Friday Q&A: Is attending an online bootcamp sufficient for getting a job?

Asking tons questions is the most important thing you can do when deciding if code school is right for you. It’s a big decision – and one that requires a significant investment of time, energy and money – so we want to ensure that all of our students are comfortable, have the right expectations and are prepared to hit the ground running on day one of their course.

Starting this week, every Friday we’ll answer some of the most frequently asked questions we get from people who want to learn to code and start working in the tech industry. Have a question you want answered? Leave us a note in the comments section!

Today, we’ll answer a question someone recently posted on SwitchUp (a code school review website): Is attending an online bootcamp sufficient for getting a job? Or is an in-person course more likely to guarantee a job after completion? What kind of certificate can I expect to get from a school like Thinkful, and will employers recognize it?”

First, let us start by saying this is a great question and we’re huge fans of online education. In fact, we encourage all of our students to try online courses first so that they can get a feel for what coding is really like, review the basics in a self-paced, low pressure environment and start getting comfortable with coding vocabulary. From there, there are a number of ways to learn programming and the next step is largely dependent on each individuals’ career goals. For some, online courses could be exactly what they’re looking for, and provide the right amount of flexibility and commitment they want.

But at the end of the day, many students who ultimately sign up for one of our immersive courses have spent some time tackling online code tutorials and come to the same conclusion: Becoming a professional developer in the near future is going to take more than a few hours of tutorials on nights and weekends.

We strongly believe that an in-person, immersive coding course is the best way to learn the skills you need to begin a new career and that most online schools fail to plumb the depths needed in order to be a top-notch developer in a short amount of time. Here are a few things that we know set immersive courses and our program apart:

  • Learn how to learn. Of course, we want to get you a great job offer, but our ultimate goal is for you to be able to think like a developer and teach yourself new skills that enable you to grow throughout the rest of your career. Technology changes quickly, so simply learning the syntax of one language isn’t going to cut it. You need to be able to jump into other areas of tech and learn them, and that’s exactly what we show you how to do. Take for example, Josiah. He graduated from our Back-End Engineering in Python course, but currently works in Perl and JavaScript.
  • Learn from experts and get one-on-one mentorship. Our instructors are equal parts mentor, development expert and passionate educator. They are 100 percent dedicated to the success of their students, meaning they are always there to answer questions, work through tough lines of code, provide support when you feel like you’ve hit a wall and celebrate your successes and ‘a-ha!’ moments. With small class sizes, each and every student gets as much one-on-one mentorship time with the instructor as they need. Want to meet a few of our instructors? Let us introduce you to Gil, Jess and Luke.
  • Learn more than code. By bringing in guest lecturers who reveal what the skills you’re learning look like in the real world, we provide our students with a wide gamut of exposure so that they have a well-rounded view of the industry when they graduate. We also place a high value on soft skills, focusing on the qualitative aspects of being a successful programmer. We give students feedback on their interaction and contribution in group projects, their communication with us during the program and the strengths and weaknesses they’ll carry into their work.
  • Personalized career support. Our team works incredibly hard to get students where they want to be, whether that’s a startup or a large corporation. We have contacts all around the world and after graduation we meet weekly and communicate as often as needed with each student to execute a job-searching strategy. We also perform mock interviews so that there aren’t any surprises when you meet with potential employers.

Now to answer the second part of the question, “what kind of certificate can I expect to get and will employers recognize it?” 

Graduates from The Iron Yard do receive a certificate of completion, but the most important ‘proof’ of the skills students learn is in their portfolio. Each graduate leaves the course with a portfolio of work – including a final project presented at Demo Day – that showcases their skills and provides employers with tangible evidence of what they can build.

From there, our students have been hired by a huge range of companies from small web shops, venture-funded startups and agencies to established enterprise companies and international firms, and launched successful careers as developers.

But don’t just take our word for it. Here’s what our advisory board members and hiring partners have said about hiring bootcamp graduates:

“Not only have we hired graduates of The Iron Yard’s programs in Durham, we’ve also been able to interact with students inside the classroom and in the community. The involvement with The Iron Yard’s Advisory Board has helped us get the resources we need to train future talent that fit our unique needs in the technology industry.”
—Adam LaVoy, Global Talent Acquisition, Red Hat Products and Technologies

“I’m absolutely thrilled that IBM’s pairing up with The Iron Yard—we’re always on the hunt for candidates with both design and dev skills, and The Iron Yard will bring us a fresh new crop of talent!”
Katie Parsons, Front-End Developer, IBM Design

“A wise teacher once spoke, ‘the student is not above the teacher.’ With technology changing every day, how does a teacher of technology stay on top of an ever-evolving field? One of these answers is an employee advisory board. Over my tenure as member of The Iron Yard advisory board, I have recognized the need to produce high-quality candidates that are fulfilling local business needs; producing technical relative students. As a member, we see first hand the material being taught along with the results and talent of the students and I know that our community, businesses, and students are equipped for what awaits them ahead.”
—James Schimmoeller, Director of Application Development, Star2Star


Have a question you want answered next week? Leave us a note in the comments section!


  1. What time will this start?

  2. Hey Gary! We’re going to address questions each Friday. Do you have a question you’d like us to explore?

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