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# What's the next step?

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Hey,

Right now I'm 23, living at home with my parents, working for my dad's borderline-criminal scam business with a bunch of druggies, ex-cons, and lunatics, putting tape on cardboard boxes all day, and I don't really have any friends except on the internet. This is making me really miserable, and I'm trying to plan the best escape route.

Theoretically my parents are willing to put me through school. Since I've done a fair degree of hobby work with programming, and I find it reasonably enjoyable, I'm considering a computer science program. I'm not particularly wedded to the idea of becoming a game developer. My uncle encouraged me to look into coding "boot camps", which are relatively short, intensive programs that award you with a certificate upon completion. This idea appeals to me much more than traditional university, because I really dislike school, and I feel I'd have a better chance to stay motivated with a shorter and more focused program.

The idea isn't to prepare myself for a dream career -- being a programmer isn't necessarily the dream -- I'm more interested in finding a relatively fast and practical way to gain financial independence so I can quit my horrible job and move out, and hopefully meet some decent people and make some friends along the way.

1) Does anybody have knowledge of or experience with these "boot camps"? Will an employer respect a diploma from one? What are the most highly regarded programs?

2) If any other thoughts, suggestions, or words of wisdom come to mind after reading my thread, please do share!

Thanks for any advice.

Edited by dgmul

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Will an employer respect a diploma from [a coding "boot camp"]?

No. But an employer might respect a strong portfolio of games you made after beginning to learn at one.

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1) Does anybody have knowledge of or experience with these "boot camps"? Will an employer respect a diploma from one? What are the most highly regarded programs?

Most mainstream employers won't.  Quite a few startups will though as that is who these bootcamps are tailored for.  The whole point of them is for CEOs of bootstrapping startups to be able to do some of their development themselves until they can afford to hire full time coders or to be able to hire people who can do exactly what they want without to know exactly what it is that they need the candidate to do.  These bootcamps are usually run by startup companies and in most startup hub areas the community is usually quite open to taking on people without the traditional university background.

Bootcamps don't teach you everything that a regular programming education would.  Usually its "How to create a web service",  "how to create a web app" and "how to create a mobile app"  i.e. all the prerequisites for creating some kind of social startup.

2) If any other thoughts, suggestions, or words of wisdom come to mind after reading my thread, please do share!

You say that University does not appeal because you dislike school.  One thing to keep in mind is that University is nothing like school.  You are not "taught" stuff at University.  The idea is that you "read for a degree" i.e. you go and study stuff and learn it yourself.  The degree modules and lectures are just there to give some direction to your study.

Edited by Buster2000

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If your goal is getting to financial independence quickly, avoid the game industry. It is, as far as I can tell, the only part of the high tech programming space with a surplus of talent, and a massive surplus of entry level talent.

You will make more money, have more options, and have an easier time finding and keeping work as a programmer outside the game industry.

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Your mileage may (and will) vary, but my education has never been a factor in getting employment, and after dropping out of high school all I have is a diploma from a 1.5-year boot camp course in programming.

Your access to the industry depends on much more than just that, and access is all you really need.
#1: Who cares about the big names in the industry? You will grow faster and be much more heavily appreciated in a smaller newer studio, where you can also rise through the ranks faster. They also are less strict on educational backgrounds.
#2: Portfolio, portfolio, portfolio. This is what you really need. I got into the industry based on my portfolio and passing an interview exam, not based on my education.
#3: The world is your oyster. My first job was in Thailand. Why not? You can work anywhere once you have the diploma from the boot camp (necessary for work visas), so with that many doors open to you, why would you even need to ask if you can get in?  It’s only when you get in.

#4: Try try try.  Apply everywhere.  Again, it’s not a matter of if, but when.  So make it happen faster by applying everywhere and never giving up.

L. Spiro

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Note that education is a location specific thing.

If you're in Thailand or New Zealand or Australia or similar countries where formal education is less necessary, you probably don't need the degree as much. Learn on your own, build a portfolio on your own, get a job on your own.

If you are in a major city in the US with game studios, where there are 10+ universities and even more colleges nearby, your career will be much better with a degree; finding a job at all will be much harder without one. Not impossible, but much harder. Without a degree you will have less to negotiate at every job, meaning lower pay, lower positions, lower rungs on the ladder of life. Work experience and portfolios will help, and after a decade or two the lack of a degree will matter less and less, but it will still make a difference. You'll be in your 40s, or 50s, or 60s, and still need a job to support yourself, and potential employers will still be asking questions about the degree you didn't get.

Assuming the US, also note that college degrees don't need to be expensive. Shop around, find schools that are a low price rather than the popular name-brand schools. Junior colleges can be found for under $1500/year. Universities can be found for under$4000/year. Many people comment about how they want to go to a specific school that is $20K or$30K or \$40K per year, but they cannot afford it. That is life. I drive a 2003 prius rather than a 2015 ferrari, the prius is adequate. Similarly, a less expensive college degree is adequate, you don't need to go to MIT or some other ultra expensive school to have a great education.

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Thanks for the great replies! I feel bad that I haven't gotten around to replying until today. Lots of food for thought.