Advice from CIC Bootcamp Graduates

Hack Upstate
5 min readMar 28, 2023

The following is written by Careers in Code career coach, Laura Thorne.

If you’re currently in coding bootcamp, dealing with the stress of picking up an entirely new skill and debating what career path to take, you’ll be happy to hear there is a light at the end of the tunnel — graduation! Your chance to dawn a graduation gown while the orchestra plays Pomp & Circumstance, shake hands with the dean, and receive your diploma. Well, it’s not quite that ceremonious here at Careers in Code (CIC), but it’s no less of an accomplishment and instead, grads get to show off their capstone projects.

But what happens after graduation? We surveyed graduates to see how their lives have changed after bootcamp. Here’s what they had to say:

What has been your experience with the job search after graduating?

While we received a range of answers from graduates, with some continuing their studies, some working full-time, and some landing temp or freelance roles, there were some common threads.

The first common thread across all of our respondents is that patience is a virtue. Although some were fortunate enough to land full-time roles right out of bootcamp, others had to secure temp work or internships before finding the right role for them. Everyone’s path is different, and though some paths were longer than others, there is value in the journey. By working as an intern or performing contract work, you have the opportunity to mount up your portfolio, network, and reputation as a programmer. Beyond that, Graduate La’Tonia Mertica notes that “securing a non-full-time job would [provide] consistent real-world experience while allowing opportunity to test and compare work cultures,” which can help you understand where your strengths lie and the type of work you’d want to do full-time.

Are you working now, if so, what have you learned so far that could be beneficial for future Careers in Code graduates to know?

The most common piece of advice that we heard from graduates is the importance of networking. As Careers in Code graduate Dana McMullen puts it, “networking and talking to people about what I currently do… helps to open doors for me before my resume is even passed along.” In fact, many graduates that we surveyed landed their roles by reaching out to the CIC network or their friends, family members, and contacts in the tech industry.

Luckily, when you’re in a Careers in Code cohort, all of your mentors, instructors, and fellow classmates become your network! Plus, there are many opportunities to network in Syracuse beyond Careers in Code. Here are some ways to get started:

  • Join networking groups on Slack, Discord, and Facebook. Dana McMullen posted that she was looking for a new role in a digital accessibility Slack channel. Less than an hour later, a hiring manager from a startup reached out to her with an opportunity, and two weeks later she signed an offer!
  • Attend Hackathons or other events hosted by Hack Upstate. These are great opportunities to hone your skills and work with a team (plus, they’re a lot of fun!)
  • LinkedIn is an incredible networking tool! If you’re interested in working at a certain company or in a specific industry after bootcamp, you’ll have hundreds of professionals at your fingertips with LinkedIn.

Are there any specific skills you’ve had to learn that you didn’t learn in CIC bootcamp?

Of the graduates we surveyed, most noted that they’ve had to bolster their skills in Python and JavaScript programming after graduation. If you’re currently in bootcamp, make sure you pay attention to these sessions!

Graduates also mentioned that they’ve had to refine their web design and development skills, which they have been able to do through contract work and online resources.

If you’re entering bootcamp with a strong idea of what kind of positions you’re interested in after graduating, you definitely have an advantage. Make sure to spend extra time learning the skills needed for the role you want outside of the classroom, and take advantage of access to modules and professors while you have it.

If you’re not sure where you want to be until after graduating, that’s OK too! There are still ample opportunities to improve your skills outside of bootcamp, as many of our graduates have.

Anything else you might want to share to help future bootcamp grads be successful in their job search?

Nothing is more important than getting a job that works for you. Although it can be tempting to rush into the first full-time offer you receive, it’s imperative to ensure that the roles you take after graduation truly advance your career. We think La’Tonia Mertica puts it best: “Understanding yourself puts you in a place to make decisions aligned with where you see yourself going, to take planned risks to secure opportunities that put you in a place to do things aligned with where you see yourself going, and to essentially be proactive about where you see yourself going.”

So how can you start to understand yourself in order to build your career?

First, apply strategically so that with each internship, job, or project you take on, you can improve your skills and find work that you are passionate about. And most importantly, whatever job you take should also work for your lifestyle.

Secondly, It helps to be proactive about your job search while you are still in bootcamp. Reach out to your network about different roles and apply to full-time roles while learning. Ask your professors and mentors to look over resumes and cover letters. Find real-world experience through internships and contract work to help reinforce what you’re learning. When you’re proactive about your job search while in bootcamp, you’ll be able to have more control over the kinds of roles you work in after graduation.

We wish to thank all of our graduates who took the time to fill out the survey and share their experiences! We hope with the wisdom they have imparted, you’ll be able to move forward with bootcamp with more confidence!

Laura Thorne is the Career Coach with Hack Upstate’s Careers in Code program which is a bootcamp for women and minorities. You may be interested in our 24-week, full stack bootcamp. You can learn more and apply for our waitlist here!

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