Apr 25, 2022
I've waited six months post-graduation to give my honest feedback of my experience at Code Fellows. Not all coding bootcamps are created equal, and I hope this unbiased review helps you to decide whether or not Code Fellows (or a coding bootcamp in general) suits your needs. It may also be important to note that as of writing this (Apr 25, 2022) I have been a full-time software engineer for four months and my job is going very, very well. My previous background is a bachelor's degree in ...
I've waited six months post-graduation to give my honest feedback of my experience at Code Fellows. Not all coding bootcamps are created equal, and I hope this unbiased review helps you to decide whether or not Code Fellows (or a coding bootcamp in general) suits your needs. It may also be important to note that as of writing this (Apr 25, 2022) I have been a full-time software engineer for four months and my job is going very, very well. My previous background is a bachelor's degree in English, and a career as a freelance graphic designer (no technical background).
I started CF in May of 2021 having never coded a day in my life. Other bootcamps had entry-level exams or evaluations to test basic coding knowledge, but I felt a bit intimidated by those since I was coming from an arts background. The admissions team at CF insisted that they didn't have a screening/entrance exam because the school and staff believed the curriculum offered a way for students to learn programming without any prior knowledge. I found this to be extremely true and accurate.
WHY I CHOSE:
The instructional staff was diverse, friendly, and welcoming. They are very enthusiastic about how tech can change lives.
I was able to use G.I. Benefits to study full-time in a remote setting (check with the VA because remote G.I. Benefit standards and regulations are changing).
MODULARIZATION! This was one of the biggest draws I had with CF. Other bootcamps were set up as giant sprints, meaning that if you got sick during week 6 out of 14 and had to miss several days of class, you essentially forfeit your entire tuition and had to retake the bootcamp from day one. I didn't feel comfortable with that option. CF is broken into class modules (102, 201, 301, 401) and you can take a break or pace your learning out around your schedule.
Longer bootcamp. Many of the bootcamps I looked at were 12-16 weeks. CF is 20 weeks, and I felt that a longer curriculum likely meant I would learn more.
Language selection. At the 401 you are able to choose your desired programming language. Other bootcamps taught a specific language without giving students a choice, and I loved that CF let me have some say in my career, especially since when I started I had no idea what the languages actually were.
Pacing. If you are not someone who learns quickly, or is motivated enough to research things on your own time, I do not recommend ANY bootcamp for you. The rapid pace is not exclusive to CF.
When looking for a bootcamp, make sure to ask if there is a minimum experience level for instructors. One drawback to CF is that they often hire previous students to teach certain courses, without those alumni having gone out into company or corporate dev jobs first. This could realistically lead to an echo chamber of inexperience people teaching even less experienced people. However, I will also counter this and say that some of the instructors at CF are VERY good and have been programming a long time. I definitely suggest doing your research on your instructors and planning accordingly. (One of the BEST instructors I had my entire time there was a former student and she was incredible at teaching fundamentals. Being a former student doesn't mean someone will be a poor teacher, but I'm giving an unbiased review of the school so I need to point this out).
To my knowledge, CF no longer reports to CIRR, which is an independent bootcamp audit organization. I believe many bootcamps stopped reporting during covid because of how their numbers/outcomes were affected by the pandemic, so I'm not sure if this is really a "bad" or if they plan on re-joining the council anytime soon.
Class size varies. I saw some classes that were very large (32 students). My class ended up being very small. This was likely situational, but you may want to ask what their current average class size is.
I wish more time/instruction had been spent on teaching us about different types of tech or what each language was best for.
Overlapping curriculum. In my cohort they were restructuring some things between 301/401, so we ended up having some overlap of concepts that were essentially re-taught, which isn't necessarily bad, but now that I'm in the field I see some improvements or concepts that we could have repurposed that time for.
NOTE: I do not know this for certain, but CF does hire a lot of former students as TAs (ever bootcamp does this), but I don't actually know if this is considered an "in-field job placement within six months" which is a stat they share to applicants interested in the school. Something to keep in mind, because I don't feel that working as a TA is technically the same as landing a full-time dev role where you're expanding your skillset. TAs are SO important, but so are clear and unambiguous outcomes/placements for grads.
Data Structures and Algorithms!!! I've met and spoken with junior developers who graduated from all different types of bootcamps, and it amazes me how few are teaching DSA! This sets CF above and beyond so many schools. Tech and software development has its own interview process, which sometimes involves solving a coding problem live in front of your potential employer (often your potential team lead). If you aren't learning the process of solving these problems, and learning about the data structure logic you'll be asked to solve, how can you possibly hope to land the job? Not teaching DSA is like sending a person out into the world to be an accountant without teaching them how to use a calculator. It just doesn't make sense.
CF teaches its students how to write unit tests. In my post-grad interviews, both potential employers were stunned to find out that I'd already been writing unit tests for months. It's just not something often taught at the junior/bootcamp level and it definitely set me apart.
The TAs are generally amazing. Some days the lab space can be crowded and you might have to wait a bit to snag someone, but generally speaking the TAs were responsive, eager to help, and even checked in later to make sure you were on the right track.
There is a robust post-grad job placement program and the alumni network is amazing. We have our own slack channel, share open job postings, and more. BONUS: CF has been around for a while, so many prior students are now in hiring positions, and they will reach out to recent grads to help place them.
Curriculum. Overall, I felt extremely prepared at graduation, and am currently very successful in my first role. I went from never having coded in my life to potentially landing a team lead gig at my current company within 12-18 months, which is VERY fast. I credit the structure and the curriculum at CF for making that happen, but it's important to note that I did not do the bare minimum. I studied for 12-16 hours each day, learned a lot on my own, and took a lot of ownership for my own success. The people I see failing out or not doing well in bootcamps, especially CF, are the people who expect instructors to solve all their code or expect the school to slow down the curriculum/provide endless resources/cater to their needs. If you are someone who makes excuses or does the bare minimum, you will not do well at any bootcamp.
The daily structure was great. You watch your instructor code live for three hours (with mini breaks), have a lunch hour free to yourself, then hit up your labs, which is essentially flexible time for you to research and finish your assignments. There is a great mix between solo and group projects.
You have to pass a whiteboard to graduate. This is nerve-wracking, but so great! It really teaches you to handle nerves which has helped me immensely at my current job. They also give you a ton of practice.
Your class videos are available to you forever. I've actually revisited some concepts while working at my current job.
I had never coded a day in my life prior to my first day at Code Fellows. I fell in love with programming, and now I'm fortunate enough to work as a full-time dev. Not only that, but my time at CF more than prepared me to be crushing it at my first job. Not only am I earning a life-changing salary, but my dev leadership has already discussed making me a team lead within the next 12-18 months, which is VERY fast for this industry. I've been able to solve some network-wide bugs, and I have a rock-solid grasp on coding fundamentals. There are pros and cons to any coding bootcamp, but going to Code Fellows was by far the best decision I've ever made for my finances, my mental health, my career, and my family.