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Actualize Blog

April 15, 2018

I Have No Coding Experience. How do I Prepare for a Coding Bootcamp?

By Jay Wengrow, CEO of Actualize

coding bootcamp prep

We get this question a lot, so I figured I’d write up a blog post to answer it.

What to prepare for a coding bootcamp depends very much on the coding bootcamp you hope to attend. When choosing a coding bootcamp, it’s very important to understand the different types that exist so that you can choose the coding bootcamp that is right for you.

While there are many different types of coding bootcamps, I find that they generally fail into one of three broad categories:

1. Exclusive Coding Bootcamps

2. Preparatory Coding Bootcamps

3. Newbie-To-Job-Ready Coding Bootcamps

Some coding bootcamps are what I call “exclusive coding bootcamps,” and expect you to do know a fair bit of computer programming before they’ll admit you. These programs do not have the infrastructure to teach total newbies, but intend to take people with some prior experience and make them job ready. Others claim to go from “20 to 100” - meaning that they’ll take someone who may even have professional software development experience and bring them to an intermediate level so that they can earn a higher salary than they’re currently making now.

These exclusive coding bootcamps have very strict admissions standards, and even have coding challenges as part of the admissions interview process. In fact, there are separate training programs who do nothing else but help students get accepted to these programs.

Other programs are more preparatory in nature, and aren’t even focused on making their students job ready per se. Instead, these programs expose their students to the fundamentals of coding, so that the students can make a more educated choice as to what they want to do for the future of their career.

Actualize is a coding bootcamp of the third type - the “Newbie-To-Job-Ready” coding bootcamp. Now, our student body is not solely comprised of people with no coding experience whatsoever. Our students actually have a range of prior coding experience - from those without any coding background to some who even have computer science degrees. We’ve set up our educational infrastructure so that we can take all of these students and make them job ready.

How do we accomplish this?

It’s not a perfect science, and we do constantly work on improving our approach, but one significant strategy is our month of required “Prework” before the bootcamp begins. By having all the students engage in these fundamental lessons and exercises that teach the fundamentals of computer programming, we aim to have all students enter the bootcamp with a certain baseline.

Yes, at the end of the day, the student with the computer science degree will generally catch on to things faster in the bootcamp than the student with no prior coding background, but we find that all of these students succeed and successfully land their first jobs as software developers.

So, what do we look for in our admissions process?

At Actualize, we look for three things among our student applicants:

1. We look for students who will make coding a serious part of their career. We want students who see coding as the ticket to make their career more meaningful and successful. We’ve found that students who just want to learn coding as a hobby aren’t nearly engaged as students who believe that their career depends upon their success at learning to code. We only want students who are fully committed and engaged.

2. While we don’t require coding experience, we highly recommend that you’ve exposed yourself to some coding tutorials. We really want students who know what coding is actually like and are certain they want to embark on a career as a software developer. If you are just enticed by the salaries and benefits of being a software developer, but don’t really know what the job entails, you may be in for a bit of a shock when you begin the bootcamp. We want students who are all in, and won’t slack off when they realize that they don’t really enjoy coding.

3. We look for students who are ambitious and driven. All coding bootcamps are intense. If someone is laissez-faire about learning to code, then a coding bootcamp really isn’t for you.

Ultimately, our rigorous admissions process is what allows us to have our nearly 100% retention rate. It’s very rare that someone ever drops from our program, because all of our students are all in.

Yet, we cater to the newbie and those with virtually no prior coding experience - many of our successful graduates who landed software engineering jobs were such individuals! So, you should never hesitate to apply to Actualize because of a lack of experience - we are designed for people with all experience levels.

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