Many Bootcamp Grads Have Trouble Finding Work: Survey

Bootcamps are expensive and time-consuming, as well as unregulated. Some people question their usefulness in finding students a job in tech, but new data shows that half of bootcamp learners may not even be concerned about finding a job after graduation.

According to Stack Overflow’s 2018 Developer Survey, 45.5 percent of respondents who attended bootcamps already had a job as a developer. Stack Overflow thinks this crowd may simply be gearing up for what’s next:

Bootcamps are typically perceived as a way for newcomers to transition into a career as a software developer, but according to our survey, many participants in coding bootcamps were already working as developers. Almost half of our respondents who said they went to a coding bootcamp said they were already working as developers; these developers are likely updating their skills and moving to new areas of the tech industry. Of other bootcamp participants, the most common outcome is to find a job immediately or soon after graduating.

Some 16.3 percent of bootcamp grads say they landed a job “immediately” after graduating. Another 7.5 percent were only on the market for a month or less, and a full ten percent were gainfully employed within three months. From there, the fall-off is intense: 5.2 percent land jobs in 4-6 months, while 3.6 percent are out of work for up to a year after leaving a bootcamp. Around 3.2 percent took over a year to find work, and 8.7 percent say they still haven’t landed developer jobs.

In total, almost 20 percent of bootcamp graduates take longer than 90 days to find jobs as developers; just over one-third found work within three months. If we discount the 45.5 percent of bootcamp grads who already had jobs in tech, we could assert that the success rate for bootcamps in helping graduates find gainful employment in a reasonable time after graduation (if at all) is almost 50/50.

This underscores why some folks are dubious of bootcamps and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Even CIRR, a non-profit aiming to hold online courses accountable for graduation and job placement rates, admits it’s easy for learning platforms to pad their numbers by leaning into that 45.5 percent of students who aren’t looking for work to begin with. In a binary sense, graduating a course – and then returning to your job – may be considered ‘working immediately after graduation’ by the bootcamp or MOOC you attended, which makes self-reported data like Stack Overflow’s critical to evaluating the industry.

A 2016 report from Bloomberg suggests larger tech firms aren’t interested in bootcamp grads, either. Representatives from Cisco and Google both claimed ‘coding school’ graduates are ill-equipped for a career in tech. Separately, Coding Dojo suggests attending an online course after completing a four-year degree at an accredited university earns you more.

All told, we’re seeing a shift in bootcamp and MOOC focus that seems relative to Stack Overflow’s findings. Many well-known platforms are actively engaging businesses first in an attempt to make continuing education attractive for employees. It’s a win-win scenario: the company invests in driven employees, and the MOOC or bootcamp earns revenue while claiming a high job placement rate.

We won’t say bootcamps or MOOCs don’t help, but we do advocate having a healthy portfolio of apps, projects and code snippets (i.e., GitHub Gists) to prove your mettle to potential employers. Whether you’re employed or not, showing your work is always key to landing a promotion or new job in tech.

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