Head Online Instructor, Peter Bell

At Flatiron School, we are dedicated to helping our students launch a career, not just land a job. But prospective coding bootcamp students are curious: What comes after the bootcamp? And after that first post-bootcamp job as a developer? Are bootcamp grads equipped to continue learning new languages? To go on to tackle new roles?

Tech newcomers often go after their first job with the misconception that their career will fall into place in a logical, stepwise progression. That’s rarely the case. In a rapidly changing field, skills are acquired and careers are shaped in totally unique ways. So it’s important to start your journey with a clear idea of the different paths available to you after graduating from a coding bootcamp. Right now, you can start to think about what you’d like your career to look like over not just the next one to two years, but the next five to ten.

With that in mind, we’re thrilled to collect learnings and advice from our Career Services team, our inspiring alumni, and our Head Online Instructor, Peter Bell – a veteran technologist, CTO, and Columbia University adjunct professor who has lectured at tech conferences across the world on how to build a tech career.

Before we explore specific career paths you can take in tech, let’s explain the real benefit of coding when it comes to charting your career path. It’s really all about being able to get into the room. 25 or 30 years ago, if you were unsure what you wanted to pursue, people would say, “You should be a lawyer.” Why? If you’re interested in entertainment, you can move into entertainment law; if you’re fascinated by real estate, there’s real estate law; if you want to be in corporate transactions or financing acquisitions… you get the idea. Any industry needs at least one lawyer in the room. And for a long time, many people entered the field of law because it really was a surefire way to insert themselves into any domain, any business, any activity that resonated with them.

But these days, becoming a lawyer isn’t necessarily the easiest or most profitable way to get into the room. What’s replacing it? With software eating the world, it’s becoming a technologist. Whether you want to work for a brand new three-person startup or a huge enterprise, companies are powered by software engineers. And with the increasing supply of open software engineering jobs still outpacing the number of engineers being produced by both colleges and coding bootcamps, the next decade or so is going to be a really good time to get involved with whatever you’re excited about by leveraging programming skills.

Core

Before looking at more specific paths you can take in tech, there are really two broad categories of roles that allow you to leverage the programming skills you’d develop at a coding bootcamp. One general path through tech is becoming what we’ll call a “hardcore” developer who spends most of his or her time writing code. This is the route that most bootcamp grads take. If you’re thrilled to learn all the ins and outs of a new JavaScript framework or you light up at the idea of implementing a NoSQL data store to improve the performance of your app, this could be a great route for you. And within this category there are a number of directions to go. You might find that you prefer making things look great and focus on front-end web development. Or, you might find that you love to focus on improving the underlying functionality, performance, or scalability of applications – then you might decide to focus a little more on the back-end of software development. Or you might combine those two things to become a full stack developer, able to examine a business problem and come up with a well-designed, powerful, and great looking app to tackle it.

Enhancement

So if one broad application of your programming know-how is to spend most of your time writing code, the other is to enhance the other skills and pursuits that make up your career. The graphic designer who simply delivers mockups in Illustrator for a website without considering mobile first or responsive designs – and even developing front-end prototyping skills – is quickly going away. Growth hackers and digital marketers, rather than just coming up with catchy copy and great images are now focused on A/B testing, digging into Google Analytics, and even writing scripts to test out campaigns and outreach. There are also programmers who end up using their skills to fuel product management in some organizations – to have a greater input on what they should be building.

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