Coding Bootcamp or University to Become a Software Engineer? - Which one is more bang for your buck?
I went to Cornell University for my Bachelor’s in Information Science and Master of Engineering in Computer Science. I have been a software engineer for some time now, and I also tutor people to prep them for job interviews.
In my freelancing experience, I have worked with over 100+ clients, which include those who have gone to coding bootcamp and those who have to college. I have seen both sides, so my opinion is not biased.
If you have a low-paying job or money is tight, I suggest going to a coding bootcamp or an online program associated with an accredited university. Otherwise, go to a university because you will develop a more thorough understanding of computer science.
If you do decide on coding bootcamp, please supplement it with extra reading material that focuses on data structures and algorithms.
Let’s first talk about the pros and cons of each.
The number one advantage is the resources and breadth of courses offered. You can have conversations with these professors about how they are leveraging computer science to tackle real life problems. A lot of these professors are pursuing cutting-edge research, and you can get a hands-on experience on that research if you join his/her lab. When I was in undergraduate and graduate school, I joined a ubiquitous computing research lab, and it was really cool to see how to leverage computer science to mitigate issues in healthcare.
The breadth of courses also helps you gain a well-rounded understanding of computer science as you can deep dive into several aspects of it. *This is one that that coding bootcamp lacks! *In a university, you can take classes in machine learning, database design, robotics, system security, etc. There is no coding bootcamp out there that will teach you these concepts.
Coding bootcamps are designed to give you practical training to help you get a job as an entry level engineer. They are not designed to teach you the theoretical and higher level concepts.
The second advantage is that you get an accredited degree. This plays a huge role for the resume screening of job interviews. A good chunk of software engineering jobs require you to have an undergraduate degree. However, there’s a trend that more and more companies are shifting away from this requirement and just instead focusing on project and work experience.
The third advantage is the career network. A lot of these universities will have established company connections, and as a result, these companies tend to recruit heavily from that school. For instance, Workday, Google, and Facebook recruited heavily from my school. Most schools have an event called “Career Fair” in which hundreds of companies come to the school to recruit for that particular day. In some cases, interviews are done the very next day.
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I remember my first fumble with basic on my ZX Spectrum computer back in the 1980s, ploughing through pages of basic commands and example code without any real idea of how I could write programs myself