My experience at Thinkful, ~5 years later


I'm trying a new thing! When I get a question more than a couple times, it goes into the backlog of articles I need to write! Sadly, this backlog grows longer every week, maybe someday I'll run out of article ideas! 😱

As a grad of Thinkful, I often get asked about my experience there -- did I like it and was it worth the tuition? If you're considering Thinkful (or a bootcamp in general), I hope this article helps you as you consider some really large decisions about learning programming.


Thinkful was a great choice for me at the time I attended -- it fit what I needed. But make sure it fits what you need if you're considering attending there, everything I write here was 5 years ago!

Why I attended Thinkful

It's really important to choose a learning path that suits your needs. For me, Thinkful fit the bill for a few reasons:

  • Remote-first. Thinkful is primarily a remote bootcamp, and I didn't want to be driving into in-person classes. Remote work was a big reason I was interested in getting into the software industry, even before COVID-19.

  • Affordable. Thinkful was more affordable than the other bootcamps that I looked at, and their billing structure allowed me to finance it with a loan and pay it slowly. I couldn't afford to do a CS degree as I had just graduated with a music degree a few years earlier (also time, 4 years is a long time).

  • Part-time. Thinkful had part-time (20h / week, 6 months) and a full-time (40h / week, 3 months) courses when I attended. Attending part-time allowed me to work as a valet and continue paying rent while I changed careers.

  • Self-paced with mentorship. The program I attended was mostly self-paced -- you met 1-on-1 with a mentor 3x per week. Mentors were usually senior engineers working for Thinkful as a side-gig, so they had real industry experience.

  • Career services. At the time, Thinkful offered a robust career services branch after you graduated. You met with a career mentor 1x per week, and if Thinkful couldn't place you in a full-time job/internship within 6 months they would refund your tuition. Lots of bootcamps offer this today, but back then it wasn't as common.

My experience

Overall, I had a great experience at Thinkful! The self-paced curriculum paired with frequent lessons with my mentor worked well for me. Coming from a music background, learning to code felt like learning an instrument -- you had lessons with a teacher and homework to do between lessons.

Another thing that allowed me to learn deeply was taking the course at a part-time pace. I was only expected to do ~20 hours of work per week, but I probably ended up coding for ~30 hours per week. This gave me some extra time to get lost in rabbit holes and be curious about the things I was learning (in retrospect, I blame my then-undiagnosed ADHD).

Finally, career services was critical to my job search. I graduated early (I joke that I dropped out) to take an internship that I had gotten through my network. That internship didn't pan out into the full-time opportunity I thought it would be, so I went back to career services. With a lot of valuable lessons I learned in career services, I had a full-time offer 3-4 months later.

I hope this was helpful to you! If you're considering getting into software engineering and you have more questions, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter or connect with me on LinkedIn (please include a note, I might not accept otherwise).