October 22, 2014

Unsure what to do next? Consider coding.

Vish touching glasses

Unsure what to do after school? Arfah Farooq from the Makers Academy has some sound advice for people considering their options.

It’s that time of the year where deciding what to do with your life, or at least the next 3 years, has come. They’re many choices, many different kinds of university degrees and other alternative options out there. The tech sector is growing REALLY fast and maybe you’re interested in starting your own startup or working for a tech company but you lack technical skills.

A report this week showed that graduates with computer science degree from certain universities start off with the highest starting salary so the obvious choice is to go study a computer science degree at an institution that has been doing it for years. The benefits of a computer science degree are that you get to understand on a much deeper level about the fundamentals of how computers work, there are some practical elements depending on the course and institute, but the reality is that most CS courses are heavy on the theory. It’ll cost you on average £9000 a year but most importantly three years of your life with no guarantee of a job in the end.

There are however other alternatives out there. Hacker Schools like Makers Academy: Europe’s number 1 bootcamp.

Makers Academy runs short intense coding bootcamps that not only teach you to code but get you job ready and place you in jobs. The course lasts for 12 weeks, costs £8000 but has a track record of turning n00bs into developers who go onto become junior developers in companies like ThoughtWorks and Sky.

The key main differences between a computer science degree and a hacker school are as follows:

  • Time: University takes 3 years of your life and a hacker school will only take 12 weeks but those weeks will be intense and require a special kind of resilience and passion.
  • Technology Trends: 3 years is a lifetime in technology. We bring in a cohort of new students every 6 weeks but the curriculum is adjusted every time to stay on top of trends. Universities unfortunately have a lot red tape, like getting permission to change the curriculum, to retraining lecturers hence why they tend to focus more on the theoretical aspects.
  • Practical hard skills: Coding Bootcamps focus on the practicals. You learn by doing and use industry best practices in your app development. You learn how to quickly build and get something out there. With the technical skills gap widening learning the practicals is essential. A 2012 study found only 40% of ‘Software Engineer, Programmer or Computer Scientist’ roles were filled by Computer Science (CS) degree holders. Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Ellison have no degrees of any kind – something they share with 47% of web developers.
  • Employment: It is predicted that 300,000 new recruits are needed to fill IT employment gaps by 2023 (UKCES). this has to be done fast and a part of our business model is charging companies a hiring fee. Universities don’t get money once a student leaves, hacker schools (the good ones at least) do, because the quality of their students is so high and there’s a huge skills gap to fill.

Final advice? Go visit open days for universities and hacker schools, talk to the students, talk to the coaches, and figure out what’s right for you. We have one on Friday 26th October, so if you’re serious about learning to code, come along and meet the team.

22.10.14, Arfah Farooq, The Makers Academy