The Importance of Bootcamps
This is a guest post by Samuel Wilson, Summer of Tech Intern 2017/18
Tertiary study and real life are not the same thing. To be fair, tertiary studies can give us important fundamental knowledge. It can teach us why software is important, how it came about, what is happening at the hardware level. It gives us access to staff who can help us where we go wrong. It also lacks a great many things. It does not teach us how to manage ourselves, how to care for our own mental and physical health. It doesn’t teach us concepts such as Agile, Continuous integration. Depending on where you studied, other important things like build tools, version control, and unit testing may be missing too.
These problems mean that the gap between academic study and professional work can be a chasm. This makes it difficult for graduates to find employment. They simply lack the experience required to do the job. This makes it harder for employers to fill junior positions. Untested graduates are a risky prospect. Even a graduate who successfully gains a job will face great difficulty getting up to speed. The contrived problems solved during study are nothing compared to code bases with hundreds of thousands of lines of code, interacting with databases, frameworks, APIs, and networks. How are you supposed to make changes to a system so large that no one person in the company can know it all?
The easiest way to get across a chasm is a bridge. This is where bootcamps become useful. To clarify, the bootcamps I refer to are the Summer of Tech 1.5 hour long seminars on all manner of topics in the tech industry, as well as a few hackfests, and IT meetups. The bootcamps cover a range of useful topics such as Git, Bash, AWS, networking (computers and people), programming languages, and more. Presentations, demonstrations, and follow along tutorials are the norm at these events.
These things are all very valuable, but they are not the greatest benefit of bootcamps. At bootcamps you meet experienced professionals who are already working in the industry. You can receive help from people who have already faced the same problems you have. A chance to talk to one of these people is a chance to practice a job interview on the spot. Interacting with your peers will help develop communication skills that are important in day to day work. Most IT jobs are never advertised. They are filled through networking. The real benefit of bootcamps is that they will start you on the path of networking that is so essential for a career in IT.
Samuel Wilson (front right) with fellow interns + SoT Team, at Flux Federation, December 2017