When Ben Gogge decided to work on his own startup, he knew he would need the technical skills to launch the product. He needed a flexible approach to learning web development, so he decided to try Career Foundry, the online, mentored training program. Ben is in the first weeks of his Career Foundry course, and tells us about his first impressions!
Tell us what you were up to before you decided to start CareerFoundry.
Until very recently, I was working as head of product and marketing for a small startup. We were a team of three people and we had a hard time finding developers for our project.
I had some prior knowledge about programming but I didn’t have a solid background. I knew that it would be valuable to dive into developing, especially learning about how to structure code and that kind of stuff.
Did you quit that job in order to start at CareerFoundry?
I am starting my own startup now and in the transitional phase I’m doing CareerFoundry to ramp up my skills.
Very cool. What’s the new startup?
At the moment, it’s still in customer development but it’s focusing on marketing and analytics data for small companies. In the beginning, I’ll just do that as an agency and then I’ll build out products to assist my own work, clients and other agencies.
Is your motivation for doing CareerFoundry to build the technical side of that startup? Do you expect to be the developer for your new business?
The idea is to build the first prototype on my own. When it gets more complicated, I’ll hire someone with more experience. Whatever kind of course you take, you’ll never be a hardcore developer afterwards; you’ll just be in the beginning stages. But I know that I’ll be able to do lots of things that are needed.
What level were you at before you started CareerFoundry?
I started to learn programming several times. The first time I was about 13 or 14 and bought a book, Java for Dummies. It was on sale so it was about an outdated Java version and it didn’t work, so after a while I just got so frustrated that I stopped.
Then I began again, especially through Codecademy. I really enjoyed the experience, but at the same time, Codecademy is not as much about the production environment and about getting real projects done. You have those projects that only exist in that small sphere of Codecademy.
I found a cool course on Coursera called Startup Engineering about Node.JS specifically. Unfortunately, when I was nearly in the middle, they just stopped publishing content from the syllabus so they ended the course early and there were some parts that were missing. Anyhow, it was a great course and I really liked it.
I started looking into different programs, both bootcamps or online courses. Then I saw that CareerFoundry Black Friday ad.
Did you research other in-person bootcamps? What were the factors you were considering?
I’d been looking into CareerFoundry and I liked the model of having a mentor that you can work with. I really enjoyed my mentoring sessions that I had before. That was really a crucial thing for me for an online course. If I would have done another paid online course, it would have had to have mentorship as well.
It was nice that CareerFoundry is based in Berlin because I am too. They have some kind of visible community in Berlin, which is a nice benefit.
The technology stack isn’t totally what I had been looking for but it’s totally fine. I compared it to the other courses that were built on a similar structure with mentorships. For example, Bloc costs thousands of euros and seemed like too much. I didn’t really look at Thinkful in too much but it seemed to me that it was just not as detailed. In the end, it was just a spontaneous decision.
Was there an application process for you? Were there any requirements to be accepted?
I just registered myself online. I’d been talking to other people who’ve been in contact with CareerFoundry, and it seemed like a good use of money.
Have you met your mentor yet?
My mentor is Benjamin Mateev. He’s an engineer at 6Wunderkinder. We just had our first mentoring session and it was great. We talked about what to focus on during the course. He also gave me some answers on detailed questions about Git that I had never gotten and now I understand that.
It was a nice chat. We’ve been doing it on Skype just through chat messages.
Your mentor is also in Berlin so there are no time issues?
No, absolutely not. CareerFoundry has mentors in every time zone around the world. I had been looking into other courses and the mentoring hours that they were announcing would have been the middle of the night in Germany- that would have been hard!
Did you tell your mentor at CareerFoundry that you are working on a startup? Do you expect that you’ll be working on projects for your startup while you’re learning?
We didn’t talk yet about my future plans of starting a startup. I want to use the skills that I’m learning now to apply them to the basic web page for my startup directly. Then I want to build at least one or two very small products that I can use either for myself or something that I can publish as well during the course and maybe together with my mentor.
There is a timeline syllabus at CareerFoundry that follows a certain structure, so there isn’t room for developing a totally new, fully-fleshed web app. It’s more about rebuilding some system and then building one feature on top that you are building on your own.
Now that you’ve seen the curriculum and know what you’re going to learn, is there anything that you’re particularly excited to learn that you couldn’t figure out on your own?
There are some parts about development which seem to be difficult if you don’t have somebody who’s helping you; especially authentication and authorization stuff and APIs: how to build them, how to make them useful and so on.
That was one part of the decision for me as well. When I saw the syllabus before I purchased the course, I saw at least 4 or 5 topics that I had some trouble with on my own because I didn’t have the opportunity to dive deep into it. This is a great opportunity to have somebody who assists me if there’s any kind of trouble.
We’d love to keep up with you as you progress through CareerFoundry over the next couple of months!
Yeah, absolutely. The first week was a great experience. I could refresh my frontend skills and really start with web development in Ruby. It’s a really good mixture of having external resources suggested alongside their own unique content. It’s been a good mixture so far.
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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