more noticeable than someone with general knowledge once you start applying for jobs. That sets you up for success.”
Interested in a career change? Get expert guidance from General Assembly when you schedule a call with the Admissions team.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.