Flatiron School has offered remote learning since 2016, but like most bootcamps, courses have moved entirely online now due to COVID-19. However, there is still a unique culture in each of their campuses, including the flagship New York classroom. Flatiron School's New York Market Director, David Jordan, walks us through the differences between Flatiron School online vs in-person, gives us a virtual sneak peek of the Flatiron School online classroom, and shares advice for students who are looking for an online bootcamp and looking for a career change when they graduate.
First of all, how has Flatiron School reacted to COVID-19?
We have campuses all across the country – our NYC campus is our flagship – and all locations went virtual with the onset of the pandemic. We were prepared to make that transition smoothly, given that we already had so much experience with how to deliver this content virtually. We have many options for prospective students:
Part-time asynchronous (if they're juggling a job or family care)
Full-time asynchronous (if they like learning more independently)
Attending one of our campuses synchronously in a virtual environment
So a student can still attend Flatiron School in New York, even though it’s remote?
Yes! New York City is where it all began for Flatiron School. We have a large alumni network in the city who are active in the tech scene, in meetups and other groups; joining the NYC campus plugs students into that community. It still feels like New York City even though it's online.
We are honored to be a vehicle in which students in NYC are able to change their lives through education, especially considering how many careers were impacted by the pandemic and led to individuals switching careers to technology.
What does a day look like at the Flatiron School remote campus?
A day in the life online is similar to what would happen on 11 Broadway in Lower Manhattan.
At 9am, the day starts with a stand-up with your cohort to learn the objectives of the day.
Throughout the day, you’ll do group work and pair programming with the help/community/accountability/companionship of a group of fellow New Yorkers who are also embarking on this experience, as well as a team of faculty that are here to support you.
You’'ll have several synchronous touch points throughout the day, then close with a stand-down around 5:30p.
The virtual experience emulates the level of intensity and rigor that an in-person bootcamp offers. You’ll attend class five days a week, from 9am to 6pm, plus, outside of that there may be additional homework/projects to work on in their spare time. This is a good option for folks who aren't currently working and are able to dedicate that structured time to this rigorous of a program.
What kinds of tools are being used to create that community?
The overarching culture at Flatiron School makes success central by empowering students to build community, join forces and support one another over the course of these 15 weeks.
Flatiron School empowers connection and teamwork between students by utilizing tools such as Zoom, Slack, and Canvas for stand-ups, stand-downs, lectures, pair-programming, and small group work.
How do you ensure that remote students receive a similar experience as those in-person?
All of the events we would host in-person are still occurring in a virtual format: Demo Days, Science Fairs, Alumni Panels, Career Services Talks.
One silver lining of the pandemic is that there's often more programming available to students given that all they have to do is log in to their computers. In some ways, that's enhanced the volume of options for them to engage and learn more, support each other more, and build that community.
At the end of the week we have Feelings Friday, which is an opportunity to build that cohesive cohort unit. Many students, given that they are making a career change, come in with a sense of imposter syndrome, or self-doubt over whether they can make it in this industry. We end the week with a close sense of community, even though it's virtual, to talk through how folks are feeling and how they can support each other.
What kinds of challenges do you see folks facing these days and what's your advice to someone who is about to embark on this online remote learning experience?
The rigor of moving through the curriculum in 15 weeks is incredibly challenging, both in-person and online.
The additional risk of “Zoom fatigue” and the exhaustion that can come from being in front of a screen all day.
These are stressful times. To assist with this, we have a Student Assistance Program, where students can call to get free, confidential counseling, if at any point throughout the program they want additional mental health resources.
We focus on building community through deep bonds between cohort-mates. During every module, students work with a different partner on a project, which builds relationships across the cohort.
Plus, we have Campus Leads that are focused on building more human, non-technical communities, such as through virtual yoga events or happy hours, which replicate the types of social activities we would have on campus in a virtual environment.
We are supporting our students academically with panels, career talks, and demo days; as well as socioemotionally, through structures that help alleviate the stress, anxiety, and challenges that accompany any bootcamp experience - one that can be particularly challenging when doing it alone from home.
Do students need different qualities or qualifications in the admissions process to succeed at Flatiron?
No. The same qualities that would allow a student to be successful in a campus program are important in this synchronous virtual learning as well. It’s less about any intrinsic characteristic and more about setting oneself up with supportive expectations.
In order to assist students in being successful virtual learners, Flatiron encourages setting expectations early on, prompting students to recognize: how they learn, how they can commit to engagement, how to show up to make the most of the experience.
What kind of support can remote students expect from instructors?
We at Flatiron School maintain a large team of incredible faculty that are passionately focused on the student experience and how to help students reach their goal of acquiring a job in this industry. They are dedicated to the Personal Empowerment Protocol, which is designed to help students build muscle memory and informed instinct.
Faculty assists students in building self-efficacy in their ability to: learn and problem-solve. Often, when a student approaches faculty with a question, faculty will not give away the answer. Instead, they'll assess the student’s thinking and wonder what they've already done to approach the problem, in order to build the problem-solving reflexes necessary to respond intuitively within their respective disciplines.
We’ll also teach you how to work collaboratively with peers. When students eventually join a software engineering team, they’ll need to be able to operate in group work and pair-programming. We’re always looking for ways to build that into the cohort.
How is Flatiron School different from one of the free, self-guided resources like a Codecademy or Udemy?
There are several paths that students can take to learn to code. What sets Flatiron School apart from free resources is the power of synchronous live faculty, who offer deep industry insight, specialized support, and the opportunity for enriching community-building, which is a critical experience for working in the field.
We also have Coaches (often recent grads) who offer 1:1 support with students; they've gone through this journey before so they serve as great advisors to our students on how to learn the material.
Campus Leads, Feelings Friday, Student Assistance Program, The Alumni Network
Demo Days, Science Fairs, Alumni Panels, Career Services Talks, Student Coaches, Industry Faculty, The Alumni Network, Personal Empowerment Protocol
What does the New York tech scene look like for a bootcamp grad in 2020?
NYC is a massive hub of tech jobs; second only to Silicon Valley. Every week, I see our students securing tech jobs. There are a lot of open jobs that need great talent in NYC. We're confident that our grads will continue to land these jobs with the help of our robust career services team.
This is a great time for folks to consider a career change into tech, especially since so many roles in the tech sector are pandemic-proof and not going away, because they are critical in start-ups and big companies alike, across all industries.
How has the job market changed in New York?
The job market has changed in some ways as a result of the pandemic, like the nature of job searches and the volume of applicant pools, with many folks out of work. March and April were the two most challenging months.
What we're seeing on the ground now are strong job placement rates. Our job seekers are continuing to get jobs across industries, from large established companies down to very small start ups.
The alumni network plays an important role in job placement, as we have relationships with hundreds of employers. Building those connections, building the Flatiron School brand, and letting employers know the caliber of students coming out of our program, eases the job search for both employers and graduates.
Are most students finding work and staying in NYC?
The majority of folks who attend Flatiron in NYC are remaining in the city. Pre-pandemic, some students moved to NYC to study at Flatiron School and then would go elsewhere. Post-pandemic, some students have had to leave New York, but for the most part, students who are from New York are staying in New York.
What kinds of resources do you recommend for a beginner who wants to break into tech in New York right now?
Virtual meetups are abundant and are a great way to get a sense of which sectors are personally interesting and if individuals could see themselves joining a particular type of professional community. There are also Slack communities that folks can join to see what’s going on there if it feels right.
On our website we have a long list of free events folks can join: to hear from our faculty, join a Q&A with our Admissions Team, learn more about the sector more broadly (Flatiron in particular) and figure out what feels right.
Why is this moment a good time for someone to go to a coding bootcamp and make that career change into tech?
There's never a bad time to enter the tech field. These skills will always be in demand, especially in New York which has so many different tech-dependent industries.
More specifically, the tech sector is a relatively pandemic-proof sector, and are jobs that tend to be friendly to remote work. Jobs that were once staples in NYC (service, entertainment, retail) have had to be on hold for the indefinite future; many folks who were employed in these industries are seeking other opportunities and would be wise to consider tech.
In 15 weeks, through Flatiron School’s synchronous, highly-structured, community-driven bootcamp, with professionals that have done this journey themselves, folks can acquire the skills that will set them up for a job in an industry that has so many openings across so many different sectors; that remain open in spite of the pandemic.
We’re honored to be named one of Course Report’s Best Coding Bootcamps 2021 and are proud to offer many different types of programs, knowing that there are many types of students: synchronous, asynchronous, full-time, and part-time. Find out which of our campuses (Austin, Chicago, Denver, Houston, NYC, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington DC) and courses (software engineering, data science, cybersecurity) is right for you!
Liz is the cofounder of Course Report, the most complete resource for students researching coding bootcamps. Her research has been cited in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch, and more. She loves breakfast tacos and spending time getting to know bootcamp alumni and founders all over the world. Check out Liz & Course Report on Twitter, Quora, and YouTube!
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