5 ways to fund yourself through a coding bootcamp

Enspiral Dev Academy runs full-stack JavaScript coding bootcamps in Auckland and Wellington, New Zealand. Rohan Wakefield, one of Dev Academy’s founders, answers some frequently asked questions about the costs of the course.

Rohan Wakefield: We hear from a lot of people every year who are keen for a new career in tech; it’s a growing industry and there are certainly jobs to go around for top talent. But people tell us that money is the biggest obstacle to overcome in training for a new career, and we really hear that. We’ve tried a few ways to make things as easy as possible: for example, condensing your learning into as short a space of time as we can and ensuring we prioritise the things you really need to know to get a job as a web developer when you graduate. We’ve also structured the course so that the first nine weeks are part time and conducted remotely from home — many of our students continue working during this phase, and do their Dev Academy work by night and at weekends. In the second half of the course, when you’re on campus, we really pack it in — no moment in that nine weeks is wasted — so you can’t work another job while you do it.

We also believe there are some fundamentally broken aspects of our university and student loan model. One of our graduates ran the figures recently, and he found Dev Academy to be much cheaper than university in real terms. It cost him a lot less in missed income too, due to how short the bootcamp phase is. University might feel “free” because you’re not paying upfront — but the resulting loan might take years or even decades to pay off, and many students leave without knowing what they want to do afterwards.

However, we also get that all of this stuff isn’t much help if it comes time to pay your Dev Academy enrolment fees and you just don’t have the cash. So I wanted to share a few of the ways our students have managed to fund themselves through the course in the past.

1. Plan ahead and save up

We’ve had a number of students really know they want to come here for a long time before they actually did. They understood they didn’t have the funds right then and there, and so they saved every cent between deciding to retrain and their Dev Academy enrolment. It might involve being patient for six months or a year, but you can save up enough to put yourself through the course.

One of our graduates, Denis, is a case in point — he saved money over a nine month period and lived with no frills before leaving his old job. He not only put himself through the course, but he’d also saved enough that he was able to launch a startup with another student after graduating — and they’re still working together. He takes part time contract work to help pay his way, and he and his business partner Michael are working from their homes to save money — but he’s been able to work on his own company as a result.

2. Borrow or take donations from friends or family

Taking a loan from family or friends is one of the most common ways that students get through a bootcamp. Often, their families understand their passion for a change in career and are willing to help them out until they get a job at the other end of it. Alternatively, you could try crowdfunding to see if your mates want to chip in.

3. Get your work to sponsor you

We’ve had at least four students so far who have had either full or part financial support from their employers. A couple of them already worked for tech companies, but outside of the tech area — for example. in sales, support, or customer service. Employers are often open to sponsoring their employee to retrain to a tech role because they already know the staff member is a great fit for the company culturally. So it’s a great investment for them to help their employee transition from a non-technical role to a technical one. We recommend you talk to your employer about how you’d talk your new skills as a web developer back to your workplace.

4. Try for a scholarship

Dev Academy offers scholarships to support diversity in tech whenever we’re financially able to do so. We most recently offered a number in 2016 to anyone who identified as a woman, an LGBTQ+, Maori or Pasifika person. Externally, many iwi in New Zealand offer retraining or educational scholarships — some of them very generous — and past students have attended Dev Academy on such awards. Approach your iwi to ask about opportunities there.

5. Ask your bank for a loan

A number of our students have taken bank loans to support their studies, so approaching your personal bank is a good start. They prefer for it to be a part-payment to show you have skin in the game. So for example, you show you’re putting $5K towards the fees and they put in $6K. Dev Academy can and has written letters for banks to explain the course and fees, so just ask us if you need one.

Dev Academy students are offered free yoga classes twice a week.

How much money will I need?

We charge $1,000 NZD to secure your place and a further $10,000 upfront before you start the course. That’s the total fees.

But of course, you’ll need to support yourself while you’re going through the bootcamp, and that can cost just as much. You might be working during phase 0 (the first nine weeks) of Dev Academy, but during the second half of the course you definitely can’t work. We actually have a rule against it, even at weekends. There just isn’t time — you’ll be coding every waking moment (and some of the non-waking ones!). So you absolutely need to budget all the costs you’ll need to support yourself for nine weeks. The good news is you won’t have time for an expensive hobby or social life while you’re here!

People will often move relatively close to campus and flat together, reducing costs. Some students go with the relative ease of living in a hostel, so they can really focus on the work. Since you’re stopping work, you might qualify for the accommodation supplement from the Government, which can help you with rent.

It’s smart to budget for after you graduate, too. People don’t always step out of Dev Academy and go straight into work — it might take two or three months unless you can go back to your previous employer. Sometimes students pick up contract work straight away post-graduation, but you might need to allow for a few months to find a job. Read more about our job rates in this post.

Why can’t Dev Academy spot me the money?

At three years old, Dev Academy is still a startup itself, and we’re not operating with big margins. In 2016, we opened a new campus in Auckland to make the course more accessible, even though we knew it’d take awhile to grow the new business. And we keep some awesome people around — top programmers who teach the courses, and the support staff who help Dev Academy run smoothly. All of that means we’re not able to financially support students at this stage, aside from the scholarships we offer from time to time. We’ll let you know if that changes!

Why aren’t you NZQA accredited?

We definitely did explore the idea of becoming NZQA accredited so students could get student loans to study. But we are not your typical education provider and NZQA has been set up to regulate through standardisation, testing and information recollection. We have taken a skills and competency-based approach looking at a much wider range of skills from technical to “soft skills”, things like team skills, conflict resolution, feedback, and negotiation. We hope at some point students can get loans through Study Link but we are not prepared to do this if it compromises the quality of our programme

How do the costs compare to other such courses?

There are no directly comparable courses to Dev Academy in New Zealand, but there are a lot of coding bootcamps in the States, and they generally cost around the $10,000 USD mark. While this translates to more than EDA’s fees in New Zealand dollars, we were still surprised to hear from one of our US-based grads recently that it was cheaper for him to attend Dev Academy even including accommodation and living costs. That’s because bootcamps in the States are often located in pricey places to live, like San Francisco.

How much will I make after I graduate?

It’s very common for students to be concerned about whether their investment in the programme will be realised post-graduation. It’s not necessarily a case of starting again in a new career, in terms of salary. You might get a junior developer role, but you’re coming to it as more than a junior developer. You’re generally receiving slightly higher salaries that take into account your previous experience in whatever you did before Dev Academy — which comes with a whole range of skills employers are willing to pay for.

Our average starting salary for graduates is about $53,000 at the moment, which is more than the average uni graduate. The other thing to look at is not only where someone starts financially, but how they’re progressing through their career too.

We find that it’s not uncommon for graduates to receive salary increases after three, six or 12 month periods in their first jobs, which might be anything from $5,000-$12,000. Our students are coming into the sector with a lot to offer and they’re experienced in teamwork and working collaboratively from the bootcamp process. So they often see that experience rewarded.

Will I get a job at the end of it?

Our hope is that money you borrow to take part in Dev Academy will be repaid as you start a new career in web development. That is, we reckon it’s worth the investment. If you’re worried about the chances of getting a job, check out this post about what the odds are and who’s most likely to be successful. And to find out what some of our graduates do after Dev Academy, check out these stories from Geordi, Vinitha, and Gregory.

Got more questions? Contact us anytime — we’d love to talk further about whether Dev Academy is right for you.

Apply now for the next Dev Academy intakes in Auckland and Wellington.