Are Dev Bootcamps a scam? A Hacker's perspective
The growing demand for engineering talent has created a market opportunity for trade schools billed as "development bootcamp" or dev bootcamps. These schools offer 6-12 week intensive courses wherein you pay and they tell you that you'll land a good job at the end, or at least you'll know how to code -- or will you?
I've seen some bootcamps out there tout that a base pay of at least $80k will await at the end of the course. A lot of hopefuls see this as a no-brainier, they pay their $18k and get a return of $62k over the next year.
There are several reasons why both the dev bootcamp pipeline is bad, and why the engineering interview that they train for is terrible.
The bootcamp model gives you an "intensive" course good enough so that you're able to build a shitty web app, and then they hopefully place you in a job needing a code monkey. In return, they get a recruiter's cut when you're hired. They make money off of people up front and in back (sort of genius on their part, eh?).
All of this combines to make a dire situation even worse. There is a dearth of developers, management and recruiters commoditize them, they have a high churn rate, and they face even higher burnout. This situation creates a business that takes advantage of two markets. This will inevitably turn out lower quality individuals, while trying to maximize profits.
From the institutional side, this has also created the need for an interview process that has a very uncreative way of interviewing and grading candidates: the technical test. There have been volumes written to help wannabe devs fake their way past these tests as junior engineers. These bootcamps then train their hopefuls to pass these tests by drilling them with engineering questions over and over.
In the end, while some graduates may have potential, I'd be willing to bet the majority are unemployable if it weren't for such a talent drought. I'd be curious to see how long these engineers who get placed actually stay at their jobs.
So what's the solution?
Personally I'm against charging to teach others how to code. If people come to the profession with drive and passion, I believe it should be free. I wasn't charged when I first asked how to code.
I also think good programming is a journey, not something that can be consumed and digested in a compacted 12-week course. Bootcamps may be a good starting point, but are they right for finding talent, and should you waste your money enrolling in one? As a business, should you hire graduates of these programs? I guess that depends on what you want out of it in the end.
I'd like to hear back from bootcamp graduates on their experiences both in the program and in the real world. Let me know your thoughts below.