Thinking of attending a bootcamp to help you get into the software industry?


Coding bootcamps – short, high intensity courses –  are relatively new but are becoming extremely popular for those who wish to move towards a professional career in software development. In September 2017 I graduated from CodeClan’s 2nd Glasgow intake (G2) after a 4 month, full-time course. Whilst trying to research all I could about CodeClan before committing, I found that there wasn’t much online to help me decide. Rather than guide you through the course itself (you can find all that out on their website), I instead aim to give some insight into why I chose CodeClan over other graduate courses, how I found the course, how much value it gives for your money and if it helped me to find a job.  

I can say with as much integrity as possible that I was not asked by CodeClan to write this blog. Any views here are my subjective opinion and are not necessarily endorsed by CodeClan. 


My Background

I don’t come from a technical or scientific background in terms of my academic life or my career. I don’t possess any qualifications in computing beyond the old standard grades, and don’t have any maths or physics qualifications above higher. I have a Bachelors and Masters degree in music and have spent the last 15 years as a professional bass guitarist and double bassist, with some school teaching along the way. I took an interest in coding from trying to promote myself and my bands by learning how to put together WordPress themes, as well as studying the basics of HTML and CSS. So that’s a mercifully brief introduction as to how it all started for me.

Why CodeClan?

I had been toying with the idea of going back to Uni, studying computer science and work towards a long-term career that would be challenging mentally and also require an element of creativity. Two things stopped me enrolling at Uni, namely the usual suspects of time (I just couldn’t commit to a full year of a postgraduate course, assuming I would be let on one in the first place) and money (something like £8000, which coupled with a loss of earnings from not working over the year was far too much to be workable). 

On a chance meeting, I asked a friend that I hadn’t seen in a while what he was up to, and he replied, ‘I’m now a software engineer’. He, like me, came from an artistic rather than a technical background, but had enrolled at CodeClan in Edinburgh around a year ago. I saw that there was a full time CodeClan course starting in 2 months that, extremely conveniently, was in Glasgow. The fees were considerably less than Uni (£4500 at the time – although I’m sure that they have gone up since then) and it lasted only 16 weeks. 

I did also consider taking paid graduate courses online, as there are plenty around and they are much cheaper and can of course be done at your own pace. I’m sure that that is ideal for those who want total flexibility and the lowest cost, but I’m a fan of the immersive learning experience and am personally a proponent of hands-on learning, rather than following a book or video course. 

Was It Challenging?

Yes. A day would usually consist of lectures and short practical problem solving in the morning, with labs in the afternoon. Almost every evening there was homework and bigger tasks were given over the weekend. I found it extremely intense at times, even notwithstanding the fact that I had a 6 month old baby and was still working weekends to pay my mortgage and everything else. There were times when I felt swamped with the amount of information that I had to absorb and many times when I felt heavily under pressure to get the classwork and projects completed. Most folk are in the same boat, though, and the instructors were completely understanding. If you asked for help with the work it was there. The course was roughly structured into 3 blocks with a project at the end of each block. The focus was on programming concepts such as TDD (test driven development) and OOP (object oriented programming) that are immediately relevant to the current job market, rather than theory. The languages taught were Ruby, Java and Javascript which are all used widely (particularly Javascript), though perhaps Python and C# are currently more in demand than the first two.

Value for Money?

A simple calculation would be 16 weeks = 80 days. Each day was 9am-4pm (approx), so that’s 7 hours a day. So we have 560 contact hours, divide £4500 by that and it gives an hourly rate of £8.03. That was insane value considering you had roughly 1 tutor to every 4/5  students. And that doesn’t include out of hours help on the Slack channel. This is where some may think that I’m trying to sell CodeClan here, but those were the figures. In addition, the facilities in the Tontine building where we were based were excellent, though I believe that CodeClan is currently at a different premises in the city centre.

Getting A Job – Do employers take you seriously with little other than CodeClan on your technical CV?

That was the hard part. I graduated in September 2017 and didn’t get a job, full time or otherwise, until June 2018. I must have sent out over 60 CV’s, and from that I was given roughly 8 coding tests (all unsuccessful), 5 interviews, 2 callbacks, 1 training course offer and 1 job offer (which I took and am really enjoying). Some students will find themselves getting jobs very quickly – occasionally before the course is even finished – but many will, like myself, find it a frustrating process that lasts longer than they would have hoped, with plenty of rejections along the way. It goes without saying that you want to make sure that you are financially secure enough to be out of work for a while, or have something to fall back on whilst you job hunt. 

Most job advertisements for junior or graduate openings specify a degree in computing science as a prerequisite, and there is no doubt that many employers in Glasgow had not heard of CodeClan when our cohort had graduated. Awareness of CodeClan certainly seems to be gaining a positive momentum, though of course I can’t speak for prospective employers. CodeClan has a jobs board, but keep in mind that each of those jobs is probably going to be applied for by not just everyone in your cohort, but everyone in every other cohort who doesn’t have a job yet and graduates of other courses who are looking for employment. I personally gained little from the slightly disappointing speed networking session with employers and found the weekly employer presentations quite lacking. Quite a few others, if not the majority, shared this opinion, so you may want to prepare for such a scenario. 



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