App Academy is an immersive 12-week Ruby-focused web development course with campuses in San Francisco and New York City. Students interested in this intense program should expect to put in 90-100 hours per week. The first 9 weeks of the course are focused on learning web development skills in multiple languages, and the following 3 weeks are a robust job-search curriculum focusing 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.
Perhaps the most interesting part of App Academy is their innovative deferred payment plan. Students are only required to pay tuition if they secure a job upon graduation. Students pay a $5,000 deposit for the deferred pricing model, which is refundable provided they attend class and complete the course. 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 — an completely upfront model and a hybrid model that is a combination of the deferred and upfront models.
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%.
Recent App Academy News
- April 2018 Coding Bootcamp News Podcast
- New Year, New Career? Learning to Code in 2018
- Alumni Spotlight: Timur Meyster of App Academy
Recent App Academy Reviews: Rating 4.7
New York City
Bootcamp Prep (New York City)
Full Stack Web Development
- Only applicable for the Deferred Plan, a deposit of $5k will be required.
- Payment Plan
- $17,000 Upfront Plan $23,000 Hybrid Plan ($9k upfront, $13k deferred) $28,000 Deferred Plan (Fully deferred with a $5k deposit)
- Minimum Skill Level
- Basic computer knowledge
- Placement Test
- Prep Work
- Provided at each step by App Academy.
Bootcamp Prep (San Francisco)
Full Stack Web Development
- Only applicable to the Deferred Plan, a fully-refundable deposit of $5k is required.
- Payment Plan
- $17,000 Upfront Plan $23,000 Hybrid Plan ($9k upfront, $13k deferred) $28,000 Deferred Plan (Fully deferred with a $5k deposit)
- Minimum Skill Level
- Basic computer knowledge.
- Placement Test
- Prep Work
- Provided at each step by App Academy.
$500 App Academy Scholarship
- Offer is only valid for new applicants. Applicants who have already submitted an application cannot claim this scholarship.
- Full Stack Web Development (San Francisco)
$500 App Academy Scholarship
- Offer is only valid for new applicants. Applicants who have already submitted an application cannot claim this scholarship.
- Full Stack Web Development (New York City)
App Academy Reviews
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App Academy has been one of, if not the most intense and challenging academic experiences of my adult life. I'm really happy with the education I've gotten there, but there are a number of things to consider before you decide to attend.
Stress: The 9 week curriculum covers a huge amount of content and most of it is challenging. Class is from 9-6, followed by several hours of homework each day. The weekends are mostly devoted to studying for upcoming assessments, which are held roughly every week. So beyond the normal stress that this amount of work induces, there's not really much or any time to take care of yourself by going the gym, hanging out with friends, sleeping, etc.
Time Management: Even though the first 9 weeks of this course are highly structured, you will still need to manage your own time well. This includes giving yourself enough time to sleep, even if your'e not finished with all of the work due the following day. Weeks 7 & 8 comprise a self directed project, and weeks 9 - 12 have very little structure at all. How much you get out of those last 5 weeks, and the amount of time it takes you to get job offers once the program ends all depend on your ability to manage your time well.
Cost: aA now has several payment plans, some of which allow students to defer the bulk of tuition payment until they are employed as software developers. That said, the average job search takes between 3 and 6 months, during which those students are contractually restricted from part-time work. This means you will need to be able to afford food and housing, while not working for at least 6 months (the course + minimum job search). In New York. So even if this program was free, a large cost barrier still exists.
Culture: Even though there's not a lot of time to socialize, the cohorts do tend to get pretty tight, and you will need to to help each other out a lot (emotionally and academically). In my experience, there was a strong culture of collaboration, not competition, which I think is strengthened by the emphasis on pair programming at aA.
Okay, that stuff out of the way, you will learn more than you thought possible in the course. The instruction is fantastic, both in lecture and one on one settings. The curriculum also teaches you how to approach learning technologies not covered, which will be an essential skill upon graduating. Even though you will likely have to put in a decent amount of work after graduation in order to land a job, you will be well prepared to do so by the course itself.
If you do decide to attend, you can mitigate a lot of the negative stuff above by preparing well. Attend either JumpStart of Bootcamp Prep. Be really thorough when going through the alpha curriculum prior to the cohort start date. Reach out to people who have gone through the program and ask lots of questions.
I have just recently finished the coding portion of the bootcamp curriculum at the NYC campus. I have to say I am definitely surprised at how much I have learned in such a short span of time, but that was definitely not without daily struggle getting through as much of the day's material as possible. The curriculum is definitely grueling. The 70-90 hours of coding a week is a real thing and will leave you without almost anytime for anything else (social life, sometimes laundry, mealprepping). Even after doing 70-90 hours a week, you will have to learn to be okay with some concepts / ideas falling through the cracks as it is inevitable at the learning pace. Throughout the course I felt like I was barely keeping afloat during the material, as most everyone else was, as your TA's will tell you, this is normal. As we progressed through the course, I found myself understanding concepts later on through the week, and slowly found myself struggling with newer material at the tail end of the course. I started to feel not as strong as I did earlier on and worried that I would not be ready to tackle the fullstack project that is completed after the coding curriculum. That was completely not true, once we hit our projects I found out how much I learned and quickly was able to cover the knowledge gaps I did have beforehand just by working through the projects. Overall, I would say that attending this bootcamp can definitely be worth it if you feel as though you can put the time and work in. I would advise any incoming students to put in as much work in as you can as the weeks really do fly by.
Came in with expectations that the next 3-4 months would be challenging and overwhelming, and indeed it was. One thing I did not expect was the feeling of accomplishment along with joy when developing projects from ground up. The type of projects I thought were impossible seemed doable even after months of learning. A valuable takeaway when completing this program is to be able to self sustain and continue to learn more about what programming has to offer. And of course to get a job that you love to do.
I was going to write a whole review but I think it would be way too long so I'll do a TL;DR and supply my email if you have any questions about my time at App Academy and Flatiron School.
A little background, I was a psych and business major who wrote his first line of code 8 months before attending a/A. I was at app academy (a/A) starting in November '17 for 5 weeks before being released due to 'not passing' two assessments. The reason I am writing this review is to warn others like me and to hope they don't make the same mistake. a/A isn't a bad school. It's just not for everyone. Full disclosure, I am now attending Flatiron School and am 9 weeks in so I will be comparing the two because I wish someone told me what I am about to tell you.
I'm sure you've read it a million times, a/A is rigorous, difficult, and very STRESSFUL. And that can't be said enough. Even when I was released, an instructor told me that a/A is the most stressful bootcamp. Anyway, I am not afraid of challenges and that alone would never disregard a school, however, that along with a subpar curriculum, unnecessary attendance takes (you have to log your attendance three times a day, when you arrive, after lunch and after a 15 minute break), and LOADS of readings and homework every night makes learning and retaining information very hard. 100 hours a week is the time you will be grinding if you attend a/A.
My assessment story...
The first assessment that I failed was my fault because since a/A has class on Thanksgiving, I didn't get to see my family so I ended up meeting my brother in the city that weekend, he was here from Virginia. The night ended later than I thought and messed up my weekend studying and ended up doing poorly on the test. The second test I failed, I missed by ONE SPEC. There were 76 specs and I got an 83.33%, and 85% was passing. So after the second fail, you get to retake THE SAME DAY. The test was two hours, I was tired, but now I have to take another 2-hour test. You might be thinking I should be good because I only missed one spec so I should pass the second. Well, when the retake in 5X more difficult than the first one and you're exhausted from just taking a 2-hour test then good luck. I was in that room doing the retake with two others. One of them stopped typing after a half hour because she had no idea what was going on, and the other left with a half hour left. No one was close to passing the second exam and we were all booted along with the other 8 ppl that were booted before us. That is app academy for you.
I would say the biggest difference in a/A and Flatiron is that Flatiron not only teaches you how to code but to love it and know it. While App Academy teaches you how to memorize in order to pass ridiculous assessments.
App Academy has a take no prisoners feel and Flatiron has an all things have a soul feel. In other words, Flatiron cares about you, they know how to teach you how to code and build great things, and they get you to love code. Flatiron's platform is the best platform for learning code bar none and if you are falling behind the TAs are more than happy to take you one on one to make sure you understand.
App Academy thinks beating you over the head with the info via readings and lectures will get you to learn.You have to teach yourself at a/A. Yea the instructors give you the information, but the course moves so fast that if you don't understand something you have no time to try to understand it, so you are forced to memorize code in order to pass assessments.
You can email me at EsbeeScribe@yahoo.com if you have any particular questions regarding my time at either App Academy or Flatiron School.
App Academy is both one of the intense and most rewarding things I've ever done. The amount you learn quickly is incredible, and in two months you can make a website. It's difficult, so don't take it lightly, but it definitely can turn you into a software dev in a few months.
The course is extremely intense. (I say this as someone who graduated in the top 10% of my class at Yale.) About 25% of my cohort was asked to leave because they couldn't keep up with the pace. That said, the instructors do a good job of helping you through each day, and the structure of the course itself, from one day to the next, is very thoroughly regimented. If you do the course, I recommend surrendering to the routine as much as possible. There is always more work to do--you will almost never finish a day's projects. The name of the game is to struggle for 14+ hours, get some sleep, and then struggle again the next day. You will work on weekends, you will not have a day off before week ten (and if you think you do, you're probably making a mistake). If you can keep up, you will find that the rate of your learning is really high.
A typical day goes as follows: you arrive at the office by ~8:45am in advance of the morning checkin and go to your assigned seat for the day, with your partner for the day. 9 - 9:30am is spent doing a CSS exercise. 9:30 to about noon is spent in lecture (lectures have built-in Q&A time, and a five minute break in the middle). Lectures cover everything from O(n) and implementing backend Auth to meta-programming in Ruby and state structure design in Redux. Lectures are generally reinforcement of the essential concepts from the previous night's readings and homework. This means they tend to be more basic, and more Q&A oriented than the readings--as a result they can feel boring if you understood the readings right away, but the reinforcement is essential. At 12:30 there's a lunch break, which continues until 1:45pm. Some people work on homework during lunch, but the instructors encourage students to take the time to have a break. At 1:45 there's another checkin, after which you resume work with your partner, starting the day's projects. There are usually two or three projects, the first one deals with implementing the concepts in the day's lecture, and then the subsequent projects tend to be more advanced extensions of the same material. You will rarely get through the second project of the day. Many days you won't even finish the first. At 6pm an instructor dismisses the class and makes any announcements or reminders. After 6pm about 1/4 of the cohort will stay behind to complete their homework at the office. Most people go home to do the homework, which is usually ~3 hours, depending on the number of recorded lecture segments and readings. After finishing the homework, students are expected to review the solutions to the day's projects, and read through the next day's project instructions in advance.
That's life for the first 7 weeks of the course. Assessments are usually on Mondays or Wednesdays. They're terrifying, very difficult to prepare for, and intense, but if you do what the instructors tell you to do to study, and use the provided resources, the test itself should go fine. In the 8th week the typical lecture/project/homework schedule goes away and students spend about 10 days doing individual full-stake projects. This building a production-ready clone of a major web application (facebook, airbnb, etc.) from scratch, on your own. Project presentations happen at the end of week 9, after which the jobsearch curriculum begins. This is three weeks of lecture, independent projects, application/interview prep, etc. (That's where I'm at right now).
If I remember, I'll come back and update this review once some time passes so I can assess the program in light of its key promise: to help you get an engineering job. As things stand, it could hardly have been better, except in minor ways here and there (a few unclear assignments, a few weak lectures), but as a learning experience it's up in the top experiences of my life. Totally practical, radically empowering. I learned a lot. And continue to learn about as much in the past two months as I think I could have.
I came into the program, like many others, as a career switcher. I had taken two intro level programming courses in undergrad before attending. The hours are rough - be prepared to spend at minimum 30 hours a week on top of the course completing homeworks, readings, and completing your projects. However, the instructors are more than helpful and there's nothing more motivating than surrounding yourself with some of the smartest people around. The course is very well laid out and each topic leads into the next which helps with absorbing the material. It's common to have to put your social life on hold while attending this course but the payout is definitely worth it!
App Academy is an extremely intense, though not entirely too difficult, course. If you're someone with no programming experience (like me), then it means making sure that learning software development becomes your #1, #2, and #3 priority. The pace of the material is set up such that you'll always have something new to learn, and there are always additional resources provided for your learning. I'd recommend a/A to people who are great at being self-motivated and can handle a fast-paced learning environment. If not, there are plenty of great programs in the city to choose from that are less strenuous.
App Academy opened a door to a career in software development that I didn't even know existed (I had thought six-figure software engineering positions only came through traditional paths, such as four-year CS degrees, etc.).
But, after leaving a career in finance, I'm now earning almost double what I was previously (plus I'm in a junior/entry-level role, so that should increase with time/experience), I'm doing something that I love, and I get to work in a relaxed environment (busy, for sure, but it's fun, without any of the stilted corporate rules, like a 50's-era dress code, etc., that I left behind in finance). I have App Academy to thank for this, hence the 5 stars.
So I'm happy to report that it's all pretty much as advertised. It's a rigorous 3 month course that will consume your entire life at the time, but you'll learn a ton, make great friends, and be able to land a fun and lucrative position (eventually) to kickstart your new career in software engineering.
That said, something that wasn't fully emphasized to me upfront is that the job search can become a long, drawn out, exhausting process that I found much harder and less rewarding (at least in the short term) than the 3 months of intense coding. I believe the "average" job search time estimated when I first applied was "3 months", which was then later verbally estimated at "4 to 5 months", and ultimately ended up being 10 months, in my case.
Don't get me wrong; we had one student from our cohort who had a job within 2 weeks of graduating and a healthy number of others had new jobs within the first few months, but many others had job searches much longer than that. Some landed jobs at Google/YouTube, Yelp, Dropbox, etc., while others at smaller startups, and many took on temporary contract work or internships; there's not a single path here, so there's diversity in the success stories and App Academy is pretty flexible in supporting you however you get there.
In other words, I'd keep that in mind and plan accordingly; you might get a job right away, but more likely it will take months, and could very well take almost a year to get an offer, in which case you need to be mentally/financially prepared for that going in. There's a lot of rejection involved when trying to get your foot in the door and all of these companies receive hundreds, if not thousands, of applications. If you're skilled at networking, you'll likely fare much better.
You may have heard how much of a shortage there is for software engineers in the industry right now, but if you check out the job boards (or just attempt the job search), you'll soon find that the shortage is actually for experienced mid-to-senior level engineers, as there is an abundance of junior engineers coming from colleges, self-taught individuals, or one of the many bootcamps, which each churn out about 70 - 80 new junior engineers every three months, with largely the same technical background.
In any case, even though it took me a grueling 10 month job search to finally fulfill the dream, I'd definitely do it again, love what App Academy's given me, and am really excited to grow in my new career.
I can't recommend App Academy enough; just remember that it actually gets harder after the initial 3 month coding program and that you may not feel relieved or at rest until you ultimately accept an offer.
While trying to switch careers and knowing that the tech industry is where I wanted to be, I did a lot of research into what the best process was to get started. I didn't have a CS degree, and I knew nothing about coding. After speaking with a couple of tech recruiters in the industry, I was told that App Academy was one of the only bootcamps they take seriously enough to hire straight out of with no previous experience. So speaking as someone who knew nothing coming into App Academy, I feel it's important to stress that they are not kidding when they say it's intense. You will spend on average 100 hours a week trying to learn new technologies at such an intense rate that you'll constantly feel a step behind. I personally loved my experience and am so glad I did it because I learned so many new things, am very proud of what I've accomplished, and truly feel as if I've learned the technologies enough to reproduce results at my next job, but it's not for everyone. I highly recommend it for anyone serious about switching careers and would tell you to not to count yourself out if you don't know a thing about coding coming into it, but keep in mind that if you can't handle 100 hour weeks or giving up your weekends and social life to learn how to code, this bootcamp is not for you. It will become your life for three months, but if you can get through it and want a change in your life that's both financially beneficial and intellectually stimulating, you should definitely apply! Again, I loved my time here and would do it again given the chance, but I feel like it's important to know up front what you're getting yourself into.
App Academy has been a great learning experience. The staff is extremely knowledgeable and the curriculum is tailored towards YOUR success. Having no prior experience, I walked into class thinking I had bit off more than I could chew. However, going through the daily pair programming sessions I learned more than I thought was possible in the short amount of time. It's stressful, and it's certainly hard, but it works. If you really want to dive into a career in software development, App Academy may be the right place for you. But be prepared to put in the time and effort required to succeed.
App academy was an awesome experience. You'll learn something new everyday and you'll be surrounded by driven and focused peers. The course is super fast paced and difficult (even compared to other bootcamps) so you'll find that on top of technical skills you'll also build on your time management and communication skills as well.
Indeed the course can be stressful at times but if you go into it with a positive attitude and an appetite for learning you'll succeed!
It was amazing full stack coding experience with Ruby, JS, SQL and CSS. You will learn a lot in a very short period of time. You would be expected to work 90 hours a week!
If 90 hours a week is to much for you don't even think about a/A. The huge curriculum combined with the fast pace. For me the best part was algorithms.
AppAcademy will challenge you with the speed and depth of learning. You would be expected to build a 100% full stack website by the end of the program, even if you don't know anything right now. Be ready, this is stressful. There are 6 different assessments during curriculum. If you miss two you will be dismissed. Please be aware that this an environment where, once you fall behind, there is no catching up. I believe this was the most challenging education in my life.
As a potential student, If you're worried about your knowledge of code after just 12 weeks, stop your doubts and come try out for App Academy! The help from all the staff as well as the immersion into the code that you experience will help guide you to becoming a very sound Full Stack Developer! Not only do you receive a lot of support from the staff, your fellow students are right there with ya throughout the duration of the program! 10/10 would recommend!
These past few months have been quite a journey. This bootcamp will push and challenge you in ways you didn't think were possible. I went from knowing little to nothing about programming to creating a full fledge application in under two months.
App Academy is very selective of their enrollees right from the start during the admission process. Although the experience differs for each student, it typically involves submitting a coding challenge on a few common problems once you're ready. If you make through that part, you have to endure a technical interview where you cover a few more problems live over Skype followed by a non-technical interview to assess what makes you a candidate for their program.
If accepted to the program, you go through an at-your-pace online alpha curriculum that covers the basics of programming before you start the bootcamp. The bootcamp covers three months of education: 8 weeks of the coding curriculum followed by 4 weeks of projects/job search curriculum. During the 8 weeks of coding curriculum, you will learning everything you need to know about the fullstack process from backend to frontend. Also, during these 8 weeks, you will be tested on your knowledge of the material every 1 to 1.5 weeks through an assessment. Failing two assessments will dismiss you from the program. Even the brightest of students fail an assessment. The assessments are there to help maintain the quality of students coming out of App Academy as well as provide structure for students.
The structure is something you cannot get out of learning the material on your own. It forces students to learn the material as well as learn how to learn new material as technology changes in the job market. Every day, you go through a lecture in the morning starting at 8 AM followed by programming (usually paired) till 6 pm. Every night you will have readings and homework. During the day, App Academy has a strike system that ensures you are focused on learning, being present and doing your homework. This is also another area that can get students dismissed if they accrue enough strikes. Despite all these challenges, the time you have at App Academy will be among the best in your life. You will make great friends who will be your network entering the job market. The staff is also very dedicated to ensuring you succeed in the job market as an eventual software developer. They're always on hand to help answer any questions you have about the material or the program. Nearly everyone on staff has also gone through the curriculum and know of its challenges. They have also seen the program work for many students.
Make no mistake, this program will push you. This program is not for everyone. Everybody comes to App Academy for a reason. Make sure your reason for attending is strong. If you are really interested in pursuing a career in programming and willing to go through pains and joys of learning to be a software developer, apply today for the program. It will change your life.
The crown jewel of app academy is its curriculum and structure. They provide you with the tools to learn everything and help when you're stuck, but are hands off enough that you can really pick things up yourself. Yes the course is arduous and stressful, but I believe that's by design. People tend to retain information more when they're stressed out, and the proof of that is show by how much everyone is able to absorb by the end of the 12 weeks. The job search curriculum is a great transition for students to move from a lot of structure, to less structure, to then no structure once the 12 weeks are officially. As a fresh graduate, I would definitely recommend app academy to aspiring developers.
Before App Academy (a/A) I was in a field that made a fair amount of money but stressed me out and gave me little sleep. I was a hobbyist programmer that taught myself C++ and Objective-C but I knew that web development was something that I needed to know to succeed as a programmer. So I decided to start reading up on short web development programming schools. I applied and was accepted to each 'boot camp' I applied to--including a/A and Hack Reactor. I picked a/A because I was focused more on how well I perceived their job search support to be. At the time, I felt that I really wouldn't learn too much programming principals but instead learn some frameworks and syntax with whatever boot camp I applied to. Well I was wrong. I learned things like recursion and time complexity at a/A. I don't know how long it would have taken me to even know these things existed if I was learning solely on my own. They are very encouraging throughout the entire process, but especially during the job search. That's not to say they hold your hand throughout the process--you're expected to be a self-starter and ask questions if you're behind. They are more than willing to help, but you've got to ask questions. One thing that I had mixed feelings about was the attrition rate (or amount of people that either got kicked or left the program.) When I signed up the a/A website said attrition was around 5%, now it says it's around 10%. But for my cohort and the cohort before mine it was about 20%. For me, this is a risk that I would not have taken if I knew it was this high. It's 3 months without work and no security that you will be allowed to continue through the program unless you pass all 6 assessments. From my cohort most people that failed out failed either to not putting in the work or being overly stressed about it and either not getting any sleep or overthinking the solutions. Much of passing the tests are memorization. The positive to this is that they are very selective (3% admittance rate like the other top boot camps) but in contrast to the other boot camps this one will continue filtering out students that they feel aren't going to work out in programming where as others will just push them through it. This makes the a/A brand an extremely strong mark on your resume. Overall, I suggest attending this boot camp if you have confidence in your ability to program going into it, but perhaps take a few timed tests or join their Jump Start or boot camp prep program to see if you will cut it if you're unsure.
Im amazed at how quickly I was able to go from zero to hired in such a short amount of time. The app academy curriculum is well designed and the instructors are really helpful. Not only is the educational side good but they have great support and resources during the job search period. I would highly recommend a/A to anyone looking to make a career switch.
App Academy has been one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences of my life. You are thrown in and kept on your toes everyday. There is no time to sleep. There is no time to do anything else other than App Academy. This can be daunting at first, but it is for a reason. If you slack, it shows and it will cost you. They want you to be the best you can be. Because of that, they push your limits, resulting in gaining a tremendous amount of skills in such a short time. You will be amazed at what you can do in just twelve weeks.
App Academy also strives for diversity. They are increasingly promoting ways to provide more accessible opportunities for groups underrepresented in tech and it shows.
I would highly recommend App Academy if you are down to fully immerse yourself for the next three months. Just remember to breathe.
TLDR; Is it super hard? Yes. Is it worth it in the end? Yes.
App Academy has probably been one of the toughest things I've done in my life, and that says a lot considering my life. One of my cohort mates likened it to being accepted to Top Gun, you already have to be good, and now you get to find out just how good. Not only do you learn to code, you learn to code under intense pressure, and depending on the person, probably not much sleep either. It literally wears you down.
But, then you start to look back and realize just how much you know. All those tedious projects, all those tricky little lines of code pay off, and suddenly you have substantial projects that function. You learn not just the language, but the logic of creating data structures and some of the nuances to create more elegant code. It truly gives you the building blocks you need to be a competent software engineer in the shortest time possible.
On top of that, App Academy is, as far as I know, one of the most inclusive and diverse boot camps out there. They take an active and intentional role in fostering awareness of discrimination and bias, and try to ensure that it finds no place in their environment. There were readings and discussions that really opened my mind to the challenges I may face as a woman in tech, and some that helped me realize some of the things I had been through. I feel so much more prepared to try and find my place in tech because of that.
I was part of the November 2017 cohort and I have finished the intensive part of the course. It has been absolutely worth it! You learn a lot about programming and web development. This really struck me when my cousin, who recently graduated from Syracuse with a degree in Computer Science showed me his final project while I showed him mine (both web apps). It was clear I App Academy, in just 3 months has put me on a level that would take a traditional school 4 years to do.
The App Academy course is not easy! From the application process to the prep work and the course you will need to put in A LOT of time studying to be able to proceed. That said, it is not for everybody. You need to have the time commitement and the support from your friends and family as you will have absolutely no time for social commitements or anything else.
I highly recommend AppAcademy to anyone wanting to make a career change or wanting to gain more skills or considering getting a masters!
App Academy is just as difficult as they claim. You really will need to spend upward of 85 hours a week on your studies if you want to be successful, but if you have the time and the discipline then don't be scared away. I've had very, very little free-time over the past months, but in exchange I've gained an extremely valuable skill in less time than I could have imagined before beginning the program.
The instructors are top-notch. Everything in general is conducted extremely professionally, from the location and the building/amenities (I attended the NY branch), to the assessments and the projects. Before joining the program I was under the impression that I could have learned all of the same skills on my own, using free resources online. Looking back now, this miiiiight be possible, but it honestly would have taken me more than 10 times as long to do alone. Having the instructors on call, and the other students as pair-programmers was indispensable for me. Again, the program is totally worth it for those who are serious about becoming full-stack developers. But again, there is no hand-holding. If you think you can give it anything less than 90% of your time and attention, you will likely fail out.
Attending App Academy has been an amazing and rewarding experience. I've learned so much more than I thought possible these past three months. It's a huge commitment, so be prepared to spend basically every waking moment thinking about code. You'll be dreaming about it too.
The course does a great job of making programming accessible to everyone, no matter your background. The staff are extremely supportive and accessible, so there's always help when you need it. You also end up having a wonderful support system from your peers, since you end up spending most of your time with them and you all share the same struggles.
I would definitely recommend App Academy to anyone who's willing to devote all of their time to code. If you fall behind at all it's really difficult to catch up, so make sure you're ready to dedicate all of your next three months to the program.
There are definitely pros and cons to App Academy. The curriculum covers a ton of stuff, including many computer science topics that many other bootcamps do NOT go over, which definitely helps when looking for a first job and beyond. That being said, the course is not for everyone. It's an extremely rigorous and stressful course, which requires complete dedication to the work and topics being taught. A loss of focus could lead to being dismissed from the course. Overall though, the course has been very rewarding and in the end if you put in the work, it will pay off.
By the end of the course, you'll be coding websites that make you feel like a superhero, especially for those who struggle to understand what OOP is all about. Make no mistake - it is a commitment, it is intense, it will consume your life for twelve weeks, and it is a ton of pressure. AA admits that their course is designed to keep you on the edge of comfortability. But for this student, at least, it works, and I feel ready to jump into the world of web development.
The weakest part of the course is the written curriculum - it is new, and it suffers towards the end of the course. It can be dense and unforgiving to parse, especially for those with no background in computer science or for those struggling with the course generally. Thankfully, the excellent TAs and instructors will do their best to assist you.
Our latest on App Academy
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 →
Is learning to code on your 2018 New Year’s Resolutions List? It should be! There will be 1 million more computing jobs than applicants who can fill them by 2020. And a coding bootcamp could be just what you need to make a fresh start in 2018 as a developer. We’ve compiled a list of 16 full-time, part-time, in-person and online coding bootcamps which have upcoming cohorts starting in January and February 2018. Most of these have approaching application deadlines, so submit yours quickly if you want to get a head start in 2018!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 require a certain level of coding knowledge or background 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 $11,400, 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 ~$11,400, 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.