Geek Bootcamp 101

Every year, more and more hardware enters the market. This hardware doesn’t run by itself. It needs software to make it whole. But where does all this software supposedly come from? From software engineers, coders, and developers, to name a few.

So, how does someone without a technical background, become a developer? Is it hard? How long does it take? The most effective answer is simple: Bootcamp.

No, not bootcamp as in push-ups and running in the early morning hours. This bootcamp is an intensive and rigorous classroom environment where you effectively eat, sleep, and drink software development non-stop for about 12 to 24 weeks, depending on the course.

If you are to begin this journey, there are a few things you need to consider:

1. Do you have enough money for the course?

These courses typically cost anywhere from $10,000 on up. However, many have special financing for certain students based on gender or race, for instance. Homogeneity is rarely a good thing, and I’m glad to see that many of these programs are committed to diversifying the field.

2. Do you have the available time?

To really get the most out of the course, you’ll need to devote your life to it for the duration. Yes, that means nights and weekends too. They call these courses immersive for a reason. You have to fully and completely immerse yourself in the subject matter without distraction from outside sources. These distractions can prove detrimental to the learning experience if not kept in check.

3. Do you really want a change down deep inside?

There can be no hesitation or equivocation. You need to feel it in your bones that you are ready to make a real, positive change for you life. If this sounds like a religious conversion, well, it’s not exactly, but it’s a useful metaphor.

After you have affirmed all of the three items above, then you are ready. Next you need to pick the school. Now there are quite a few schools out there, and it seems this list is growing exponentially with each passing day. Obviously choosing the right school is paramount and even more important is choosing the right teacher. You may pick the best school in the world, but if you get a lousy teacher, then you’ll begin to question your motivation. So choosing the right teacher at the right school is key.

How do you do that? Research, research, research. Network, talk to people who’ve been to these courses, call around, and search online. Once you’ve decided where to go, then you need to apply. The approval process can be long and grueling. Once again, if you have the grit to succeed then you can complete the application. If you get accepted to the school of your choice, rejoice because your life is about to change for the better.

Once you’ve finished the course, you’ll look back at this whole process and just smile. In the end, it’ll all be well worth it. You owe it to yourself.

Chyld is a senior software engineer who has designed numerous business-critical software applications for a variety of modern industries. Chyld's development experience spans work in finance, medicine, education, energy, and defense industries for companies including Lockheed Martin, Atmel, Boeing, NASA, LexisNexis, and Bloomberg.

Some of his most notable software achievements in the defense industry include building missile threat simulations, battlefield asset integration and projection, blue force tracking, ballistic missile launch detection, and satellite telemetry decommutation and space station attitude control.