Leo Picado studies computer science and lives in Costa Rica. When he started doing contract work for a Utah e-tailer company, he found that he would need to sharpen his skills to build them the new mobile app they needed. After doing some preliminary work with Treehouse, he reached out to Eleven Fifty in Indianapolis. Having finished the weeklong Intro to iOS course, Leo tells us about returning to Costa Rica to finish the app, the factors that lead him to Eleven Fifty, and why he’s already considering going back for an advanced class.
What were you up to before you decided to do Eleven Fifty?
I’m currently halfway through my Computer Science degree; I’m a student right now at a school called CENFOTEC here in Costa Rica.
I’m a native Costa Rican and I have a BA in advertising. I worked in advertising for a couple of years but it wasn’t my thing. One thing led to another and I ended up in graphic design and that led me to computer science.
At some point I realized I needed formal Computer Science training so I started going to school. Halfway through I switched jobs. I’m working for an e-tailer now as a software engineering contractor on an hourly basis. A couple of months ago they picked me to build them a new mobile app. I had very little experience with Swift, which is the class that I took at Eleven Fifty.
Did you know some iOS before you went to Eleven Fifty?
What was the goal of taking a bootcamp?
I’ve been self-taught in many things but every now and then something will come up that I’m just unable to wrap my head around. And when that happens, I just need someone to hold my hand and to have them to answer as many questions as I have.
Did you look at other bootcamps, or just Eleven Fifty?
I looked at Code Fellows in Seattle and Hacker School in New York. They looked great, but I couldn’t put my life on pause for such a long time. I got married a couple of years ago, and I have loans, so I couldn’t afford to give up a paycheck. Eleven Fifty offered a way to spend just a week out of my life on Swift.
How did you find Eleven Fifty?
They found me! I was looking for more answers about building the app for my company. I took it to Twitter and asked a question about Swift, and someone from Eleven Fifty replied.
At the time, their iOS class was too expensive (around $3500). I tweeted a joke to Scott Jones, and asked about a scholarship. The next day, he replied and offered me a great scholarship!
Did you end up doing an application for Eleven Fifty?
No. They gave me a list of tutorial videos and suggested I go over them to prepare, but no real application.
How many people were in your cohort?
There were a lot of people; I’d say around 21 people were there.
Did you feel like it was a diverse cohort in terms of age, gender, race?
I would say so; there were a lot of people from all walks of life. There was a guy just coming out of high school, there was a teacher who was digging into iOS because he thought it would be good for his school. There were a few CS students from different local schools.
There was this woman named Marcia Williams who works for an NGO called EmployIndy. She was actually taking the class because she has a CS degree but she was trying to see if the bootcamp model would work for her community. It was very, very diverse.
How many instructors were there and who were the instructors?
There was one instructor, Terrence Kunstek, and three TAs.
Which technologies did you cover? Can you give us a rundown of the course and how they broke it up?
It was pretty much Swift for seven days. After that we got a bit into Parse and Objective C.
How many hours a day would you say you were spending at Eleven Fifty?
I spent my entire day there. I got there around 8:00am then left around 10:00pm. We had about 6-7 hours of classroom time each day.
Did you feel like you were burned out at all or did you feel like it was pretty manageable?
I did feel some burnout around Thursday and it was my own fault because one of the very first things the instructor says is not to code during breaks. They tell you to take some time or play basketball; just don’t code because at the end of the week you’re going to be burned out.
I ended up helping people a few times throughout the week during breaks so by Thursday around 6:00 pm, I really felt exhausted. I just wanted to go home and sleep for a few hours. But it worked pretty well.
Did Eleven Fifty do job prep with your class, interview practice, resume building and things like that?
We took some time on Friday when we were done coding and going over all the Q&A part of the program to go over LinkedIn; but there were no practice interviews or anything like that. One of the main goals was to have at least one app in the app store by the end of the week.
What was the app that you submitted?
We built three apps. The first one was a clone of Evernote. The second one was a clone of Snapchat and the last one was a Tinder clone.
Have you started building the app for your company now that you’re back in Costa Rica?
I have. I had before I went there and I told my boss, “I am pretty sure that the minute I get back I’m going to make tons of changes just because of all the stuff I’m going to learn” and exactly that happened.
Is there anything that you would have changed about the course?
I think my biggest peeve was I that since the cohort had a range of technical ability, I did pick up on a few advanced topics before others. If this class was someone’s first experience with computer science.
Even though you got a great scholarship, do you think Eleven Fifty was worth the $3500 price tag?
Yes, and I’m actually thinking of taking the advanced class now.