Devschool is an online coding bootcamp, designed to turn students into full time professional web developers through one-on-one expert mentorship, group pairing sessions, and a built-in internship program.
Throughout the course of the program, students will work 20-40 hours per week depending on their schedule, which is flexible. Students have access to their Instructor all week via chat and will also work on pair programming exercises to share knowledge with other students. Each teacher has a minimum of 10 years instruction and will take no more then 12 students at a time.
Job assistance is an important part of the program, and the school places graduates with NGO partners that are seeking developers. Their partner network includes non-profit companies, NGOs and featured partner NewStory.
The school accepts students based on work ethic and culture match. Interested students should submit the application form online. The interview process is several online chats, one with a founder, one with a student, and one with your future Instructor.
Recent Devschool Reviews: Rating 3.93
Recent Devschool News
Software Enginneer Track
- 50% for layaway
- yes, through in-house financing
- Payment Plan
- yes, through in-house financing
- $500 Discounts offered to * Active (reserve) or retired military * The legally disabled * Underrepresented in tech Up to 30% off for people from developing or emerging counties!
- Minimum Skill Level
- Prep Work
- Prep work is done with us!
Web Development Track
- yes, in house
- Payment Plan
- yes, through financing
- $500 Discounts offered to * Active (reserve) or retired military * The legally disabled * Underrepresented in tech Up to 30% off for people from developing or emerging counties!
- Minimum Skill Level
- Prep Work
- We guide your prep-work!
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I attended dev school last october and I knew this was going to happen. Jims practices were very questionable, now after hard work and a bit of luck I have a job a top software company in Washington DC.(Hint I work a block away from Google in DC, not thanks to ODS). To those that wish to keep learning and one day get a job I will advice you to follow this path and learn these technologies that will make sure you will get a job with at least $65k entry level salary.
Front End Stack
D3 JS(learn React first)
JIRA software management tool
Object Oriented Programming
How to use AWS to host your API's
Google Chrome developer tools
what is MVC? and how does it fail at scale?
visit www.freecodecamp.com and also use udemy to teach yourself, those videos are really good when learning a new technology.
I've heard many people getting jobs once finishing the course in freecodecamp. Also there is a consulting company called Remote Tiger in Maryland that takes in entry level developers and places them in companies around the United States. Their entry level salary is $60k-$65k, I've known kids getting hired full-time by such companies when their contract is over and start with salaries of $120k or $110k. For those of you looking for a job, as a developer that now is in charge of the hiring I can tell you this is what I look for in candidates:
1) Communication Skills
2) Culture Fit
5) Confidence and the ability to adapt to a rapid environment
6) a online porftolio
7) an ok github profile with some projects
8) an online website to show those projects
9) a presence on stack overflow
10) how much is he/she keeping up with new technologies
Also I would recommend you to download this chrome extensions so you can keep up with tech news ALL THE TIME
1) PANDA chrome extension
How long will it take you to learn all of this? It took me 1 solid year on my own time(30-35 hours a week) of coding to get very comfotable. The point here is YOU being comortable grabbing a laptop and working/having fun on what you chose to do as a carrer. Also please use a Mac, no company except government contracting companies use PCs, every developer will tell you the same. USE A MAC.
You can do this, you have now the knowledge
Best of luck
**They removed "Course Report" from their reviews section on the website and replaced it with Codementor, where the reviews have nothing to do with the current school**
I was a former student at Devschool who dropped out because of incompatibilities with the program. I paid for the full stack web development track which (funnily enough), no longer exists - as the school has restructured their tracks for the third time. More on that later.
I think the single driving force behind most of Devschool's problems is the lack of instructors. They always say "us" or "our instructors" while describing the program intricacies, but they only really have 1 - 2 active instructors - including the founder. During the time I was enrolled at Devschool, it had around 21 students. There was quite some drama during my time there. An instructor went crazy and was fired, while another instructor was told to stop teaching and observe sessions to learn how to teach. I also saw a few instructor candidates come and leave the Slack channel, most likely never reaching an agreement with the school.
Due to the lack of instructors, the program suddenly shifted the way it operated. It reduced all student sessions from 2 to 3 times a week, down to 1 time a week. This was frustrating, mainly due to the fact that this change was purely due to a lack of teachers - which to me, seemed like the school did not have its act together at all. The only instructor able to teach was the founder, as they had lost most of ther teachers.
So now, I was trying to put up with only having 1 session a week, when I wanted (and was promised on the website) to have at least 2 or 3 sessions a week. These sessions were an hour long, with the rest of your week completely empty. You were told to continue to with the work done in your sessions, as well as watching a few Frontend Masters and/or Egghead videos. For the rest of the week. This is their curriculum.
The group sessions were a nice touch, but they were very disorganized. Every group session seemed to be a completely new topic that students voted on. They were also painfully long, about two hour to three to even four hours at times. Very inefficient, as most students seem to zone out by the end.
My time at Devschool was 1 hour long session once a week, with a few two - four hour long group sessions sprinkled throughout. All done by the founder. He was exhausted.
This is Devschool's most advertised feature. A none-structured curriculum. This is the reason why I was drawn to the school. As a student however, it's not really all that conductive to the learning process.
The problem with Devschool's promise to "crafting your own curriculum" is that most beginners have no clue what technologies are important and in demand. That's why they are relying on schools to teach them in the first place. A completely open ended curriculum is only appropriate for advanced beginners and up, who actually have had at least several months of programming knowledge.
Finally, there is no structured student-to-student pair programming. You can reach out to students, but that's about it. The varying levels of students and time zones make it a bit difficult.
This is something I am a bit concerned about for the current students. Devschool has radically changed their course tracks over the past 6 months at least three times. In fact, the current tracks on Course Report (and while I was enrolled), no longer exist at all.
Due to the shortage of instructors, my weekly sessions were reduced to 1 a week, with the rest of my time working alone on assignments, group sessions, and the occasional video from their MOOC memberships.
There was zero support outside of your hour long session. Group session content was reserved for whatever was being shown during that session. You could PM the instructor on Slack, but they would be swamped with other student's sessions, unable to focus their energy on you. There were no office hours - once again, lack of instructors to facilitate such systems. You could ask in the Student Slack channel - but should that really be touted as a plus? There are tons of free programming slack channels as well.
I'm glad that students in 2015 were able to find jobs. I'd be curious to see an update in 2016. They say that you are in the program as long as you want until you get a job. The only benefit there are the group sessions - which again, might have nothing to do with helping you get a job. Personalized support? With the lack of instructors or even job specialists/recruiters, you can expect almost no job support after your personal sessions have been used up.
How does Devschool stand amongst its online peers? I've listed out the major contenders in the online bootcamp world. I'm ignoring the contents of their curriculum - because the way in which they deliver this content is far more important.
Devschool: Membership to Frontend Masters and Egghead, unlimited group sessions, open ended curriculum, access to group sessions until hired, 1 mentor session per week, job support during individual sessions, 6 months - 1 year duration.
Codementor: Choose your mentor, open ended curriculum, 1 - X mentor sessions a week, mentor pricing flexible, open ended duration
Hack Reactor Remote: structured curriculum, daily student pair programming, daily group sessions, office hours, job support, 3 months duration
Fullstack Remote: structured curriculum, daily student pair programming, daily group sessions, office hours, job support, saturday CS curriculum, 4 months duration
Viking Code School: structured curriculum, daily student pair programming, daily group sessions, office hours, personal job support, tuition is paid as 18% of first year's salary upon receiving a job, 3 months duration
The Firehose Project: structured curriculum, 1 mentor session per week, office hours, job support, apprenticeship program, 6 months duration
Thinkful: structured curriculum, daily student pair programming, daily group sessions, daily mentor session, 24/7 office hours, 4 month duration, personal job training pre and post graduation, 100% refund if not hired after 6 months
Bloc.io: structured curriculum, 1 - 3 mentor sessions a week, office hours, 6 month duration, personal job training post graduation, 100% refund if not hired after 6 months
Devschool's heart is in the right place. I support their style of teaching an open, unstructured curriculum. It just needs a lot of fine tweaking, and the students may become collateral damage during those tweakings. Hopefully the school will grow with more instructors, so that more flexible options are given in terms of mentoring hours and session numbers, as well as the organization and comprehensiveness of the program. In the end however, with the state that the school was in when I enrolled, I had to leave and pursue a different program. I wish Devschool all the best.
My experience with Devschool was nothing but awesome and accommodating. Jim is a great teacher with tons of experience and a lot of knowledge to give. Whatever your goals are Jim will do whatever he can to help you reach them. Jim would often ask his students for any feedback/input they had regarding the school and how he could make it better to suit our needs. I dont think there is another school out there that caters to the student like that. Like the site says this school does not have a set curriculum like most web development bootcamps but is catered towards the individual student and their goals. If you are looking for a step by step hand holding curriculum then this is not the school for you. Unfortunately due to a new job schedule preventing me from commiting the time to Devschool that I would have liked to I chose not to continue with the Devschool program. Jim was very understanding and gave me a pro-rated refund based on the amount of time I had spent in the school just like the website says. Within a couple days my refund was in my bank account. No jumping through any hoops or the normal BS most companies give you when looking for a refund. If youre a self motivated, goal orriented person looking to get a personal education instead of the same cookie cutter one like all these other bootcamps are offering definitely give Devschool a shot.
I have been a student at Devschool for about three months, most of that time was spent studying and coding part-time. In that time, I have gone from knowing nothing about code, to experimenting coding whole apps, and getting contacted by recruiters regularly.
The most important skill I have learned, however, is learning how to learn. Jim's teaching style forces you to learn how to take extreme ownership of your learning, and how to enjoy that process. This is how it works: Jim serves as your mentor, giving you one 1:1 session a week, and the ability to spectate on other sessions. You get homework which you complete in between sessions. The curriculum is open, and you are free to tackle topics that interest you, all the while, being guided by Jim to ensure that you end up learning all the things you need to be succesful.
If you are not the type to take ownership, or are not open-minded, I do not recommend taking this bootcamp. Otherwise, it will be the best learning experience you will have.
I am currently a student at Devschool, and, while I am not very far along in my studies, thus far Devschool has proved flexible can comprehensive. The curriculum is tailored to an individual student's circumstances and needs, and instructors are willing to meet you on your level. While I have no other coding boot camp experiences to compare it to, I have only positive things to say about it thus far.
I enrolled in Devschool because of their positive image online in reviews and otherwise. Prior to this, I was enrolled in Bloc & Thinkful but sadly their curriculum was poorly formatted and far too structured to be useful to me. This is simply my opinion.
After months of searching I started reading about Devschool and how highly the school was recommended was from previous students who graduated the program. I spoke with Jim numerous times and he was always patient when it came to answering my questions and concerns, and I was impressed with how Devschool was not the typical “Big Box” outfit.
Unfortunately because of an unexpected personal life-crisis I had to drop out of the program before I was able to onboard due to my hectic schedule. And even though Devschool has a standard pro-rated refund minus some non-refundable portion, Jim made a personal exception for me due to my circumstances and refunded the full amount since I needed that money to get out of my crisis. He delivered on the school's promise for an "Insanely Human Experience" and then some!
When in the future I can enroll in an online coding school I will sign up for their program again, no hesitation. Devschool rocks!
I was one of Jim's first official Devschool students back in April of 2015 after having been his customer for several months previously while I attended Dev Bootcamp in NYC. I found that even after 10 hours a day at school learning and hacking, I was missing some major understanding in the Rails stack and in some of the smaller details of web development.
Through Codementor, I found Jim and made him my long term mentor through months 2-3 of Dev Bootcamp and I ended up getting a partial refund at DBC and joined the brand new (then) Devschool. I really liked how the curriculum wasn't written out ahead of time when what I wanted to build and learn was anything but static.
I would recommend Devschool to anyone who wants to cut through the cruft and really, really learn the skills they will need to build modern web applications.
I am a current student of the Devschool. I started about 2 months ago and really happy so far. The reason I chose the Devschool is that it is not a "bootcamp" as we usually understand the word - it is a mentorship mixed with a friendship and strong community. Exactly what I needed: build a real world projects of my choice using tools I want or which are really in trend today. This school is not only about WEB development. It is all about any kind of a programming you're interested in. If my dream would be to write a programms for a robotic vacuums -> I can start this kind of a project at Devschool today.
Please do not even try to attempt this course. It's a scam. The founder is extremely disorganized and was smoking a bong during my interview, how unprofessional is that? Honestly, I have no idea why this program is even listed on here. It should be reported for fraud.
Response From: Jim OKelly of Devschool
I am sorry you feel slighted, the good news is there are probably a lot of "Big Box Bootcamps" who will gladly take your money and promise to maintain the status quo of the drug war. Devschool is probably not the best fit for overly conservative, reactive students.
We prefer students who are free thinkers, focused on solutions, not problems, and most of all, people with the drive to succeed no matter what life throws your way.
We wish you luck on your future technology education!
I was looking at Viking Code School and Learn.co, when I came across Online Dev School (ODS). After interviewing with ODS, I joined about a month ago, and I love it! I actually tried other online bootcamps and just got tired of the old, and dated curriculum.
What makes this school awesome is Jim OKelly. He is a fantastic and patient instructor. And the guy knows his stuff. He not only pushes you to learn full stack web development, he pushes you to learn the tools and to learn them well, such as Vim, CLI, etc. There's no sitting through boring curriculum, like other schools. From day one, you start building YOUR (first of many )web apps, and then another one, and then another one. Meanwhile you and other students watch him build out real business web apps where you can ask questions, watching a senior level programmer solve problems, etc.
Also, the other students in the program are awesome. Some are ahead of you, and some are just coming in, but all of them have a common goal, and it's great to communicate and solve problems together. You get to pair with someone after you've been in the program for a bit.
Now, I have to admit, Jim is not going to be the right instructor for everyone. He can seem disorganized and a little too casual, but after you've joined, you can see that he really is not disorganized, at all. Really what it is, is he is open to making the best experience for his students, and is willing and open to doing whatever he thinks will help the students acheive success. He actually listens to his students feedback. This means lot's of change and flexibility is needed, which is exactly what you need to be a good programmer. Me personally, I like this.
However, a lot of people might not. Those who need a rigid, structured curriculum of hand-holding will not like this school. But those who want a real-world web developement environment while they learn, who like to see how requirements for software can and will change, and who want to learn how to communicate effectively and well with team members on their future job, will LOVE this program. It really is almost like you're an intern learning from a Sr. developer the whole software life cycle stuff.
Jim is very giving, patient, and knowlegeable, and he has that much needed and remarkable trait of all good teachers: he knows how to break difficult concepts down to beginners. Like I've said, I've studied with other mentors, and they were excellent programmers and knew their stuff, but they sucked at breaking down difficult concepts. Jim is a fantastic mentor, vastly knowledgeable, dedicated, and sincere to his students' success.
Again, I've been in the program for about a month, and in that time, I've learned how to kick butt in Vim, CLI, Git, building a robust web app, and pair programming. It's the best money I've ever spent, and I'm so happy to have found this school.
Hi my name is Eric. I just graduated from Online Dev School. Jim placed me at a Y Combinator start up called New Story. I'm super pumped about it. I'll be working on doing Ruby on Rails for them and couldn't be happier. I picked online dev school because you literally get one on one time and mentorship and they guarenteed placement. It only took him about 7 days to place me after I graduated. Thank you so much Online Dev School!!! I wouldn't have been able to get into programming without you.
I was doing research on this bootcamp when I came across a student that was threatened by doxxing from the lead instructor. This is absolutely beyond insane. How could you treat your students like this just because you are irritated? You've just lost a chunk of appeal from many prospective students.
"I left some negative reviews about Devschool , and I don't know what lies he said to the websites and they just removed my comments. No wonder why there is so many good comments. He even send me email threaten me and told me he gonna post my personal information and my photos online, he also said he gonna try to prevent me from getting a job. All those happened just because I left negative reviews. That's really horrible. Stay away from this person."
Ladies and gentlemen, this is the darkside of coding bootcamps. This is why for every negative review, there are a bunch of individuals too scared to open out about this experience. This is incredibly unacceptable. Be wary of such personalities on instructors before applying to this program.
I had an interview with Jim close to a month or so ago as I was interested in learning about the program.
Yes, he certainly seems to be a bit more on the "liberal" side, but I didn't necessarily find that to be a bad thing. In many cases it was refreshing.
I'm not going to speak anything about the rest of the program, since I ultimately decided to not continue with it, however, I did personally find some things concerning:
Mostly the quality of reviews and responses. I get that every company gets a bad review every now and then.
But there seems to be a heavy shift between the five star reviews and the lower reviews.
In fact, both low reviews seemed to have been responded to with a rather unprofessional and in one case a (perhaps) borderline illegal revelation of someone's personal information. (I don't know but isn't that like illegal or something?)
Regardless, I think that to do something like that is pretty messed up.
I personally find this to be very unprofessional and quite morally wrong, regardless of one's personal feelings.
Also, I don't know how much of the largest bad review stems from emotional issue, but to think that a student would come out of a program feeling insulted and humiliated... Is that how an instructor should make their students feel under any circumstance?
I could be wrong, but to me, the program was advertised to not have a curriculum because the work would be tailored to an individual's needs.However, it sounds like this person's needs were not met and instead they were insulted for not following "the rules" (which I thought was not what the program was supposed to be about). But I digress.
Again, I don't mean for this to be a review about the program itself, since I didn't participate after the initial interview nor did I get a clear idea about the curriculum, so my rating for the curriculum isn't based from experience, it's more based on the mixed messages between the reviews, what was advertised, and my own experience after research.
But seeing this has really influenced my decision.Mostly from a quality of teaching aspect.
I don't know if a review is best fit for this kind of situation, but since there is no "dislike" feature, I believe that this is suitable.
Given if this is appropriate, a final message I have for this program is: No matter how mad someone is... treat them with a bit more respect. The customer is always right. Failure to do this not just reflects poorly on just the business, but on the people who run it as well.
This is a boot camp with 2 people: the instructor Jim Okelly(and also he is the principle) and his assistant who also takes his classes. It is small and unprofessional, the owner of this business lives in Mexico (it's a BVI business), which means, if you have any problems, you will have no way to complain or properly defend yourself without significant challenge. This is because he lives and operates his business outside of the USA.
HERE ARE SEVERAL THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT DEVSCHOOL:
Is DEVSCHOOL legit?
---I don’t know but Jim Okelly is the owner plus instructor and he is in Mexico. If you get screwed, your contact can be limited, which is problematic if you were to decide that the program is not for you and would like a refund.
Also you won’t have any way to complain if you are treated badly. Since Devschool is small and unprofessional, Jim Okelly will be your instructor, your principle, your financial officer, and once he decides that you are a “bad student”, you are 100% screwed and won’t even have any way to communicate or stat a valid case.
I saw some good reviews, are those real?
---I don’t know but I personally don’t believe so. He threatened me (Told me he will stop me from finding a job, and he will sue me to influence my students VISA if I don't delete the comments) and even revealed my personal information online, and he is trying to build a website using my name just to release my information. All those because of I left negative reviews. Also he spent a lot of time and money trying to figure out how to rank better in Google and he asks his students to “like” his comments on YouTube. I wouldn’t be surprised if a person like him would ask some friends to post good reviews for himself.
Is Jim a good instructor?
---If you think an instructor who humiliates you and says rude things to you and shows you his darker side is good, then go ahead. Also, I think that he behaves rude and can’t accept any suggestions and will treat them as your challenge towards him. Which means, if you are looking for an instructor who cares about your growth and best study needs and you are the kind of person who likes to ask “why I am doing this” or “may I suggest something that is more suitable for me”, he will berate you.
Will I get a refund if I don’t like the classes?
----Yes. I know it’s hard to find this info but HE WILL DEDUCT A MINIMUM $1500 FROM YOU EVEN THOUGH YOU NEVER TAKE ANY CLASSES YET. Which means, once you handover your money, $1500 of it is just gone. And in my own case is, I took only 1 class in total along with an “onboarding session”, and from that I had owed him about $2000.
How about the job guarantee?
---Read it again and think twice. If you can’t find a job then you stay inside the school forever and enjoy the resource? What resource? Most of the resource that DEVSCHOOL gives you are online resources that you can reach easily by yourself, and other than that, there is a useless and unprofessional slack channel and his group sessions, which consist of “watching him code”. A program that promise you to give you a full refund if you can't find a job is way better. Think logically, Think twice.
Is the internship style cool?
---Do you enjoy your boss asking you to do stuff without telling you any reasons? Do you enjoy having to build complex projects with no basic knowledge, subpar instruction and simply being told to “look it up online?”? Do you like it when your boss humiliates you when you ask questions? If you really enjoy all of those things, then congratulations, you will pay Jim O’kelly so that he can be your “boss” and teach you a real life lesson about how stupid you are.
Can I really become a programmer after 4 months?
--- Basically, you maybe can find a job after some inefficient, basic lacking studies, but it’s hard to find a good one or get promoted. And it’s definitely not worth that much money.
How about the “insanely humane” part?
---Jim Okelly never consider your opinion or your study hobbies, also he will give you super rude feedbacks when you become “annoying” and asking too many questions. I call this INSANELY IN-HUMANE.
So if you are interested, here is my experience in DEVSCHOOL:
Just like most students, I chose his Devschool because I saw that he had some good reviews online (and now I personally doubt if those are real). When I did the interview with him, even though performed unprofessionally during it, I thought it was his cool personal style and didn’t realize that it was a dangerous signal.
The class began after about 3 weeks, and within this period of time, I was in his slack channel, watching him share some random videos. Some of those videos (from Youtube) are programming related, but most of the time the topics inside the slack channel were just very random and unprofessional. I have been involved in many programming related slack channels and I have to say that Devschool’s slack channel, compared to any other slack channel that I have participated in, is the most unprofessional and useless one. If you want to pay $8000 to read dirty jokes, then go ahead.
The first class experience was awful.
Since I can’t understand a single thing of the first class, and since HE DOESN’T REALLY ANSWER YOUR QUESTIONS (he will tell you to search google or watch a tutorial online), even though he seems really confident in what he is doing, I decided to send him a very polite message, asking “Is that OK if you at least tell me what I am learning and what I am going to learn?” and “Is that possible for us to figure out a better way to help me to learn?”, and his first answer was along the lines of: THEN YOU SHOULDN’T TAKE THIS PROGRAM AND I WILL GIVE YOU A REFUND(I have more to say about the refund part later). Can you believe that that was the first thing your instructor tells you when you ask him for help? Really? He asked me to leave because I asked him to tell me what I am learning and what I am going to learn. His reaction made me think that HE IS AN AWFUL INSTRUCTOR! He answers in this way so that I will get scared and then he can manipulate me as he wanted to in the future. So that’s why most students don’t ask any questions in that slack channel!
After Jim Okelly told me to quit, I talked to many other of my classmates in Devschool. And apparently, a lot of them, after two months of study, still don’t understand what he is doing and have to learn everything by watching free online videos. But they never told him they didn’t get anything from him, because somehow, talking to Jim Okelly is very hard.
Considering his bad altitudes and the other students’ experiences, I decided to leave and left him a very polite message. The second day, WITHOUT ANY NOTIFICATIONS OR MEESSAGES, I found that he just removed me from the slack channel (the only connection you can have with Devschool) and didn’t say anything. After I finally reached him out, HE SAID SOMETHING REALLY PERSONAL AND RUDE TO HUMILIATE ME. And he told me EVEN THOUGH I ONLY TOOK 1 LESSON, HE STILL SPENT ENERGY, AND THERE NEEDED TO BE AT LEAST $1500 FEE DEDUCTED (It’s around $2100 after everything). I tried to talk to him, and he just said rude things and then “go teach class”, the next thing I see is his assistant took the chat and told me “he is in class”. After that, he is in class forever, so good luck talking with him easily.
DON’T CHOOSE DEVSCHOOL OR JIM OKELLY! WHAT HAPPENED TO ME WILL HAPPEN TO YOU AS WELL. There are so many better programs, with free classes you can try, and way better quality.
Response From: Ashley Fredricks of Devschool
* These outcomes are not audited by Course Report. In some cases, data is audited by a third party.
Devschool has an acceptance rate of 95%, of which 100% of accepted students enroll in a course. Of the students who enroll at Devschool, 89% graduate. 100% are hired in technical roles within 120 days and report an average income of n/a.
Job Seeking Graduates Placed:
After 120 days
Notes & Caveats:
In our program, starting around your 40th lesson, we switch from programming to job skills, where we teach you how to interview, help you with your code challenges, and to learn what employers are looking for in new coders.
Our latest on Devschool
Welcome to the October 2016 Course Report monthly coding bootcamp news roundup! Each month, we look at all the happenings from the coding bootcamp world from new bootcamps to fundraising announcements, to interesting trends. This month we are also covering our Women In Tech Snapchat takeover! Other trends include new developments in the industry, new outcomes reports and why those are important, new investments in bootcamps, and of course, new coding schools and campuses.Continue Reading →
Armed with years of development experience, hundreds of CodeMentor hours, and a deep understanding of remote work, Mexico-based Jim OKelly founded online web development school Devschool in January 2015. Now having graduated several cohorts, Jim sits down with Course Report to talk about the time commitment he expects of successful graduates, keeping the curriculum updated, and how the Devschool experience remains “insanely human.”
Do you come from a dev background or do you come from an education background? When did you start teaching?
I come from a development background. I’ve been programming since I was 13. I skipped the rest of high school and university to go straight into programming at 17. At 18, I got a job at Intel and then at Microsoft. Essentially, I skipped a formal education and went straight into the job force.
Skipping ahead of 13 years in development, I was the number one Ruby on Rails mentor at Code Mentor for almost three years running, and I mentored over 300 people. It really allowed me to build my teaching style. Also, I used to be a DJ and I am a musician, so performance and interacting with an audience in an engaging way just comes to me naturally. The first Devschool cohort started in January 2015.
What were you up to between then and starting Devschool?
I was a digital nomad for almost 20 years travelling around the world, working for different clients, and companies and living where I wanted to live: Amsterdam, Paris, India and Mexico, the Caribbean.
That’s a cool example of the freedom you can create with tech skills.
If you want to not be a slave, become a programmer. You can work anywhere for anybody and you don’t just have to make your boss happy. If you’re a person stuck in a certain location, you may not have that choice.
What’s been the biggest change over the last year since starting Devschool?
From the beginning, Devschool was a 180 from the traditional bootcamp model, so I’m not sure there have been any major iterations. We don’t teach classes, we don’t have pre-canned material that students have to read or watch. Everything is hands-on, side-by-side learning.
What does a typical “Unit” or lesson look like at Devschool?
There are ~50 units, and one Unit means one private session, one group session and 10 hours of homework and hacking. Private sessions are one-on-one between me and the student; group sessions are 4 to 5 students together.
I teach people how to program by first demonstrating how to code in a proper, efficient way, using the least amount of code possible. After that, students spend 10 hours replicating that process. We repeat that process, and eventually, it’s like pushing a kid on a bike. You let go and they can ride off but at first you have to keep them upright and going in the right direction.
What is the time commitment? Are Devschool students generally quitting their jobs or working part-time?
There are 600 hours in the curriculum, divided into ~50 units. A student who does 3 sessions per week will graduate in ~3 months. That is a full-time commitment, but you can learn at home in your underwear, which is a little easier than doing 70 hours a week at an onsite bootcamp where you’re jammed with people for 70 hours a week. I don’t think that’s fun.
Students who already have a job don’t usually quit their jobs to do Devschool. They complete 1 to 2 units a week. Some only do one unit a week and it takes them about a year to graduate. Most students spend between 25 and 40 hours on Devschool per week.
Are students learning back end frameworks as well?
Why was it important to you to create a product for remote students specifically?
Remote is far more accessible. You can’t learn to be a chef online because you can’t cook online with an instructor. But programming is built around the computer and remote working is built around the computer, so it all gels together in a good workflow.
Also, the tools we teach were specifically chosen to allow us to do remote online education; we teach VIM instead of Sublime and Textmate. You won’t find novices who choose VIM, because experts tend to choose very powerful tooling where you have control over it. We also can’t jump into Sublime and edit code on a foreign server. As programmers, your job is to edit code that is going to be deployed to foreign servers. So all of our tools are built with remote in mind.
Are there plans to expand offline and start an in-person bootcamp?
I’m based in Puerto Vallarta, and the plan is to open a bootcamp here eventually. It will be at the intersection of adventure and technology education. Obviously, it’s a great way to learn to code, pay your bills and eat tacos in Mexico rather than in New York where your “closet” costs $3,000 a month. I would like to get more information from the public on this idea – comment below or tweet me @devschoolrocks.
Online bootcamps are definitely more accessible, but I also imagine that you face the issue of disengagement or demotivation more often- how do you resolve that?
It starts at the meta level. We used to offer a payment plan, but noticed that dropouts were all on the payment plan, because they were not invested enough in their education to stick through it. Losing $7000 or $8000 is a bigger deal. We still have a layaway plan, and with our appropriated refund nobody actually loses money. We look at how long you’ve been at the school based on a 6-month graduation average and prorate your refund if you decide that Devschool really is not for you.
Devschool seems to be designed around project-driven work. Are most of your students starting Devschool with an idea for a business or a project or a product?
In the early days, yes, about 50% of our first cohort were entrepreneurs. Now it’s probably 20%. We help the other 80% figure out what they want to do by first figuring out what makes them get up early in the morning and stay up late? What is it that they’re really interested in?
We had one student make a wedding app around being inclusive of same-sex marriages, and another student built an app that tracks the amount of money coming from lobbyists to different congressional members so you can see who gave your congressman money. We have a student building a farm management app for his cousin who took over the family farm to manage the harvests and the crops and the seeds, and an ex-trucker who’s building software for truckers to use as they’re driving across the country. Their past lives influence the choices they make as programmers.
Are there any other admission standards for Devschool?
We don’t accept anybody who hasn’t already talked to Bloc and Thinkful and General Assembly and the rest of the bootcamps. We want to make sure that they’ve already done their research and been disappointed at another bootcamp because then they’re much happier when they find Devschool.
The only rule is the “no asshole” rule. If you come to the interview and you seem too technically apt, too plugged in or too geeky, we typically turn you away because they’re the hard ones to work with. They’re the ones who “know everything” and they make other students’ lives miserable.
Is there a time zone requirement since students are learning online?
We hold school Central time, between 10am to 7pm CST Tuesday Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, and Saturdays and Sundays 12pm to 4pm CST. You can be anywhere in the world as long as you can schedule your time with your instructor during the time that we’re available.
Are students working with their peers?
It’s not forced, we instead have a “self-assembling teams” policy. If you’re not a social person and don’t want to work with other people, we don’t believe that you should make other people miserable. If you want to work with other people then that is absolutely encouraged.
We’re all connected in Slack, students talk to each other. There are channels for posting non-related work stuff and chatting about Bernie or Trump (although the latter doesn’t get represented as much). We expect people to communicate as much as they want to but they don’t have to.
What tools do you use to make the online learning experience easier?
We use Slack to communicate, and Zoom for screen sharing, audio etc. All the coding is done through the terminal to cement those skills as we work. Students record every single session so in the end they have 50 recorded personal sessions.
After the session, a student can see their next steps and homework through our Internal Tools. For example, the student building a farming app can see that he needs to add the ability to track weather every day and track precipitation. They can check these boxes if they get it done. Here, they also see notes about what we accomplished in our session. Then we set up the next appointment.
We don’t want to build software to replace the human interaction, but we have built some to facilitate keeping a history of previous learning and organization.
Tell me a little bit about job placement. When we’re talking about remote online schools, can a student really get a job afterwards?
Our statistics show the opposite problem. We can’t keep people in school all 50 sessions before they get hired.
At what point in the 50 sessions of Devschool do you start talking about job placement?
At session 40, which gives students 5 to 10 weeks to find a job. We don’t kick them out of the program at week 50, we keep on working with them until they get a job.
Are you finding that most of those jobs are remote jobs?
It’s a good mix and depends on where the student is. If a student is in San Francisco or New York, they want to get a job there because it will pay more. People who are in Akron, Ohio tend to get remote jobs because there’s not a lot of programming there.
We focus on helping students learn how to interview, where to find jobs, and how to market themselves. What does an interviewer want when they ask a question because the questions they ask are rarely straightforward. For example, at the end of an interview when they ask if you have any questions, that’s really just testing for an engagement factor.
How can junior programmers who don’t have work experience sell themselves in a job interview?
That’s a conundrum because you don’t have any skills yet. You have to convince the company that they’re investing in a person who will be there a while. They’re taking a risk on somebody without the skills so they can shape them into what the company needs. So if you go in and tell the interviewer what you want, you will not get the job. If you go in and say, “I want to learn your way of doing things and find the best way I can help the company achieve its goals” – now that’s how you get the job.
What types of jobs are you seeing students accept after Devschool?
Is there anything else you want to make sure our readers know about Devschool?
Devschool focuses on providing an insanely human experience. Yes, we’re teaching technology, but it’s the human interaction that’s important to us, not just because it makes the student more engaged but also because it prepares you better for a job. We also offer electives you don’t normally find in coding bootcamps like SEO, Logo Design, Fontography, and Consulting 101.