Michelle Schmaltz is a recent graduate with a Computer Science degree. She worked in IT, but wanted to learn new tech skills, so she took the 7-day immersive iOS course at Eleven Fifty. We catch up with Michelle and get the scoop on her experience at Eleven Fifty, the instructors who supported her throughout the course, and how she is using her new skills today.
What were you doing before you started at Eleven Fifty?
I graduated from Ball State this past spring with a Computer Science degree and I now work for an IT company in Indianapolis. Scott Jones, the founder of Eleven Fifty, has a connection with the President at my company, so when he mentioned he was opening a school and had an iOS course available, we decided that we’d try it out. I hadn’t done mobile development before but I gave it a shot because it seemed interesting to me.
So you had a technical background before you went there.
Right. But not with iOS development.
Did you do the 7-day immersive course?
Yes, it was iOS development which includes two days of strictly Swift language and another 5 days for creating 3 different apps. It was 7 days, Saturday to Friday.
Have you thought of doing any other bootcamps?
It was more of an opportunity to try it out because it was their first 7-day long move to iOS training. We were still kind of guinea pigs. There were a few students in class who had paid to take that course but I’d say more than half were just connections that he had just to get feedback and who also were interested in learning.
I haven’t really been in a position where I had wanted to take some type of bootcamp. If we come across a technology that we need to use then I would look into it and I would definitely consider Eleven Fifty again.
Was there an application process at all?
I didn’t have an application process but Scott said that they are going to have some sort of application going forward because they can’t take on someone who has zero experience. He said it’s more like taking someone from 20% to 120%. You have to have some sort of technical background.
Did you have an agreement with your employer to miss work for that week?
Right. And since most of the students in that class were local, they changed the schedule a little bit, so they shortened the schedule in the evenings so we were done by 7:30 or 8. But the normal schedule will go all day from 8:30 until 4, have a 2-hour break so the students can go back to their hotel room, regroup and then come back for dinner a 6 and then have another session after that. So you wouldn’t leave until about 8:30 or 9.
Did your employer pay for the tuition?
They took care of that and they understood that I was going to be at that course all week, so I missed a week of work. But you have no time really, for anything else. They want you to be fully immersed into it.
What was the rest of your cohort like? Were you working with other people who had the same technical background as you?
Most of them were from different IT companies. A lot of them knew programming in different languages. I would say I had less experience than most of the other students. I had just graduated and just started working. A lot of them had about 10 or 15 years in the IT field and knew a lot of different languages.
I know two students actually were involved with mobile development so they were probably the most advanced. Overall, everyone in the class was very technical. A couple students were unemployed but were looking to use the course to get a job at a company if they could show that they know Swift or maybe just develop apps on their own.
Who were your instructors and what was the teaching style like?
Terrence was the instructor the whole time. We would have breakfast for about half an hour and then we would get started at about 9 and learn all the way until lunch with maybe two or three 20-15 minute breaks.
The class was very fast-paced; he had displays that were in his theater in Scott Jones’ house so they were projected on a big screen. So you see his screen and he’s coding, and pretty much all the stuff that he shows you, he’ll stop and explain it if there’s any questions.
If somebody fell behind, he wouldn’t just stop the class to catch the one person up. He would give everyone else something to work on so you’re not waiting on someone else or just wasting time. He was really good about distributing that out.
You mentioned working out of Scott’s house. That’s definitely unique- what was it like?
Yeah, it was a really cool environment. Beautiful estate; but we were in just one wing of the house so it’s not like you really have the whole house to roam in. It makes it a better experience because you’re not just going in and sitting in some conference room. You could take off your shoes and relax and feel comfortable the whole time you were there, which would be better than sitting in a hard chair at a desk.
Can you tell us about the projects and what you were able to make while you were at Eleven Fifty?
The first app that we started was just a basic note-taking app, like the app that comes with the iPhone. So we did a simple note-taking app. When you are developing those apps, you have a simulator that is included in Xcode which was the environment it was in. So you can actually run the app and see the progress you were making on your phone or the simulator.
The second app was similar to Snapchat. So now you’re using 3 different pages instead of just that one or two from the note-taking app. We finished that one and I think since it was the first 7-day long class, the timing wasn’t exactly perfect so we didn’t get to the third one, which is like Tinder. I think if they work out the timing issues and just work out those bugs, they will be able to fit in all three in a week.
Were you working individually or as a team?
Mostly individually but everyone was really open. If there’s someone who’s getting it and running their code with no errors then you could ask them to review your code or help you. So that was really open how you could just ask others for help and they were willing to help. But mostly you’re just following the instructor and understanding what he does.
Did you get to work on your own projects or were they all pretty much assigned?
They were all assigned but I know a few students would go home and elaborate more on those apps and kind of make it their own.
For the first two days when you all were focusing on instruction, what languages were you covering?
Terrence spent the first day just going over the basics of Swift and then second day he touched back on Objective C to show how we transitioned to Swift. He showed us that a little, just to get the basics out of the way and to lay ground. And then we started the “doing” of the code.
So what are you up to today? Are you still with the same IT company?
Have you been able to expand your role because of the course or how has it affected your job?
Not yet; we haven’t started doing any type of iOS specific mobile development. I’m not saying we won’t in the future. I mean, it’s nice to know that I have this knowledge if we do ever need that but I’m still at the same company.
I want to start working on my own app, I just don’t have any ideas yet. But I definitely want to keep playing around with it and stay up to date so I don’t lose what I learned.
Obviously, you weren’t looking for a new job but did you notice some kind of job placement program at Eleven Fifty?
Not that I know of. I know there were a few unemployed students there. One of the guys actually, was just taking the course hoping to make his own app. But I know that Eleven Fifty has the APPrenticeship program where if you go through the course, you can start making apps for Eleven Fifty that different companies or individuals have submitted to Eleven Fifty. So it’s kind of like a job; you can work for them after you take the course. I know that they have a lot of submissions from people wanting apps made for them.
Would you do another Eleven Fifty course?
I would. I would do one maybe more relevant to the work we do. I do a lot of web development so if they would offer a .NET course. I feel like I learned a lot and Terrence the instructor was amazing. He’s very knowledgeable and very helpful so I know I could learn anything from him.
Is there anything else that you want to add about Eleven Fifty?
It was just a really cool experience; not only being in that environment but I just don’t see how it would be like any other course that’s out there.
Also, since it is 7 days, 10-12 hours a day, that it’s very intense and if you’re not willing to put in 100% then it’s not worth it. You have to be willing to learn and keep up and drink your coffee. I think that it’s tough but it’s definitely worth what you come out with.