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By Code FellowsNovember 8, 2013

Do I need programming experience to be accepted into a Code Fellows bootcamp?

This is by far the most common question we hear from bootcamp applicants. The short answer is “yes” – our evening classes and workshops are better suited for absolute beginners – but, interestingly, we are seeing a steady stream of two different kinds of programmers make it into bootcamps and successfully land jobs afterwards.

Passionate Beginners

The first kind of successful applicants are relatively new to programming, but have demonstrated rapid learning of the languages and frameworks related to the bootcamp they are applying for (i.e. Objective-C/Cocoa, Ruby/Rails, Python/Django, or JavaScript and one or more JS Frameworks such as Backbone.js, Ember.js, Spine.js, Node.js, Angular.js, etc…). These candidates have taken many online coding tutorials and have already started populating their GitHub.com profiles with plenty of code that demonstrates their learning. It is also evident from their Twitter feed and LinkedIn profiles that they are involved in the tech community and are passionate about code.

We have seen, however, relatively beginner-level candidates make it in to bootcamps (and land jobs afterward) who created their GitHub.com accounts during the application process and passed the coding challenges we gave them with flying colors. This is more rare, however – and in light of this, one of the main reasons why we started offering evening classes and workshops is to help prepare beginners as best as possible for gaining entrance into our bootcamps and/or guide them down a path toward landing a job in the software development industry.

Experienced Programmers

The second kind, as you can imagine, are experienced programmers looking to make an intense, 8-week shift into a new language or framework. These candidates tend to be either self-taught with many years as a developer/designer, or they have had formal software development training in school and have graduated with a math, physics, or computer science degree.

The Common Ground

For both kinds of candidates, what is essential is being able to quickly learn new technical skills and being able to understand and apply computer science concepts in real-world projects. Because we are preparing students to hit the ground running in development teams immediately after graduation, it is critical for students to have – by the end of the bootcamp - a working knowledge of common data structures and algorithms (we do a large amount of teaching on this). This is important for for both passing technical interviews and for being the best possible asset for development teams over the long run.

If you think you would be a great candidate for a Code Fellows bootcamp, we would encourage you to prepare yourself first (as fast as possible, per the mechanisms we described above) and then apply – seats fill up fast.

If you’re still not sure if you’d be a great fit and would like to chat, feel free to contact us.