The stories of two coding boot camp students show that anyone can learn to code and pursue a career in software development, regardless of previous experience. But that doesn’t mean a coding boot camp is child’s play or that its career benefits are assured.
“The syntax is still very difficult for me to get my head around,” she said.
Gladden, who had no prior coding experience, echoed Velasquez-Deulofeu’s sentiments.
From interior design to web design
Gladden graduated with a bachelor’s degree in interior design and worked as a corporate interior designer and sales representative before taking a break to raise her children. She signed up for Nucamp’s Web Development Fundamentals boot camp to get her feet wet in web development, with the goal of landing a corporate job.
“I have a lot to offer, and I want to be in a role that serves others,” she said. “I also miss being around other like-minded people, collaborating and seeing projects come to life.”
Although Gladden had no coding experience, she worked on Squarespace, a tool that allows users to create a website with a drag-and-drop interface that requires no coding. But building web pages with a programming language adds a layer of abstraction and removes the visual aids of such tools — something that Gladden struggled with at first.
“I’m a visual learner, so I need patience and time — and visuals — to begin to understand these languages,” she said.
Gladden said she passed the class after hours of research and experimentation in Visual Studio Code. A Live Server plugin — a browser extension recommended by Gay during a workshop that dynamically updates web pages in development — helped her to visualize the code’s purpose.
“This is how I learned photography. So I know the hours and dedication it takes,” she said. “But I believe it will be worth it.”
From marketing to technical lead
Velasquez-Deulofeu has a master’s degree in public administration and works as a senior analyst and web analytics strategist at marketing and advertising agency Merge, based in Denver, Colo. She signed up for Nucamp’s Web Development Fundamentals boot camp to advance into a position as a technical lead, adding coding expertise to her in-depth knowledge of creative strategies.
For now, Velasquez-Deulofeu said that she is the ‘unofficial’ tech lead at Merge.
“But I’m hoping to add it onto my current title, with the opportunity to make manager soon enough,” she said.
Optimism and uncertainty mix for coding boot camp graduates
Gladden and Velasquez-Deulofeu both have college degrees. This may have factored into their success, Gay said. In his experience, people with degrees do better than their non-degreed peers.
“It’s not necessarily the previous coding experience they may have had in college,” Gay said, “but more the discipline to study and learn what’s needed.”
Megan Carswell Gladden Nucamp coding boot camp graduate
On the other hand, students without coding exposure or a computer science degree will still struggle more than those who have such a background, he said.
Ultimately, leading indicators for course success have more to do with personality traits than educational background, said Ludo Fourrage, founder and CEO at Nucamp. Curiosity, motivation and patience — the ability to stay focused on one problem for hours before making progress — are among the skills that factor into whether students pass or fail the class, he said.
Although Gladden and Velasquez-Deulofeu passed the course, whether the certificate will help them reach their career goals remains to be seen, especially in light of the tight job market for developers.
“Even if I don’t end up coding or actually doing the technology work… it could make me a more exciting candidate for any position I’m going for,” she said.