Technology jobs get a lot of love from the media as the fastest-growing, best-paid careers. But before you quit your current career path and jump into the unknown, Annette Doskow, VP of Admissions at Flatiron School, a coding bootcamp in the U.S. and London, advises taking the time to figure out what the career actually entails.
“Spend some time writing code,” Doskow says. “There are tons of great resources online that are free. Solve the problems — are you sucked into the process? Are you continuing to think about it afterwards?”
For some people, there will be an obvious click. That makes a bootcamp — a program designed to provide people with the skills to fll those in-demand technology jobs at an accelerated pace — a good option. And if there isn’t, no program is going to be very enjoyable or effective.
Doskow explains that making coding part of Flatiron School’s admissions process often helps students determines if making a career transition is really the right move.
Take data science as an example. Often touted as today’s “hottest job,” there are many programs and courses that can prepare you to be a job-ready data scientist within a few months. But this career role, which requires a combination of technical, business and math skills, may not be the right path for everyone.
“Data scientists have to access, cleanse, and analyze data, so you need to have the math skills to get reasonable access, and then business skills to use data to solve problems,” Doskow says. In other words, a data science career entails both acquiring the data and then making it useful.
Once you determine you really do have the tech bug, how do you decide which program to enroll in? Many bootcamps offer full-time and part-time enrollment, as well as fully or partially-online options.
There are many questions to ask yourself: how quickly do you want to land a new job? Do you need to continue pulling in a salary while getting your education? Where are you located and do you have access to transportation? There are pros and cons for each method, so take a look at the list below to figure out which is right for you.
Pros: This is the most time-efficient option when you look at how soon you will likely be able to land a new job. Many programs advertise software engineer or data scientist job readiness in 12–15 weeks. In addition, you will learn alongside a cohort of like-minded students, which can be both motivating and extra educational.
Cons: This method is not flexible. Students must be prepared to be at a designated location from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, with homework on nights and weekends. It’s a rigorous pace, and some kind of financial support during that time, whether from savings, family, or loans, is necessary.
Pros: This is a good option for beginners to get their feet wet without upending their lives. Students will get the benefits of in-person teachers and a cohort of classmates. It’s also a good choice for those who want to “level up” —in other words, are not necessarily seeking an immediate career change.
Cons: Most programs will offer lighter, introduction-focused courses in basic front-end coding. Students will have a better idea of whether they like the field, but won’t necessarily be ready to take on any software engineering jobs.
Pros: Online courses offer more flexibility for those who need to balance coursework with full time jobs, families, and any other commitments. Students can go at their own pace. However, the curriculum is the same — and outcome is the same — if the course is followed as directed.
Cons: The online course, if chosen to balance other life commitments with, will take a longer time. In addition, it requires a very strong sense of self-discipline and motivation to keep up with the self-paced work and set deadlines to finish.
If you see yourself in a career that asks you to draw conclusions from data or build new things, tech can provide really rewarding options. Doskow recommends, in addition to figuring out which type of program works for you, to also do research and use that period to interview the school. Finding a dynamic and supportive environment where you feel you fit in is key.
“I think students should remember to do the soul-searching and find their passion,” Doskow says. “Bootcamp then ignites and fuels the passion.”
This article is sponsored by Flatiron School, an outcomes-focused coding bootcamp offering transformative education in person and online. In as little as 15 weeks, Flatiron students learn to code and launch lifelong careers as developers. Learn more about their Atlanta campus offerings and start coding today.