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Reskilling for Tomorrow: Coding Boot Camps

We dedicate a ton of energy to creating programs and partnerships that open up pathways to tech education and to help people land the jobs they love in the tech industry.

Rebekah Rombom, General Manager for Online Programs at Flatiron School

Whether it’s the #LearnToCode social media movement, the staggering number of independently-developed smartphone apps, or tech’s domination of every other industry, our economy will soon be in dire need of more software developers. Boot camps offer prospective programmers a chance to hone their programming skills. They prepare students for a challenging and exciting new career—a field that’s expanded so rapidly that the Federal Government has even addressed it.

Boot camps teach you everything that you need to know about how to become a software engineer or programmer. Websites, apps, databases, automatic processes, daily operations, and accounting are just a few examples of the areas in which programmers are required. Currently, there’s a shortage of qualified applicants for one of the economy’s fastest-growing job sectors.

Programming is a cornerstone of the tech industry. Without it, businesses would have a very difficult time making an impact in the digital marketplace. The majority of software development and programming that goes on in the US is done for commercial purposes, and those numbers will continue to grow. Corporations that engage in reskilling initiatives can enrich their workforces, and one of the most efficient ways to do that is in a coding boot camp.

Featured Interviewees

Rebekah Rombom

Rebekah Rombom

General Manager for Online Programs at Flatiron School

Rebekah Rombom has been with the Flatiron School since 2013, when she was brought on to act in a singular capacity as the entire Career Services Department. She grew this into both an employer partnerships system and a career coaching team of jobs experts, later transitioning to general manager of online programs.

Since taking on this position, Rombom has spearheaded an explosion in available course materials to Flatiron students and initiated additional tracks for students with a wide variety of life circumstances. Flatiron was one of the first companies to offer a self-paced course of study for programming that was on par with prerequisites for a four-year computer science degree.

In 2017, Rombom facilitated a partnership with WeWork, a company that secured spaces all around the world in which they could establish campuses. A real-life student community helps keep aspiring programmers connected to peers and the material.

Stephen Parker

Stephen Parker

Operations and Automation Consultant

Stephen Parker is a freelance operations consultant. He advises start-ups, LLCs, and bootstrap ventures on how to make their daily operations more efficient.

Parker, like many new collar workers, does not have a traditional four-year degree. Instead, he’s a coding enthusiast who studies programming using Code Academy and Treehouse—both of which are online schools. He holds an associate’s degree in music production and web design.

Before companies consulted with him as to how they could streamline and automate their digital processes, he worked as an executive assistant for CEOs in the tech and programming industries, and as an operations manager for various bootstrap ventures across the United States.

The User Experience (UX)

A positive user experience is integral to the success of a machine or program. Software must be easy to use, intuitively and eloquently designed, and highly adaptable. Understanding how to craft a unique UX—also referred to as the UI or user interface—is central to the role of a software developer. To that end, many coding schools build courses of study around providing future clients with the ideal UX for their customers.

Being a programmer is a highly skilled job but does not necessarily require a college degree: “A lot of these software companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon have stated that they are taking out the requirement for a computer science degree, or for any degree whatsoever, at their company,” says Parker. “They’re going to base it solely off experience, whether professionally or personally. If you can back up the fact that you think you’re a senior-level React developer, for instance, just by your portfolio, you have a good chance of getting a job of that kind. But you have to prove it.”

Front-end development is the process of bringing the best qualities of a website or program’s code to life. Software engineers who specialize in front-end development ensure that the HTML of a site allows for a seamless and enjoyable customer experience. What software developers deliver are measurable results—ones that can be easily stored as reference points to their skill level and aids to gaining more rewarding employment.

Boot Camp Curricula

Programmers who can design websites from top to bottom—full-stack developers—are the greatest in demand in the current market. These professionals (often called architects in this capacity) develop applications to manage every component of a program. In many cases, this means that a full-stack developer building a website from the ground up will need to orchestrate the operating system, web server, database, and programming language. These four elements working properly together are what make a quality website.

Programmers learn to code in a number of languages and systems, such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, Ruby on Rails, and Python. They can also specialize in back-end development, which concerns the coding of all the parts of the website that the user does not directly interact with. Essentially, these are all the components that make a site function well. The engine beneath the hood.

Some schools, such as Flatiron, break down their programming lesson plans into different tracks, each preparing students to enter a specific corner of the development economy. Rombom says, “We now offer three ways to take the courses: full-time, part-time and self-paced” in the disciplines of software engineering and data science.

Parker points out that, much like an apprenticeship, it behooves boot camps to invest in their students as much as possible. “If coding schools and their boot camps have partnerships in place with software developing firms—ones that can offer their graduates the kind of jobs that interested them in the first place—then those boot camps are poised to really succeed.”

In fact, Flatiron School has given one of the strongest answers to the question of how to find programming jobs after boot camps: “We’ll help you.”

“We’re proud to have led the way in transparent student job placement data in the industry,” says Rombom. The intensity of Flatiron’s courses drives a powerful networking mechanism that links graduates with potential employers. And, upon graduation from an intensive course, a certified public accounting firm appraises their graduates’ employment status data each year and publishes a report of the findings.

“According to our most recent verified report on our online program, 94 percent of job-seeking students accepted jobs, including full-time salaried, full-time contract or apprenticeship, or part-time job work during the reporting period,” says Rombom. “The strength of our curriculum, our approach to learning, our focus on career support—and of course, the hard work and passion of every student who chooses this learning path—have driven those incredible results since we started in 2012.”

The Future of Coding

Traditionally, students learn software development in specialized degree tracks while studying computer science. What boot camps do is condense the basics and intermediate-level expertise gained from a computer science degree into what is generally a 12- to 14-week course.

Coding camps have the benefit of only offering coding courses, which means that students can become functional programmers without having to focus on electives or subjects that are unrelated to coding.

Programming is not merely a market trend. It is not something that will pass. As professional and personal online presences become more and more complex, the US economy will need highly-skilled, motivated, and adaptable programmers to give businesses an edge.

“Flatiron School is laser-focused on access and outcomes,” says Rombom. “We dedicate a ton of energy to creating programs and partnerships that open up pathways to tech education, and on helping people land the jobs they love in the tech industry.”

Stephen Parker agrees, adding, “I’d like to see some sort of national accreditation process, where what you learn in boot camps can be applied to credit requirements for another degree.” Indeed, an organization like this can be in the best interest of programming students, who may be non-traditional learners with unique educational trajectories.

The bottom line is that coding boot camps operate on the same principle as military boot camps: you must prove yourself. Whether or not aspiring programmers pass the courses and projects laid out in their development track depends entirely on their study habits, level of motivation, and reliability. A full-time boot camp workload can require as many as 60 hours each week.

But as many reports have indicated, the benefits to both employee and employer are compelling.

Kenneth Parker

A graduate of the University of Oregon, Kenneth Parker is sometimes a musician and rarely a poet. His work spans copy editing, feature writing, and dissertation development.