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Is GPA important when getting into the coding field?

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I'm just starting out college and I know a lot of people tell me that the field you get into doesn't matter for undergrads, does this also apply to seeking jobs in coding through boot camps? And is there any recommendations for what boot camp to pursue?

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6 answers

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Ashley’s Answer

Hi Iris, I am currently a product manager but I graduated UCSD with a computer science degree. I can say that if you do want to be a software engineer or get into coding post-grad, it would be in your best interest to get a computer science degree.

1) Because you will learn more about computer science concepts, theories and will cover more in depth important computer science fundamentals than you would cover in a boot camp. Any boot camp will be a faster-paced, rushed version of a 4 year degree and sometimes covers the bare minimum.
2) Some tech companies (including the big 4) prefer to hire entry-level software engineers that have a 4 year degree over those with a boot camp background. Some startups are just looking for people and don't care as much, but there are definitely companies that don't like to hire bootcamp grads. Not all, but some.

Also, I would say that GPA matters sometimes. But ONLY if you have little to no experience. If you landed a great internship or worked on really cool project and can show it off in your github, that will be enough to land you an interview, even if you have a poor GPA I think.

If you decided to not pursue a CS degree and want to do a boot camp, I would recommend Hackreactor. My boyfriend did it and he is a software engineer now. Almost everyone from his class got software engineering jobs within 3-5 months of finishing the bootcamp.
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Todd’s Answer

I agree with Ashley. As someone in the technology field, it more so matters that you have the skills than a high GPA. Try to learn the programming language which you see has the most potential that you find interesting. Sites such as codeacademy are helpful when starting out. Specifically for programming, you learn the most through practical application. Try to come up with projects for applying what you've learned as I've found it's the best way to learn.

I've had good success with a service called IT Pro TV, which offers a regularly updated video library which great content from professionals still in the field.
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Leo’s Answer

I'm a Software Engineer, I currently work in this industry in the USA, and I don't have a GPA because the country where I'm from doesn't have this concept. Many other countries don't do GPAs either.

When I review a resume from a candidate, I usually look more at their experience to see if they would be a good fit. Then there's the phone interview where I ask a simple coding question. That's usually the deal breaker: you can easily tell if the person _can actually_ code by listening to them and seeing what they do. If they stumble with basic concepts, then you probably won't ask them to come to an on-site interview.

I've gone through this process myself a few times, and when I interview for a position, I make sure the other person knows I can code and answer technical questions. The topic of GPA has never been brought up (not even a: "What do they use in your country instead?")

By all means, get a good GPA -- but also make sure you can get the job done, and make sure you can convince others that you can.
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Nathan’s Answer

Hi, Iris! Both of the other answers here provide very good points and I agree with them, too. Like @Ashley Zhao said, getting a Computer Science degree is likely your best route in terms of career prospects right out of school and down the road.

If you do decide to go down the traditional path of a Computer Science degree, know that GPA does play a major role if you go for internships while in college. Internships can be an excellent way to get your foot in the door and/or help hone your focus regarding the kind of job you'll like after graduation. However, internships at the most sought after companies (I'm thinking Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, etc.) are extremely competitive. GPA will be one of those criteria they will use for screening purposes because there are just so many applicants.

As you weigh the choice between traditional college and boot camps, I would advise you that--at least in today's world--a college degree will be more valuable down the road. Boot camps are fantastic at accelerating your coding skills growth needed for a great job, but, without a degree, you may encounter roadblocks later in life as you transition between employers.

Either way you go I'm excited that you're interested in coding! Best wishes to you, regardless of which path you choose.

Nathan recommends the following next steps:

Weigh Pros/Cons of college vs. boot camps
Find companies you'll want to code for - What are the educational requirements for most of their positions?
Practice, practice, practice - degree or no degree, strong coding skills are built through both learning and practice
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Kelly’s Answer

Hi Iris - It is always important to try and achieve the highest GPA. Not only does this typically signify that you digested and understood your class material but some hiring managers are very keen on reviewing GPAs. In fact, some hiring managers will request applicants submit their transcripts. Finally, if you are planning to pursue higher education, then your admissions will be evaluated by many factors, including your GPA. All said, while there are opportunities out there for which your GPA will be insignificant, there will also be many opportunities for which it WILL be significant. Always best to achieve the strongest GPA you can so you can feel good personally but to also support your future.
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Elizabeth’s Answer

It really depends. Skills trump GPA - if you can show that you know how to do the work expected of an engineer then your GPA and major won't matter much. The tech industry is becoming nice and diverse - that is, people are entering the field with degrees from various backgrounds and some people even have had previous careers completely unrelated to coding. You need to be able to offer both coding skills and something extra that will help shape the company's products for a diverse user base. If you are definitely going to college then there is no harm in a comp sci degree but keep in mind a lot of the stuff you will learn (languages) might be dated by the time you graduate. A bootcamp that changes curriculum often to meet the changes in technologies will have you up to speed faster than a college degree. I have friends with comp sci degrees who enrolled in bootcamps afterwards because they didn't feel confident with the in-demand languages on job postings when they finished their degrees. They had difficulty finding jobs. Going to a bootcamp after getting their degrees helped them stand out among other grads.

Things to consider:

1. Bootcamps are cheaper than colleges. Depending on the program you will work on a variety of projects in teams and this experience will be valuable because you'll get to practice technical communication and working with others. Not everyone has the money or resources to go to college - sad but true.
2. A comp sci degree will give you a deeper understanding of data structures and algos, a weakness that many bootcamp grads have(but there is a graduate program out there that will accept self-taught/bootcamp grad engineers for an M.S in comp-sci if you decide to go that route and you can close the knowledge gap that way). If you get an internship at a company you may have the opportunity to code and contribute which will provide similar experiences some bootcamps attempt to emulate.
3. Self-taught route! I didn't mention this one, but self-taught is also one way to break into the field. It's mostly free (that all depends on you) because there's a variety of resources on the internet to help you get started with a language and then frameworks. Again, you'll need to find ways to stand out. Contribute to the open source, and/or find immersion programs or apprenticeship programs if you already know enough code to skip the bootcamp route.

I don't agree that lacking a comp sci degree will create roadblocks down the road. I know people who are self-taught, bootcamp grads, and traditional comp sci majors who have had successful careers in the industry. A lot of tech companies are becoming more open-minded about recruiting people with degrees outside the traditional comp sci route. As I mentioned, it creates a diverse workforce that can see things from different perspectives when creating products.

You should probably get a college degree regardless of the major because having no degree could make it hard to enter any field these days. It's also a time to grow and mature since college gives more freedom than high school. My advice is to go to an affordable college where you won't be saddled with debt. The name of your college is irrelevant if you can show you're motivated, ambitious and talented.

Since you asked for a list of bootcamps, here's the ones I am aware of:

Fullstack Academy (CIRR certified)
Grace Hopper at Fullstack (women only, CIRR certified)
General Assembly
Hack Reactor
CUNY has a bootcamp but I'm not sure if that's exclusive to CUNY students.

Engineer Residencies:
Codesmith (CIRR certified)

Engineer Apprenticeships:

Free sources:
Javascript 30
CodingTrain (youtube)