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A modern day alternative to University

With the average graduate of a 3-year university course in the UK now graduating with student loan debts of more than £50,000, it’s no surprise that now more than ever people are considering other routes into a professional career.

Furthermore, it might surprise you to find out that the most in-demand job role of 2021 doesn’t require you to have a degree. The role of Software Engineer has soared in demand in recent years, with salaries in the field growing exponentially, and employers offering every benefit imaginable, from pool tables and massages to free breakfast and Friday beers, and in today's climate - unsurprisingly perhaps - fully remote and flexible working.

It’s never been a more exciting time to study Software Engineering, and now it’s more accessible a career field than ever. More than a quarter of people working in professional software development have never been to university, and employers are now increasingly more likely to hire purely on a person’s skillset.

What does a Software Engineer do?

If you don’t know what a Software Engineer does, they create software for computers, mobile devices, and now even self driving cars, home voice assistants and other smart devices. They do so by writing a language called code. When people think of code, they tend to think of it as some scary concept that can only be grasped by mathematicians. The reality however is that anybody can learn to code with the right mindset.

How can I become a Software Engineer?

There are several routes to becoming a Software Engineer aside from university — self teaching through online courses, apprenticeships etc. but one of the quickest ways is to attend a coding bootcamp, where you can learn to write code at an accelerated pace. At Command Shift, we offer a 28 week part-time course which teaches you the essential skills you need to be ready to enter a career in software development. Our students typically find employment within 8 weeks of finishing the course, with starting salaries ranging from 25k to 35k.

What are the benefits of studying with Command Shift over attending University?

  1. Lower fees — Our course costs £6,000 — a fraction of the cost of a university education. In today’s digital skills gap, employers are willing to pay decent salaries for software engineers, meaning you can likely make this money back within your first year or so of employment — unlike the years of debt that attending university accumulates.

  2. Efficiency — The time to completion is much shorter at 6 months, meaning students can find employment, and even progress through their career/increase their earnings, more rapidly than they would be able to do so whilst attending university.

  3. Lower bar to entry — So long as you have a fairly good grasp of English and Maths (at GCSE level), and the determination to succeed, then you can be a software developer. We won’t count your UCAS Tariff points or require you to have specific A-levels.

  4. Earn whilst you learn — Because the course is part-time, you can work during the course to help you out financially. Many of our students work full-time jobs!

But what about course content?

How can 3 years of studying a university degree be relative to a short, intensive bootcamp? We asked this question to Ersel Aker, who has had first-hand experience of studying computer science at the University of Manchester — prior to a career in software development:

When I was learning to program, the only route available was to get a computer science degree. And these tend to be much bigger commitments in terms of time and finances.

A university degree is tailored for research. The aim is to instil the scientific method to your thinking so you can be an academician. At the end of your degree, you’ll probably have lots of theoretical knowledge but mostly will be clueless about the day-to-day practice. After finishing my degree, I had to work from the ground up to acquire practical skills. Yes, my degree has been helpful in terms of mapping out what’s out there for me to discover, but that’s how far it goes.

Compared to university, bootcamps are fully practical & hands-on, and the syllabus is industry-led. So the moment you finish your course, I bet a bootcamp graduate can be more effective than most university graduates. You might not know the names of different sorting algorithms but you would know how to build a client-facing website which is more valuable to a business”.

At Command Shift, we don’t offer accredited courses, so you won’t receive a recognised qualification at the end of our course. If we were to do so then we would be tied to an outdated curriculum which would be years behind industry. Being unaccredited gives us the freedom to constantly update and improve our curriculum, keeping up-to-speed on industry and student demands/needs, increasing the likelihood our graduates will enter employment following the course. We do still offer all students a certificate of completion as proof to employers that they have been on the course.

Won’t employers prefer someone who is degree educated?

We can’t speak for all employers, and while some more traditional employers may seek the validation of a university grade on your CV, most employers in modern tech companies are looking at your practical skills and competence via your online portfolio (e.g. an online GitHub account where employers will be able to view your code).

Command Shift is an intensive coding bootcamp, meaning that a vast range of skills, techniques, frameworks, and tools are taught in a relatively short space of time. Students leave the course having built real projects and applications that can be presented on their CVs, and at interview.

Why choose us?

It is possible to self-teach yourself how to code using resources available online, but this doesn’t have the same degree of accountability that a physical classroom environment with dedicated tutors can provide — many of our students do actually come to us having tried to self-teach themselves, but have struggled to stay motivated or get confused by what topics they need to learn or in what order they should be studying them. (Read our student testimonials). We offer a structured and focused curriculum where you build on knowledge learnt in weeks prior.

There are also full-time coding bootcamps. These do tend to offer shorter courses but are also much more expensive with course prices in the UK typically around the £8,000 mark. You are also tied to full-time study hours so it’s often difficult to balance studies alongside a part-time job — if you are joining us as a school/college leaver or you aren’t in employment then the part-time nature of our course will allow you the freedom to work a part-time role alongside your studies to help with your living costs whilst on the course, but will also allow you time to enjoy hobbies, have a social life and maintain your day-to-day responsibilities.

What about career prospects?

In 2020 we saw a definite decline in the number of junior roles on the market, but we are now starting to see this open back up - in some cases students have found employment before finishing the course!

We of course offer ongoing career support to all of our students and graduates, who have access to our dedicated Careers Adviser. This includes CV reviews, interview preparation and mock technical tests. What’s more, we provide continued mentorship after the course ends, and students & graduates can support each other through our community messaging platform (Slack).

Where do I go from here?

Find out more about our BOOTCAMP course.

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