Boot Camp Training: Pros and Cons
The boot camp model of training, whether it’s for information technology knowledge, martial skills or proficiency in some other area, is marked by its rigorous methods. Rather than a couple of hour-long classes spread out over a few days or a self-paced e-learning module that can be digested in bits at random, the boot camp is very deliberately unremitting. Its daily schedule usually runs according to solar rhythms — that is, from dawn until dusk, and sometimes longer — and offers only a few respites for participants. Additionally, programs such as these typically cram loads of information into a few days or weeks.
Given the all-out nature of this kind of training, it’s not surprising many IT professionals don’t gravitate toward boot camps. They definitely aren’t for everyone — it takes a certain kind of person to go through a demanding and challenging curriculum nearly without cessation, spending 60 or more hours per week in training. With that in mind, Study Guide will explore the pros and cons of boot camps, so our readers can weigh the positives and negatives of this approach and determine whether it’s right for them.
First, the bad news. The demands that boot camps put on participants go beyond mere effort in a classroom or lab. As pointed out before, these programs take up a good deal of time (typically, at least a week), and they’re not the kind of thing you can do outside of work. If your employer isn’t supportive of the effort and doesn’t count the boot camp as training for your job, you might wind up applying your entire annual stock of vacation days to this training experience. In addition, boot camps frequently require travel and lodging, especially the ones that are held in interesting and exotic locales. (Be cautious of these programs in particular: Remember, you might be distracted from the course content if the boot camp is held on a cruise ship.)
Additionally, several experts in the certification industry have criticized the questionable ethics of some boot camp providers. Detractor allege that a few of these programs involve classes in which instructors essentially give candidates the answers to credentialing exams, right before sending them off to testing centers to take them. Obviously, this is cheating, and it doesn’t really help participants learn the concepts and skills that will aid them in their careers. Be sure to extensively research the curriculum of any boot camp you consider and rule out the ones that don’t give a detailed description of what you’ll learn.
Now for the good news about boot camps. For starters, the well-operated programs are extremely thorough, offering participants an in-depth look at technologies and techniques. And students will learn a great deal in a very short time span. It’s somewhat similar to the experience one would find during a mini-term at a four-year university, where an entire semester’s worth of learning — essays, labs, and midterm and final exams — are stuffed into sessions lasting two or three weeks.
Also, boot camps generally offer certification candidates a good balance of theory and practice. Few of these programs rely solely on classroom, although they do employ it extensively. Usually, the concepts behind the technologies are explained in instructor-led lectures accompanied by books or some other printed materials. These are then applied in situations such as labs and simulations, which give learners valuable, hands-on experiences. Additionally, participants get further interactivity from recurrent, close contact with teachers and their fellow students.
Want to find out more about boot camps? Then go to www.certmag.com and key “boot camp” into CertScope, our search engine. Also, check out the CertMag discussion boards at www.certmag.com/forums to see what your colleagues are saying.