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Instructor Spotlight: Cory Lanou, gSchool

Liz Eggleston

Written By Liz Eggleston

Last updated on November 12, 2014

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Working out of Galvanize in Denver, Cory Lanou informally mentored gSchool students before he was even officially involved with the program. When the opportunity arose to teach the Go language at gSchool, Cory got to work. We talk to Cory about Go, the general-purpose programming language that is in high-demand in cities like Denver and San Francisco, who should apply to this gSchool course, and how they're incorporating soft-skills into the curriculum. 

Remember, the Course Report community is eligible for a $500 scholarship to gSchool!


Cory, tell us about your background and how you got involved with Galvanize and gSchool.

I’ve been writing code for two decades, with a lot of experience in web development, e-commerce, and social media. I had a startup and we had a suite in Galvanize when we first opened. I worked long hours on my startup and was here after hours every night and weekend. gSchool was in full flight and many of their students were also here all the time, and they would come and ask me all of their questions.

Inadvertently, I was mentoring the first class without officially being part of the mentoring program. To date, I’ve mentored every single gSchool class that has run at Galvanize.

When my startup fizzled, there was an opportunity to teach Go at gSchool so we put this program together.


When did you start programming in Go?

A little over two years ago, our startup was actually pivoting their model and we had a chance to do a full rewrite of the stack. Go had just been released that month in 1.0. We gave it a try and it was absolutely amazing, so we’ve been using Go almost since it was released.


Aside from that mentorship, what stood out to you about gSchool and convinced you that it was a path that you wanted to go down?

What struck me was that it was completely different. I had mentored a ton of people in my development career already but this was a course unlike traditional computer science degree programs. What I found really interesting about gSchool is they really introduce students to modern programming. If you’re working on open source, open-stack development and using Rails, Go, or any of the modern open source technologies, there’s an entire community around that. There are meet-ups and conferences and a whole social aspect. gSchool immerses the students into that social world quickly. They made sure students had Twitter accounts and were following and interacting with the leaders in technology on Twitter.

Few developers really get involved at that level like they should. They encourage the students to talk beyond just teaching them how to code. Students are taught to do lightning talks and give presentations as well. And gSchool teaches students to program in a way that they would actually be doing on the job.

But what I found really interesting is that by the end of the course, their daily efforts are really parallel to the daily activity a developer would do on the job. When they leave this 6-month course, they can transition into a job.

I went to traditional computer science college, then went into the real world and nothing I did at my job was like college.


Tell us about Go and Go Microservices?

Let’s separate the topics: What is Go the language and what are microservices (they’re not specific to Go).

Go is basically a general-purpose programming language. In the same way C is a lower level language, Go was designed at that level as well. It was designed to take on a wide variety of programming tasks. So while you can use it for web development and API design, it can do much more than that. If you think about modern technology and engineering teams, your real cost is in the HR and your salaries. You will get these big companies like Google with these massive projects and they take forever to compile, task, and integrate.

That’s a ton of money they’re losing with developers so they said there has to be a better way; so it was all about scaling.

We talk about scaling all the time in software and what we don’t talk about a ton is scaling on a team; how do you scale at a human level as a technology language? That’s what Go was invented to do. Go scales at a human level as well as at a machine level and that’s a really big distinction.


What’s the job market like for Go developers?

It’s awesome. There are companies right now in Denver that have between 30 to 50 open Go reqs right now. I just got a call from a small recruitment firm last week who had 5 different companies she was hiring for. Go is taking off at an astronomical rate right now. It’s really catching on; people have realized you can do amazing things with it and you can do it really fast.

The job market for Go is fantastic right now and it’s getting crazier. Denver’s market is above average a bit because the Go social community around it was built really early. In San Francisco, Go is a super-hot topic. You could ask Ryan, he knows a ton of companies out there doing Go already: Dropbox, {Inaudible} which is owned by Rackspace and, Segment IO etc.


Is Go used mostly by large companies or do you see Go used by startups and small companies?

Its being used by startups as well. I think between the Galvanize Denver and Boulder campuses, there’s about a half a dozen companies using Go.


The students that you are taking for this first class need to already be experienced developers, right?

Yes. Our goal is to bring in experienced developers because we’re doing this in 12 weeks instead of 24 weeks. A lot of people say you can’t teach Go to a new developer and that’s not the case at all. Go is designed to be very quick to pick up. It’s probably one of the easiest languages anybody could ever learn. It was designed that way on purpose because if  you need to teach it to an engineering team, you need a very simple way of understanding the concepts.

The reason we’re not taking in people and producing junior developers for the job market is because the job market doesn’t exist for junior developers yet but I think within a year it will. Then I’m certain we’ll want to be doing a 24–week Go course.


What else are you looking for in an ideal participant in this program other than being technical and having a couple years of experience as a developer?

We’re looking for the same things we look at in all of our gSchool programs. We’re looking for people that want to make a real change in their life. We’re looking for people that are going to push themselves very hard because we are going to throw lot of material at them. This is not for somebody who wants to kick back 9-to-5 and cruise through life. This is a real game-changer for them. They will leave any of our courses and change their lives- they are now in control of their destiny. So we look for people that we think are going to work well with others.


Do you see applicants who are being sent by their current companies to get new skills in Go?

The applicants that we’re getting right now are definitely looking to level up their skills. They’re looking to super-charge their current technology and they want to move into Go. They know Go is really becoming a hot topic and they want to get that extra edge.

We have had several companies approach us recently looking to re-train large segments of their company. They want to engage us at a different level than even gSchool, so those are things that we’re still trying to figure out.


How many students will you be having in this first cohort?

There will be 28 students.


Are you the main instructor?

I’m the main instructor and we’ll have another co-instructor full-time and 2 full-time teaching assistants.


Are there plans to expand the Go program to Boulder and San Francisco if this one is successful?

Yes, there definitely is.


gSchool is known for the 6-month curriculum- why is this course only 12 weeks?

There are two pieces of it. One is because we’re accepting people that have experience with being a developer. The other piece is when we’re dealing with Go and microservices, it’s different than dealing with web development. Web development is a massive universe of technology. To be a full stack web developer you have to master a dozen different languages to graduate. On the other hand, with Go and microservices, we don’t deal with that massive world. We do a lot more API design so it’s a much smaller universe to teach them.


Have you decided on the curriculum and how have you build that curriculum out?

It actually was pretty easy. Basically, we identified what a developer needs to know to write Go with microservices and cluster technology in the real world. We thought about a project like building Google Analytics, and then we worked backwards all the way to Go fundamentals- it fell into place really quickly.


What will a typical day look like?

We have a pretty structured day. Even on day one, we explain to students what they’ll learn. Traditionally you come in the morning, spend time doing some warm-up, you reengage yourself. Then we start lecturing. Typically, we don’t do more than a 25-minute. It’s pretty highly interactive in the morning so we lecture a little bit, do interactive stuff, then  we break for lunch.

We come back from lunch, we start to work on larger projects and exercises where they’ll break out in pairs. Then we come together at the end of the day and finish up with social soft skills. We’ll talk about Twitter, Github and LinkedIn, and interviewing. So as the class progresses, we’ll cover all those soft skills topics as well.


So even though these are experienced developers, you still expect that they would need that soft skill training.

We don’t like to assume that just because you’re a developer, that you’re engaging with the community or that you’ve done well with Twitter or LinkedIn. Those things are still very important.


Will they be working on a capstone project or a final project?

We’ll have one project that everybody does. If the students finish this then I know that they definitely completed all these topics. But because we have such a compressed time frame, I don’t know if they’ll have time to have their own but I will give the student the option for it.


Do you know what that project will be or what that will look like?

The goal right now is basically to create a scaled-down version of Google analytics.


How much of an emphasis are you placing on job placement and getting your graduates ready for interviews once they graduate?

We have our entire partner program. I expect we’ll have very little problems placing our graduates.


Does gSchool have formalized relationships with those companies? Do you take referral or hiring fees?

We do have partnerships but we don’t get in the way of hiring. We don’t believe that’s part of what we should be doing. I think that once the students have paid their class fees, it’s our job to get them a job and that’s part of the deal.

Pivotal made an announcement last week about our program and said that they’re committed to hiring up to 10 of the first Go graduates, so we’ve already got a commitment from the that they’re going to hire a third of the class.


Want to learn more about gSchool? Check out their School Page on Course Report or their website here!

About The Author

Liz Eggleston

Liz Eggleston

Liz Eggleston is co-founder of Course Report, the most complete resource for students choosing a coding bootcamp. Liz has dedicated her career to empowering passionate career changers to break into tech, providing valuable insights and guidance in the rapidly evolving field of tech education.  At Course Report, Liz has built a trusted platform that helps thousands of students navigate the complex landscape of coding bootcamps.

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