NSS Bootcamp Vs. Self-study | The Benefits and Pitfalls of Self-study

Aug 1, 2019
Mandy Arola

Last week we posted about eight of our web development alumni who started learning to code with self-study resources prior to deciding to attend a bootcamp. A couple of them made brief efforts towards finding a job before deciding to attend Nashville Software School (NSS), but all of them knew something was missing from self-study. We asked them about the pitfalls of their self-study journey that led them to pursue a bootcamp and why they chose NSS to help train them for a new career. Here is what they had to say in their own words. The emphasis is ours.

What Led These Self-studiers To Consider A Bootcamp?

The Pitfalls of Self-study To Change Your Career

Jordan Castelloe, Web Development Cohort 23

“I felt like I was learning in a vacuum. I had no context for the tools I was using and no way of knowing how they fit into the larger development ecosystem. I learned some JavaScript and some Ruby, but I had no idea how they worked together.

The world of software development seemed so huge and it was hard to know what to prioritize. It was kind of like standing in front of a giant buffet where all the food is completely unfamiliar to you and trying to pick the best possible plate. 

I decided that, if I wanted to pursue this seriously as a career, I needed more structure. I wanted someone to help me prioritize and make sure I was building good habits.

NSS felt like home as soon as I walked in. Some of the first words out of John's mouth were "software development is a team sport", which was a concept I'd never even considered. I'd been so focused on learning how to code that I hadn't even thought about what an actual developer work environment might be like. I loved that the instructors had worked as developers. NSS's mission lined up perfectly with the type of economic development work I'd been doing back home [in North Carolina]. I applied the next day.”

Jonathan Edwards, Web Development Cohort 27

“I decided that if I seriously wanted to make a career change (I was working in digital marketing at the time), then I needed to be serious about how I learned the material. Trying to teach myself everything in my free time would be possible, but it was going to take much longer. I knew that if I wanted to succeed at this, I needed to fully commit to it and surround myself with other people who also wanted to change their lives and careers.”

Jeremy Wells, Web Development Cohort 21

“During my self-study, I was also going to Meetups and talking to professional developers and realizing that there were so many other aspects of web development that I wasn't familiar with since most tutorials just show aspects of a programming language in isolation. When it came to things like tooling, testing, compiling, design patterns, data, or deployment, I was lost.

When I finally decided to make a career change, I organized my finances and decided to do a bootcamp. I was accepted into programs at NSS, the Iron Yard, and an online program called Fullstack Academy. I chose NSS because the program seemed much more thorough and because of its connections to the city that I live in.”

Trent Hand, Web Development Cohort 16

Frustration and motivation were challenges for my self-taught journey. Most self-taught working devs I know had some sort of working friend/mentor in the industry to help them out. I didn't have anyone like that, so when I got stuck I couldn't get enough help to move me past the barriers or encouragement from others letting me know that I'm not too dumb for the task, the task is hard for everyone. A bootcamp seemed [like] a great way to have other people learning along with me as well as qualified instructors to help me with the concepts.”

Jeremy Landi, Web Development Cohort 12

"A friend from college was in town and told me about his positive experience at a bootcamp. After talking with him, it seemed like a bootcamp was the perfect solution to my problem. I began doing research into what were the best ones. Once I had 2 or 3, I reached out to people that had graduated from those bootcamps to get an honest response. The responses I got back from NSS alumni stood out above the rest. In addition, after talking with the staff, NSS seemed to care about making a positive influence on their student’s life and their community."

The Timing Was Right To Make A Career Change

Ronnie Young, Web Development Cohort 25

We were moving to Nashville and I thought it would be my only chance to commit to something like a 6-month bootcamp since I would be in between jobs. A friend of mine from New York went to App Academy and said it was the best decision, so I looked into it and saw there was [a bootcamp] in Nashville [that had] a lot of positive reviews. Also, during our interview, John Wark talked a lot about how development was a craft and that went a long way – you can learn a craft alone, but not nearly as easily as in a community.”

Could you have predicted all of those pitfalls to self-study when looking to transition to a career in web development?

  • Lack of context for the tools
  • Hard to know what to prioritize in your learning
  • Lack of structure and accountability
  • It takes longer to learn
  • Learn languages in isolation without an understanding of how everything is related
  • Not enough help
  • Learning is easier in a community of people committed to learning

Next week we’ll hear from the alumni about how NSS actually prepared them for their new careers in web development. Read More Than Code: The Benefits Of A Bootcamp.