A former Lotus Notes developer in Washington, DC, Timothy Taylor tried a few online coding courses to update his skills. It wasn't until he found Eleven Fifty in Indianapolis that Timothy felt a genuine support system and learning community. We talk to Timothy about his experience with Eleven Fifty's iOS and Ruby courses, the unique environment, and his advice to future bootcamp students.
Tell us what you were up to before you started at Eleven Fifty.
I’ve been in the industry for over 13 years, but I was working for General Dynamics for a couple of years prior to Eleven Fifty. I was a Lotus Notes developer so I knew I needed more new training.
What is Lotus Notes?
It’s a workflow product. If you’re familiar with Sharepoint, you can do workflow applications pretty fast. You can build databases and applications, but it’s more of a groupware because it has an application server, a web server and a mail server. It used to be big in the federal government but IBM didn’t market it well so now it’s been replaced by Sharepoint and that’s the reason why I started taking new training.
So you obviously had a technical background before.
How did you decide on Eleven Fifty?
I went on your site, Course Report and I did a lot of research. I tried Coding Dojo’s online course, but it wasn’t a great fit for me. I also looked at Coding House. They had a 60-day program, but they didn’t have many alumni so I couldn’t find much information. I was back and forth. I looked at Hack Reactor’s Remote program, but their course is 90 days and I have a family to support, so their program didn’t seem as flexible. They have an excellent reputation but they’re just not as flexible.
I happened to come upon Eleven Fifty’s website. I got to talk to Matt, Scott, and Terrence who taught the course. Everybody just seemed to be so nice and cool. Whenever I needed to reach out to them they were there. They gave me their number and they would personally call and I liked that. I liked the fact that it wasn’t just about money to them. They really were proactively reaching out to me.
Was there an application process with Eleven Fifty? Did you do a technical interview or a culture interview or anything like that?
Which course did you take?
I took 3 courses: Beginner iOS, Advanced iOS and the Ruby on Rails course. I took the beginner iOS class first, and they decided to push the second iOS class back a couple of weeks, which actually worked better.
Terrence talked to me and pointed out that it might be overwhelming to take three courses back to back. You want to break them up to be able to spend time on each topic. It was a lot of information.
Why did you decide to start with the Beginner iOS course?
I really hadn’t looked at mobile and didn’t really know much about iOS and mobile development because I came from a Lotus Notes world.
After talking to Scott and Terence, they sold me on mobile. iOS wasn’t as big here in DC, where I live, but I looked across the nation and iOS was getting big and popular, so I just decided to go down that path. Eleven Fifty also told me that they would have the Ruby course later on.
Who were the instructors in those classes?
Terrence Kunstek taught the iOS course, then the Ruby class was taught by Dave Strus. All of them are great; they all continued to help when I reached back out to them.
The good thing about Eleven Fifty versus some of the other bootcamps that you see is that you actually build applications as opposed to going through a curriculum and only learning code structure. At Eleven Fifty, you learn code structure but you actually build complex applications, whereas a lot of times at other bootcamps, you build a basic application. You don’t really build real applications that you would use on a job.
Were Terrence and Dave lecturing in addition to building apps?
Yes. For example in iOS, we learned Swift development; Swift is the new language for Apple development. You go over a Swift language reference documentation for the first few days then for the next 5 days, we built an app.
They follow the same structure for the Ruby class. The first two days were using the Ruby language and then the next 5 we were doing Rails.
Were you working on the same projects in the iOS class and the Ruby class?
There were different projects but under the same scheme. For iOS we built a Tinder app clone, we built a tasking app and a chat app. For Rails, we built the tasking app and the clone of Reddit.
From speaking with Scott, I know he wants to make sure that each instructor takes everyone through building a real app, and ideally all of the classes would work on the same apps. But it depends on class size and level on how many apps are built. At least 2 are built. However for the iOS course we were able to do 3.
How large was your cohort for each class?
The first class we had four, maybe five students. The second iOS course had only three students. But the Ruby class was pretty big- ten students.
Did you feel like your classmates were on a similar level or at least able to learn together?
I probably had the biggest disadvantage because I came from Lotus Notes, which is more visual based client app development. Coming from Visual Basic, I hadn’t had a lot of object-oriented or iOS experience. Whereas some of the other guys in iOS had done mobile apps or had experience with C and C++ or even Python. I came in cold turkey so I’ve had to put in a little bit more work. In the beginning it took me some time understanding it but actually, I would say that after I did the Ruby course, things were starting to make more sense.
In the Ruby class, most of my classmates were already working with Rails, so they were all a little bit more experienced than I was.
Did you consider participating in Eleven Fifty’s APPrenticeship program?
Yes. I know two of the guys who have transitioned into the APPrenticeship program. I think it’s an excellent idea, because having some internship or on-the-job experience is very important when you’re doing app development and especially when you’re trying to learn a new language.
The fact that Terrence has been doing development for a long time gives those apprentices a great resource. They’re building live apps and getting great experience. If I was able to participate remotely I would definitely do it but it’s not going to work out for me because I live in DC, but I think it’s an excellent idea.
Terrence is very intelligent, very smart and he knows a lot of different languages so they’re in good hands.
What are you up to today? Did you get a job as a result of doing Eleven Fifty or what are you doing?
I had other experience with Sharepoint; I have a couple of offers that I’m still waiting on and I have another interview tomorrow with IBM but these are totally different than what I went there for, it’s for Sharepoint.
I know Terrence doesn’t like this but I like Ruby and Rails a lot. I can see myself being really great at doing that with practice.
So I’ve just been home. Now I’m preparing for this interview tomorrow for Sharepoint and .Net so I’ve been looking at some .Net stuff. They actually have a .Net course that starts Saturday that I was debating going to but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to go.
Is there anything that we didn’t touch on that you wanted to add about your experience at Eleven Fifty?
I’d just like to add that if anybody is looking to go to a coding academy, they really need to look at Eleven Fifty. I spoke to a lot of bootcamps and I could tell where some of the companies were just about money, but the content wasn’t solid. But like I said, the owner Scott really took the time to care about you. I haven’t seen another school with the structure- from the content to the catered lunches, to massage breaks. I think they have a great model. They just need the word out so other people will find out about it.