In this series, we’re asking alumni the question on everyone’s mind: “Is a Coding Bootcamp Worth It?” Because let’s face it: when you’re spending $12,000 to $20,000 on a coding bootcamp, you want to be sure that it will be worth your money and your time. First up – General Assembly graduate Ileana Ordonez tells us how much she budgeted for coding bootcamp, how she squeezed the most value out of her coding bootcamp experience, and whether her new salary makes the investment "worth it.” Watch the video or read the summary.

Name: Ileana Ordonez
Graduated: December 2017 from General Assembly’s Web Development Immersive
Her New Job: Data Visualization Developer at New York City Department of Education
Salary Increase: 4x her previous salary!

Ileana’s Background before Coding Bootcamp

  • Graduated from Montclair State University with a linguistics and anthropology major
  • Inspired to learn to code after seeing how successful her friends were as software developer friends after graduating from General Assembly
  • One of her biggest inspirations is Margaret Hamilton, who wrote computer code to send the U.S. to the moon (also Ileana’s doppleganger!)
     

The Decision: College vs Self Teaching vs Coding Bootcamp

College was too expensive and would take around two years – way more time than a coding bootcamp.

When Ileana was trying to teach herself, she found online courses unmotivating.

So why did Ileana decide on a coding bootcamp?

  • She read a lot of great reviews for General Assembly and knew successful people who graduated from there
  • She felt it was better for her to be in a classroom setting
  • It was helpful having guidance from developers who were actually working in the tech industry.
  • It was helpful having deadlines and being fully immersed in the program
  • Did she make the right decision?

“I graduated from General Assembly and now my life's really great.” – Ileana
 

How Much to Budget for Coding Bootcamp

  • Ileana calculated how much she would need for three and a half months worth of rent, food, bills, plus a two-month cushion incase she couldn’t find a job straight away.
  • Adding in the coding bootcamp tuition, she calculated she would need a total of $25,000
  • “That sounds expensive but it was totally worth it, absolutely worth it.”
     

Getting the Most Value out of Coding Bootcamp

“When I spent that large amount of cash and I knew that I wanted to be a developer, I really wanted to get the most out of coming to a bootcamp.” – Ileana

Here’s how she did it:

  • Ileana would stay late working at General Assembly
  • She made use of the resources there
  • After General Assembly taught her how to teach herself and research on her own, she taught herself a new skill that wasn’t in the curriculum
  • She taught herself data visualization, which helped her find a job within a month of graduating

“Anyone can be a full-stack developer, and that's a really amazing skill to have, but to have on top of that, a focus, is even better.” – Ileana
 

The “After”: Ileana’s New Job

  • Ileana is now a Data Visualization Developer for the New York City Department of Education
  • She works remotely
  • She is the only developer so she does everything including back-end, front-end, Design, user experience, and deployment
  • “It's intense but I was able to learn all those skills at GA and I'm so proud that I can actually do that now.”
     

Was Coding Bootcamp Worth it?

“Coding boot camp was absolutely worth it.” – Ileana

Here’s why:

  • General Assembly taught Ileana how to negotiate using her specialty in data visualization.

I knew exactly how much I was worth when I negotiated. I got exactly what I was looking for – I actually got more than what I was looking for which blew my mind and I'm really happy about it.”

  • Ileana quantifies her ROI:

“From what my salary was before to what it is now it's four times more than what I was getting paid before.”

  • Overall, Ileana is proud to be a first generation female developer in the U.S. She’s “trying to fulfill the American dream that my parents came to this country for.” This new job means she can help her parents out, she can go on vacation, and save up money.
     

Ileana’s Tips for Success

  • Have tunnel vision
  • Don't have a plan B – really focus on what you're trying to do
  • Go full force and push through challenges

“Just keep going, you’re going to get there!”
 

Find out more and read General Assembly reviews on Course Report. Check out the General Assembly website.

FURTHER READING

About The Author

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Imogen is a writer and content producer who loves writing about technology and education. Her background is in journalism, writing for newspapers and news websites. She grew up in England, Dubai and New Zealand, and now lives in Brooklyn, NY.

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