DecodeMTL is an 8-week Front-End Web Development program that teaches students to build beautifully crafted and well coded simple websites. With their first cohort coming up, we sat down with founder Kevin Khoury to get the scoop on who's teaching the course and the outcomes students can expect when graduating.
What were you doing before you started DecodeMTL?
I am not a technical person. Our co-founder, Ziad Saab is the technical guy. He’s been a full-stack developer for over 15 years. He’s also a great teacher and volunteers his time teaching the local “Ladies Learning Code” chapter here in Montreal.
When did DecodeMTL start? Is this your first cohort?
DecodeMTL has just begun and we are starting our first cohort in October of 2014.
Why did you decide to teach front-end development?
Front-End web development was the best place for us to start. We knew we wanted to offer a part-time course that would welcome beginners, so teaching front-end made the most sense.
The website is really clear that this class is for beginners- does this mean that someone can have absolutely no experience? Should an applicant complete Codecademy or something before applying?
Is there an interview process? What is it like?
Yes there is an interview process, but I like to refer to it more as a conversation. The goal here is to see what kind of background an applicant is coming from, what they are looking to get out of the course, if they have any coding experience, etc. We want to be sure that the applicants we select will excel in our course and come out with a positive experience. For that reason it is necessary to have a conversation with them before accepting them into the course.
Why Montreal? Tell us about the tech scene in Montreal? Is there a technical shortage? What kinds of companies are hiring?
Montreal is our hometown, and we want to give back to the growing tech community here. There absolutely is a shortage of qualified programmers. Many companies look externally to our city for good candidates, but because we are a bilingual spoken city, it is often hard to recruit externally. While our city is home to some fairly established tech companies who are always hiring, our startup scene is booming. The best place to browse startups and startup jobs in our city is here: http://builtinmtl.com/jobs.
Student spend ~4 hours/week in class- what are their obligations outside of class?
Our ideal students will be motivated tinkerers. They will naturally want to try out the new stuff that they learned outside of the class. We feel like the best way to learn new material is to practice it as much as possible. We will be giving basic exercises after each session, but they'll be suggestions and by no means obligations. Ideally, the student will spend at least 1-2 hours practicing on the days where there is no lecture.
What does class time look like? Are students doing projects or learning via lecture?
Even though the first two or three sessions will have more talking and less doing, most of the sessions will be half lecture and half workshop. We want the participants to try things on their own and break things on their own. The last week of class will be slightly different then the rest. Students will come in Monday to Friday evening and build out there own product. This week will be completely hands on with tons of collaboration between the students and instructors.
What are the expected outcomes from the front-end dev class? Would someone be able to get a job? Get a promotion at their current job?
The expected outcome of the front-end course is to put people in a position to becoming a junior front-end web developer. With hard work you should be able to land yourself an entry-level front-end development job. However, you will also be in a position to build your own simple websites (sites that do not require a backend), landing pages, portfolio site, or even create a prototype of a new product with an aim at attracting investors.
Is there an emphasis on job placement? How do you incorporate that into the curriculum?
As this is our first cohort, we are are still in the process of developing relationships with local startups and tech companies to introduce our talent pool to them. We already have the support of the local tech community in launching our course, and have several companies who have expressed interest in meeting with the talent that comes out of our course. However, at this moment we are not advertising any demo days, or meet and greets. But it is not to say it won’t happen.
What’s next for DecodeMTL? Other locations? A full-time program or different languages?
We really want to focus on this first course and make sure it’s the absolute best it can be. We want the students coming out of the course to have had a truly positive and insightful learning experience. While this course is running, we will ask the local community what they want to learn. With there feedback, we will see what the next move will be.