The Advantages Of Self-study Skills | The Benefits And Pitfalls Of Self-study

Aug 19, 2019
Mandy Arola

Over the past month, we’ve been sharing the benefits of self-study to assess your interest and aptitude for a career change and how a bootcamp like Nashville Software School (NSS) can help you avoid the shortcomings of self-study when changing careers. If you’re just joining us, catch up with the first three posts in this series: Exploring A Career Change, NSS Bootcamp Vs. Self-study, and More Than Code: The Benefits Of A Bootcamp.

To close the series, our web development alumni shared how the habits they learned through self-study prior to bootcamp are serving them now and the advice they’d give their friends (that’s you!) on why you should consider a bootcamp instead of self-studying for years to make a career change.

The Benefits Of Self-Study Experience For Careers In Tech

You’ll quickly discover that if you pursue a career in tech, you will always be learning. As you grow in your career, there will always be new languages to learn and new tools to use. Your first job may even be in a different tech stack than what you learned at NSS. Companies occasionally change their tech stacks and need their applications re-written. New versions of frameworks and languages are released frequently, so you may have to learn to work with a newer or older version. 

The self-study skills that these alumni developed prior to attending NSS are now serving them as they continue to learn and grow on the job. While they can still face the same self-study challenges, their bootcamp experience has given them the tools to overcome the pitfalls.

Overcoming Self-Study Pitfalls

  • Lack of context for the tools → NSS alumni have a solid foundation to build context around new tools.
  • Hard to know what to prioritize in your learning → Learning is now prioritized by what you need to know for the job at hand, followed by your interests in learning outside of work.
  • Lack of structure and accountability → NSS simulates the real-world practices used among development teams.
  • It takes longer to learn → NSS alumni have learned how to learn new languages and tools. This knowledge of their own learning style will help them learn faster.
  • Learn languages in isolation without an understanding of how everything is related → NSS alumni are able to compare new languages to ones they already know to understand how everything is related. (See our blog The Difference Between C# and .NET Through the Lens of JavaScript)
  • Not enough help → They now have a network of NSS alumni to reach out to for help, in addition to their colleagues.
  • Learning is easier in a community → They’ve joined Nashville’s tech community and can tap into their knowledge and desire to learn.
[Don’t] discount the kinds of skills that you also get from self-study, and even in a formal program like a bootcamp, a portion of it is still self-directed learning. In my professional role, I still do a lot of independent tutorials to get familiar with a particular technology. NSS helped take that independent learning and focus it into a more complete understanding of what software development entails. - Jeremy Wells

Self-study is a great way to see if web development is right for you and those skills will help you throughout your career, but our alumni still support attending a bootcamp to put the start of your new career on the fast-track.

Should You Self-Study Or Attend A Bootcamp Like NSS?

What I Tell My Friends...

In their own words.

Jonathan Edwards, Web Development Cohort 27

"[You] could learn online for a lot less. It's just going to be a whole lot more work, and [you’re] going to miss out on the extra benefits that a quality bootcamp has to offer. Working on teams, leveraging the school's network, the career development help, and easy access to instructors to help you with problems and to ask questions are all things that you aren't going to get from watching videos and reading books. Plus, watching hours of online videos gets really boring, really fast."

Jordan Castelloe, Web Development Cohort 23

"It's almost impossible to know what to prioritize on your own. NSS has polled a lot of employers and asked them what skills they want junior developers to have. Unless you have those kinds of connections on your own, I think it'd be very easy to develop bad habits or teach yourself skills that aren't marketable in your area.

It's easy to waste a lot of time with self-study because you don't have anyone to ask for help. I went down week-long rabbit holes on my own that an NSS instructor could have prevented or patched in five minutes. Having experienced developers available for questions all day is worth its weight in gold.

Learning with a cohort is also game-changing. My peers became my friends and collaborators and sounding boards, not to mention an awesome professional network. Learning to code and finding your first dev job is going to be stressful however you go about it. I can't imagine doing it alone."

Jeremy Wells, Web Development Cohort 21

"From my experience in my first two years as a software developer, I believe that the most important part of starting off is to have good mentoring, which NSS provided for me. The connections I made in the tech community were as invaluable as the technical skills that I gained."

John Achor, Web Development Cohort Evening 7

"The investment in NSS was mutual. I felt like my instructors weren't just there to get paid, they genuinely wanted me to succeed. I never felt invisible. That, plus the focus and well-structured learning paths, kept me on the right track."

Jeremy Landi, Web Development Cohort 12

"I actually recommend taking some online classes. See if development is interesting and if you see yourself following this career path. If it is, I think you will find a point like I did, where online classes fall short. A point where you realize you aren’t being challenged, you’re lacking collaboration and feedback, you’re looking for more structure, or you’re just following steps and not really learning. This is when attending a bootcamp can really help. It can get you up to speed quickly, on the skills and knowledge you need to start a career in development, which for me is priceless."

Are you ready to explore web development?

If you’re just beginning to explore web development, self-study with online tools like Codacademy or Treehouse is a good way to start. If you learn best with others or want some guidance before embarking on your self-study journey, our Web Development Jumpstart was designed for you.

Are you ready to fast-track your start to a new career?

We are currently accepting applications for our full-time full stack web development cohorts that begin in November and January and our part-time full stack web development cohort that begins in February.

If you have questions about our programs, we encourage you to attend one of our monthly info sessions.

Topics: Student Stories, Web Development