Coder Camps also provides career services where at the completion of the course, graduates are introduced to leaders in technology to facilitate entry into a new career path in tech. Coder Camps graduates also receive lifetime access to continuing education courses at no additional cost.
Recent Coder Camps News
- January 2018 Coding Bootcamp News + Podcast
- Alumni Spotlight: Matthew Arvidson of Coder Camps
- 14 Alternatives to Dev Bootcamp
Recent Coder Camps Reviews: Rating 3.89
Full Stack Web Development
The Full-Stack Web Development program prepares graduates to excel as Full-Stack Web Developers. These sought-after, entry-level professionals make important contributions across all areas of web application architecture. They possess the broad knowledge of computer science principals and modern tools and have fundamental knowledge of available frameworks. They can work independently or as part of a software team.
- Hero Scholarship, Women in Technology Scholarship
Full Stack Web Development
The Full-Stack Web Development program prepares graduates to excel as Full-Stack Web Developers. These sought-after, entry-level professionals make important contributions across all areas of web application architecture. They possess the broad knowledge of computer science principals and modern tools and have fundamental knowledge of available frameworks. They can work independently or as part of a software team.
- Hero Scholarship, Women in Technology Scholarship
- Minimum Skill Level
- Basic computer knowledge
Full Stack Web Development
The Full-Stack Web Development program prepares graduates to excel as Full-Stack Web Developers. These sought-after, entry-level professionals make important contributions across all areas of web application architecture. They possess the broad knowledge of computer science principals and modern tools and have fundamental knowledge of available frameworks. They can work independently or as part of a software team.
- Hero Scholarship, Women in Technology Scholarship
Coder Camps Reviews
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“Through accelerated and immersive courses led by expert instructors, our students become accustomed to thinking like a developer and adapting to the dynamics of working on an Agile software team.” - a quote from CoderCamps own website….
Our instructor was a brand new T.A. The teacher that was suppose to teach (Ron) left the company without any disclosure from Coder Camps. We found out from David Weems he left and that is the reason our emails for help went unanswered. So expert is 1 and a half months after graduating from BootCamp? It does get better, wait until you read how we were dismissed from the Camp and our loan “Divvied Up” amongst them. Best part, we were never notified of our dismissal, my wife who received loan and co-signed for my loan NEVER received any communications until Jan. 15th. They left a VM and then proceeded to tell their V.P. they spoke with my wife. We have an attorney, contacted BBB,CFPB,AZAG and will not stop until they pay for damages to credit and our mental and emotional stress. By the way, our T.A. tried his best and is an all around good person.... person is key, not expert.
What an experience! I chose Coder Camps after about as much research as one could possibly do on a coding bootcamp. After moving from Charlotte, NC to Phoenix, AZ all I can say is that I made the right decision. From the get go the Admissions Manager Jamie was wonderful, she truly cares about your success and is there every step of the way to make sure you are getting the most out of the program. Even though the class can be tough you always have the support you need with top notch instructional staff that is always willing to help and answer any questions you may have. With John Thomas leading the way to continually update the curriculum as the industry changes I can tell it will only get better. I'm looking forward to taking advantage of the Coder For Life benefit that Coder Camps offers!
The backend of Coder Camps is wonderful as well. My admission rep, Jason Jones was always checking on me to see how I was doing, and if there was a problem he was always there to help me. He generally cares and it not just there to fill seats and collect a paycheck.
Chris Coleman, the COO is a great all around person. He is the main reason I signed up for the course, and the reason I'll continue to use the Coder for Life benefit. He is always available for the students, even though he is a busy guy up in the ranks. He cares about us little people.
I am excited to see the new direction the curriculum and the website is taking. John Thomas, the Director of Education is extremely knowledgable and can defintely do nothing but improve the current content. I would encourage anyone and everyone to join this program, it is going nowhere but up.
I went into the course excited, and also left pretty much the same...
Then reality struck and it turned out the material wasn't thorough enough, we didn't do enough algorithms, and the job help was so minimal, I don't even consider it "help".
We only had 1 instructor in Oakland, he knew what he was doing, but it came with a blasé attitude and a lot of things were skimmed over. When I asked a question, he would say that we already went over it like it was covered throughly. Otherwise, he was good.
The level of projects at which my peers in the Bay Area were coming out of camps with was noticeably different.
Coder Camps was my first choice because it offered both an online option and a .NET option. My background is as a technical trainer (amongst other things) and having taught mixed online/in-person classes myself, I was well aware that it's difficult to pull mixed classes off. So I was a little surprised to learn that online students are taught alongside the in-person class. I have to say they did pretty well, but sometimes it was impossible to hear what students actually there in the class were saying, and it was harder to stay engaged with those who were physically there. And there were the inevitable technical glitches, but not as many as I thought there would be and they were usually quickly resolved.
Overall the instructors (Dan Do and Stephen Walther) did an excellent job. There were a couple of sessions where I felt the instructor didn't have the sufficiently deep knowledge required in a topic to excel in teaching it, but overall the quality of the instruction was high. The lecture notes were reasonably comprehensive and there are many, many resources available online if you needed a deeper/different explanation. Be aware that it's very hard to keep documentation perfectly updated when, for example, AngularJS is releasing a new version every month or two. So the lecture notes weren't always perfectly up-to-date, nor, frankly, can they be.
Before going to any coding camp you should be prepared for a few things.
First, you must work really, really hard. There is no getting around this. The less you know going in, the more hours you will have to put in to keep up. I was fortunate in that I already had a lot of the basics and have taken classes here and there for 10 years (mostly in the last 3 years). I did anywhere from 60 - 80 hours a week with the occasional 90 hour week. There were one or two in my class who lacked basic knowledge and who struggled to keep up. There were also one or two who I guess just had money to burn as they didn't seem to actually DO anything except show up (sometimes) when they felt like it.
Second, you will likely do best if you already have some coding experience/classes under your belt. Get familiar with the basics from some of the many free online courses out there, and you will find it so much easier than going in with zero knowledge.
Third, If you are online you will need to advocate for yourself more so than if you are there in person. Get the contact information for the instructor and the TA and the best students in the class and ping them remorselessly. Set up an appointment early in the day for after-hours if need be for a shared-screen online session, and even if you solve the problem you originally needed help with, keep the appointment because you will almost certainly run into some other problem you need help with. If you are not comfortable being assertive you may feel you are being overlooked. As a former trainer I can tell you this isn't deliberate - it's just if I can't see you I have no idea if you need my help unless you TELL me.
Fourth, only YOU can get yourself a job. Sure, Coder Camps may provide you with a few leads, resume advice, and a session on common coding questions, but frankly it's YOU and YOUR skills that will get you a job. I was networking throughout the class and in my last week I already had interviews set up with local recruiters and companies. I did not expect Coder Camps to arrange interviews for me with recruiters or "hiring partners" and nor should you. I know it's part of their sales pitch but frankly it will be down to you, and I'm okay with that. I'm a grown-up. I didn't need or want their help with getting a job (although the interview question session and the provided materials were useful). If you need or want that support, then maybe this isn't the camp for you, although they do seem to be very focused on stepping up their career support.
Speaking of getting a job: I am a very non-traditional candidate. I'm solidly middle-aged, a woman, no computer science degree, nor have I been coding since age 9. Sure, I had some technical work experience, but nothing remotely resembling coding. I figured that if I hustled I'd have a job in maybe 6 months. It actually took me a little over two months. Note that the first month of that was taken up with some personal matters, so really I was only seriously job-hunting for 5 weeks.
Lastly, there is both an indiividual project and a group project. The success of the group project is determined by how hard your group is prepared to work and their overall skill level. If you have unmotivated people in your group project, be prepared to either do most of the group work yourself, and/or make your individual project shine.
To sum up: this was a positive experience for me, but I went in with realistic expectations (I have changed career before by doing an intensive course in this way). I also was prepared with a good amount of self-study prior to doing the course. And, of course, I worked my butt off and was proactive in getting the help I needed. You will come out of this with a good grasp of how to set up a full-stack .NET project using cutting edge technology and frameworks. You may not have a solid grasp of the why, but how to do things should be enough to get you your first job.
You are welcome to look me up on LinkedIn and send me a message/invite. I'm happy to expand on my rather lengthy review.
Cutting edge technologies are taught.
Full-stack - you can always specialize later if you want.
Fairly reasonable price.
Fully online option if you like coding in your PJ's
Online / in-class mixed instruction is very hard to pull off well and didn't always work.
Career support was not quite as promised (didn't matter to me), but is clearly being worked on.
Not everyone in the class had the aptitude or work ethic to succeed and sometimes dragged down the rest of the class.
You will get out of this what you put into it.
Response From: David of Coder Camps
Coder Camps turned out to be one of the best decisions that I've ever made. I was nervous about a major career change, walking away from a steady paycheck, and pushing 50 yrs old with no coding background whatsoever. The instructors and TA's were very helpful explaining the material and the student to teacher ratio made sure that I had the one-on-one attention that I needed. The career services program really sets Coder Camps apart from the competition. They guide you through a customized strategy to get you hired and help improve your existing resume. I was offered a great job with a 22% raise before I even graduated and have been with the same employer ever since! Thank you Codercamps.com
I left a career in sales to make the transition into a development career. I knew going into this, that it was going to be a difficult transition, especially with bootcamps still being quite new within the industry. However, after a good amount of online research, I felt that Coder Camps was going to be a great fit for what I was looking for in development.
Learning even just 1 technical language in 12 weeks is a daunting task, let alone Full-Stack .NET. Overall the course is extremely difficult, and as other reviews have stated, will require above and beyond time dedication to stay up to speed with the course. The great thing about Coder Camps is that the instructors and resources that you have available during the course, are eager and willing to help get you up to speed if you feel that you are slipping behind. My Instructor Dan, continuously made himself available - even during the weekends, so if you have him as an instructor - you're in for a treat.
Overall the course material WILL prepare you for the real world. The CRUD style applications that are built throughout the class, are exactly what companies will have you build in interviews - and to my experience, was comfortable doing it.
ONLINE vs. OFFLINE:
I'll keep this short and to the point - I took the course online. Coder Camps did a fantastic job of making the online students feel included and ask us questions and it did not hinder my learning experience. There were occasional audio issues, but nothing too serious. That being said - If you have the opportunity to do so, I would still take the course IN-PERSON if you can. Being able to speak to the instructors in person, and have code reviews in person - rather than having a screen share session - is invaluable. Although I must say waking up in the comfort of my own home and learning, was amazing.
This is where I feel that the experience lacked a bit. Toward the end of the course - specifically during our final presentations, I felt that everything ended very abruptly. We spent 1 day (actually only 2 hours) reviewing "interview" type questions - including "Fizz Buzz", etc. (if you don't know what that is - you will eventually), and we never re-visited it after.
Following our final presentations, which you dedicate three FULL weeks to, everything ended with an "OK, thanks - bye" type of feeling, which myself and other campers felt was a bit strange - especially those of us that were online students.
I did receive assistance with my resume, which ended up helping a great bit - but this was only AFTER speaking to a fellow camper friend having mentioned he got help with his. I would have really appreciated some additional assistance for the first few interviews and to guide us a bit better and help us better understand what to expect in the weeks to come. Now before I just make it seem like I am ranting on, I'm sure Dan and other instructors would have helped me if I had any specific questions, but having felt like a lost puppy after the course was over, I had no idea what to ask or even expect.
This school is a fantastic school. If you're thinking about joining a bootcamp that is specific to the .NET framework - Coder Camps is a top notch choice and will prepare you technically for this industry. I know this because 8 weeks after completion of the course, I was offered a position as a Jr .NET Developer in the Irvine area for an unbelievable company that works with the NFL and major retailers like McDonalds and Walmart to code and build interactive LED color video displays, and I am extremely excited to start my new life.
My time at Coder Camps was nothing short of life changing. I walked into the camp with minimal coding experience and left as a full-stack .NET developer. Not as a coding genius, but with enough knowledge and experience to build full-stack applications using a variety of the latest and greatest web technologies, and get a software developer position at a local company only 6 weeks after graduating.
I have nothing but good things to say about the instructors. Dan, Stephen and Lindsey (Teaching Assistant). They were completely approachable and knowledgeable at all times. They always went the extra mile to make sure we were getting better and helped us debug, so that we could continue to move forward and keep improving.
Job assistance needs to be more involved, but I was given lots of helpful advice and interview practice, and I'm positive that job placement improvements are in the works.
Coder Camps is going through many radical changes including a constantly evolving .NET curriculum written by a Microsoft MVP, and author of many best selling .NET books. They're ensuring that instructors are available throughout the group project phase so that students always have someone to consult. As far as I know, the troops do not overlap anymore, which is great! I also highly recommend staying behind longer for the optional free masters programme.
A word of advice. If you join a coding bootcamp, put in the minimum 9-5 effort 5 days a week and then expect to leave with the knowledge you came for, you'll be disappointed. And then you'll leave a bad review, which is unfair to the bootcamp. I've seen students like this first hand. You get what you put in, that's it. If you want to change your life in only 12 weeks, be prepared to work up to 16 hours a day, 7 days a week for the entire duration. If you don't commit 100%, you're wasting your time. All the help and resources you need are avaliable here, but it's what you do with them.
We were just finishing up our work for the last week of camp and guy drops in to tell us about his company. He was with a relatively small start up and was still getting his name out there.
The class heard about his plans and at the end of the discussion, he asked if any of us were interested in working at a place like his. I raised my hand and we setup an interview time for after I graduated.
At my interview, the owner of the company was there again and had a couple of developers in the room with him. It was a project based on node.js and React, the latter of which is a framework that I wasn't super familiar with, but I knew it had simliar features to Angular, which we had learned in class.
They asked some hard questions and let me look up answers as we went if I didn't know the answer off of the top of my head. It was all practical stuff about how I would handle situations X, Y, and Z.
At the end of the interview, we were all laughing and hanging out and the owner said that he thought I would make a wonderful addition to the team and gave me an offer letter. I didn't accept the offer right away as I was going to another interview that afternoon.
As I was walking to my car, I realized that I let out a long breath that I had been holding in for quite a while (before I started camp). What dawned on me was the fact that this was real and it was definitely going to happen.
Those people who say that these programs don't work are just complaining and scared. If you do what they ask, work your ass off, and graduate, you will get that job. I did and I could not have done it without Coder Camps.
I left a career making about 80k a year to take what I thought would be a small paycut to about 70k a year. This was according to Chris Lipari who said they had a 98% industry placement with an average salary of 75k a year. Over time, I found out this is not true. I watched his number change from 98%, 92%, 95%. He just makes it up. In addition to that, I talked to past students that were still attending and had been without a job for over a year, most over 6 months. All bright individuals. Don't buy into this program unless you are going to code. The career prospects are crap. The teachers are great, and I was told I would be able to sit in on the next camp once, free of charge. This too, changed during enrollment. They were "no longer doing that" however, I signed a contract. Welcome lawsuit. I did learn how to code, I did not get a job, I spent too much money on something I could have learned myself on my own over time. Great. The pace is super fast and many of the people spent over 100 hours a week and still did not pick up everything because of the fast pace. Thank god for the instructors who were more than willing to help.
Response From: David of Coder Camps
If you graduated the program, you should have full access to the entire curriculum that you took. Additionally, Coder For Life allows graduates to return anytime to take another camp absolutely free of charge with a live instructor or online. No other camp will allow this and it is part of our commitment to our students for their entire lives, not just the time that they are at camp.
If we can help you in any way, please do not hesitate to ask.
I have no idea what these other guys are complaining about. Numerous people went through the course and then got jobs, but only give 3 stars? Seems like they are nit-picking to me.
My experience was everything that I wanted it to be. In short, I could have had a few things better here and there, but the teachers were amazing, the staff was very helpful, the financing worked perfectly, and the outcome was what I wanted - I got hired at $90k per year (as did more than half of my class).
No camp is perfect. Coder Camps comes as close as you can get.
Response From: David of Coder Camps
Executive summary: first week is HARD but it gets easier. Facility is great, instructor is great, job assitance is mediocre, 75% of my troop was employed by the end.
I was in the pilot troop for Coder Camps in Redmond. There wasn't even a classroom set up when I moved into the apartment the week before. There were 4 people in my troop: myself with a BA in computer science and tube performance, an ex-chef, a downsized Microsoft engineer, and college grad who majored in Arabic. With two advanced students and two novice ones, It was a great atmosphere and made it easy to reinforce the concept through pair programming.
The first week is HARD. As a person with Java experience, I felt C# week was a good clip but manageable. For the students with no object oriented language experience, it was brisk to the point of unreasonable, since not only are you learning a new language, you're learning a whole new paradigm. But hey, it's a boot camp after all. After that things relax slightly. I reminded me of taking intensive study courses in college.
Coder Camps is at the location of a former bank. The main lobby had been converted into a classroom, with a smaller group project room. There are 3 study rooms, as well as a full kitchen. It's a great environment, and I stayed late most nights (you get 24/hr access). Coder Camps has troops in 6 week intervals, so while we were working on tha group project in the side room, the new troop (also 4) was in the mian classroom. This was also handy because if you need a review or a refresher, the class was literally be taught again in the room next to you.
The company housing is accross the street and very convenient, but EXPENSIVE (it is in Redmond after all). You'll probably pay living literally anywhere else. Parking is plentiful and free, which can be an issue given the location.
The Camp unfortunately didn't hand me a job with my certificate. They had people who were willing to mock interview you and offer suggestions, but you were on your own to fill out the job apps, work with recruiters, and try to get interviews. I feel like they could have been a bit more involved.
I chose to stay for the addition 3 week "master course" which was actually just me sitting in the side office and filling out applications all day and helping the new students. I had hoped for better outreach and connections to jobs in the area, but I found that exceedingly lacking. Still, at the end of the 12 weeks, 3 of the 4 of us had jobs.
The main instructor, Steven Walther was very well qualified, formerly an instructor at Microsoft himself (Look him up!. He taught well enough to make sure the new students were successful and has quality projects, while being knowlegable enough to answer the two advanced students' questions about compilers and data structures.
Among the other staff was the camp director and two TAs. The director did a great job making sure everyone was comfortable and handing the logistics of the camp. One of the TAs taught a beginning JS course during the day and was very helpful. The other was more of a distraction than anything, and left halfway through my time at the camp, happily announcing that he was submitting endless applications to other jobs instead of helping us do the same.
A little about me:
I earned my BA in computer science in 2013. After having a few tenured profs who didn't understand the job market, and splitting my time between a double major in music, I didn't leave that 4 year institution with much of a hope of getting a job. After sitting on my unemployed ass for two years, I decided it was time for a change.
I chose Coder Camps was local to me and convenient, there weren't really other factors.
In addition to adding a ton of skills and technologies to my resume, the camp taught me confidence and surrounded me a support group that helped me be successful. For me that's what I knew I needed. I had about a dozen interviews while there, each better than the last. The skills I picked up in web development definitely helped me become a better developer, and I use them at my job, though since I had a degree I was able to work at a larger company than the startups that Coder Camps targets.
I'd be happy to answer any specific questions and give out as much information as I can, though I may be a little biased. I'm working full time as an engineer and am in the process of buying a house, and it's because of Coder Camps.
Pros: My instructor was amazing. Stephen Walther is a professional developer who worked at Microsoft on the ASP .NET team, has written books, and knows his stuff. I learned a lot. I had almost no experience with code development. It was intense, and frustrating but very rewarding. The other students were great. It was a very supportive class and a positive atmosphere.
Cons: My first complaint was having a class with both in person students and remote students. The flow of the class was....strange....and often very distracting with students who were joining the class via the internet. We wasted a lot of time fixing technical difficulties and dealing with communication challenges.
Secondly, after the first few weeks when the class works on the team project, there was little to no help. Our group struggled with the project and it took a week for someone to look at our code and tell us how to fix it. Even then it was minimal. You can only Google and use StackOverflow so much. So the last three weeks we were basically on our own with no guidance other than a very short weekly check in. This is because they piggy-back the troops on top of one another so the instructor is on to a new class and doesn't have time to assist the former class. I don't fault Stephen with this. He's just doing his job.
The website claims Coder Camps has "Hiring Partners". Apparently they don't have any in Seattle. We were not introduced to any of these partners, not one employer came to Demo Day, which they claim is a job fair (not even close), and the only reason I got any help with my resume was I consistently emailed the corporate office for some help. Then I was told that it's a bad time of year for hiring (I get that...the holidays and all) and was giving a list of employment agencies. I could have (and did) done that on my own.
While we learned a lot of great skills, there was absolutely no job interview preparation or resume advice/help. I didn't know what a technical interview was until I started researching the interview process on my own. White-boarding? What is that?
Honestly, if you have the discipline to learn development on your own, do it. Or find a program that has an internship or a job placement guarantee or at the least a REAL job fair and connections with employers and plenty of preparation for real world job interviews.
Response From: David of Coder Camps
What I learned from Coder Camps paid immediate dividends for my company and me. I had very little programming knowledge when my brother and I entered the startup world, and even though I was on the business side of the company, I knew programming experience would be invaluable.
CEO David Graham and his staff were eager to see you do well in the course and in your career afterwards, and they did everything they could to help. Coder Camps also did an amazing job of putting a group of highly motivated students together in an environment that facilitated learning from our instructors, and one another.
And one final side note, I didn’t even look for a developer job after I finished camp since I already had my company, and still got emails and phone calls about open positions. There’s no doubt the need for developers is high right now, and Coder Camps is a great place to start if you’re looking to become one.
Response From: David of Coder Camps
i must say that attending Coder Camps was one of the best decisions I've ever made in terms of education. I've never been motivated by the college environment. I would just study to pass tests and slack just because I wasn't interested in what college had to offer. I can say happily that there wasn't a single day that I wasn't engaged or trilled to be there. I would spend 14+ hour a day at Coder Camps for the 12 weeks I was there doing the program.
Now I will say that if you attend Coder Camps you better not take the opportunity lightly. You have to work very hard and absorb as much of the information as possible. Do not go in with the attitude that just because you are sitting there that you'll become a rockstar developer. It's been 2 months since I've graduated and I'm still learning more and more each day. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that Coder Camps has created the foundation for this learning vigor.
The environment at Coder Camp was amazing. I'm still friends with the instructors and most of the people in my troop. Coder Camps made an effort to do events so everyone could get to know each other. Not only that but they have put the graduates in contact with many job opportunities.
So I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to David Graham and all of the Coder Camp's staff. It was truly an amazing experience and I will never forget it.
Response From: David of Coder Camps
I was super scared coming into Coder Camps. I had very little experience coding and I almost quit in Coding From Scratch. Cody, my instructor for Coding From Scratch, was awesome. He really pumped me up and made me feel like the struggles that I was going through were normal. It gave me a huge boost in confidence about my code.
While I was there though, I found out just how strong I was. Whether it was the exhaustive days, or the extremely difficult projects that pushed everyone to their limits of frustration some days, or the compassion that I had to show to my fellow classmates when they weren't quite getting it. Coder Camps made me a better person along the way.
They say that you never know your limits until you really try... well, I know mine without a doubt. It's funny how the hardest thing I have ever done is also the most rewarding thing.
Oh, and I got three job offers within two weeks of graduating. One in Washington, DC, one in Florida, and one in Washington state. I am from Florida, so that looks like my first choice as of now.
I had a great experience with Coder Camps at their Houston campus. I came in with extremely minimal knowledge of programming; I had only completed HTML, CSS, and half of JS on codecademy before I enrolled and began their Coding From Scratch program online then went on to attend the Full Stack .NET course in-person. Nick was my instructor at Houston, and he is an absolutely amazing professor and resource as well. He was always more than willing to help myself and other students with problems during development, as well as with understanding concepts better from class that day that were hard to grasp. He is able to break hard concepts down to smaller pieces in real-world, not technical ways to help you understand the concept if the technical definition and use was too much. The atmosphere at Coder Camps is incredibly resourceful as well as supportive, and everyone, including my fellow classmates, was always willing to lend a hand if I needed some help. Chris Lipari, a relatively new employee, was absolutely amazing at helping me build a resume that tech companies want to see, as well as with giving good advice for applying and interviewing. Coder Camps also offers mock technical interviews (the CEO, David Graham, is even willing to do this with you), although I didn't take advantage of that myself but I had friends who did and found it extremely helpful. Coder Camps really is a life-changing experience, and you can get as much out of it as you put in. I was skeptical at first of getting burnt-out with the full-time schedule, but you soon find your ideal balance and what works optimally for you. Looking back, I think it would be a lot harder to learn .NET development if it was spread out, since doing it full-time ensured that all details were still fresh and you were ready to keep building from the day before.
I was part of their second troop (started May 04th, 2015, graduated July 24th, 2015), and I'm writing this review to highlight issues not only with Coder Camps but also boot camps in general. I DO NOT RECOMMEND going to a boot camp in the Seattle area because they have not caught on really at all here, unless you have prior experience (atleast some college experience). I was a high school graduate with no coding experience before this, took their CFS and their Full Stack .NET bootcamp, and while they said they can take anyone (who was willing, and I was) from zero to hero, and said prior to my graduation that 'I would have no problem getting a job' as I was commended frequently for my hard work and dedication, yet here I am, less than 2 weeks from paying my first massive payment for an education which so far has served no career purpose whatsoever. I have applied to over 100 jobs in the Seattle area, focusing on Front End Developer, .NET Developer, and any junior positions but have only received communication back from less than 5 companies, 2 of which gave me introductory interviews but nothing after that. I'll admit, I'm not the greatest at interviews because Coder Camps didn't train us on interviews, they trained us on getting a website up and running and well, yet interviewers are not asking these questions, but asking Computer Science questions and notepad coding, something that takes years to do. I think coding bootcamps are feasible, but DON'T go to a Seattle area one, and DON'T go to Coder Camps. Why? Coder Camps doesn't offer to pay (or simply hold) your payments for the non-student loan you have through them, even if you don't have a job. Their 90% placement rate seems bogus because I don't believe anyone in my troop has gotten a job, the previous troop got jobs outside of the Seattle area, and the troop ahead of me only has one who got a job in Alabama.
The problem with a Seattle bootcamp is that there isn't a lot (only Coder Camps and Coding Dojo that I'm aware of), and that doesn't give you the selection like you would have down in San Fran, so apply there, where you can try and get deals and make sure they will hold your payments until you get a job. Coder Camps was a great experience, but I think every coding bootcamp is, so it isn't special, and that's why while I'll recommend going to a coding bootcamp, I don't recommend Coder Camps nor any in the Seattle area, as the job openings are mainly for Senior or Mid-Career developers with years of experience on top of a BS in CS.
I plan on editing this review if I do get a job to accurately portray my experience with Coder Camps and coding bootcamps.
Finally, here's two of the major cons of Coder Camps: 1. Doesn't withhold your payments if you don't get a job, and 2. Doesn't get you hired. I have received zero help (period) from Coder Camps in finding a job. They work with TEKsystems, yet I went in for the set-up interview and they have yet to even get me a single interview, versus just going out on my own has gotten me two.
TLDR; Don't go to Coder Camps anywhere, and don't go to coding bootcamp in Seattle area if you don't have already progress towards a CS degree. Go to a bootcamp in San Francisco and find one that withholds payments for your non-student loan if you don't find a job. I graduated 3 months ago, have been actively looking for a job, applied to over a hundred jobs for modest positions, gotten two interviews, zero help from Coder Camps on getting a job, and in 10 days my first payment of $350 dollars a month will kick in where I have not improved my wage at all. I'll update this review if I get a job. Thanks for reading, and beware!
Response From: David of Coder Camps
Additionally, as a graduate, we will always work with you through our newly revised career services department to get you ready for that first job.
I had a great experience at the Oakland campus. The instructors were phenomenal and Jackie the campus director is awesome. The curriculum and learning pace were intense but you get a lot out of it. It is truly amazing what you can learn in 9 weeks. Would highly recommend this program to anyone interested in attending.
Before coming to the Coder Camps Greater Seattle (Redmond, WA) location, I also had a chance to go through the curriculum down at Houston.
Starting day 1, right away, our main instructor, Nick, a senior developer who specialized in the .NET framework for 13 years, guided us and taught us the practical skills we needed to know to be ready for the job market. It was lecture followed by Individual tasks/projects/homework non-stop through out the day. There were times where I felt overwhelmed and frustrated when my project wasn't working properly, but thanks to TAs and senior students, I was able to get the help needed.
For those who are looking to learn the trending technology, ASP.NET + JS, Coder Camps is definitely a place to look into. Especially with Stephen Walther at the Greater Seattle Location, my Instructor/mentor Nick at Houston, and Jeremy at SF bay area, you will be provided with all the knowledge you need to be in the trending job market. I have been taught by all three instructors and they are all truly dedicated and passionate at what they do.
One last thing I would like to comment is that Coder Camps also helped students with now only polishing resumes for students, but also held weekly workshops that helped with how to interview properly, how to polish your linkedin account, and many other tips that helped prepare looking for the right career. (Thanks to the Admin Team!)
I attended Coder Camps from January - March 2015 at their Bay Area location. It was the best decision I've made in my high school/college drop-out career. I worked in sales for a company and made decent money. It wasn't fulfilling, and I knew I could do more with my brain. So I took the leap of faith and enrolled in camp.
The next phase of camp is learning .NET which is the framework of your web applications. This was a little more difficult for me to grasp. I had to dedicate the entire day (12+ hours a day) to learn the material and do the homework. But hey that's what you are signing up for right?!
The final phase was group and individual projects. This was my favorite part because it was truly amazing to work with my peers; just a few weeks prior we had no idea how to even begin building out web applications and now we were operating like developers on a team. Also, the instructors were constantly coming by to offer assistance if we ran into issues. Instead of just solving the problems they teach you how to dissect the problem and rectify it. This is the way I like to learn - by doing, by trial and error, and by figuring out how to figure it out. The ability to problem solve is invaluable. Also in this phase, you learn source control (allows you to share your code with teammates and open source projects) such as how to use TFS and I taught myself how to use GitHub. I wish this had been introduced at the beginning of our troop. From my understanding, it will be taught at the beginning of the class for future students.
Overall, I feel confident with the skills I gained from attending Coder Camps. I started applying for jobs during the last two weeks of the course and had two job offers within a month. Caution: Do not come expecting that, come expecting to learn how to program and the job offers will come when they come. If you are someone who feels unfulfilled at your current job and have secretly always wanted to be a software developer, then a development bootcamp is for you. Coder Camps just so happened to be my program of choice. Whichever one you decide - good luck, work hard, ask questions and I know you will be pleased with the results.
They do not teach you Comp Sci theory in 9 weeks (I don't think it's possible) but they do teach you how to program. For me I tried for a whole year before coming to camp and could never get past the basics. Coder Camps pushes you through that. They teach you how to teach yourself, and how to learn a programming language, which is powerful. More powerful than just memorizing syntax of one language.
I came to Coder camps with zero previous programming experience, and after camp was over I feel confident in my programming skills. The instructors are amazing, and willing to help you with any problem or question you have. Coder camps is just like any other educational institution, you get out what you put in. Instead of leaving at 5 and going about the rest of my day, I stayed till 7 or 8 and then would go back to the apartment with other students and study and practice until atleast 12 every night.
I also had the opportunity to meet some really amazing people, that I still keep in touch with. I learned a lot from these people, and we all helped each other out on every project.
If you are someone who is on the fence about attending, I say go for it. just remember, you need to work hard and study, not just go to class and hang out after if you want to succeed.
I was skeptical that the online experience would live up to the in person reputation, but it turned out to be the best online education experience ever. I have a BS that I earned from University of Pheonix online and I found that experience to be lack luster.
The real difference here was that the teachers and TAs are in the online session with you all day, every day. You don't have class, then come back at a different time. They are there to walk you through every phase of the education process, step by step. ( Nick, you are legend, my man! )
Even though I had been a student in CS before coming to camp, this really solidified things for me and made me understand what it really means to be a great programmer. So glad that I chose to take Coder Camps online, in spite of my bad experience with other online educational programs.
Our latest on Coder Camps
Welcome to the first News Roundup of 2018! We’re already having a busy 2018 – we published our latest outcomes and demographics report, and we’re seeing a promising focus on diversity in tech! In January we saw a significant fundraising announcement from an online bootcamp, we saw journalists exploring why employers should hire bootcamp and apprenticeship graduates, we read about community colleges versus bootcamps and how bootcamps are helping to grow tech ecosystems. Plus, we’ll talk about the newest campuses and schools on the scene, and our favorite blog posts. Read below or listen to the podcast!Continue Reading →
Since 5th grade, Matthew Arvidson wanted to be a developer, but didn’t think it was a viable career because he didn’t know anyone working in the tech industry. After teaching himself some code online, Matthew took a friend’s advice and chose to attend Coder Camps’ Full Stack Software Development online program. Read more about the Coder Camps online experience and see how Matthew landed a job as a Software Developer.
What is your pre-bootcamp story and your last career path before you started to learn to code?
I started in the U.S. Air Force and then worked in Sales before starting Coder Camps. As far as education goes, I had a high school education, but no college experience before the coding bootcamp. The last job I had was a six-month role at a company in Carlsbad, California. The first time I met computer programmers was at this job and that's where I started to get interested in software development as a career.
Since I was in the 5th grade, I knew I wanted to be a developer. I wanted to create stuff, but I never believed it was possible because I had never met anyone with that job. When I met the programmers at my last position, saw what they were doing, and then saw that you didn't necessarily need a four-year degree to get started, I decided to start looking into coding bootcamps. The barrier to entry in software development was just to get a foot in the door.
Did you try to learn on your own before you thought about a coding bootcamp? What types of resources did you use?
I tried a few different resources when I was learning on my own. I started with a few courses at codeacademy.com, and after that I moved on to freecodecamp.com and completed most of the work towards their front end development certificate. From there, I used CodeSchool.com to learn full stack development. I found that I was getting through assignments and I was getting the projects done, but there was no structure. So I decided to attend a coding bootcamp.
Did you consider other coding bootcamps? What stood out about Coder Camps?
I applied to Hack Reactor Remote, where I was interested in their online option. I was also looking at App Academy. I had a friend who got accepted to Coder Camps and suggested that I attend with him, so I agreed to apply. I went with Coder Camps’ online bootcamp because I learn better online.
You mentioned that you actually prefer to learn online – what was your secret to staying engaged and learning to code online?
I had a vision… a goal I wanted to achieve. I saw that others have done it before me and I wanted more than anything to share that success.
How long did it take you to finish Coder Camps online? What did you actually learn?
I finished the course ahead of schedule. It was a 24-week course and I finished my final project around week 12. I learned the M.E.A.N stack - so MongoDB, ExpressJs, AngularJs, and NodeJs.
How many people were in your cohort?
There were 8 of us, but because I finished ahead of schedule, I didn’t interact with them a lot. The small group size meant that any time I had a question, my instructor was there to answer it. If I was having trouble with some of the harder concepts, like Authentication, when I was developing my project, he would sit down with me via Google hangout or over email, and answer my questions.
One thing that would have helped my experience would have been if I had been working with some sort of cohort. There was a group project on the Coder Camps website, so when I started the bootcamp I was under the impression that I would be participating in these group projects, but Coder Camps eventually told me that the group project was not for available for online students.
How did you pay for your tuition? In light of current legislation, do you think coding bootcamps should be able to accept the GI Bill?
I am a US Air Force veteran and Coder Camps gave a great discount for military veterans. I didn’t use the GI Bill, but in general, I think that it would be cool for bootcamps to be able to accept the GI Bill to attend a coding bootcamp.
We always hear about similarities between coding bootcamps (and the life of a coder) and being in the military. Has this been your experience?
If you look at it realistically, bootcamp students are cramming and consolidating four years of education into a few months. So yeah, my course was rigorous and you have to think logically and that experience is similar. I'm not sure if I would really compare it to the military, but it was definitely difficult on a separate level.
Did you have a favorite project that you built at Coder Camps?
How did Coder Camps prepare you for job hunting (interviews, hiring events)?
Coder Camps is a very busy shop, but the career counselor who I worked with was great. She helped us with reviewing our resumes, and we did mock interviews in preparation for the real thing, although that didn’t always happen at the allotted times. Learning online means that you’ll have to work extra hard to get the help you’ll need – I had to be proactive to get the help I needed. I also did a lot of my own research to find best practices in a technical job search.
Tell us about your job search. How did you transition from a student to an employed developer? Any tips?
Getting a job for me was really about taking action online. I was searching in multiple states and I was putting myself out there as much as possible. About a month ago, I landed a job with a company in Tampa, Florida so I relocated for the job. I'm now a front-end developer, but I have opportunities to work on both sides – front-end and back-end.
What stood out to you about the job you took?
I took this job mainly because they were using AngularJS, so I knew it would give me a chance to use my skill set. On the back-end, they're using C# so I also have the chance to learn something new. Overall, the job is great.
My advice for other bootcampers looking for a job is to not give up or be too picky. Put your best foot forward, and know this: taking action will get you results.
Do you feel like you learned everything at Coder Camps that you needed to know for this job?
After Coder Camps, I was more than ready for my role. The approach I took to my time at a coding bootcamp was intense, so when I started my job, I felt like I had a solid knowledge base and I knew what they expected from me.
Today, I also get a lot of support from my co-workers and that’s helped me move past my employer’s expectations. Anytime I have a question, someone connects with me on a Google Hangout and screen shares to make sure they are moving me through.
What advice do you have for people making a career change through a coding bootcamp?
There were ups and downs to my experience, but Coder Camps was certainly a great organization to be a part of. A coding bootcamp is more work than you might expect, so be willing and prepared to sacrifice your time, and maybe a little bit of your sanity, to get through it. But I don’t regret it!
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 →
When and why did you join Coder Camps?
I came on board at Coder Camps in late 2016. In my career I’ve been a software engineer, team lead, manager, and an executive. So when I started at Coder Camps, I brought an employer’s perspective, because I have experience interviewing and hiring both traditional and non-traditional candidates.
The demand for coders right now is outweighing the supply, but many companies are still requiring four-year degrees and looking for those traditional candidates because it makes them feel comfortable. As an employer, I found it very challenging to fill our teams within those traditional hiring requirements. So I started looking into nontraditional candidates like bootcamp graduates, and had some pretty remarkable success. I joined Coder Camps out of that awareness and frustration from the hiring side. It’s difficult to find the right level of talent in the marketplace right now. Right now, we're pushing for a new curriculum, content, and additional programs to produce quality talent.
Coder Camps has been teaching for three years – what’s motivating these changes to the curriculum?
Many of the changes stem from what I was seeing when interviewing in the field, and where I thought coding bootcamp graduates were falling short.
A lot of candidates were following an overly linear path throughout their education. But software development is not linear! You can’t just follow a recipe – it's about exploration, trial, failures, and learning from mistakes. The people who succeed in this industry are comfortable with problems that they can't immediately solve – a linear path will not adequately prepare students for that experience.
The bootcamp students I interviewed were also having a hard time understanding why they chose to use particular technologies in their projects. I was usually impressed with the project and could see they were well-trained in presenting it. The challenge came when I'd say, "Why did you choose Angular?" And they'd have a hard time answering those types of questions. The logic behind the decisions that they were making evaded them.
How will the new curriculum solve these problems?
What are the new modules that students can choose from?
For example, when we get to RESTful services, we give students the option to learn that through Node.JS or through the .NET Stack. We are introducing Ruby next month, and Java in July. On the front-end, we were only teaching Angular, and now we're giving students the option of Angular or React.
The curriculum is no longer pre-determined up front–it allows the student to evaluate and explore these technologies during the coursework. We like to tell students there are a lot of different tools available to achieve each outcome. You should research those on your own, talk to your peers in the industry, talk to your classmates, and debate like we would in a software setting, about which technology makes the most sense.
How did you choose the modules that you're now offering?
Will those technology stacks and modules change depending on the city?
Yes. This modular approach allows us to cater for the shift in technology demands regionally. We have three campuses in Phoenix, Seattle and Houston, but the majority of our students are online and so we have a national presence. Not every city has the same profile of companies and technologies that are in demand, so this new approach allows our teams to help students navigate through the technologies that are most useful in their area.
It's easy to get wrapped up in the shiny new technologies, so as developers, a lot of the things that we're interested in learning aren't necessarily technologies that employers are looking for. We have to temper our excitement around some of those things. We try to host workshops around some of those concepts, but to really leverage the 12 weeks that we have with each student, we have to focus on technologies that are in demand in their area.
Are all the instructors going to be well-versed in each technology?
That works seamlessly for our online students, but for the in-person campuses, it's a challenge. But our primary goal is to be flexible enough to offer technologies that fit the region, so we can look at our Seattle campus and profile the technologies in demand there, and have some pre-determined tracks for Seattle students.
Occasionally you get a student that says, "I understand that you're teaching to the demand of my region, but I really feel like I want to learn Ruby." And that’s where our online platform is useful for our in-person students. That student then has the option to attend the online sessions on Ruby. They still come to campus, they still have the support of our instructional staff on campus, but they would get the material for that week delivered through an online lecture.
How can students collaborate on projects if they are learning different technologies?
We try to partner students up with a group that has like-minded technologies, and all using the same tech stack. Or they can partner with a group working on a different technology; in a typical software team, people tend to specialize. We really don't see challenges in students being able to partner up and ultimately getting exposure to different technologies and the conversations that come out of that. This situation spawns a lot of really good conversations.
Do you have assessments or a way to track how students are progressing with each module?
Yes. We recently launched a new learning platform to support assessments. A lot of the commonly available learning management systems did not have the flexibility that we needed. So we ended up building our own, which is video-driven.
Students spend most of their time doing hands-on exercises, but when they submit solutions through our online portal, we can systematically grade them, and analyze the student responses. Our system can give them individualized feedback and guide them to the correct solution, and we're able to track student performance. If we have a student who is performing below expectations, we then proactively notify the instructor to spend additional time with them. We can also identify our top performers and get additional materials in front of them.
When you realize that a student is falling behind, can students repeat a module if they wanted or needed to?
Yeah, absolutely. Throughout the 12 week course, there are essentially four milestones, and at any of those milestones students can opt to repeat that segment. Maybe you struggle with a particular concept or something happens in your personal life, so you're not quite keeping up. We don't want to push those students through or kick them out; we want them to be successful. We've had students repeat courses and go on to be successful in the field.
How does your Coder For Life program fit in with the new curriculum?
A 12-week program can offer a great start, but software development really requires lifelong learning. I'd like to teach these students for years because there's so much that you can learn. To address that time constraint we introduced a program called Coder For Life, which means that all of our graduates get access to all of our additional curriculum.
When we launch Ruby next month, and Java in July, all of our former graduates get access to that curriculum. Technologies will shift. One of the biggest decisions the students tend to make is, "What technology do I learn? How am I confident that this isn't going to go away in a year or two?" We want them to feel comfortable because they know they will have access to all our future curriculum as it evolves. If their situation changes or they want to expand their knowledge, they can take additional coursework with us.
We're not just giving students the transactional education that gives them a start, we're establishing a partnership with them that's long-term, and we're investing in their continued education. We tell our students at the end of 12 weeks, “That was your start.” We want you to continue with your education.
You mentioned that Coder Camps just launched a new learning platform – what can students expect?
We wanted everything to be video driven. So even though online instruction is becoming incredibly popular, it does have its challenges and we wanted to do the best we could to replicate the immersive classroom experience. The content available in the system is mobile responsive and has a lot of code snippets and examples for students to explore and experiment with, browser-based exercises and quizzes, and the ability for us to track the analytics and performance of the student.
How will the modular curriculum make students more marketable as developers when they graduate?
I think it helps them to answer the “whys” in the interview. A lot of these candidates are very good at answering “how did you develop a system or how did you build this?” But when it comes to “why would you do it that way,” they might say "because it's the one way I know how to do it, and I didn't have a chance to determine alternative ways of doing it." So this modular curriculum allows students to do those evaluations and answer with confidence.
Career services also consult on the job search and whether a student is lacking in any areas. If a student doesn't have the knowledge they need for a specific role or interview, we can very rapidly build a customized course for them and help them get there. They’ll go through three units for two and a half weeks, then go do a job interview.
Is there anything else you want to add about this new curriculum?
Every time we develop a new module, we try our best to avoid prerequisites where possible–this keeps us out of that linear approach. If someone wants to learn a particular concept, they shouldn’t have to learn six concepts as pre-requisites before then.
Tell us about your background and experience before you joined Coder Camps.
I started programming when I was 11 years old. I found a book on C++ at the library, thought it was cool, and started programming console applications. Once I learned the basic constructs of programming, a friend introduced me to an IDE called GameMaker, and I started to make computer games, which was how I developed my first love for programming.
As an adult, I had 10 years of teaching experience in the music industry, but decided I should find a more stable career. I returned to programming and got my Computer Information Systems degree at DeVry. I took 24 credit hours a semester, so that I could get my degree in under two years– it was a sprint marathon. So I can relate to my Coder Camps students who are working hard to shift their careers. When I graduated, I did some work for Honeywell and was a Java software engineer at Choice Hotels International. I’ve now combined my love of teaching with my love of programming, and I’m in the best possible place.
Did you learn everything you needed in college to be a developer?
How did you become aware of the bootcamp model and what did you think of it at first?
I said to my wife, “You know what would be cool? A job where I could do a lot of research and teach, I would love that.” Two days later a recruiter called me and told me about a job available at Coder Camps, and that’s when I first heard about bootcamps. I’d used online sites like CodeSchool and Codecademy to pick up new skills, but I wasn’t aware of the 12-week immersive bootcamp model. So I heard about bootcamps when I got hired by one. I started in February 2017.
I was pretty awestruck– the ability to take someone who has never heard of programming before and mold them into a developer, and teach them those skills– I wish I would’ve done that either in place of, or on top of my degree.
What made you excited to work at Coder Camps in particular? There are a number of bootcamps in Phoenix– what stands out?
When I came here and interviewed, I saw the curriculum and the way they approached education. It wasn’t stagnant or just there to push people through. Every staff member here is constantly looking to change, evolve, and make the teaching process better.
You mentioned you had experience teaching music. Can you tell me about that experience and how that has prepared you for teaching at Coder Camps?
I started teaching private piano lessons when I was 13 years old, then I added guitar, saxophone, and trombone. I then started setting up music programs in charter schools. It was a neat experience to teach children from ages 4 to 18.
That teaching experience definitely prepared me well for Coder Camps. When I taught music, I always emphasized the importance of practice, which I now emphasize to the Coder Camps students. I’m also a wrestling coach, and that also has a lot to do with my style of teaching. I talk to my students a lot about putting in the extra mile. For wrestlers, going to practice is the bare minimum and practice isn’t easy. The extra mile it takes to become a wrestling champion is running home after practice and cutting weight, and the same can be applied to software engineering. You can show up to work or school and do the bare minimum. If you want to succeed and step out above the rest, you have to put in extra, learn on your own time, and constantly build new applications. That’s my mentality when it comes to success.
What is your personal teaching style?
At Coder Camps, I have a lot of liberty to talk about best practices, which I think is so important. You can learn how to do something in programming, and do the same thing over and over, but best practices are what sets developers apart from great developers. So I’ll teach the content, and explain when you use it, why you use it, where you wouldn’t use it, and how to use best practices to increase efficiency, and optimization.
As an instructor, I’ve also been writing a lot of the curriculum, and that’s been an awesome part of this experience so far. I’ve been able to teach, write curriculum, write articles, speak at events and record visual tutorials.
How many instructors, TAs and/or mentors do you work with? Do you think there is an ideal student:teacher ratio?
I’m the main instructor, and I have a TA/mentor who helps me out. During class time, I’m teaching and we are all helping the students. When the students move into their group projects, the mentor leads them through the SCRUM/agile process, and helps them get set up. The mentor doesn’t do the work for them, but guides them with methodology about how to build the product.
Right now we have 9-15 students in my class, and 15 is the maximum. In our next cohort, I have 13 students starting, that’s the largest class I’ve taught. So we usually keep a 6:1 ratio, and everyone gets everything they need. The students really seem to like it.
How do you assess student progress and make sure students keep up? Do you give assessments or tests?
We track progress through tests and quizzes. If at any point students are falling behind, I'll come in early, and the mentors will stay late to help them get caught up. If the whole class is struggling, we step back together, but we can’t slow down the rest of the course for one student.
What is the process if a student is really falling behind? Are people ever asked to leave?
There is a delicate balance there between our business model and the academic model. We don’t want to just take everyone's money. We’re not going to let someone stay in the course for the whole 12 weeks, and then tell them they can’t graduate but still have to pay the full fee. With our Coder for Life program, any student who has taken the past curriculum has free access to everything we teach forever, so it’s really cool for past and future students. We never tell them to drop out. With our Coder for Life program, we let students take the course as many times as they need. If they need to work a little slower, then they have the opportunity to continue getting that support. We are here to help them and work with them.
Do you have a role in helping your students get jobs?
I do. When students graduate, we do mock interviews, and I participate in the technical and HR interviews. I have a deep appreciation for HR soft skill interviews, and I’m able to help them there.
My greatest advice is to put in the extra mile. When I graduated college, a lot of my classmates graduated with me who had not done anything outside of their coursework, and it took them a while to find a job. Employers want to see that you are doing extra– that’s what sets you apart.
Focusing on programming best practices during Coder Camps really helps the students’ careers as well; once they start a job, they not only know how to code, but also know what industry best practices and standards are. When I started at Choice Hotels, I knew how to code but I was behind with how everything worked. In my first 6 months, I was learning how to actually use code within a business, so I really try to prepare my students for that.
What sort of projects are your current students working on?
We have a group right now working on their final project. It’s the coolest thing ever– they are using Xbox Kinect to keep track of a real ping pong game. It keeps track of the scores and the player stats. It’s pretty impressive and creating quite a buzz right now around the classroom. I have no doubt those students are going to do some pretty amazing things.
What’s the goal for a student that completes the bootcamp? Will they be prepared for a junior developer or senior developer role?
The goal is twofold. First, if a student had no prior experience and successfully completes Coder Camps, then they should be eligible for a junior entry level developer role. Secondly, we don’t want them to only be equipped for that role; we want them to be equipped for successful progression in their career. If you learn how to learn, and how to progress, that’s our major goal. We’re not just trying to place graduates into jobs; we’re trying to get them into their first job, with good knowledge, and put them on the right path to rapidly move through that career track.
Michael Miller-Hairston found a passion for coding during his degree in digital culture, then taught himself to code while waiting tables. He almost went back to college to study computer science, then came across Coder Camps and enrolled at their Phoenix, Arizona campus. Michael tells us about O Source, the project his Coder Camps team of three built in just three weeks. He shares his screen to demo the project and explains how he hopes it will help new coders build up their experience and portfolios. Watch the video or read the interview!
Tell me about your pre-bootcamp story. What was your educational or career background before you decided to go to Coder Camps.
Before Coder Camps, I went to Arizona State University and graduated with a degree in digital culture. I did some programming, but it was more so for media, so I used Max/MSP, and Processing. Then I took a course for programming using Objective-C and Swift for Apple products. That's when I really found a passion for it, picked it up, and started to pursue it.
After that, I was teaching myself while waiting tables. I found Coder Camps, and I figured it would expedite the process so that I could actually pursue a career in programming. And that's how I ended up here.
Did you research any other coding bootcamps? Were there any specific factors that made you choose Coder Camps?
Did you consider going back to college to study computer science?
I did actually. I was about a day away from going back to Arizona State University. The deciding factor really was the fact that I could do Coder Camps in 12 weeks or I could do another degree in two years.
Once you decided that you're going to go to Coder Camps, what was the application and interview process like?
My admissions rep Jason called me, and we did most of the interview over the phone. They have a coding from scratch course that you have to pass before the course starts which is like an introduction to programming. During that course, Jason would call me at least once a week and check up on me, make sure I was okay, and to see if I needed any help. Once that was over, they signed me up for the next available class.
Once you started, what was your cohort like? How many people were there and was it quite diverse in terms of gender and race and background?
Yeah. We had nine people, and it was three girls and six guys, and two of them were remote. We had one guy who was calling in from Oregon and then a girl who was calling in from Houston.
The majority of the class had no programming experience. There was one lady who had a master's degree from ASU in computer hardware, but she had no experience actually programming. Then there was a girl who was actually a front end developer for a while. Other than me, nobody really had any experience.
What was the learning experience like at Coder Camps? Give me an example of a typical day and the teaching style.
A typical day would start with an assignment from the night before. We would each go over our assignments, show what we had done, and talk about where we had problems. If we couldn't complete it because of the problem, the instructor would help us through that.
From there, we jumped into the instruction, and the instructors live coded while we followed along. That was a great way to solidify our skills. After lunch, we did some more lessons and then worked on an assignment until class was over. Most of us would stay on campus afterward and work on the assignment until we finished it.
I'm interested in the project that you're going to show me. What kind of assignment were you given for this project and how long did you have to build it?
There were no real guidelines. It was essentially “Make something with the stuff that you've learned.” We originally had six weeks to work on our final project, but halfway through that, the guy whose idea we were working on left, so we basically started over.
So we had just three weeks to build the app that we have now. We were always told to contribute to open source projects because that's a good way for employers to see that you're actually pursuing the knowledge and using it. So we wanted to do that, but we didn't know how, so our app helps you with that issue.
Can you show me a demo of what the app looks like?
Our project is called O Source. There is a landing page where it gives you some general information about the website and what it does. Then there's an “About” page that talks about the three of us who worked on it. You can log in with GitHub or LinkedIn, but to access all the features at this point, you need to log in with GitHub.
From there, you can see your GitHub repositories. It pulls those so that you can add them to the open source project. You can fill out a form describing what your project is and what language and frameworks it uses, then it’s all added to our system so that people can search for your project based on what they're good at, and their skill level. Then they can contribute to your project, and you can also search and contribute to other people’s projects.
Who is this app aimed at? Is it people who are new to coding?
It's aimed at all developers. So essentially if you're a new developer and you want to find a project to contribute to, you can use it for that. Or if you're an established developer, and you have an open source project that you need help with, you can also use the site to find help.
How big was your team and what technologies did you use to build that?
There were three of us. We used the MEAN Stack; MongoDB for the database, Express, and Node on the back end for the queries, and then Angular for the front end.
How do you divide up tasks amongst you and your team members?
We basically laid everything out that we had to do, and then ranked the tasks by the difficulty level. Then we each picked the easier ones so that we can knock them out real quick and focus more on the difficult task. After that, we just grabbed whichever tasks everyone thought we would be good at, and worked on it until we finished. Then we grabbed a new one.
Were there any particular technologies that you had to learn how to use especially for this project?
For the login service, we used a third party login service so I had to tinker with that quite a bit. It came pre-built so you can use GitHub, LinkedIn, Facebook, and basically any social media that you needed. But it had some issues, so we had to work through those and learn those as we went along.
What would you say was the biggest challenge you had while building this project?
I would say the time span because we had already been working on a project for three weeks, then we had to start over. Not only from concept and the idea, but we had to do it all the way through to what you see now.
So what are your plans for the future of this project? Are you going to continue working on it and launch it live?
We are. Right now it's almost ready. We have a few tweaks, but we're focusing our energy on starting careers, and then once we get established in that part, we've all agreed to come back to it and work on it.
What have you been doing since you graduated from Coder Camps?
I've actually been learning a new technology – React. I've also been looking for a job. I had an interview the other day with Red Ventures, which is in North Carolina.
What kind of job, in particular, are you hoping to get?
What kind of career advice or job help did Coder Camps give you?
Oh, they've given us a lot. Everything from resumes, your LinkedIn, and your social media presence. But they've also given us mock interviews, so we've done whiteboarding, and technical interview practice. They have people here looking for positions that they think you'd be a fit for and they set you up for interviews and phone calls. They've helped me basically every step along the way.
Now that you’ve graduated are you still keeping in touch with staff and alumni from Coder Camps?
Yeah. I talk to the guys from my project group all the time, and then they check on me every now and then to see if I'm doing okay. It's almost like a big family here at Coder Camps.
What would you say has been the biggest challenge overall going through Coder Camps?
I would say the dedication because it is a lot to learn within 12 weeks. Six of those weeks is the actual learning process, so it's a lot of information in a short amount of time. You have to really be sure that this is what you want to do because if you get left behind or if you get stuck, there are people who can help you, but it's only going to hurt yourself in the end if you don't put the time in.
What advice do you have for people who are thinking about going through a coding bootcamp?
My main piece of advice is to make sure this is something that you want to do because I don't think it is for everybody. If it is for you, but you're not sure, there are people who can help you do it, but that dedication definitely makes it easier. There are going to be times where you run into problems that you're not going to be able to fix immediately, and if this isn't for you, you're not going to want to put that time in to fix it.
When did the campus open and how’s it going so far?
We officially opened on November 21st. It’s really great, we’ve got students enrolled in the courses and having a good time.
What’s your background and how did you get involved with the bootcamp? What drew you to want to work with Coder Camps?
I’ve been in IT for about 20 years. I’ve worked for companies like AT&T, Apple, and HP. More recently I was the lead software developer at Godaddy.com. After that I joined a local marketing company and became the CTO there. Then I got a job with AAA, the automobile company. I contracted there for a while, and when that ended I was trying to figure out what my next move would be. I really enjoyed the coaching and mentoring part of being a manager. I had lunch with a friend and I was telling her that my ideal job is teaching people what I know. I’ve been doing this so long, and I’m at a point where I want to pass on my knowledge. I didn’t think a job existed that would do this. Then a recruiter reached out to me and told me about this Coder Camps role, and asked if I was interested.
Did you move to Phoenix for this role?
No, I moved to Phoenix for a previous role. I’ve worked in Silicon Valley, Sacramento, and Portland, Oregon.
What’s your role at Coder Camps?
I’m the Director of Education. I’m in charge of the teachers, the TAs, and the curriculum, for all campuses. All of our curriculum is identical for each campus. Depending on the industry we may change specific details of the curriculum.
What is the Coder Camps Phoenix campus like?
We have a couple of classrooms. We have a room which is really big, and broken up into different parts. When students do their group projects, they have whiteboards and tables in an open work environment so they can collaborate, work together, and get the feeling of working in an office environment. So many IT companies have an open floor plan, with lower cubicles or just tables people are sitting at. So our layout is designed to help them get adjusted to that sort of environment early on. We might be working, and someone might be playing ping pong down the hall.
We have a really nice facility. Of all the bootcamps I’ve been to, this is by far the nicest. We have some great tables and setups, we’ve got a pool table, and Xbox. We have a common room where students hang out at lunch and talk to each other. Even after hours students are in there talking. We have all the amenities an office would have.
What neighborhood is it in?
It’s in Scottsdale. It’s northeast Phoenix, and it’s a very nice neighborhood. You can safely walk around near the campus.
How many students can you accommodate? How many students do have in a cohort?
Currently we have 24 students, but we can accommodate 60 students, and we are expanding.
What tracks or languages are you teaching at the campus? Why did you choose those and are they particularly popular or relevant in the city?
Java and .NET are the two primary technologies across states. In Silicon valley you’ll get a lot more newer tech like Golang or Ruby on Rails, in the startup culture. That’s true in many cities, because startups favor the open source technologies, but if you look at enterprise companies they are all using either .NET or Java.
What kind of differences or changes did you need to make to the curriculum to accommodate the Phoenix market?
How many instructors and/or mentors do you have in Phoenix?
What kind of hours do students put in?
The class day is eight hours a day, but there is homework and projects students have to work on. A lot of times students will stay here late, and put in more hours. Then there are other days when students may not have so much to do. Occasionally students come in on Saturdays as well. It’s very immersive, very deep, and very much simulates what an office would be like.
How is the Phoenix campus similar or different to the other Coder Camps campuses in Seattle and Houston?
Part of our philosophy is that all of them are the same, I don’t want a student in Houston to say “I didn’t get the same experience as a student in Phoenix.” All of them have the same amount of classrooms, the same number of instructors, the same curriculum, and we want to foster that idea as we go forward, that everyone has the same experience.
Why is Phoenix a great place for a coding bootcamp?
Phoenix is one of the big tech communities in the nation right now. We have electric cars being built here, and a lot of Silicon Valley-based companies starting to build here in Phoenix. We have better tax rates here, so a lot of companies have an incentive for moving here instead of being in California. I think Phoenix has a 2% unemployment rate for developers. There are more developer jobs than there are developers to fill them.
There are a couple of other coding bootcamps in Phoenix. What will make your bootcamp stand out amongst the competition?
Part of our program includes a six-week group project. There is project management, where each student takes a role, and they have to be able to explain the project at the end. Those are pretty complicated projects with everything from authentication to file uploads. So students who have really great projects when they graduate, can show them off to companies as they apply for jobs. Programmers at their core solve problems and that’s the hardest thing to teach. How do you teach someone to solve a problem, and then use a tool? If I know how to drill a hole, or hammer a nail, it doesn’t matter what brand of hammer or drill, I will know how to use it. We teach students how to drill a hole, regardless of the technology.
What sort of jobs are you expecting graduates to get in Phoenix?
We’re starting to work with some companies here. In our other cities students have been hired at Fortune 500 companies, universities, hospitals, and in pretty much every industry that is hiring developers. We’re going to continue that here. There are a lot of job openings here, and we help with placement. We have recruiters on staff who actually work with companies to get our students hired. We have a lot of big companies here who are always looking for people.
What sort of companies are hiring in Phoenix?
Every major insurance agency is here in the valley, and all of them are hiring. They look at recent grads, mid-level, junior, and senior. We have Tuft & Needle, an online mattress company here. Plus a lot of e-commerce companies that hire junior developers.
Since the job market is so customer service-based in Phoenix, would students be applying for jobs in support engineer-type roles?
Godaddy has three call service agent centers here, and tiers of that. Some of those centers are hosting support, some of them are WordPress support – jobs where programming skills will definitely be useful, yes.
Do you have hiring partners in Phoenix?
We’re working on that now. The plan is if we partner with a Fortune 500 company, and we say, “what do you specifically want our candidates to have,” we can try to work out a customized program. We can put students through a specific curriculum to address the needs of that specific company, and they can then go straight into a junior role at that company.
Will it mainly be junior developer roles that your grads will be applying for, or are there other roles they would be qualified for?
Right now we’re focusing on the junior developer type role. It’s really hard to get into mid- or senior-level roles after a bootcamp. There are other roles for different tiers of technical support, and roles within marketing organizations, which use a lot of programmers. You may go in and not be considered a junior developer, but a developer.
We are looking at expanding our curriculum to cover other industries as well. Programming is our primary. There are definitely opportunities for things like DevOps and so on. A lot of companies have taken on continuous integration and have a DevOps-type feel. They hire devs to code those tools out, and the deployment process becomes a lot easier.
What Phoenix meetups would you recommend for a complete beginner who wants to learn about Coder Camps or coding in general?
If you’re interested you can come check out our campus Monday through Friday 8am to 5pm. We have campus advisors who can help prospective students out, give us a call, or check out our website.
Duran Gradwell and Debbie Westwood both learned to code at Coder Camps, but what we found most interesting is that Duran studied at Coder Camps’ Seattle campus, while Debbie studied online remotely from Phoenix, Arizona. We wanted to examine the difference between studying in-person versus online, so we asked Duran and Debbie to compare and contrast why they chose their study methods, what the learning experience was like, and what their favorite projects were. And regardless of where they learned, both Debbie and Duran have now found awesome jobs as full stack developers!
What is your pre-bootcamp story? What were you up to before Coder Camps?
Debbie: I’ve been through a number of previous careers. I originally went to school for genetics, but discovered that lab work was not my thing. So I spent some time in social work, then moved into the paralegal world. With the increasing use of electronic evidence in legal cases, lawyers were using their clients’ emails, documents, spreadsheets, and databases, which is where I discovered I had a knack for technology. I actually managed a litigation process, then got more and more into the technology side. Most recently I worked in a technical trainer role for a software company that was selling software to help lawyers manage that electronic evidence.
I dabbled a lot in coding over the years. From 2012 onwards I took some college classes, working towards a certificate, so I already had a fairly good understanding of the basics of HTML, CSS, and C#. I decided if I was actually going to make a career out of programming, I needed to quit my day job, and jump into a coding bootcamp feet first to really accelerate that process.
Duran: I graduated from university to become a music teacher and a sound engineer. Once I got into the working world as a musician, it ended up not being what I wanted to do every day. I’d always had a knack for programming, I’d done a bit in high school and enjoyed it. I thought I’d give it another shot, so I started doing some online tutorials. When I realized how much I was enjoying it, I started to look into colleges to study programming, but a few more years as a student wasn’t going to work for me. Then I discovered coding bootcamps and realized I could get the knowledge and experience I needed without having to go back to college.
Duran, why did you choose Coder Camps specifically? Did you look at other bootcamps in Seattle?
Duran: I had done a little bit of C# programming before, so I thought I should find a C# bootcamp, and it turned out that Coder Camps was the only one I could find offering a .NET program. I was at a point in my life where I could just move somewhere and start my career all over again. So I decided to move to Seattle to be where Microsoft and all the big tech companies were, and get that .NET education. I was living in Rockville, Maryland before Seattle and had a looked around there first, but didn’t find anything that worked for me. So what ended up persuading me was the fact that there was a .NET bootcamp in Seattle and that was Coder Camps.
Debbie, why did you choose Coder Camps and why specifically did you want to do an online bootcamp?
Debbie: I chose Coder Camps because I was looking for something online. I’m a little older than the typical Coder Camps student, and pretty well-established. Plus, I didn’t really want to leave my husband and everything else in Phoenix for three months. So I was very interested in doing an online bootcamp.
The reason I selected Coder Camps was because it was the only one that had a .NET online option, and given that all of the previous classes I had done were very much .NET oriented, whether it was VB, or C#, I felt it would be my fastest and easiest way to make the career change. I could go and learn something like the MEAN stack at some other point.
What was the application and interview process like for you both? Was there a coding challenge?
Duran: It started with filling out forms on the website. Then I got a phone call, and they asked me questions about what I’m doing now, my previous experience, and by the end of the call, they were convinced that I should be able to handle the demands of the course. I committed to dropping everything and to focus on it 100%. They accepted me, I sorted my finances out, and I was in.
Debbie: My experience was very similar to Duran, and there was no coding challenge. I think that was because it’s really a discussion about coding from scratch, as the program is designed for beginners. I filled out the application and then there was a call. They were trying to gauge how much experience I had, whether I was prepared to put in the number of hours and the amount of work that was involved. In terms of assessing how skilled I really was, there was none of that.
Duran, how many people were in your cohort? Was the in-person class diverse in terms of gender, race, life and career backgrounds?
Duran: It was extremely diverse. We had people from all over the world, someone from Turkey, India, other parts of Asia, there were Americans, and then me. I’m a bit of everything, but originally from South Africa. It was very diverse in terms of gender as well, and we were all ages.
Debbie, how many people were you learning online with? Were you able to get to know them and interact with them or was it more of a solo learning experience?
Debbie: Duran and myself were doing the class at the same time. He was there in person, and I was online. So it was a shared experience. I was in the same class, and it was a diverse class of 40% women. I think it was close to a 50-50 split between online and in-person students.
There were sometimes barriers in terms of getting to know people who were physically there, as well as getting to know the people who were online with me. We had Skype so there was often a lot of chatting going on between the various online people. I had worked professionally as part of a remote team, so I had no problem reaching out and making connections, getting resources, and bugging people, whether they were there in person, or online.
So were the online and in-person people interacting quite a lot?
Debbie: Yes. There were obviously some difficulties sometimes. You couldn’t always hear what people were saying and sometimes there were technical difficulties, but it was fine. Obviously, the online students weren’t there at 10pm to interact directly with people. Overall, we did pretty well as I went in with very a realistic expectation of how it would work, so I was satisfied.
Can you describe your learning experience at Coder Camps? Was it different for each of you?
Debbie: It was very similar for both of us. There would be a lecture, then an exercise that we would do individually. It was basically rinse and repeat throughout the day. As we progressed through the class we started incorporating more group exercises in preparation for the last three weeks which was all group exercises, no lectures. We were focused on our group application.
I was usually up around 6am – I was actually an hour ahead of the Seattle class. I usually would try to finish off the previous evening’s assignments until 10am, which is when class started for me. I would listen to the lectures and participate directly with the in-person class. We would start with lectures, have lunch around 1pm, and then finish at 5pm. Then I slogged through whatever assignments until I went to bed at 10 or 11.
Duran: My experience was very similar. I would get in around 8am, if there was any time before class began I would start working on what I was doing the day before. Every day was intense and focused, with no time for anything but code. I wouldn’t stop working until close to midnight, because there was always more to do. Every Friday we would get a seemingly impossible assignment for the weekend, based on everything we learned throughout that week. As difficult as it was, the instructors worked very hard with us and were a great source of inspiration until the very end.
Debbie, how were you able to watch and participate in the lectures going on in Seattle?
Debbie: We were using Webex, so the screen was shared, and I could see exactly what the instructor was coding. Then there was a camera set up, so the online students could see the in-person students in the class. I was usually coding right along with the instructor, so what was going on in the classroom was secondary, and that was fine.
The only time it became a little more difficult was if there was whiteboarding going on, and at that point I would say, “remember to point the camera at the whiteboard.” I was pretty vocal about making sure they did that and to make sure we could always see what was going on. The instructor was very obliging and worked hard to make it work.
How were you able to interact with other students to work on group projects remotely?
Debbie: For group projects we followed the Scrum methodology, so we had daily standups and we used Skype for calls. We were given individual tasks, we would check in with each other if we were stuck, then we might open up a Skype call or piggyback onto the Coder Camps WebEx if we could, just to share the screen and work through things.
It worked about as well as it usually would for a relatively inexperienced team of coders working remotely. I suspect those who were online worked a little more independently than those who were physically there. It worked fine for me. I reached out and made sure I got help when I needed it.
What were your favorite projects you worked on at Coder Camps?
Duran: My favorite project was my individual project, which was something we were supposed to work on throughout the first six weeks of the camp in addition to classes and other homework. It's a forum-type website for musicians and sound engineers/audio enthusiasts like myself to share their recordings and get feedback from a musical and/or technical perspective. It uses all the technologies taught during the course, and a few extras I taught myself. I enjoyed working on it so much that I've continued working on it even after graduation. It's still a work in progress, located at: mixedup.azurewebsites.net
Debbie: I liked the group project, but I wasn't too happy with the final look of it – I didn't do the CSS. That said, I did implement Fluent API in the group project. I was inordinately proud of that at the time. The group project was essentially a way for authors of written works to share their works, get reviews on their work, and review others' work. It used the FileStack API, SQL backend, C# server-side, AngularJS/Typescript client side, and bootstrap for styling.
My personal project was somewhat more simple with fewer pages, but followed the same overall architecture, albeit with a less complex data model. I implemented Filestack API and Google Maps API.
Were you both interacting with the same instructors or mentors, or were there specific instructors working with the online students?
Duran: We had the same lecturers. We could reach out to any of them, and we still can now.
Debbie: The online students could interact with instructors over Skype. If we had any kind of discussion or lecture where we were doing a formal session, then I would always speak up if I needed some help. I think as an online student– and I’ve said this to people who’ve asked what my experience was like– you do need to be a bit more assertive to get the help you need. I don’t mean that as a criticism of Coder Camps, it’s just how it is. Like I said, I’ve worked remotely and it was exactly the same in the workplace. I had to be a little bit more assertive and persistent, and I was fine with that. You need to prepare to speak up if you are online.
How many students were there online and in-person and how many instructors were available?
Debbie: We started out with 12 people, and 10 graduated.
Duran: We had one main instructor. There was another instructor who wasn’t in normal lessons, who works on other things for Coder Camps, and when assistance was needed he would come in. There was also a TA who would come in during the evenings, and she’d be there until about 8:30pm every night helping us with assignments and answering our questions. She was a great help to everyone.
You’re both now working as developers – congratulations! Can you each tell me about your role and what you are working on?
Duran: I'm working as a Full Stack Software Development Engineer for Kon Tiki Academy, a startup located in Redmond, Washington. We are focused on digital transformation services related to the education vertical. Our clients include educational institutions and some Fortune 500 companies. I work as part of a team that focuses on Microsoft's student discounting program worldwide. As part of a small agile team, working in this super cool project, each of us takes on many roles such as development, testing, deployment etc. At the moment I am working with the team to onboard a new partner. It’s an extremely talented and enthusiastic team founded by a Microsoft cloud veteran. I’m proud and thankful to be a part of it."
Debbie, what advice do you have for someone who is considering an online bootcamp?
Debbie: If you are in a mixed online/in-person class, you will need to be a little more assertive and persistent to get the help you need than if you were physically there. Speak up in class if you can't hear or see something, or if there are technical difficulties. The instructors at Coder Camps were very responsive to any issues raised.
Also be prepared for internet outages on your end, or other technical glitches. Have a backup plan, even if it's just calling in on your cell phone. Make heavy use of Skype and Slack, not only with your instructors but also for other students. There will almost certainly be at least one other student there who is smarter than you. You'll need them, so get to know them before you need them.
In general, be prepared to work very hard. If you don't put in the work, you won't succeed. The more you can learn before going in, the easier it will be, but you will still need to be highly motivated. Be sure that programming something you truly want to do, and get the rest of your life cleared for 12 weeks! Put in the work and don't slack off in the group project. It's not fair to the other students if you disappear for the last three weeks.
Duran, what advice do you have for other people who are considering an in-person bootcamp?
Duran: Make sure you are willing and able to give up everything for the duration of the bootcamp. Every waking moment should be spent coding or thinking about code. It helps to start taking online tutorials in preparation for the bootcamp. Even if it's not required, it helps to get ahead, and to find out if you actually have any interest in coding before you start.
Do not hesitate to ask questions because you feel like you've already asked too many. Expect this to be one of the most difficult things you'll ever do, and also one of the most rewarding. Don't give up. I saw people who were falling behind in the beginning, come back strong towards the end because they were relentlessly determined to succeed.
Nick built web applications to solve business problems for 15 years before he became a founding member of Coder Camps coding bootcamp in Houston, Texas. Now, three years later, Nick wears many hats including instructor, campus director, and CTO. We asked Nick why Coder Camps teaches .NET in Houston, how the team keeps the curriculum up to date, and why it’s important to give practical, real examples to help students learn.
Tell us about your programming experience before you got involved with Coder Camps?
In my professional career before Coder Camps, I worked for a company called Idea Integration, in business consulting for almost 15 years. I started there during college, working part-time, doing mainly web design, front end, and HTML. My first client was Compaq Corporation (now HP). I built their internal internet portal, and later worked on some of their Dot-com stuff.
What did you study at college? How did you learn to code?
I did get a degree from the University of Houston, but I began coding when I was in middle school. My family got a computer from my uncle, who was in computer science, so the computer only had programming languages like Basic, Assembly, and C.
When I started my CS degree, I was already working at Idea Integration part-time, and had learned about the web in terms of business solutions (ie. solving data problems). I enjoyed my job more than my computer science classes, which were a lot of math, algorithms, and low-level programming.
So I found another degree called Information Systems Technology, based around the “system development lifecycle.” It covered the whole cycle of doing analysis on a business problem – defining requirements, designing solutions, building, testing, and deployment.
How did you become aware of the coding bootcamp model- as a self-taught/college-taught developer, did you trust this model of education?
I left Idea Integration to work with a coworker on his consulting business. That coworker was David Graham, the original founder of Coder Camps! He noticed two things: first, his clients were always asking if he could refer junior level developers to their companies. And second, we had a hard time staffing our own consulting company to fill our projects. David’s very entrepreneurial, so he did the research, and realized that coding bootcamps were needed in Houston.
We talked about starting a coding bootcamp and I agreed it would be a really good idea. We would be helping solve this lack of good, junior web developers. David turned our office into a classroom and we started the first cohort.
So you were there from the start! What made you want to be an instructor at the coding bootcamp?
After the first class, I started helping with the curriculum, and got really excited. I then taught a class by myself, and I really enjoyed it. It was a new challenge to start a business, but it was also fun to meet new people and see them learn and have fun.
I understood the students’ struggles from when I learned to code. Originally, it took me a little longer to learn, so I really enjoyed seeing people like me, trying to help them, and giving them that vote of confidence.
Why do you think .NET is the best technology stack to teach in Houston?
I've used .NET in my career; I understand it and I know how well it solves business problems. I've also seen the demand for it here in Houston- so many of the oil and gas companies that I've worked with have used .NET.
What have you found is your own personal teaching style?
My personal teaching style revolves around how I like to learn. From there, I like to tweak my style based on students, their personalities, or what they're struggling with. Initially, I like to be very practical, and explain the concept I'm teaching. Then I need to see the big picture, and what that's going to do for me. So I build in a real practical example of it. And then to help the students learn these abstract concepts, I like to do analogies. I'll introduce an analogy that's kind of fun, but also brings and drives home the point to them.
Tell us about the Coder Camps curriculum- what do you cover?
At the end of the day, there is a homework assignment, which takes the day’s concepts and builds on a more fully-fledged exercise for students to do in the evening. Then the next day we review the homework together, and go through any issues students have.
From Week Two to Week Five, students work on individual projects. So as they learn new concepts, they can implement those into their individual projects. Then we give them a lot of help at Week Five to finish the individual project.
In the last six weeks, the students work on a group project. We do Agile SCRUM lessons, and then they get into groups and use the Agile process to build their group project.
How do you assess and keep track of student progress?
On Fridays, we do a little exam to test vocabulary, and ask interview prep questions. When you’re learning to code, you can learn the concepts, but still have no idea how to talk it through. As they learn the material, we also want to make sure they'll be capable of explaining their knowledge in presentations and interviews.
We do a live exam at the end of Week Five, where students build a little application in an hour or two. They use all the curriculum we’ve covered so far to build a small application. That gives us an opportunity to see where everyone's at, and it gives students more practice. We can then help them out before they move on to the Project Phase.
What happens if someone doesn't do well on those exams? Are they kicked out?
The weekly exams are more like quizzes, and students don't have to pass them in order to move on. If they are struggling with anything, it's a really good chance to review the concepts.
The live exam is a requirement to pass, and we do give students up to two chances. We'll do that on a Friday, and if students don't pass, we give them the weekend to practice. We talk about what they didn’t complete and why, and then we'll give the exam again on Monday. We don’t usually have any problems after we do it a second time. We never want to see somebody struggle. Anyone who's willing to put in the effort, we're willing to help.
How often do you iterate on and update the curriculum at Coder Camps?
Stephen Walther manages our curriculum from top down. All instructors and mentors have an opportunity to update and help with that process of updating the curriculum. We stay up to date with any changes to popular technology frameworks. If there's a major change to a technology, we update that curriculum as fast as it makes sense.
We talk as a group asking questions like, "Is this technology good? Is it worth using? Yes or no? Why? What are companies using?" We take feedback from our students and our graduates in jobs and ask, "Hey, what stack are you guys using? What are we missing?" We take all that feedback, and we constantly update and keep things on track.
In the three years you've been working at Coder Camps, what’s the most interesting update to the curriculum?
The most recent big technology update we did was to the .NET course. The latest version of .NET Core came out earlier this year, and we rolled that into our new curriculum.
Years ago, when we originally started our .NET curriculum, we didn't use Angular or other front-end frameworks. One of our graduates suggested we look into Angular, and then we implemented Angular into our curriculum, which we still do today. Now we're assessing whether or not to switch from Angular to React. There has to be demand for it in the market, it has to be stable, and there has to be support for it. But it really doesn't matter what kind of stack we teach, as long as students are going to learn and understand how to do web development. If our students graduate, and they want to use React or a framework we're not teaching, they'll be able to pick it up very quickly.
Does Coder Camps have an ideal student to teacher ratio?
Every class has one full-time instructor and at least one mentor. We cap our classes at 15 students. Our mentors and instructors also manage student requests for help as they come in via email at night and evenings. We've got a really great group of instructors and mentors who are super sharp, dedicated, they learn very quickly, and they really enjoy helping the students.
Are you running one cohort at a time or does Coder Camps offer rolling start dates?
We have multiple cohorts running at the same time, which means that one cohort will start, and there will be another cohort working on their group projects.
In the project phase, the training wheels come off and the students are working by themselves, but we're there every day. We still sit them with the mentors, help them out, and the main instructor follows up to make sure that they're doing everything they need to do.
Have you found there's a certain type of person who does really well at Coder Camps?
If you've got the desire, the passion, and a great attitude, then you're going to have fun, and you're going to learn. Someone who is distraction free will do great here because not only will your mind be ready to absorb so much knowledge, but the rest of the people around you are also going to be just as committed as you are.
Class is from 9am to 5pm, but students who put in extra time on homework, studying, and practicing, are going to be the most successful, get the most out of it, and have the most fun.
Could you tell me about a student success story you've come across?
One of our students, Joshua, came to Coder Camps on a shoestring budget. Even though he was super nervous, he had the energy and the motivation. At the end of his first week, we went to Austin for the Microsoft Build Conference. On the way back, we sat together and went over the first week, and at first I was concerned. It was the first week, but I could tell that he was struggling and concepts weren’t quite coming together. But over the course of the class, Josh was there early every day, stayed late, worked super hard, asked questions, and by the end, he was answering questions, understanding concepts, and built a really awesome group project. He found a job immediately after graduating, but we later employed him as an instructor!
What’s the overall goal for a student who graduates from Coder Camps? What sort of roles will they be prepared for?
Students who leave here will be prepared for a junior level web application developer role. They’ll be able to jump in and work for a corporate company or a consulting firm to do project-based work at a junior level.
We also have students who are entrepreneurs who come in with a startup idea. They've already got an idea of software, and they want to be able to start creating. Other students are people who are already working or have worked as a developer, and they want to update their skills. They are not necessarily worried about finding a job afterwards.
Are you involved in career coaching for Coder Camps students and if so, what does that involve?
We have a career services team to help students with their resumes and the job hunt. The technical team, the instructors, myself, and our developers, schedule mock interviews with students. We go over scenarios that are likely to show up in an interview based on our experience. We'll whiteboard some problems and solutions and build up their confidence. I also use some of my real world experience and have students help think through those problems with me.
How do you stay in touch with students after they graduate?
A lot of students contact me after they graduate and follow up. It could be a phone call to say, "Hey, Nick, I'm stuck on this project. What should I do?" and I'll talk them through it on the phone.
What is the Coder for Life program?
That's a new program at Coder Camps, and the premise is we want people to have an opportunity to stay with us and keep learning. So if you've graduated from our program, then as an alumni you can come back for free and take another class or use our career services.
What sort of jobs are your graduates finding in Houston? Maybe you can give me a couple of examples of the sort of companies they are working at.
There are so many! Examples are National Oilwell Varco, HP, Accenture, Spark Hound, Kinder Morgan, Harris-Tech, City of Houston, Tek Systems, and Creative Circle.
Do a lot of your students actually get jobs outside of Houston?
Yeah, we usually have a mix of students from Houston and other areas. Some folks come in from Alabama or somewhere, then go home and find a job. Most of our career services help is for Houston. That's where we meet other companies and get them hooked up, but people are finding jobs everywhere.
For our readers who are beginners in the Houston area, do you have any kind of resources or meetups you can recommend?
Yeah, I recommend the Houston .NET User Group and there is a SharePoint User Group. We also may present at the SharePoint User Group in October or November. Both of those usually meet at the Microsoft Campus here in Houston.
At Coder Camps, we host a hiring or demo day (usually at the Houston Technology Center), for every cohort that graduates. We invite prospective employers looking to hire graduates, and prospective students who are interested. Anyone is welcome to come to those events. We also are planning to do more meetups and events here at our campus.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
It's been a challenge, but a good one. It’s a lot more fun and fulfilling than always doing project work like in my previous job. I get to meet so many new people and I have something more encouraging to say that I did with my life, helping others rather than just helping a business make money.
Jasmine was a junior college student studying elementary education before she took a semester off to attend Coder Camps’ 12-week full-stack bootcamp in Houston, Texas. Coming from a family of programmers, she decided to leave university to see if she would enjoy learning to code. Check out how Jasmine enjoyed learning alongside lots of other women at Coder Camps, find out about the baking app she built, and why she’s shifting her goals to become a front-end developer.
What was your education/career background before you decided to go to Coder Camps?
I was a junior at the University of Houston studying elementary education and decided to take a semester off just to see where things would take me. During that semester off, I took a leap of faith and decided to try out Coder Camps. My boyfriend went to Coder Camps, so I had been familiar with coding bootcamps prior to going.
What made you decide to learn programming?
Did you teach yourself basic HTML and CSS skills?
I learned from family. I never really did any self-guided learning prior to Coder Camps, it was more so me picking up things when I was with my family. Sometimes, I would go with them to work in order to learn.
Did you research other coding bootcamps before you decided Coder Camps was the one?
I looked into The Iron Yard, which is another bootcamp here in Houston, but they only teach Ruby on Rails, which isn't necessarily in high demand here. I knew I wanted to go somewhere that was teaching high demand skills, somewhere I could find a job afterward.
What programming languages are in high demand in Houston, and what were you looking to learn?
.NET because there's a lot of oil and gas over here, so I was looking for that.
Were there any other factors that you were looking for in a bootcamp?
I definitely wanted something that wasn't all online. Coder Camps was a big deal for me because it was a class that you could take in person. You actually could choose online or go into the class. I also liked the student-teacher environment they had. I heard great things from my boyfriend who went to Coder Camps.
A lot of readers on our site want to know how people paid for their coding bootcamps. How did you finance your tuition at Coder Camps?
I ended up getting a 0% interest credit card, and putting my tuition on there.
Could you walk me through the application process for Coder Camps?
For me, because my boyfriend was actually working at Coder Camps at the time, I was able to speak to a few people at Coder Camps and then enroll in classes.
It’s nice to have a coding bootcamp connection! Could you explain your cohort demographics?
Yeah, my class was very weird and odd. Not many people have this, but it was four people in my troop- we called them troops in my group. There were three girls and one guy, so us women outnumbered the guys. The only guy came from petroleum engineering and quit his job because he wanted a career change. One of the girls worked at NASA, and then another one of the girls was a horse trainer. Everyone in my cohort had completely different backgrounds.
Did you feel like those different backgrounds helped you get through the course together?
Yeah, I felt my cohort size and cohort career backgrounds at Coder Camps helped my learning. It helps with being close with one another and learning from each other. I appreciated having that small intimate class.
Since the women outnumbered the men in your situation, how did you feel about being a woman and learning to code?
I felt like it was really powerful. I loved it, and it was just a different aspect being surrounded by women every single day because we focused on things our male classmate didn’t. He didn't care about if the product was pretty, he just wondered if it worked. It was a great experience.
How did you enjoy the learning experience at Coder Camps? Describe a typical day.
Class hours are 9:00am to 5:00pm, with an hour and a half lunch break at noon. Everyone pretty much gets there on time, and for that first hour, we would go over material from the day before and any questions we had.
Then we would go over a new lesson. We'd be assigned an individual project that matched the lesson to see if we understood it or not, and then we’d do pair programming. We also had an individual project we had to finish by the end of the course, so we had a lot of free time to work on that. With learning new technologies each day, we could add more to our individual projects as the days went on.
Did you have a favorite project that you worked on at Coder Camps?
My individual project was one of my favorites. It was pretty much an application for baking using .NET and full stack. You could enter in what ingredients you have in your pantry and your fridge, and it tells you what you could make with just those ingredients.
And then we had a group project with all four of us, and that was something I hold very dear to my heart. We created a conference scheduling app on the admin side, Simple Symposium using Angular. The admin can see the conferences they have available, what speakers are speaking, their bio, and other information listed out in a neat calendar form. It’s organized so you don't overlap conferences or speakers, or meetings.
How did you feel about Coder Camps’ teaching style and instruction versus what you were experiencing at your university?
We had one instructor and one TA and I really liked the way they were teaching because it was very hands-on as opposed to my learning in college. We would learn something and then we would have to perform the task about what we were just taught. It kept me very engaged because I knew I had a project coming up after the lecture.
Although it's very fast paced, it was a lot of fun because we had so many little projects that we did every single day. And if we had questions, we just let our instructor or TA know because it was such a small class, we always had the opportunity to receive feedback.
Since you were previously studying education, do you feel like it's important for certain teachers to learn how to code?
I think coding is a wonderful thing to learn because it can only help you since technology is constantly growing. If learning code for a teacher means you can personalize each lesson plan and assignment to make it more interesting, then why not learn it?
What was your biggest challenge at Coder Camps in terms of learning code?
I'm a perfectionist, so it was hard to learn one thing and then just move on to the next subject very quickly and not be able to perfect the skills I had just learned. It moved really fast, but at the end of it all, I understood why I was learning what I was learning.
What are your next steps now that you’ve finished at Coder Camps?
I want to find a junior developer role. The whole reason I stopped school for a little bit was because my mom is a single mom and couldn't really afford tuition for both my sister and I. So my main reason for leaving was to work, but I definitely want to go back to school eventually.
I finished Coder Camps in July and I'm currently looking for a position. I'm able to do .NET, but I'm looking more at front-end developer roles because I like front-end work much more than the back-end. I want to do something at a startup, and I would love to work with other front-end designers to build different web and mobile applications. I've been interviewing with a company, and I’m waiting to hear back!
Did Coder Camps help the cohort in job search and job preparation and things like that?
Yeah, they helped with resumes edits, and interview preparation.
Do you have any tips or advice for someone thinking about doing a coding bootcamp?
Definitely do it. Especially look at Coder Camps because they have a one to two-week free trial where they teach you basic programming. I think people should also look at Udemy, Code School or Codecademy just to see if it’s something you’re interested in before paying. There are many resources out there online, try something to help you learn the basics.
(updated August 2016)
Slide across the roof of the General Lee, we’re heading south of the Mason-Dixon to check out the best coding bootcamps in the southern United States. There are some fantastic code schools from the Carolinas to Georgia and all the way to Texas, and we’re covering them all. Talk about Southern Hospitality!Continue Reading →