Written By Jess Feldman
Career services are an essential part of the coding bootcamp experience – but how do they compare to the career support you may have experienced at a traditional university? While both Career Services teams at colleges and coding bootcamps aim to get students employed, there are key differences in how they support students. We’re diving into the career centers that you can opt into at a college versus the career coaching that is integrated into the bootcamp curriculum.
🔎 Quick Answer: Career Services teams are specialized teams within a school who work with students to discover and execute their career goals.
Career services teams are often composed of career coaches and mentors who have a deep understanding of current hiring trends and practices. These career coaches assist students with the preparation of job materials (resumes, cover letters, portfolios), and may also offer job search advice and job interview practice.
What to Expect from Career Services at a College
Many colleges and universities have a generalized on-campus career center where students can connect with career advisors. If students opt in, they can receive career counseling to determine their career goals and get help preparing their application materials. Depending on the university, there may be different career services teams available for each department or major.
Through their university’s employer network, Career Services teams are usually informed of apprenticeship and internship opportunities for students with little to no prior work experience. Career Services at a college will often host career fairs and on-site events where students can meet with employers.
What to Expect from Career Services at a Coding Bootcamp
Many immersive coding bootcamps integrate career services into their curriculum, and this often includes personalized career coaching. Like university career services, career services at coding bootcamps focus first on resume prep; but bootcamps will also focus on helping students create and develop their branding, such as their online presence, professional profiles like LinkedIn, and an online, shareable portfolio of their work.
Career Services at coding bootcamps often have their own employer network, and may be able to match-make bootcamp graduates with open positions on tech teams. Many coding bootcamps end their cohorts with a Demo Day where students present their final project to potential employers. Bootcamps may also host their own networking events and Hiring Days where employers can meet students and recent graduates. ~20% of bootcamps also offer apprenticeships to graduates so they can continue strengthening their skills while searching for full-time employment.
University Career Services
Bootcamp Career Services
Optional and requires a student to opt-in
Required and integrated into the bootcamp’s curriculum
Generalized and broad to appeal to a wide swatch of students
Specifically designed for tech jobs and career paths
Help students with little/no job experience find their first career paths
Experts in helping career changers with 7-8 years of work experience
Large and well-recognized alumni network
Smaller but growing alumni network and lifetime career support
While Career Services in a college setting and coding bootcamp setting are mission-driven to help students find employment, there are three main differences between them:
1. Typical Students: Young Adults vs Career Changers
College career services are helping students figure out their first career path. Most of a college’s student body are recent high school graduates who are enrolled in 4-year degree programs. These students will have little to no job experience, and as young adults, they are still learning important soft skills that will help them be successful in today’s workplace.
On the other hand, the career services teams at coding bootcamps are experts at helping career changers. The typical coding bootcamper is ~30 years old and has 7-8 years of work experience, so bootcamp career counselors have the unique responsibility to help career changers determine how to best market themselves in the tech job market. Career services at coding bootcamps understand the importance and sway of a student’s transferable skills, and coach students on how to position themselves in their new career.
2. At-Will Career Center vs Integrated Career Coaching
Colleges and universities come in all sizes, but many of these institutions are large and include multiple majors and departments. With thousands of students and career services available at-will, many college students will either underutilize or entirely forget about these on-campus career development opportunities. Many college students have reported never stepping foot into their university’s Career Center! According to a Gallup poll from 2018, less than 20 percent of undergraduate students visit their college’s career center for advice on finding jobs or finding and applying to graduate programs.
“Some college career centers have a varying level of career development incorporated into the curriculum, while others stress the importance of using the career centers, but don’t make it a requirement for students' major or classes.” - Andreanna, Career Services Manager at LearningFuze
Coding bootcamps integrate career services into their curriculum; at almost every bootcamp, it’s required that students fully participate in this careers curriculum. For example, 83% of Tech Elevator alumni met their employer through their Pathway Program. Coding bootcamps are outcomes-driven, which means they are judged by their students’ job outcomes. When students use Income Share Agreements or Deferred Tuition, their tuition is directly tied to them landing a job, which even further incentivises bootcamps to place students in tech careers. Many students enroll at coding bootcamps to quickly make a career change, and there is urgency to learn a whole new skill set and then be able to immediately apply that skill set to land a job in a totally new career path. Career services at coding bootcamps are equipped to help these students quickly level up in order to land paid apprenticeships or junior or mid-level roles.
3. Long-Term Alumni Support
A college’s career support may end once a student graduates, but many coding bootcamps often include continued support, at least until you land a job. This extended career support may be for a few weeks or months after a student graduates or may be lifetime access to a bootcamp’s career services team. Bootcamp alumni may receive personalized coaching sessions, mock interviews, alumni support groups, additional skills training, and an active job board.
One leg up that universities still have over bootcamps is the size of alumni networks. Employers are trending towards eliminating the traditional college degree requirement, but universities still tend to carry more clout and name recognition in the job market than bootcamps.
Jess Feldman is an accomplished writer and the Content Manager at Course Report, the leading platform for career changers who are exploring coding bootcamps.
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