Zimbabwe and regional technology news and updates



Nyaradzo logo

Can Boot Camps Turn You Into A Software Developer Or Do You Need A University Degree?

Mobile Web Specialist, Coding, Programming

By Ty Moodley

Throughout my career, I have worked with many talented developers who have not had any formal University degrees. I have also worked with people who have attended some of the best Ivy League Universities such as Harvard, Duke, and University of Texas at Austin. The one thing that differentiates the former from the latter is a piece of paper.

What some people don’t understand is that technology is constantly changing. If you don’t adapt, then you will fail. If you don’t enjoy learning, then you will become a technology dinosaur and eventually become extinct.

A few years ago, I decided to learn Flex. A flash-based technology that was like WinForms development. It was an easy to use framework. You could simply drag and drop controls onto a canvas and you would have a fully working system ready for production. Eventually they came out with a Rich Internet Application (RIA) version which allowed you to build multi-platform apps for Android, IOS, and Windows.

I decided that this was the technology to learn so I embarked on a 6-month learning journey. Once I became proficient with the technology, Steve Jobs made an announcement that killed the platform. He announced that Flash would no longer be supported on IOS devices. That news ended Flex’s future and I had lost my 6-month investment.

As you can tell, Software Development is not for the faint hearted. If you don’t mind learning something for 6 months and then throwing it away because the industry changes then run. Stop reading this article and start learning accounting or start painting.

The point that I am making is that if you enjoy programming and don’t mind learning a new technology every six months then this might be the right career for you.

What is a Boot Camp?

[Editorial Note: Please do not confuse this with the narrative on the Startup Boot Camp that we have been talking about which is coming to Harare next week Wednesday, February 28th}

Over 60 boot camps have opened in the past 10 years to meet the growing demand for software developers. These programs—usually 8 to 12 weeks long and costing $500 on average—offer hands-on training, career guidance and community support, and the opportunity to work on personal projects you can showcase to prospective employers.

They’re like trade schools for the digital age. Although they can be a great way to become a professional coder, boot camps aren’t for everyone.

Graduates of boot camps surveyed by Course Report had an average 44% boost in income after attending the boot camp. (The survey included 432 graduates from 48 programming schools.) Before attending the boot camp, 48% were employed full-time, and after attending the boot camp, 63% were employed full-time. Most boot camps surveyed offer career services such as resume assistance or internship/apprenticeship placement.

Most importantly, lets remember that Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg don’t have university degrees. Some may argue that they are both geniuses, but the reality is that they don’t have those pieces of paper. Who knows, maybe you will develop the next Facebook but one thing that is clear you need to learn and learn a great deal…

About Guest Author Ty Moodley

Ty was born and raised in Harare Zimbabwe. He went to Prince Edward School where he received a Technology Award at some point before heading to the US for university. He came back in 2004 to found a successful technology company that is still operational in Zim before going back to North America

He has been building software for the past 15 years and has worked for large software engineering firms in Harare, Austin TX, Raleigh NC, Toronto ON, Waterloo ON.

Ty has seen how software can help companies, cities, and governments create efficient processes and save money. He currently works for GHD, a large engineering firm that has over 10000 employees worldwide.  

Quick NetOne, Econet, And Telecel Airtime Recharge

13 thoughts on “Can Boot Camps Turn You Into A Software Developer Or Do You Need A University Degree?

  1. Only 1 thing can turn you into a Software developer or any IT role -Passion and Dedication
    That was 2 actually .i won’t go in to commenting a comment that will be longer than the post so i will end here

    “Passion and Dedication” -that’s all you need

  2. Bill Gates and Zuckerberg, this whole no degree narrative is dangerous and misleading. I suggest that TechZim do an in-depth analysis of the global village comparing tertiary level education across countries and how this feeds into the economy. Why, because fueling this debate without concrete numbers/evidence will lead us down a dangerous uneducated path. Why give 2 examples in a world with 7 billion people. Just looking at the odds, I’m better off getting a college degree.

  3. As much as I agree with you that it’s not about the piece paper, I recommend people to enroll for a University Degree first then go for a Bootcamp later to get skilled on a certain technology.

    Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg were enrolled for degree programs at HARVARD. Harvard taught them what they couldn’t get from bootcamps. As a programmer myself, I wouldn’t have known how to apply mathematical models when writing software. A degree program prepares you for any technology. Bootcamps don’t give you the required roots for you to become a good programmer, you just become a surface coder. There is more into programming than just writing java/c#/php/sql code that compiles and run.

    Guys like Rich Hickey, James Gosling, Bjarne Stroustrup, Guido van Rossum and many other don’t come out of bootcamps. They real Computer Scientist. My 2c.

  4. Do you have to be a mechanical engineer to fix a car? No, not really. You have to understand how the car works and how diagnose problems but you don’t actually have to become an engineer. It’s the same with programming. I am not building an Operating System. If I am maintaining small bits of code why do I have to understand complex algorithms? If I am building advanced AI in then yes, go to university and learn more about Software engineering. But for smaller apps, it’s not necessary. Practical skills are more important.

  5. The comments section is always a hive of debate and healthy argument. This is a good thing.

    Let’s always remember that there is ample space for University Education, Self-taught, Boot Camp education or any other method of acquiring knowledge, learning and educating yourself that exists out there, to all co-exist. Each form has its advantages and disadvantages. And to re-iterate, all forms can co-exist in harmony. As in the article, even a mixture of methods can be employed. It’s not a binary choice, it’s an all or any choice. Each method has its own place, and may come with some limitations (which are not always inherent depending on the surrounding circumstances), but again, each has its own useful and rightful place.

    The number one determining factor is the quality of what you learn, that is where the value lies.

    The best thing we can do as a society is have universal, detailed syllabuses on what basic, intermediate and advanced topics one must educate themselves on to be proficient in their field. Create a baseline standard.

    1. You have just ended the debate Tapiwa by giving a very good argument.

      PS: We love the debate and discussion too that’s why we don’t always write what is safe. Thanks for being part of it

  6. Just to clear any myth you dont need a degree to be software developer what you only need is electricity , a computer, access to fast broadband, willingness to learn and ofcos sleepless nights ….

  7. Wow im impressed by the article and the comments. I aspire to be a programmer and am doing VB. Net, also completed my C though i understand i still have to keep learning. Now am trying to get my head around MySQL, php, etc

Comments are closed.