Check out Course Report's Q&A with DevPoint Labs Full-Stack Web Development students Rosie, Hector & Megan. Learn why they chose DevPoint, diversity in their cohort (their class is 50% women!) and get a demo of their Hackathon-winning project Sixxer!
In this video, you'll learn:
The full transcript is below!
DevPoint Labs is one of the first coding bootcamps in Salt Lake City. They teach a full time immersive web development bootcamp and they also teach some part-time bootcamps in front end development and UX/UI. In this Live Q&A, we are joined by 3 students who are in the current web development full stack bootcamp, Rosie, Hector, and Megan. Thank you for joining us. We’re going to talk about why they chose DevPoint Labs, their experience in the class, and some of the unique things that DevPoint Labs offers like housing and scholarships. They also won the first DevPoint Labs Hackathon four weeks into the program and they’re going to show us what they actually created. They’re about five weeks in and so we’ll focus on their experience so far and hopefully we’ll get to catch up with them in a few months to see where they are.
Don’t Forget: Course Report has an exclusive $500 scholarship to DevPoint Labs that’s available for the Course Report Community!
Let’s get started. First, Rosie, Hector, and Megan, why don’t you introduce yourselves, and tell us what you were up to before you started at DevPoint Labs.
Rosie: I’m Rosie. Before DevPoint, I was just working a nothing job. I had just graduated from college. I studied math and chemistry. Studying math in college is what initially got me interested in computer science because I shared a lot of classes with computer science majors and got a little jealous of how cool all the things they were doing were.
Did you take a computer science class in your undergrad?
Rosie: I didn’t. I didn’t really become interested in it until it was too late to take extra classes or switch my major. I decided to just finish and move onto the next thing. I had been doing some Codecademy classes. I applied to a bootcamp in San Francisco called Hackbright. I went through their application process, which was a great learning experience. I had an interview with them where I learned some new code that I didn’t know before. Even though I didn’t get in, I think it was a great experience and it really helped me get motivated to keep going. That’s when I found out about bootcamps in Utah.
Hector, how about you? What were you up to before DevPoint Labs?
Hector: I was a college dropout. I just wanted to have fun and live the dream. I was traveling and hanging out with my wife. I was doing marketing for restaurants. One day, I decided I wanted to do something that I could take with me wherever I go, a skill. It started with how to build a website and then briefly Google searching how to build a web app. Through that I tried it and did some online tutorials, but I had so many questions and I wanted to be in a structured setting where I could ask questions to a live person. I researched some in Salt Lake and found DevPoint. I went through the interview process and here I am.
Megan, how about you?
Megan: My name’s Megan. I’m born and raised in Salt Lake. I ended up getting a political science degree from Gonzaga University, so no experience with computers, really. It really didn’t happen until after I graduated. I think it was about six months graduated, working retail. I had just recently moved back to Salt Lake. One of my friends had done a continuing education program at the University of Utah for web design, so I thought that looked cool. I did that and got a certificate. It was really a great learning experience and it broke me into the basics of HTML and CSS, so I had that background. Right as that was ending, Wordpress started to become a big tool for people putting up websites, and so I got really into that. I ended up getting an internship with the Salt Lake City Council to convert their website. I didn’t do it personally, but I was on the team that converted the website into Wordpress. Once I was finished up with that, I was working for a tech company that specializes in web hosting. I was tech support. It was really kind of a rough decision to do DevPoint. Three weeks before the cohort, I was interviewed and I decided to do it, but I just wanted to get a better job. That was the main reasoning behind deciding to do it.
Were you all three in Salt Lake City before you started DevPoint, or did any of you move for the program?
Rosie: I moved to Salt Lake just from Logan, Utah, which is an hour and a half north, where I went to college.
Hector: I’m from Salt Lake City. I grew up here. It’s my home.
Megan: Me as well.
It sounds like from talking with people at DevPoint that it’s pretty geared towards beginners. Megan you had maybe a tiny bit more professional experience. Would you consider yourselves all beginners when you started?
Megan: I think so, even being introduced to it through Treehouse. There was prep work that we were expected to do before, just building a basic web page. The learning is really fast-paced, so if you’re not into that it may not be the best experience. I would say that most of us were at the beginning level. Some people didn’t know anything.
Rosie: The attitude they have is really great. They know we’re beginners. They are only here to help us, whatever we need and whatever questions we have. They know how hard it is for beginners.
Hector: For me, the difference between a web page and a web application, about two months ago I researched it and dove right in. There’s so much more that goes into clicking this button.
What was your goal in doing a bootcamp, and did you decide that before you applied?
Rosie: Similar to Megan, I wanted a better job. I wanted to work at a place that really meant something to me and that I enjoyed doing. You always hear about how people who program love their job and they love to do it. That’s what I want. Also, I wanted to break into an industry that is progressive. It’s obvious at this point that programming isn’t going to go away and there’s always something new to learn and so I was really interested in being an industry like that.
Do any of you want to start your own company or build your own product?
Megan: I’ve always thought about it. I think my next step will be getting into the workplace and doing that for a couple of years. That’s always been in the back of my mind to be my own boss. That thought is so attractive to me. I don’t know if I feel I’m ready for that now. Another thing that I like about doing the bootcamp is that you can do a lot of online things and self-paced stuff, but actually being here, we’re making our portfolio right now. We’re going to have so much to show for, which gives you so much confidence when you’re going out for interviews so that you have stuff to show. I couldn’t have done that on myself, or it would have taken me a lot longer.
Rosie said that she applied to Hackbright before applying to DevPoint, did anyone else do research on other bootcamps or apply to other bootcamps?
Hector: I researched some other ones in Salt Lake.
Why did you decide on DevPoint?
Hector: I came here for an info session and toured the buildings. It’s an awesome building, an old church that’s been repurposed for startups and technology. It’s an awesome space. The main chapel is called the Sanctuary and it’s a pretty open space for any member of Church & State to work at or if you’re a student it’s also included. I was impressed by the whole atmosphere and the way that everybody was not only eager to teach and share, but that it was intense and they were into it.
Megan: A couple of months before I decided to do DevPoint, I was looking around, and I did find one, I’m not sure they still exist, it’s Isomer.io.
Isomer actually doesn't operate as a bootcamp anymore.
Megan: Yeah. I looked at that and thought it was a cool idea, but since it wasn’t running anymore I put it on the backburner. Then I started looking again and there’s also DevMountain, which I did look at a little bit, but I didn’t choose that because of location. They’re mainly based out of Provo. I didn’t want to commute down there. They do offer a class in Salt Lake, but it’s part-time and I wanted to do this for the whole summer. They also don’t teach Ruby, I think they just teach Node.js. I wasn’t sure I would fit in there.
Did any of you apply for or get a scholarship while you were going through the application process?
Megan: I did apply to the Women’s Scholarship, and like I said I had done this three weeks before the cohort was beginning so when I talked to Ty for the interview, he told me I was a bit late on that. It was really easy, just a couple more questions about why you want to code and being a woman and that sort of thing. I think when I met with him, he did say that they do give a mini scholarship for any woman like $500 off or something like that and we just have to go teach at a school.
Rosie: That’s just for any woman in the class, automatically.
Have you started going to meetups and networking events like that in Salt Lake?
Rosie: A little bit.
Megan: We’re going to one tonight. Definitely, the Hackathon was a great experience. That’s a really huge thing if you have time in the evening, just go to these meetups because there’s so many and it’s a great way to meet people.
Hector: I have been to them and they’re actually super fun. There’s a lot less coding than you would think, but just being around like-minded individuals is always a good thing. I enjoyed it. It’s fun to see all the other developers. The way you’re taught and the way you learn is so different from every other person that it can give you new perspective on how code should be written or what steps you would take or not take, outside of our classroom.
Can you just tell us on a really broad level, have you felt like there’s been a barrier to entry at all? What’s been your experience as a woman in a bootcamp? Has DevPoint Labs been supportive of that? Do you find a lot of diversity in your cohort right now?
Rosie: I think Ty told me that the last cohort had maybe two women in it, but ours is half girls, which is awesome.
How many people are in your class?
Rosie: 16. 8 girls. 8 guys. I think the industry is really becoming aware of this trend to get more women to code. It’s a great idea and it’s definitely needed and everybody’s becoming aware of it. You can’t really ignore it because it’s being demanded. I think that the industry is very supportive of us and DevPoint Labs is very supportive of us. They don’t treat us differently than the guys or anything like that. It’s been great.
Megan: I was going to add, it was a little bit intimidating on the first day. I have two younger brothers, so I’ve been around guys my whole life, but having something to talk about was what was going through my head. That’s just all put to the side. It’s really about getting there. That first meeting can be kind of uncomfortable when you’re meeting your other classmates, but just getting past that, I think it’s fine. They’ve been more than helpful. The interesting thing to me is that we’ve had a couple of girl TAs, but we haven’t had a woman come in that’s spoken to us about her developer job. That’s something where I would want to come back once I have a job. That’s a bit lacking, but I think it’s going to be changing very quickly.
Hector: From my research online, it seems going from zero knowledge of coding to trying to be a developer, it seemed that Rails was the best way to go. Even before I knew about DevPoint, I knew that I wanted to learn Rails and Ruby. Then once I did find DevPoint and that they taught Ruby and Rails, it was just a no brainer from there.
You all are in week 5 right now. What have you learned so far?
Hector: The instructors have a unique saying about the course. They say they throw you in the coding pool and let you struggle with it, but they’re not going to let anybody drown. You have to want to learn or else it’s going to be super hard, but they’re right there to throw you a noodle or a floaty to keep you going.
Tell us about your hackathon project. You won the Hackathon, so that’s pretty cool.
Megan: Sixxer is our app name.
Hector: We wanted to build something complete for our hackathon. We had eight hours, which just flies by when you’re coding. It’s amazing. We wanted a good reference and we found some sites online that we liked. It’s a Fiverr clone, but we called it Sixxer. I think I was the only one who had heard of Fiverr. Fiverr is an app where you do a service for five dollars from anywhere in the world.
What does Sixxer do? What’s the functionality?
Rosie: It’s basically the same thing. You can create an account and post services that you want to provide and then other users can view those services and buy the service from you for six dollars.
How far through DevPoint were you when you did the hackathon?
Rosie: Four weeks. We had just finished Rails.
You had 8 hours to do it. Why did you decide to work together? Did you get to choose your group?
Rosie: We got put into groups. I think we got really lucky. We all get along really well and we’re all pretty competent. I was really happy with the people I ended up with and obviously it turned out well. It was just luck, really.
What technologies did you use to build Sixxer?
Hector: We used Rails and then a few gems. We used a Divise gem for log-in and authentication and the Paperclip gem for photos and just a lot of Bootstrap. The girls killed it on their styling.
How did you figure out which gems to use?
Rosie: Bootstrap we had been taught in class, but the other ones like Divise, they were just mentioned in class. Hector really took the reins on that and went out to the internet and learned how to do it. If you know basically what a gem is and how to look them up, which we do now, then you can figure out how to use almost any gem.
Megan: We had just been taught the week before how to hard code in authentication. They taught us the hard way first and then set us free. I know the previous cohorts didn’t actually get that. They were just taught how to use the Divise gem. It was cool that we had that foundation. It came easier.
Hector: We understood what was happening. It was done for us using the gem, but we understood it and we could customize it and manipulate it since we knew how it worked.
This looks like it has a lot of functionality for a project done in eight hours after four weeks of a bootcamp.
Hector: The cool thing is that you’re able to see all of the services available on Sixxer.com. For instance, this gentleman will draw you a cute digital photo. It explains a little detail in the description here. The user that posted it and of course the six dollars.
Is the app functional right now?
Hector: We didn’t set up the striped gem.
Rosie: It’s still in test mode.
Hector: If we set up a bank account and an email address, I’m sure we could receive payment in some way, but we didn’t go that far. The cool part is you can see all these services or you can create a service through this drop down screen. You can start with your picture here. It’s created now, so you’ll notice at the bottom it just scrolls in and you’re able to edit and delete your service. You see how all the rest of the services don’t have those buttons.
Can you tell us about an issue or a problem either working together or maybe a technology issue and how you overcame it?
Rosie: We had relatively few issues, which was just luck. We were able to stay level-headed throughout the whole thing. We were using GitHub in a way that we were all comfortable with. But I remember at one point, it was towards the end of the day, we were rushing to get it done and have it look nice, and also have the pictures display correctly. Hector was trying to figure out how to use Paperclip, which is the gem for pictures. We were trying to get the images to display all the same size or something like that. We just couldn’t get it to work and we’re standing up and freaking out, but not too much, just a little bit. Hector was able to figure it out and it worked. It helps in those situations to focus on what you’re doing and it’s okay to freak it out a little bit, but then get back to what you need to do. If you don’t freak out it might build up.
Hector: We did a lot of time management too. In one hour, we’re going to get to a point where you can share with the rest of us, that sort of thing. We had many timeframes within the eight hours. At 3:30 we’re going to merge and it’s going to be a complete project and then we’re going to test and tweak everything. There’s obviously going to be issues at that point. Starting from the very beginning we focused on the time management thing and gave ourselves mini-deadlines.
Do you learn Agile methodology or any approaches to teamwork and collaboration at DevPoint as part of the curriculum?
Megan: Not specifically Agile, but there’s actually going to be a talk tonight and we’re going to have a speaker who’s going to talk about Agile. I dealt with Agile a little bit when I worked for the Salt Lake Council, but mainly here we just learn peer programming, how to communicate with each other. We’ve actually been starting to designate a team leader for other projects.
Hector: Pseudo-code, putting it in English on paper is super important also.
Rosie: Also, one other idea about programming and getting stuff out there and getting it to work, especially in a group, is to make it work first and then deal with refactoring or making it pretty or making it better. That’s really helped me. If it can just work first and I can get something out there that I can look at and use then I can make it better.
Are there other things that you have suggested should be changed about the curriculum or how things are taught at DevPoint? What has been the feedback loop?
Megan: I don’t really know. Every new cohort is a new experience. I don’t know exactly what number cohort we are, but I know our curriculum has definitely changed and expanded a lot since the very first one. I was really surprised and thankful because we’ll have TAs who didn’t learn authentication the hard way and we can actually teach them, which helps everyone learn better. I thought that was really great, and I think they’ll keep expanding on that. I think we’re a week ahead in our current cohort. They’ve just left it open to the class if there’s anything we want to learn like CoffeeScripts or a certain gem. No complaints I can think of.
Rosie: Not too many other than we need more help, which is normal I think. They did put out a survey to us last week right at the middle of the cohort that was just to get our feedback on the course and what we would suggest. They do listen to the students and they do try and implement the suggestions that we have. We just talked about the survey yesterday as a whole group.
Was DevPoint Labs worth the money? Would you recommend it to a friend in your position?
Rosie: I definitely would. It’s a lot of money when you look at just the number, but when you look at what you’re getting in return, it’s definitely worth it. DevPoint Labs itself is cheaper than a lot of other bootcamps that I know of. You’re learning a skillset that would take much longer to learn on your own and you might not be able to do it. You’re really paying for the people to help you and the resources they give you. Everything they provide, I don’t know how I’d accomplish the same things on my own.
Hector: Yeah, I would definitely recommend it. The price point is going to take an investment, not just money, but time. It’s full time. You definitely have homework. If you don’t understand something, you have to look it up. They say you have to bang your head and just push through that last little bit. The price point makes it so that you’re more invested and you want to learn that much more. I think it’s perfect. It was exactly what I needed.
Megan: I agree with all of what they said. I think just the timeframe, for what you’re paying, you get so much. You might even get more than you’re actually paying for. You just need to be ready for it and get in that mindset and go. If you’re not ready to keep up, you could fizzle out easily.
Thank you so much. I can’t wait to check in a few weeks or a couple of months and see what you’re up to and the awesome new jobs that you’ll have. I want to thank Hector and Megan and Rosie for joining us today and talking about your experience at DevPoint.