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Here's What to Look Out for When Choosing Coding Bootcamps

26 August 2022 , by Ndzalama Mabasa

As a freelancer who had worked mainly with backend languages, I needed to develop my frontend skills because companies often want full-stack capabilities. To upskill, I decided to attend a bootcamp because I wanted a learning environment with an industry-focused syllabus and a deep dive into a specific skill set with a structured learning path.

OfferZen pug reading a coding book in front of a tent and camping

I eventually chose Umuzi because of the curriculum they offered, their accreditation and the career support they provide. Here’s how I went about finding the right bootcamp for me.

Find the curriculum that suits your needs and goals

I wanted to level up my full-stack skills, so I searched for a bootcamp that offered a well-structured syllabus that built up basic to advanced concepts of the language I was interested in, JavaScript.

As I was learning JavaScript on my own, I found myself moving from one concept to another without necessarily understanding the connection between the two because I was focused on getting the job done. Going from the basics and building on them was important for me to be able to understand concepts initially and then to make the links between them when faced with more complex problems.

The bootcamp that I eventually chose, Umuzi, had a syllabus that was divided into four categories:

  1. The fundamentals of programming, tools of the trade and best practices.
  2. Deep dive into the building blocks of the web (HTML, CSS and JavaScript).
  3. Databases, node.js and frameworks used for backend development of the applications.
  4. Full-stack delivery

The syllabus exposed me to the building blocks of the web, which equipped me with the right knowledge and skills to build complex web applications on my own.

Choose a bootcamp that is MICT SETA accredited

It can be difficult to whittle down the options when there are so many bootcamps. If you aim to get a job in South Africa, find a course that is MICT SETA accredited.

This essentially means that the bootcamp:

  • Is quality controlled;
  • Can issue you with a certificate upon completion, and
  • Is more likely to be sponsored by companies.

Why does that matter? Bootcamps that partner with companies often have agreements with them for internships, which will help you even more with employment.

If a bootcamp has employer partners, it not only reflects the bootcamp’s ability to train work-ready graduates but also means that you have the opportunity to be placed as a trainee in one of their partner organisations.

I specifically looked for a bootcamp that had many business partners and a high placement rate. At the time of writing, Umuzi had 30 employer partners and placed over 80% of their graduates in trainee jobs.

This brings us to the following consideration: job search support.

Find a bootcamp with job search support

In an industry where degrees are no longer a barrier to entry, and there’s an oversupply of junior developers, landing a job can be a difficult task. Tech skills alone don’t guarantee you a job. You need to:

  • Stand out;
  • Have a polished CV;
  • Interview well, and
  • Have great soft skills.

For most people, these aren’t skills you learn at school or university, so finding a bootcamp that provides this support can help to set yourself apart from all the other job applicants.

Umuzi provides you with job search support until you land a job. They supported me in writing a CV and preparing for interviews and taught me soft skills such as communication, professionalism and ethics as part of the syllabus.

I’ve been part of Umuzi for the past ten months, four of which have been in the learnership programme with one of their employer partners, BBD. In the past ten months, I’ve learnt a lot and have found that being a part of a learnership programme with students at different points in their learning journeys has helped me to learn.

Mixed cohorts push you to be better

Like the learnership programme I’m in with Umuzi, joining a bootcamp where students join at different times and have varied levels of coding experience can help you become a better programmer.

Seeing the Kanban boards of the other, more experienced students during daily stand-ups and sprint planning can be a little intimidating. Still, it also gave me an idea of where I could be and motivated me to push myself a little harder.

Additionally, having more experienced developers in the same cohort was helpful when I found something challenging because I could reach out to my peers for support.

Being surrounded by more experienced peers also mimics the work environment by helping you to get better at asking for help, and writing clean, DRY code that’s easy for others to read and review. You also gain experience in reviewing code and giving valuable feedback.

In the beginning, it was a little bit difficult trying to adjust to a professional way of doing things, like following the scrum framework in an agile methodology and coding best practices. After a brief adjustment period, following a professional way of doing things has become natural and my code is now more structured, cleaner and easily readable. This was thanks to the great foundation I had from Umuzi!

Ndzalama Mabasa is an Umuzi recruit who has previously worked as a Junior Web Developer at Strawberry Connect, and holds a BSc degree in Computer Science and Mathematics. He is committed to playing a role as a web developer in changing the world and simplifying the lives of people by solving real-world problems through computing.

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