Getty Images

Prospects unclear for two Nucamp coding boot camp graduates

A coding boot camp can jumpstart a career in tech, but only for those willing to go the extra mile. Here's how two non-developers fared in a four-week web development boot camp.

The stories of two coding boot camp students show that anyone can learn to code and pursue a career in software development, regardless of previous experience. But that doesn't mean a coding boot camp is child's play or that its career benefits are assured.

Interior designer and photographer Megan Carswell Gladden and marketing analyst Carla Velasquez-Deulofeu both wanted to learn how to code and explore new opportunities in tech. They signed up for Nucamp's Web Development Fundamentals course, a four-week coding boot camp designed to introduce non-coders to HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

Passing the course -- which Gladden and Velasquez-Deulofeu attended in November -- takes effort and perseverance. JavaScript is hard to learn, said instructor Kevin Gay, a full-stack engineer at Apollidon Learning, an education marketing firm based in Tampa, Fla. Gay has taught a dozen Nucamp Doncourses, including Web Development Fundamentals, since 2020.

That's not to say non-coders can't learn JavaScript, he said. "Anyone can do anything. But are you willing? That's when most [people] quit."

Nucamp Instructor Kevin Gay, full-stack engineer at Apollidon LearningKevin Gay

With determination and hard work, Gladden and Velasquez-Deulofeu learned some of the skills they need to succeed as web developers. Velasquez-Deulofeu struggled to grasp JavaScript syntax, despite prior experience with custom code changes on website testing platform Google Optimize.

"The syntax is still very difficult for me to get my head around," she said.

Gladden, who had no prior coding experience, echoed Velasquez-Deulofeu's sentiments.

"JavaScript about killed me at first," she said.

From interior design to web design

Gladden graduated with a bachelor's degree in interior design and worked as a corporate interior designer and sales representative before taking a break to raise her children. She signed up for Nucamp's Web Development Fundamentals boot camp to get her feet wet in web development, with the goal of landing a corporate job.

Nucamp student Megan Carswell Gladden passed the course with no prior coding experience.Megan Carswell Gladden

"I have a lot to offer, and I want to be in a role that serves others," she said. "I also miss being around other like-minded people, collaborating and seeing pr­­ojects come to life."

Although Gladden had no coding experience, she worked on Squarespace, a tool that allows users to create a website with a drag-and-drop interface that requires no coding. But building web pages with a programming language adds a layer of abstraction and removes the visual aids of such tools -- something that Gladden struggled with at first.

"I'm a visual learner, so I need patience and time -- and visuals -- to begin to understand these languages," she said.

Gladden said she passed the class after hours of research and experimentation in Visual Studio Code. A Live Server plugin -- a browser extension recommended by Gay during a workshop that dynamically updates web pages in development -- helped her to visualize the code's purpose.

"This is how I learned photography. So I know the hours and dedication it takes," she said. "But I believe it will be worth it."

From marketing to technical lead

Velasquez-Deulofeu has a master's degree in public administration and works as a senior analyst and web analytics strategist at marketing and advertising agency Merge, based in Denver, Colo. She signed up for Nucamp's Web Development Fundamentals boot camp to advance into a position as a technical lead, adding coding expertise to her in-depth knowledge of creative strategies.

For now, Velasquez-Deulofeu said that she is the 'unofficial' tech lead at Merge.

"But I'm hoping to add it onto my current title, with the opportunity to make manager soon enough," she said.

Part of her job requires some custom JavaScript and an understanding of the page Document Object Model, which defines standards for how to modify HTML elements, she said. Before the boot camp, she was self-taught and got by well.

"But the more I was working on conversion rate optimization strategies, the more I realized, 'I don't have the fundamental knowledge of HTML, CSS and JavaScript to deepen my abilities,'" she said.

Some exposure to coding was helpful to understand the HTML and CSS presented at the beginning of the course, Velasquez-Deulofeu said. And despite her frustration with JavaScript syntax in weeks three and four, she passed the class.

Optimism and uncertainty mix for coding boot camp graduates

Gladden and Velasquez-Deulofeu both have college degrees. This may have factored into their success, Gay said. In his experience, people with degrees do better than their non-degreed peers.

"It's not necessarily the previous coding experience they may have had in college," Gay said, "but more the discipline to study and learn what's needed."

This is how I learned photography. So I know the hours and dedication it takes. But I believe it will be worth it.
Megan Carswell Gladden Nucamp coding boot camp graduate

On the other hand, students without coding exposure or a computer science degree will still struggle more than those who have such a background, he said.

Ultimately, leading indicators for course success have more to do with personality traits than educational background, said Ludo Fourrage, founder and CEO at Nucamp. Curiosity, motivation and patience -- the ability to stay focused on one problem for hours before making progress -- are among the skills that factor into whether students pass or fail the class, he said.

Although Gladden and Velasquez-Deulofeu passed the course, whether the certificate will help them reach their career goals remains to be seen, especially in light of the tight job market for developers.

Velasquez-Deulofeu said the boot camp credential will put her in a better position to apply for a promotion next April. She also intends to sign up for Simo Ahava's JavaScript for Digital Marketer's course, which is tailored to her career.

Gladden plans to continue with her JavaScript studies. However, she is still assessing her place in the tech industry.

"Even if I don't end up coding or actually doing the technology work… it could make me a more exciting candidate for any position I'm going for," she said.

Dig Deeper on Software design and development

Cloud Computing
App Architecture