Coding Bootcamp vs University

Graduates Jae and Anna, both working as developers at Joyous (Auckland) 📸: @mxbialostocki

October 25, 2022 | Employment, Industry | Kirsten Marsh

At Dev Academy Aotearoa, our mission is to make technology the biggest industry in Aotearoa. We contribute to that by graduating hundreds of job-ready software developers every year.

We run a 15 week Bootcamp — a challenging, accelerated learning environment. One question that comes up a lot for people unfamiliar with what we do at Dev Academy is: Can you really become a junior developer in just 15 weeks?

The answer is yes.

A job-ready junior developer? Yes!

A job-ready junior developer with a portfolio of work? Yes!

A job-ready junior developer with a portfolio of work AND great communication and problem solving skills?

Yes, yes, and absolutely yes.

Since 2013 we have graduated over 1200 software developers. Our graduates have an employment success rate of 86%*, and over 350 tech companies have hired our grads.

Different from a degree

“Our students get more contact time with teachers in 15 weeks than a uni student might get in 3 years of undergraduate study.”

The thing that makes people the most sceptical about whether or not our Bootcamp works is the question “surely you can’t learn a three year degree’s worth of material in 15 weeks?”

Well, no, you can’t — and that’s not what we are trying to teach.

We have trained people with computer science degrees, as well as people who have been working in tech for years. These students come to us because we provide them with a skill set they want and need for their careers. Our cofounder Joshua Vial has decades of industry experience and also teaches in the online campus. Joshua says, “as a junior developer straight out of uni, only a fraction of my computer science degree was relevant.”

It’s worth noting that our student to teacher ratio of 6 to 1 means our students get more contact time with teachers in 15 weeks than a uni student might get in 3 years of undergrad. While there are absolutely benefits to doing a degree, degrees don’t necessarily make you job ready.

Our training works for a lot of different reasons that make us different from a university. Let’s dig into some of the qualities our Bootcamp has and why they make us such a special place to study.

Our Focus is Job Readiness

At Dev Academy Aotearoa 100% of our focus is getting our students to a skill level where they can land a software development job. We ask tech companies “what makes a good developer a great developer?” and we use our conversations with the industry to inform how we prepare our students for success in the job market. This means teaching relevant programming languages that set our graduates up with a solid foundation to expand their learning in industry. 

We also have a dedicated careers week at the end of Bootcamp that provides our grads with job seeking support and industry connections. Looking for work can be tough, so we set realistic expectations with our students and check in after graduation to help them with tips and leads wherever possible.

We Teach the Whole Person

"We embrace difference, and we don’t believe in one-size-fits-all approaches to education."

Our programme combines high-quality learning with a focus on human skills and deep pastoral care that is inclusive by design. Our Human Skills curriculum is one of the major components of the Bootcamp that sets us apart from other places where you can learn to code. When we talk to industry about what makes our graduates unique, the main themes we hear are:

> Our graduates are great communicators and problem solvers,
> They have a high level of empathy, and
> They have the skills to develop relationships that rely on feedback. 

Our students collaborate in pair programming and group projects throughout the Bootcamp, giving them real world, teamwork experience. We welcome all types of learners with all kinds of needs. If we have students who are dyslexic, dyspraxic, autistic, or have ADHD, we take care to adapt to our learners' needs. Our smaller cohort sizes give us the ability to take a customised approach, and to be responsive to the needs of individuals and the collective. We embrace difference, and we don’t believe in one-size-fits-all approaches to education.

Our Teachers are Amazing

Our Bootcamp facilitators are industry professionals and/or past graduates who are focused on nurturing well-rounded software developers. They are with our students 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. Their only job is to get our students work-ready! 

Our Human Skills facilitators add to the breadth of knowledge and experience held by our teaching teams, coming from backgrounds in education, coaching and facilitation. There are facilitators across both teams who bring queer, marginalised, and Te Ao Māori perspectives to this work. Because of our 6 to 1 student to teacher ratio, all students can get the same time investment from our teachers, and our teachers are there to challenge and support our students, not just assess them.

From a Māori perspective

As a Pākehā institution, we know we need to continually work at being an effective Te Tiriti partner. 25% of our teaching staff are Māori and Pasifika, whereas Māori and Pasifika people make up only 6.7% of academic staff at universities in Aotearoa**.

We have two Kaiārahi Māori whose role is to ensure that Māori students are supported in ways that are culturally relevant. In our leadership, we have two co-general managers, who represent Tangata Whenua and Tangata Tiriti.

Our goals for Dev Academy Aotearoa include uplifting the voices of Māori in tech, and increasing the presence of Māori, Pasifika, women and migrants in the Aotearoa tech sector. We achieve these goals through our dedication to honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and our desire to push for industry equity for systematically excluded communities.

Opportunity Costs

Whether someone wants to study at a university, a polytech, by correspondence, or in an intensive setting like our Bootcamp, different factors will influence their ultimate decision.

When you break down the fees at Dev Academy and the accelerated learning environment, doing our Bootcamp represents roughly half of the average cost for a three year degree⁺. Given how quickly people can switch into a tech career by studying at Dev Academy, the opportunity costs are also much lower as our graduates find high-paying work faster, with a lower student loan to pay off. 

People who haven’t yet studied at a tertiary level are also eligible for fees-free study covered by the New Zealand government⁺⁺.

Nau mai, haere mai!

We love what we do here at Dev Academy Aotearoa, and we are always excited to share our mission and the way we do things with our students. Our skills and experience, as well as our values of effort, kindness, and integrity, make us the number one choice for people in Aotearoa looking for an accelerated path into a tech career. 

We have four campuses - one in Pōneke, one in Tāmaki Makaurau, and two online - that each host 4 cohorts per year. There is room for everyone at Dev Academy, and we welcome students from all backgrounds. 

Whether you’re a potential student or an employer looking for fresh talent, sign up for one of our information evenings, or reach out for a chat about what makes Dev Academy Aotearoa the best tech bootcamp in New Zealand. 

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* From our 2022 data:

  • 86.79% of students who graduated more than 6 months ago found work in tech
  • 84.8% of students who graduated 12-24 months ago work in tech
  • 78.9% of students who graduated 6-12 months ago have work in tech

** [http://www.journal.mai.ac.nz/sites/default/files/MAIJrnl_8_2_McAllister_FINAL.pdf] [http://www.journal.mai.ac.nz/sites/default/files/MAIJrnl_8_2_Naepi_FINAL_0.pdf]
BSc at Victoria University of Wellington is $8400 per year
⁺⁺ Eligibility criteria for 2023 not yet issued by government at the time of writing