Seattle is a renowned tech hub, but what does Flatiron School’s Seattle campus look like since going remote due to COVID-19 restrictions? Campus Director David Fruchter delves into how the Seattle campus continues to connect students to the vibrant local tech community, and how the remote learning environment keeps students supported and accountable to their learning. David shares his advice for confronting Zoom fatigue, plus how Flatiron School’s curriculum and Career Services Program prepares students for the future of work.
Flatiron School has a bunch of campuses around the US. What sets the Seattle campus apart?
At our Seattle campus, we focus on setting ourselves apart first and foremost by being part of this local community. Like other Flatiron School campuses, we have a personalised approach to teaching each cohort as each one is made up of different individuals with varying backgrounds and degrees of experience in data and computer science.
Flatiron School students are integrated into the fabric of the city they're learning in, which we accomplish in a remote environment by bringing the community to our bootcampers. That looks like:
What kind of learning environment can a student expect at the Seattle campus?
Currently, the Seattle campus is fully remote with all of our programs, but students can still expect a very active learning environment of discovering, learning, and building. We have structured the remote environment through a variety of connected tools and accountability mechanisms to keep students engaged with instructors and their cohort. In our remote classroom, students get as many if not more touchpoints with instructors than they did in the in-person learning environment. If you’re interested in studying and want accountability, now is the perfect time to join a bootcamp.
What are those accountability tools that Flatiron School employs in the remote classroom environment?
To draw remote bootcampers out of their shell and have them express their learning in a tangible way, we’ve created a few accountability tools in the remote classroom space. These tools include using formative assessments to offer feedback, curricular-focused accountability, and dedicating formalized check-ins with instructors. These check-ins personalize the program for each bootcamper in a way unseen in a traditional education environment. Remote students can expect to communicate with their cohort, TAs, and instructors through Zoom, Slack, and Canvas.
Is the curriculum for the remote bootcamp different from the curriculum taught in-person?
Remote bootcampers can still expect to learn from Flatiron School’s robust linear curriculum. We are fortunate enough to have a central Education & Curriculum Team on board at Flatiron School that is constantly looking at our curriculum to ensure it's both validated and informed by the latest technology updates.
For bootcampers who are struggling with the curriculum, how can they access more instructor support in the online classroom?
Our accountability tools tell a student exactly what they need to focus on, so a bootcamper should not be surprised or confused by their progress at the end of the week. Remote learning is interactive and offers a lot of feedback. Instructors are in tune with the growth of each student and are constantly measuring their learning.
How do bootcampers connect with others in the Seattle remote campus?
When onboarding at Flatiron School, you're not just onboarding to understand the technical curriculum, you're onboarding to our community culture. Creating supportive and connected cohorts is important to us. We want our students to leverage each other as a network. In the remote Seattle campus, we offer many kinds of spaces for students to connect with one another, including intercohort connections, Lunch-and-Learns, and Feelings Friday. Feelings Friday is an opportunity for bootcampers to get together at the end of the week and validate each other’s bootcamp experience. We also connect bootcampers between campuses through our orientations and our cultural expectation setting.
An online immersive requires a lot of focus from bootcampers! What are your tips for fighting Zoom fatigue?
We encourage bootcampers not to fight it. The best thing you can do with Zoom fatigue is to acknowledge it. Recognize when you start to feel it and if you can identify the patterns that lead you to feel this way. Is there a specific time of day that you start to feel this? Or a specific amount of time on Zoom that leads you to start to feel this? Once you identify the patterns that lead to fatigue, you can make small adjustments and build new habits out of those adjustments. Once those habits become ingrained, you'll find that you're experiencing waves of fatigue less often.
Two ways we encourage students to break up their online learning so they don’t grow fatigued:
How does Flatiron School assess if an applicant is ready for the remote bootcamp programs in Seattle?
Flatiron School offers two important elements in the admissions process: Free Bootcamp Prep Workshops = and a gating interview element. These are essential aspects of the application process because they allow potential bootcampers to create the right expectations before ever setting foot in our program. It allows prospective bootcampers to experience what it’s like to learn about the discipline they're interested in before they enroll. The last thing we want at Flatiron School is for someone to sign up for one of our bootcamps and not be ready or surprised by it, so that’s where the gating element comes in. The gating admissions interview element in the free curriculum validates if an applicant is ready for the program.
What is your advice for anyone considering a career change through a bootcamp like Flatiron School?
Do what you can to remove the mystery of jumping into technology. If you're interested in making this transition, go on LinkedIn and connect with bootcamp alumni. Speaking with bootcamp alumni is the best and most authentic way for you to know if a particular bootcamp or a particular jump in your career is going to be the right decision for you. There's a lot of information that comes at you when deciding where to go and what to study; the more you can humanize it the more you can wrap your head around it.
Seattle is a renowned tech hub. After a year like 2020, what does the Seattle tech scene look like now?
Even in the darkest of times, Seattle has been a bright spot in terms of our business culture. This area is home to companies that are technology and logistics powerhouses, and those companies quickly adopted practices to help them shift to a new remote environment. In Seattle, there is no business and technology divide; the business community is the tech community. In most organizations here, technology is front and center. It is part of the culture here and how the city operates. For all its trauma, what this pandemic has done for Seattle is accelerate the shift for traditional businesses to embrace technological solutions.
Is the Seattle tech scene still hiring Flatiron School bootcamp grads during COVID-19?
Absolutely! We have recent bootcamp graduates working at the top Seattle companies: Microsoft, Amazon, Zillow, and Nordstrom. It's also important to point out that there is a diversity of employers in the Northwest. Seattle used to be known as the technology enterprise capital. Now, many who were early contributors in Amazon and Microsoft have aided in an incredible startup community here in Seattle. We have plenty of bootcampers who end up working at startups because it is a blossoming industry in Seattle.
We're also seeing more bootcampers staying in Seattle and getting jobs locally. Many Seattle graduates take on remote jobs, but remain in Seattle for companies that have a Seattle presence.
Does Flatiron School have any partnerships with Seattle tech companies?
We work directly with companies to help them develop their early tech talent programs. We also have companies join us for our hiring events where they connect with 5-7 bootcampers in a day.
Flatiron School is focused on graduating the best bootcampers that any bootcamp is capable of graduating. That means that we encourage our bootcampers to shoot for the stars. Our graduates should be able to take on any tech stack and be ready to work anywhere.
How is Flatiron School preparing bootcampers for the remote job hunt?
Flatiron School’s Career Services Program was built for this! When you finish the program:
By completing the Career Services Program, graduates are better able to validate and express their skills to employers.
Why is this the right time to enroll in Flatiron School’s immersives?
Any moment in time that provides people the opportunity to evaluate their career, pursue new career goals, and learn new skill sets is a powerful gift. The way our culture and our economy is moving right now means we will need more people ready to make the jump into the future of work. If you have the opportunity, passion, and interest, take that pause and think about if this 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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