Destination Dev offers a 10-week, full-time full-stack coding bootcamp around the world. With campuses in Columbia and Thailand, Destination Dev has a unique emphasis on preparing students to land full-time remote or freelance work in order to live a flexible, location-independent, “digital nomad” lifestyle. The bootcamp brings together students from all over the world for ten intense weeks of software development education and cultural immersion.
This tight-knight community aims to create a synergy that allows participants to venture outside of their comfort zones both intellectually and culturally. Destination Dev is looking for students who are open-minded, excited about deep explorations abroad, and passionate about technology. Their mission is to empower others to impact the world and build their ideal lifestyles through software. Interested applicants will need to submit an online form, and then participate in a non-technical interview and a technical interview.
Destination Dev tuition includes housing, airport pick-up, excursions, and flights where applicable.
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Destination Dev completely delivered what I was expecting from a Coding Bootcamp. I came to the Bootcamp with some experience working on IT and with a CIS Degree from the US, and I can assure you that I was able to learn more about coding and building applications in the past 10 weeks than in my entire 4 years in College. Despite the fact that it is a brand new program, the Director and the Instructors were always asking for our feedback and were willing to do anything in order to improve our experience and making sure that we were understanding the material. The instructors were very helpful and were willing to put extra work in order to prepare me for my new job as a full-time Software Developer in Los Angeles, California.
Unforgettable experience, amazing cultural immersion (I played Futbol in Colombia, salsa classes, beautiful places), and some of the most amazing people I've ever met.
The Destination Dev experience was made with love and will be a positive experience I will always cherish. I helped run the d-dev boot camp and I am no longer part of the program due to my ongoing commitments. I make this review independently based on what I personally saw and from the students feedback which I gathered once weekly.
The instructors (Doug and junaes) give their absolute all every day. Both instructors would stay until the last question was asked even if that was way past class time. I would personally witness this and the students would also be taken aback by their dedication. One student made a comment that he could feel just how much the instructors were putting into the program because towards the last weeks our lead instructor came in with his shirt inside out from essentially living in the classroom. This is true, they were going above and beyond to get students to where they wanted to be and to importantly be there for them if they had issues (which I learnt are frequent in coding) and it did all pay off in the end. The three of the five students who made it to the project finals (including the winner) had absolutely ZERO coding knowledge before the program.
The accommodation was by no means the cheapest on the market (it easily could have been considering the price of the bootcamp). The students loved the staff, as did I, and the vibe of the accommodation which was a cross between a creative co working space and a hipster coffee shop was an absolute hit.
The overall atmosphere of the bootcamp was supportive, fun and encouraged everyone to be as comfortable as possible.the community side of destination dev makes it exceptionally valuable as the students would all work together and then in their free time explore the city as a group. I believe they will all remain in contact and aside from the friendships several business ideas were brain stormed. Its an exciting time to be a coder and that really came through, throughout the bootcamp.
In conclusion I would wholeheartedly endorse this program based on the dedication and solid knowledge of the instructors, the incredible location (and it's surrounding activities) and for the home like/comfortable accommodation included.
Before attending this bootcamp I had zero experience as a programmer and after 8 weeks I feel well on my way to becoming a junior developer. Just like any educational program I believe you will get out of this program what you put in. The lead instructor, Doug , is a natural teacher and our co instructor, Juanes, was incredibly well versed in front end development and always willing to sit down and work with us Juan-on-one. Although I didn't feel 100% job ready after this course, I feel confident that with another month of continued study I will be a competitive job candidate. I'm also confident that these guys will make a lot of positive changes to the program based on the feedback they received throughout our camp.
Destination Dev was a great program for me. Before the program I had played around with programming on online courses such as Code Academy but had no real experience and was hard for me to take out time with other obligations such as a full time job. The program helped me go from ground zero in terms of development experience and while i know I still need to continue working to improve my skills, it got me to a point where I feel more than confident to work on my own. It would have been much harder to do this on my own without the bootcamp, as being around other people was a great motivator to put in a lot of hours and really focus. Overall it was a great experience, and can say that the instructors were very helpful and provided a lot of support throughout the course. Outside of the course, it was also nice to enjoy a different living environment and get to be part of a new culture. I even took some time to travel around Colombia after the program ended!
This is a detailed and honest review of the Destination Dev programming bootcamp, which I hope will spare others the negative experience I encountered.
There are 4 main reasons why you should look somewhere else to receive a quality programming education:
REASON 1: Lack of direct instruction and guidance
The primary method of instruction at Destination Dev was what educational theory terms exploratory or "discovery-based": give students a few hints, then let them discover/explore/struggle their way to the answer by effectively teaching themselves.
Nearly a third of the class purchased some type of supplementary programming content while they were attending Destination Dev. Think about how astonishing that is: you travel to another country and pay thousands of dollars for someone to teach you to code, then feel compelled to buy extra stuff to teach yourself when you can't get the proper instruction from your course. This is like having to hire a second doctor to cure you of illnesses your primary physician inflicts on you.
That meant that some of us spent our time here simply trying to teach ourselves from the Internet, which we could have done at home, for free, and without wasting time and money.
While "discovery-based learning" might work for some skills, it doesn't work best for learning technical skills like programming (and there's plenty of educational research to back this up). It's also common sense: imagine a driver's ed program allowing students to "discover" the right way to drive, or a medical school having its would-be surgeons "explore" the right way to do surgery.
A typical day's format at Destination Dev:
- 2 lectures
- Often unfocused, rambling, with little context, a pace too fast to code along, and an immense volume of information which no novice could hope to properly absorb
- Instructors tended to switch rapidly back and forth between terminals and text editors, adding code without explanation
- Code would often get messed up, and teachers would waste class time debugging (I sometimes looked around the room to see other students apparently totally tuned out, some trying to Google the information for themselves)
Destination Dev lectures were begun by asking if anyone had questions on the prior day's material. I vividly recall one day that someone did have questions, only to be told that the instructor didn't actually have solutions available! What good does it do to ask for the right path if your tour guide doesn't actually have the map?
A good class focused on technical skills doesn't expect students to do what they've never been taught to do. For example, in a math class, a good math teacher first explains a formula to students and walks them through the problem-solving process with a few examples. Only after this does the teacher expect students to solve the problems themselves.
Destination Dev simply didn't function like this: the lectures often just re-stated basic concepts (like the meaning of Big-O notation) which we were given to read about, but without actually showing us the starting points of how to solve problems.
We were then left for several hours to carry out difficult and often advanced projects with no prior examples having been demonstrated to us so we could use them as a reference point (some projects were so difficult that only a few--and in one case, no one at all--of the whole class, managed to solve them).
We were also told about certain important CS concepts covered in technical job interviews, like sorting algorithms and data tree structures, but--sensing a theme yet?--never given a detailed demonstration for solving these problems. We had up to 10 hours daily of time to code; you'd think they'd have gotten around to showing us these things, especially since the program was billed as a way to get a job as a web developer.
The instructor did not directly address what I noted above, except to compare me to a beginning algebra student who had wandered into calculus class, and complained that it was too hard, even though calculus was perfectly understandable to someone with the requisite background. This doesn't negate the fact that a calculus class where students are expected to "discover" for themselves the Fundamental Theorem or integration by partial fraction decomposition would be a very poorly-taught calculus class.
REASON 2: Lack of well-thought out remediation and methods for getting "unstuck"
Very early on I saw that this format was going to lead to a disastrous outcome for myself and several others.
I brought this to the instructor's attention, and the only remediation plan provided to me was to simply redo projects from earlier weeks which I had never been able to do (because we weren't shown how to do them).
Let's use the medical school analogy once more: "Bob, I know you've killed three patients on the operating table this past week, largely because we never showed you how to do the operation properly. What I want you to do is ignore that past failure rate and go jump into another operation. Even though you've filled the hospital's morgue with the results of your bad surgical technique, maybe this time will somehow be different."
Here's a great observation on getting unstuck, from the Firehose Project:
"There is nothing worse than getting stuck on a simple problem and losing all of your momentum. You need to have the ability to get “unstuck” as quickly as possible. It’s on your coding bootcamp to have the infrastructure in place to make sure this happens" (http://blog.thefirehoseproject.com/posts/9-ways-to-know-if-a-coding-bootcamp-worth-it/).
Destination Dev provides no apparent method for someone to get "unstuck" besides re-assigning the same projects you couldn't do the first time. You are then blamed for lacking aptitude if you can't do them. Of course by this time you are now way behind the scheduled pace, and making no progress, which leads to frustration and poor learning outcomes.
I raised this concern, and the directors excused themselves by saying that this was the pilot program, they lacked enough resources to offer such remediation, and that perhaps if I had paid what amounted to an extra $10,000+ in tuition, I might have had a stronger claim to such helps. Yes, that's actually the response I got: "You didn't pay" for remediation. Which sounds like saying, "We'd make more of an effort to help our students if they paid us more." This is like a fast food spot pointing to their low menu prices as an excuse for the dead insects in your burger.
One instructor claimed that my requests for help amounted to asking for a totally separate, personalized curriculum. This is simply inaccurate. I asked only that they do their job: teach us and offer reference points and methods for getting unstuck, instead of what amounted to "Here, go redo this project from 2 weeks ago that we never showed you how to do in the first place."
The instructor also noted that he made himself available during the last week of the course, and was astonished that I did not show up to get one-on-one help. This is actually very easy to understand: when someone can't get you unstuck during the prior 7 weeks, why would you waste another week of your time? It was obvious to me that they were not going to provide instruction, but just continue re-assigning old projects and give occasional vague or undirected hints. I and several other students found this a waste of time and judged it better to use this time to learn from resources that actually taught us, which is exactly what we did.
REASON 3: Disorganization, free-for-all format (including firing a teacher mid-program)
It was announced to us one day, more than halfway through the course, that Destination Dev had fired one of the teachers, since "it wasn't working out."
Not only does this implicitly acknowledge that the quality of instruction was lacking, but it's amazing that it took more than half the course to figure this out! (Incidentally, this fired teacher was the one who had been assigned to help several of us with the remediation plan mentioned above. Destination Dev's remediation plan was to provide us with a teacher who they later judged as unfit to teach).
I asked the program directors the following question, but never got a clear answer: Did you ever actually plan or discuss the proper way to teach people the skill you promised? There's a massive difference between knowing how to program and knowing how to teach other people to program. My sense is that although instructors with this program know how to code, they don't have the same expertise in teaching others how to do it, which is the most important expertise to have if you're running a bootcamp.
REASON 4: Refusal to act on or even listen to critical feedback; unprofessional personal attacks against student
Obviously it looks bad for a bootcamp if a group of competent, educated professionals who've succeeded at other things in their life go through Destination Dev and leave with very little to show for their efforts.
If this happens--and it did for a few of us--a fledgling bootcamp has 2 options:
1. Admit they messed up
2. Blame the students
Unfortunately Destination Dev seemed to prefer the second option.
I brought all the above-mentioned concerns to the directors' attention numerous times, as they told us to do on Day 1, and the replies I got were a mix of lame excuses, personal attacks, and seemingly an almost complete refusal to take responsibility for their program. I was accused of any number of the following:
- Lacking the aptitude for programming (I have training in math, have scored 800 on SAT and GRE Math sections, graduated from a top university, and have many other evidences of strong aptitude for the logical side of programming. I also still possess an email from a program director suggesting the opposite of what he later stated about my supposed lack of ability; maybe Destination Dev only thinks you have aptitude until you find fault with their methods? At which point you apparently and suddenly lose your potential and can't code your way out of a paper bag)
- Complaining unreasonably given that this was their pilot program (reply: If you're not ready to offer a high-quality program, why would you start selling it to students?!)
- Not putting in enough effort (though myself and other students would regularly stay up until 2 a.m. working on our code).
The accusations change several times, but the sense I got was the same: if a student leaves the bootcamp without having learned what they were supposed to learn, it's always the student's fault (even when it isn't).
I can't recall a more obvious unwillingness to objectively and impartially accept criticism, even though Destination Dev directly requested our student feedback on the very first day. The impression given was that the biggest problem with our criticisms was not that they were correct and true (which I believe they were), but that such pointed feedback hurts feelings, and apparently hurt feelings are a far greater evil than wasting enormous amounts of student time and money. The directors complained that the feedback was insulting, apparently missing the irony that this complaint came right after blasting a student for lacking programming aptitude. Why is it alright for them to insult, but not alright if a student gives pointed and accurate feedback? I never got an answer to that question.
I was genuinely astonished that professionals would behave this way, and almost completely absolve themselves of responsibility in favor of attacking a student's aptitude or work ethic. But that's actually what happened.
It's very easy to politely suggest that a student is too dumb to learn how to code, much harder to take an honest look at one's program and identify and correct the errors.
The instructor also blamed me for not having completed the program's prep work. In reality they only sent it to me a few weeks before the program opened, and I attempted to do as much of it as possible. He made a huge deal of my allegedly not preparing, but I still have all my notes and files--and there are lots--demonstrating that I went through the Ruby modules and tutorials in great detail. Some of the problems assigned in the prep work were like those in the program itself: way beyond the level of a beginner, and not problems which someone should realistically be expected to know without the type of direct guidance that Destination Dev was supposed to provide, but really didn't.
The instructor also developed a misleading idea of alleged deficiencies; on one website attempting to defend Destination Dev, he claimed, for instance, that I could not implement certain basic algorithms like the factorial program, even though I have loads of far more challenging algorithms from sites like Project Euler whose solutions I came up with by myself, and I also made notable contributions to solving algorithm challenges run during the program by one of the students, who invited others to these sessions for extra practice (this can easily be confirmed by students who attended, but why do that? It's much easier to pretend that dissatisfied students aren't bright enough to get it...).
I'm not sure how it's ethical to dispense that type of online commentary on students (certainly any American teacher who went online and trashed his students' abilities would be fired), but once more, the tactic chosen is noteworthy: paint dissatisfied students like myself as basically too dumb to learn how to code (although they'll never say it that bluntly, but instead use more PC terms like "lacking in aptitude").
The truth is that since leaving the program and pursuing other resources, myself and other students have been able to complete tangible projects. I've been able to learn and understand certain concepts which I recall hearing about in Destination Dev, but which were lost in a mess of confusion. Once I learned them from a methodical and organized set of lectures, things clicked. This proves not that we lacked the aptitude, but that we lacked proper instruction, and once we found it, we are as capable as anyone else.
In reality, the dissatisfied students in this program are competent, educated professionals, some like myself with training in mathematical or other disciplines requiring logical aptitude, and all of us had enormous work ethic and motivation: to attend this bootcamp meant that we all spent thousands of dollars, left the country, and put our entire lives on hold for several months to do this. Unmotivated, unintelligent, and undisciplined people don't do things like this. But all of us did.
There are various other points I've omitted, since this review is more than long enough. Let me conclude:
Laurence Bradford of LearnToCodeWithMe has a great observation on how a bootcamp should work: "You're giving the school a lot of money for three months worth of work. It's their job to make sure you understand the material" (http://learntocodewith.me/posts/coding-bootcamp-questions/).
Exactly. In my view, Destination Dev did not even come close to doing their job of making sure that we understood the material. For all of these reasons, I strongly advise you to look elsewhere if you want to attend a bootcamp.
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