December 7, 2018
Why Job Guarantees Are Bad For Coding Bootcamp Students
By Jay Wengrow, CEO of Actualize
A recent trend I've been seeing among some coding bootcamps is offering students what they call a job guarantee. While, at first glance, a job guarantee would seem like a very good thing (who wouldn't want that?), when you look under the hood you'll discover that it is actually harmful to the student.
The first thing to make absolutely clear is that the term "job guarantee" is a misnomer. No school can guarantee anyone a job unless the school itself commits to hiring the student. These, so called, "job guarantees" are actually "tuition refund guarantees." That is, if the student does not receive a job within a certain timeframe after graduation, they will receive a full refund of their tuition. But that's certainly not a job guarantee.
The job guarantees these schools offer have a lot of fine print that the unwary student absolutely needs to be aware of. If you're a student considering such a school, make sure you read that fine print carefully! The fine print usually includes that the student needs to fulfill certain job-hunting requirements, such as apply to a certain number of jobs each week and attend a certain number of networking events each week. The student also needs to be in constant contact with their career advisor, and failing to respond to the career advisor within 24 hours can void the guarantee. Some schools even require that the student live in certain cities and/or that the student already possesses a bachelor's degree.
The fact that these schools' websites and advertisements yell "JOB GUARANTEE" while leaving out all of fine print is, in my opinion, damaging to the entire population considering coding bootcamps because it conveys the notion that by simply attending a coding bootcamp, a student is bound to find a job. It hides the reality that switching careers is actually a difficult thing, and takes a lot of mental and psychological effort on the part of the student towards their job hunt. Hundreds of students feel let down when they walk into a coding school assuming that they'll walk out with a job, and then come to the realization that applying to jobs, personal branding, and meeting people in the industry actually takes lots of hard work. Even if a student attends a coding bootcamp without a job guarantee a student may still believe that, in general, simply a coding bootcamp is an automatic ticket to immediate success - since, after all, coding bootcamps with job guarantees exist. In our admissions process, we now make a point of making sure that our prospective students are under no such illusions.
Now, even if a student is well aware of the fine print of their bootcamp's fine print, and is also aware of the amount of work it takes to find a new job in a new industry, I maintain that a job guarantee is still not in the student's best interest.
This is because, by its very nature, a job guarantee comes with a deadline - such as that the student receives a refund if they don’t land a job within 6 months. What if the student doesn't land the job in that timeframe? If they've met all the requirements of the fine print, they ask for their refund and receive it promptly.
What now? Was that the outcome that the student really wanted? The student was hoping to launch an exciting, life-changing career. That didn't happen, and now the coding bootcamp has washed its hands with providing any more support to the student now that it has provided the refund. This is a lose-lose scenario. The coding bootcamp has failed to fulfill its mission, and the student's dreams are now farther out of reach than ever before. A full refund doesn't undo the heartache and disappointment that the student feels now.
A coding bootcamp should be in it with the student for the long haul, and understand that life happens. Sometimes, a student isn't psychologically ready to hit the job hunt as hard as they need to. Things like impostor syndrome and anxiety can easily get in the way. That's why our career advisor is a licensed counselor who works with our students overcome these things. But this is a process that can take time.
I cannot overemphasize that a job search - and especially a complete career transition - is always going to be a process and requires patience and persistence, and a school should be part of that process no matter how long it takes.
In the long run, things like job guarantees and inflated job placement statistics are bad for coding bootcamps and bad for coding bootcamp students. Coding bootcamps that appear like a get-rich-quick scheme deny and obfuscate the reality of a real-life job search. The job search can be a long, emotional process, and coding bootcamps need to stop pretending otherwise.
This, in no way, conflicts with the wonderful reality that thousands of coding bootcamp students have successfully launched life-changing technical careers. We just all need to be aware that the best things in life come with patience and hard work.
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