How I Became a Software Engineer Without Paying a Penny

Still assuming you need a degree, have to spend $$$ on coding boot camps or need work experience to get in the game? Fake news!

The industry standard model behind the ‘coding boot camp’ is changing. With so much untapped potential talent [and revenue streams] some boot camps realize that charging upfront is not optimal. Several companies are now experimenting with how to offer their courses for free or very cheap to prospective customers.

Everybody is racking their heads over how to take a slice in the big higher education pie — from buy-now-pay-later models, charging your prospective employer for your new expertise, apprenticeships, to internal corporate training for staff who want to retrain as software devs.

“Everybody is racking their heads over how to take a slice in the big higher education pie.”

How I Got In?

I’ll keep it brief. I saw a tweet from a former Makers Academy Bootcamp student about a limited fellowship (fully-paid for!) for prospective students from underrepresented backgrounds. I didn’t even know what a coding boot camp was at the time, but since I was in the middle of learning how to code anyway, it felt worth pursuing.

Long story short, I applied [went through the lengthy course pre-requisites, as well as the interview process], completed the course and got a software development job. All in the space of around six months my life changed drastically.

Is That The Only Way? Is My Situation Unique?

Nope. Multiple other boot camps offer similar things for example…

Please also do your own research and homework before committing to any specific coding school - all information was correct at the time of writing

Hackbright Academy: Hackbright Academy is a software engineering school for women in San Francisco: Their Skills Fund Deferred Loan allows students to start paying back the tuition + 9%-11% interest two months after graduating

Lambda School: Lambda School is a fully online, synchronous coding bootcamp where students learn from 9 am to 6 pm for six months. The program focuses on teaching JavaScript and C++ and has an emphasis on computer science concepts. Lambda School also has a bias-blind admissions process. Once graduates land a job paying over $50,000 per year, they pay 17% of their salary for two years.

The Grace Hopper Program & The Grace Hopper Track: The Grace Hopper Program is an immersive software engineering program for women in New York City with no upfront tuition cost in a women-only environment.

Pursuit [formly C4Q]: Pursuit’s program offers programs focusing on Full Stack Web Development, Android, and iOS, with the aim of preparing students for software engineering roles, and a salary increase. The school strives to provide coding education to a diverse and inclusive community, as well as people with low-income backgrounds. Participants pay the school 12% of their earnings for two years once they find a job earning $60,000 or more.

Thinkful: Thinkful’s Engineering Immersion is a full-time, online, synchronous coding bootcamp. Once graduates find any job earning $40,000 per year, they will pay 15% of their income for three years

Founders & Coders [UK] do a free 4-month coding boot camp (Providing you pass the interview and course-prerequisites).

School of Code (Birmingham, UK), do a similar scheme.

CodeNation (Manchester, UK) privately offer bursaries and scholarships to who they feel deserves so (Don’t ask, don’t get!)

Flatiron School Flatiron School offers technology bootcamps covering software engineering, data science, and UX/UI Design. $15,000 upfront or Income Share Agreement:

Regardless of whether there is a visible program for deferred income – if you are Shakespeare with the pen, draft an email up to a list of boot-camps, telling them your plight, demonstrating your determination & showing your initiative. You never know what might happen; many places do offer people full scholarships privately.

But Can’t I Learn All This At Home?

Yes, you can. I would encourage most people to do so; that’s how I started. We are in the age of information, and literally, everything that is taught is available online. If you are self-motivated, determined and disciplined, you can easily do it. For the duration of your career, most of the things you will learn will be at home anyway, so best to get into that habit nice and early!

Another good thing about learning at home is you can do it at your own pace. If you don’t get something, you can revisit it again and again until you get it. Somethings take a long time to sink in & there’s nowhere better to feel momentarily stupid than at home when nobody can see you. Nobody ‘affi know…

Opportunity Cost

For many people, the opportunity cost of not being able to work full-time in that period may be too high. At home, the course might take more than the 3–4 months longer than advertised. But if you enjoy learning in the comfort of your own home without paying a penny, that might outweigh everything else.

My self-education at home was done by looking at a boot camps online curriculum and GitHub profile and s̵t̵e̵a̵l̵i̵n̵g̵ going through the program myself, with google and youtube to help me.

The only disadvantage is the lack of experience of working collectively and pairing programming through problems.

However, there are organizations where you can go and work with a real human being or two. Here are a few examples of spaces I found in London:

CodeBar has very frequent workshops where you are encouraged to pair and work through the curriculum on their site.

Flat Iron School do a regular pizza & code sessions & workshops so you can work on things with people if you want to. All free. (100% free pizza too).

Black Girls Tech have workshops aimed at black women and non-binary people where you can have a chance to work on code with people!

There are so many things like this in nearly every local area, have a look through Eventbrite or Meetup.com; all these workshops usually dish out free pizza. If that is not an incentive, what is?

Hopefully, I’ve opened your eyes to some ways to utilize the offerings of the community and different organizations to get into software development as a career. Make sure you give back when you finally get your foot in the doors too!

Seize The Moment!

Follow me on twitter: @Alfonzomillions


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Michael Berhane, Founder of POCIT
Alfonzo Darko
Alfonzo Darko

Front-End Developer | ClickServices Co-Founder| Ex @MakersAcademy

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