To my fellow bootcamp graduates, congratulations! If it was anything like my experience, you completed what was likely the most stressful and fulfilling five months of your professional adult life. From the highs of successfully creating a webpage from scratch, designing your own game, audio player, web app, and more, to the lows of nearly smashing your computer into pieces, questioning your life choices as you attempt to debug code that was working fine five minutes ago, you’ve finally reached your destination. You’ve crossed the rivers of despair and doubt and ascended to the top of Mount Full-Stack.
But again, if you’re anything like me you’ll gaze upon all the splendor that lies ahead, and as your excitement settles clarity will hit, and you’ll realize that the pressure cooker developer life may not be the right fit for you.
Don’t panic! Breathe. Like that time you figured out that one of your functions was calling a variable that was out of scope, there is a solution. I’ll let you in on a little secret. Like web development, there’s a profession that, in the best way possible, challenges your ability to problem solve, think outside of the box, and constantly learn as you go. This profession has a wonderful culture of sharing tips, tricks, and working together to solve each other’s pain points.
You may even build some really cool tools along the way.
Coding Bootcamp Graduates and SEO, The Perfect Match
SEO, for the uninitiated, stands for Search Engine Optimization. It’s an interdisciplinary profession, existing somewhere between marketing, analytics, product, and UX. It’s a noun, adjective, and a verb – Can you please tell that SEO over there to SEO the SEO for me?
Put simply, SEO’s ultimate goal is to improve a website’s ability to reach its target audience by appearing on search engine result pages like Google. And who knows the inner workings of a website better than a full-stack coding bootcamp graduate?
Because SEO is a dynamic discipline, those with diverse professional backgrounds are at an advantage. The ability to synthesize lessons learned from other industries and apply them to SEO helps propel the SEO industry forward. Challenging conventions and “best practices” are not only celebrated in the right SEO environment but encouraged. SEO, like web development, is constantly evolving. And with that evolution, technical SEO professionals with dev backgrounds (and even data science backgrounds) are in high demand. The web is only getting more complex from a technological standpoint and companies need dev-focused SEOs to help guide their websites into the future.
Should Full-Stack or Data Science Bootcamp Graduates Work in SEO?
Agencies like Kahena are constantly looking to hire SEOs with dev and data science backgrounds. With the amount of data SEOs deal with on a daily basis, someone with a data science or BI background can really shine. Technical SEOs are a valuable commodity as well, especially when clients are hampered by limited dev resources. Our ability to QA and respectfully hold developers accountable is worth its weight in gold – or Bitcoin.
Technical SEOs can bridge the communication gap with devs by effectively communicating technical SEO requirements and help translate technical issues into plain English to non-technical stakeholders.
All Paths Lead to SEO
I didn’t have the most traditional path to SEO, but I’m learning more and more that few people do. Before I found SEO, I graduated from university with a degree in psychology, worked in the service industry, worked in the music industry, taught English as a second language, sold assistive technology devices, quit my job to go backpacking in South America, then worked as a front-end developer after graduating from a full-stack coding Bootcamp.
My colleagues’ professional backgrounds are diverse as well, ranging from IT, fashion, finance, banking, baking, and everything in between. There are even a few with marketing degrees, but I try not to judge. Heck, my high school math teacher found a third career as an SEO. She even used to work at Kahena – small world!
Everyone brings with them their own set of experiences and perspectives and there’s a lot to learn from them. I’m grateful to work in a profession that celebrates that type of sharing and diversity of thought. Learning from others broadens your thinking, challenging your assumptions on how things are done. And if SEOs are good at one thing, it’s challenging our assumptions with data, only to find a golden nugget of insight that provides clarity and direction.
Is Coding Bootcamp Worth it?
Do I regret putting my life on hold, joining a five-month coding bootcamp, and not ending up working as a developer? No – it was totally worth it! I learned so much from that experience. Not just about how to create a website or code my own web app, but I also learned a few life lessons along the way.
I learned that I’m more resilient than I thought and that having a strong support network of friends and family is the key to getting through stressful times.
Since starting at Kahena, I found a passion for SEO and a way to use my dev background as a launchpad for success. I’ve worked on websites of companies that range from Fortune 500s to non-profits. I’ve overseen multiple site migrations, diagnosed and fixed technical issues missed by professional developers, and helped improve my client’s site speed and Core Web Vitals.
I’ve helped implement code changes of my own design on websites that are visited by millions of people. I couldn’t have done any of that without the time I spent at my bootcamp.
In the office, I’m elevating my team by showing them how to utilize dev tools to scrape internal links with 1 line of code. Ya, I would say it was worth it. And with only two years of SEO experience under my belt, I’m only getting started.
Wherever your professional career takes you, don’t forget to bring the skills you learn with you along the way. When you need to get buy-in required from a group of stakeholders, remember the elevator pitch you gave at your bootcamp’s hackathon that got you a standing O. When you need to run an A/B test, search the back of your brain for anything you can remember from Stats 101. You may even get lucky and increase your client’s landing page’s goal conversion rate by 70%.
There’s no such thing as a wasted experience. Your experience is valuable. You are valuable. And if you’re not sure where to put that value, consider SEO.