Giuseppe Frustaci is passionate about using technology to connect with people, tell stories, and educate. A graduate of Launch Academy and now its Marketing Manager, Giuseppe spends his days writing about coding and how people learn to code. Here, he explores reasons for a bootcamper to pick up roots and move to a new city for a code school (and why it's not for everyone)!
You’re at that point in your life where you want to make a change in your career. Awesome! Now you have to figure out which bootcamp you want to go to, and you have so many to choose from. Hopefully you’re not pulling out your hair trying to make a decision, but if you are, we’re here to help you narrow down your options.
One of the biggest questions is whether you should stay in your current city or move to a new one. Although moving away, even if temporarily, can make life difficult, I recommend doing so. Why? Bootcamps are very intense. Just like any educational program, they require your full focus so that you can get the most out of the experience. One of the biggest benefits of moving to a new city is the freedom from distractions. Imagine for a moment attending a bootcamp where you currently live. If you have friends and family in the area, they're going to want to hang out. It can be really hard to constantly (and I do mean constantly) tell them you don't have time to meet up, and they may take it personally. They may try to persuade you that "it's only one drink." Going to a new city completely avoids this issue. You're hundreds or thousands of miles away. You literally can’t say yes.
Additionally, going away to a bootcamp affords you the same opportunity for an opened mind that you’d experience going away to college. You're working on a new thing with new friends in a new place. There's something magical about totally immersing yourself in exploration mode. If you go to a new city, you won't have any habits or routines. You're experiencing it all for the first time. This opens your mind and helps create a welcoming and curious mindset, which will inevitably make you a better programmer.
There are however good reasons to stay local. Maybe you have family obligations. You’re married and your spouse is working a job (s)he loves and doesn’t want to move. Or you need to take care of children and leaving your spouse alone for a few months would make this difficult. If you decide to stay, you need to make sure your family understands that you will be very busy. Realistically, you will probably only be available in a worst-case scenario or a limited capacity. If you take it seriously, which you should, the bootcamp will take up almost all of your time. Unfortunately, spouses and other family members sometimes don’t understand this. Make it clear that you will have late-night and weekend team projects and you can’t procrastinate. You will have teammates who depend on you, and you can’t expect them to wait while you finish your end of the project.
Maybe you have medical needs. If you need specialized medical care, you probably already trust your local doctors who are familiar with your particular case file. If you’re the sole care-taker of someone else like a parent or your spouse and moving with them is unrealistic, then you should probably stay local. If you decide to stay, don’t forget to consider how much of your time caretaking occupies. Because the bootcamp will eat up a good chunk of your time, you may want to enlist some help from friends or family to help manage the medical care.
Another good reason for not moving is if you know you want to work in the area where you currently live after the bootcamp. If you already live in San Francisco, and you want to work in San Francisco, then by all means, find a bootcamp in San Francisco. Have you explored other cities though? If you have explored other cities and you know you hate those places, then don’t move. If you haven’t, keep your options open. All in all, it’s ok if you can’t move. Just make sure that your local options are among the best so you get the most out of your bootcamp experience.
If none of the reasons above apply to you, and of course it’s not a comprehensive list, then you should try exploring a new city. You’re spending a good hunk of money to attend a top-notch bootcamp, so get your money’s worth. Most of the best bootcamps are in metropolitan areas like Boston, San Francisco, NYC, Austin and Chicago because these larger cities tend to be more tech-friendly. Larger cities usually benefit from numerous young college graduates (coworkers), a large pool of tech-oriented companies (jobs), and a healthy pool of investors (money to fund startups). The areas I mentioned are similarly expensive to each other, so there’s not much cost savings in choosing one city over the other. In fact, choosing a major city for a few months is not really going to increase your cost of living that much. For a few years, sure. But for three or four months, you’re not going to notice much of a difference relative to your current cost of living.
You also shouldn’t stay if you just don’t want to deal with the hassle of moving. Programmers are paid to solve problems, and you’re going to feel frustrated in the course of your career. You will spend long nights trying to debug your programs. There will be lines of code written by your coworkers that just don’t make sense. Your client might request a project with an unrealistic deadline. Your team might not agree on how to approach a problem. Dealing with hassles will be a constant part of your job and you need to have the proper mindset in order to be successful.
Beyond the curriculum and teachers at the bootcamp, community is one of the most important factors to consider in choosing a bootcamp. It will impact the teacher pool, guest speakers, meetups, and job opportunities after the bootcamp. After the bootcamp, most bootcamp students stay in the city where they study, so it’s important that you decide on which community you want to be part of. If you’re unsure how to choose, check out our guide to selecting your bootcamp community. You should choose a location that maximizes your learning opportunities, ability to find a kick-butt job, and connect with people who you mesh well with.
Flatiron School instructor Graham Troyer-Joy explains object-oriented programming for beginners!
Thinkful Design Product Manager Terry Million explains the differences, and how to get started!