DigitalCrafts’ instructors are all professional engineers with real-world development experience. The average class size is smaller than the national average, allowing for an efficient and effective learning environment where students ‘learn by building.’ In addition, students receive resume/portfolio guidance and a mock interview lesson. The admissions process consists of an online application, interview, and coding challenge. Financing and scholarships are available, and early enrollment incentives can further lower tuition for students.
Students in Atlanta and Houston are also full members of Atlanta Tech Village and HeadquartersHTX, respectively, for the duration of the class.
Recent DigitalCrafts Reviews: Rating 4.83
Recent DigitalCrafts News
- August 2018 Coding Bootcamp Podcast + News Roundup
- From Creative Writing to Coding: Natalie's Success After DigitalCrafts
- How to Hire a Coding Bootcamp Grad
In PersonPart Time10 Hours/week27 Weeks
- Start Date
- April 29, 2019
- Class size
- Atlanta, Houston
- $1,000 (eligible for financing)
- DigitalCrafts has a partnership with Skills Fund, with payments as low as $192/month.
- Tuition Plans
- Payment plans available.
- Refund / Guarantee
- Secure your seat early for additional discounts.
- Women and Veterans automatically receive scholarships to attend our Immersive and Flex Programs. If you do not qualify, we also sponsor The Builder Scholarship awarded to applicants with inspiring stories and goals.
- Minimum Skill Level
- Beginner or Intermediate
- Prep Work
- Pre-requisite work will be provided.
- Placement Test
More Start DatesApril 29, 2019 - AtlantaApril 29, 2019 - Houston
In PersonFull Time35 Hours/week16 Weeks
- Start Date
- November 12, 2018
- Class size
- Atlanta, Houston
- $1,000 (eligible for financing)
- DigitalCrafts has a partnership with Skills Fund. Payments as low as $293/month (full-time) or $192/month (part-time).DigitalCrafts has partnered with Leif to offer Income Share Agreements allowing student to pay after they graduate and land a job.
- Tuition Plans
- Payment plans available through our partner, Skills Fund.
- Refund / Guarantee
- Secure your seat early for additional discounts.
- Women and Veterans automatically receive scholarships to attend our Immersive and Flex Programs. If you do not qualify, we also sponsor The Builder Scholarship awarded to applicants with inspiring stories and goals.
- Minimum Skill Level
- Beginner or Intermediate
- Prep Work
- Pre-requisite work will be provided.
- Placement Test
More Start DatesNovember 12, 2018 - AtlantaNovember 12, 2018 - HoustonFebruary 11, 2019 - AtlantaFebruary 11, 2019 - Houston
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When I decided to make a change of career to Software Developer I was a little afraid I was gonna be really lost because I had no coding experience, but after doing a little research I found Digital Crafts, which had really great reviews and everyone said the program was amazing, so I decided to do it. Today I'm so happy I found it and I'm so happy with my decision to do it because it really is one of the best experiences in my life.
The amount of things you learn in four months is crazy (good crazy). It takes a lot of commitment, work and dedication to learn everything but everyone is so helpful and always willing to help you with everything. The instructors are amazing, the program is amazing, all the digitalCrafts team are amazing and friendly, so for everyone who is thinking about going for a change and are not so sure to just go for it because you have no experience or very little experience, my advice to you is to just go for it and go with digitalCrafts, you will not regret it and personally, i'm really impressed about where I am now, and where I was four months ago.
PS: The pre-work is really helpful to not be lost the first days if you're really new to coding; and if you're not its a good practice, so do it. :)
Veronica was an amazing instructor and was always able to teach complicated topics in a simple, understandable way, and the TAs were always there to help students with whatever problems we would face during our projects and homework. Veronica always made sure all of us were understanding what we were studying and made it fun. One of the TAs(James) even came to the school on a Saturday to help me and two others on issues we were facing on our projects and stayed till 8:30pm coding with us and making sure we understood the concepts we were struggling with.
I would definitely recommend DigitalCrafts for both begineers and CS majors and suggest to future students to do as much of the prework as possible so that once you're in class, you can spend more time trying to understand the more complex topics rather than struggling with the basics.
I'll start with the good stuff:
This course is the best investment of both my time and my money that I've made in my career. If you've been teaching yourself code through tutorials and books, but are having a tough time pulling all those elements together to build projects from scratch, DigitalCrafts will get you there. You just have to be willing to put in the work.
The technologies taught here are extremely relevant in today's development landscape, and there are many high-paying roles where you can solve interesting problems with the skills you'll learn in this course. I think you also get a good survey of the differences between back-end and front-end development, so you can make an educated decision about which to specialize in. Or, you can be indecisive like me and try to be both ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
The instructors were another big positive here. Lachlan and Adam are both extremely knowledgeable, and have each carved out great tech careers. Folks that are lucky enough to find a technical mentor have a huge leg-up in teaching themselves to code. Not everyone has access to a mentor, so having these two industry experts to ask questions to and learn from for 6 months was a huge part of the value of this course.
I'd also say the folks leading DigitalCrafts are very open to feedback. We saw quite a few changes made on the fly based on feedback from students, and I've already heard some great ways they're improving future cohort's courses based on our experience.
Finally, the structure of a classroom environment and a cohort of peers all learning and struggling with the material alongside you really helps. When you try to teach yourself watching YouTube tutorials and you don't understand something, there's not much you can do other than find another one or keep re-watching until you understand it. When you are in a classroom and you don't get something, it's likely there are other classmates that don't get it either. The instructors are pretty good about checking for understanding, and can find another way to explain the topic until everyone's on the same page.
I don't count this as a "negative", as it's not part of what the course sells itself as, but Computer Science fundamentals like algorithms and data structures are not covered in the course. Learning these makes you much stronger in tech interviews, so I'd recommend taking the more CS-themed electives as they become available, and spending a lot of time becoming practicing these kinds of problems on leetcode.com or codewars.com.
I attended DigitalCrafts from Feb - Aug 2018 as part of their first part-time flex cohort. I am currently working as a DIR for the program so my opinions are coming from two perspectives.
As a student: DigitalCrafts was a great choice for me as stay at home mom with no experience in coding. The initial pre-work was useful and necessary to get you started on the right foot. I would recommend the flex program to anyone who is needing to continue working or cannot dedicate 3 solid months to learning how to code. There were some rough patches at times since this was their first flex cohort, but I still feel like the quality of instruction was good. The instructors were very knowledgeable both in content and career. Keep in mind, if this is something you are considering, it will take a lot of work on your end. Instructors provide lecture and advice but if you are not willing to put in the time and effort you will not be successful. You will get out what you put in.
As a DIR: Though it hasn't been long, since becoming a DIR I have been able to watch DigitalCrafts improve. One of my highest compliments to the company is their ability and willingness to listen to feedback and adapt. They ask for feedback often and will take action on comments from their students and staff. I feel and hope that this program will only grow and improve.
After several years yearning for a career change, I decided to take the bootcamp route to formalize my interest in programming. During my research, I noted that DigitalCrafts' name and reputation stood out from the rest of Houston programs. DigitalCrafts' fully immersive class provides not only the foundation, but the blueprint for a successful career in the tech world.
Now, it is indeed a challenging 16 weeks. The curriculum packs a lot of work (projects, assignments, extra-curricular learning, etc) in such a short time. However, the resources to succeed are there. Attentive instructors and TAs, as well as the resources from the DigitalCraft wide network of alumni and current students. In addition to the actual material covered, the staff, including the Campus Director, provide insightful and constructive job-seeking feedback, as well as thorough presentations to make sure that the students are well prepared to tackle the job market.
I could not be happier with my decision to enroll as I see myself light-years away from where I was 5 months ago.
I could not be more satisfied with the education I got with DigitalCrafts. The atmosphere and community built in the classroom create an environment that's easy to learn in and focuses on developing not just personal skills but also cooperation and team-building skills. The staff are fully dedicated to giving every student the opportunity to succeed both in the course and in careers after graduation. I came away from the course confident in my abilities and wielding the tools I need to develop my skills further.
I am very happy with DigitalCrafts. The coursework was intense (as expected), and this allowed me to really hone my Software Development skills in a professional and collaborative environment. Everyone at DigitalCrafts was very helpful, all the way from my Instructor, my TA, Career Services, the Campus Director and everyone in between. They really care about their students’ success.
As with everything valuable in life, this Coding Bootcamp takes effort, dedication, passion and commitment. My advice for incoming students would be to completely do the pre-work assignment they will give you and practice coding every day. This will allow you to hit the ground running when classes start.
Best of luck!
Attending DigitalCrafts was a really great decision for me. Before starting the bootcamp I had been self-taught for about year and half, and while I had shallow understanding of many of the topics covered in the course, the Full-Stack Immersive program really helped me dive deeply into it all. I learned a great deal over the 16 weeks that we were in the program, and I would definitely do it again. That being said, no bootcamp could be perfect, so I will split up my review between things I loved about the program, and things that could be better.
Things I loved about the program:
1. Veronica was a great instructor who would move mountains to help her students. Having the kind of enthusiasm and care from a teacher like Veronica is an invaluable way to start your programming career.
2. Career Week. Career week was a week long module within the program in which we got to: hear from speakers who are currently out working in the field, participate in mock interviews and whiteboarding to learn what we might face when applying to jobs, and learn how to make great resumes and portfolios specifically for jobs as developers. I found this week to be great and it really gave me the confidence necessary to consider myself a professional developer.
3. Group projects. I can't speak enough about how valuable the experience I gained from working on group projects was. Software Development for the most part is not really a 'lone-wolf' kind of field, so learning things like pair-programming, source-control collaboration, and good communication, is an experience without equal. Group projects also allowed us students to learn a lot from one another as each and every person brought a very unique set of skills and knowledge to the team.
5. Friday interview challenges. Another really great aspect of the DigitalCrafts curriculum. Each Friday we would be split into pairs and would have an hour to answer as many questions as we could ranging from programming trivia and brain teasers to pretty difficult coding problems. Not only did these challenges test our problem solving skills and knowledge, but they also forced us to learn how to communicate well under a time crunch. I am very glad that this was a part of the course.
6. Business pitches. Just before our final projects we got the chance to listen to local businesses pitch us their ideas about work or projects they needed done. We then had the option of working with these businesses for two weeks to develop and ship a real product for them. This was another amazing aspect of the course and having worked for one of the local businesses, I gained a lot of experience from the project. I would 100% recommend that DigitalCrafts continue doing this for future cohorts.
Things I was not such a fan of:
1. A lack of community. I really wish DigitalCrafts had placed a greater emphasis on building community at the Houston campus. Aside from an awkward pizza party at the beginning of the course, and the occasional sharing of champagne to celebrate job offerings, there was a pretty massive lack of social-life within the bootcamp. Most days were spent listening to the lecture(s), doing the exercises, and then leaving for the day, with practically no after class activities provided that would build camaraderie. On the very last day of the course the staff did take us out for happy hour, however, it was somewhat disappointing to only get to know all the awesome personalities within our cohort and with the staff at the end of the course rather than throughout it.
3. Teaching Assistant turnover. TA's were a pretty essential aspect of the course. Veronica could not be in three places at once answering each student's questions, and having TA's available to answer questions when Veronica was unable to was really helpful. Unfortunately, these TA positions are only meant to be temporary positions for DC alumni while they go through the job search or long interview processes. This meant that there was a lot of TA turnover throughout our course, usually losing and replacing one every 2-4 weeks. I really think it would a great idea if DigitalCrafts made this a full-time position that lasted the length of a cohort so as to provide more continuity.
4. The pre-course work could be better. Having gone through the pre-work with a couple of other bootcamps such as Hack Reactor and General Assembly, I felt that the pre-work for DigitalCrafts could benefit from being a bit more methodical, rather than just being a list of somewhat random learning resources.
Digital Crafts is a 16 week full stack immersive bootcamp. It is time consuming, but definitely worthwhile. The covered material is interesting, and will be needed by job seekers when entering the job market. The instructors are dedicated and knowledgable, and there are a lot of resources available to you throughout the duration of the course.
If you are looking for a career change I would definitely recommend Digital Crafts.
P.S. Don't worry if you have little coding experience!
I went into DigitalCrafts knowing close to nothing about web development, and before I had finished the course, I had accepted a job offer. As had many others in my class.
This course is not easy and will take a lot of dedication, but will pay off if you work hard. The instructors were very knowledgable and did all they could to make sure the students were successful. While at the same time they don’t hold your hand, and will teach you to work past your own technical roadblocks, which will benefit you in your career. They also offer good career support and advice to help you get a job.
Overall it was a great experience that helped me get a foot into a new career and would I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a coding bootcamp.
Having done most of the pre work to prepare for the class, I found the first part of the class very easy. Once we got to node.js, the work became very difficult for me to the point I thought I would never understand it. However, during the end of our back end project with the help of the instructor, TA's, and other students, it all finally started to make sense to me and I now really enjoy using node.
Although everything we learned in class could be self taught, I think the best part of this class and what made it worth taking is having so many people around for support when you get stuck on a problem.
I had a good experience at DigitalCrafts and gained a great deal of knowledge that I did not have despite holding a "Software Development Degree in Java" prior to joining the bootcamp.
It is really smart that the program is not stricted to teaching students coding only, but other essential skills that every software engineer should know including: pair and team programming, interviews' practice, logic and problem solving, and also learning other technologies that are being used in the industry like github and its git commands, AWS and many other things.
They also provided students with lots of help in finding jobs and keeping them posted on the job market. Serviced the students to have and reflect a professional image in order to land a job.
If there is one thing that I'd like to see differently at DigitalCrafts! that would be providing another stack to teach such as .NET, C# & Angular. And that would give the enrolling students more options to choose from.
Lastly, DigtialCrafts was probably the best choice I have ever made in my professional career as it helped me in landing my dream job on my last week of the course.
The course is worth the dollars required for more than just the technical knowledge that you leave with. While anyone could theoretically take the time to learn the curriculum presented in the course on their own (albeit at a slower pace than you would in the course) the extra benefits of Digital Crafts are as follows.
1. Learning how to work with a group. You might be good at coding, but most employers want to see that you work well in a team, because on any big project your code isn't worth much if it doesn't work with everyone else's.
2. Portfolio review. At about the two-thirds mark through the course, the student coordinator reviews your social media, Linked-In, and Github accounts, as well as your resume and any portfolio website that you may have created. This is instrumental in helping you be ready to apply for jobs.
3. Mock interviews. If you're anything like me, even if you know how to code, you have no idea how to properly solve white-board problems while talking through your process to the interviewer watching you whilst also answering behavioral questions in a manner that best displays your talents. The mock interviews you are given access to really help you in your job search.
4. And when you leave, on top of all the coding that you've learned, you have access to a messaging application that consistently updates with jobs that have been found by members and alumni of Digital Crafts.
TL;DR - If you're on the fence about whether or not to take a camp like this, I had it explained to me like this: learning to code is like learning a language. Learning on your own is like trying to learn Spanish out of a textbook-- it can be done, but it will take you a while and it will be a lot harder than it would be if you moved to Mexico for half a year. Immersing yourself not only in the language but the nuances that come along with it and the culture that the language evolves in will ultimately make you more proficient than you ever could be on your own.
Great teachers. Great curriculum. High standards.
I finished a Full Stack Immersive Program in May 2018 in Atlanta.
It was an awesome experience. The stuff was very helpful and supportive. Of course, it was challenging, but the instructors were always there for me. If you're committed and ready to put some extra work after class, you'll find this bootcamp an amazing learning opportunity. Highly recommend!
I would genuinely like to thank everyone in DigitalCrafts, but especially Jonathan Martin for answering all of my 'WHY?!'
If you’ve spent a good amount of time preparing for a coding bootcamp, and know exactly what you’re wanting to get out of it, then don’t think twice about signing up. Put both feet in and you won’t regret your decision. Realize that nearly any bootcamp across the country will expose you to similar technologies and that you’ll only scratch the surface of each topic. There's only so much you can cover in 3-4 months. What you’re mainly getting is the structure of everyday practice in a collaborative, supportive, and social environment.
There were times during the program that I questioned my decision of enrolling and what value I was actually getting out of it. Most if not all that we learn is available to us online for free, but the momentum to keep going is not. Sometimes that’s all that I needed to continue pushing through roadblocks. Additionally, the opportunity to work with other classmates on projects was a valuable experience that is difficult achieve through the self-taught path.
It can’t be stressed enough that preparation before enrolling will only multiply what you get out of the program. Additionally, don’t expect anyone to hold your hand. The lecture is barely 2-3 hours and the rest of the day you’re primarily on your own. Learning to become independent is only going to make you a stronger developer. Your level of success is strictly determined by the amount of hard work you put into it.
Lastly, a lot of prospective students I met were concerned that they didn’t have the background appropriate for this sort of a program. I studied Anthropology & Philosophy as my undergraduate degree which has no relation to software development whatsoever. However, what every successful student at DigitalCrafts has in common is the willingness and determination to work hard and succeed.
No review is complete without some feedback on the program:
• I would make the pre-course work more challenging, and use the first month to cover more in-depth topics instead of covering the same material as pre-course work. The first three weeks were sort of redundant after having prepared for this program.
• Incorporate daily algorithm toy problems. I believe this is covered by the CS elective, but it would still be good to warm up before the day starts with a short toy problem sprint. This would also make a great opportunity for pair programming.
• Offer more electives that focus on UI/UX, and spend more time on GitHub, and launching/hosting our projects.
• Help students establish coding best practices. Writing clean code is something prospective employers will look for in a candidate, so knowing the good and the bad of clean code early on would have been helpful.
• Offer more diverse assignments. The majority of what we practiced building were to-do lists.
• Consider changing ‘Career Week’ to ‘Career Days’ that are incorporated throughout the program. This would give us more time to polish our resumes, portfolios, etc. throughout the entire program instead of cramming it all into one week.
• Lastly, I would encourage the instructor to be more involved in the students success. The instructor checked in with us during the first few weeks during lab hours, but throughout the rest of the program they were just made available to students for questions following lecture. I think there's a lot more to gain from having an instructor there full-time. Learn and connect with your students to understand who they are and what their professional goals are.
My time at DigitalCrafts was mostly interesting and fun. There were a lot of hurdles and and bumps in the road along the way but the experience gained was worth it. The curriculum is fast paced and you will have to put in a lot of hard work in order to succeed. Make sure you do the prework! There is a reason calls to do the prework is written in a lot of the reviews. Overall, my time at DigitalCrafts helped me gain friendships with my classmates and set the foundation for a career in web development.
The job support is decent. They will review your resume and portfolio along with other facets of your online presence and give you helpful tips so that you can maximize your exposure to potential employers. However, the Houston area isn’t as in demand as other places with tech job markets. If you are willing to relocate you will have an advantage in possibly finding a job sooner so it is something to consider before starting the course.
In closing, I would highly recommend DigitalCrafts as a way to launch your career as a Developer. Jason is easy to talk to and my instructor Azam has many years of experience and will give a lot of helpful tips on how to prepare better for the job search as well as teaching the different technologies and languages.
I just graduated from DigitalCrafts Atlanta full-time in-class immersive web development cohort, and I have to say it was not an easy, drop in now and then experience. It was hard. It was time-consuming. It was worth it. I haven't gotten a job offer yet, but I'm not too worried. I have every confidence that I have the skills to get a job as a developer now. I'm still finishing my portfolio.
I can't say enough good things about the founders, Jake and Max, and the instructors, Chris, Rob, and Jonathan, and the staff, Liz and Zakia. They were fabulous and supportive and helpful every single time I needed anything. They modify the curricula with the change in the marketplace, and in response to the feedback from their classes. They're an impressive bunch. It was an amazing experience. The class formed a tight knit group all working hard toward the same goal, and they/we still keep in touch daily on Slack. (Also, the building the school is in - Atlanta Tech Village on Piedmont Rd in the heart of Buckhead - is an amazing experience all on it's own.)
A college class would have taken too long and cost too much without teaching me the current skills I need in the work force. An online boot camp wouldn't have been enough support for me. I researched every avenue and evaluated cost/benefits very carefully. I'm glad this is what I chose, because it was exactly what I needed.
If you don't plan on going every day, and doing the assignments after the all-day class, don't bother. And you really have to learn some basics before you can qualify to sign up, if you want to be successful. But if you want to learn the skills you need to to get a job as a developer in the current market, I think this is a great way to do it.
I found DigitalCrafts to fit the bill for me very well, all-in-all. The end results are these. First and foremost, I am getting interviews with companies that I'm actually, genuinely interested in working for. Secondly, I feel competent as a programmer and web-developer, and ready to grow even more. Thirdly, I know from experience now that I have the attitude, skills, and talent to go forwards and start a career for myself.
This course required a whole lot of hard work, and if I would have given it more, it would have benefitted me even more. I'm not just saying that, either. There were nights that I stayed up really late working on projects, just to get it done, and woke up early the next morning to keep on working on it. I found myself wishing for more hours in the day to complete assignments, and to continue to take on extra work outside of class. There's plenty to learn, and I readily will tell you it was delivered very accessibly to my eyes and ears - this course has a great curriculum.
In the months leading up to graduation, the career-readiness team helped out a lot, often recommending jobs that we could apply for, and giving us plenty of opportunities to network with recruiters. The critiques on resumes and portfolios that they gave us were invaluable, and I really found myself appreciating them and implementing them. Jason and the other campus leaders were always there to give advice, lend an ear, or work with you on finding solutions to the problems that you had.
If you devote yourself to this class, and find that you do really well in classroom learning, I believe it will prove to be the piece you put into place on your road to becoming a developer. My only critique would be that, while I never thought it was too compressed in its curriculum, there were times where I really struggled with managing my time.
It was really tough to balance being sociable with friends and family, or to have very much personal relaxation outside of the class. Be careful that you truly do allot as much time as you need for this course outside of classroom hours (and get enough sleep!) and you will thank yourself in the end. You should code daily, push to your Github daily, do a little extra networking/online-presence-building daily, and study for whiteboarding interviews daily. That's a tall order, yes - but if you keep to it, you'll be an A+ candidate for the right job. Come truly ready to work, and you'll go far.
Digital Crafts was one of the best decisions I've made in my life. They really care about your success in this field and they help you every step of the way. Although you can find alot of the information online I think that with the experience from the Digital Crafts team they are able to give you that extra leg up and an abilty to go out and learn more on your own. Im still looking for a job but with my knowledge now I feel confident enough to land a postion and continue my growth as a software developer. Also Azam is an awsome teacher if you are planning on going there definitely get Azam as your teacher you will learn so much.
Having previously worked in the banking and tech industries for many years, I felt jaded and stagnant with the career growth. I held some discussions with people around me and after some thorough introspection I decided to take a leap of faith and joined DigitalCrafts.
Before joining DigitalCrafts, my skill set was only limited to knowing HTML and some CSS and I was quite worried if I would be able to cope and keep up with the extensive nature of the curriculum crammed into a period of 16 weeks. Now that I look back on the last 4 months, I can feel nothing but happy at my decision. As I enter the final days of the course, I am excited and confident about my skills and what lies ahead for me.
The curriculum is designed to take a group of students with varied backgrounds and skill levels, and bring them all to a similar level of knowledge and understanding. Of course, the final outcome for each of the students depend, besides other factors, on their level of motivation, amount of hard work they are willing to put in and how effectively they utilize the tools and help available to them.
Due to the technical nature of the topics that are covered in such a class, it is imperative that the instructor kept it lively and interactive or they risk losing the audience (students). Our instructor, Paul, has been one of the best teachers I have come across in my life. I found his method of teaching to be highly effective and helpful. I was very impressed with his depth of knowledge of not only the material being taught but as well his ability to relate the course content with real life examples and anecdotes. His love for pizza, Pink Panther, cats, funny GIFs and all-things-nerdy made the whole journey so much easier and provided the much needed comic-relief in times of stress and frustration.
Time for some minor quibbles. The only thing I felt throughout the course was that the quality of content-slides and study material could be improved. While they are okay to follow during the lectures, they are not very helpful once you’re on your own and trying to revise or understand a particular topic. A video-recording of the lecture sessions will also go a long way in helping students to revise the course content over the weekends.
On-Time Graduation Rate
180 Day Employment Breakdown:
Notes & Caveats:
- Only 1 student (who was not job searching) did not find employment
Our latest on DigitalCrafts
We are rounding up all of the most interesting bootcamp industry news that we read and discussed at Course Report in August! This month we heard about a $43 million fundraise and a big acquisition, we saw the decline of CS degrees in the tech job market, we read about a bunch of interesting alumni who were featured in the news, we looked at how coding bootcamps can help us avoid “robogeddon,” and we celebrated an initiative teaching women in prisons to code. Plus, we’ll talk about all of the new bootcamps in August and our favorite blog posts!Continue Reading →
During the senior year of her Creative Writing degree, Natalie Villasana took a computer science course and loved it, but felt it was too late to switch her focus. After graduating, she decided to move home to Atlanta and enroll at DigitalCrafts coding bootcamp. Now Natalie is a Software Engineer at a decentralized cloud storage company called Storj! Natalie tells us about her newfound interest in Blockchain, how she ramped up and learned new programming languages at Storj, and why it’s important to encourage more women into tech.
To make a career in technology more accessible, DigitalCrafts offers automatic scholarships for women entering the full-time and flex bootcamps.
Tell me about your career and education background and how your path led you to DigitalCrafts.
I actually did DigitalCrafts right after graduating from Oberlin College, where I majored in creative writing. I was also in a research program that was grooming me for a PhD, but I realized that I didn’t want to do academic writing or write for publications after college.
At the time, I was also making art and abstract videos and I felt computer science was a very different world. But video mixing got me more interested in coding. I wanted to learn how to process audio and video without a graphical user interface (GUI), as I had been using Max/MSP up to that point. I’d been a little intimidated by computer science and math courses, but in my last semester of college I took an intro computer science course. I immediately thought, "Oh, no, I really like computer science but it's too late to change my major!" I found out about coding bootcamps and started learning more about them. And before I graduated college, I applied to DigitalCrafts.
What made you decide that a bootcamp like DigitalCrafts was the right option for you rather than switching your major to Computer Science or teaching yourself?
At that point I had done four years of college and completed all of the degree requirements, so it wasn't even a possibility for me to stay longer to do a computer science major or do another BA or BS. DigitalCrafts was definitely expensive – a little over $10,000 for the bootcamp tuition – but it definitely paid off in the end. It seemed crazy at the time to pay for more school right after finishing college, but I'm glad I made that choice to do DigitalCrafts
I was also considering community college courses in computer science. But I started to realize that computer science programs teach more conceptual topics, which is different from the practical web development applications that a lot of bootcamps teach.
I asked a computer science professor if I could learn web development on my own, and he said, "You could, but you would need a lot of self-direction." Coding bootcamps seemed really appealing because they laid the whole curriculum out with career preparation. Looking back, if I had taught myself, then I definitely don’t think I would be working as a Software Engineer at Storj today – it would have taken me a year or more to get a job in tech.
Did you consider any other coding bootcamps?
I considered Thinkful (an online bootcamp) General Assembly, The Iron Yard (now closed), and Georgia Tech Coding Bootcamp. I actually strongly considered the Georgia Tech Coding Bootcamp, but the price and the small cohort sizes at DigitalCrafts made me choose them. I also just had a very positive experience talking to the people working at DigitalCrafts when I was applying.
What was the DigitalCrafts application and interview process like? Was it hard to get in?
After I applied to DigitalCrafts, I did my interview via web conference because I was in my final semester of college. I talked to Max and Jake, who were really informative and didn't sound like car salesmen, which I did feel when talking to some other bootcamps. I took a fairly straightforward, 10-question, online coding challenge – I was really stressed about it before, but it turned out to not be any worse than the homework I'd done in my computer science class.
Once you got to Digital Crafts, what was that learning experience like?
The full-time course was 9am to 4pm. The structure and teaching style was a mix of lectures, demonstrations, and explanations of certain principles, concepts, technologies, or framework, and then exercises. Towards the middle of the program, we did group projects with 3-5 people per group. I was used to college, so I adjusted to the flow of DigitalCrafts fairly quickly.
In terms of the group demographics, I was on the younger end. The majority of people were late 20s or early to mid-30s. There weren’t as many women as men. We started with 17 or 18 students, and by the end, we had 13 students, so the class size was super small.
What was your favorite project that you built at Digital Crafts?
Great idea! How did DigitalCrafts prepare you for job hunting? What kind of career advice or assistance did you get?
We had a career week and there was a Career Services team specifically dedicated to helping us with our portfolios, resumes, GitHub repositories and LinkedIn. So I definitely felt the support. Toward the end of the bootcamp, we had to juggle applying to jobs, as well as continuing to learn React or Redux in the curriculum, polishing our group project, writing cover letters, etc.
Congratulations on your new job! How did you find it?
Thank you! I was super fortunate. DigitalCrafts is in the same building as Storj, where I work now. I ran into one of the Storj co-founders at a lunch place across the street. We went to high school together and I didn't realize he was the co-founder. He was really friendly and I told him that I was learning to code and was interested in learning more about the company.
Storj is a cloud storage startup and was immediately compelling to me. I didn't really get what blockchain was at the time but everyone was like, “It's cool and trendy,” so I wanted to find out what the deal was.
I visited the Storj offices, talked to developers there, and learned more about distributed systems. Storj functions like Google Drive, but your data is encrypted and dispersed across different users’ computers, instead of mined for profits. Instead of storing data in big data centers like Dropbox, Google Drive, or Amazon Web Services do, data hosted on Storj is actually stored on different people's computers around the world. Some people liken it to Airbnb for your computer – you host other people’s files.
So I applied, went through the interview process and was super lucky to be hired before my cohort ended.
What do you work on at Storj?
I started as a Junior Developer, but have been promoted to Software Engineer. There were about 13 employees when I joined in October 2017, and it’s since grown to around 40. Right now I’m working on something called the pointer database, which keeps track of which file segments are on different storage nodes in the network. It's keeping track of the addresses of where those segments are.
What was the learning curve like when you first joined Storj? Did you have to learn a lot of new languages, or did you feel like DigitalCrafts had prepared you pretty well?
DigitalCrafts prepared me pretty well for my job. When I started at Storj, the codebase was written in Node.js, which I'd learned at DigitalCrafts. About five months in, I had to learn Go, but the majority of the other Storj developers had to learn it too, which was nice. One of my coworkers told me he was surprised that I knew so much coming out of a bootcamp (he'd done a different bootcamp a few years ago)!
As a developer, I think you're always supposed to feel like there's something else to learn. You're never 100% completely sure of your code because contexts and intentions change, different people will read it and work on it (or should) so that it stays useful. I think I've grown most in realizing things don't have to be perfect or engraved in stone. You just have to make it work.
Has your background in creative writing been useful as a Software Engineer?
In general, there is a lot of writing in my role as a developer. At Storj we have our code on GitHub – one of our goals is to have friendly documentation so that non-internal people know what's going on at Storj.
I also understand the importance of the review process because of my background in creative writing. In coding, when your team is working on different parts of the codebase, you should be able to explain how those parts fit together; that goes for both writing and programming.
I didn’t realize this going in, but some software developers don't like writing documentation. It becomes a chore for some developers, after they’ve already written their part of the code. But documentation is so important – it explains your intentions and how your code fits into the larger project. For me, proactively documenting is super important and has been a handy skill to have.
How have you grown in the world of Blockchain?
I'm actually speaking at a Blockchain Conference in September! I am giving a presentation with a coworker, Alex Leitner, about a project that he wrote called Robinhood Coin, and about how to use certain tools for developing on Ethereum blockchain, writing your own smart contracts with Solidity, and creating apps that can interact with the Ethereum ecosystem in the browser. I don’t actually work on blockchain technology for my role at Storj – it’s more of a hobby.
The blockchain community has an interesting culture that I didn't really know about before joining Storj. Some people get excited about the distributed system aspect of Storj, and other people get excited about blockchain, but there are so many different people in the community.
Has anything stood out to you as a woman starting your career in tech?
When I first joined Storj, I was the only woman in the Atlanta office and even though my coworkers were friendly and inclusive, it was still a little lonely. There were other women in San Francisco and Salt Lake City, but I was the only one in Atlanta. I know there are much worse circumstances than that out there in tech jobs for women, so I'm lucky for that. But I definitely think it's important to have more women creating technology.
For example, there have been issues with the iPhones’ facial recognition software unable to tell some Asian people apart (despite people in Shenzhen assembling the majority of iPhones), or where an automatic soap dispenser dispenses soap to white people’s hands, but not black people’s hands, because it couldn’t detect darker skin colors. I know this isn’t necessarily related to web development, but I think it shows what happens when technology is designed for certain people by certain people and not others – at an extremely large scale. I think the same effect happens when predominantly cis-men have control over programming and designing software. When we exclude women or trans people – there’s a deep cultural and economic exclusion that happens.
DigitalCrafts actually encouraged blogging while I was doing the coding bootcamp, and Code Like a Girl asked if they could publish one of my posts. I wrote a piece about how I first learned what coding was!
I'm also glad that DigitalCrafts is offering scholarships for more women. Recently, another female DigitalCrafts grad from my cohort joined Storj. So I was super excited about that!
What advice do you have for other people who are thinking about making a career change by going through a coding bootcamp?
Understand and plan for the fact that a coding bootcamp is a major commitment. At DigitalCrafts, some people who joined at the beginning had other life events going on, or weren't able to commit full-time. I was super lucky that I was able to live with my parents and have that external support. I know that not everyone has that, but it’s super important to have a plan to take care of yourself while you're doing the bootcamp.
One thing I recommend: contribute to open source projects! There are lists of open source repos on GitHub that you can contribute to – sometimes there are even issues tagged as ‘newbie friendly’ to get started on. Showing that you can work on other people's code and that other people can read your code is important. I would also highly recommend getting involved in local meetups and hackathons. Women Who Code ATL is super welcoming and always hosts amazing events and workshops! I do know stories of people who are self-taught and got tech jobs, but for me, DigitalCrafts definitely sped up the process.
There’s a misconception that you have to be a genius to code – this is a gatekeeping aspect of tech culture. But you really don’t! Coding is much more about learning, iterating, and editing. No one's output is perfect. Coding can be super creative, fun and visual. I would especially tell women to not get discouraged – instead, find communities and resources online and offline that are extra supportive for people who don't fit the “tech bro” mold.
So you’re thinking of hiring a coding bootcamp graduate, but not sure how to approach it. After speaking with 12 real employers from companies like Cisco, Stack Overflow, and JPMorgan Chase, we’ve compiled the best advice and lessons learned when hiring a coding bootcamp graduate. Following these steps will help you build a diverse, open-minded, loyal engineering team that finds creative solutions to software challenges. If you’re a prospective bootcamp student, this is also for you – these employers also explain why they hire coding bootcamp grads!Continue Reading →
Kim Lim worked in the Atlanta restaurant industry for about 7 years before she decided to switch gears and become a front end developer. One of her regular customers suggested she check out DigitalCrafts coding bootcamp in the neighboring Tech Village to break into the tech industry without going back to college. Now that Kim has graduated from the DigitalCrafts Full Stack Flex Program, she tells us about balancing a full-time job while studying, being a woman in tech battling Imposter Syndrome, and why she chose to become a Developer-in-Residence to help teach new bootcamp students!
What is your pre-bootcamp story? Describe your educational background and last career path.
I have been in the restaurant industry for about seven years. When I started college I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I majored in Hospitality Administration at Georgia State University. My goal was to be an events manager, but when I graduated and got an events position, it wasn’t what I expected. I worked on events, marketing, and the company website, but felt the role was a work overload. I picked the pieces that I enjoyed most about the role which included working on the company website, designing event flyers, and doing social media outreach.
I managed a restaurant called Farm Burger and while I loved it, that wasn’t my end goal – I was looking for a more creative outlet in an industry where everyone was striving for the same goal.
Did you try to learn on your own before you enrolled at DigitalCrafts? What types of resources did you use?
At Farm Burger, I was able to help out with simple website updates on Wordpress. I had enjoyed working with HTML and CSS since middle school, and in high school, I was actually the senior ad and photography editor for the school yearbook staff. I was self-taught with HTML and CSS. I also did FreeCodeCamp courses online.
How did you first learn about DigitalCrafts?
Farm Burger is right down the street from the Tech Village here in Atlanta. Wanting to see where I could learn web development without having to go back to college, I reached out to one of my regular customers to ask them how I could get my foot in the door of the tech industry. She suggested DigitalCrafts, which is in Tech Village. I did more research on the school and the alumni on Course Report, and DigitalCrafts made it pretty easy to choose them.
Did you research other coding bootcamps? Why was DigitalCrafts an “easy” decision?
I wanted to learn in-person – not remotely – and I wanted to stay in Atlanta. I prefer learning in a physical classroom and having a teacher there to review my code. When I was researching, it came down to General Assembly and DigitalCrafts, but General Assembly had mixed reviews.
Price was also a factor, but so was the length of the course. I did DigitalCrafts’ Full Stack Flex cohort from August 2017 to February 2018, which was 24 weeks. Since I was going to learn this brand new material, I wanted to take a course that was longer than 10 weeks so that I could budget time to study while also working full-time.
Did you consider doing a 4-year CS degree?
What was the DigitalCrafts application and interview process like for you?
I set up a tour of the classroom and had a sit-down talk with DigitalCrafts’ co-founder, Max McChesney. We discussed what I was looking for in my learning and what the course could provide. My final step was to do a code challenge that was less than 10 questions. I had to set variables, which I didn’t know how to do before, but I was able to use Google to find the answers and solve the problem. The questions got harder as you moved forward, but I think I only got one syntax error wrong. That application process made me feel at ease about transitioning to become a front end developer.
What made you want to specialize in front end development rather than back end development or the full stack?
DigitalCrafts is a full stack course, but I realized my interests were more towards the front end because I wanted to be a mix of designer and developer – I’m looking for that happy middle place. I love UX/UI design which somewhat matches my hospitality background of making sure guests have a good experience in person and on the website. So I love the idea of design and solving problems with it.
How many people were in your cohort? Was your class diverse?
There were about 15 people in my cohort, and four were women. It was intimidating at first, but coming from a restaurant background, I’m used to working with a mix of different people. The worries that I initially had about being a woman in the space went away after the first few weeks. There were other students from the restaurant industry, some who were already in the tech industry, and one person who was a barista at Starbucks. It was nice to feel that I wasn’t alone.
I realized that everyone was there to learn. Even though we came from different walks of life – we all had something to contribute. During group projects, we all looked to each other’s strengths to solve problems.
What was the learning experience like at DigitalCrafts? Did the teaching style match your learning style?
We had two instructors – one for back end development and one for front end development. Topics of the course were mapped out by each week, but there was flexibility in the syllabus if certain subjects were a little more difficult for the class. There were two different teaching styles – one instructor used lecture, group work, and individual assignments to teach the material. The other instructor, who focused on back end development, liked to throw the students in the deep end to complete assignments, which was a little difficult.
What was your favorite project that you built at DigitalCrafts? Was it an individual project?
At first, I wanted to do an individual project, but creating a full stack project was not totally feasible, given the time frame. I had a working idea, so I reached out to my friend Cliff who was also in the class, and he agreed to work on it with me. Our project is called Regimen – it’s a social e-commerce recommendation platform. I follow beauty bloggers and other influencers, and always want to know what products they use. Users can create a profile stating their hair type, diet restrictions, skin type etc. and then review and comment on various beauty and health products as they appeal to you. Users can describe why they like certain products and people can view other users’ profiles and read recommendations. The platform is not currently live, but we’re still working on it!
We used Reactjs, NodeJS, Postgres SQL, Passport JS, Express JS, Bootstrap for responsiveness, and JWT.io for encryption.
Where are you working now? Tell us about being a Developer-in-Residence with DigitalCrafts.
I’m still working at Farm Burger, but I’ve stepped down from my management role to focus on my transition to the tech industry. I’m also a part-time Teaching Assistant for the latest DigitalCrafts’ Full Stack Flex program. Whenever students need additional help and have questions, I’m there. As a manager in the restaurant industry, I was always the one to find a solution or answer whenever someone had questions or problems.
At DigitalCrafts, since we have remote students, I also manage camera setup and ensure students have the materials they need to succeed. It’s great because any material that may have slipped through the cracks while I was a student, is now getting solidified during my Developer-in-Residence role. I’m asking the same questions over and over and digging deeper into subjects to better help my students.
During my term as a DIR for the current cohort, I’ve learned how to interpret documentation more efficiently, debug code that wasn’t originally written by myself, and improved on refactoring code to be consistent and cleaner. Now halfway through the course, I’m confident I will continue to learn even more with my students while on their journey to being developers.
How did DigitalCrafts prepare you for job hunting? Are you looking for full-time jobs?
I’m trying to find the sweet spot between a designer and front end developer. DigitalCrafts covers mock interviews, how to update your GitHub, Linkedin profile, and resume, along with providing a career success toolkit for job searching. DigitalCrafts also has a career week where people from local companies come to speak about the industry. It was nice to meet different people in the field, hear about a day in the life of developers, and what to expect at different companies.
What’s been the biggest challenge or roadblock in your journey to learn to code?
For me, it’s been my confidence. Since I’m coming from a different industry, it can be intimidating being a woman, and ensuring that I’m using the correct terminology and referencing materials appropriately. Imposter Syndrome has played a big role in this journey – Do I even know what I’m doing? Am I really able to meet these requirements? But the team at DigitalCrafts is such a good support group. I share with my students now how everything that we learn is applicable to real life. We’re not imposters, and we have projects to reflect that.
I still deal with Imposter Syndrome now. I spoke to an experienced developer at MailChimp who told me he still gets Imposter Syndrome too. It happens, but you have to refocus. Remember the goal, but change your path.
What advice do you have for people making a career change through a coding bootcamp?
You should first dabble in coding a little bit – get your feet wet. Take free courses online like FreeCodeCamp and see if it interests you. Don’t just do a coding bootcamp for a new job; test the waters first. Don’t give up if you’re interested. When in doubt, ask Google!
Ah, books—the time-tested technique for ingesting knowledge. Programming literature may not be as engaging as Codecademy or CodeCombat, but it will help reinforce concepts and provide perspectives you’d be hard-pressed to find in an online course. Here are five books you should read as you begin your journey as a web developer. Keep in mind that these books won’t teach you to code, so they’re not substitutes for an online course or a coding bootcamp like DigitalCrafts—but they are excellent supplements!Continue Reading →
Is learning to code on your 2018 New Year’s Resolutions List? It should be! There will be 1 million more computing jobs than applicants who can fill them by 2020. And a coding bootcamp could be just what you need to make a fresh start in 2018 as a developer. We’ve compiled a list of 16 full-time, part-time, in-person and online coding bootcamps which have upcoming cohorts starting in January and February 2018. Most of these have approaching application deadlines, so submit yours quickly if you want to get a head start in 2018!Continue Reading →
Insiten is a small financial tech shop in Atlanta, but they’ve integrated innovative hiring, training and upskilling practices that a lot of large companies have yet to adopt. So far, CEO Adam Trien has hired 8 software engineers from Atlanta-based DigitalCrafts and is even funding one of his current employees to upskill at the DigitalCrafts Full Stack Flex Program. See what Insiten is looking for in a new hire, the three qualities that stand out in DigitalCrafts applicants, and why his team chooses to invest in and nurture junior talent.
Tell us about Insiten, your role, and your responsibility for hiring developers.
I am the founder and CEO of Insiten, a software development shop. We help transform companies whose organizations were managed with offline processes and unstructured data (ie. through Excel, PowerPoint, emails, or a shared drive) with online cloud-based solutions focused on collaboration and advanced analytics. We empower our clients to boost their efficiency and make better business decisions.
Insiten is a rapidly growing startup. We celebrated our one-year anniversary in November and have recently hired our eleventh employee.
Tell us about hiring your first DigitalCrafts alum – was there any hesitation hiring a coding bootcamp grad?
Our first engagement was with a large, multi-national client and we needed to staff up quickly. I attempted to hire through my past network of developers but that was falling flat. I approached a local Atlanta-based tech recruiter and one of the first candidates they sent me was Eli, a DigitalCrafts graduate. When I received his resume, I was a little disappointed. Although Eli had a great deal of work experience, he had never held a software development job. I was looking for seasoned developers with at least a few years of real-world experience. But in the end, Eli demonstrated impressive technical capabilities and has been a huge asset to the team. His demonstrated success helped pave the way for future bootcamp hires.
As a Microsoft shop, do the technologies that DigitalCrafts grads learn completely align with what you need from a developer? Or do they have to ramp up?
One thing that makes Insiten unique compared to traditional Microsoft development shops is that we are using leading-edge UI frameworks like Angular and React to develop our solutions. Our engineers spend 90% of their time building the user interface that sits on top of underlying Microsoft cloud technologies. This aligns perfectly with the skills that DigitalCrafts provides their students.
What roles specifically have you hired DigitalCrafts graduates into? Are they doing pure software engineering?
Everyone we've hired has the title of Software Engineer. However, we value candidates with diverse skills and experiences.
So far, we have hired a former lawyer, someone with a master’s degree in Data Visualization, and several Georgia Tech grads. One of our hires had corporate experience with Accenture, Coke, and Disney; others were graphic designers.
Thinking about the eight DigitalCrafts grads that you’ve hired, what stood out about them? Why did they get the job?
We really had to put a lot of thought into hiring nontraditional employees (ie. bootcamp grads) because it's not the same as hiring an experienced developer who has references and past employers.
We don't expect a bootcamp grad to be a senior developer, but they should have a solid understanding of the core technologies that they've learned at DigitalCrafts.
Sometimes, alumni stand out because of their final projects. For example, one woman, Yingrong, programmed Alexa as part of her final project. We love combining different technologies and APIs, so her skills stood out. During the interview, she programmed Alexa to pronounce “Insiten” on the fly. It demonstrated that she had a strong command of the technology.
What really excites me about the candidates from DigitalCrafts is their passion for technology and their desire to continue growing and learning on the job as well as on their own.
Do your new hires go through a technical interview?
We are looking for candidates who think on their feet, work well with others, and respond positively to peer reviews and design decisions.
We do “mob interviewing” where a room full of employees ask questions of the candidate. Some candidates may find this intimidating, but it gives us insights into how well they work on a team.
We give applicants a week to complete a coding challenge and then ask them to demo what they have built. We go under the covers and ask questions about their design decisions. We try to find bugs in the code and then work together on identifying a fix for the issue.
We also give candidates a user interface design to implement and an algorithm question to test their logic skills.
Have you hired from any other coding bootcamps?
We have hired from other bootcamps but DigitalCrafts has definitely been our go to. Other bootcamps are typically three-month programs and broadly cover a wide range of technologies whereas DigitalCrafts is a four-month program that focuses more deeply on a smaller set of technologies. DigitalCrafts stresses smaller class sizes and does more project work than other bootcamps. DigitalCrafts grads are ready to hit the ground running.
The alumni network at DigitalCrafts is strong. DigitalCrafts hosts alumni events to provide ongoing training and networking opportunities. They invite Insiten to demo days and we are often asked to give guest lectures. At one presentation, we talked about a typical day-in-the-life of a developer; at another, I spoke about how to go from being a junior developer to the CEO of a startup.
Can you give us an idea of what projects the DigitalCrafts developers are working on at Insiten?
Right now, we are working with the merger and acquisition team at a Big-4 accounting firm to help them build software for their clients executing transformational acquisitions and divestitures. A lot of planning is involved in these transactions. We are building software to help those companies define their future state and understand the financial implications thereof.
In addition to hiring from DigitalCrafts, how does DigitalCrafts help you keep your current employees learning and growing?
We recently hired someone with a background in analytics who needed additional training to enhance his software development skills. We could not afford to lose this full-time employee for four months of training. I reached out to DigitalCrafts and he is now enrolled in their newly launched night/weekend executive program.
Do you think that he'll be ready to start deploying code when he graduates?
We have already been able to expand his role and he is now responsible for processing QA bugs on one of our projects. Before the class, he would just look at a bug and assign it to a developer. Now he is often able to figure out a solution independently.
He's got a great advantage because he works in a software development shop. After class, he's able to ask us questions, show us what he's working on, and we're able to give him direction. It is really exciting to see him start to pick up these technical skills.
Does Insiten pay for that DigitalCrafts class for him?
We are paying for the class, and that’s an investment we decided to make as a company. We incentivize our employees through various bonuses and benefits, so this class is part of his package.
Hiring a developer is not easy; why retrain a current employee vs just hiring a developer?
We try to hire great people with positive attitudes and strong analytical skills. Sometimes we decide to hire employees to meet some of our immediate needs and then find ways to upskill them.
What advice do you have for other employers who are considering hiring from a coding bootcamp or from DigitalCrafts?
Have a really thorough interview process. Bootcamp grads typically have portfolio sites and project sites that an employer can review before scheduling an interview. Validate that the candidate has a deep understanding of the technology and assess if they will be a good fit for your team.
You should also invest in developing a solid onboarding process. We have detailed documentation of our infrastructure, branching policies, software development life cycle, best practices, code snippets etc. We assign new hires a mentor when they start for however long they need.
We have hired incredibly strong people out of bootcamps, and after a couple of weeks they are ready to work on their own. Having senior developers who can help with code reviews is a big part of how we train by giving new hires continuous feedback to improve their skills and techniques.
We also invest in continued education and provide budgets for attending conferences. We bring in a professional trainer two days a week (he actually used to teach at DigitalCrafts). He performs code reviews and peer coding, and works one-on-one with the team to “level-up” their skills.
Why has DigitalCrafts decided to launch part-time programs?
Our Full Stack Immersive Program is certainly not going anywhere, but our goal at DigitalCrafts is to make the classroom as accessible as possible to the hard-working learner or what we like to call DigitalCrafts builders. Absorbing the material and curriculum typically reserved for a 16-week full-time immersive class will be no easy feat, so the Full Stack Flex Program is 6 months long, and will maintain the same selective admissions process that has been the cornerstone of our alumni success to date.
What is the structure and time commitment of the part-time program?
The Flex program will last a total of 24 weeks and class will take place in the evenings two nights a week from 6:30pm to 9:30pm as well as every Saturday from 10am to 2pm. We’ve also incorporated two weekends where students will be expected to spend two full days on campus. Think of these weekend sprints kind of like your standard day in the Immersive class.
While the time commitment is more flexible than the full-time program, we do understand people have priorities and life outside of class. To that end, we’re excited to announce our new classroom will be enabled with live streaming and recording capabilities which will allow students to live-stream the class from home or watch a recording of the class online if they are unable to attend a specific day.
If your students are employed in full-time jobs already, are you expecting to see people upskilling for their current jobs, or career changers, or both?
I imagine the students that will make up the Flex program will encompass both career changers and those who are up-skilling for their current employer.
How will the admissions process differ from the full-time admissions process?
How many students are you expecting to be in the part-time program? Will the classes be bigger or smaller than the immersive program?
We are expecting a sold-out class for the first Flex program launching at our Atlanta campus on July 11. To date, our average class size is around 15 students which provides for a personal and hands-on learning experience. Our mission is to provide a top-notch experience for each student, and we’ve found a small class size allows each student to receive the level of support he or she needs throughout this journey. Class sizes for the Full Stack Immersive and Flex will remain the same.
Could you highlight the differences between the full-time Full Stack Immersive vs the part-time Full Stack Flex curriculum?
Will students be required to do more homework/take-home projects for the part-time program than the full-time program?
Since the Flex program will have fewer “in-class hours” than the full-time program, students will be expected to complete homework, exercises, and take-home projects outside of the classroom. Students should expect to spend 20 hours per week outside of the classroom working on curriculum.
How many instructors will be teaching the part-time program? How and when can students reach out to them outside of class hours?
We’ve brought on a great team to lead the Flex program. Over the course of the 6 months, students will have access to two Lead Instructors and an Operations Assistant to ensure they are supported throughout the program. We require the Lead Instructors to be available during office hours and actual class, but we are pretty adamant about making sure they get some rest as well! Students will always have access to the DigitalCrafts community of builders which consists of current students, instructors, staff, and alumni via Slack. This is a great resource for those students who are looking for additional support outside of class hours.
Will the flex students and the immersive students ever interact or collaborate on anything? If so how?
This is a detail we are actively investigating. Flex students will complete two weekend sprints throughout the course which would be a great opportunity for a weekend hackathon or group projects across classes. We’ll make sure to announce this once we’ve finalized the details!
Will students be able to enroll in DigitalCrafts’ Elective courses like in the full-time Full Stack Immersive?
Yes! Flex students will have the option to enroll in any DigitalCrafts elective upon graduating from the program. Since our electives also take place in the evening, we wouldn’t want a student to enroll in both courses at once and potentially become overwhelmed. Elective courses are available to all DigitalCrafts alumni.
How will career services work for the part-time Full Stack Flex program compared with the Full-Time Immersive?
Again, our goal is to provide the same experience across the Immersive and Flex programs. Students who opt-in to career services in the Flex program will receive the same level of support from our Student Services team. This includes guidance around creating an online presence, drafting a resume, developing a portfolio, participating in mock-interview training, and exposure to our employer partners. Our goal at DigitalCrafts is to prepare all of our students with the abilities to achieve their goals.
What is your advice for students embarking on a part-time program? Any tips for getting the most out of it while balancing other commitments?
My advice for any student who is considering a bootcamp whether that be a full-time or part-time course is the same. It’s extremely important to make sure you can set aside an adequate amount of time during the course and that you have an unyielding passion for learning this skill set. Programming is difficult to learn and doesn’t come easy, and our students have to be fully committed before, during and after graduating from the program.
Matt Downs was a rice farmer and English teacher in Japan for 14 years before returning to the United States to change careers and pursue tech at DigitalCrafts. In learning Japanese, Matt had weighed the benefits of self-teaching vs immersive courses, and found that learning to code on his own had the same limitations. See why Matt chose to attend DigitalCrafts in Atlanta, the network he built along the way, and how he landed his new Junior Developer job at Triton Digital!
Tell us what you were up to before DigitalCrafts.
My career path before DigitalCrafts was a little different than most. I spent 7 years teaching English in Japan, then another 7 years as a rice farmer on Sado Island.
What was your relationship to tech over the last 14 years, and what inspired you to consider programming as a career?
Tech had always been a hobby in school. I was a Lit major in college, and studied Literature and Linguistics in grad school. But I enjoyed building my own computers and playing video games, so I was always interested in tech. I spent about 5-6 years teaching myself programming through online courses.
Tell me about the online courses- did they work for you?
Most of those courses were through Coursera, and they were okay. They didn’t work for my personal learning style, because with coding, there's vocabulary that is tough to learn. I couldn't even articulate my questions to find answers when I hit a wall. That was a shortcoming of the online learning environment for me personally, I needed a classroom environment.
Tell me how you found out about DigitalCrafts or about coding bootcamps in general. Had you moved back to Atlanta?
When I was learning Japanese, I realized that my ability to learn on my own had plateaued. I considered an immersive language course to kickstart my Japanese learning again. I had seen mention of programming bootcamps, so after my failed attempts in teaching myself programming, I thought that an immersive course would be helpful as well.
I knew that I would be looking for schools in the Atlanta area, and that's how I found DigitalCrafts. I actually applied while I was still in Japan.
Did you look at other schools?
I looked at Tech Talent South, The Iron Yard, and DigitalCrafts. DigitalCrafts was based in Atlanta, and their class size seemed a little bit smaller (16 students at the time). I figured I'd need one-on-one time with the teacher, and I’d get that with a smaller class size.
I wasn't knowledgeable enough to know exactly what I wanted to learn. However, 3 of the 4 online courses I had taken were in Python. Even though I had trouble with it, I found Python easier to learn. I knew that I wouldn’t be completely lost.
Did you do the whole interview process and application process from Japan? What was the DigitalCrafts application and coding challenge like?
Yes. I did a video interview with DigitalCrafts, and then they gave me a code challenge. I ended up passing it, but I remember talking to Jake Hadden, Co-Founder & Director of Student Services, and he pointed out some redundancies in my work. I’m not sure about other schools’ code challenges, but you don't have to know everything by heart for the DigitalCrafts coding challenge. Part of what you learn at code school is how to be able to look up problems that you don't know the solution to. Searching for and finding solutions to problems is a skill.
How many other students were in your cohort?
There were 16 people in my class, and 15 graduated. We had one instructor and a teaching assistant at all times. We actually had three different teaching assistants throughout 16-week course, because they all got jobs as full-time junior developers before our class finished.
The class size was great; I never felt that I couldn't get the teacher's attention if I had a problem. I was also extremely happy with my classmates. Going into something like this, you're always a little worried about your classmates, but everybody pretty much bonded and became really good friends from day one. Once we started sending out resumes, we had an ongoing joke that we should just start our own company after we graduated.
It was very interesting group of people. 4 of the 15 students were women, and everyone had different backgrounds. One student was a lawyer and decided that he wanted to try programming. Another woman was previously a special education teacher. A couple of students had moved from Spain, California, and Japan (yes, I wasn’t the only one from Japan!). One nice thing about DigitalCrafts Atlanta Campus is that the classroom is in Atlanta Tech Village, so when you're taking breaks, you're also meeting a lot of the people that work at the companies there.
You have a lot of experience as a student and a teacher. What did you think of the teaching style and learning experience at DigitalCrafts?
Our teacher, Toby, did a very good job of giving you just enough so that you know what you're doing, but not handing you answers on a plate. When we worked on projects, Toby was very good at giving us the bits to get the engine started. Then we can drive the rest of the way with using what we've learned.
At the beginning of the bootcamp, the format was split between lecture and projects. The first quarter of your day was spent in lectures learning a new concept, and then you’d spend the next quarter before lunch working on exercises to learn those concepts. Then you would repeat that in the afternoon. We’d also have a project that we worked on with a partner. We did a lot of pair programming and ended up with four group projects at the end of the bootcamp. Towards the end of class, the lectures were shorter, the exercises and projects got longer, and we spent more time getting our resume and portfolio site up to speed, and working on our capstone project.
Can you tell us about your favorite project that you built at DigitalCrafts? Maybe it's your final capstone project or another project?
My final project was called HappyPlace. It’s an application that saves locations where users had good experiences. If you see a beautiful sunset or have a great dinner, you can just put place a marker, write a little blurb, and that's your HappyPlace. Users can track their own happy places and see all of the happy places around them. It's simple, but I liked the concept.
I used HTML, CSS and AngularJS on the front end. I ended up using Leaflet to integrate maps, because I had trouble figuring out how to get the Google Maps API and Angular to work together. Leaflet had an AngularJS directive that I grasped a little bit better. On the back end, I used Node.js, Express, and MongoDB for the database.
What are you up to now? Are you working as a developer in Atlanta?
Yes! I had plans to continue developing Happy Place during the weeks and months that I thought I would spend looking for a job. But then while I was at DigitalCrafts, an online friend of mine posted a job to his company. They were looking for a junior developer, and so I applied and ended up getting hired.
I’m a Junior Developer for Triton Digital, which is a digital audio technology and advertising company. I work on the Audience Management Platform, where our users can build websites, contests, and connect with their listeners while streaming.
Are you using the programming languages that you learned at DigitalCrafts in your new job?
How did you learn PHP on the job?
I’m learning by jumping in and taking tickets, trying to learn something familiar, and then building off that. I think the biggest challenge has been coming into an existing code base. My coworkers know it inside and out, while I’m still getting familiar with it. Every time I finish a ticket, I think I’m getting somewhere, but there’s always something new to learn. The office here is great, and my coworkers are really nice. Everybody's been really welcoming and understanding when I have questions.
How did DigitalCrafts prepare you for the job search?
I’ve been at Triton Digital for about one month now, and I’m not sure that I knew what to expect in my first job. At DigitalCrafts, I learned that not all tech jobs require you to build a full website from front to back. When we started the job search, DigitalCrafts was big on making sure that your resume and portfolio site were polished. Around the nine-week mark of the course, we started mock interviews. Jake, Max, and Natalie from the DigitalCrafts team were always sending out job notices.
Do you stay involved with DigitalCrafts at all?
I have kept in touch with my fellow alumni. Like I said, we had the ongoing joke that we would try to start our own company. After we all graduated, we realized that we enjoyed the time that we spent together at DigitalCrafts. We are planning monthly meetups with the alumni that are still here in Atlanta.
You made a complete career change- do you have advice for other future bootcampers?
When I started at DigitalCrafts, I approached my time as a job, not school. I got there early and I stayed there late. I studied as hard as I could without burning myself out because I'm susceptible to burnout. You get out of a coding bootcamp what you put into it. If you don't take it seriously, then I don't think you're going to learn as much. Trust your teachers– they know what they're talking about. They've been in the industry for a while.
My final advice is that there will always be a new language to learn, and that can be overwhelming. I was very thankful that our teacher stressed that we were learning evergreen skills. It doesn't matter what language you're learning or what framework you're learning, he focused on the programming skills that never get old. The better and more comfortable you get at those fundamentals, the easier it is to pick up a language and then move onto another one.
Stephen and Stuart were both ready for career changes, so decided to take a chance on a relatively new Atlanta coding bootcamp, DigitalCrafts. For their capstone project, the bro-grammers (literally, they’re brothers!) built BootcampXchange, a platform DigitalCrafts has now launched to help connect their students and other bootcamp graduates with potential employers. In this video Q&A, Stephen and Stuart tell us how they switched careers, why the 16-week format stood out when they were researching bootcamps, and even gave us a video walkthrough of BootcampXchange.
What were your education and career backgrounds before you decided to go to DigitalCrafts?
Stephen: I went to school at Georgia Tech in Atlanta and got a business degree in business management with an emphasis on finance. After graduation I started a job as a proprietary equities trader, commonly known as a day trader. I did that for 13 years or so, but it can be a stressful career and I got a bit burned out during the last couple of years. I started looking into a career that would interest me that I thought I would be good at. I had done some coding a long time ago back in high school, and a couple classes in college. A year ago I saw an article in BusinessWeek magazine about coding bootcamps, so piqued my interest as I didn’t even know they existed. I started kind of looking into various schools in Atlanta and ended up choosing DigitalCrafts.
Stuart: I got a degree in electrical engineering at Southern Tech in Atlanta, and worked in that field for about three and a half years.Then I got the opportunity to go work with my brother Stephen in the finance field – we were actually day traders together. I did that for about 10 or 11 years then found myself in the same situation as Stephen. Trading had its exciting moments but overall it was very stressful, and I was burned out. We both researched web development, and both decided at the same time to make a career change.
How much coding experience did you have before DigitalCrafts?
Stephen: In high school I did an AP computer science course, and at Georgia Tech I did an intro to computer science course. But other than that it had been a gap of 12 or 13 years since I’d looked at anything coding-wise.
Stuart: I’d had a few courses in college but my focus was not on computer programming. In my work as an electrical engineer I programmed programmable logic controllers (PLCs) which used a very simple kind of language called ladder logic. It’s not comparable to web development at all.
What made you want to go to a coding bootcamp rather than learning on your own?
Stuart: I tried to do some learning online and was making progress but I found I would spend a long time researching a small problem. I would spend hours working on something that someone with experience could have helped me get through in five or 10 minutes. It was about making the best use of my time.
Did either of you look at other coding bootcamps or just DigitalCrafts?
Stephen: I looked at General Assembly and The Iron Yard in Atlanta, and toured both of them.
Stuart: I also looked at some exclusively online schools, but after my experiences of trying to learn on my own I wanted to do an in-person bootcamp.
What factors made you choose DigitalCrafts over other bootcamps?
Stephen: It was a risky decision. We were the first class to do DigitalCrafts, so there was some trepidation about being Guinea pigs. The DigitalCrafts program is 16 weeks, so a bit longer than the 12-week programs I looked at. That appealed to me because it covers more information, and I was hoping I would graduate a bit more qualified to find a job. Even though the school was unknown, what put it at the top for me was meeting the DigitalCrafts professor. He seemed to be really knowledgeable, and the kind of person who could teach well. So I went with my gut. And luckily I was right – he was a great teacher.
As brothers, what made you decide to go to DigitalCrafts at the same time? Who had the first idea?
Stuart: It was an opportunity for us to spend some time together. We’d worked closely together for the last 10 or 11 years, so we’re kind of partners in crime. I’m a native to Florida so I lived with Stephen for a few months while we were in the bootcamp. It was a good experience.
Stephen: Living and working together definitely helped us. We had our program during the day and then there was content to work on in the evening. It was probably advantageous having someone there to ask questions, someone else's brain to pick outside the classroom.
What was your class like in terms of size, diversity, and student backgrounds?
Stuart: It was a mix of 10 students. A couple of people had programming experience, and others were from fields with nothing to do with programming. Some of them had mechanical backgrounds or were just out of school. So it was really pretty diverse in terms of education and experience.
Were there many women in the class?
Stephen: No. DigitalCrafts is working on strategies to get more female coders. They’re definitely looking for female candidates, it just happened in that cohort there weren’t any.
What was the learning experience like at DigitalCrafts?
Stuart: In the morning it was more actual studying or covering new topics, going into depth about whatever the topic for that day was. In the afternoon it was a lab where we would actually apply what we had learned in the morning and start working on projects. Sometimes it was something small that could be done that day, or often times it was a topic that was bigger that would carry on for the better part of a week. In addition we would also have topics to cover at home on our own time.
Can you tell us about your final project – BootcampXchange? How did you come up with the idea?
Stephen: My wife is a graphic designer so she had the idea from her own experience struggling to find freelancers who are well qualified. Her idea was to do a website where freelance people could create profiles then employers could look at those profiles, and maybe have a vetting process where you could vouch for someone that they were qualified or had credentials. Before we started the program, DigitalCrafts wanted to hear our final project ideas. When Jake, one of the founders, caught wind of our idea, he told us he had a very similar idea except it would be for coding schools, as a way for employers to connect with the students. He asked if it was something we were interested in working on.
Stuart: We had about 3 weeks to build it, and probably the first three or four days were for design and then we spent many long days getting it going.
Stephen: You start on the landing page where you have the option to sign in as an employer or a code schooler. The BootcampXchange partners are listed at the bottom of the screen. You can sign in as a student or an employer using your LinkedIn credentials or email. If you sign in as a student you open your profile with your profile picture, and basic information like location, coding school you went to, previous employment, skills, and a link to your resume. Probably the most useful part is you can search student profiles by location, skills, and employment type. So I can find students in Atlanta Georgia, but it doesn’t just pull up Atlanta, it also pulls up cities in the vicinity.
Stuart: It’s really designed for employers who are looking for junior developers with a certain skillset or certain location. And they know what they’re getting – people who have an education but may not have a lot of experience yet. One of the things we’ve noticed is on most of the online job boards now, people put up a posting and get 100 resumes, and only five actually meet the requirements. This platform kind of reverses the process and allows the employer to go and pick out people with the skills they want.
What technologies did you use to build it?
Stuart: The backend was PHP and MySQL. The front end used Bootstrap and we hand coded everything.
Did you learn new technologies you hadn’t used in class?
Stephen: We covered PHP in class, but for some of the functionality we wanted we definitely went beyond what we had learned in class. Things we learned in class definitely helped us find solutions to problems, but there were a lot of new things too. It was rewarding but also led to some long days.
Can you tell us about a big challenge or problem you had while building BootcampXchange, and how you overcame that challenge?
Stephen: One challenge was the query for searching by location. The way we initially built it, it would have to constantly call on the Google API for maps, which is not something you want to do unnecessarily as you can only get so many free queries per day. So I had to find a totally different way around that. It ended up being a relatively simple solution. There was a lot of reworking from how we originally built it. We had done queries before, but this was definitely next level complicated. It was a lot more difficult than I had anticipated, but it works.
What are you up to now? Are you working as developers?
Stuart: I am doing freelance work and looking for remote positions. I am located in Northern Florida, which is not a major metro area, so there are not as many employment opportunities nearby.
What sort of career support did you get from DigitalCrafts?
Stephen: I happened to find this role on my own, but in the last three or four weeks of the course, they were very good about sending out messages about open positions. They were always looking for companies advertising for new hires. They brought companies into the classroom to talk to us. They were definitely trying to make sure we all had opportunities to look at.
What advice do you have for people wanting to change careers and take a bootcamp?
Stuart: My advice is to make sure it’s what you want to do. Don’t just do it because you know it’s a hot new career; make sure you actually have an interest in web development because it takes a lot of time and dedication to get good at these skills. Also these skill sets are constantly changing so you’re going to be learning new skills for the rest of your career.
Stephen: I would totally agree with that. Also for me, I did some study in the two to three months leading up to the bootcamp, which really helped. If I had gone in cold turkey it would have been a lot more overwhelming. There were moments when it was overwhelming but it helped to have some background knowledge and to be the mindset of a coder. It’s also a great way to see if you’re going to like coding as a job. Once you’re in the program, my number one piece of advice is work really hard. If you don’t put a lot into it, you won’t get a lot out of it. At first it seems like it’s never going to end, but by the time it’s over it’s gone by pretty quickly, so put in as many hours as you can.
Is there anything else you wanted to add about your experience at DigitalCrafts?
Stuart: It was a very positive experience for me and I would encourage people to look into bootcamps as a viable option for career changers. I’ve learned a tremendous amount and I realize the bootcamp is just the beginning. It gets you up to speed as quickly as possible, and DigitalCrafts did an excellent job of that.
Stephen: If you’re going into a bootcamp I would encourage you to meet the instructor beforehand, to make sure you will actually know who is going to teach you. I think it makes a world of difference. If I’d been in a bootcamp with a bad instructor my experience would have been completely different. You could have a great program with a great curriculum but you may not have someone who can actually teach it. There are a lot of people who are very knowledgeable who aren’t great at imparting their knowledge to other people.
Stuart: One thing that really made it special is nobody got left behind. If you were willing to put in the effort, you got the help you needed. That personal attention was very valuable.
Griffin Hammer’s quest to become a web developer has taken him from Greensboro, North Carolina, to Atlanta, Georgia, and now Palo Alto, California. After working in computer engineering on the hardware side, Griffin realized he actually preferred software and coding. He started out teaching himself, but wanted to learn with others so decided to enroll in DigitalCrafts’ 16-week web development bootcamp in Atlanta. A week before he graduated he was offered a job as a developer at network visualization software company Live Action in Palo Alto, California.
What were you up to before you started DigitalCrafts?
Before DigitalCrafts I had been working in the semiconductor industry in Greensboro, North Carolina. I studied computer engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute outside of Albany in New York and then worked mostly in hardware. I didn’t enjoy that side of the career, so I decided to go to DigitalCrafts to gain more applicable skills for a coding career.
When and why did you decide to switch careers, quit your job and do a coding bootcamp?
I finally made the switch because some of the work I was doing towards the end of my job, which probably wasn’t going to last, was more coding-heavy work. I really enjoyed that and wanted to continue doing that more in my career. So that’s why I made the decision to transition fully.
Did you try to learn on your own before you thought about a bootcamp or did you just dive into the camp?
I initially started doing some online courses. But I came to a point where I thought I needed more of a classroom atmosphere and felt it would be nice to have a group of people to work together and learn together with. I mainly used Codecademy and One Month.
Did you look at other bootcamps or just DigitalCrafts?
I was looking at a couple different places, mainly DigitalCrafts and General Assembly in Atlanta. I was looking for stuff relatively nearby to where I was. DigitalCrafts attracted me to it because of the length of their course and the fact they covered two full stacks.
What factors were important to you when choosing a bootcamp — price? location? language taught, instructors?
Atlanta was probably the nearest biggest tech hub with good coding bootcamps for me. I liked the languages DigitalCrafts was offering. I wanted to learn Node, because from what I had read online it seemed Node was a very good, upcoming technology. I also liked that they were going to be doing Lamp stack too, and create opportunities to go into some larger corporations that have an older code base. But the main thing for me was the course was a bit longer than most of the other courses I had seen, and would give me enough time to develop all my skills.
Did you do the iOS app development elective? How was that structured?
Note: DigitalCrafts’ iOS Elective is now $1,000 for immersive students, and $3,000 for part-time students.
DigitalCrafts only accepts 15 students per cohort. How did you find the application, interview process and coding challenge?
I thought it was really good. I don’t know if it was more rigorous than any other bootcamps. They tried to verify everyone could get through the course, but it wasn’t so strenuous on that, as much as, “we’ll see how well you think you’re going to fit inside our teaching structure.” I found the coding challenge relatively easy because I had some experience doing coding work through school, and through my previous job. It was actually nice because as they went through the interview process, I got to know the people running the course, and the teaching style that was going to be used.
Was your class diverse in terms of gender, race, life and career backgrounds?
It was all guys. That’s something the team has been trying to work on. It was relatively diverse in terms of race and career backgrounds. There were some people just out of school, a couple of people who had been working for a couple of years, and some people who had worked in an industry for 10-plus years, and were now trying to get into web development. There were 10 people total in the cohort. It was a really good atmosphere for the class. Everyone got to know each other really well. We knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses so we always knew who to go to if you had a problem with something.
Note: DigitalCrafts offers a $2,000 Women’s scholarship for up to 3 women in any given cohort.
What is the learning experience like at DigitalCrafts?
We arrive at 9 am. From 9 am until 12 pm our instructor would go over the new concepts we were going to learn that day. Then we’d have lunch and come back and delve into some project – either expanding on something we had done earlier, or starting something new using the concepts we had learned in the morning. And so that afternoon time was sort of free flow, and everyone’s sort of working with each other to solidify those concepts.
Who are the instructors? What are their backgrounds?
Our instructor was a developer for around 11 years before he became a teacher. Our cohort was the first class he taught, and I thought he did a really good job of conveying the knowledge he had gained through his experience as a web developer. We had a separate instructor for the iOS course. He was working in the industry and would come and teach the class in the evenings. He brought a different view – more technical and computer science oriented. He focused on things like object oriented design, in contrast to the more utilitarian stuff we were learning in the web development side.
A popular question we get is – how did you pay for it? Did you use a financing partner? Did you get a scholarship?
I had money saved up that I ended up using. DigitalCrafts has scholarships for ex-military and women – people who they want to help with that transition into coding. They also have a financing partner they are working with as an option for students.
What’s been the biggest challenge so far?
One of the most difficult things was seeing how far I could push my projects to differentiate myself from the other students. Because of the model of a coding bootcamp, you’re doing a lot of the same types of projects, and you may be applying for the same jobs as your peers. So you have to do as much as you can to differentiate yourself while still completing the course work.
The other big challenge was mastering some of the design aspects. I’d had experience coding before, but I didn’t have much design experience. I could see if something looked good or bad but I didn't know how to improve it. That was a learning curve for me.
What sort of feedback loop is there when problems arise?
They had a couple of different methods. The first method was a Google survey form where you could jot down your thoughts. Also, every four weeks over the course of the bootcamp they had a sit down with us where the director of student services, would say “this is how we think you’re doing, this is what we think you could be doing better.” Then he’d ask, “do you have anything for us, how do you think we’re doing?” I thought that was really helpful.
What is your favorite project you created? Did you get to use your own ideas?
There were a couple of things I really liked. The one I took the furthest was one of the first projects we did in Node. It was a voting app where users could vote on whether a picture was cool or not. I used an API for a video game and brought in a bunch of images of characters, then allowed users to vote on the characters. A lot of people just hard coded their database, but I went to the effort of pulling from an API, and scheduled it to run regular updates. That was an interesting challenge for me – seeing what I could do to take that project as far as possible.
Congrats on finding a job! Can you tell me about your job?
The job is with Live Action in Palo Alto, California, a network visualization software company. They work with Cisco routers to create tools to help less technical people visualize where traffic is getting bottlenecked. Then they can manage the network more efficiently, without having to run through the command line. When I start in March 2016 I’ll be working on the web interface for that product. They already have a normal application, and now they’re building a web interface. Initially I’ll be working in a lot of Angular.js and Express to deal with serving up their API. After that I can take it as far as I want, and maybe do some work on the backend in Java. I don’t have experience in Java yet, but they seem open to helping me expand my skill set.
What are you doing to keep your skills fresh?
I’m doing a bit of coding right now, working on projects I thought were fun and interesting. So that’s helping me keep up my Angular and Express skills. And as it gets closer to the job I’ll do some basic exercises in Java.
How did you find this job? What was the interview process like?
Around 12 weeks into the program, I signed up for Indeed Prime and Hired. I guess Live Action saw my profile on Indeed Prime and thought I would be a good fit. First I had an interview with someone from HR, to get a feel for my history. Then I had a Codility code test that was 130 minutes long, with three separate coding problems. After that I had a 30- to 40-minute phone call with the VP of Engineering, to see if my career goals aligned with what the company was doing. That was not too technical, and pretty relaxed. The final thing was an interview with four engineers on the team – including front end and back end engineers, some new to the company, and some had been there since its origins. They went through coding questions, stuff about my portfolio, and asked if I had experience with certain computer science concepts.
I think I tend to interview relatively well because I’m good at verbalizing my thought process through those kinds of problems. It wasn’t easy but it wasn’t difficult. And then everything I didn’t understand they thought they’d be able to teach me and fill in those gaps on the job. I got the offer in the 15th week of the program – one week before graduation.
How did the bootcamp prepare you for finding a job?
There were several different ways they helped us. People from other companies came in to tell us about their interviewing processes. Someone from StackOverflow came in to do mock interviews with us, and went through our resumes. He told us what was good, what wasn’t, and told us whether or not he would have pulled that resume. He did a full mock interview and a technical interview with us, then gave us feedback. They did a really good job.
What did you like most about DigitalCrafts?
The biggest thing was the environment. It was really open and friendly, everyone got along well, and we could work well with each other, teach each other, and give each other different perspectives. Sometimes you sort of needed someone other than the instructor to teach you. It can be helpful to learn through teaching if you can express things in a different way.
What advice do you have for people considering a bootcamp?
I guess the main advice I would give anyone who is trying to do a bootcamp is do as much work as you can on your own before the bootcamp starts so you can hit the ground running and do their best to internalize everything you are learning.
How much do coding bootcamps cost? From students looking for free coding bootcamps to those wondering if an $18,000 bootcamp is worth it, we understand that cost is important to future bootcampers! While the average full-time programming bootcamp in the US costs $11,906, bootcamp tuition can range from $9,000 to $21,000, and some coding bootcamps have deferred tuition. So how do you decide what to budget for? Here, we break down the costs of coding bootcamps from around the USA.
Andrew is an army veteran who was working in the oil industry until he decided to search for a lasting and fruitful career. He packed up and moved to Atlanta to attend a full-time MEAN Stack/LAMP Stack bootcamp at DigitalCrafts. Read about what motivated him to make this change and how his military background is helping him at the bootcamp. Andrew also talks about the application process and why he ultimately decided to attend DigitalCrafts amongst the many bootcamps in Atlanta.
Tell us what you were up to before you started at DigitalCrafts.
Right before attending DigitalCrafts, I was working in the oil and gas industry. I was doing great until the price of oil fell and it was time to look for a new career. Before that, I was in the army and took classes at a major university as well as a community college for a number of years but didn’t graduate.
Did you ever take a Computer Science course?
I took Intro to Computer Science at the university, then I took a C++ course and a database course; just some basic intro courses because I’ve always been a tech guy and that always interested me.
When did you decide to quit your job?
I was looking for a new career, because I could see oil and gas was not going to be a lasting job. From a job perspective, the tech industry is only becoming more in-demand; this is an industry that is growing. I knew about coding bootcamps from researching them- actually on your site, Course Report! That’s where I found DigitalCrafts.
Did you look at other coding schools in Atlanta?
I looked at couple of others, but what really drew me to DigitalCrafts was that they’re teaching the MEAN Stack and LAMP Stack. The LAMP stack is a mature technology, a lot of companies still use it, and the MEAN stack seems to be rising in popularity. I thought it was cool to learn both technologies.
What was the Digital Crafts application process like?
How did your background in the military affect your education as you’ve been learning MEAN stack and LAMP stack at a bootcamp?
Sure. In the army, my role was very hands-on, and that’s similar to learning web development. My background fixing things, learning different technologies quickly, and researching problems has helped.
Also, this course is very focused. In the military we are trained to identify and achieve specific goals. The structure of a coding bootcamp can be appealing to a lot of veterans.
Were you able to use GI benefits for this course?
No, I wasn’t, but I think that’s something that should definitely be considered. These courses can be a really great option for veterans and military.
What does a typical day look like at DigitalCrafts?
In the morning we go over questions; interview questions but also questions about the technologies that we’ve covered because we go through technologies so quickly. Then, we discuss what we’re going to do with them. In the afternoon, we have labs and that’s usually for the final few hours in the day. It’s intense. I can definitely attest that this is all day long, every day.
Have you done projects yet, like a group project or a capstone project?
For the first few months of the program, we focused on frontend web development, and we’re just over the halfway point now. We’ve been learning Node.js for the last couple of days. When it comes to project work, we’ve completed projects individually, using paired programming, and we’ve completed projects as a class. We’re actually working on an e-commerce site now where we’re developing with Node.js, Mongoose, and Express.
What’s been the biggest challenge in doing the bootcamp?
The biggest challenge is coming every day prepared to learn something new, knowing that I’ll go home, try to digest it as best I can, and then start over the next day. It can get frustrating because the class does move very quick and you really have to be committed to it.
How do you keep from burning out?
I think the way the course is structured is keeping me from burning out a little bit, because we did front end for the first one and a half to two months and now we’re moving to the back end. I like servers and incorporating the database. That’s really cool to me. It’s a new direction now halfway through the course, and I think that helps out a lot.
What were your career goals going into the DigitalCrafts program?
I’d really like to work with servers and back end. If that opportunity presents itself, I’m going to jump on it. What I understand about technology is that how we work today with technology is not how we worked 5 or 10 years ago, so just having this background and learning these skills, I’m open to anything right now. While this is a web development course specifically, I think I came in with the understanding that this is technology in general, this is really cool stuff. I’m learning how to program, I’m learning to design websites. You can take these skills and apply them to a number of different jobs. It’s really cool stuff, and while I think some people are determined to become web developers, I’m open to using this in other ways.
Have they started bringing in employers?
We’ve met a couple of employers already. They’re in a process of building out their Employer Network now.. Even in our building when companies find out what we’re doing, there are employers here that don’t do web development but are looking for people who can learn and understand technologies quickly. There’s actually a guy in our building not involved in web development who would like to interview some of the graduates to see if they would be a fit for his company.
Is there anything we skipped over that you want to make sure our readers know about Digital Crafts or boot camps in general?
I think these guys are really something else. They’re really committed to not only teaching these technologies but ensuring that we’re successful, and on a personal level. I’m really happy I ended up here, they bend over backwards for us by doing everything they can. They’re working very hard to find us jobs and to get hiring partners in the door.
Want to learn more about DigitalCrafts? Check out DigitalCrafts reviews on Course Report or visit their website at www.digitalcrafts.com
Welcome to the September News Roundup, your monthly news digest full of the most interesting articles and announcements in the bootcamp space. Do you want something considered for the next News Roundup? Submit announcements of new courses, scholarships, or open jobs at your school!
This Week on Course Report:
- Should you learn web or mobile development first? We dive into this question with advice from Atlanta's DigitalCrafts code school!
- Have you tried Thinkful's Workshops? Grae, the Head of Education at Thinkful, gives us the scoop on their newest offering for bootcamp grads and working engineers.
- Mechanical-Engineer-turned-Web-Developer Kacy Ebel talks about her career change and her experience at We Can Code It's women-only bootcamp.
Aquisitions, Fundraises & Regulation
- General Assembly announced their $70MM Series D. This reporter thinks about what the fundraise could mean for their London campus.
- Hack Reactor acquired Chicago-based Mobile Makers Academy, adding iOS to their offerings. They also announced "Hack Reactor Core," the umbrella under which each school will operate autonomously.
- Inside Higher Ed reported on General Assembly's journey through regulation and expansion. Education Dive provides a nice, brief summary of the article.
- The Huffington Post reported on a letter from Jeremy Shaki and Khurram Virani (Founders of Lighthouse Labs) to parliament on code literacy, outcome-based education, and Canadian innovation through technology.
New Campuses + Courses:
- Dev Bootcamp announced they will open doors in San Diego this November.
- Montana Code School's first cohort started class September 28. (Listen to Montana Public Radio's story on the bootcamp).
- ThoughtKite will teach their first Toronto iOS bootcamp in October.
- Code Fellows has overhauled and reorganized their courses (bye bye Dev Accelerators, hello Code 401!)
- Applications for Code Platoon, a Chicago bootcamp geared towards veterans, are now open.
- Global News Canada writes about Toronto's Bitmaker Labs.
- Fortune Magazine explores women in Coding Bootcamps.
- FCW finds that coding bootcamps are 'Very empowering, very transformational.'
- A LinkedIn researcher blogged about the types of jobs reported by bootcampers on the networking site.
- Delaware Online looks back on ZipCode Wilmington's first bootcamp cohort.
- Built in Chicago: How Designation is bringing the bootcamp model to design.
- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Milwaukee computer coding school expands as employers show interest.
- The Street: Future Code Monkeys May Skip College and Head to Boot Camp
Have a great October!
Deciding which programming language to learn, and ultimately whether to pursue Web Development or Mobile Development, is a tough decision and really depends on your personal and career goals. Check out our guide to help you decide.
While this is a subjective matter, many developers feel that the learning curve for web development is a bit easier than for native mobile development. Web development has been around for a good bit longer and thus the sheer volume of tools, frameworks, tutorials, etc, lends a helping hand to beginners just starting out. That said, mobile development does, at least in the case of iOS, require the use of an IDE, which can help point out errors and catch mistakes – a big help to a newbie. Either way, the career of a software developer is one of consistent learning – to succeed in an industry that moves as quickly as technology, it’s paramount to enjoy and thrive in learning new tools and techniques of the trade.
For those interested in breaking into the field, it’s important to do some research on the surrounding markets to gauge which technologies are in-demand and who’s hiring. While the trend is certainly favorable, it may be more difficult to land a junior iOS or Android-only developer job, as most markets seem to house more entry level positions in the Web space. That said, the more versatile a developer the better, and the shift towards native mobile apps doesn’t appear to be lessoning any time soon!
Jason Deegan, VP of Product Development at Teledini, agrees, “Beginners should start by having a strong foundation in Web basics. But when you're ready to set yourself apart from the crowd and become an invaluable resource, native iOS and Android development are essential in an increasingly mobile world.”
DigitalCrafts’ immersive bootcamp instructor Rob Bunch, also shares his experience:
“Based on my experience in the job search, I found that nearly every employer’s need was to find an individual with a strong web development base, knowing they would have to teach some of the minutia. There were almost no opportunities solely focused on mobile app development, but nearly every employer asked if I had any app development experience. As the job market evolves, app development will become more and more prominent need, but the current job market is demanding web development first and hoping for app exposure.”
But is it possible to learn both web and mobile? DigitalCrafts in Atlanta has developed an innovative model allowing students to learn mobile and web development simultaneously (should they choose). While programs at General Assembly, Bloc and Thinkful allow students to mix and match part-time courses in mobile and web, DigitalCrafts offers a 16 Week Immersive Bootcamp that teaches beginners 2 full web stacks with an optional 12-week iOS App Development Elective. When asked why the program offers mobile and web development simultaneously, the DigitalCrafts team says:
“We want our graduates to be as employable as possible - simple as that. With every decision at DigitalCrafts, we ask ourselves, "Will this help our students get hired?" The answer in this case was easy. Native iOS development is an increasingly in-demand skill that employers want to see on a developer's resume. The more technologies you're familiar with, the more versatile and valuable you are as a developer."
To conclude, the decision on where to start as a beginning developer may seem like a tough one, but the life of a good developer is one of continuing education and career growth. Take solace in the inevitability of change that will provide countless opportunities to find the projects that impassion you as a developer. Take a look at the market you live in and the jobs that are available. Visit the schools that interest you and meet the instructors and staff that will help you get started. One thing is for sure, you won’t excel at something you don’t enjoy, so check out freely available resources like Codecademy, Treehouse, or in-person workshops to get a better idea for what sector of development you’re most likely to enjoy.
Wherever you start your career is likely far from where you will end it, so the important thing is just get started!
DigitalCrafts is a new programming bootcamp offering a full-time immersive in the heart of Atlanta’s growing startup scene, right next door to the Atlanta Tech Village. We sit down with co-founder and Student Services Director Jake Hadden to discuss the motivation for creating a 16 week program, what drew them to Atlanta for the first DigitalCrafts campus, and preparing MEAN Stack & LAMP Stack curricula for the first cohort in October.
Who is the team behind DigitalCrafts?
My business partner, Max McChesney, and I both graduated from the University of Georgia. I worked in management consulting and then ran an innovation accelerator- think “internal Shark Tank.”
Through working in those roles, I realized I have a passion for helping other people achieve their goals. That’s what drew me towards my partner Max and this particular educational model. I couldn’t think of anything more exciting than bringing in a beginner, training them, giving them the skills they need to succeed, and then actually getting them a job to further their career.
Max worked for several tech startups in the Atlanta area and founded a startup called Expat Assistants in Argentina, that provided web marketing and SEO services. He had some exposure to coding but then actually attended a local coding school and became a firm believer in the accelerated learning model. He saw an opportunity in Atlanta for a program with a different approach to culture, curriculum, and duration, and we’ve been running with DigitalCrafts ever since.
Who is developing the curriculum for DigitalCrafts for the immersive program?
We hired Rob Bunch in June as our full-time immersive instructor. Rob has 11+ years of Full-Stack Web Development experience in a professional setting. Rob and Max are working together to create the curriculum, relying on Rob’s experience as a developer and Max’s as a former bootcamp student (and mine as a newbie!). We’re going to run mock classes to make sure everything runs smoothly and to give Rob plenty of practice in a classroom, and then we’ll bring in some experts from the area to help us to refine it.
Are you bootstrapping this business?
At the moment, this business is completely bootstrapped by Max and me.
Why start DigitalCrafts in Atlanta?
This is our home, and it’s where we have a very strong network of friends, family, and investors. Also Atlanta has a growing technology scene and with new additions like Atlanta Tech Village, Switchyards, Yik Yak, and many more, it’s only getting more exciting to be involved in the local tech community.
There are several other coding schools in the area- does Atlanta need another one?
Yeah! Atlanta is just exploding with demand for tech. There are so many tech startups coming to Atlanta. The cost of living is low. If you’re trying to get a job in Silicon Valley, why not go to a coding bootcamp where the cost of living is low and then move when you get the job?
One of the important reasons that we picked Atlanta is that the current web development schools in Atlanta really focus on a Ruby and Ruby on Rails curriculum. As a student evaluating these programs, consider there are going to be potentially 150+ graduates from the other programs in Atlanta every year fighting over the exact same jr. Ruby on Rails job openings.
What programming language will DigitalCrafts students learn?
How did you decide on 16-weeks for the length?
Watching these bootcamps evolve over the past two years, I’ve gotten the feeling that so many of these programs have started to cram so much more in such a condensed time. We want to be very transparent with our students, and we didn’t feel comfortable saying that we would graduate them as a junior level developer in 8 or 12 weeks. We also believe that the industry is going to shift back to more intensive, longer programs, more hours, longer curriculum- we want to be on the forefront of that. Max’s experience as a student and our research speaking with local alumni of other programs points to a longer program as well.
Are all 16 weeks spent in the classroom or is part of that done remotely?
All 16 weeks are spent in the classroom. All students will be required to complete prerequisite work, which will be roughly 30 hours.
What technical level does the pre-work get students to?
The most important thing is that the pre-work gets all the students onto a level playing field. It teaches students the fundamentals of web development which is key before class kicks off.
Is the immersive bootcamp intended to get students jobs when they graduate?
While there are no guarantees, that is certainly what we’re working hard to accomplish with our students. The program is geared towards beginners, which I think is important. That’s not to say that if you were intermediate that you couldn’t get a lot out of it, but it is geared more towards beginners. We train you for 16 weeks in programming languages and technologies, and students go through a rigorous soft skills training process where you’re doing resume and interview training. Also, we’re introducing you to the hiring partners we have in the local area.
We feel very confident that if you come in with drive and motivation, that you can obtain an internship or junior level web development position, but it takes a lot of work from the student as well as the school. If you work hard, that usually pays off.
Who are those hiring partners that you have relationships with?
We have a number of startups in town and we’re always working to sign up more. Full stack developers are especially useful for younger companies as they have a wider range of skills over a really specialized developer, which fits in well with the start up needs. We’ll be going after the Fortune 500 companies next, and will really kick those efforts into gear once class starts.
That’s another perk of being located directly next door to the Atlanta Tech Village. Our headquarters is right next door to the epicenter of technology in Atlanta. Atlanta Tech Village has 100+ startup members, with roughly 15 very well-known startups in the building. We encourage our students to go to the networking events there as often as possible.
How large do you expect the first cohort to be?
We only accept 12 students per cohort. I’m not 100% sure, but we accept fewer people into each cohort than any program I’m familiar with. We’ve received a lot of applications so far, so as long as we find 12 people in there that meet certain criteria, I expect we’ll fill up the class.
What does the DigitalCrafts application process look like?
There’s an online application and then an in-person visit and interview. There’s no coding challenge at the moment but that’s in the works. It’s about motivation, problem solving skills, and basic behavioral interview questions. If you fill out the application with 50% effort and spelling mistakes throughout, that’s a red flag. With only 12 seats available, we have to be very sure we only accept students that we can confidently put in front of companies on the back end.
Are there scholarships available?
There definitely will be scholarships available, but nothing that’s on paper at the moment.
Are both Max and Rob the instructors for the class or are you hiring other instructors?
Rob will be the main instructor for the whole 16 week immersive program, while Max and I are leading the business and campus operations on a daily basis. We’ve hired two additional instructors for our part-time courses in web and mobile development. While Max will help out with the curriculum, we believe our actual instructors should have as much professional experience as possible, so we decided to pay up for it.
Have you had to work with any of Georgia or Atlanta’s regulatory agencies? Do you have plans to get accredited?
In the state of Georgia, you have to get a license to not only start a business, but also to provide educational services, which is what we’re doing.
If we were to get our curriculum accredited by the federal government, that process would be cumbersome to our curriculum, so we’re intentionally steering clear for now. It’s important to stay nimble in technology whether you’re a professional developer or teaching development, and federal accreditation can make changing the curriculum (and getting it approved) take upwards of a year. Technology moves far too quickly for that.
Thanks so much, Jake, and good luck in the first cohort of DigitalCrafts!
Welcome to the June News Roundup, your monthly news digest full of the most interesting articles and announcements in the bootcamp space. Do you want something considered for the next News Roundup? Submit announcements of new courses, scholarships, or open jobs at your school!Continue Reading →
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