5 Code School Myths

After talking to code schools across the country, it’s clear that there a few myths floating around we wanted to clear up. And while life after code school may not be as easy as it once sounded, don’t let the truth keep you from following your dreams! The fact that you’re here means you already likely have what it takes to pursue a career in tech!


Transcript:

[00:00:00] Expectation minus communication equals frustration. Today, we are going to talk about the myths. And misconceptions about code school.

Welcome to effectively human, where we discuss how to close the knowledge gap between technology and the people who use it each week. Your host Morgan Lopes will share real life practical tools on how to bridge the gap. Let’s jump in.

The first thing that we’re going to talk about is the idea of getting a job. And many people think that simply having gone to code school or a bootcamp means getting a job will be easy. And the truth is getting a job. The job that you want that aligns with your desires and expectations is never easy.

Of course, there are some people who could [00:01:00] do it very quickly or without much effort, but that is uncommon and simply not true for most people. I want to bring it back to math. The average candidate applying for a job may apply to six, seven, or eight other jobs. But the average employer is looking at between 50 and 500 applicants on an individual role.

The math just doesn’t add up. If you are in a small to medium sized city, applying to a handful of roles, there are too many other people to compete with. And so as you look for jobs, Diversifying your search and over-indexing on the number of jobs that you apply to gives yourself a greater chance.

Myth number two: I will learn everything I need to know at code school. The truth is there is too much to know. The longer I spend in technology, the more this becomes true. The industry is growing and it is moving [00:02:00] faster in all kinds of directions. It is impossible to learn everything that there is to know in a matter of weeks, months, or even years.

So to think that a school could not only take all of that information and simplify it down into something that can be taught in a matter of weeks to people who come to the table with very little starting experience is unreasonable. You will not learn everything you need to know in code school or in a bootcamp, it is like drinking from a fire hose.

The important part is not capturing all of the water that comes out, but it is learning the discipline of grabbing what matters and being okay not knowing everything. A common gap that students experience when leaving code school is around writing tests. You may hear it called a unit tests or acceptance test, but writing code that tests the code that you write.

And that is something that quite frankly, I don’t think it’s reasonable for code schools to expect to take someone [00:03:00] from no previous knowledge all the way through to code that writes code. That is a very big gap. And so students often graduate, they go into their job and are then expected to write tests around their code.

And regret that they did not learn that in school, but the reality is that’s too high of a bar. And in many cases, writing tests is a great skill to learn on the job. When you have instruction and a context that shows you the importance of writing those tests, you cannot learn everything in a bootcamp.

The third myth is around salary and compensation. Many students expect to make high five and six figure salaries coming out of code school. This is not only an unreasonable expectation. It is something that I would caution many students or graduates against pursuing. And the biggest reason is value.

Early on in my business life my CPA actually had shared with me that [00:04:00] as you think about hiring someone, they should produce three times the value that you pay them. So if you were getting a hundred thousand dollars a year salary, your employer should expect you to be able to produce $300,000 in value. Where that becomes challenging as somebody who is very early on in their career, that doesn’t leave a lot of room for them to learn and make mistakes and level up their understanding, because that is a lot of value that is expected to be delivered with very little experience.

Keep in mind that employers are often buying quality and output and consistency and experience and even connections to new people to hire and others within the industry. And for someone coming out of code school, many of those things aren’t available yet in the context that you work.

And so six figure salaries out of code school is a pretty unrealistic expectation. There’s also a tension that emerges around learning [00:05:00] versus earning and early on in someone’s career. The value of learning is very high and sometimes that comes at the cost of earning lots of money. Fortunately, there are other ways of getting really great benefits when transitioning into your first entry level job in tech.

There are health insurance benefits and differences with work, life balance and all kinds of creative ways that technology has rewarded great team members. And so it’s not about the salary as much as it is the peripherals that can come with a first opportunity in tech.

The fourth myth that we are going to talk about is code school, being the hard part of getting into tech.

I hear this with many people who have graduated and have spent many months looking for jobs, or maybe they’ve jumped into their first full time paid position. They realize that code school was the beginning of the hard work. Not the end. [00:06:00] If we are investing in a career of software engineering, then the learning doesn’t stop.

The best engineers are continually learning and leveling up their skills well into the years and decades into their career in technology. And so code school is not the hard part. It is the beginning of the work that unlocks new opportunities and new challenges to keep putting in the effort and pushing yourself in your career.

The final myth that we are going to cover myth, number five is: the code school is responsible for helping me find a job. It is incredibly generous of code schools to spend so much energy in career development and in placement. But at the end of the day, code schools are incentivized to retain students.

So a tuition based model, which is most schools. They’re incentivized to retain students. To get them through the program. And yes, there’s all kinds of value in helping [00:07:00] students get jobs. But getting a great job is the responsibility of the software engineer. It is our responsibility as professionals to own our own experience.

Now having unpacked a lot of these myths and the corresponding truths that often come with them. It might sound like the cards are stacked against you. In reality, you’ve already done the most important work which is taking action, which is the first, most important step. Next, we are going to talk about getting leverage in the interview process and how to take the hard work that you’ve already put in and set yourself up for success.

Thanks for listening to effectively human. Want to join in on the conversation? Submit your questions on effectivelyhuman.tech to hear them on the show. And of course subscribe so you never miss a beat.

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