Online, mentored coding bootcamps offer convenience and structure without forcing you to quit your job or move to a new city. But not all online programs were created equally, so which one is right for you? We'll learn from alumni at each online coding bootcamp, ready to answer your questions about their experience during class, how they found mentorship and community online, and how their careers have skyrocketed afterwards.  

Have questions for the folks at these coding bootcamps?

  • Annie at Career Foundry (15% off Career Foundry for a limited time!)
  • Prasid at Bloc (Get $100 off with our Bloc Scholarship!)
  • Leslie at Skillcrush (Get $50 off a Skillcrush Blueprint!)
  • Nora at Thinkful
  • John at CodeUnion
  • Marco at Firehose Project
  • The Team at Tealeaf Academy

The full transcript of our webinar is below:

 

Tonight we have a really special webinar planned that I’m really excited about. If you’ve tuned into our past webinars, you know that we typically have a guest from one specific school. But tonight, we’re joined by alumni from several online boot camps.

Maybe you’re familiar with these online boot camps; they usually match you with a mentor. They teach you web development or another digital skill. What’s great about these online boot camps is you don’t have to quit your job, you don’t have to move your family across the country or pay tens of thousands of dollars to learn how to code.

But they are all different so we’re going to learn what makes each of these bootcamps special by chatting with this lovely panel of alumni that we have below.

We’ve got Cody Karst from Thinkful, Brittany Martin from Bloc, Hanna-Marie from Skillcrush, Luke Tower from Tealeaf, Josh Brown from Code Union and Steven Fuong from Firehose project.

I want to remind everyone that this is going to be a Q&A so please use the Q&A tab to send in questions, or you can tweet @coursereport. A few of you have emailed questions before this so thanks for doing that.

One other reminder is that we do have some pretty sweet discounts for a few of the schools. For Career Foundry we’ve got a 15% discount, Bloc we have a $200 off discount and Skillcrush has a promo $50 as well. You can see details for those discounts in the showcase panel which I’ll make live in a little bit. I’m also happy to answer any questions about discounts and scholarships after the webinar,

We’re going to start by having everybody introduce yourselves, so I will let you unmute yourselves as necessary and introduce yourself. Tell us your name, which coding school you went to when you went. Brittany, do you want to start?

 

Brittany: I’m a graduate of the full stack Rails apprenticeship from Bloc.IO; I graduated in February. I was a marketing manager for a startup before I joined, before I completed the Bloc apprenticeship and now I’m a Rails support engineer for a fabulous company called Mindful.

 

Cody: My name is Cody Karst, I’m a graduate from the Thinkful front end development course. It was about 5 or 6 months ago that I graduated from the front end course and I’m a fulltime freelancer now and I started my own business called Reputer.com. That’s what I’m doing.

 

Hanna: Hi, I’m Hannah and I enrolled in the Skillcrush 101 course in January. I’m actually currently enrolled in their web developer blueprint, which I’m kind of having struggles with at the moment. But in general, I’m working at a tech startup out here.

 

Josh: My name is Josh, I attended Code Union’s course; just graduated, actually at the beginning of August a few weeks ago. I was a client relationship manager and now I’m an engineer at my company.

 

Luke: Luke Tower, I went to Tealeaf Academy Last year; in July I started, finished end of October or so. Currently, I’m a software engineer at a company called Red Path in Georgia.

 

Stephen: I’m Stephen and I was a student with the Firehose project. I finished the Ruby on Rails apprenticeship about 2 or 3 weeks ago. Right now, I’m also finishing my MBS at Babson College outside of Boston, and I’m working on starting my own startup out in California, based on the app that I started building with Firehose.

 

Liz: Very cool. Okay, we want to hear about that app in a minute. I also want to point out that we figured out before this that everybody is in a different location, which just speaks to the awesomeness of online learning.

The first question: Did any of you have any technical background before you attended your coding boot camp or, on the other hand, were any of you total, complete beginners?

Luke: I would consider myself a complete beginner. I was an English teacher before so had basically no technical skills whatsoever. Before I took the course in July, I did some self-studying. I had a book on C++ and I was working through and things like that. I did try an online school. I did Treehouse for like a month or so but it didn’t go in depth as much as I thought was necessary.

 

Brittany: I had taken some beginner web design classes when I was in college working on my undergraduate, and I had done some Code Academy. I did a course there. Bloc definitely encourages you when you apply but they do want to make sure that you do enjoy coding. They want to make sure you love nailing bugs and all that so it was important to me to at least have a little bit of experience. But no, I certainly did not have a great deal of programming experience prior.

 

Josh: For myself, when I came to programming specifically or software development, there was next to none. Understanding the basics but basically nothing about programming.

 

Liz: We had a question from Jake. Which resources if any, you used before you started your program and even more specifically, if any of those additional resources conflicted with what they taught you at a boot camp. What did you use and did you feel that it was effective?

Cody: I did some Code Academy, stuff like that to get myself into it. I had a technical background just as far as a hobbyist, but hadn’t really done it professionally until I decided to go this way. What I found, at least at Thinkful was they take their curriculum from all over the net; they pick the best and kind of curate it for you. So a lot of stuff I had seen before and some of it was new. So it was a really nice way how they threw it all together. You learn through the best people in the industry.

 

Liz: Did anyone else’s program have that curated content feel or did everybody else’s programs have original content? Could you tell, or were they picking things from across the web? What did you notice?

Brittany: Bloc is all original content. They have people specifically that are hired; they have an editor-in-chief who actually controls all the content for the 5 different courses they have now. They even have a game you can play once you’re pretty familiar with Ruby, called Ruby Warrior. And a lot of people play that game having no idea that it’s associated with Bloc. But I definitely have the sticker on my laptop proudly! So they definitely will look and they often will put out original content for people just to learn about Bloc itself. So even Thinkful might have pulled in some Bloc content at some point because sometimes they don’t even brand it.

 

Liz: Did anyone else have experience with that?

Stephen: Yeah; Firehose is completely original. I remember way back in the beginning Ken, one of the cofounders even told me that he had messed up probably a hundred times trying to create a lesson just from scratch before he got it just perfect and just right and delivered it to students. So yeah, they all created everything from the ground up.


 

Liz: Really cool. We kind of heard a little bit of this in your introductions but what was everybody’s motivation for doing an online boot camp? It sounds like some people have aspirations to start their own business or want to start their own product; did you do it to get a job, get a promotion, launch a new product?

Hanna: I think my story probably is pretty common. I graduated from university with a special education degree. So like Luke, I didn’t have any prior technical background whatsoever. But with this degree, I was actually kind of lost because I didn’t want to pursue a career in this field. So I just felt that this is something I need to do for myself. I need to really find marketable skills, otherwise I’m just going to be on the sidelines watching everybody else succeed in their careers and I’m just going to be someone who has a little bit of experience in that and maybe a little language skill and maybe creative instincts. But that doesn’t really take you far if you don’t have those hard, in today’s world, really technical skills which can open new doors for you. This is where I wanted to start.

 

Liz: Josh, was your motivation to get that promotion at Enplug?

Josh: That’s an interesting question. I was doing client relationships at Enplug. So one of our cofounders actually found this Bootcamp with a friend. They said “We’d like to support you. We need an analytics and project engineer; do you want to take this course?” That’s how it really was for me to really jumpstart everything.

 

Liz: That’s cool. Did anybody else’s companies sponsor them or support them in their online education? No? That’s cool. I think that’s really smart of a company to do that. It’s like workforce development made for you. Why did you decide to do an online program over an in-person boot c amp?  I think that’s a big decision that people have to make. What kind of factors did you consider when you were making that decision?

Brittany: I had moved to San Francisco from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania only a couple of months before I decided I wanted to go through a boot camp. I was enjoying the job I was at and I needed to work full-time in order to afford to live in San Francisco. So I know that I wasn’t able to quit and do the 3 months and spend $15,000. So I had gone on the website looking explicitly for an online option. Bloc was the first one that I came to and it was the perfect fit. It worked well because you choose your mentor based on their skills and their availability. You talk to them 3 days a week. So it was important to me that I was able to fir it within my schedule. That being said, I was working full-time and I was also doing that at least 30 hours a week on top of that. It was definitely some juggling but it was 12 weeks of juggling that was totally worth it.

 

Stephen: Personally, it wasn’t like more people a consideration for me. The main thing that attracted me was the school and the teachers and their teaching style. They could’ve been in person and I would’ve still done it. So that wasn’t really a consideration. It was just that I found their teaching style to be so effective and just fundamentally different from everything out there that it was really worth it to do, to do it on line or offline with them.

 

Luke: One thing that drew me towards Tealeaf was a lot of the TAs that they have are all over the world and in a lot of different countries so you could get help at any hour. That was important for me because I still had to work, I had other responsibilities. So I needed something that was very flexible and that I could do at my pace. It was really good in that way.

 

Liz: Did anybody consider an in-person boot camp and go with it online? Everybody had their heart set on an online one?

Cody: Well, I live in Idaho so there’s not really any local boot camps anyway to go to. So when I was researching the places to go and found Thinkful and everything, I contacted them and they were so helpful that I ended up going with them, which was a good decision. But what it really came down to, I wanted to spend time with my family; that’s why I did a career change. That’s why working online gave me the options to see my kids grow, to spend time with my wife and to still be here instead of having to disappear.

 

Liz: That’s totally fair.

Luke: One thing about moving to another place and the tuition was not even comparable. They’re so expensive, I thought. I was pretty skeptical in general of the whole boot camp idea. And as it turns out, it ended up working really well; I was able to start a completely new career. But I always thought it was a little odd to go somewhere and pay that much for something that lasted 12 weeks. It didn’t seem worth it to me.

 

Stephen: I actually started to do an in-person boot camp with Startup Institute, their web dev program. I actually ended up dropping out just because it was totally not helpful to me. My opinion was like, ‘Code Academy except you’re just in a room with other people’ to me. It was kind of the same way of teaching that wasn’t really effective

 

Liz: So in your case, you tried the in-person and the online was actually more effective. That’s really cool.

Luke: Yeah.

 

Liz: Was everybody working at the same time while they were doing their program?

Cody: I was; I spent 10 years in a different profession. So when I started to switch everything up, I had to continue working. But while I was doing my front end course, I actually was able to start picking up clients and I was able to go full-time by the last month of my program.

 

Hanna: I think that was kind of a surprise to everybody at work because nobody knew that I was studying coding because my role at work at the time was social media management and content management. There was basically this one time when I ended up on live television after a hackathon which I had made where I was participating as a front end developer. And when everybody came to work that day they were just so blown away like, how did that happen?

 

Hanna: So gradually now I’m working on android development and front end development and stuff like that. I’m a beginner still; but still, no role has changed so much since then. It’s awesome.

 

Liz: That’s a funny story. So what was the application like for everybody? Did anyone feel like it was a super high barrier to entry? Were there interviews? Did you talk with the founders or with an instructor? Or was anybody’s program like, register and then start whenever you can?

Brittany: At Bloc there was a short application process. They want to make sure you’re in it for the right reasons, which I think is really positive. They have two account managers who review all those applications, and if everything seems right, they’ll approve you pretty quickly and you can start joining the class as soon as you want. But I liked that option that if you want to talk to an alumni, they’ll send you to an alumni to talk to; they’re totally comfortable with that. And often, I end up talking to a lot of new students nowadays just because I like talking about the program. I like that there’s somebody on the other side of that application who’s actually reading it and thinking about what you want to do.

 

Cody: When I was first looking into Thinkful, they have a thing where you can send your email in and they send you the syllabus. It was really cool because they set up a phone call and I talked to someone there – I think it was Nora –and just instantly built a human connection. So many times online, it’s so unhuman, it’s so separate, but Thinkful really helped to bring that in with the mentors and everything. I felt I was with people learning instead of on Code Academy by myself. It felt like you’re just sitting there with the computer.

 

Liz: We were talking about this before but it’s awesome to actually get to know all these online boot camps and that there’s real people behind them really powering them, and they’re super into education and the new face of education. It’s awesome; it is online but it’s super personal and that’s cool.

Luke: Just to piggy-back on that point, it’s funny because coming from the education field, seeing the way Chris and Kevin at Tealeaf run the whole thing, it was inspiring to see teachers that were really passionate about what they were doing and they were really good at it.  And they weren’t professional educators necessarily but yeah, it was pretty impressive.

 

Josh: Just to add to that, I think the interview process was like an hour, an hour and a half; just a Skype session with John and Jessie. Jessie’s well-known for his work with boot camps of that caliber, taking the time to actually help students. It was pretty intensive.

 

Liz: An hour and a half; that’s pretty intense. I think that one of the important parts of all of your programs is definitely the mentorship aspect of each, so I want to talk about that for a little bit. Tell us about your experience with your mentor. Did you work with one, what was it like, how personalized did you feel your mentor relationship was? Just talk about that for a minute.

Hanna: At Skillcrush, why I personally think that it’s really great is that first of all, the courses start at a specific date so that everybody is at the same level and there are always, as you said, real people behind the courses so there are real designated mentors who are there to answer your questions, and because basically all the students are all around the world. There is just this feeling of somebody’s online all the time so you can get answers, whether it’s your mentor or classmates. But one of the greatest things I think, about Skillcrush is that they also have office hours, which is also the place where you can really talk to somebody face to face and you can tell them “I’m stuck” or “I don’t remember this code” or “I don’t know what to do with my career or my life…” They’re there to listen to you. I think   this is the part where I felt this is really, really helping me out. And they really, genuinely want to help you.

 

Brittany: My mentor at Bloc was Aaron; he was an admin at a corporation at the time. I wanted someone who was very data-heavy. When you start your apprenticeship at Bloc, you choose the date you want to start and then you choose the three times a week that you want to talk to your mentor, and you can do that over Skype or Screen Hero. You’re spending those half-hour slots pair programming, talking about career changes, really anything that you want. I think anybody will tell you who graduates from Bloc and from a lot of these programs that the mentor really is the best part. I continue to be friends with him, I still send him good news. Especially when I switched my career. I think that mentor part is really key in making that experience successful.

 

Liz: This is really specific but someone has a question about the mentorship. Would your mentor help you solve complex problems for things outside the tutorials or is the mentorship more like troubleshooting problems you had with those tutorials? Would you just make a list of questions that you had or how did that play out?

Cody: We covered the course material when I was working on different things or different concepts. My mentor was awesome. I’d put my ideas or things that I was working on and we would just slow down everything and focus on that and we worked through it. He was patient enough to work through it until I got it, and then we could go back to the material.

I think the most important thing with him was that I learned what I needed to learn, even if that wasn’t exactly on with the material – which it usually wasn’t. It was all about helping me grow as a programmer and as a developer through Thinkful instead of just trying to toe the line.

So he was super helpful and I’d send him questions all the time and he even took extra time with me to help me out with emails and stuff like that; he was just really awesome and that was the reason why I was able to succeed.

 

Stephen: Definitely, me too, My mentor was Ken and basically, you could pretty much ask whatever you want about programming and they would have an answer for you. The process is super custom tailored to whatever you’re looking for, whatever you’re looking to be, like a junior developer or a freelancer working on your startup like I was.

In the capstone portion of my mentorship session for instance, my app needed some real time functionalities so I wanted to use Firebase. It was something Ken never used before but he actually went and learned it on his own – pretty quick, actually, since he’s really good with this stuff. Then he taught it to me.

So it could really be anything that you require. It’s just super custom tailored to whatever you want to get out of the program.

 

Liz: So then did you have the idea for your app before you started Firehose Project?

Stephen: Yeah, I did, actually. Probably like right before. I’d say.

 

Liz: You had functionality that you wanted to build in; is that how you all structured your time with your mentor?

Stephen: Yeah. As far as the capstone part where you build your own app, they’ll go through and wireframe the app with you. But in my case, I’d already been through that process before so I brought in wireframes and walked him through it, like this is what I want to do.

Obviously, the functionality’s going to expand as you start out and go through it.  They’re there with you as much as it extends so if there’s some kind of custom technology that you don’t know, they’ll work with you to understand that.

 

Liz: Josh, with Code Union, it’s Jesse and John. It’s not like a mentor network necessarily. Can you talk about how you were mentored and taught with Jesse and John as opposed to being matched with a certain mentor?

Josh: Yeah, I think that was one of the stark differences. There’s no individual mentors for students, just Jesse and John. Basically, we got a ton of scripting tasks and we would submit requests for feedback, and then John or Jesse would review it and within 24 hours they’d come back to us – usually, within 12.  

And then we would do two 2-hour sessions a week as a group, And also, John was open to as many one on one pair programing sessions as you wanted. Just general things that he’s explain. It could be anything from {26:27 Inaudible} and general things that he’s explain. So it was really one on one. I still talk to him. We use Snap, which is just chatting software. So yeah, it was great. I would say that that consistent interaction was anything and everything.

 

Liz: So you were actually interacting with other students in your cohort. Tim had actually asked a question which was similar. Were you able to develop a network with other students in your online program? Was anybody else in communication with other people in their program at all?

Cody: At Thinkful they have a Google Community Chat with everyone that starts in the course at the same time and so you essentially have a whole community to sound off on. They do that office hours, too, for different times of the week. You can meet up with a particular mentor that knows the subject and ask them questions about data you’re going through, on top of your weekly mentor meetings.

 

Brittany: We had office hours as well that you’d talk to other students, and they always had a mentor on deck to talk about that specific apprenticeship.

Something that they’re working on that I’m really excited about is Bloc’s building out their alumni network on Facebook right now. So it’s great being in that private group because if you want to sound off on anything related to Bloc or apprenticeships or anything, you have this really nice community that keeps getting bigger and bigger.

 

Liz: Did anyone else interact with their fellow students or was it pretty much one on one with your mentor?

Hanna: I was all the time talking to other students, and the greatest thing I think, about it is that because the classes start at set times, with the other students you’re kind of on the same level so you can actually help each other out. And through this communication with others, you just learn so much. Plus, the people were just… awesome; what can I say? At the beginning, I felt like I was on the periphery somewhere, like way across the world and there’s nobody here and I’m just alone in my neck of the woods. But it actually turned out that there are quite a lot of people in Europe and especially in my area. We have actually also gotten together and I’ve made a lot of friends. The distance is no issue here. I think.


 

Liz: How personalized or custom did you feel your program was to your needs? Stephen has sort of talked about this, that his program with Firehose was very custom. And the John had a question: How do some of the different courses provide personalized feedback for those on a professional developer skills level and feedback on your code? Are they concerned with you being a well-rounded developer, getting a job, things like that or is it really just getting through the lessons?

Luke: I can jump on that one, actually. Tealeaf, there’s really not that much of a custom curriculum. It’s very detailed and it it’s very in-depth. They’re very concerned with creating professional developers. So the third course, it contains I think about 60% of their content and it’s test-driven and you build a pretty robust application – very complicated; it’s very hard.

That’s kind of where I think they stand out, is that the curriculum is very challenging and you have to be motivated, you have to be into it. You can’t coast through it and just finish assignments easily.

 

Stephen: Kind of adding on that; once I was chatting with another student that was actually in Germany, and he was working as a product manager for his company. He was really interested in really strong tests and stuff. His program for instance, would’ve been more custom tailored around test-driven development or what not. So it’s basically whatever you want to get out of the program; they’ll just kind of mold their mentorship around that.

I know Ken used to be a team lead at Paypal so he’s been on both sides of the hiring spectrum for technical developers. So if that’s what you’re looking for, he’ll be able to guide you through that to become a successful hire, hopefully, at a startup.

 

Cody: I found that a lot of the customization comes from your mentor specifically, at least with Thinkful. Everyone who goes through the course goes through the same material but everyone learns different, so the mentorship. But I think what all of us have in common is what really defines the course and what gives you that custom learning feel and one an one. That’s how I was able to get through parts that were really tough for me.

 

Brittany: I completely agree. The mentor is definitely that customization bit. A big part of Bloc as you that go through these assignments and submit projects. So the person you submit projects to is your mentor; he or she is the one who’s reviewing your code, making sure you’re putting in the rights tasks and really making sure that you are developing good and healthy habits as you become a developer in the real world.

 

Liz: It sounds like Brittany with Bloc, Cody with Thinkful and Luke with Tealeaf, that it was structured curriculum that you went through, and everyone was going through the same one.

Luke: Yeah; and that was actually pretty I important to me because I looked for a lot of different online – I looked through a lot of resources and I needed something that was very structured and that was in depth. Because you can find a lot of things that teach you the basics but it’s really hard to find the important skills that are next level stuff.

 

Cody: I have to agree with Luke on that. That’s one of the reasons why Code Academy and those that were self-taught weren’t working for me; I needed to go much deeper and I think the structure helped me cover everything so I was well rounded, and the mentor adds the custom part to it.


 

Hanna: It’s interesting that Skillcrush basically takes the approach that not everybody who finishes one of their courses needs to become a web developer or something even more complex. The basic idea is that what they do is they teach you how to make a portfolio website; and everything that they teach sort of revolves around your personal website. So it’s possible that it’s something that you want to do, it’s something that you can learn with and evolve with and there’s something that you have at the end of the course; that you have something to take with you and you can actually put it up and it’s there.

I think Skillcrush is also popular among people who don’t really know if they want to become developers, how to use their things…I’m up to my neck in code right now. I think I took it further than most of the people or many of the people in this course.

But it’s probably more directed to people who just need something to…people who just want to have that extra edge, to market themselves in the job field or their projects or blogs or whatever. I think it’s in that sense, maybe a little bit softer than many of the schools discussed about here.

 

Liz: I think that makes sense, that Skillcrush is a bit more of an introduction and then you can go a little bit deeper with some of the other blueprints as well. Hanna, with Skillcrush, I know that it’s not only for women but it is a strong female community. Did that have any impact on your decision to do Skillcrush or was it just the content of it?

Hanna: I think I kind of stumbled upon Skillcrush. So when I was looking back at it now, I realize that I didn’t even look further than Skillcrush because I was sort of just was there, it appeared. And I just felt that this something that I want to do. It didn’t impact my decision, I think. It was more a feeling of the community and how they were approaching the things. Because Skillcrush grew out of a newsletter that was directed to people who didn’t know anything but were really afraid to ask about like, what is internet, what is worldwide web; and you can actually access it still on their website. It’s a free 10-day boot camp that they’re offering.

But I think that what appealed to me about Skillcrush was that they really take those out of the world concepts if you come from a soft area like I did, and they just visualize it in a way that you can actually understand it. And of course, coming from the warm fuzziness of Skillcrush and entering into the real world and trying to grasp the concepts, of course just the presentation is different but it’s still the same, and I feel it really gave me the basics so I didn’t have to miss a beat. I actually understood everything so that now I can go and take the more difficult concepts and also digest them and it’s okay. I didn’t have to start off with such an academic approach or such a strong approach.

 

Liz: Sure; and I like that you mentioned the newsletter because if people are not subscribed to the Skillcrush newsletter, you should be, it’s so great. Adda, their founder is just an incredible writer and super engaging and I love getting her newsletters.

So, I guess all of you were working full-time. Did you feel burnout at all during your program or did you ever get off track or was everything just perfect the whole time? And how did you overcome getting off track if you did?

 

Luke: I wouldn’t say “off track” would be the right word. You just get stuck sometimes, especially when it’s that new. But that was one thing I thought Tealeaf does a good job of, is they get you unstuck quickly. They let you work on your own, which in my experience is really valuable. I need to spend time with something on my own without having someone telling me how to do it necessarily, just to kind of explore it. Then when I hit the wall and I’ve struggled for a long time then I can get an answer. Usually after posting on the forum, you would probably see an answer within half an hour, usually.

I had all the context in my head to now understand the answer in a new way and it was more valuable that way. I wouldn’t say I ever got sidetracked but sometimes you just work for a long time and you’re not figuring it out, and that’s when you need someone that has experience and has the knowledge to give you the little piece you need to keep going.

 

Josh: I think that I probably experienced a few moments of stress trying to balance work life and something you’re really passionate about. I think what made it easier was actually knowing that that John and Jess were there. If I was really stuck on something they would respond within 12, 18 hours; they would respond with feedback. And there were classes every single day that I’d pop into {40:01 Inaudible}. So the structure made the stress go away a lot easier.

 

Cody: I wouldn’t say I had burnout. the course is based on 3 months but it’s go at your own pace, so I had to do it for 4 months because I wanted to really learn it and make sure I really got it. But also, because I took it during Christmas time so it was pretty crazy; wife and kids and everything. Currently, I’m enrolled in the Angular course and I had a big project come up and I was actually able to put my course on pause for a month while I finished this project, and then I just picked it up again a week ago and now I’m back into it. That flexibility helps you not get burnout. It really showed me that they care, too; they want to make sure I learn, they’re not just there to get money or anything like that.

 

Liz: That’s awesome. That’s a really good answer, I love that. Does anyone else want to add something?

Hanna: I just wanted to add that maybe it’s a common practice but it’s great that Skillcrush doesn’t kick you out - you can be the 40-year old man living with your parents for eternity, really. Because I also got off track right around Javascript. I don’t know what it is; I just don’t get along with it. But I just skipped this part and went right along into Ruby, and now I’m doing android development. I know that when I get the feeling, I can go back and revisit and do all the lessons again, and go back to Javascript as well, and it’s just great that that is all there and I can still tap into that resource.

 

Liz: Absolutely; I think that’s a huge perk of an online program for sure, the flexibility.

David has asked how many hours a week were you guys spending on going through lessons and studying on your own? If everyone could answer this, because I’m sure that it varies.

 

Brittany: I was 30 hours a week. So I was doing a lot of late weeknights and then usually my weekends, I was just crushin’ it so it was a lot. We were talking about burnout; I was 3 weeks ahead towards the beginning but then the material got tougher, so I definitely scaled back and came back to where I should have been in the course. But yeah, 30 hours was a lot but when you really enjoy what you’re doing, it doesn’t seem so long.

 

Liz: Brittany, Bloc have a bunch of different time options, right? You can do like 30 hours for a certain amount of time or 40 hours or less, right?

Brittany: When I did it, they only had one option, so I like to joke that I’m the olden days. I was there when they only had the one apprenticeship and it was 24 hours a week. Now they have it where you can scale it or if you want to get it done quickly. I did the same thing; I did it over Christmas as well because I just wanted to get it in. But yeah, you can definitely scale it out if you wanted to.

 

Cody: For me… it depends because it’s your own pace, so I could put in as much time – I could complete it in two weeks if I pushed hard enough, if I knew it well enough – or you could take as long as you want. But I pretty much do 10 to 12 hours a week focused on it. And typically, you have a license to learn and then you build a project. And that project is what you spend most of your time on and that’s what you crack through and work through with your mentor each week. So most of the time, it’s actually coding something.

 

Stephen: My experience, it was really self-paced. I never really keep a strict schedule of coding or something. Some days I’ll be doing it for like, 6 hours straight till 3 in the morning and other days where I might not do it. Generally, they give you a whole set of lessons; you’re supposed to go through one a week and that’s kind of what the weekly office hours are based around. But you could really scale it back and forth however much you want to tackle it.

 

Luke: I would say I was probably between 20 and 30 hours a week, a few hours every night or so. And like Stephen said, sometimes you get into something and you look at the clock and you’re like, “Oh! I’ve been doing this for 6 or 7 hours!”

But I think that’s a good thing. It show’s you’re engaged in what you’re doing and you’re not thinking about the time so obviously, you’re enjoying it.

I wanted to do it. I think if you’re considering one of these boot camps or you’re considering learning, you should learn to do it, right? There’s no reason otherwise because I don’t think writing code is fun if you don’t want to do it. I’m pretty sure it’s one of those things that you’d just hate if you don’t like doing it!

 

Liz: Josh, how long did you spend each week, roughly?

Josh: At the start I wasn’t doing any programming so it was upwards of 25, 35 hours a week. Then I dropped to 10-12 hours a week because I’d just extract parts that Jesse and John would teach the fundamentals of each product and what it was actually doing. But yeah, it was 15 to 25 hours a week.

 

Liz: Awesome. Another one from Timo: Timo would love to hear about the applications you’ve built so far outside of your program. Have you done any side projects? What are you guys and girls coding nowadays? Stephen, tell us about your app.

Stephen: Yeah, sure. I’m still working on it. I was working on it earlier today, just kind of expanding it and building more features into a more complete product. Essentially, it’s an Uber for medical marijuana. That’s kind of like why I have other real time events going on because there’s like the supplier’s side and the driver’s side and the buyer side so…

It was really cool building it and after like 2 ½ months, I pretty much had an MVP of an Uber clone except instead of transportation, it’s medical marijuana.

 

Liz: What is it called?

Stephen: It’s called Clever Tree. I actually set up a quick landing Page if they want to check it out.

 

Liz: Of course, yes! If you share it with me then I’ll share it with everybody who’s watching in my follow up email.

Stephen: Yeah, sure. That’s Clevertree.co

 

Liz: Sweet! That’s a wonderful use of a new economy.

Stephen: Yeah!

 

Liz: Is anybody else working on any side projects outside of their 9 to 5?

Brittany: Yeah; one of my big goals of learning how to code was that I had participated in startup weekends before as the business side, so I really wanted to be able to participate in hackathons where I could actually compete on the coding side. So I’ve competed in two hackathons since then. Y Combinator’s first hackathon just weeks ago, working on a passion project about getting out software releases to the rest of the teams instead of having them on Github. So that’s a passion project I’m working on.

And then I won a hackathon about 2 months ago with a team of people who graduated from boot camps, which is really cool…for a nonprofit hackathon. So I’m a huge fan of anybody who considers going through a boot camp to stay sharp and to get involved in the community and compete in hackathons because they’re everywhere.

 

Cody: Being a full-time freelancer, I don’t work for anyone but myself so I always have a project going on – hopefully! I just finished a project for a group that does this CG for shows like Julie fowler and {48:50 Inaudible} and all that stuff. So I was able to connect to some pretty good kinds and all because I was able to take the course and really learn.

 

Hanna: Same here. Some of my latest projects have been really awesome. I’ve just been building websites; I also completed a hackathon – we didn’t win anything but I think we got more media coverage than anybody else, even the winners themselves for some reason. God knows why.

But the side projects that I’ve had have just been awesome. I was just thinking that at least, for sure, they have paid for my Skillcrush courses by now and I think I’ve only had three website side gigs. So it’s just amazing how in a half a year you can just bring yourself from here to here and really, I’m in a lack of words.

 

Liz: Sheila had sent me a few questions before the webinar, and they’re mostly about the job search and for specific people. For Cody, for Thinkful, what were the job prospects upon finishing the course and did you feel you needed additional education before you were able to get hired for a new job or start your freelancing career?

Cody: For me once I graduated, obviously I was 2 months in  and on the third month I was able to actually quit my job because I was able to locate clients.

 

Liz: How did you find freelance clients?

Cody: To be honest, it was Craigslist to start. I found local clients and my pat 10 years’ experience were in sales so I was able to go and sell myself, which is a big part in freelancing; you’re everything; you’re the salesman and the business owner and the designer and the programmer. So you have to do it all.

So I was able to sell myself.  I locked into a few awesome clients and then from there, if you do good work, they’ll talk about it. And it just builds and builds and pretty soon - now I almost have more work than I know what to do with, and most of it comes from referrals. But I do use a few freelancing site. One of them is invital, studio.invital, it’s a freelancer marketplace. And that has been a good place. That is how I located some of my clients that turned into larger things. And they curate who they pick, so you’re not competing with people wanting to work for a dollar for the same project.

 

Liz: Very cool. Hugh had also asked for Tealeaf; Luke, you went through all three sections?

Luke: Yeah; the three courses.

 

Liz: I understand that taking all three courses would give you a complete education in web development but did anybody pursue or get job offers after just the first two curriculums were completed? And you may not know that but after your first two sections did you feel like you could get a job?

Luke: I personally wasn’t confident enough. I think that’s more of a personal thing. I know there were people that only did with one or two courses and found work, and that’s all they needed. I think because I was so new, I wanted to finish completely.

But yeah, I think it’s possible to take the first two and find work.  I don’t think it would be that hard. I also think once you take the first two, you’ll probably want to take the third one. Because I initially went into it thinking, “I’m just gonna try…” Actually, I was just going to take one course. Actually, I was going to go back to community college to learn programming. I took the first course and I had learned so much in 4 weeks that I signed up for the second and then eventually, instead of going to school at all, I just took the third one and that was enough.

I saved so much time and money; I would probably just be finishing college maybe now, and I’m already working. And I don’t know if I would’ve learned as much.

Just talking to other people that have done that route and what I have learned and the experiences I’ve gained and what I know, sometimes I’m kind of surprised at how much these online camps are able to do. It’s really impressive.

 

Liz: It definitely is. This one’s for everybody: Is there additional help or guidance upon completion of your course? Do you get help as an alumni or even before you finish, is there focus on where you’re going next with your career or if you’re continuing your education with that?

Brittany: Bloc is building that into their course. They’re thinking about that now, how they can build more career-type stuff into their apprenticeship. I know with me mentor, he definitely encouraged me to start going to meet-ups and that’s how I got my job at Mindful. I’m a big fan of women in tech so I joined women who code in San Francisco and I went to the meet-up that my teacher told me about and it all worked out from there.

So definitely pushing me to do the right habits very early on, once I felt comfortable enough to go to those types of meet-ups. Definitely helped me switch my career to what I wanted to be doing.

 

Stephen: The guys at Firehose are super cool. I can email the m pretty much any time. I’m done with the official program now but I can email them any time with any questions or help I need.

Just the other day, I emailed Ken and I was like, “Can you check out this little bit of Javascript code? I can’t figure out why this Ajax isn’t working.” And he goes, “Yeah… “Typed out three paragraphs or so explaining… They just really care about their students so they want you to keep up them up to date with what you’re doing and they’re really happy to see that you’re still “hacking away” I guess.

 

Liz: And what’s really cool also, all these programs are relatively new for being businesses. So it’ll be cool to see once there are larger and larger alumni networks, how that affects that. You all are in different places; once there are a tone of people in a ton of different places, how that’ll develop in to something real, so that’s really awesome.

Does anyone else want to talk about their experience after the program?

 

Hanna: For me, the Skillcrush network has been a tremendous help, really getting me to the sidekick thing because it has helped me a lot to do those things. I just developed my skills so much. So the mentors, especially Ada herself, the CEO of Skillcrush, has helped me with contacts. And just the fact that they’re there and I know that I can really ask about anything; it doesn’t just have to be course-related. I can just share my good news.

And also, the alumni group that we have at Skillcrush, there’s job listings, there are people posting “I got hired, I got promoted…” Everybody’s just cheering you on.

So the whole feeling; it’s good that you don’t just close the door behind you; it sort of keeps on going. You’re growing and it’s just great.

 

Cody: Like Bloc is doing their build-out, I think Thinkful is doing the same thing right now, so really developing that alumni thing. But one thing I did get, I got a certificate for my completion. It shows my projects and different stuff like that. And I’m actually using that for some of my clients to show them an early portfolio before I had my full site built out.

 

Liz: Yeah, that’s definitely a huge difference between the un-mentored Code Academy and these mentored and guided programs, is that there is actually a focus on student outcomes, which I think is really awesome. So, last question because we’ve been here for an hour, so I’m going to let you all get on with your lives. Just if there’s anything else that you want to add about your program – was it worth it, would you do it again, would you recommend it? I have a feeling you’re going to say yes but…

Brittany: Yeah, I’m absolutely going to say yes. It’s been 4 months since I started at Mindful and I couldn’t have done it without Bloc. My daily life at Mindful is I’m talking to advanced Rails developers all day, helping them troubleshoot deployment issues, advising them on performance, I’m writing technical documentation. This is something literally a year ago I couldn’t have dreamed because I was in a marketing role; I didn’t have these coding skills. Bloc not only gave me the skills but the confidence in order to pursue a job like this. It really worked out; so even if it’s not Bloc, I encourage anyone who’s interested in a boot camp too really check out all these programs because it’s just amazing. If you really try hard, you really can change and be who you want to be.

 

Liz: Awesome. Cody, do you agree?

Cody: It was totally worth it. The  cost of the course for me was the equivalent of me vending once client, so it definitely paid for itself and it let me live my dream, which was working from home and being with my family every day and being able to do what I love, which is designing and creating websites..

 

Liz: Very cool. Does anyone else want to add anything about their programs?

Luke: Nothing specific about the program but its impact I guess is what I wanted to say. My life is totally different now; it has totally changed. Not only right now but my future. There’s so much opportunity now that was not there a year ago. I kind of like what Cody said, I think the first paycheck from my job paid for the entire education. The value is so high, it’s unbelievable.

Stephen: I agree with everyone else, it was totally worth it and I would do it again. If it wasn’t for this, I probably would never have learned how to code and I’d be in a totally different place than where I am today. I mean, just looking at every other teaching experience that I went through. They all are basically the same; they start out teaching you this is what a variable is, this is what a ray is, this is what a loop is. And with Firehose, it’s the total reverse. They just kind of plunge you into the deep side of the pool and just pull you through building a complete application, pretty much. And the real learning comes from distilling that process and seeing how all the little things fir together. It’s like “Oh, Okay, this variable; so this is what this thing was doing…” I think that was really a powerful approach to teaching that they’ve taken.

 

Liz: So cool. This has been wonderful. This panel is fantastic. There are people freelancing, people starting their own companies, their own apps, people that have gotten promotions; I loved talking to all of you. Thank you so much for being here.

Thanks also to everyone who’s tuned in and for joining Course Report and all of our schools. We’ve had Thinkful and Bloc and Tealeaf, Skillcrush, Firehose Project and Code Union on the panel for this webinar – and thanks to all of our panelists as well.

If you have any additional questions for any of these schools, I’m going to send out contact info after this to anyone who’s registered for this webinar; I’ll send it tomorrow morning. And if you have any questions about Course Report, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. We’ll send out a recording of this webinar as well, so check your inboxes for that and share kit with any of your friends who may have missed the live webinar. Visit Coursereport.com and sign up for our email list and you’ll get all of our future updates on webinars and interviews.