Interested applicants should expect to submit an application, complete 2 coding challenges, complete an interview and receive an admission decision a few days after the interview. Prospective applicants can also enroll in AppAcademy’s Bootcamp Prep programs to increase their chances of admission from 2% to more than 40%.
App Academy's job search curriculum focuses on algorithms, interview skills, and other technical interview focused skill sets. Upon graduation, students will have a portfolio of real-world projects to show to prospective employers. App Academy offers a deferred payment plan where students are only required to pay tuition if they secure a job upon graduation. Students are only required to pay a placement fee if they secure a job upon graduation. App Academy also has two other pricing models for students — a completely upfront model and a hybrid model that is a combination of the deferred and upfront models.
Recent App Academy Reviews: Rating 4.7
Recent App Academy News
- February 2019 Coding Bootcamp Podcast
- New Year, New Career? Learning to Code in 2019!
- April 2018 Coding Bootcamp News Podcast
With App Academy Open you’ll get free access to App Academy’s entire in-person full-stack curriculum, which has placed thousands of people in software development jobs. App Academy is ranked as the #1 coding bootcamp in the US and, since 2016, has placed more software developers at Google than UC Berkeley. On the Free plan you’ll get over 1,500 hours of material (readings, videos, projects), an interactive coding environment and community features like chat to keep you connected with thousands of prospective developers across the globe.
- Start Date
- None scheduled
- Class size
- Minimum Skill Level
- Placement Test
- Start Date
- July 15, 2019
- Class size
- San Francisco, New York City
- Refund / Guarantee
- Your full Bootcamp Prep tuition will be subtracted from your initial deposit if accepted into App Academy's full time program under the deferred payment plan.
- Minimum Skill Level
- Placement Test
More Start DatesJuly 15, 2019 - San FranciscoApply by July 11, 2019July 15, 2019 - New York CityApply by July 11, 2019
- Start Date
- Rolling Start Date
- Class size
- Tuition Plans
- Standard: $995 Plus: $1795 Premium: $3795
- Refund / Guarantee
- Money back guarantee if you aren't accepted into a top coding bootcamp
- Minimum Skill Level
- No experience required
- Prep Work
- None required
- Placement Test
The Engineering Interview Prep (EIP) program is catered towards those who have prior experience working as software developers and already have the coding foundation. Typical EIP students are looking to upgrade their position to Senior Software Engineer and/or earn a higher salary. Curated from over 30,000 technical interviews and feedback, the program dives deeper into data structures & algorithms, system networking & architecture, databases, and lastly the job search portion (behavioral and technical interview best practices). Students will be working with a career coach 1:1 so they will be able to fortify both their weaknesses and strengths during the job search portion of the program (which extends beyond the 6-week evening course).
- Start Date
- None scheduled
- Class size
- Tuition Plans
- Upfront: 2750 USD Or Deferred Tuition: 1000 USD Deposit, 9000 USD After Offer
- Refund / Guarantee
- Guarantee for Deferred Tuition
- Minimum Skill Level
- > .5 Year of software engineering experience
- Placement Test
In PersonFull Time40 Hours/week12 Weeks
- Start Date
- July 15, 2019
- Class size
- San Francisco, New York City
- Only applicable for the Deferred tuition option, a deposit of $3k will be required.
- Lending partnership with Climb Credit available for the Upfront tuition option.
- Tuition Plans
- $17,000 Upfront Plan $23,000 Hybrid Plan ($9k upfront, $13k deferred) $28,000 Deferred Plan (Fully deferred with a $3k deposit)
- Refund / Guarantee
- Guaranteed placement under the Deferred tuition option.
- Minimum Skill Level
- Basic computer literacy
- Prep Work
- Provided at each step by App Academy.
- Placement Test
More Start DatesJuly 15, 2019 - San FranciscoApply by May 15, 2019September 16, 2019 - San FranciscoApply by July 22, 2019November 18, 2019 - San FranciscoApply by September 20, 2019August 12, 2019 - New York CityApply by June 21, 2019October 14, 2019 - New York CityApply by August 23, 2019
OnlineFull Time40 Hours/week24 Weeks
- Start Date
- July 1, 2019
- Class size
- Only applicable for the Deferred tuition option, a deposit of $500 will be required.
- Tuition Plans
- $20,000 Upfront Plan $27,000 Hybrid Plan ($10k upfront, $17k deferred) $30,000 Deferred Plan (Fully deferred with a $500 deposit)
- Refund / Guarantee
- Guaranteed job under Deferred tuition option.
- Minimum Skill Level
- Basic computer literacy
- Prep Work
- Provided at each step by App Academy.
- Placement Test
More Start DatesJuly 1, 2019 - OnlineApply by June 21, 2019August 5, 2019 - OnlineApply by July 19, 2019
$500 App Academy Scholarship
- Offer is only valid for new applicants. Applicants who have already submitted an application cannot claim this scholarship.
- In-Person Full Stack Web Development (New York City)
- In-Person Full Stack Web Development (San Francisco)
App Academy Reviews
575 reviews sorted by:
- Only Applicants, Students, and Graduates are permitted to leave reviews on Course Report.
- Post clear, valuable, and honest information that will be useful and informative to future coding bootcampers. Think about what your bootcamp excelled at and what might have been better.
- Be nice to others; don't attack others.
- Use good grammar and check your spelling.
- Don't post reviews on behalf of other students or impersonate any person, or falsely state or otherwise misrepresent your affiliation with a person or entity.
- Don't spam or post fake reviews intended to boost or lower ratings.
- Don't post or link to content that is sexually explicit.
- Don't post or link to content that is abusive or hateful or threatens or harasses others.
- Please do not submit duplicate or multiple reviews. These will be deleted. Email moderators to revise a review or click the link in the email you receive when submitting a review.
- Please note that we reserve the right to review and remove commentary that violates our policies.
Click here to log in or sign up and continue.
For context: I came straight out of college with a degree in pure mathematics, a significant history of programmatic thinking, and a few years of basic programming experience and game development in some unconventional languages under my belt, so I ended up being one of the faster ones. However, I'll write the review from the perspective of my classmates since I understand that the majority of applicants don't have technical backgrounds. I'll cover the scary before I cover the positives.
You need a lot of grit, determination, and motivation. The overall pace of the course is extremely fast, and it challenges your studying habits and your ability to overcome nearly incomprehensible material being thrown at you at lightning speed. 9 hours of class time per day along with hours of homework each night means that you end up eating and breathing code for 70-90 hours per week. Weekly assessments are given to ensure that everyone is on track, and two failures means you get removed; about a dozen people from the cohort didn't make it to the end and it kinda sucks seeing them leave. You could feel the stress hormones through the roof, and over half of the cohort experienced failing one assessment and the doomsday mindset that followed. There was an unfortunate tradeoff between fully understanding the material and studying for the assessments, and most people opted for leaving the understanding to after the assessments were over. I did not experience the stress that most people did, but it's common enough to be worth mentioning.
That being said, the amount that you end up learning is quite impressive. No one could learn all this through self-study at the pace that they teach it here. At the end of nine weeks, I found myself with a fully functional single-page web app built on Rails and React/Redux, which was super cool (too bad they don't teach this kind of stuff in college). The pair programming was also a great experience - you find yourself developing soft skills and becoming more eloquent at communicating, which are of utmost importance to the job search. My classmates were all super chill and bright folks, and it was an absolute pleasure to be working alongside them and pairing with them every day. I can't say I miss pair programming, but I can say I enjoyed it a lot and experienced a lot of growth that I never experienced when I was self-teaching programming.
I feel prepared for the job search, and I know that I will be much more successful in the search than I would have been had I tried to pursue this path through self-study.
The bootcamp prep course with Alvin (and David as our TA) did exactly what it said on the tin - got me into my top choice coding bootcamp (within 2 months of starting the course)! The curriculum takes you from complete beginner to Bootcamp ready, moving at a pretty quick pace at first, but with plenty of time to solidify and practice what you have learned over the 4 weeks. The material is thorough, however there are a few topics you will have to invest a little more time into if you are interested in schools other than a/A - but nothing you can't handle with each invidividual school's prep material.
Alvin and David were both awesome. Patient, supportive, serious about the work but also lighthearted in their approach. I think the money is a worthwhile investment if you are serious about getting into a bootcamp and want to jumpstart that process.
I wholeheartedly enjoyed my twelve weeks at App Academy. The program provides an intense, unique experience. Basically, it lasts twelve weeks: the first nine weeks comprise the “Technical Curriculum” and the last three the “Job Search Curriculum”. However, after being admitted and accepting your offer, you have to complete a one-month online course called “Alpha Prep” before starting.
However, pair programming and the “question button” system serve to alleviate some of the stress of the course. Pair programming is basically you coding on a single pc (and keyboard) with a partner. Every fifteen minutes, you switch “drivers”, i.e., the person who is physically typing on the keyboard. For the first couple of days, you might feel uncomfortable having to code all day with a partner, but the benefits of doing so become apparent soon after. Having to verbalize and communicate problems to someone else rather than hacking away at the keyboard forces you to become methodical in your approach, and it helps you ask better questions when you’re stuck.
The “question button” is a button on the internal web app that puts your name on a question queue. The TA’s are pinged every time a person is added, and they come by to field students’ questions on a first-come, first-served basis. The benefit of this system is that it allows all students an equal opportunity to have their questions answered and it deals with the issue of less vocal or visible students receiving less attention.
The job search curriculum begins in the tenth week. By that point, you will have learned all the skills you need to develop fully functioning web apps from scratch. However, simply because you have learned the technical material doesn’t mean the course becomes less intense. In these three weeks, you will work on your résumé, cover letters, online presence, personal pitch, and whiteboarding problems. In this aspect of the course, you will receive a lot of support from the career coaches. They will review your projects portfolio, résumé, etc, in depth and will give you detailed pointers on how to improve each item.
The TA’s are always on call, and they generally are able to pinpoint your problem within seconds and do not leave you until all your doubts are assuaged.
Almost the projects serve some practical use, and the emphasis on repetition ensures that you internalize the material.
Pair programming makes the experience more enjoyable, and it ensures that you rarely get bogged down with trivial bugs.
The career coaches provide a lot of support in the job search. They help with your portfolio, personal pitch, networking skills, online presence, and negotiation.
App Academy’s alumni network is helpful and supportive.
The curriculum is constantly being updated so sometimes you will find some inconsistencies in the material. This problem does not appear so much in the 12-week program itself, but it is definitely noticeable and distracting in the Alpha Prep course.
As much as I love pair programming, you will have days where you work with someone you find intolerable. Fortunately, this only happened to me three days out of the roughly 35 in which you pair program, but this experience is variable.
There are six assessments throughout the course, and they are a bit stressful because if you fail any two of them, you are asked to leave the program with your initial deposit refunded. Moreover, because they are graded automatically, they are unforgiving--meaning that a single typo can cause code with otherwise sound logic to fail their automated tests. However, the expectations of the assessments are straightforward and you are given plenty of time and material to prepare for them.
If you are not an independent learner, you will have a hard time at App Academy. Despite the great amount of support you will have, there is a lot of material and little time. If you assume App Academy is like a traditional educative program where the student plays a more passive role, you will likely struggle through it. This is not a criticism of the instructors (I hold them in high esteem), but it is simply the nature the program.
You will not have time for anything else. This is not an exaggeration. I taught myself to code for half a year before attending App Academy so the first three weeks were relatively light for me. That being said, I was only able to have weekend evenings free during this time. When it came time to create our web apps from scratch, I literally had no time for anything else even on the weekend.
Some people assume that the job search curriculum is less intense than the technical curriculum. This is not true so don’t get your hopes up!
This is an excellent bootcamp. The instructors are capable and it takes little time to get help on a difficult or confusing problem. I would say the only con is that it is a tremendous time investment, and it is punishing if you fall behind. I had no time to go to the gym and even on weekends had little time to socialize. You should not enter this program with the expectation that you'll have multiple hours of free time a day over the run of the course. You will not have time for part time work while in this course.
But almost everyone acclimates to the pace and learns an enormous amount. It's a very strong course and the organization works hard to help you find a good job once you've graduated. I recommend it very highly.
App Academy was my first choice, because:
— it's tuition model
— great reviews and overall rating
— greatest TA's
— it's curriculum
— supportive classmates
Although it's pretty hard to keep the pace for the whole course, it pays back, once you start working on your final project, you'll realize that you know a lot, even if you thought you don't.
I was part of the July 2017 NYC Cohort. AA attracts people from diverse backgrounds and top-schools, but one thing they all share in common is that they're sharp and driven. Coming in with programming experience will help, but don't be discouraged if that's not something you have. The TAs do a great job in teaching languages and frameworks you need to succeed in this course. Also, AA really -is- full-time. Although class ends at 6pm, many people either stay in the office to study/work on projects more, or continue at home. The material is challenging, but there's camaraderie that naturally forms in every cohort as you're struggling along others to achieve the same goal. I think the TAs really make a huge part of the experience, I hope the AA continues what they're doing and how they select staff. Stay curious, humble, and be sure to reach out for help when needed.
After accumulating six figures of debt and few hard skills at college, I had developed a cynical attitude about education as a whole. I discovered an interest in programming at work and when I realized that I'd reached a limit in my capacity for technical growth, I considered my options. Another 2-4 years in college was a big no-no (fool me twice, shame on me) and, for similar reasons, spending 15-20k upfront on a bootcamp with no guarantee of success seemed like a bad bet.
App Academy was groundbreaking. For the first time, I found a school whose tuition model aligned with my own personal goals. The better I did, the better AA did.
The rumors are all true. No amount of words can describe the rigor and the challenge of the program. An 80-90 hour weekly commitment is typical. You'll lose sleep. You'll be challenged consistently and think "I'm not sure I can finish this". You'll be surrounded (and outcompeted) by some of the most gifted people you'll ever meet. You'll fail to understand a topic on a Saturday and pass an exam on it on Monday. Once the learning curriculum concludes, you're thrust into the job search, which is filled with entirely different challenges -- personal projects, phone calls, take-home assessments, technical screenings, whiteboarding sessions, in-person interviews, salary negotiations.
And then, almost miraculously, things start working out. You get complimented on your GitHub code at interviews, you do well at whiteboarding sessions, you get offers that are almost double what you earned at your previous job. You have the confidence to choose which offers to accept and which to reject.
A single review can't do AA justice. It truly provides a life-changing experience. The TAs are phenomenal --- amazingly brilliant people who not only understand the material but have a genuine desire to help others. The in-class pair programming assignments are perfectly structured; there is enough material to ensure a good 5-6 hours a day could be spent coding. The caliber of the students is phenomenal -- lots of different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. The job placements team is stellar as well; all were confident career coaches that were eager to lift you up and fill you with optimism.
All in all, I have zero regrets about the program. All promises were kept. It was the most challenging educational endeavor I've ever attempted but, thanks to App Academy, I feel confident about my future as a software engineer. If you're passionate about the field and are willing to put in the hard work, there's no better place to learn web development.
The resources available are amazing. The curriculum is always changing to keep up with the latest technologies. As a result, it's not always the most polished, but it's probably the best way to learn the latest tech. This is facilitated by the amazing TA's who are always available, even outside of class hours via slack or email. My classmates were all awesome people and it was nice having a space to come in and study. (I hear they're upgrading locations again, too).
As for cons, the pacing of the curriculum was pretty bad, but they try to do their best to time assessments and projects to be as manageable as possible. Even then, because of the sheer quantity of materials to learn, it behooves you to keep up and understand where you're at as best as possible. I didn't find the curriculum to be too stressful coming from a specialized high school/ medical school background. I also had a basic understanding of a lot of programming concepts, so I was definitely at a bit of an advantage over my classmates who had to teach themselves the basics of coding a month or two before starting the course. Generally speaking, if you made it past the interview process, you've got what it takes to pass the course. The job support portion is nice, but there are a lot of students so it might be difficult to pin down subtle issues you're having with the job search. If you reach out, though, you'll get the support you need.
Some advice: SLEEP. Especially if you have an assessment the next morning. Your priority during boot camp MUST be in this order from most important to least important: Sleep, food, studying, everything else. If you do not sleep properly, you will not retain the information you're cramming, especially if it's all completely new. You will learn the most by doing what you read about the night before, and you won't be able to code the next day on no sleep and an empty stomach. Also, when you apply to jobs, apply to everything at once. You will have the best chances while all your projects are fresh. You have nothing to lose by getting in touch with hiring managers and CEO's of companies. Do what it takes and be sure to keep coding. Good luck.
If you're just starting off your research into boot camps, a/A is one of the best, especially in NYC. You will need to save up a lot of money in order to support yourself and pay a deposit. I would recommend saving around $15k to be safe, $12k bare minimum.
I believe enrolling at App Academy was the best decision I could have made when I decided to transition into software development. If you enter this program hungry to learn and open to possibilities, you'll gain a ton of valuable technical skills as well as computer science basics that will help direct your own continued learning.
I entered this program with no technical knowledge at all (Microsoft Excel was my limit) and came out of it having built full-stack apps and with a job offer from a startup working in a completely different stack from the one we learned at a/A. I also have the confidence to take that job, knowing I'll be able to learn what I need quickly and well.
This was a super difficult process--don't enroll unless you're able to essentially turn off the rest of your life for the duration of the program--but I made it out and couldn't be happier with the experience.
I had a great experience at app academy. It’s a tough program and you can expect to dedicate all of your time to it during your three months as a student. Despite all the hard work, it’s still fun(if you enjoy coding). Pair programming, a fundamental part of app academy’s education, keeps you alert and engaged while learning. I highly recommend the program if you’re a self starter and looking to get into the tech field.
The program is very fast paced! Prepare to work hard every day for long hours. But that being said, the course structure and curriculum are very well designed, and definitely provide a rock solid foundation for a career in software engineering.
We learned all the layers of full stack web development, with special emphasis on core computer science concepts (algorithmic complexity, data structures, OOP, security principles etc) which I think sets App Academy apart from other coding programs.
I sincerly doubt I could have become the coder that I am today without App Academy. Landed my first job as a frontend developer at a growing company in Financial District and I owe a lot to App Academy.
App Academy is definitely rigorous, curriculum wise. Be ready to live and breathe programming. The program is definitely not suited for every person, but no prior experience in programming is neccesary.
Come with the mindset to job search for a long time. A lot of people find jobs within 1, 2 months of graduating, but that is not always the case and I came the closest to rock bottom as I've been my whole life.
This was the best career decision of my life. It was an incredible journey from start to finish. From learning basic Ruby to making full web applications to getting my first offer three months into the job search. You get out as much as you put in.
So, coming from a background in art, everything was challenging for me since jumpstart time. I used be academically successful but now I feel like stupid everyday here at app academy. But you know what, I made it through(barely)! and so can anyone else! I am currently in the eleventh week. I still feel challenged everyday but each time after I get through with these challenges, my feeling of achievement triples. I guess everyone will repeat this same pattern over and over throughout the course, and each time after you do, you will realize how much more you have learned. I certainly had a very wonderful experience here working with people, including teachers, who are motivate in a similar way. I get a lot of help and was able to learn so many things everyday. It was fun!
I've experienced App Academy as a prospective JumpStart student, an enrolled student, graduate, JumpStart TA, Bootcamp Prep TA, and finally as an alumnus. Needless to say, I've gotten a pretty wide breadth of App Academy exposure, and all of it has been overwhelmingly positive.
The JumpStart or Bootcamp Prep admissions processes, while rigorous, provide a great foundation for the skills necessary to be successful at a/A. I've been both enrolled in and a TA for JumpStart, and I found the program as rewarding to teach as it was to learn under.
The actual course is no joke. You'll get out what you put in, and be prepared to sacrifice 3 months of your life outside of learning & working. But rest assured: it is worth it. a/A imparts you with not only the technical chops to make it in the industry, but the job-searching, networking, and interviewing skills to get the job you want. After graduation, while working as both a JumpStart and BCP TA, I ended up with a total of 5 job offers, and currently have a job at a great company.
Final verdict: Amazing experience, would do it again in a heartbeat. But be prepared to work--you won't regret it.
What App Academy offers - a near-six figure salary on average within a year - sounds too good to be true. Three months after graduating, most of my classmates have accepted offers. I received my first offer two weeks after graduating. My job search lasted 2 months, during which time I received five offers in total. I am now happily working as a full stack engineer at a company I am excited about.
App Academy lives up to its promises because it has the brightest instructors and is built on top of a top-notch, stellar curriculum and an incredibly selective application process. My classmates are the most intelligent and talented group of people I have ever been a part of. Graduating from the bootcamp is only possible by setting your entire life on hold and studying and coding 11+ hours every day. Assessments are given weekly, and failing two of them leads to your dismissal from the program. You are expected to digest material very quickly and break your brain on difficult problems every day. The program is incredibly stressful and draining, but really does teach you what you need to know to get hired and grow as a developer.
A little bit about the curriculum:
The program is broken up into various sections, starting with computer science fundamentals, which focuses on problem-solving skills. Every day focuses on a project that usually involves pair programming. Pair programing helped us learn more quickly and communicate code clearly. The job search curriculum is very useful in guiding graduates in how they should use their time while job hunting
Prior to attending App Academy, I had a pretty solid foundation in CS fundamentals from a couple minors during my undergrad. After moving to SF and researching the skillset and breadth of new technologies in order to compete in the tech industry, I needed and wanted to learn more about the recent technologies. I chose App Academy because their top-notch curriculum is always adapting to what the industry dictates.
The three month boot camp really challenged me in my skills as a software engineer. The learning curve is steep, and App Academy is transparent as to the pace of learning needed to be successful in this program. You will be spending every day including weekends working on solo projects, group projects, and mastering new skills. The program goes fast and it is very easy to fall behind if you are not committed or do not do the work. You will not have a social life and will be expected to set aside “life” as all your time and energy will be dedicated to mastering skills and completing projects on time. Do not commit to the program if you are not ready to put all of your time and focus into the program.
A highlight of the program is their focus on your career goals. A focus on industry specific lectures will be given in how to master the application process to how to land the ideal salary. The mentors will help you in setting yourself apart from the other applicants by refining resumes, creating the perfect cover letter, and making sure your portfolio is perfect. Tuition is based off your final offer from a company aligning a/A with your goal of landing a dream job.
Overall, App Academy invests in each of their students for optimal career success. There are many avenues of support if needed. I truly enjoyed my experience in App Academy and I recommend this program to anyone who is truly ready to become a software developer
I just got through the entire coding bootcamp. A little bit about me before a/A first. I consider myself a fundementally strong coder with some experience in developing Full-Stack projects C# and ASP.NET. I consider myself mostly self-taught, with a few upper-division college classes under my belt, and have been coding since High School. That being said, I wanted to learn more recent technologies and chose this program for its rigorous curriculum in React and Ruby on Rails.
App Academy differentiates itself from other bootcamps because of the support that they provide during your learning process and, most importantly, the job search. The curriculum is very thorough, and can pave over holes in your CS knowledge even if you're like me and came from a CS background.
Kiss your social life goodbye for the next 3 months, because something to note is that you only get what you put in! If you want to do well, you have to be willing to make sacrifices that others aren't willing to make (i.e: work till you drop and repeat). Everyday there's never a shortage of things to do and projects to work on. Since these projects are a reflection of your own skill, you have to spend a lot of time making sure that they shine.
I am profoundly tired, but deeply satisfied with the rigor of App Academy's curriculum. After spending 90+ hours a week building software next to some of the most ambitious and dedicated people I've ever met, I feel very well equipped to break into the industry.
Don't do this if you're not completely committed to setting life aside for the length of the program.
App Academy has really been a mental rollercoaster for me. There were days where I truly enjoyed my experience and there were also days where I frantically wanted to get off the ride due to overwhelming stress. However, as with all rollercoasters, the experience is different for everybody. In the end, some people might find that they enjoyed the ride, while others might be happier to get off. With that being said, App Academy really isn't for everyone, but one thing is certain: you will leave knowing a lot more than when you started.
App Academy isn't a perfect program. The course load is challenging and the pacing is very fast. It's very easy to fall behind if you're not committed--and even if you are committed, it's possible to fall behind if you don't understand the topic before they move forward in the curriculum. However, they have a very dedicated and knowledgeable staff to facilitate the students' learning experiences.
My biggest gripe about the App Academy is how assessment-focused the program is. Their assessments determine your status in the program and due to fear of dismissal, many students solely focus on passing them instead of learning/understanding the material. (If this sounds confusing, it will make a lot more sense if you go through the program).
With everything being said, I really enjoyed my experience in App Academy, minus the stress and sleep deprivation. I have met some of the most amazing, supportive, and hardworking people in the amazing App Academy community. I would not recommend this program to everyone, but if you're willing to put in the time, energy, sweat, tears, and hard work, App Academy will help you become a software developer!
App Academy is very fast paced with no breaks but you will learn everything you need to know to be a software developer if you are able to keep up. All of the staff are amazing and great teachers. App Academy provides you with everything that you need to be sucessful but it is still up to you to actually do the work required. It is not an easy course but it will take you from knowing nothing about web develpoment to building a fully functional website from scratch in 9 weeks.
I joined App Academy with little to none software experience. What I have come away with is a range of technical knowledge, a strong understanding of the social / collaborative aspects of web development, a work ethic I did not think I could achieve, and, maybe most importantly, a capacity to efficiently learn new technical material.
The coding portion of the curriculum is difficult, but at the same time structured, well organized, and jam packed with interesting and relevant material. Some of the material is presented in a lecture format, but the bulk of the work is done pair-programming with fellow students. From day 1, this model fosters collaboration and encourages students to solve problems independently, instead of following along with examples. This being said, the instructors are encouraging, readily available, and all-in-all wonderful. Many of the instructors have gone through the bootcamp program as well, so they are knowledgeable in both the technical and social/stress-management aspects of the curriculum.
While there are weekly assessments, the focus of the program is for you to learn as much as possible, not to transactionally complete assigned projects / homework assignments. In this way, students come away with not only the necessary skills, but also the drive, to start their own projects. Part of the coding curriculum involves completing three large projects, all of which you effectively design and plan yourself (with the support of instructors). These three projects become the focal point of your software portfolio, and are not something that other bootcamp grads can typically claim. Aside from portfolio building, the job-search part of the curriculum is packed with mock-interviews, networking workshops, and time with a personal career coach. Even post-graduation, App Academy leaves you with technical and networking resources, not to mention close connections to all of the other members of your cohort.
The bottom line is this: App Academy is a serious time and energy commitment, but leaves you with a range of technical knowledge, an industry ready portfolio, strong technical interviewing skills, and a serious sense of personal pride for having made it through all of that in 13 weeks.
App Academy has given me the foundation of thinking and coding as a software developer that I never thought would be possible.
I had been trying to figure out how to get into tech without spending another 2 years getting a CS degree, and self-learning was not really going anywhere past simple games because I spent too long getting stuck, not knowing how and where to find help. After doing a little more research, I came across this bootcamp with its deferred tuition model which put me at ease in terms of getting students jobs. That and the stringent month-long admissions process which was already stretching me from a beginner-level (I had done a few projects in MATLAB and C++) and challenging my assumptions gave me an inkling that this might be the right place for me.
Thankfully I was not proven wrong. The pace of the program is extremely fast, but with the benefit of being surrounded by students who are just as motivated as you. And when you get stuck the TAs in the room more than willing to help, which cuts down the learning time significantly of some of the more frustrating concepts (recursion was an early example for me). I did think at times though that there just weren't enough TAs around to help all of us; on some of the more difficult days we were waiting 20 minutes or more.
Overall, I am confident that the fundamentals that App Academy taught me has prepared me well for the job search ahead.
-Don't be afraid to ask for help! Time is of the essence in a fast-paced course like this and there's no way anyone can 'get' everything that is taught in the 9 weeks as quickly as they would like. Some of the brightest classmates I knew did not hesitate to ask a TA within 10 minutes of being stuck.
-Live as close as you can to a/A during the 12 weeks. I consider myself one of the slower classmates when it comes to studying (when I see 30min reading it really means 1hr) and living 10 minutes away has saved me so many times from chopping the resource most essential to a bootcamper: sleep.
-Find some way you can offer value and share it! I find that a large part of my motivation to learn about something really well is to be able to talk about it with someone later on. Our class has a Slack group where people would often share about cool things they implemented/learned and I always appreciated that.
If you are willing to learn from and help others and are determined to do everything you can do deeply understand concepts, you WILL succeed.
I took this course because I want to get accepted at App Academy Bootcamp and I had no background and/or knowledge in coding at all. Today is my last class at Bootcamp Prep and I am very confident in myself that I feel like I am ready to apply.
The curreiculum is very well organized in a way that you will retain what you learn in the class. Homeworks, assessments and notes are really helpful.
The instructor and TA are awesome! They do not just teach. They work hard for you, so you really learn what they teach.
Classmates were nice too.
I really recommend Bootcamp Prep if you are new to coding and if you do not feel confident or ready to apply for actual Bootcamp.
Prepares you for the technical interview with problem sets similar to the ones that will be used at major coding camps.
Alvin & Chase are knowledgable and organized instructors and there is a lot of support if you get stuck on a problem during class.
2 mock interviews offered and insider information on the structure of the App Academy interview.
Helps familiarize you with the structure of aA's coursework.
It would be nice if there was more practice pair programming and role play as interviewer and interviewee. Sometimes the lectures were a bit long and it does not always seem necessary to go through every individual problem in class.
On-Time Graduation Rate
180 Day Employment Breakdown:
Notes & Caveats:
Our latest on App Academy
In February we heard some interesting debates about the ethics of data science, how bootcamps are partnering with universities, and companies like Infosys and Google, and how the number of tech education options in Africa is growing! Plus, Thinkful attempted to predict the Oscars, the Ohio Lt. Governor stopped by Tech Elevator, and women in bootcamps were recognized. We also looked at various ways to pay for bootcamp, and tips for breaking into tech. Listen to the podcast or read the roundup below.Continue Reading →
Is learning to code on your 2019 New Year’s Resolutions List? It should be! The average coding bootcamp graduate gets a job in tech and sees a 49% salary lift. A coding bootcamp could be just what you need to make a fresh start in 2019 as a developer, so we’ve compiled a list of 18 full-time, part-time, in-person and online coding bootcamps which have upcoming cohorts starting in January and February 2019. Most of these coding courses have approaching application deadlines, so submit yours quickly if you want to get a head start in 2019!Continue Reading →
In our April 2018 technology bootcamp news roundup we saw four overarching trends – bootcamp acquisitions, employers putting their own employees through bootcamp, a continued debate between college vs bootcamp, and efforts to expand accessibility to coding education for underrepresented groups in tech. We also look at apprenticeships, the evolution of bootcamp curricula, life after bootcamp, and new bootcamps! Read the roundup below or listen to the podcast!Continue Reading →
Timur Meyster always dreamed of becoming an entrepreneur. When he realized his finance degree wasn’t going to help him actually launch his own business, Timur decided to build his technical skillset to create his own products. Since graduating from App Academy in 2015, Timur has flourished as a developer, working as a Full-Stack Engineer at augmented reality company Blippar. Timur explains how App Academy prepared him for the constant learning process that comes with being an engineer and how he’s carved out a niche on his team. Plus, Timur gives back to the bootcamp world with a podcast he co-hosts called Breaking Into Startups!
Tell us about your education/career background and what led you to App Academy?
I was born in Ukraine and came to the US in middle school. Growing up, I saw how hard my parents worked and I’ve always dreamed of starting my own company. My parents encouraged me to go into a traditional profession like finance, medicine, or law. I studied Finance at Emory University thinking that I could eventually start my own company, but I realized that a lot of the stuff you learn in school, like accounting and management, doesn't translate to building and launching a product or managing a team. That was a big disappointment because I thought I would graduate with those skills.
I did two internships in investment banking, and realized I could make good money on that career path, but that I would be working long hours in PowerPoint and Excel. I wanted to exercise more creativity, and build something. I was following startups coming out of YCombinator and had the strongest urge to start something. But the one thing that stood in my way was that I didn't know how to code.
How did you start transitioning into tech?
Right after college, I worked as a Project Manager/SCRUM Master, leading iOS and Android mobile teams at Autotrader.com. But I didn't know how to code, so my job was more like a facilitator. It was very frustrating to be in meetings with engineers giving me reasons for why a project was late, but I didn’t understand enough code to push back.
I started to learn some Ruby on the side and built tools to streamline my job as a SCRUM master. At that point, I started understanding what the engineers were doing on daily basis. Having seen the code base and the types of problems they solve, I realized this was definitely something I could do as well. That's when I started looking at different coding bootcamps and came across App Academy.
What made you decide to take the next step and go to a coding bootcamp?
I took some Codecademy classes, and took the Python and Java Coursera MOOCs, but I didn’t learn enough to actually build an app. My twin brother was working in investment banking and told me how his colleague quit his job, went to Flatiron School, and got a job as a developer six months later. Hearing his story inspired me to think, "Hey, if he can do it with a similar background to me, then I can do it too."
I also considered going to Georgia Tech to get a Masters in Engineering. But I wouldn’t be able to do that because I hadn’t studied Computer Science in undergrad. On top of that, I wanted a quicker option that would get me a job.
So I decided to quit my job, learn how to code at a bootcamp, and become an engineer. My goal was to see what it takes to release apps into production, and learn enough to build my own apps and launch my own company.
What made you choose App Academy over other bootcamps?
In early 2014, I had a lot of different options. For me, I wanted to attend a bootcamp that was difficult to get accepted to, so App Academy was certainly one of my top choices. I went on LinkedIn and looked up where App Academy alumni worked – they were working at amazing companies like Dropbox, Google, and Airbnb.
The biggest selling point for me was the App Academy deferred tuition model. After college, I worked in Atlanta for two years. I wanted to move to San Francisco, but I knew it would be expensive. Most other bootcamps required you to pay tuition up front, and financing options that are available today like Skills Fund and Pave were not available then. So App Academy was the most logical option because as long as I had enough savings for my living expenses, I could do the bootcamp, get a job, pay them back, and become an engineer.
What was the App Academy interview and application process like?
The application process was tough. App Academy makes it pretty transparent and shows you the bar that you need to meet and which concepts you need to understand and practice beforehand. They're looking for people who have an understanding of basic concepts like loops, arrays, and hashes. I spent four or five months on their practice problems and using websites like Codewars to practice different algorithm problems. Honestly, it didn't come to me very easily at first. A lot of times, I would have to do the same tutorial three times before I could understand it. Preparing for the App Academy application was all about the discipline of being okay with not knowing everything at first and working my way through each problem.
What’s your advice to other applicants who are trying to get accepted into App Academy?
In my experience, you need to mentally prepare yourself to fail. The first time you follow a tutorial you’ll have no idea why it works, then the second time you actually notice patterns, and the third time around, you'll start to make sense of it and it all comes together. At some point, if you do enough of those problems, you’ll be pretty ready to pass App Academy's exam.
App Academy may have changed slightly since you graduated, but tell us about the learning experience.
It's a very intense experience. But the time just flew by, it didn't feel like I was actually doing work; I was solving problems. It's like playing a game with your friend, except instead of playing it for an hour, you're playing it for eight hours a day for 12 weeks. By the end of it, you become really good at the game because you're pushing each other, you're holding each other accountable, and you don't feel like you're doing it on your own.
The biggest difference for me compared with university was that a lot of time was spent working in groups on projects. That was unexpected because I thought there would be more lectures. We would have one lecture each day for about an hour on a new topic, then we had the other seven or eight hours to work in pairs, talk with our partners about problems, and internalize those concepts.
How did App Academy prepare you for the job hunt?
After the final projects in week 10, App Academy provides two weeks of career development where hiring managers talk about the interview process. Every day we were also paired up with someone in class to work on whiteboarding problems. Based on the history of alumni who had gone through a lot of technical job interviews, App Academy had a good idea of the types of problems that would likely get asked during job interviews.
The job search is almost like a bootcamp in itself. You’ve learned the fundamental programming skills, but for the job search you have to learn how to go out and talk about the things you've learned and prove that you're capable of doing the job. My biggest challenge was figuring out how to tell my story in interviews, so that I could tie my previous experience in.
How did you find your job after graduating from App Academy?
My friends and I organized weekend hikes and invited people we met in San Francisco to go with us. On one of those hikes, I met an engineer at Blippar, which is a top Augmented Reality company. He put me in touch with the VP of Engineering when they were opening a San Francisco office. I showed that I'd done my research about the company, and I was committed to doing whatever it takes help out the team. They gave me that first shot and looking back now, I'm really grateful because I have learned so much since I've been with Blippar.
That's such a great example of how networking can pay off! Do you have advice for other bootcamp grads on the job search?
After App Academy, I applied to about 200 companies online. I did get some calls from recruiters, but the more effective strategy was going to meetups, happy hours, and work my way in through the back door. Applying online is the easiest way to apply for a job, but everyone else is doing that too. What I did was make a list of companies where I really wanted to work, then wrote a personalized cold email to the hiring manager or senior engineer to say, “I would love to pick your brain and ask questions about the company.” You're not asking for a job, just for a phone call or quick meeting where you can demonstrate the value that you can add. I connected with some of the biggest CEOs in the Valley, like Affirm CEO Max Levchin.
You’ve now been a Full-Stack Engineer at Blippar for two years- congrats! Tell us about Blippar’s mission.
In a nutshell, Blippar's vision is to bring augmented reality to the world. But we want to empower non-technical folks like teachers, advertisers, and business owners to create AR experiences and increase user engagement.
For example, wouldn't it be cool if a math teacher could take a picture of the page in a textbook and drop in 3D models of a triangle? Then a student can now point their phone at the textbook, and see this 3D model on their own phone screen and move it around, increase or decrease its size, and see how the area changes. Another example is a restaurant owner who might add links or videos for each dish that's on the menu. So a customer can point their phone at the menu and click around on the dish items and see videos or pictures of the final product.
We have three engineering teams across Blippar. The team I work on is doing the 3D editor web app, we have a mobile development team, and then a bunch of Ph.D. researchers who are working on object recognition. In total, Blippar is about 50 or 60 people; that includes QA testers, project managers and designers.
Could you give an example of something you’ve worked on at Blippar?
Over the last two years, we built this free 3D editor tool that anyone can check out. You can move things around in 3D, drop objects, and publish in the app so that anyone who points the app at that image can see the augmented reality experience. It allows someone with no technical experience to upload 3D models, animate objects, add videos, sounds, and explanations.
A lot of the experienced senior engineers had never built an app like this before. So, in the beginning, we were doing a lot of research, to see how similar systems were designed and implemented. It's been a super cool journey because I didn't just learn about engineering, I also saw how the whole design process happens. I've learned about graphics, 3D, and how to combine meshes and textures. All my knowledge will be applicable to VR and AR – I'm really happy I joined Blippar.
I've been on this 3D Editor project the longest out of anyone now, so I know the codebase better than anyone else. Other developers might have a decade of experience over me, but in the context of this particular app, I'm the expert on debugging. That's a great feeling, to be seen as a valuable member of the team.
Did App Academy prepare you well for your first job as a software engineer?
Since you've graduated from App Academy and joined Blippar, how do you feel you've grown as a developer?
Coming out of App Academy I definitely felt prepared, but I've now internalized a lot of the concepts that I learned in App Academy by practicing them day-in and day-out. Looking back, I'm embarrassed about how I built my final App Academy project. There's so much depth to programming – that the deeper you go, the more you realize how much you don't know.
How has your previous experience in SCRUM and finance been useful in your new career?
My experience as a SCRUM master definitely helps me understand what other people on my team are looking for from me. You never work as an individual contributor when you’re on a team. You have conversations with a product manager who wants to create the best product and user experience. But from the engineer's perspective, your goal is to check off all the boxes for acceptance criteria. Having been a SCRUM master, I know that there are competing interests: QA will complain that engineers are writing bad code; designers will complain that they don't have enough requirements. I can relate and have empathy for various roles on my team.
Looking back, do you think you would have been able to transition into this career without App Academy?
App Academy also gives you strategies on how to negotiate your salary, and they teach you about data structures, algorithms and exactly what you need to pass the job interviews. All you have to do is absorb all that information. If your goal is to become an engineer, you should just do a coding bootcamp. Why teach yourself for a year if you can do it in three months?
How have you stayed in touch with App Academy or the bootcamp world?
Since I've graduated App Academy, my twin brother (who actually did a coding bootcamp too), my roommate, and I launched a podcast called "Breaking into Startups," where we feature stories of people from non-traditional backgrounds who broke into tech. Kush Patel, the founder of App Academy, is a friend of mine and we interviewed him on our podcast. We've also interviewed Haseeb Qureshi, who used to be a Teaching Assistant at App Academy, then wrote a blog post on how he was able to get a software engineering job at Airbnb making $250,000. We talked to Yousef Soomro who was a 19-year-old who went through App Academy and became an engineer.
I've definitely stayed in touch with my classmates, and via Facebook I'm able to see them get new jobs at companies like Uber, Facebook or Google, and how they are growing within their careers as well.
October 2017 was a busy month for the coding bootcamp industry with news about growing pains in bootcamp outcomes, mergers, acquisitions, investments, a trend towards bootcamp B2B training, and diversity initiatives. To help you out, we’ve collected all the most important news in this blog post and podcast. Plus, we added 12 new schools from around the world to the Course Report school directory! Read below or listen to our latest Coding Bootcamp News Roundup Podcast.Continue Reading →
Need a rundown of everything that happened in the coding bootcamp industry this September? You’re in luck! We’ve collected all the most important news in this blog post and podcast. This month, we kept up with the status of the bootcamp industry, learned about how bootcamps are thriving in smaller markets, and explored different ways to pay for bootcamp. Plus, we added 7 new schools from around the world to the Course Report school directory! Read below or listen to our latest Coding Bootcamp News Roundup Podcast.Continue Reading →
Just as they’ve developed disruptive education tools, technology bootcamps are also adopting payment plans which allow students to pay nothing or very little until they graduate and find a job. Deferred tuition and income sharing agreements (ISAs) are becoming more widely available, and give students who don’t have $20,000 in the bank, access to life-changing learning opportunities. This guide will help you sort through the details and differentiate between the terms; plus, we’ve even helped you start your research by compiling a list of coding and data science bootcamps that offer ISAs or Deferred Tuition.Continue Reading →
With the closing of Dev Bootcamp (slated for December 8, 2017), you’re probably wondering what other coding bootcamp options are out there. Dev Bootcamp changed thousands of lives, and built a great reputation with employers, so we are sad to see it go. Fortunately, there are still plenty of quality coding bootcamps in the cities where Dev Bootcamp operated. Here is a list of coding bootcamps with similar lengths, time commitments, and curriculums in the six cities where Dev Bootcamp had campuses: Austin, Chicago, New York, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle.Continue Reading →
Need an overview of coding bootcamp news in May? You’re in the right place! We’ve collected all the most important news in this blog post and podcast. This month, we read about a number of insightful surveys about employers, programming languages, and learners. We read advice about choosing a bootcamp, learned about efforts to encourage women and veterans to learn to code, and heard about student experiences at bootcamp. Plus, we added a bunch of interesting new schools to the Course Report school directory! Read below or listen to our latest Coding Bootcamp News Roundup Podcast.Continue Reading →
Welcome to the January 2017 Course Report monthly coding bootcamp news roundup! Each month, we look at all the happenings from the coding bootcamp world from new bootcamps to fundraising announcements, to interesting trends. This month we applaud initiatives that bring technology to underserved communities, we look at employment trends, and new coding schools and campuses. Plus, we hear a funny story about an honest taxi driver. Read below or listen to our latest Coding Bootcamp News Roundup Podcast.Continue Reading →
Many competitive coding bootcamps want you to have some programming knowledge in order to be accepted into their programs – whether they’re looking for past experience on your resume or require that you pass a coding challenge. For a beginner, it can be tough to get the experience that a selective bootcamp looks for in the application process. There are many ways to learn basic coding (including teaching yourself) but if you want to make sure you’re covering the right material and quickly, then a bootcamp prep program may be for you.Continue Reading →
How much do coding bootcamps cost? From students looking for free coding bootcamps to those wondering if an $18,000 bootcamp is worth it, we understand that cost is important to future bootcampers! While the average full-time programming bootcamp in the US costs $11,906, bootcamp tuition can range from $9,000 to $21,000, and some coding bootcamps have deferred tuition. So how do you decide what to budget for? Here, we break down the costs of coding bootcamps from around the USA.
Getting into an elite coding bootcamp is hard. You take a bunch of coding tests and technical interviews and it’s easy to get stressed out during the process. Top coding schools are also extremely selective. App Academy (where I'm an instructor) has an acceptance rate of 3% - that’s lower than Harvard.Continue Reading →
We explore the differences and similarities between App Academy and Flatiron School, two of the best coding bootcamps in the US. What type of student is each bootcamp best for? What's the culture like at each school? How does job placement compare? All of these questions answered and more!Continue Reading →
Thinking about applying to App Academy? With locations in San Francisco and New York, and their well-known option of deferred payment (until you get a job), App Academy is a great option for future bootcampers. But the App Academy acceptance rate is less than 5%- so applicants need to ace the coding challenges to be admitted. We're covering the App Academy interview and application process with input from our Q&As with App Academy alumni and founder, Kush Patel.
App Academy's Advice:
From founder Kush Patel:
"We are cool with complete beginners, and have seen complete beginners be extremely successful in the course, and go on to work for fantastic companies and make crazy salaries. Our application process is customized to the applicant. If someone comes to us with no experience, we’ll assign them some introductory exercises and give them a coding test that would be appropriate for them. We do multiple coding tests and interviews to really get a sense of the applicant." -Kush Patel, Founder
What to Expect during the App Academy Interview:
From their website:
The application process consists of a few steps. We try to customize the process for every candidate, but broadly it looks as follows:
- You submit an application.
- Within two days, we mail you a coding exercise (with resources to prepare).
- You complete the coding exercise when you're ready.
- You may be asked to complete a second coding exercise.
- We interview you.
- Within two days, we make a decision.
The most important parts of our process are the coding exercises and a live coding exercise we do together during the interview. We accept a very high percentage of applicants who do well on these exercises. For applicants who are new to programming, we provide materials to bring them up to speed and teach them what they need to know to complete our exercises.
The technical interview consists of one guaranteed coding challenge and a second coding test if App Academy decides you're ready to move forward. "After filling out the application, I received an invitation for a coding assessment. They sent me a second assessment shortly after I completed the first one, followed by a 15-question problem set. I spent about 20 hours on those exercises. I then had two live coding exercises." says Sarah Michaelson, an App Academy Alum.
"There were a couple of coding challenges which they provided prep material to study for." -TJ, alumni
Remember that in a code school interview, you should be asking a ton of questions too! Here are 10 questions we suggest asking in a coding bootcamp interview.
"The second [coding challenge] included a mini-interview with Kush, the founder of App Academy." -Sarah
"After the coding challenges I went on to interview with one of the cofounders and had a final live coding challenge. We did all of that over Skype." -TJ
How to Prepare for App Academy Interviews:
The App Academy Coding Challenge should be no mystery to applicants, because App Academy publishes all of their Coding Challenges and Prep Work on Github! The more prep work you can complete before starting the application, the better (it's unclear if rejected applicants can re-apply, but as a precaution, you should not expect a second chance). Start Here:
From App Academy students:
"After I applied, App Academy sent me a list of resources to help me prepare for the first coding challenge. They suggested Codecademy and Ruby Monk, but I also searched for beginning Ruby tutorials. There’s a lot of good material out there." -Sarah, Alum
"I was used to the concepts already because I had been teaching myself. I studied to program video games at DigiPen so when I dropped out, I continued coding for fun. I made lots of very simple games like Bejeweled and little shoot-em-ups." -TJ, Alum
- According to Sarah, an App Academy alum, the entire application process, from start-to-acceptance, took about 2 months.
- App Academy says that you'll have a decision within 2 days of the final interview, but this seems to vary.
- Coding Challenges are timed- you have up to 45 minutes to complete these.
This Wednesday, our friends at LiquidTalent hosted a spectacular panel of women who discussed their experience at New York coding bootcamps and transitioning into their first jobs. Course Report was lucky to moderate the panel- here are 12 things we learned from this rockstar panel of lady developers!Continue Reading →
While programming bootcamps can offer a high return on investment, the average tuition at code school is ~$11,906, which is no small sacrifice. A number of not-for-profit and well-organized programs offer free coding bootcamps. Some of these bootcamps are funded by job placement and referral fees; others are fueled by community support and volunteers. Expect rigorous application processes and competitively low acceptance rates, but for the right applicants, there is so much to gain at these free coding bootcamps.Continue Reading →
App Academy graduate Sarah Michaelson had a degree in Pre-Medical Nutrition Science before realizing that coding was in her future. After completing the 3-month bootcamp, Sarah got a job at Amplify through the alumni network, and talks to Course Report about challenging herself at App Academy, using their job prep and placement services, and settling into her Dev-Ops position at Amplify.
Tell us what you up to before you joined App Academy?
Before I started App Academy, I was working in marketing promotions - everything from serving beer at motorcycle races to costume acting at children’s events to demoing kitchen appliances at department stores. I also have a BS in Pre-Medical Nutrition Science from Purdue University, and I worked as a weight loss consultant for a little over a year.
Did you take any computer science classes during your undergrad?
I took one CS class as a graduation requirement. We learned a little bit of computer history and HTML.
When did you start thinking about web development as a career?
My two physicist roommates started looking for jobs as data scientists. They’d talk for hours on end about algorithms and natural language processing. I thought it was really cool and I wanted to participate, but I just didn’t know where to begin. I was irrationally intimidated by it.
How did you come across App Academy?
My roommates knew I wanted to learn to code, so one of them sent me a link to App Academy. I thought I couldn’t do it, but I saved the link to my Evernote account. Three or four months later, an ad popped up on my Facebook feed, I decided I was ready to give it a shot.
Did you use online resources or read books to prepare?
After I applied, App Academy sent me a list of resources to help me prepare for the first coding challenge. They suggested Codecademy and Ruby Monk, but I also searched for beginning Ruby tutorials. There’s a lot of good material out there.
Did you look at other bootcamps or did you only apply to App Academy?
I looked at other bootcamps, but I App Academy was my first choice because of their business model. I even said that to Kush (the founder of App Academy) during my final interview.
What was the App Academy application process like for you?
My application process was pretty long, but I think it’s different for everyone. After filling out the application, I received an invitation for a coding assessment. They sent me a second assessment shortly after I completed the first one, followed by a 15-question problem set. I spent about 20 hours on those exercises. I then had two live coding exercises. The second one included a mini-interview with Kush, the founder of App Academy. From start to finish, it took almost two months.
How many people were in your cohort?
There were 22 people when we started. One person dropped out on the first day, but everyone else finished the program.
Did you feel like it was a diverse cohort in terms of age, gender and race?
There were two women in the class so in terms of gender it wasn’t diverse. I was 29 and I was the oldest person in the cohort. Other cohorts had people in their 30’s, some people had kids.
There were different racial backgrounds and some international students. Overall, it wasn’t representative of the population at large, but I don’t think anyone ever felt excluded or uncomfortable or unwelcome.
Was there some overlap between different cohorts?
There was a 3-week overlap. The last 3 weeks of the program are dedicated to getting us hired. My cohort started during the previous cohort’s hiring phase.
Did your cohort start with pretty similar skill levels and technical backgrounds?
I feel like most people in my cohort had little or no technical background like myself. Before starting the class, we all did the completed tutorials, we all had the same “pre-flight assignment,” which gave us the same foundation.
How many instructors did you have for your cohort?
Jonathan, the lead instructor, was nurturing as a mentor, passionate about teaching, and cared very much about each and every one of us. We also had two TAs - Sid and Tommy. They were former students, and since they had been in our position not too long ago, they could relate to us really well. They pointed us in the right direction without just handing us the answers, which was great. I don't know if they still do this, but at the time, it was common for a/A to hire former students as TAs.
What did a typical App Academy day look like for you?
The night before class, we had a reading assignment to prep us for the next day’s project. In the morning, you’d be randomly assigned to a workstation with another student and spend the day pair programming and figuring out how to accomplish the tasks outlined in the project. If you got blocked or stuck, you would call one of the TAs or Jonathan over to help. We had brief lectures daily, but never more than an hour; this program was very hands-on. After class officially ended, we sometimes would stay to tie up loose ends on the project. At night, we’d do our reading assignments, and start the whole process over again.
Were the projects always assigned or did you get to create your own projects?
The first 7 or 8 weeks was assigned projects, but we did have a capstone project where we pitched our ideas. The goal was to clone another website, like Facebook, Reddit, or Twitter.
Can you tell us about your capstone project? What did you build?
I made a clone of My Fitness Pal. It was a Rails app with some CSS and HTML for the styling. I pulled the real USDA food database which has over 10,000 very poorly formatted entries, so I had to write a script to parse the data. I spent a lot of time on the back-end work.
Did you have assessments or exams during the course?
We had weekly assessments on everything covered during the previous week. App Academy would write specs and you had to write code to make the test pass. Test-driven development is a common practice at a lot of companies, so the exam format was a good simulation of what you might experience while working.
How many hours would you say you spent on App Academy?
Class was 9am to 6pm and we had daily reading assignments. There were plenty of times where I kept working till 7 or 8 then I would wake up at 5 or 6 in the morning to do the readings, so I guess I spent about 12 hours per day coding or studying on weekdays.
Is there anything you would change about App Academy??
I wish I had learned about the typical workflow for a company. “Agile” and “Scrum” and “Standup” are buzzwords in the industry and I didn’t learn about any of that at the time, so it was a little bit of a disadvantage when I was talking to recruiters.
Did your class do a lot of job prep like practice interviews or resume building?
After we finished our Capstone projects, we went through a 3-week hiring bootcamp. We received a lot of coaching about lectures about how to land an interview, what to put on your resume, and what you’re worth. We also had a hiring day to showcase our capstone projects. From the technical side, I never met a technical interview that I felt like I couldn’t handle because we did so many white board exercises. I felt really prepared.
Did App Academy support alumni in their job search?
Yes, we had a job tracker which contained a list of thousands of tech companies in both the New York and San Francisco Bay area. Alums who were hired by those companies often became points of contact for new grads.
Does App Academy have employer partnerships or a hiring network?
App Academy has informal relationships with many companies who want to continue hiring App Academy grads. It’s like having a degree from Harvard - people recognize the name and they want you to work for them.
Where are you working now?
I’m a DevOps engineer at Amplify. We handle tasks related to deployment, spinning up environments, automated testing, and continuous integration. The team I’m on is called Developer Services, and we build tools to make the lives of developers easier.
How did you get that position at Amplify?
Networking is so important. One of the alums who works at Amplify picked up my resume, and that’s how I landed an interview. After accepting their job offer, I worked as a Software Engineer in Test (which is a QA-like role) for about 8 months before moving to the DevOps team.
How long did it take you to get hired?
It was really fast - I finished the program at the end of March and signed my agreement in mid-April.
Do you feel like you have the support at Amplify to help you ramp up and keep growing?
Oh, absolutely. They’re incredibly supportive and flexible. Pair programming is really important at Amplify, so I have a lot of opportunities to pair with talented senior engineers. I also have a lot of autonomy. That’s how I moved from the developer track to the Ops team - I was tracking a bug, and I fell down the rabbit hole into our Continuous Integration process. My tech leads were supportive and allowed me the freedom to explore it.
How have you stayed involved in the community?
I’ve been going to the App Academy hiring days for both recruiting and networking with my old cohort. I also volunteered at CodeMontage and RailsBridge, two organizations that aim to introduce women and minority groups to Rails. I just wrote my first proposal to speak at a conference, but I haven’t heard back from them yet, so I don’t know if my talk has been accepted or not.
Is there anything you’d like to add about App Academy or your experience in general?
App Academy was a great decision, perhaps one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. I would recommend it to anyone, especially if you’re dissatisfied with your current position, scared or uncertain about your future. Going to bootcamp not only developed my technical skills, but it gave me confidence, which is exactly what I needed to be successful. If you’re hesitant or skeptical, that’s good! But you should go for it anyway. You’re worth it.
While TJ Hawbaker wasn’t a fan of the college experience (he dropped out of two undergraduate degrees in nuclear engineering and computer science), he knew he loved making games and programming. After travelling the United States and doing his research on coding bootcamps, TJ was impressed with App Academy’s unique deferred payment option. TJ met his current employer at App Academy’s Demo Day and now loves his job as a software engineer at social media news aggregator Banjo. We chat about the appeal of App Academy’s payment structure, the positive pressure of weekly assessments, and how he’s ramped up at his new job.
Tell us what you were up to before you started at App Academy.
I dropped out of school twice, each time after just one semester. I studied Nuclear Engineering at University of Tennessee and Computer Science at a small school called DigiPen in Seattle, then I spent three years traveling around the United States.
I was teaching myself programming but didn’t know how to make the jump from hobbyist to a career and that’s why I sought out App Academy.
After you dropped out of college and were travelling, were you teaching yourself to code were you using Codecademy or other online platforms?
I’m definitely the exception relative to others that went to App Academy. Most people have very little coding experience. I was used to the concepts already because I had been teaching myself. I studied to program video games at DigiPen so when I dropped out, I continued coding for fun.. I made lots of very simple games like Bejeweled and little shoot-em-ups.
When did you decide to do a coding bootcamp?
I decided a full year before attending. I realized that I really wanted to code for a career and I saw App Academy as a perfect opportunity for me. I’m not the kind of student who wants to sit in a classroom listening to lectures all day. At these bootcamps, you’re learning something new every single day that you’re actually putting to use.
Was your goal to get a job as a developer once you finished App Academy?
That was definitely my goal at the time. Ultimately, I wanted to get some professional experience under my belt, but in the near future, I want to be working as a cofounder.
Why did you choose App Academy? Did you look at other bootcamps?
I looked into Dev Bootcamp and Hack Reactor. They seemed to all have good track records, but I only applied to App Academy. A lot of it came down to the payment structure. App Academy is the only bootcamp that students can attend for free, because the school only gets paid if the student finds a job.
That made a big impact on me, first because I didn't have money to pay for an expensive bootcamp, but also because, I felt like if these guys wanted to get paid, they would have to get me prepared.
What was the application process like for you? Did you have to do a technical interview?
It started out as a simple application process; I sent in my resume and told them why I should be admitted to the school, then there were a couple of coding challenges which they provided prep material to study for.
After those coding challenges I went on to interview with one of the cofounders and had a final live coding challenge. We did all of that over Skype.
The tuition structure at App Academy is unique, and you chose the tuition deferment option- what was the agreement?
The job that you accept after App academy is your choice completely. You can get multiple offers and accept the one best for you. The payment structure for App Academy is that they take a percentage of your first annual salary. There are tons of companies out here that are hiring engineers so I think it’s more important to find a cultural fit than to choose the highest starting salary or accept the first job offer you get.
How many people were in your cohort?
I believe that we had about 45 of us. The size of the cohorts varies. From my understanding after speaking with some of the cofounders, App Academy accepts as many people as they feel are qualified for the class.
Was there enough space and instructors for 45 people?
Yeah, there was definitely enough space. They have a very good system where they hire TAs from the class that just graduated. These are people that just finished the class and know the material – usually some of the most talented people in the class. There was always someone available if you had questions!
How many head instructors did you have that weren’t TAs?
I had two head instructors. One of the cofounders, Ned, and CJ, who has been the head TA for two years now. They were both fantastic teachers and truly smart guys.
What did a typical day at App Academy look like?
A typical day usually started with a lecture on some of the more complex subjects. Sometimes they would run up to one hour but generally they were pretty short- 20 minutes or so.
Then we would start pair programming, where we would work on a project or set of problems for the whole day with a partner.
Were you assigned those projects?
That’s right. It was at least 90% hands-on training every single day. We were learning so much so quickly. We had to study for the material that night, so everyone came to the class prepared each day.
Was everybody in your cohort on a similar technical level? If not, did it even out over time?
Everyone starts App Academy with different expertise. You’re going to be pairing with people who know more than you about certain things or less than you about others, but you can learn from both experiences. If you don’t quite understand the concepts, having someone work through them with you is essential. On the other hand, if someone doesn’t understand a concept, you get to teach them and it reinforces those concepts in your own head.
Did you feel it was a diverse cohort in terms of age and gender and race?
Our cohort was diverse in terms of race and age, but less so in terms of gender. I think we had 6 women.
I think App Academy is very selective in the type of people that apply so that factors into the cohort makeup more than anything. All of my classmates who were able to go through the program successfully were all highly driven, highly motivated people, who were willing to take risks. I think that is the single most determining factor of who was actually in my class.
How many people graduated with you of the 45 who started? Did a lot of people drop out?
I want to say there were 4 or 5 people that didn’t complete the program. App Academy has a 10 – 15% attrition rate every cohort; and I think it’s for a good reason. It’s such a fast-paced environment, you can’t afford to be pairing with people who aren’t as motivated to keep up with the rest of the class.
Did you have exams or assessments?
Yes, we had an assessment every week. If you failed two of these assessments, you would be out of the program.
Was that a lot of pressure?
It was! It was a good pressure. It kept us motivated throughout the whole program. Every day you’re learning something brand new that is completely different than the day before – and the assessments kept you on track.
Were you tested on material from that week or tested cumulatively?
Each test was on material from just that week. Usually the assessments were on Monday mornings so you had the whole weekend to do some practice tests, reinforce the ideas in your head. You would be fine as long as you paid attention and studied the material. It sounds scary that you can get kicked out, but they actually made it very reasonable.
How many hours a week were you spending on App Academy in total?
It was pretty much all of my time. I moved in from out of town and I was living with a bunch of other people that were also going through the program.
Even though the classroom hours were 9 to 6, when I got done with class I was just coding more with people who were also in the class. I’d say at least 14 hours a day, 5+ days a week.
Aside from the teaching style and the environment, were you satisfied with the curriculum and the actual material that you were taught in the class?
Honestly, I feel like App Academy gave a very good overview of web development. You may be learning Ruby on Rails for two weeks in the program, but it’s not really about learning how to use that framework. It’s more about learning how to learn any framework.
They teach students how to teach themselves. In this industry, that is certainly a key to success. Since leaving App Academy I’ve picked up a few other languages and a ton of different frameworks; it’s a nonstop learning process.
Are there things that you didn’t expect or that you wanted to change about the experience? Were you able to give App Academy feedback?
Every student has access to the curriculum and could make suggestions and offer ways to change it. That’s how the curriculum has grown to be what it is today.
Was the curriculum changing as you were going through the class?
Yeah. Each cohort they’ve iterated on the curriculum to see what works and what doesn’t. The curriculum has changed since I went through it but it’s definitely moving in an even better direction than when I was there.
Besides pairing with individuals on assigned projects, did you also do a capstone project?
Yeah. We spent 7 weeks pair programming, then we had two weeks or so where we built projects from scratch.
Can you tell us about your final project?
Mine was like the game of Telephone but using drawing instead of whispering. A user would draw a picture, then the next user would have to describe that picture with words. The next user would have to draw that description without any context of the original drawing. This would continue for 10 - 15 users. It lead to some pretty hilarious chains!
What technologies did it use?
It used things we learned in class: Ruby on Rails for the back-end and Backbone for the front-end framework.
When did App Academy start prepping you for interviews and resume building?
That happened after week 9. Once we’d finished final projects, there was about three weeks of nonstop prep work. Every day you were updating your resume, creating your personal website, and fixing up projects to show employers. We also had daily algorithm lectures and practiced whiteboarding problems.
What are you up to now? Did you get a new job?
I’m working as a software engineer at a company called Banjo, which captures and organizes all the public social media data in the world that we can get our hands on. We do this in real time and by geo-location, so users find out about events as they happen all over the world. I love what I do.
How large is the team that you work with?
Our engineering department right now is about 20 engineers
Did you feel supported at your new company when you started at Banjo?
I wouldn’t say there was any hand-holding by any means, but there were senior team members who I could turn to if I had any questions.. The whole industry in general is very cooperative and because of that it’s very easy to grow once you start a job.
Did you get the job through your own networking or through App Academy?
App Academy does a demo day where employers come and check out your projects. I knew that because my resume was sparse, I would have to wow employers with my final project.
At Demo Day, the Banjo team loved my project, wanted me to come in for an interview and I eventually got a job.
How long did it take you to actually get hired after you graduated?
For me it was about 5 weeks. Compared to the industry that’s pretty good. But there were people in my class who got hired within a couple of weeks. There were also people who struggled a bit and didn’t get hired for a couple of months but eventually found a job that they really enjoyed.
What is App Academy’s approach to alumni support? Are they tracking your job search?
Simon, the COO, helps people find placement. Because App Academy is very selective in the sense that the only people who apply there are highly motivated, generally those kinds of people don’t have trouble getting jobs. Every once in a while people can struggle and that’s where Simon comes in. He’ll help you set up interviews or he’ll bring people in to interview.
What types of people do you recommend App Academy for?
I would say App Academy is for people who don’t like the traditional schooling system. It’s more like a trade school. You should be motivated to learn about something that you actually want to use.
App Academy gave me the opportunity to work in an industry that I love, doing awesome stuff every day, which is an opportunity that I would never have had otherwise.
If you're thinking about applying to a coding bootcamp in New York, then you must attend this paneled discussion with top coding schools! Join Course Report and Launch LM in the Hive at 55 downtown space for an evening with alumni from 8 bootcamps.
RSVP here to claim your spot- space is limited!Continue Reading →
If you're thinking about applying to a coding bootcamp in New York, then you must attend this paneled discussion with top coding schools! Join Course Report and Launch LM in the Hive at 55 downtown space for an evening with alumni from 8 bootcamps.
RSVP here to claim your spot- space is limited!Continue Reading →
After teaching himself to code through online resources and attending App Academy in San Francisco, Erik Trautman created The Odin Project, an online, open-source education program that teaches aspiring web developers to code and become job-ready. We talk to Erik about his views on education and technology, tactics to build online communities around education, and why The Odin Project can be the answer for students who aren't in a position to attend an in-person bootcamp.
Tell us your story and how you got involved in the learn-to-code movement.
I actually spent 5 years in finance. I was a West Coast Power and Gas market analyst and trader working for various banks, energy companies and hedge funds. It’s an incredibly interesting and intellectual career, but, at the end of the day, it wasn’t really a fulfilling career.
I'm ultimately driven by the desire to make an impact -- when I’m shriveled and done in my lifetime, I want to look back and say that I had a very strong, positive impact on the world around me. Thus I’ve always wanted to build a business or at least create something that was adding value in a more permanent way. So about 2 years ago I decided to move on and learn how to code. I wanted to get into tech because I think that it provides the highest degree of leverage in order to create impact and change.
Education too has a major impact and one that reverberates through generations – teach one person and you've potentially taught thousands of people down the line. When you combine education and technology, you have this incredibly interesting chance to provide a high-potential impact to a lot of people. That’s really cool to me.
I initially learned how to code mostly through online sources. I picked up a book and started pinging through all kinds of different online resources. I went through a Udemy course, “Become a Web Developer from Scratch.” It was one of the most successful courses on Udemy; kudos to them but I really didn’t like it. I thought it barely covered the surface of the material, the production value was terrible, the whole learning experience was just poor. Even though it was probably one of the best online courses out there at the time, is just gave me this thought that online education could be so much better.
So then how did you continue your education offline?
I started App Academy in 2013. I had been taking a lot of these courses online and, like many people, I didn’t feel like I had a clear path. I felt like I was learning a lot of things but none of them were bringing me necessarily closer to the ultimate goal of being a real web developer. I could take a course on Coursera and spend 200 hours working on the course material but, if I laid it all out on a timeline, I didn’t actually feel like I was 200 hours closer to being an effective web developer.
That search for a strong path was probably the main reason why I decided to go to a bootcamp in the first place. I had a really good experience with the program at App Academy. I was particularly fond of their tuition model, where you don’t pay until you get a job. That accountability for outcomes is something that’s really missing from education in general.
Since I had such a positive experience in the program, I worked there during the next cohort to help them grow the business. During that time I did a lot of admissions work -- I read at least a thousand applications and interviewed more than a hundred prospective students. I saw a lot of people out there who were looking for these kinds of solutions but for whom traditional bootcamps are actually not the appropriate solution; whether it’s monetary, time-commitment, life cycle… there are so many reasons why a bootcamp may not be appropriate.
So that’s how I turned to The Odin Project. I left App Academy and started the project with the mission of providing a free and open resource that gave people a clear path and lifted the curtain on being a web developer.
Tell us about The Odin Project and it’s goals.
I think that there are three major pillars in education: You need a path forward, you need access to help and you also would ideally like to interact with people around you. In-person education traditionally tends to provide these things well. Online education has tended to serve them very poorly.
The path forward for me was always the strongest because you have to know where you’re going before you even start, otherwise you’re just floundering around. So the number one goal was to create a curriculum.
The second most important for me is very much about the social aspect; giving people the opportunity to learn socially because it’s incredibly lonely to be learning this stuff if you’re staring at a computer screen. You could spend two days working through a bug that would take you 10 minutes to get past if you worked with someone else.
Once you have that community then you can start working on connecting them to make learning more of a social experience. That’s been the growing arc of the project as we go forward.
How do your students communicate with each other and operate as a community?
We have two types of students right now.
First off, we have a number of students who have gone through the curriculum and expressed an interest in building real projects and working on something together. I had an epiphany in December 2013 and asked a group of them if they wanted to work on the Odin project since it was, in fact, a "real" open source project. When they agreed, it began a cycle where these students were actually building the project they simultaneously used to learn.
We began by running weekly SCRUM meetings which have become daily SCRUMs. We have teams of students using agile methodologies to build the project that they’re using to learn. And that’s a great community. You have people who have just stuck with it for 6 or 8 months now. Maybe they’re not even using the Project anymore but they stick around as a part of the community; they’ll come to the SCRUM meetings and hang out and talk with their friends.
The other big community elements are the study groups. Another group of Odin Project students early this year said they wouldn’t be able to get through it without other people. I was still focusing on the curriculum during this time and just didn’t have the bandwidth to handle it so I gave them a corner of the website and told them if they wanted to lead their own study groups, they could as long as they coordinated the groups themselves.
So those are the two main community elements we have right now. Obviously building a community takes a lot of time, but we’ve started seeing it more and more since the project's launch.
How many people are in The Odin Project network?
I just published the last three courses about a month ago and we’ve got about 4,000 users right now. We’ve had about 200 pull requests from users on the curriculum submitting solutions and bug fixes and things like that. The community of people who have made meaningful contributions to the project is in the dozens. They're all listed on the Contributing page.
What kinds of struggles have you faced in starting The Odin Project?
We’ve learned a whole lot along the way in terms of how people consume content online, how you organize people online, how you teach people online and how you use industry methodologies and attach them to groups of learners. We’re working with people who are beginners, who are remote, who are part-time, and who are volunteers. You could not ask for a worse batch of factors but we’re able to wrangle that together into a process that actually works. That’s pretty cool.
You’ve chosen to keep The Odin Project free. Will it always be free?
Originally, the idea of the project was to monetize it through a premium services model -- if you’re interested in mentorship, we would give you access to mentorship, although something more affordable like a peer mentorship. At this point, my direction has definitely shifted a little bit, and I don’t really see The Project monetizing directly. It may be able to generate some leads to other projects or other helpful things that can be sustaining for it.
What are the expected outcomes for someone who has completed The Odin Project? Do you expect that somebody could get a job or get a promotion at work?
The project covers the entire gamut from zero to job. If you go through the entire project, then you should be job-ready. The very last course of the project is entirely based on how you can get hired as a web developer.
The whole point of this was to provide the entire spectrum, where everyone else had only focused on a little piece of it – which is why it took almost a year to actually build out the curriculum. The strongest and most difficult outcome is to go from zero to actually being hireable as a junior developer. If your goal is just to build websites, you don’t necessarily need to dive as deep into everything; you don’t need to cover the whole 1000+ hours of content that we have, but it's there if you need it.
Do you track those outcomes?
Not quantitatively. I keep in touch with the people who are going through the project and who take leadership roles or participate in the SCRUMs or study groups but the full curriculum hasn’t actually been available for long enough for people to finish it yet.
Do students create their own projects to build their portfolio?
Actually, the whole bent of the curriculum is to be project-based so there’s a project every lesson or two. They’re designed to be projects that are legitimate and immediate, not just scaffolded toys but real things.
Then at the end of the major courses, we have capstone projects. So at the end of the Rails course, your capstone project is to build Facebook. At the end of the whole course, your capstone project is much more of a free thing that says you should be able to demonstrate these skills and if you do so, that’ll help you if you’re ultimately looking for a job. The portfolio is more important than the credential in web development, or at least the balance is significantly shifted. We focus more on the portfolio because we can’t really offer a credential and seeking one might not be the best use of student resources.
Can you tell us about the Coding School Alumni site? What’s the motivation behind that?
The bootcamps themselves have strong identities about who they are and what they’re teaching, but ultimately when it comes down to it, they’re all teaching a very similar set of people. The students are all highly-motivated, geeky people from a really diverse and interesting set of backgrounds who are focused on technical things.
So that was the idea of setting up this group- I should be able to know the 17 people who are in my bootcamp cohort plus the 200 people who are in other bootcamps alongside me. You couldn’t possibly ask for a better group of people. Also, we’re acknowledging that there are challenges that occur after you’ve left the bootcamps. We’re all still suffering from “imposter syndrome.” None of us went through CS programs; and there’s a set of common challenges that don’t stop after Week 12. As one voice we can help each other a lot in terms of resources and learning and even, if necessary, as a strong group of people who can affect change needed in the industry itself down the road.
Other than students who are contributing to the open source project, do you have full-time employees helping you with The Odin Project?
No. It’s a group of part-time volunteers.
Any plans to do something in person?
The in-person model has never really been as interesting to me as the online model. Online education has so much more room for improvement and so much more opportunity for scale. It’s too cool to give up!
Thanks so much to Erik for chatting with us about his experience at App Academy, The Odin Project, and more!
You’ve decided that you’re ready to learn to code, and you can already see your career options swelling. But wait—how will you decide which coding school is right for you?
There are more than 65 coding “boot camps” in the U.S. alone, each boasting different tuition models, language specialties, and teaching styles. So, before you ceremoniously quit your job to be the next Zuck, ask yourself these six questions to guide your research... continue reading.Continue Reading →
Kush Patel graduated from the first cohort at Dev Bootcamp and saw some room for improvement, so he created App Academy in 2012 with Ned Ruggeri, a former Google engineer and fellow University of Chicago alum.
We talk to Kush about App Academy’s application process and why they charge students tuition only after they get a job that they want to accept.
What is your story and how did you end up in the Coding Bootcamp space? Do you have a background in education?
I graduated from the University of Chicago and went to work at a hedge fund in Bombay. I really enjoyed that, but I was looking for a change, so I decided to come back to San Francisco to get involved in the startup scene. I attended the first class at Dev Bootcamp, and I really enjoyed the experience, but also saw a few places where changes could be made. To be fair to them, it was their first class, and they’ve made significant changes. We were also excited to do a mobile version of the bootcamp. My cofounder, Ned, was working at Google on the Search Index Team and has been a developer for 10-15 years. I had actually met him in college, and he was always the person I went to for help with math, stats, computer science questions, just because he was a fantastic teacher. We decided to start the first iteration of App Academy- the first class we taught was an iOS course, so half web and half iOS. After that, our classes have all been purely web development.
Why did you switch from iOS to purely web development?
A couple reasons. First, our goal has always been to train software engineers to write quality code. To be a legit iOS developer, you want to be able to create backend web services that feed data into your iOS application. Unfortunately, teaching web as well as iOS in a 12-week course was just too much to ask. Our other goal is to find people jobs, and the market for junior web developers was as strong as the market for junior iOS developers, so we were covered there. It’s possible that we might have a two-week iOS course available to students who have completed the 12-week web development course, but by the time students are done with this course, they could learn iOS in a couple of weeks. At that point, they already understand the fundamentals and can apply those to learning iOS software development.
Which programming languages will students master in the 12 weeks at app academy?
We have equal emphasis on Ruby and JS. We want to train students across the stack, and introduce students to programming through Ruby. That said, we try to teach as much language and framework agnostic software development as we can.
What is your acceptance rate?
We have roughly a 5% acceptance rate into our program. The average San Francisco cycle is 40 students, and the average NY cycle is 20 students.
How does App Academy select instructors?
Ned is now the lead instructor in San Francisco. We’ve tried to hire externally, but we’ve always had a hard time doing that. Since our bar is set very high at App Academy for students, we recruit the top 5% of our students to be our Teaching Assistants. They are usually students that have come in with a few years of experience under the belts.
What are you looking for in potential students?
We are cool with complete beginners, and have seen complete beginners be extremely successful in the course, and go on to work for fantastic companies and make crazy salaries. Our application process is customized to the applicant. If someone comes to us with no experience, we’ll assign them some introductory exercises and give them a coding test that would be appropriate for them. We do multiple coding tests and interviews to really get a sense of the applicant.
Once a student has been accepted, what type of pre-work is required?
Everyone who shows up on the first day of class can write a non-trivial computer program. After we accept a student, we give them 50-100 hours of prework. We think it makes sense to just focus on Ruby in the prework. We believe very strongly that the best way to code is by doing. This was a major problem when I learned to code- I went about it in the same way that I learned math- by reading for 90% of the time an doing proofs for 10%. For coding, you have to flip that on it’s head.
Of your average 18 person cohort size, how many are typically male vs. female?
Last time I ran the numbers, we were ~20% female. We’ve been lucky, and we’ve tried to do outreach, especially since there are options like Hackbright Academy (an all women school) around the corner. But given the overall environment (an average CS program has 1 woman out of 10), I think we’re making progress towards the goal.
So there are a number of online boot camps and online classes that teach Ruby and other languages. Why do you think in-person classes are the most effective?
One of the main reasons that these courses succeed is the immersion aspect. You’re going to be living and breathing this, and one key aspect of immersion is community- we have 30-40% of students living on campus. It shows you how tightly knit these people are, and there’s a natural competitiveness as well. We’ve had many applicants who have graduated from Bloc or Tealeaf, and I’m not sure that they know anything more than another applicant. I’m not sure that we can ever get to that point.
App Academy is one of the only boot camps that we’ve seen that only takes tuition if the student gets a job offer. Why did you decide on that payment model?
This is one place where we saw that we could offer an alternative to Dev Bootcamp. I don’t think it’s a flaw to charge tuition up front- that’s business as usual. But we were confident that we could teach people a lot in 12 weeks and get our graduates jobs, so why not put our money where our mouths are and decrease risk to students.
How does App Academy help your graduates find jobs in tech once they've completed the program?
Since we only get paid when we help a graduate find a job, we basically don’t stop working with students until they find a job they’re happy with. It takes an average of 4 weeks in San Francisco for graduates to find a job and roughly 2 weeks in New York. It happens pretty quickly, but we do a ton to help make that happen during and after the course. During the course, we’re helping students build a portfolio and an online presence, doing a bunch of whiteboarding problems, resume polishing, interview practice, and making introductions to companies.
Can you explain the relationships that App Academy has with partner companies?
We have a good number of partner companies, and also a huge network of companies where our graduates are working now. So the App Academy alumni network is huge- a student can get introductions through current developers, which really increases their chances of interviewing. There are huge network effects with the alumni networks at these schools.
If a graduate chooses to take a job with one of your partner companies, does App Academy offer them a rebate on tuition? Do you get a fee if this happens?
We get a recruiting fee if we place a student at a company we have a placement agreement with, and in that case, the student gets a discount of $5000.
Are the recruiting fees the same for every company?
No, it varies from company to company.
The job placement stat on the site was "over 95%.” Have you seen the same success in recent months?
If I look at the past 8 months in San Francisco and New York, 100% of students that have had enough time to complete the job search have been placed 100%. The average salaries are $103k in San Francisco and $85K in New York, and have risen higher for recent cohorts.
Aside from your clearly unique approach with only charging students tuition if they get job offers, what else makes your boot camp different?
The course is not for everyone, but if job placement is important to you, look at our recent statistics and match them against other bootcamps. Also, we’re a full-immersion course, including living on campus, so that is an important aspect. And third, our tuition model goes beyond low risk, free housing. We have a different incentive structure from other schools. We’re focused on getting you a job that you’re happy with- we’re not just checking boxes when you get an offer. We want to find you a high-paying job that you want to take.