What is a programming boot camp

Bootcamp: programmers at turbo speed?

Only 35 years young, but already the third job. It's no longer anything extraordinary today. Because the times are over when people with a learned profession spent their entire working life in a company. Several professions, many employers - that is what distinguishes the young working generation from their grandparents today. Fabian Drescher is one of those guys. 35 years old and in the third profession. What makes him special is the speed with which he learned his third profession: a programmer in just 16 weeks.

The speed of learning is remarkable. A three-year apprenticeship or a five-year degree seems like a very long chewing gum against a qualification at turbo speed. Bootcamp is what sounds like a military drill. "It wasn't, but the four months were extremely challenging," says Drescher. He has been a Java programmer for a year after a short but intensive training.

Basic training and drill

Bootcamp is a term used in basic training in the American military. With the training of programmers, the original sense of the word has retained two meanings: It is a basic training and that is quite a drill. The first bootcamps were set up in the USA in the 2010s as a response to the looming shortage of IT specialists. For the same reason, the first providers of such training were founded in Germany, including the AW Academy in Munich, which held its first training in 2018.

"The training is rock hard, knowledge is filled with pressure and then applied immediately," says Managing Director Philipp Leipold. Those who manage it get a permanent job and an annual salary of at least 42,000 euros. This is the reward for fast learning and an incentive to endure it.

Multi-stage selection process

After completing a commercial apprenticeship, Drescher studied health sciences and then worked for a number of years in a company that developed software for medicine and prevention. As a product manager, he was the mediator between customers and development. "Developing a software program that works and is used from an initially abstract, then concrete requirement is a great feeling," he says. Mainly because the way there rarely succeeds straight away and involves logical thinking and solving tricky puzzles. Drescher likes that, which is why he applied for an apprenticeship at the AW Academy as a Java programmer.

There are between 15 and 20 places in a course, which around 2,000 interested parties strive for. Applicants must be of legal age and speak German, initially no longer. "In a multi-stage selection process, we select candidates who have analytical and logical skills because they are essential as programmers. A second focus is the potential analysis in which we check whether the candidates have the necessary self-motivation and stamina for the crash course", says Leipold.

Low drop-out rate

The selection process is obviously good, because on average only one candidate drops out per course. Since the start of training at the AW Academy, 267 graduates in Germany have completed one of the programming courses offered in Java, Java-Script and C # and in the company-specific DevOps, Salesforce and Microsoft365 programs. 80 percent of the participants have completed a degree, 40 percent are female and an average of 31 years old. "Almost everyone wants to do something new and has developed a passion for IT," says Leipold. Just like it was with Drescher.

For a month he learned the basics of programming in self-study on an online platform of the AW Academy and with the help of a trainer in telephone contact. This was followed by three-month face-to-face lessons in Munich: 8 hours of lessons with a very high proportion of practical exercises, and in the evening programming was continued alone or in groups. "Difficult learning content alternates with a lot of material, and it is usually only repeated once," says Drescher. And group work is extremely encouraged because development is team work.

After completion of temporary work

There are three learning progress controls during the training; there is no final exam. After completing their training, the graduates are taken on by the parent company Academic Work and deployed to customers for a maximum of one year in the form of temporary workers. The training is free of charge for the participants, in return they undertake to work at Academic Work for one year, with the aim of being taken over by the customer. Other graduates go straight to permanent positions, and then the companies pay around 45,000 euros for training at the AW Academy. Other IT boot camp providers are YouGrow and Ironhack.

After completing his apprenticeship, Drescher started working in IT as a temporary worker at the Bavarian Insurance Chamber in October last year. The company is a large insurance group and Drescher programs parts of sales systems, such as premium adjustments.

Theory vs. Practice

"I now feel fit in programming and, purely in terms of my daily work, see no difference between myself and a computer scientist with the same professional experience," says Drescher. They would have a good theoretical and science-related overview of programming, which he doesn't have, but doesn't need in his work. He receives his salary from Academic Work, which sends the insurance chamber an invoice for the hiring out of the employee. In October of this year, Drescher was taken over by the Insurance Chamber for an unlimited period.

Of the 13 employees at the digital agency Satellytes Digital Consulting in Munich, one was trained at the AW Academy in Munich and hired by Satellytes a few months ago. The company had to cancel two more due to the uncertain project situation due to the corona pandemic. "All three show an enormous intrinsic motivation, as is typical for successful developers," says Managing Director Gholam Abdol. He is very satisfied with the graduate of the Academy, because he is technically well trained and that is why Abdol wants to hire more graduates when the times are better.

Whether Drescher will be programming the rest of his life is in the stars. "I feel that I am in good hands in IT. But changes make our life exciting, so I don't know today whether I will still be doing this job ten years from now." If something else appeals to him, this can be learned quickly in intensive training in bootcamps. Such are the new times.

(axk)

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