CodeCraft School is focused on providing tech career-driven education that teaches students to think like industry experts. Enrolled students can take free classes at their partner organization, Boulder Digital Arts, and are also provided personalized career assistance post-graduation.
Recent CodeCraft School News
- Coding Bootcamp Cost Comparison: Full Stack Immersives
- Alumni Spotlight: Laura of CodeCraft School
- Founder Spotlight: Bruce, Bill and Zach of CodeCraft School
Recent CodeCraft School Reviews: Rating 4.52
Part-Time, UX Design Bootcamp
At CodeCraft School, we believe that UX is the foundation from which you build effective solutions to business problems. Understanding the customer experience through a pragmatic approach to research and design will grant you the ability to convey the magnitude of your work to help make the best decisions for a company’s product and/or service. Our unique part-time UX Design bootcamp is 20 weeks long. The first four weeks are remote courses that you can attend from anywhere, and the last 16 weeks are in-person at our campus in Boulder, Colorado. The in-person classes are held Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings from 6pm to 9pm, and on rotating Saturdays during the cohort which will be from 9am to 5pm. Throughout this intensive program, you will learn about the entire UX process from seasoned industry professionals who are eager to share their knowledge. The program covers all the phases of the UX workflow, including user research, user testing, UI, defining problems, solving problems, wireframes, design briefs, prototypes, mockups, and basic web development fundamentals. As you learn, you’ll put your new skills to work through hands-on projects that expand your knowledge, build experience, and create a body of work for your portfolio. After graduation, you’ll have the foundational knowledge to take on one of the many roles in User Experience/ Human Design.
- Financing available through SkillsFund.
- Placement Test
- Prep Work
- This bootcamp begins with a four-week remote classwork schedule that teaches you some of important software and design fundamentals you'll need prior to starting the in-person classes.
Part-Time, Full Stack Web Development
- Financing available through SkillsFund.
- Minimum Skill Level
- Placement Test
- Prep Work
- This bootcamp begins with four weeks of remote classwork that serves as a fast-paced introduction to web fundamentals including HTML, CSS, and MacOS which you'll complete prior to starting in-person classes.
Full-Time, Full Stack Web Development
- CodeCraft works with a variety of trusted, third-party lenders including SkillsFund.
- Minimum Skill Level
- Placement Test
- Prep Work
- This bootcamp begins with two weeks of remote classwork that serves as a fast-paced introduction to web fundamentals including HTML, CSS, and MacOS which you'll complete prior to starting in-person classes.
$500 CodeCraft School Scholarship
Offer is only valid for new applicants to CodeCraft School. Applicants who have already submitted an application cannot claim this scholarship.
- Full-Time, Full Stack Web Development (Boulder)
- Part-Time, Full Stack Web Development (Boulder)
- Part-Time, UX Design Bootcamp (Boulder)
CodeCraft School Reviews
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CodeCraft School of Technology combined many of the elements I was looking for in a coding bootcamp: smaller class sizes, affordability, reasonable commitment time, and a staff that's invested in students' success in the classroom and after graduation. While you can't learn everything in 12 weeks, CodeCraft's teachers have created a curriculum of concepts and technologies they believe to be most relevant to students as they move their career in a new direction. Each cohort is given a main instructor and one to two TA's to make sure students are getting the attention they need.
It's important to note that the course does move quickly and there are times you will have to study concepts outside of class as there is only a short amount of time to cover it during class hours, but, if you are willing to really make a committment to the course for the 12 weeks it's in session, you will have no problem.
CodeCraft also has a great career services team. As you move through the cohort, they recommend and make time for networking events, schedule field trips, and bring in industry professionals to help you make connections in the community. They also continue to work with you even after graduation, helping build your resume and cover letter, giving mock interviews, etc. If you want help and support, they are there to provide it.
Overall, I was very happy with my experience at CodeCraft. Just make sure to do your research and meet some of the staff ahead to time to make sure the program will be a good fit for you and your expectations!
I am so happy with my decision to attend CodeCraft. To be honest I mainly picked this school because it was cheaper, conveniently located, and they taught the MEAN stack. What I did not expect was the exceptional quality of the teachers and staff, and the genuine care they have towards each student's success. Erty was our main instructor and I was really blown away by his talent for teaching. He is so passionate about the coursework and makes the learning experience, as challenging as it can be, fun and exciting. He was always patient and willing to take the time to help, no matter how long it took. The assistant teacher was great as well, and they do about as much as can be done to help prepare and assist you in getting a job after the cohort. I can't say enough good things about my experience and would recommend it to everyone thinking about attending a coding bootcamp. Thanks again, CodeCraft!
I completed the part time full stack web development course. It exceeded my expecations. I was doubtful that the instructors could teach me the fundamentals of coding but they went above and beyond to ensure I understood and completed the course successfully. The instuctors commiment was outstanding. They made themselves available at all hours for consulting and support. Since graduating, I have been able to use my coding skills to automate processes at my current job. The bootcamp is worth it regardless if you want to be a programmer or just better understand how to deal with engineers.
I've already recommended this part time bootcamp to several collegues. I would happily continue to take other courses with CodeCraft. By far, the best bootcamp around.
As with any program or course that lasts only 10 weeks, be prepared to challenged in a BIG way. Erty, the lead instructor, and Sarah, the assistant instructor, do an impeccable job of teaching the important basics of the MEAN stack. They stay after-hours to help get you to a point of understanding material that may not have sunk in during class. Oftentimes, as a student you feel like you are constantly at the firehose doing everything in your power to understand, digest, assimilate, and wrap your head around the curriculum, only to feel you are getting further behind. I don't know how many times I wished for 30 hours in a day to get caught up, take an online course to fortify my knowledge, learn more about was taught in class, etc.
I have to be honest: I had some grueling days where I wanted to give up, but the staff, including Eric Wallen, Campus Manager, and Meredith Rafter, Career Services guru, and my fellow coder buddies kept me going. Don't be surprised if you're in this program and you become overwhelmed. Expect to be overwhelmed. Expect to be dreaming about coding at night. Expect to feel like you ass is being handed to you. But all those things only prove that you are truly learning. And in the end you look back and see that it was all worth it. Don't be fooled, though--this 10-week course is only the beginning of the journey. But at least you started the journey on a good foot with the incredible team from CodeCraft. Go for it!
CodeCraft's instructors and staff are excellent and really care about preparing their students to be successful. The only reason the Job Assistance category only got 4 stars is because there was some turnover during our program in those positions, but I have been really please with the services provided now that they found a great replacement.
My overall experience was phenomenal. There is no comparison between CodeCraft and any other programming course that I've taken. I've been programming for about two years now, and never got the education and experience that CodeCraft provided. Previous classes that I've taken have only taught syntax, and I already knew much of that from free online classes. The school taught me more than just coding, however. I learned how to work on a development team, how to structure code properly, and how to develop a minimal viable product in a short amount of time. The small class size made it very easy for the teachers to help with any questions the rest of the class and I had. The teachers themselves were extremely knowlegable and could empathize with the problems we were having, not just answering our questions, but by explaining what was happening behind the scenes.
Attending CodeCraft was everything I thought it would be. I enrolled after leaving my job in accounting to start a more challenging and rewarding career and after having recently graduated I've got the tools to do just that. The program was fast-paced and challenging but the instructors and the design of the course gave you every chance to succeed. I would reccomend the affordable, 10-week program to anyone looking to gain a solid and actionable understanding of web development.
I completed the fourth co-hort of the CodeCraft Full-Stack program. I highly recommend it. Not only do they directly teach the hard skills you need, they teach you how to teach yourself, which is so important in the ever-changing world of technology. It's a great fast-paced curriculum, and they support you in rapid-learning. They are light on documented materials, which they acknowledged, and they improved even during our cohort and I suspect will be up to snuff for the next group. For job assistance, they made a key hire as our program was coming to an end, and started producing results for people.
It was a great course and well taught. The part time program is great because it spreads enough time which provides time for information to sink in and for course work to be completed. It also is possible to maintain a full time job while completing the course which makes it financially possible to particiapte in a bootcamp.
Overall, great experience and would definently recommend!
Overall: I would rate my experience as average. The every day atmopshere of the class room was upbeat and right for learning. The other students were friendly and helpful. I felt that there was adequate time offered by instructors but nothing above and beyond the call of duty. The curriculum was fair and on topic, although subject to change at the Instructors will. That there was some preparation during the course for the upcoming job search but nothing beyond graduation. My communication from them has been limited since the staff changes.
Instructors: Erty did a great job of balancing some really techinical topics with entertaining material. He is the reason that you should consider attending this school. I believe that a more solidified course would do this school a world of good. From week 5 on we threw out the syllabus and dove into a topic that was derailing in nature from what we had been learning. There were times when it felt like the only person coding in the room was Erty. I feel like it helped me understand the power of what I was working with but did not necessarily make me a better coder. I wish that he stayed on his original track.
Job Assistance: During the course, CodeCraft brought in some technical recruiters in the Boulder community, they offered and helped me rewrite my resume, and worked with me specifically on technical and personal interviewing. They made it seem like there were all these great companies that they could match me to. After I graduated I barely heard from them. I applied to multiple jobs a day and was expecting them to reach out with these companies looking for students to hire. I was lucky to find work with a friend. This was the most dissappointing part of the program.
Opinion: You can do better for yourself by looking elsewhere. If you are dead set on a school in Boulder, Erty is a good teacher but make sure they have something more concrete planned for your cohort and thoroughly question them about Job Assitance.
I came in to this cohort with more of a creative background and wasn't sure if my brain was going to absorb seemingly complex programming languages. I was pleasantly surprised by the instructor's conscious teaching approach, directing his explanations to both the math-minded and the visual-creatives, like myself. It takes a special gift to switch from a technical expanation to a visual explanation so quickly. Erty has those skills! His patience with the differing students, our backgrounds and skills, amazed me each day. Some students had no website experience and some were already in the tech and development industry. I think all of us felt we received customized and individual instruction. Be assured that the instructors and assistants will not give up until an *aha* moment is achieved. This course not only taught me programming skills but more importantly how to think like a programmer! My brain is different as a result of those 10 weeks. I approach problem solving in new more purposeful ways and that, I know, will be a life-ling benefit of this course.
Great course. It moves fast, but Erty and Dave are always available, they've come in early, stayed late, and came in on weekends. I am very confident the when I finish the certification, it will be easy to move into the tech community as a junior developer. I'm so excited to be interviewing for jobs, and I got those interviews because June does some incredible work with cover letters and resumes. And I can't forget Halie, who makes us feel at home, promotes us left and right, and tells us about events that are great opportunities to meet potential employers and expand our professional networks. It's a fast paced and well-organized course, but they never leave anybody behind.
I have been running sustainable small business / web startup company for a few years. Being entirely bootstrapped, it is difficult to attract tech talent when salaries for even entry level positions are relatively large budget line items. Prior to CodeCraft, I was able to hack through the occaisonal HTML/CSS task, but my skills were lacking.
My decision to attend CodeCraft was based on two key objectives; learn to complete basic web development tasks for my business; and learn to deploy software developemt resources more effectively.
When comparing CodeCraft with other learning avenues, CodeCraft differentiated based on the time necessary to complete the course - ten weeks. My company was paying for my tuition (and my salary), during my attendance. Thus, ten weeks was the right timeframe (and $9.5k the right price point). For my learning style, I did not believe that an online or weekend course would offer the immersion necessary to truly learn the skillset, while a 24 week course is expensive and impractice for someone like myself.
Ultimately, CodeCraft was a solid choice to achieve my learning objectives. The instruction was focused on teaching us to think like a programmer and be autodidactic. The staff was well networked and very helpful in assisting to integrate students into their fields of interest. For myself, the director of the school was tremendous with introductions to thought leaders in the Boulder entrepreneurial community, which has yielded friendships and mentorships.
I chose to attend a coding bootcamp for unorthodox purposes - I was not seeking a job, but rather seeking to be a more knowledgable and valuable decision maker for my company. CodeCraft was almost a sabbatical of sorts to spend 500 hours learning software development. From this experience, I've become confident in understanding the software development process, how to work with developers constructively, and how to deploy resources more effectively.
Recently, I've signed a $50k contract for application development with a development firm to build my company's software vision. Thus, the true test of my learning objectives lies ahead. However, I'm confident that the CodeCraft experience has equipped me properly to achieve our vision.
Founder - eFowl.com
So glad I found CodeCraft! Their mission to make tech education accessible to everyone created a really unique group of students whom with I will remain friends and professional colleagues with for the rest of my life.
Most important to me was the small class size, which meant instructors were free and available to help students whenever needed, including weekend and evenings. Instructors David, Dallas & Erty were always there to provide a guiding light when I got lost or felt hopeless on a topic. The instructors dedication to students demonstrated an unprecedented and core differentiator between CC's coding bootcamp and the majority or its competition.
For their first cohort, CodeCraft did an amazing job of turning 11 coding novices and complete newbies into web developers ready for our first jobs in tech. CodeCrafts really takes the time to focus on each individual's unique goals, ambition and passion.
In addition to web dev skills, career preparation was a large part of the bootcamp program, we ran mock interviews, practiced whiteboard questions, met with tech recruiters and hiring managers in both informational and hiring settings alike. I built an incredible new network that includes my cohort, CC staff/faculty team, plus local industry pros.
If you want to land a job [of your dreams] in tech, CodeCraft is the best school in Boulder by far. You won't feel like just another number as you might at larger schools, but like an individual who's needs are seen, heard and addressed ASAP.
I enrolled in the part-time full stack program and it was everything I wanted. I couldn't afford to quit my job to attend a bootcamp and this was the perfect program. The cost was very affordable. CodeCraft is great about your education but they add all sorts of other items - headshots, resume review, job search help, etc.
This is a review a few months after graduating. I expected a lot more. I got very little. I felt like I was sold something that wasn't really there.
I feel a review like this is needed so people looking into schools actually get a real opinion about it.
I wish I could say tons of good things as the people there were extremely nice and I made a lot of friends but reviewing the school is different than saying I had a good time.
Instructors: Erty and Dave are clearly knowledgeable teachers and understand the field. With that being said, there was a lack of structure and clear growing pains of a new company. Some days we would learn stuff, some mornings we didn't learn anything and kinda just sat there. There wasnt much access to instructors outside of class hours, just one weekend in particular during final projects.
Job Assistance: zero. Two of the people who were there when I was a student were fired or quit and not a single member of code craft informed any students who were looking for jobs of this. There has been no help and I can count on one hand the people who obtained software engineer/jr roles after a few months of looking.
overall: I learned, but this could have easily been replaced by freecodecamp and other resources. I would honestly reccomend anyone truly interested in a bootcamp to look into learning on your own and applying to a more higher-level bootcamp that requires you to interview and come in with knowledge. That way your fellow students will be ~ the same level as you are and you will get way more out of the school. I still needed to put a ton of time into learning vanilla js to get to a level of a jr dev after code craft, and used free resources from other bootcamps and sites to do so.
Response From: Zach Daudert of CodeCraft School
CodeCraft is absolutely committed to being one of the very best bootcamps. That means continually refining and improving, which is exactly what we’ve been doing (intensely) over the last many months. The staffing changes you reference in your review is part of that.
Regarding the curriculum; we’ve invested a great deal of time refining our curriculum as well as creating our own reference materials. We’ve also restructured our faculty and mentors so that there is a lot more opportunities for one-on-one time with our students.
Regarding job assistance; we’ve hired dedicated staff to work with our students and grow our employer network. We’ve also developed a substantial library of job search resources/tools. Finally, we have a new post-graduation video course that is very comprehensive available to all our graduates including yourself.
Please reach out to me (email@example.com) and I will be happy to help you with these additional resources and/or to re-take any parts of the bootcamp so that you can experience these improvements for yourself.
Our latest on CodeCraft School
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 $11,451, 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.
Laura Baumgartner graduated from CodeCraft School in Boulder, CO in December 2015, and was offered a job two days later. She tells us how her experiences in marketing and politics made her realize that she loved tinkering with code. Laura is now working as a UI/UX developer. Read about why she absolutely loves her job and is excited to keep learning and improving as a developer.
What were you up to before you went to CodeCraft?
I have a Bachelors degree from the University of Nebraska. I was in marketing for about five years before I decided to take the jump and enroll in CodeCraft. I worked for different universities including the University of Colorado at Boulder.
In 2014 I ran for the state senate in Nebraska. I’d wanted to do it for a long time, there was an open seat. I thought, “I’m gonna go for it, let’s see what happens here.” I did that for about eight months. I designed and built my website. Setting up the website was really my favorite part of the whole campaign.
After the election was over, I reflected upon my experiences and thought “What was my favorite part of the campaigning experience, and of the different jobs I’ve had? What was the one thing that got me excited in the morning?” I realized I really enjoyed coding email campaigns using custom HTML / CSS, plus updating the website. I decided I had to explore this further or I’m going to kick myself down the line.
Why did you decide to go to a bootcamp to learn coding rather than go back to college?
I was talking to Bill Adkins, the campus director at CodeCraft and I said, “I have a decision to make. I could stay at CU and do marketing for the next five years because that’s how long it would take me to get a CS degree while working full time and taking one or two courses a semester.” But there was no way I could see myself not coding full-time for another five years.
How did you find out about coding bootcamps in Boulder?
I was the first person to apply to CodeCraft. I Googled “code boot camp, Boulder” and had a couple of different options come up. CodeCraft had just put their website up a week before!The fact they were new on the block attracted me. I thought, “they’re really going to try to help me get a job because if I’m in the first class, they’ll want to have a good outcome.”
It seemed like the languages, the foundational stuff I’d be learning, plus the tuition price was a fairly good deal. There are a couple of different schools out there but they’re a bit more expensive, and it seemed like CodeCraft’s course offerings were pretty comparable. I talked to them on the phone; we had a great conversation and things worked out for the best.
Did you apply to other schools or did you only apply to CodeCraft?
I only applied to CodeCraft because it was such a good value. It was $9,500.
Another reason I wanted to enroll in CodeCraft is because it is a sibling company to Boulder Digital Arts (BDA). One of the cofounders to both companies, Bruce Borowsky is active in the Boulder Chamber of Commerce. Our campus director, Bill Adkins, is also connected within the Boulder tech scene, so the school has a great network within the Boulder community.
Being a part of BDA, does that mean you’re physically near other companies and are you all in an incubator space?
It’s kind of like an incubator. BDA offers professional training for people who want to take a workshops on the Adobe Creative Suite, blogging, video or other digital arts and technologies.
CodeCraft has separate facilities, but it’s all within a shared campus with BDA. There are people who rent out coworking office spaces, so it’s neat to meet them and network. That was a fun part of it for me.
Did you end up using a financing partner or did you save up to cover tuition?
I know a lot of my classmates did end up taking out loans. If you think of it as vocational training, then that’s a good investment in yourself.
I was working full time at CU so I was able to save up. I ended up writing CodeCraft a check.
Did you want to learn a specific programming language? CodeCraft teaches MEAN stack; was that important to you? Most bootcamps are teaching Ruby on Rails.
I was mostly thinking about what was going to make me most attractive to future employers. I kind of had my finger on the pulse a bit from friends who went through similar bootcamps in Omaha. I felt what CodeCraft was teaching would lead to a good career path because with MEAN stack, I could do either front end or back end, and I knew Angular was going to explode in the next six months to a year.
What is the learning experience like at CodeCraft? Take us through a typical day and the teaching style there.
It is mostly lecture style. The teachers do a lesson on a big screen and you follow along and raise your hand if you have a question.
Our class was pretty small. There was some project time, we did some group projects throughout the course.
Was there time to do hands-on projects or your own projects or projects with teams?
We focused on team projects and some pair programming throughout. The individual do-it-yourself thing was towards the end in preparation for demo day.
Who were your instructors at CodeCraft and what were their backgrounds?
Did it feel like a diverse mix of people? Were there many women in your class?
I think it was a good mix of backgrounds. Some people wanted to go into gaming, some people had their own businesses, or wanted to stop paying people to build stuff for them. There were also people like me who had worked in different jobs. There was one woman who had been in the nonprofit sector her whole life. I think we all had different aspirations of what we wanted to get out of the class. 33% of students were women.
What was the biggest challenge you faced? I know this is the first CodeCraft cohort but were there things you weren’t expecting? What was the feedback loop like?
They actually sought feedback from us, which I appreciated because they wanted to make sure it was the best program. We gave them a lot of good feedback. For me, I felt like we didn’t really need a Mac computer, because we only did a couple of days on the command line. I had to buy this new computer and it was so much money. On the flip side, now I’m going to use it for my new job for a very long time.
I think the biggest challenge for me personally was getting overwhelmed by the syntax.
My instructor said, “You know what? As long as you can rock the logic, don’t worry about the syntax; you can look that up.”
That’s really one of the reasons I wanted to pay to go to a bootcamp. It’s the ability to raise your hand, ask a question and get instant feedback from someone who wants you to succeed.
What did you present at demo day?
I built a really fun app called Find the Trump. I have a political background so I thought it was right up my alley. It was built in JQuery and then my instructor Dallas said, “Why don’t you go ahead and make that a full stack app?” So I was able to use my skill set and make in an Angular-based app.
Tell us about the demo day.
I definitely made some good contacts there, I talked to people who were interested in the program and I told them a little bit about my experience. It was a fun time. Everybody presented different things, people presented their personal portfolios and our group projects.
What were the two weeks following your graduation like?
I actually had my second interview for my new job on the morning of demo day.
What is your job?
My title is UX/UI designer, at a small company. It’s a platform service for companies that are part of the farm-to-table movement. We have clients all over the world.
How did you get the job? What was the interview process like?
The company wasn’t at the demo day because it was the same day as a huge Colorado blizzard. I’d been blanketing my resume all over the Boulder/Denver area asking, “Is anybody hiring? If not, please keep me in mind.”
The morning up of my interview it’s blizzarding outside. I travelled 20 miles away for this interview, but the CEO was stuck in Estes Park. I got major, major bonus points – for actually making it in for the interview.
They gave me a job offer two days after graduation. I could’ve tapped Bill or Bruce’s network. They’re always more than happy to say, “I can introduce you to this person or pass along a phone number.” They have their own networks and they’re happy to share.
Were you applying specifically for a UX/UI job?
My goal was to get a job with whoever would hire me. I didn’t really have an endgame in mind or what my job title would actually be. I’m happy to get experience in many areas and languages.
What does a UX/UI designer do day to day?
I’m making wireframes and mockups for different forms and websites. I’m kind of like a user advocate. It’s really about easy navigation and removing barriers from a design standpoint.
We have our own graphics and logo team. I’m more interested in drilling down into code and thinking about how these things work and how we’re going to implement them. That’s the beauty of my job, I’m bringing my design eye and my five years of marketing experience, but then I get to combine it with my coding skills.
I feel I have the opportunity to keep learning, and now, I’m getting paid to learn, and that’s my goal.
At your UX/UI position, what has been the ramp up in terms of mentorship and continuing that learning process?
They have a knowledge base, they have some on-boarding videos for different clients. I’m giving a once-over and twice-over to their website and to their clients’ websites.
What I’m most excited about is I get to keep learning, ask questions of people who are really good at what they do and I get paid for it. That’s a rare thing in this world so I’m very blessed.
Did you think CodeCraft was worth it and would you recommend it?
If you want to try something new or try a new career path and you have the problem solver mentality, you’ll do fine. If you want to make beautiful and functional things and set the world on fire, I think coding’s a good option for you. Give coding a try and do some online courses first to see if you are able to be that problem solver.
It is a lot of work; I was there 15 hours a day on average. I really wanted to squeeze every inch of value I could out of CodeCraft. It’s a really good school to learn at and I think whatever industry you end up in, it’s going to be an asset to you.
After 12 years of offering day and week-long classes at Boulder Digital Arts, Bruce Borowsky and Zach Daudert founded CodeCraft School, a 10-week coding bootcamp in Boulder, Colorado. Bruce, Zach and Bill Adkins, CodeCraft’s Campus Director, chat with Course Report about their decision to teach the MEAN stack, building a diverse cohort and their unique pre-work alternative that’s unlike any other bootcamp!
Liz: You started classes recently. How are things going?
Bruce: The first cohort started October 5th. We're really excited. It's interesting because we're nimble enough to adapt and adjust to things very quickly. We've been doing training for over a decade, so we've adapted this new curriculum to do what we've been doing well for almost 12 years!
Liz: Tell me about what you were working on before and how that evolved into CodeCraft?
Bruce: Zach and I were friends working at a video production company in 2003 and we started teaching digital arts. We offered classes and workshops — it was literally everything from Photoshop and filmmaking to web development and iOS/Android — and it was a creative process that progressed very quickly to something called Boulder Digital Arts. Today we have over 6,000 square feet in Boulder where we have over 300 events every year. And with the demand for developers being so high - particularly in Boulder, a coding bootcamp seemed like a natural progression.
All the classes at Boulder Digital Arts are typically one day or one week, and are more about learning one skill or tool. CodeCraft’s bootcamps are really focused on career transformation and are obviously much longer and in-depth, which is why CodeCraft is operating as a new company.
Liz: What was the process like, developing the curriculum for CodeCraft?
Zach: The 10-week bootcamp curriculum that we developed is brand new. We started looking into creating our own bootcamp about a year ago. We did a lot of research and talked with many people in the bootcamp industry as well as people who hire developers. That set the stage for our curriculum planning which took our two instructors about three months to craft. As Bruce pointed out, Boulder Digital Arts (BDA) classes are only a week. So in a way, what we're doing at BDA is a great primer for a pre-bootcamp process because you learn the basics of HTML, CSS, that sort of thing.
We invested heavily in the curriculum because what we've learned in the 12 years of doing this is to have a very solid road map and to make sure that it's presented to students so that they know where they are relative to where they’re going.
Liz: You mentioned working with a couple of developers to come up with this curriculum. Does anybody have a programming background? Tell me about how your team works.
Bruce: It's funny because I'm a filmmaker and Zach is a web developer. The two of us had all of our bases covered in terms of the digital arts when we started BDA. Zach follows trends and developments in the web world.
Bill: I have worked 20 years here in the Boulder startup community. Since I’ve been through a bootcamp myself, I can empathize with what individuals go through, what their expectations are and how to better manage those needs for the best outcome of the program. Our instructors have years of development experience across many coding languages so they are well prepared to adjust to needs of the students as well as emerging technologies.
Liz: What stack is CodeCraft teaching and what was the decision-making process behind that?
In addition, there's the pragmatic reality that learning just one language for server side and front-end development is much easier. We think that's a huge advantage in the 10-week time frame. From there, our philosophy of teaching the fundamentals to think like a programmer prepares one to learn something like Ruby on Rails, Python or another backend technology reasonably quickly.
Bruce: Right now we’re trying to gauge interest. At BDA it’s a tremendously popular topic, especially our one-week UI/UX Certificate class. In fact we often get people coming from out of state to Boulder to attend.
Liz: So how many students do you have in this first cohort?
Bruce: We're all about the student experience. That's at the forefront every second of the day. To that end, we limited it to 12 students for this first one so we could work out any kinks and have it all go as smooth as possible.
Liz: Are the students based in Boulder or are you getting people from out of the city or state?
Bill: We’ve had interest from all over. Again, Bruce's point about managing the experience, we have two instructors for 12 students to make sure that everything that we're doing is for the best student experience. For this first class, we wanted local students, to better manage the experience of the cohort. Out-of-State students add a degree of complexity and distraction that we’re now able to work with in future cohorts. What we have in this cohort is a diverse group, college age to mid-career professionals making a transition, a lot of gender diversity. It's a great mix of students and life experiences.
Liz: How did you get a diverse applicant pool? That can be difficult for a bootcamp.
Bill: I give Zach and Bruce credit for that. BDA’s legacy has generated a lot of attention for CodeCraft even in our early days. So we were in a position where our primary admissions criteria for our students was "Are you committed to making it through 12 hour days, plus weekends, 10 weeks full-time? You really have to be serious about where you want to go in your career." Everything else took care of itself. And what we ended up with is 12 amazing, focused students.
Liz: How many of the students in your current cohort had taken a BDA class before?
Liz: Where are you located in Boulder?
Bruce: We’re located in central Boulder. We're not downtown, which we chose purposely because parking is difficult to find there and limited to only three hours, so here we have plenty of parking. We’re just a couple miles from downtown, but we have a lot of perks because of that—we're right on the bus line, and also much easier to access for those coming in from the Denver metro area as well. We have a large open space with multiple classrooms, meeting spaces and social areas, so students have plenty of room to spread out.
Liz: You mentioned filtering for students who have the grit to get through a 12-hour a day intensive program. Is there any requirement in terms of programming experience?
Bill: Students who are interested in our bootcamp can start off with zero experience. That said, we do encourage them to have some familiarity with the basics of HTML and CSS. Our instructors’ curriculum is designed to get somebody from zero to junior developer by the end of the 10 weeks.
About 80% of our current cohort had some familiarity with HTML and CSS. The other folks did some online tutorials. We began the class with a well-prepped, motivated cohort. This allowed us to move quicker than we thought through the first week’s fundamentals.
Zach: That goes back to one of the benefits of being able to take the BDA classes for free up to three months prior to the first day of the cohort. They're able to take a lot of HTML and CSS classes as part of their pre-work.
Liz: Students have 3 months to take BDA Classes?
Bill: The BDA offer of free classes is valid for a paid CodeCraft student, up to three months ahead of their cohort. They can also take classes during and up to 3 months after their cohort ends.
Bruce: It depends on when they sign up for the bootcamp, but once they're a paid CodeCraft student they have the opportunity to take BDA classes at no charge if they want to strengthen their HTML and CSS skills, for example.
Liz: Have you had to do anything in terms of accreditation or approval with CodeCraft in particular or because you have BDA is it not required?
Bruce: Since CodeCraft is a separate entity, we had to get approved by the state. We are regulated by the state of Colorado. It was a fairly rigorous process. We submitted about 100 pages of documents, including the full curriculum, very detailed. Before we submitted the curriculum to the State for approval, it had to be signed-off by four external web developers that we didn't know.
Liz: Skill Distillery, a bootcamp that did corporate training for a long time, was able to go through the VA (Veteran’s Affairs) approval process because they had been in operation for many years. Students can use their GI Bill to take courses there. Because CodeCraft has several years of experience, is that something you’re able to pursue as well?
Bill: We’re looking at that, and some of the grant programs would require federal accreditation. We’re currently State regulated. We’re talking to the Federal accrediting bodies about that, which would allow students to use their GI Bill or 529 Savings Plan. We’re absolutely interested, but it takes time. The Department of Education is also looking at what they can do to release the red tape, so that students can use funding for coding programs like ours. We’re hoping it will be easier for a veteran in career change or a student that doesn’t want to get a four year degree to meet their needs.
Bruce: This concept of alternative, nontraditional education is something we've been doing for almost 12 years now and I'm happy to say we're very good at it. We know the nuances, we know what students are looking for; we really bring a lot to the table in terms of how we do training.
Liz: Do you have standards, a particular placement rate, for example, that you have to meet to stay approved?
Bruce: Yes, they review our records couple of times a year. We have to keep accurate records of student attendance and similar things. I think there's a specific percentage that they’re looking for that we place, but regardless it's our goal to get 100% of our students placed.
Liz: Are you noticing that the students applying are looking for a career change and want to get a new job after they graduate or do you have students who want to start their own business when they graduate?
Bruce: I would say exactly that mix. The vast majority are looking for some major career change. We have college age students and this is their postsecondary education. We have adults in career transition. We have entrepreneurs who are staying within the company that they founded but want to be more in tune with their developers. Boulder has a very strong entrepreneurial tech community. One of our students is co-founder of his own startup. He wasn’t as technical as he wanted to be and took a sabbatical so that he could acquire deeper skills and coding abilities to meet his company’s needs.
Liz: When you start to think about your job placement statistics, would the business co-founder not be included because he's not job seeking?
Bill: We haven’t thought about it in those terms. Knowing that he got the education he wanted that would put him on a different career path within his company, I would consider that a success. The thing that brought me to working with Bruce and Zach, besides the fact that they have an amazing legacy, is not everybody is looking to be a full stack developer and they respect that.
I think a lot of schools do themselves a disservice by not calling it a success when they help someone with a full career change, not just a “developer” career change.
We have students who want to be product managers so we’re bringing in product managers as mentors to help them learn how they can take their customer facing skills and turn that into user stories to work with developers. They feel much more fulfilled and say, “Someone’s listening to me. This is really what my career change has been for, not sitting in front of a terminal all day.”
Liz: We’ve seen this funny life cycle in bootcamps. In the beginning, everybody’s goal was to get a job as a developer afterwards. As the space has grown, those goals have varied and it doesn’t always make sense to limit placement statistics to developer job placement.
Bill: It’s not necessarily about developer job placement. We put attention on all the students to help make sure they’re getting where they need to be.
Liz: Do you have hiring partners? How are you planning to get people jobs in the roles they want?
Bill: There’s a number of places that we’re looking for that. Boulder is a very strong tech community, so all of us have relationships here. We’re just raising awareness in the community that we’re going to have 12 rock star candidates available, and they’re already expressing interest.
One of the projects the students did in the beginning was build a profile page because employers here are eager to meet these folks. It goes along with the point you made earlier about employers not necessarily caring if they’re LAMP or MEAN, they want somebody that’s got a good foundation that can be molded in their culture.
Liz: Are there other bootcamps in Boulder?
Bill: There are a couple of bootcamps in the area. TechStars was founded here in Boulder. That’s an example of a single place with a lot of startups seeking employable talent because they’re the folks who are getting out of the “garage” and eager to hire people. Our students come in with good educational and work backgrounds and now have this really solid skill. They are perfect for a startup that’s looking for someone that can wear many hats.
Liz: What’s been your biggest roadblock or challenge that you had to change right off the bat?
Bill: Before we had our first student walk through the door, we were updating the curriculum to reflect the latest technology in the MEAN stack, on the fly. In the traditional education path, that would never happen. All of their curriculum is locked in an iron vault and that’s how it lives.
We had to give these students the most current, employable mix so that when they’re talking to a hiring manager they would be up-to-date with the most current technologies and skills. That was a major focus for us and we’ve already seen it take place prior to the cohort starting.
I think right now the other thing that we knew was there and I think every cohort is going to have it, the class is a living breathing body itself. It’s like an Aspen grove; it’s “many” and it’s “one” at the same time. You have to adapt the curriculum to your cohort’s experience and ability level, whether a slower pace for people new to the technology or keep a faster pace for more experienced developer groups.
Liz: How did you decide on 10 weeks?
Zach: We strived to find that middle ground between the time required to teach people to be a junior developer and getting them back in the workforce as soon as possible. We realize it’s tough because effectively stopping their life to attend a full-time bootcamp requires a real sacrifice. They have to quit their jobs, save up, potentially borrow money and in some cases relocate to Boulder for this cohort. Our 10 week program is long enough to properly train them and short enough to be manageable for those focused on a career change.
Bill: In our opinion, there’s no reason to prolong it. Our job is to give them the right web-development skillset and our 10 week cohort accomplishes that. If you chart a curve from their “before salary” to their future income potential it’s imperative to get them in and out as quickly as possible with employable skills for their new careers.