I’ve worked with nearly a hundred students over the last few years at different coding bootcamps and through one on one mentorship… most will never land a job in software. It’s not so much that they can not code. It’s that they won’t do what it takes to succeed.
Somehow, the career of software engineer has been made to seem as if “anyone” can do it, like a trained monkey clacking away at a keyboard, earning sky high salaries drinking unlimited LaCroix. A well paid, code-monkey. This is a half-truth peddled by knowledge sellers with a direct interest in you joining their program/course/bootcamp to help you escape your current job and earn the big bucks (cha-ching). Anyone can learn to code in the same way that anyone can get a six-pack of abs. Your body is physically capable (assuming you have an abdomen) of developing a six pack of shredded abs. The majority of us (Americans at least) will never know the feeling of such abdominal glory. Not because we can’t but because we won’t. Finding the discipline to exercise and eat healthy isn’t so easy and maintaining that discipline is even harder.
But exercise and coding are two different things you protest! Not really(my turn to protest)! While it’s true that anyone can learn the basics of coding and make some truly ugly websites in the course of a few hours, it will take years of work and study to become a sought after software engineer or maybe even just a decent one. The landscape of software changes so often that maintaining good study habits and keeping up with the latest technology can’t be an afterthought if you plan to remain relevant and actually get those big bucks. Much in the same way that your diet won’t work if you only stick to it when you’re motivated or the first month of the new year. You’ll be back at square one around February, with a pocket lighter from the cost of whatever program you enrolled in and your mid section heavier from whatever indulgences you gave into.
From the conversations I’ve had with some of the students who enroll in these coding bootcamps, it seems that they believe this long period of intense study is just the entry fee to becoming a developer and after they get that first job they can just coast and earn those six figure salaries they’ve been promised (don’t forget that fuckin’ LaCroix). This is why the majority of these students have a Github presence that markedly drops the day after their program ends, end up losing all the knowledge they acquired and go back to whatever they were doing before the program.
The premise that “anyone” can code is both misleading and a bit offensive to those that study their ass off to land a job in tech and continue studying and working on side projects to make themselves better. If you’re serious about learning to code, there are tons of resources and programs that will give you nearly the same outcome if you just put in the prolonged effort and maintain a long-view mindset. If you want tips or advice about what to study or thinking of joining a bootcamp but just don’t know feel free to email at email@example.com — I’ll be happy to write you a profanity laced response that will hopefully help you in your decision. We’ll get to those six pack abs in another post… in February.