Are Coding Boot Camps Worth The Money?

Coding boot camps are the hot new trend in the IT field. Students enroll in compacted programs, 8-12 weeks full time and 16-24 week part time, and they emerge with the skills to tackle entry-level coding.  If your non-coding technical employees want to invest in a boot camp, is it worth the time, effort and money? The answer isn’t necessarily black and white.

Not All Coding Boot Camps Are Created Equal

Just because a boot camp pops up in your city, doesn’t mean it is worthwhile. If an employee expresses an interest in a code camp, make sure they – and you, if you’re footing the bill – conduct extensive research.

Reputable camps should offer references and testimonials of successful graduates. It is also extremely useful to reach out to your network to see if any colleagues have heard of the boot camp, sent any of their employees or hired any graduates.  Don’t forget to dig into the numbers. What is the boot camp’s track record for placing students? How many of those graduates use their new coding skills on the job?  Many places can inflate these numbers, so make sure to corroborate any information published by the camp itself.

Finally, research the instructors. Don’t allow your team member to invest in a program with a first-time instructor – you don’t want your employee to be a guinea pig. If you can, try to find former students and ask what they thought of the instructor’s methods and effectiveness.

Understand The Employee’s Endgame

As an employer, you should always encourage your technical staff to grow their skills. Typically, people enroll in a coding boot camp with the goal of becoming a developer. If one of your non-developer teammates wants to attend code camp, invite them to share their ultimate goal with you so that you understand their motivation.

If they expect to switch jobs with you immediately upon completing the camp, have a frank and honest discussion about the realities of the situation. If you don’t see a development job opening, but the employee is valuable to you, think of ways to incorporate those new skills in other ways.  This conversation is extremely critical if your company is paying for any portion of the tuition. If the employee owes you years of service in exchange for the tuition, make sure that they understand the lay of the land.

Ultimately, you may end up losing the employee if they cannot use their new coding skills with you. Weigh each situation on a case-by-case basis. If the employee is a talented contributor, do what you can to work with her goals. You can never have too many talented coders on your bench.

Whether or not a coding boot camp is worth it for your employee, or for your company, depends on many factors.  They can be extremely valuable platforms for developing new skills and they can enhance the effectiveness of your valuable team members. Take time to do some up-front investigation and talk openly with the employee who wants to attend before evaluating your – and their – investment.

If you are looking to attract and retain talented technology professionals, the expert recruiters at Talon can help. Our strategies can ensure that you attract and retain the people who will drive your business into the future. Call us at 609-924-8900 to learn more.


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