Live Q&A


How to Get Into 5 Coding Bootcamps

By Liz Eggleston
Last Updated September 15, 2022

In this Live Q&A, admissions representatives from 5 coding bootcamps – General Assembly, Tech Elevator, Springboard, Devmountain, and Flatiron School – offer their expert insight on the bootcamp admissions process.

They’re answering popular questions like:

  • What is the bootcamp application process like?
  • Do I need previous coding experience to apply for a bootcamp?
  • Is there an ideal bootcamp applicant?
  • When’s the best time to apply to a bootcamp?
  • Is there pre-work before starting at a bootcamp?
  • Do I need a college degree or high school diploma to apply for a bootcamp?
  • What financial resources or scholarships exist?
  • How long does the application process take?

[Downloadable comparison worksheet]

Meet Your Panelists

  • Stephanie Ehrishman is the Senior Admissions Producer at General Assembly, where they teach 12-week, full-time immersive bootcamps in Data Analytics, Data Science, Digital Marketing, Software Engineering, and User Experience Design. 
  • Jonah Shipley is the Admissions Director at Springboard, where they offer Career Tracks as immersive bootcamps in Data, Design, Coding, Cybersecurity, and Tech Sales.
  • Jackie Anderson is the Director of Admissions at Devmountain, where they teach 12-week, full-time bootcamps in Java, Python, iOS, QA Testing, User Experience, Data Analytics. 
  • Kalyn Breneman is the Director of Admissions at Tech Elevator, where they are completely focused on Software Engineering. 
  • Alyssa Osterback is an Admissions Representative at Flatiron School, where they teach bootcamps in software engineering, cybersecurity, data science, and product design. 

The Application Process at 5 Coding Bootcamps

High-level, tell us the steps to get into your bootcamp?

Alyssa: At Flatiron School, regardless of which program you choose or the mode in which you choose to attend bootcamp, we have three simple steps: 

  1. A written application
  2. An aptitude assessment
  3. A non-technical admissions interview 

Kalyn: Tech Elevator’s admissions process is built for those without prior coding experience — we look for underlying traits that exist in successful software developers. 

  1. We start with a quick, free aptitude test
  2. Then an application
  3. Followed by an interview consisting of a 1:1 behavioral interview and a long aptitude test. 

Each step is built to determine if that individual has what it takes to learn the skills and get a job in software development. 

Jonah: To enroll in any Springboard course:

  1. You'll first apply online with some basic information. 
  2. Then we reach out to you that same day and complete a fit interview with one of our Admissions Directors, to make sure this is a strong fit for both parties. 
  3. Following the interview is a short Skill Survey to determine your starting point in the course, and you're set!

Stephanie: Enrollment at General Assembly starts with:

  1. A simple conversation with admissions. 
  2. We want to give each student an opportunity to sample the curriculum, so we do a fun, engaging project — like simple coding in HTML or the research aspects of UX! 
  3. Once your project is complete, we meet for 25-30 minutes on Zoom to make sure the program is a good fit and answer any additional questions. 
  4. At this point, applicants complete the application and we focus on laying a solid foundation with 30-35 hours of pre-work, to ensure students are academically ready for their immersive course before it starts. 

Jackie: There are three key elements in our application process at Devmountain

  1. It starts with filling out a free form to collect basic information
  2. Then we schedule a phone consultation with the Admissions team to get to know you, your goals, and how our classes line up with what you're looking for. On that call we'll talk about the third step…
  3. The technical assessment, then it’s on to admissions. We're not heavy in pre-work leading up to the class.

Who/When Should Apply?

Is there an ideal applicant or a certain type of person that gravitates towards the bootcamp?

Alyssa/Flatiron: Flatiron School doesn’t require any prior experience to get in and we focus on career changers and those looking for a way to break into tech without taking 2-4 years to complete a degree. Tech is challenging and constantly changing, so we're looking for people who are willing to persevere when it’s hard and who are excited to evolve with this industry.

Kalyn/Tech Elevator: People arrive at Tech Elevator from diverse backgrounds but the ideal Tech Elevator student knows they want to break into tech, they're highly motivated, and they’re passionate about their choice. It's not an easy program, which we don’t diminish in any way — most students say it's one of the harder things that they've ever done! Our staff are the differentiation — they match that student's energy every single day, and if the student's moving toward the finish line we're right there every step of the way cheering them on. 

Jonah/Springboard: The ideal applicant is someone who's highly motivated to change their career and understand that it's not an easy or passive course. It requires commitment and focus, which is why we take our role in changing someone's career seriously. We work hard to ensure career changers leave Springboard with the skills and guidance they need to achieve success in their new career. We look for people that are motivated and ready to challenge and push themselves — because changing your career is not easy, but it's also one of the most rewarding things you can do!

Stephanie/General Assembly: Our programs at General Assembly are tailored to a beginner student who is passionate about getting into tech and looking to change their career. Sometimes applicants don't know exactly which direction they want to go and we are there to help them along the way to figure out their niche and passions. We want our students to find their passions so they love going to work everyday! 

Jackie/Devmountain: At Devmountain, we embrace a wide variety of backgrounds, which leads to people bringing diversity of past experience and thought that we want celebrated in the workplace and want to capitalize on that. I feel strongly about people not putting themselves in a box of thinking that if they weren’t a mathlete they may not be ready for this career track. We want to help you hone into what you're looking for in a career and in a bootcamp. People who have started that thought process of: what's important to them as a person, in a career, how they see themselves in this tech path forward, and who are ready to put in the time commitment for the program are ideal applicants at Devmountain. 

Course Report takeaway: You can be a beginner in order to start the application process and you can come from a variety of backgrounds, but you do have to understand that this is not an easy career change; you have to be passionate about that career change and intentional.

When should someone apply to a bootcamp? Can they start the process a few months out or should they wait until they’re ready to quit their jobs and start?

Alyssa/Flatiron School: 1-2 months prior to when you want to start. We have start dates every 3-6 weeks, depending on the program, but that should give you plenty of time to get through the application process, which takes about a week depending on your responsiveness to setting up your interview. What takes longer is the 25-60 hours of required pre-work for all of our programs. That can take you about 2-3 weeks to get through depending on which program you choose. Also setting up financing can take some time if you are doing an installment plan or the loan option that we offer. It’s important to give yourself plenty of time to not have to rush through the process. We also offer 10 minute chats if you want more info, which is a good option if you're not yet ready to move forward.

Kalyn/Tech Elevator: I recommend that individuals dig deep into research to understand that this is the right choice for them before making a rash decision to enroll in a program they're not fully committed to. We offer events and opportunities to chat with the bootcamp. Once you know this is the right bootcamp for you, 1-2 months is a sweet spot, but we will enroll up to three weeks before the cohort begins. Tech Elevator also has 35-45 hours worth of pre-work before the class starts. Financing is always a journey and there's a lot of material to get through. Our classes do fill; if students are looking at an in-person option it is first-come-first-serve until that class is completely full. Enrollment can depend on if there are any seats available, but we do waitlists. 

Jonah/Springboard: Springboard offers monthly cohorts, so you can join each month. I suggest doing it earlier, about three weeks in advance just so spots don't fill up, but outside of that, as long as there's availability for said cohort then you can apply at any time. Make sure you know you want to apply to this bootcamp. When you're at the point where you've decided this is something you want to do, you can apply. 

Stephanie/General Assembly: We have start dates listed through November and you can apply at any time. We do recommend 3-4 weeks to give yourself an opportunity to have those conversations, make sure your hardware is set up, and that you understand the pre-work. We do office hours for pre-work as well if students have questions or they want additional clarity. Give yourself plenty of time to get settled and ready to make this major life change!

Jackie/Devmountain: We schedule classes at least two months in advance, so there’s flexibility there if you need to adjust your start date. The time to apply is now! If you have an interest and have started the exploration process, get connected with us so we can help you work out your timeline and answer questions about tuition or other obstacles. It’s a life change! If you find the motivation now, use that momentum to take the next step and we'll help you find the second one!

Course Report Tip: 1-2 months seems to be the ideal time to start the application process.

Should people apply to multiple coding bootcamps, or just put all their eggs in one basket that they’re most excited about? 

Alyssa/Flatiron: Clearly there are multiple bootcamps out there with varying options in terms of their offers. Do your research and try to narrow it down to one or two bootcamps, because sometimes when you apply to so many, it can be hard to narrow it down. Try not to apply to just one unless you're really set on that, but it sounds like everybody's got start dates pretty frequently so if you don't get into your top choice it’s likely you might get accepted into others.  

Kalyn/Tech Elevator: It’s important to know what you want out of a bootcamp going into it. There are a ton of resources out there to narrow your focus based on your must-haves, and you should use them! Course Report is a great resource! I also recommend digging into any program’s Student Outcomes. Dig in, digest, and ask questions. Know what you want out of that bootcamp. Tech Elevator reports to CIRR (the Council on Integrity and Results Reporting). We want our results published — we want them verified and screamed from the rooftops because we sink our heart and soul into every student!

Jonah/Springboard: The more you know about the bootcamp the better. It's important that each person picks the right one for them. We're also not shy at Springboard in saying when it feels like it isn't the right time for someone. We'll happily send them resources and things to look at beforehand. It’s about figuring out your timeline, what you really want, and speaking to as many bootcamps as you can. It's always worth chatting with them on the phone to make sure that this is the one you want to do before you do it. It's definitely worth keeping an eye on what’s out there and learning more about each one.

Stephanie/General Assembly: First of all, kudos to you for joining this live chat and gathering this information! Do your own research and talk to people so you understand what the bootcamp experience is like. We connect incoming students with alumni that volunteer their time to talk about what their process was like throughout the course and after the course. Talk to as many people as you can! Find out what their experience was and make sure that that fits with what you're looking for. 

Jackie/Devmountain: I'm a huge proponent of people researching what school is best for them. At Devmountain we want you on the path that's best for you and it's wonderful hearing about the resources all the schools have, like outcome reports and talking to grads. In the end, a successful school is probably doing multiple elements right, so the biggest thing is finding out what you want to prioritize in the bootcamp, what's important to you, and using that to really narrow down the ones you want to focus on.

Course Report Tip: The admissions process can be a great time for you to actually get to know the school, so apply to at least two bootcamps!

What happens if someone doesn't get into the bootcamp — can they reapply?

Alyssa/Flatiron: In our admissions interview we try to gauge students’ interest in the program, and if we feel that they’re not the right fit, not ready to move forward, or haven't really done their research, we offer our free online prep courses that are the same as the required pre-work for our bootcamps! These are great ways to dive deeper into the program you’re interested in and make sure it’s what you want to do. Timing is another factor — life happens in between planning for the future. But if you really want to move forward, there's an opportunity for that. If for some reason you don't get into a certain program at Flatiron, there’s a three-month waiting period, but we typically cross that bridge when we get there. We want students to be able to start when they're ready!

Kalyn/Tech Elevator: Tech Elevator does not accept everybody into the program — it's a rigorous admissions process because we care about our student outcomes! We don't want to take your money if we don't believe that you can complete the program and get a job as a Junior Software Developer. Everything about Tech Elevator is built in service to do those two things for our bootcampers. We have a six-month waiting period after a rejection is given but we absolutely welcome students back after that. I've seen some people come back two or three times and still see success. 

Jonah/Springboard: It starts with motivation! If we see from the admissions fit interview that someone's not motivated, we'll let them know that this requires a higher level of motivation than it seems they’re ready for. Our Skills Survey comes in handy for our more technical courses, like software engineering and data science, because it allows you to determine your starting point. If you’re just getting started in the field, you can take our 4-week Foundations to get up to speed before the Career Track. If you don't make it through the skills survey, you can take it again in three to four weeks. We'll send you an email with resources and study materials between that time frame. If someone is motivated to change their career we genuinely want to do as much as we can to ensure that they can take the course. We'll do everything we can to get people up to speed before they try again with the Skills Survey.  

Stephanie/General Assembly: We meet every student where they're at individually, so if a student isn't quite academically ready to go into software engineering or data analytics, that's okay! We wouldn’t offer a hard denial for students, we’ll just meet them where they are in their educational journey and see how we can set them up for success. We offer introductory workshops on coding, SQL, and Excel to help build their skill set. Our biggest priority is making sure we do everything we can on the front end to make sure you're prepared and ready for your course!

Jackie/Devmountain: People come to Devmountain with and without related industry experience and we want our course to be valuable across the board. In the Admissions process, we try to hone your goals and meet you where you’re at. If you do not pass the admissions process the first time, specifically in the technical assessment area, it's not a hard fail — we'll help make a plan to give you next steps, whether that’s a prep course or a timeline. Only those who self-select to not move forward are the ones who don't move forward.

Course Report Takeaway: If at first you don't succeed, you can try again! Most bootcamps will make a plan with you to better prepare for the technical assessment and you can re-apply in 1-6 months.

Preparing for the Bootcamp

Do all of your schools offer pre-work, is it free, and do students do the pre-work together? 

Alyssa/Flatiron: Flatiron School’s pre-work is the same curriculum as the prep course for any of our bootcamps. If you start some of the pre-work to test it out to see if we're a good fit, your progress will transfer to your application, and then apply toward the prep course when you start your bootcamp! Once you are admitted to the program you are also added to the Slack channel so you can ask questions. We also provide technical coaches for students after admission, if people are getting stuck somewhere. 

Kalyn/Tech Elevator: We also have 35-45 hours of pre-work for students enrolled in the upcoming courses that they receive 30 days before their programs start. Likewise, we have supportive teams dedicated to the delivery of the program, and we utilize Slack so students can connect and collaborate with their peers — who will be their peers for the next 14 or 30 weeks! It’s also a time for them to get to know the staff and get help working through financing, their actual equipment delivery and setup, as well as the technical portions of the pre-work.

Jonah/Springboard: Our free skill survey is designed to showcase someone's readiness to begin a Career Track. Once enrolled, students have access to the curriculum from two weeks prior to the starting date, so enrolling earlier grants more time with the curriculum. We also offer Introductory courses in Design and Data, if you're still figuring out if you want to take a Career Track. While there is a fee to take these Intro courses, it’ll be refunded if you enroll in one of Springboard’s Career Tracks.

Stephanie/General Assembly: At General Assembly, our pre-work comes after a student applies for the program. At this point they’ve completed an interactive project and enrolled, and granted course pre-work 60 days prior to their start date. The pre-work lays a solid foundation for the course. For software engineering, it lays the foundations of HTML and CSS. Other resources we offer include a personalized Student Success Advisor that ensures students use their available resources, including office hours where you can get questions answered, hardware setup, and ensure readiness for the course to start.

Jackie/Devmountain: Our programs at Devmountain are designed to be friendly towards people who are beginning this journey into the tech world. We don't have required pre-work, but we do require a willingness to explore basic coding concepts like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Anything you bring to that knowledge will be a benefit to you once you start the program. Our program is split into a Foundations and a Specialization format so the first half of our program focuses on key core computer science skills. It'll help to have some existing knowledge but it will be heavily covered in the first half of the program.

The Technical Assessment a.k.a. Coding Challenge

Do applicants need to have a background in programming or any previous coding experience? 

Alyssa/Flatiron: There’s not a coding prerequisite for our software engineering program, but there is a math prereq for data science. 

Kalyn/Tech Elevator: We do require our students to come through the admissions process and be accepted. I recommend that students dabble — there are a ton of free coding resources on our website and on sites like freeCodeCamp and Codecademy. Make sure this is something that you like — this is not an easy program or an easy industry. We want to make sure if you're a career changer or tech adjacent, that you actually enjoy coding because it is likened to a new full-time job and a favorite hobby. It’s not for the light of heart to come through Tech Elevator.

Jonah/Springboard: This is relevant to Data Science and Software Engineering. The level of experience in coding is going to determine your starting point, so if you do have some experience already and it shows through the Skills Survey, you'll start from the top of our Career Track and if you don't, you start with our 4-week Foundations Sprint which will get you up to speed to the starting point of the Career Track.

Stephanie/General Assembly: Courses at General Assembly are beginner-friendly for Software Engineering, UX Design, and Data Analytics but with everything knowledge is power! Take advantage of workshops now. Even if you don't understand the language or jargon in a workshop now, when you see it again in the course for a second time you'll get it! For Data Science it’s important to come in with a foundation in Python so that time in the course can be spent learning advanced skills. Data Science is our only intermediate level course and it’s in-depth! If you want to pursue data science and you haven’t developed that skill in Python, reach out to us to learn about workshops and pre-courses. 

Jackie/Devmountain: At Devmountain, we don't have a hard requirement for previous knowledge, just a willingness to explore. Prep programs are a great way to explore and help ease feelings of confusion around the right fit. Prep programs can also introduce you to the school you're looking at. Devmountain has a four-week prep program called Coding Basics that we keep at a very low cost so that it isn't a barrier to take that first step! You’ll skill up what you bring in so it's a great way to start off on the right foot. 

How hard do you think it is to get accepted into your school? Is it important for a bootcamp to have a rigorous application process?

Alyssa/Flatiron: The tech industry is rigorous, so the application process to get into the industry should also be intentionally rigorous! Flatiron School doesn’t accept everyone but we want to make sure that who we do accept is willing to invest a significant amount of time and money to make sure the desired outcome is achieved. 

Kalyn/Tech Elevator: I do think it’s hard to get into Tech Elevator but I also think there are misconceptions about what it takes to break into tech. People often think they’re not smart enough to do it and it's absolutely not true! These misconceptions about what it takes to develop are the reasons that bootcamps exist and it's the most exciting part about this evolution in education. Absolutely try your hand at it because you do not need to be the smartest person in the room and you do not need to know calculus to become a software developer — it's absolutely accessible. Let the aptitude test inform how you can get there!

Jonah/Springboard: If you’ve already decided that you want to embark on this journey to career change, I don’t think it’s hard. If you’re not ready or you have doubts, it’s going to seem a lot more challenging than when you’re confident in your decision. We ask a lot of questions to make sure that this is the right fit for both of us so that everyone is successful.

Stephanie/General Assembly: It’s not necessarily difficult to get into General Assembly; our biggest challenge is that our program is in such demand that it fills up quickly! We want to make sure that we have a seat available for you. As long as you have the motivation and the will to change your career, we can help you do that.

Jackie/Devmountain: It’s not hard to get into Devmountain. Our goal in the admissions process is to help identify your goals and give you a chance to explore the field you're considering as a career! It's a vulnerable experience to consider this career change so our team mindset is to support and guide you as you build momentum into this field. Usually, those who don't want to move forward don't get accepted.

What is the technical interview like at your bootcamp? Is there a coding challenge or a technical assessment?

Alyssa/Flatiron: Flatiron School doesn't have a technical assessment, we have a non-technical admissions interview and an aptitude assessment gauging critical thinking and problem solving skills. Applicants have 15 minutes to answer as many of 50 questions as they can.

Kalyn/Tech Elevator: We do not have any technical coding requirements prior to day one. We do have an aptitude test based on problem solving, pattern recognition, and logic skills. All of our tests are predictive of success. We want to make sure those are actually telling us something about somebody's journey with us. They're also certified as unbiased, which was something else that was really really important to us.

Jonah/Springboard: We have a Skills Survey tailored to each of our courses. We keep it pretty buttoned up on what's inside them content-wise, but they take roughly between 30-60 minutes to complete and we ask that the student try and do it that same day, because it encourages getting in the mindset of meeting deadlines. In terms of the content, the only ones that require actual hard coding will be Software Engineering and Data Science but you can do that with any language of your choice.

Stephanie/General Assembly: We give students 2-3 days to work on their project and it is tailored for their program. Our projects are fun and engaging! It’s a great opportunity for students to test drive the program. Software Engineering is beginner-friendly with detailed directions but it allows students to get hands-on with coding, which a lot of students haven’t had yet. It allows them to play around with HTML and CSS, rearrange some images on a website, and do a bit of JavaScript backend. For UX Design, we focus on the research aspect and creating a customer persona. For Data Science, we give students large data sets and ask them to analyze data and answer specific questions. Our projects are made to benefit the student and allow them to test drive the program, get excited about it, and make sure it's a great fit! Then we reflect casually on their project via Zoom. We go over what they liked about it, any challenges they encountered, and reiterate if it's a good fit for them.

Jackie/Devmountain: At Devmountain, we do have a technical assessment as the last step in the application process and an applicant does need to clear it in order to proceed to admission. It's timed at 30 minutes, in multiple choice quiz format and broken down into three segments: HTML, JavaScript, and critical thinking. There are questions that deal with: how you problem solve, how you work through the nature of problem solving, and self-efficacy. All of that gives us a good window into not just where you are skill wise but also how you could potentially do in the course. If you don't pass the first time you can take it again. A lot of the answers you’re looking for can be found in the directions in the question as long as you're looking at it in the right way. 

Job Outcomes and Admissions

How should an applicant consider Job Outcomes when choosing the right school?

Alyssa/Flatiron School: Flatiron School has a jobs report audited by a 3rd party and we just released our 2021 Jobs Report! The data is broken out by program, discipline, online or in-person, full-time or part-time, where graduates get jobs, and what that salary looks like. We also have an Alumni tab on our website where you can see where all of our students got jobs. If there is a role or company that you're looking into you can always search there and connect with our alumni, many of whom love talking about their journey! We also have a podcast on our YouTube page where alumni talk about their job outcome and where they're at now. Listening to student testimonies is a great way to assess student outcomes. 

Kalyn/Tech Elevator: We report to CIRR who has strict guidelines on how they take and audit those reports. It’s really important to understand what you're looking at — you want to know that those reports are counted as “in Market” or “in Industry.” At Tech Elevator we don't count jobs that are not in technology, they're within 180 days of graduation, and there are no exceptions — if a student does not opt out of the job search on day one they are in that report. Remember too as you look at bootcamps that are making their way from in-person to online that you dig into your local area and community reports. We aggregate average starting salaries, but for the last six years we've been primarily based in the Midwest, so if you’re on the coast or in a higher cost-of-living, dig into some of those local reports! Plus, remote offers are changing the way things are happening right now. 

Jonah/Springboard: We have all of our career outcomes pretty clearly on our website. The main area for us is the Job Guarantee eligibility, so if you don't get your job within six months of finishing the course, then you'll get a full refund of the course! As it stands of job-qualified individuals we've seen 93% of them receive a job offer within finishing the course. The way we get there is through our Career Services team which are present throughout whichever course you do and they offer 1:1 career coaching during the course and for six months after. These people are experts in the field — they've been VPs, Directors at companies, they've previously coached professionals to land new roles. It comes down to the reality that when you have a portfolio that has the work people are looking for and you have a team of people that are actually helping you get that job, that's what really helps people stand out. It’s important for a potential student to ask those questions to whichever bootcamp you're speaking to. If career outcomes are important to you in choosing a bootcamp, thoroughly ask about it and pick the one that resonates with you most.

Stephanie/General Assembly: We also have an Outcomes Report completed by a 3rd party, information broken down for each program, and we also have dedicated Career Coaches. The advantage to General Assembly is that we are owned by Adecco, one of the largest talent sourcing agencies! We have resources and established partnerships that we’ve cultivated over the last decade. Our students have access to job boards and postings that our Career Coaches guide them to that they may not see anywhere else! Ask questions about a bootcamp’s outcomes, their partnerships, and determine what kind of company you’re looking to work for. Explore each school and the information posted to collect the answers you need. 

Jackie/Devmountain: The outcomes and getting that first job position is the goal from day one. It is time well spent due diligence in exploring what information is posted and how it was collected for each school. At Devmountain, we have Outcomes posted on our website that go through an intensive legal review process, which is usually why we don't have as up-to-date numbers as we always wish because we want to make sure we're giving you the most clear and correct picture. Beyond looking at numbers of outcome and graduation numbers, other elements that were talked about can be just as important in your job search. Devmountain has an Outcomes team that works in the classroom with you. Part of the curriculum is career related, like resume workshopping and negotiating salary. Outside of the classroom we do 1:1 consulting, hiring events. Ask questions about what other elements are a part of the Outcomes effort of the school you're looking at. We call it “Recruiting in Reverse” because a lot of our outcome team members have been tech recruiters previously, which really helps them give good insight into how to help you get that first position.

Lightning Round [with downloadable PDF]

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About The Author

Liz is the cofounder of Course Report, the most complete resource for students researching coding bootcamps. Her research has been cited in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch, and more. She loves breakfast tacos and spending time getting to know bootcamp alumni and founders all over the world. Check out Liz & Course Report on Twitter, Quora, and YouTube!

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