This blog post is a sequel to the challenge I proposed in my last blog post, “15 Positive Arguments for Committing To The Self-Taught Developer Path”.
We will cover why a direct 1:1 mentorship learning approach might be a better alternative versus attending a coding bootcamp.
I’ll like to open with a personal story:
When I was a breakdancer, one of my top peers (B-Boy Kid David in fact) commented that I didn’t have to worry about competition because I was a stable, well-rounded b-boy who didn’t make errors during battles: clean.
He gave me that comment because of all the moves I did know, I used them extremely efficiency and well, to the point where I produce clean sets and rounds with little to no hint of mistakes.
Compared to other b-boys who had flashier moves, but their moves or sets were not reliable.
This is the moral of the story: less is more when you have mastered control.
Next, this maps to why a self-taught developer, who is a master of a specific domain (a.k.a clean) versus someone who tries to master all the hard stuff, but has less predictability, will fail.
The Coding Bootcamp Fallacy?
Piggybacking off my breakdance story, coding boot camps have the fallacy of being like a breakdancer that’s spread thin on their arsenal of skills:
“yeah they might have flashy moves, but when push comes to shove, on the dance floor, they cannot execute a clean set.”
Likewise, a coding boot camp promises that you will come out to become a full-stack developer.
But the fallacy is, the quality of your full-stack knowledge and abilities will be unreliable.
Who Is This Message For?
This message is for individuals considering a coding bootcamp and are on the fence of whether they should commit to one.
Moreover, it can also be for individuals who recently started an online coding boot camp that is subscription based and who might have doubts of the quality of the coding boot camp and the results that it will bring for themselves as an upcoming developer.
How Should You Use This Blog?
You can use this blog as a self-qualification test to see if you resonate with the arguments to attempt self-taught developer path.
This path requires you to be highly focused, pick a specialized path like frontend or backend development.
Next, compare it with another path: attending a coding boot camp to be the jack of all trades but most likely a master of none.
And this blog will focus on the key ingredient of empowering you on your self-taught developer journey is to get direct 1:1 mentorship
Why Direct 1:1 Mentorship > Coding Bootcamp
More Focus, Specialization, and Attention For You
On the premise that you will commit to learning and getting good at one thing, direct 1:1 mentorship will provide you with greater focus and specialization. Not to mention 1:1 attention with another Sr. Developer.
This allows you to to get undivided attention from an (more) experienced developer versus in a coding bootcamp where instructor’s attention, time, and energy are divided amongst other students.
More Expensive Is Not Always Better and Not A Guarantee of Success
Warren Buffet mentioned this in an interview with the Wall Street Journal in 2006, “I don’t care where someone went to school, and that never caused me to hire anyone or buy a business,”.
Again, when he gave a talk elsewhere, he mentioned: “in my experience in business, there is little or any difference, between a high price business education and what’s available for a lot less money”.
He said this after comparing the education experience he received at the University of Nebraska versus Wharton. This is a relevant argument for attending a coding boot camp.
Of recent, there are tons of resources on the internet where you can get the same information, training, etc that a coding boot camp provides, but for a more affordable price that packs a lot of value.
The self-taught developer route is taboo, looked down upon by society, and in short: it is the harder path. And it usually has this bad connotation because it’s technically “free” right?
Yes… and No. There’s not such thing as a free lunch in life. From a monetary perspective, it’s much more affordable, however, from other perspectives like planning, execution, self-motivation, etc it’s a much more expensive endeavor.
This is a negative argument against coding bootcamps also because the individuals who join coding bootcamps believe that a coding bootcamp is the silver bullet. Heck. I’m guilty of that also.
You place all your hope on a coding bootcamp to get a job, but in reality, it really all is about you. Only you can get yourself a job.
Going the self-taught route, taking ownership of your own learning, your journey and then basically hiring a mentor to coach you: this is something different, with a slight glimmer that communicates initiative.
Quality of Instructor Is More Important Than School
Growing up, there was that one teacher who made learning awesome for you. Likewise, 1:1 direct mentorship does that.
You find a mentor that is a good fit for you, provides you more focused attention, and more.
It was never really about the school (I mean luckily that teacher was hired at that school), it’s about the teacher who is teaching you.
Moreover, from my own personal life, the biggest impact to my life has been from particular individuals I’ve met in my journey versus attending a particular school.
This has been true when I was learning to dance, play music, learn languages, etc. Heck. I got to where I am today because of strong leaders, mentors, teachers, etc who took the time to invest in me on a 1:1 basis.
It was never a school. School was just a place that allowed me to goof around and connect with other individuals.
Freedom To Select Better Instructor Fit For You
I’ve heard friends who attended bootcamps and complained that the instructors sucked. It’s like college all over again.
A coding bootcamp is a similar experience where you are given a pre-selected panel of instructors that you are stuck with for 3-4 months or more.
Whereas, if you went the self-taught route, you can choose your mentor that best fits you and go separate ways with other mentors who aren’t a fit.
How powerful is that? This single ability to make a choice to find a better mentor fit will accelerate your learning that much more versus worrying and complaining that your current coding bootcamp mentor or instructor sucks.
Record Your 1:1 Mentorship Lecture via Zoom to Review
Since I was using CodeMentor and they used Zoom to facilitate the 1:1 mentorship sessions, I was able to record my sessions with my mentor. Mind-blown.
This is helpful because it allows you to reflect over the things you discussed, critique your own responses to technical concepts, and overall allows you to revisit your interpretations of your own code at a later time.
You Drive Your Own Success
Lastly, this path allows you to drive your own success. You find or hire a mentor to support your blueprint of success: becoming a software developer focused on either the frontend, backend, or another tech stack.
This initiative will force you towards urgency, focus, and results. As I said, the path of a self-taught developer is not easy. But on this journey, you will gain a lot more than just pure software development skills.
You will gain these (but not limited to) skills: priority management, project & product management, time management, goal management, execution, self-discipline, and more.
You will be in a position to make executive decisions about your own journey, your learning, projects, and much more.
In the end, this path will teach you to be self-sufficient and driven, while of course, working with someone else (your mentor) to accomplish a common goal.
Key Takeaways & Action Items
Is A Coding Bootcamp Really Necessary For You?
A coding bootcamp, given the right situation, person, and opportunity, definitely can set you up for success and land you that dream software developer job.
However, today where the market is saturated with coding bootcamp grads, a coding bootcamp won’t necessarily get you a job.
This entire blog provides you an alternative, and in same ways, much harder path than doing a coding bootcamp: a self-taught developer path.
With this path, you can opt to hire a mentor for direct 1:1 sessions to build your skills, knowledge, and confidence as a developer.
Moreover, you can mitigate the risk of the time and monetary expense of a coding bootcamp, while focusing on refining and getting good at a subset of web development: either the frontend or backend.
If you resonate with some of the points in this article, opt for the self-taught route with a dedicated 1:1 mentor.
I used CodeMentor to receive mentorship and it was the best decision and investment in terms of ROI and value for the cost.
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