7 Questions to Ask When Picking a Remote Coding Bootcamp

Laptop with GC Notebook next to it

Coding bootcamps have created an accelerated, affordable path for anyone looking to earn a career in tech. While a Computer Science degree requires four years of college, coding bootcamps can teach the technical skills necessary to work in the industry within a few months and at a fraction of the cost. Offering the bootcamp model remotely further increases the accessibility of a career in tech for some students. No longer do students need to take things like commuting, parking or meal prep into consideration. They can log on from the comfort of their home and dedicate themselves to learning to code. This model can also provide lessons in much-needed virtual communication skills, helping students adapt to the changing world and needs of employers. 

All remote coding bootcamps are not created equally, though. Committing to any bootcamp requires research and careful consideration. Here are seven questions to ask when picking an online coding bootcamp.  

7 Questions to Ask When Picking a Remote Coding Bootcamp 

1. What’s Better: Self-Led or Instructor-Led? 

There are quite a few ways to learn how to code online. Online coding tutorials can range from short lessons to full coding bootcamps and can be self-led or instructor-led experiences. 

Self-led lessons on sites like Codeacemy, Udemy and Team Treehouse provide introductory instructions but aren’t typically comprehensive enough to make a career shift into tech. If you’re preparing for a full coding bootcamp, these are a great resource to jumpstart your programming knowledge. 

Remote bootcamps, on the other hand, are extensive programs that offer a robust curriculum. These bootcamps can be done through two main structures: self-led learning using self-paced videos and various Q&A formats vs. live, online instructor-led classrooms. Determining if a self-led or instructor-led learning model is right for you depends on your ultimate goals and learning style. Here is a breakdown of some of their key differences: 

Self Led versus Instructor Led Graphic

2. Where Do Graduates of This Program Work? 

If earning a career in tech is your ultimate goal, evaluate how well a remote bootcamp can support that. Is the program designed to connect you the tech industry and help guide your understanding of the job market? Is the curriculum crafted to meet the current needs of employers? 

Do some research on the employers hiring in your area. Evaluate what type of company and position you’re looking for. Then, take a look at the bootcamp’s employer network to ensure they can help you find the type of career you’re interested in. 

A remote bootcamp with a strong employer network can increase your connections and help you identify which positions are a right fit for your goals. With alumni working at various businesses, that can increase the bootcamps’ credibility in the market and the company’s relationship to future grads. 

Grand Circus is proud to work with more than 350 companies to hire our graduates. Whether you’re looking for a small startup or prefer a large corporation, our employer network has a wide range of opportunities. These employers value the adaptability and innovation of our students and appreciate the real-world skills that come with remote learning. Each bootcamp, whether remote or in person, includes a student demo day — giving every student the opportunity to showcase what they’ve learned, engage with employers, and present their final projects. 

3. Will I Gain Practical Knowledge?

Employers want to see graduates’ programming skills and coding portfolios. Some online bootcamps rely solely on assessments to evaluate student progress. Grand Circus, on the other hand, ensures every student has real-world experience, a full coding portfolio and final project that can help them stand out in the job market. Our curriculum is crafted, evaluated and adjusted based on employer feedback and the current needs of the tech industry. This ensures every student graduates with skills that can be used on day one in their new careers. 

Students also get lessons on collaborating remotely including insights on how to manage timelines virtually, online communication tools, and video conferencing. This knowledge is often immediately useful when starting on a global team or one with flexible work environments. 

4. How Much Teaching Experience Does the Bootcamp Have? 

As the need for tech talent has increased, new coding bootcamps seem to be popping up all the time. In fact, there are 11 times the amount of coding bootcamps now than there were in 2013. When researching a remote coding bootcamp, be sure the company you select has credibility and experience teaching tech. While programming experience is also important, it’s much different to write code than it is to teach code. 

Grand Circus has been an integral part of Michigan’s tech scene since its start in 2013. We were a pioneer in the bootcamp industry: one of the first. We’ve trained 1,600 bootcampers and have adapted our in-person curriculum and support to remote classrooms. The strength of our community and adaptability in teaching techniques continues throughout our online bootcamp. 

5. What is the Time Commitment?

Learning to code is a process. It’s often one that comes with lessons on how to learn. While a coding bootcamp can’t teach you everything you’ll need to know to work in the industry, quality bootcamps will give you insights on resources that you can use to find an answer when you don’t know it.

It’s important to understand if your remote coding bootcamp will provide enough instructional time for you to gain the skills you’re looking for. A bootcamp offering 20 hours of instructional time is unlikely to prepare you for a career shift. It might be a great way for you to get acquainted with a certain programming language, though.  You should look for a program with at least two hundred hours of classroom time to build the foundational skills you’ll need to work in tech.

Be clear on how much time you’ll need to dedicate to being on your computer, what the bootcamp is promising to teach you, and how those skills can be applied to your goals.

A daytime, instructor-led remote bootcamp is typically an all-day commitment for a few months.  If you’re doing a part-time or after-hours bootcamp, this classroom time will be spread out over a longer timeframe. 

Prospective students also need to consider the lifestyle changes that might be necessary to accommodate their dedication to the program. Determine what additional support might be needed for things like child care and food planning. 

6. What Other Support Does the Program Provide? 

Most remote bootcamps focus on technical training and provide support solely through their instructional team. This can slow the process of getting questions answered, doesn’t provide clarity on career opportunities, and lacks focus on the students’ whole well being. 

At Grand Circus, we have a full staff to support every aspect of learning and students’ overall well being. Each classroom has an instructor and TA to guide students’ learning experiences. Additionally, our Career Services team is dedicated to educating students on the career search. They provide insights on resumes, employers, Imposter Syndrome and more.  Students will also get a dedicated Program Manager for the duration of the bootcamp. This Program Manager will talk to students individually about their progress and any challenges they may be facing. They lead feedback sessions and work to create the best possible experience for every student. 

7. What Kind of At-Home Setup Will I Need? 

Daily life in a home can add unexpected challenges to a remote learning experience. Be sure you have a quiet place to work and listen to instructors. Your setup doesn’t have to be extensive, but it’s important to have a comfortable place that you can work without interruption. 

Also, confirm that your technical equipment can support your needs. Fully participating in a virtual classroom requires quality WiFi, a computer microphone and a camera.  A nice-to-have is two screens (or even a tablet) so you can watch videos while actively coding on a different screen. 

There are many ways to learn programming! As with any bootcamp, preparation beforehand and dedication to the program is key to your success. A remote coding bootcamp offers an accessible option for students looking to gain virtual communication skills and reduces the need for some lifestyle changes.