A national debate is raging across the county about private, for-profit, post-secondary educational programs, and one former program, Trump University, is currently under investigation and in litigation in federal court. Since the judge recently unsealed a number of the court records, we the public, get to see first-hand, how members of this private for-profit "educational" organization ran its operation, and many of us can benefit from the case. From my research, it appears to be that TU focused a great majority of its time and effort in the sales process, and insufficient time and care in the quality of the instruction, which resulted in the lawsuit. Many people lost their investment, which is tragic.
As an owner of a private, for-profit, post-secondary educational organization, I also worry about running both a viable business and an exceptional educational provider. Unfortunately, many of the claims that were made by Trump University employees and staff members remind me of the claims currently being made by my fellow coding bootcamp operators. These outrageous and unsubstantiated claims stand to ruin the coding bootcamp industry and this post is an effort to help us all self-regulate, and to help consumers really determine if the claims being made by their local coding bootcamp are actually legitimate and accurate.
I am not drinking Haterade, at least not today.
My goal with this post is to empower the 20,000 or so potential coding bootcamp students that are smart, hard-working, and looking to transform their lives via a coding bootcamp. It can be done, but the program must be quality one.
There are steps that consumers can take to protect themselves from inferior programs. Ideally, state regulators, like our friends at BPPE in Sacarmento, should be doing the brunt of this work, and weeding out bad-actors; however, they are busy shutting down fraudulent beauty schools and do not have time, nor the capacity to properly regulate all the CA coding bootcamps. I am sure other states are seeing the same problem.
So, here are three simple things you can do to protect yourself from a less-than superior coding bootcamp.
1. Ask the Coding Bootcamp to Validate Their Claims!
Step 1: You attend an info session, and the guy or gal giving you the hard sell quotes nothing but rosy numbers and figures: “95% of our grads secure jobs that pay above $90K because we teach the Magical XYX Stack”.
Step 2: You ask them to validate those awesome claims.
For example, if 30 people begin a coding bootcamp on January 2nd, then come March 31st, at least 27 should have graduated. A 10 - 20% drop-out rate is standard practice by now in this space. People need time to find jobs, so come June 31st, the coding bootcamp should have a list of 25 people that are now employed as full-time software developers. Some coding bootcamps will tell you that they cannot tell you names of their Fellows for privacy reason (GA, I am looking at you), which is kind of reasonable.
However, they can give you a list of 27 companies that hired their graduates. Also, they should have 27 titles that their coding bootcamp grads were hired as.
For example, of the people that graduated on March 31st, 10 were hired as front-end developers, 5 full stack, and another 12 back-end developers. EASY!!
Do not let your coding bootcamp get away weaseling out of this request.
If your coding bootcamp is saying that they have a 96% job placement rate, and DOES NOT have a list of at least 27 software developers and or companies that hired them---- BUYER BEWARE.
This means they are NOT tracking their outcomes and/or do not have that shinny 96% job placement rate that pays $95K per year. Learning to code some "magical full-stack" does not, in itself, get people paid $90K. Just ask so many of the people that recently graduated from a 4 year college as a Comp Sci major. (They are NOT getting above $90K).
2. Use LinkedIn to Verify Claims!
This one is also easy. Software developers / engineers LOVE LOVE LOVE LinkedIn, because it is a great resource to help them secure a coding job. So, get yourself a FREE Premium Account for one month, and go look for people that graduated from the coding bootcamp you are considering.
· How many people have profiles of the 27 that graduated in March 31st?
· How many now have a new job after they graduated?
· Do the titles match?
· Did someone graduate from Hacker University at the end of March and is now a “part-time” front-end developer? Are they now an “Engineer in Residence” ? None of those people get paid more than $50K, if that.
· Use sites like Indeed and Dice to verify that incomes match the job title secured by the coding bootcamp grads.
· Connect with grads from the coding bootcamp you are interested in, and ask them questions about outcomes. Did they find a job, did their other 27 buddies and gals that graduated from the program also find employment?
It is now well-established that employers are willing to hire qualified and competent coding bootcamp grads. And every year more people sign-up to learn to code via one of these programs. And this is both a great thing, but also a dangerous thing. Many coding bootcamps might have amazing outcomes from their flagship operation in San Francisco; however, they do not take care to replicate those results when they open shop in Santa Monica, CA.
There are so many resources that you can avail yourself of.
Do not fall prey to great salesmanship.
Do not get Trumped!
We created a comprehensive guide to help people determine if the coding bootcamp they are considering is legitimate, check it out www.researchcodingbootcamps.com