Published on 2016/09/22

Agility and Responsiveness Central to Bootcamp Success

The EvoLLLution | Agility and Responsiveness Central to Bootcamp Success
Colleges and universities were slow out of the gate in creating programs to meet the labor market demands of the tech sector, and now they need to contend with the bootcamps that are dominating the space.

Coding bootcamps have burst onto the higher education scene in the past few years, and it’s impossible for higher education institutions—especially those with programs in the computer sciences—to ignore the impact they’ve had. With their focus on employment and ability to quickly adjust and respond to shifts in the labor market, bootcamps are shifting the job-readiness expectations of prospective students and employers alike. In this interview, Adam Goldberg reflects on a few of the differences between coding bootcamps and higher education institutions and shares his thoughts on the role he hopes to see bootcamps play in the future.

The EvoLLLution (Evo): What are some of the key differences between the way higher education institutions and bootcamps operate?

Adam Goldberg (AG): Bootcamps are more dynamic than higher education institutions; we have the ability to change much more quickly.

We’ve been around for just over two years and we’ve already done a major overhaul to our curriculum to become more JavaScript-centric. Because we operate like a start-up, we have the ability to change in a way that a large institution like a university just isn’t able to. We can quickly adapt and include new technologies, frameworks or languages that are becoming more popular.

Evo: How do the priorities of bootcamp student tend to differ from the priorities of a student who might be enrolling in a full degree program?

AG: Most of our students are a little older than students who are enrolling for the first time into university. Many of them have prior career experience and most of them come here to change their career paths. They want to become more technical, they want to have a new skill set and they want to gain the competencies they need to be job-ready and start their career as a junior developer.

Many people who go to university or a college—university in particular—often don’t know exactly what they want to do for an undergraduate program and, after four years, they’re still sometimes not sure what career path they want to pursue.

In two months, you can start a new job after completing a bootcamp like ours. At a university, it can take four years to complete a degree; that is a very large opportunity cost when you consider cost of living, lost income, and tuition.

Bootcamp students usually have quite specific outcomes in mind.

Evo: How is the growing recognition for alternative credentials—like certificates and badges—impacting the value proposition of coding bootcamps?

AG: People are constantly trying to increase their technical skills and knowledge, and bootcamps offer a fast and efficient way to do that. We have evening and part-time courses that allow working professionals to learn about web and iOS development. We have full-time bootcamps that help provide people with job-ready skills. Employers understand that coding bootcamps teach workplace skills that are much more current than what traditional computer science courses teach.

Overall, the growing recognition for alternative credentials is definitely increasing the value proposition of coding bootcamps.

Evo: How can coding bootcamps help greater numbers of students understand the value of alternative credentials?

AG: We have to continue to do a good job growing our brand and educating the public about the alternative credentials that are available to them.

Evo: Is it more likely that bootcamp providers will accomplish this through marketing campaigns or through the successes of students?

AG: We have many graduates that go into the work place and advocate on behalf of the school. We have seen many examples of people coming to the program, having a successful, positive experience and then going on to become ambassadors for coding bootcamps. They will likely be at the forefront of the effort to grow bootcamp awareness.

Evo: How viable is it for coding bootcamps to develop customized training partnerships with major employers?

AG: I think it’s completely viable for coding bootcamps to enter into customized training partnerships with employers—that would be fantastic. Additionally, I hope that universities and colleges will reach out to bootcamps and leverage the fact that bootcamps are much more dynamic and flexible than large institutions are, so that they can allow bootcamps to provide the most current and relevant curricula to their students.

Evo: What role are colleges and universities likely to play in improving the diversity of credentials available to students of all ages?

AG: Colleges and universities provide a specific curriculum to certain audiences. While there are more courses available than in the past, it is a challenge for them to provide many more courses than they already do. I think that bootcamps, online courses, and higher education institutions will continue to expand the diversity of credentials that are available to prospective students.

Evo: Looking to the future, what role do you expect coding bootcamps will have in the higher education marketplace in 15 years’ time?

AG: I hope that bootcamps will be playing a major role in the higher education space, particularly in computer science programs around North America. There aren’t enough job-focused skills being taught in computer science programs; these programs are usually more theoretical and math-oriented.

I really hope that in 15 years from now, universities and colleges will be contracting bootcamps to provide them with more modern and relevant curricula.

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Key Takeaways

  • Bootcamps are more able to respond to shifts in the market because they are relatively small and nimble, unlike larger higher education institutions.
  • Students enrolling in bootcamps tend to be older and have very specific goals in mind, whereas traditional-aged students enrolling in degree programs typically do not.
  • Colleges and universities would do well to partner with bootcamps to leverage their expertise in teaching programming skills as well as their ability to quickly respond to shifting labor market expectations.