Graduate • 24-Week Online Software Engineering Program (Full Time) • Online
Jan 01, 2021
App Academy lived up to my expectations for the most part. I knew it would be fast paced and that there would be missing spots in my learning. I am a 'career transitioner' that had a little nest of cash stored, so I took that opportunity to move to tech. I came in with knowledge of the basics of HTML & CSS from creating a Wordpress blog a few years prior and doing some FCC and Codecademy training. At the time, I was considering multiple coding bootcamps and had never even heard of a/...
App Academy lived up to my expectations for the most part. I knew it would be fast paced and that there would be missing spots in my learning. I am a 'career transitioner' that had a little nest of cash stored, so I took that opportunity to move to tech. I came in with knowledge of the basics of HTML & CSS from creating a Wordpress blog a few years prior and doing some FCC and Codecademy training. At the time, I was considering multiple coding bootcamps and had never even heard of a/A, but once they were on my radar, the reviews made me confident that I would be pushed to my limit, which in my head translated to becoming a very capable software engineer through intense studies. Personally, my time was solely dedicated to 32 Weeks of a/A, so if you are unable to give your entire days to them, your process will be quite trying. 10-7, take a break for dinner/family, and then a few hours of homework/study afterwards. To be transparent, I haven't found my first role yet, and I am 3 months into the job search. I have a Bachelor's and Master's. It takes time, and the expectation given down to us is 400 - 600 applications at 25 minimum apps placed a week. I believe I'm somewhere between 225 and 250 applications thus far. Please prep for this.
Important Things To Note
* Marketing - Take the marketing material for what it is. Yes, you can get a job making 100K in San Francisco or NY, but this is significantly harder for the online cohorts due to everyone being disbursed throughout the world. I can only speak from my experience, and my experience also tells me to let you know that you will be in the market looking for role for months if you are unwilling to move to hot spots, and many time if you are, it won't be for 100K. 100K is a lot of money if you didn't know, and companies expect a lot of those that are making the big bucks. Just frame your goals properly and know what you are signing up for.
* Deferrals - I started right before Covid hit, so we were given additional opportunities to defer to later cohorts simply because of how much was going on at the time. To put it plain, once shutdowns were instated, no one was solely focused on school, family arrangements were different, and things just changed. Typically, I think you are given 3 deferrals, but 1 was added for us, making it a total of 4. I have seen people defer for medical reasons and family issues, but the most common is not passing assessments. There were around 14-15 assessments. Understand that deferrals is not a scare tactic. You will be removed from a/A and will also be required to pay a prorated amount if you end up not making it through the entire program. Read your agreements, please. For me personally, I deferred twice, making my total time in a/A 32 weeks compared to 24 weeks. That's an additional 2 months. There are weeks where 0 people defer, and then on the harder weeks, you will see double digits defer. Don't let it deter you too much. You will move to the cohort immediately behind you. There is 1 new cohort a month, so it places you 4 weeks back. On the positive side, this gives you the opportunity to reinforce concepts that didn't stick. It was well stated in my cohort(s) during our graduation that potential deferments induced more anxiety than anything else. That is where the stress lies due to you not knowing what the assessments could potentially have on them. Pressure makes diamonds, but pressure also busts pipes.
* Finances - Plan accordingly. I was one who bet on myself and believed I could make it straight through without any deferrals, meaning, I chose not to do the contract and instead paid a portion up front. Well, I deferred twice. If I wouldn't have budgeted correctly, that extra two months out of work could have had long lasting implications and could have really hurt me. Be smart.
* Skill Level - For the most part, a/A tests for the correct personality types in the pre-work/interview stage, but on day 1, you will soon realize that some people are just naturally gifted, have a little more experience, and there is really nothing you can do about it. They look for ambitious and driven personalities, but that isn't all that matters. Don't let this get you down. Those that are answering all of the questions and know alot more when you pair with them is great, but if you're not that person, it's not a death sentence either. We all learn in different ways and different speeds.
* Technical Mentors & Teaching Assistants Matter - Like college, I believe who is teaching you is equally as important as what you are learning. Speaking for myself, I didn't feel that I had the right mix of teachers until I made it into my last cohort. I felt like the mentors and ta's really fought for us when assessments were just unfair(timing or not good questions), and it genuinely felt like I had met my tribe. This has nothing to do with my previous cohorts, but honestly speaking, I didn't get that same feeling or attention. It made me regret starting when I did, meaning I came in halfway through a cohort once relationships had already been established and additionally, I had learned things in ways that were taught much better in the new cohort, etc... My cohort mates just seemed to be fundamentally stronger than I was at times, and I believe it was due to the culture that the TM and TA's created for the group.
* Post Covid a/A Experience Is Different - Put simply, you're prone to be more of just a number. The pre-covid groups were small. Jan graduated ~11 , Feb graduated ~6, March graduated ~12, April graduated ~17, May graduated ~18.... Numbers ballooned severely after this. People are out of work and taking the opportunity to transition to new careers. The cohorts are now starting with 75+ students, leading them to have to change the way instruction is given as well. In my estimation, from those 75-90 students in a cohort, each graduation will now be anywhere from 30 - 40 students graduating. Just be aware that the small circles and having the little school experience is no longer there.
* Students with kids under 5 - If your kids are at home during the day and you are the sole person responsible for them, I can't imagine how you will survive the curriculum. This is not extremely common, but there are some. In my case, I saw 3 different cases. Those 3 are no longer enrolled at a/A. This is not a scare tactic, but owing a company thousands of dollars is not a bright outcome, so make sure you have a daycare or someone to care for them.
* Diversity - Simply put, not a ton of women and not a ton of color. For a graduation class of 17, 2 were black and 1 woman.Scholarships and marketing material(Facebook Ads, Google Ads, Instagram Ads) should be geared towards both of those communities. Slack channels for subsets of individuals is respectable and an attempt, but it's not enough. There also needs to be some diversity in the C-Suite roles. You can't understand people that you have no exposure to.
* Curriculum - Pretty decent. I can only speak from the perspective that I never worked with most of the languages before doing it, so I can only compare it against FreeCodeCamp and Codecademy. From that lens, it was pretty good. There were weaker sections, but I also understand how tough it is to make changes, getting approval, and everything that comes with that process. Bottom Line: Don't expect too much when you are literally learning a new subject/concept pretty much every week. A personal frustration is that a lot of the projects were centered around building a game such as Tic-Tac-Toe, King's Travail, recreating Pokedex and things like that. So, I'm not a gamer, and though many coders are, it was tough at times to keep my attention. Most of us aren't going into game development, so diversifying the selection of projects should be considered. E-Commerce sites, internal banking applications, you know, things that are actively being built in the market. Just a thought.
* CareerQuest/Job Support - If you are opening up an online portion, naturally I believe a global partnerships team should also be rolled out. You have students across the world, but most opportunities presented are for NY and SF. Career Coaches are doing what they can I believe and have a lot on their plates. Overall, I'm still going through this process, so my entire outlook is dependent on the first role I acquire. Let it be known that the student does the work though, the coaches are just their to hold you accountable. Trust, you can also get kicked out while searching for a job as well. There are still meetings you are required to attend weekly and the pressure lessens, but doesn't stop.