Devmountain offers bootcamps in Web Development as well as Software Engineering – so what exactly is the difference and how can you choose between the two? Devmountain experts give us the scoop about the differences and (and similarities) between the software engineering and web development fields. Plus, can a web development alum apply for a software engineering job? Our Devmountain experts share the answer!
Meet the Experts: Cameron Stuart and Chris Dominguez
Cameron: Although companies in the real world may use web development and software engineering interchangeably, at Devmountain, we see web development as a subset of software engineering. The software engineer tends to be a little bit broader in their knowledge base, but they can still step into web development.
Devmountain’s software engineering in Python and software engineering in Java curriculum covers full stack development. They also dive into concepts such as computer science principles, algorithms, data structures, and some of those more broad software engineering topics.
Devmountain’s web development curriculum focuses on training web developers in full stack development with a specific focus on web principles and frameworks, such as React.
Cameron, are the Python and Java specializations preparing students for different types of tech roles?
Cameron: Yes and no. There are roles out there that are more commonly associated with Python versus Java and vice versa. Python is more handy for data analysis where Java is more commonly used in the industry for certain roles. As far as stepping into a software engineering role, these two tracks are focused on getting the student ready to use the language, syntax, and stack required for software engineering roles in a broader way.
Both Python and Java tracks are very similar in concept: They’re both designed to train students for software engineering roles. The difference, and it’s no small difference, is the languages and frameworks being taught. The Java track gets students ready to work with companies using typical Java stacks and the Python track prepares students to work for companies using typical Python stacks.
Are there different instructors for the web development and software engineering programs?
Cameron: All of the students at Devmountain will go through the same foundational content. We have eight weeks of a program we call Foundations, and for that, we use the same core instructors. Students then break off into their specialization programs for another eight weeks where they receive support from subject matter experts in their respective fields. For instance, if a student is in the Software Engineering in Java specialization, they’ll be receiving support from subject matter experts in Java fields.
How can a prospective student choose which program is right for them – web development vs software engineering?
Cameron: For some students, software engineering may be the right approach because they want that slightly broader context to be able to step into different tech roles. If you want to focus on web applications, then choosing web development will make the most sense.
No matter if a student chooses web development or software engineering, all students learn eight weeks of foundational content. In the Foundations curriculum, students learn concepts that are essential to all development roles. No matter what role you’re stepping into, these are concepts you need to know. As students progress through Foundations, they will start to get a feel for the different tech roles out there as well as the different tech stacks, which helps them determine what they want to focus on. We have seen students enroll in the web development program, but by the end of those eight weeks in Foundations, they have switched over to software engineering. These eight weeks of Foundations really allow students to home in on what they want to focus on.
Chris: Anyone who has had to make a career decision in life knows there’s a certain level of knowledge acquisition that must take place for a decision to be made. When students are looking at which program to pursue, they should also consider the desired geographic technical market. If you want to work in Chicago, look at several companies in Chicago to understand the prevailing technologies or tech stacks that are used in that area. You should look at the companies you might want to end up working for so you can mirror them in your learning.
Chris, what kinds of career services can web development and software engineering students expect?
When you leave an academic institution, you leave acquiring knowledge and fuel you didn’t have when you began. If no one is standing there helping you orient this knowledge and these skills on a resume, then what have you done and how will it help you on a job search? To help students with their job search, Devmountain has hired actual tech recruiters and talent acquisition professionals to help them. We realize that as a job-seeker bootcamp graduate, not everyone’s demand for a job will be the same. Some people follow different paths, and we as recruiters support this.
Our careers staff use their knowledge of recruiting and turn it on reverse to help our job-seeking grads. We do one-on-one sessions with our students, and we are happy to meet with a student as much or as little as they need. During these sessions and during our career lectures, we set career expectations and document the goals, beliefs, and assumptions of our students. Our lectures are a great opportunity for our career services team to touch on multiple topics that are relevant in the job search, like salary negotiation, navigating the hiring process, visibility to employers, and more.
We also throw events. Sometimes employers will come to us with a hiring need, and we’ll open up the opportunity for our students and grads to sit with the employer so they can talk directly. We invite them to join our Slack community, which has over 5,000 members. Our Slack offers a lot of support with questions and resources, plus we include job postings. Our team is also happy to help students create job search materials. I’ve had multiple grads ask if we can help with a portfolio or cover letter and the answer is yes! We will help students and graduates with whatever they need in their job search.
Can a bootcamp student who graduates from the software engineering bootcamp apply for a web developer role and vice versa?
Cameron: A student who graduates from our software engineering program could absolutely apply for a web developer position in their respective tech stack. Likewise, a web development graduate could apply for a software engineering role if that role requires a similar stack to the one in which the web developer was trained. When Devmountain students are looking for a job, it really comes down to which tech stack the hiring company is looking for. That’s what’s going to allow a student to be more qualified for one company or another, not whether they’re using the term software engineer or web developer.
Chris: Yes, but it also depends on many different factors, like geography, the tech market, employer demand. A Python developer could take our Python course and then go pick up some additional languages to give themselves flexibility. It’s not abnormal to try to change one’s career path, and the flexibility of the job market is only increasing. You can have specific experience and stay on a specified path, or you can acquire a few different programming languages from different environments to add flexibility to your career options.
The COVID-19 pandemic created a difficult job market — are you finding that employers are still hiring coding bootcamp grads now?
Cameron: Yes, absolutely! There was a period of time towards the beginning of the COVID-19 shutdown where many companies were not hiring due to all the uncertainty at the time. Since then, the software market has rebounded and many companies are even allowing for remote work. This expands the opportunities for our bootcamp graduates.
Chris: There’s a lot of flexibility in the job market now, and COVID actually ripped down barriers and created more accessibility for tech employment last year.
What do employers like about Devmountain bootcamp graduates?
Cameron: Employers appreciate that Devmountain graduates have hands-on experience with building applications. Many computer science graduates understand theories and principles, but they don’t have that tangible hands-on experience like a coding bootcamp graduate does. By the time a student graduates from Devmountain, they have a portfolio showcasing their projects for employers, providing evidence that they know how to build software or applications.
Chris: What we’ve consistently heard and seen from our employers is that the teachability of a Devmountain grad is so tangible. There are thousands of engineers on the market that know what they’re doing and are experienced. Unfortunately, this experience can cause developers to become set in their ways. Someone who’s set in their ways can be hard to hire, train, and assimilate. Our graduates have just left a teachable environment, and they know more than enough code language and technical information to be a powerful addition to their team.
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