Eleven Fifty Academy
Recent Eleven Fifty Academy Reviews: Rating 4.7
Recent Eleven Fifty Academy News
- January 2019 Coding Bootcamp Podcast
- November 2018 Coding Bootcamp News Podcast
- December 2016 Coding Bootcamp News Roundup
Our Java course starts with the foundations. Trained and experienced instructors will help you gain the understanding and basics of the Java language. From there, you’ll completely immerse yourself in Java. You’ll cover the ins and outs of the most in-demand programming languages. When you’ve finished the course, you’ll be ready to begin your career as a Java coder.
- Start Date
- None scheduled
- Class size
- Skills Fund
- Tuition Plans
- 1 & 3 Pay Program
- Apply to be evaluated for programs.
- Minimum Skill Level
- Understanding of basic computer science concepts such as loops, functions, and arrays is preferred.
- Prep Work
- Will be provided with acceptance and enrollment deposit.
- Placement Test
In PersonFull Time40 Hours/week11 Weeks
- Start Date
- None scheduled
- Class size
- Skills Fund
- Apply to qualify
- Minimum Skill Level
- Prep Work
- Will be provided with acceptance and enrollment deposit.
- Placement Test
During our Microsoft .NET program, you’ll immerse yourself in the coding experience. From day one, you’ll be getting the hands-on coding experiences you need for a successful coding career. Through this comprehensive coding experience, you’ll master the fundamentals, develop your skills, and learn some of the most in-demand technologies and software. All of this culminates in you being a well-rounded coder with the hard skills needed to start a career and the soft skills to make you a versatile employee.
- Start Date
- None scheduled
- Class size
- Skills Fund
- Apply to qualify
- Minimum Skill Level
- Understanding of basic computer science concepts such as loops, functions, and arrays is preferred.
- Prep Work
- Will be provided with acceptance and enrollment deposit.
- Placement Test
Eleven Fifty Academy Reviews
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It is a very fast paced program (as expected for being an inmmersive training) and the technology skills they teach are very relevant to the current market needs.
After attending the program for 10 weeks I was offered a full time position as a Web Developer which I accepted right away!
I cannot speak enough benefits for Eleven Fifty Academy as a resource for anyone motivated to make a career change into software development. I originally expressed hesitancy while considering EFA, although a precursory visit to the facility to meet current staff and students convinced me of the extensive resources available to current and former students.
Eleven Fifty's greatest benefit is teaching students to grow independently. The program may begin with some hand holding while learning the fundamentals, yet the program ends with nearly complete autonomy in the learning process. Essentially, one learns to drink from a firehose, not to drink everything from a hose. The practical benefit is that we learn how to pick up a new language on our own rather than relying on an instructor to guide us.
The very benefit of developing the skill of autonomous learning is can present challenges for those who are accustomed to many types of post-secondary education. One must walk into this program with the full intent that they will be teaching themselves rather than relying on a teacher. The staff is very transparent about this transition as well as the work commitment at the beginning.
A possible "con":
The transient nature of the tech industry is reflected in the day-to-day learning process at EFA. Changes throughout the course can be viewed as disruptive or unfair for individuals that expect a static and fixed curriculum, yet this is not how the industry works. Instructors and mentors can change, project scope can change, and opportunities can appear or disappear with little notice. Anyone who walks into this program with the mindset that things WILL change and faces changes as a learning opportunity will exit the program better prepared for a working world.
Much of this suggestion is due to circumstantial changes for MY cohort specifically, but I would have preferred more opportunities to participate in mock interviews.
I have a tendency to be verbose so I'll try to keep this somewhat brief- just rest assured that the topic of my recent career transition is one I could gush about nearly endlessly.
I was interested in pursuing coding for a few years before attending Eleven Fifty, but thought I would have to put a lot of time and money into going back to school and getting a CS degree. The fact that I was able to break into the tech field in just twelve weeks? It feels like cheating, but I couldn't be happier with the results. I'm in an amazing career that speaks to both my interests and skillset, I'm with a great company that is extremely supportive of my continued learning, and I nearly doubled my salary over the course of a few months.
The experience was great, from the friendly staff devoted to our success up to the warm reception of the Indy tech community. The curriculum constantly evolves as the Academy figures out new ways to make the most out of the twelve weeks, and it is structured around learning how to learn. The tech industry is rapidly changing, there's no way they could cover everything that's out there, but the best way for them to equip their students is by helping to equip them to think like a programmer and be receptive to continuous learning. Which they do! I was in completely new territory when I started my current job, but I had the practice under my belt to be able to know how best to tackle the challenges that continue to present themselves.
I can't recommend this course enough, I would just make sure that any prospective students have the aptitude and interest before beginning. I took out a loan for the full amount of tuition, but felt secure in that commitment because I was certain it would be up my alley and I would be able to make it through. There are plenty of online resources to practice and get a good taste for programming before diving in!
My expectations were exceeded by this program. I cannot recomend it enough.
The instructors and other staff were amazing, the career readiness team made me feel very taken care of. I was assisted, tested, taught, encouraged, and made amazing connections. I cannot speak highly enough of them.
The value you a student receives from this program is amazing. You have to put in the work, but the instructors and staff will make sure you understand all the key concepts and go out of their way to help. Additonally, they put an emphasis on helping graduates land a job. I highly recommend this to anyone interested on learning how to code.
The 12 weeks spent with Eleven Fifty Academy was challenging, exhausting, and exciting. I came into the program having done my research, so I knew it would be difficult and fast paced; but whew, it was crazy fast. The first 2 weeks had my head swimming in symbols, characters, numbers, and words that had me questioning if programming was for me. Slowly those words, numbers, and symbols began to make sense and that is when the excitement comes.
The instructors are knowledgable, articulate, helpful, and passionate about their craft. They seek to educate the students with the latest, most up-to-date technologies and frameworks possible.
I found the entire staff at Eleven Fifty to be incredibly helpful and caring. Always taking an interest in how I was feeling about my progression in the course. They made me feel welcome from day one, which was greatly appreciated.
There are areas of the curriculum that need to be addressed. In my opinion, there needs to be 1-2 more hours per week of classroom instruction.
My overall experience at The Academy was a positive one. If I had to do it all over again, I definitely would, I would just make sure I was better prepared. I would encourage future students to prepare for the class above and beyond the pre-work they suggest for you.
I do not have a job yet. I did not expect to, since I just graduated last week and did not begin seeking employment until the class was finished. Through job assistance programs, networking, and mentors I have faith that it will happen in the very near future.
I came to Eleven Fifty as part of a career change which was a risk for me. Before coming to the school I was fully employed with an advanced degree in my former field. However, I was miserable in that career and Eleven Fifty was a great chance to change.
I came to the school with the only coding experience being the weekend course and pre-assigned work. If you are on the fence at all take a weekend class and see. I found there was zero difference in the environment and quality of instruction from the weekend course to the longer classes. Sure the pace in the 12 weeks is greatly accelerated but if you’re on the fence see if you can be comfortable in a risk free environment. If you don’t like it no worries the people that run the academy are not going to push their services on you.
To that last point I have never had an interaction with any of the Eleven Fifty staff from instructors all the way to the head leadership that was unpleasant. They really do care about you and your development and will often reach out. I have graduated now, and I am still in daily contact with the staff and use some of the facilities. They do a great job of fostering a sense of community and it’s evident that community is important to each and everyone in the school.
Last point, if you want to graduate it is very simple just do the work. If you put in the time and effort you will make it through. The instructors are not going to leave on an island. I didn’t feel very confident in the core fundamental until late in the program. Stick with it do the work.
I would recommend this 10 out of 10 times if you are considering this as a career change and like the weekend course.
I've supported Eleven Fifty Academy since its inception. The vision for this non-profit was pure & beautiful to me and I wanted to make certain I contributed. As an instructor, apprenticeship director, and a continued community voice for this academy, I've seen hundreds of students pass through! Every student is given opportunities to be great. Those that lean into the opportunities succeeded wildly. Those that don't, are the ones you'll see writing negative reviews on sites like this. Eleven Fifty Academy is an enabler, not a guarantee. But I CAN guarantee that if you attend, lean in, and take every opportunity that they offer you, you WILL succeed! Again, I've seen it repeated hundreds of time.
Eleven Fifty has been a phenomenal experience both intellectually and interpersonally. To the point:
- Experienced Educators able to provide constructive feedback and answers when stuck for a while on a piece of code
- Exceptional career services staff willing to dedicate as much time as needed to landing a job
- Diverse group of students. Some personalities did clash, but this provided a fundamental insight into potential workplace environments and how to handle them
- Difficult projects weeded out individuals who did not put in time and effort, or were simply not suited for code - giving the name of Elevent Fifty respect in regards to rigor
- I would 100% recommend this program if you are serious about code and have time to dedicate. Remember, this is not just a hobby.
I came to Eleven Fifty a little hesitantly, as I wasn't sure I would be able to keep up with a bootcamp style learning environment, but the staff here made it simple. The teachers here are all excellent, and really connect with the students beyond teaching. The environment is more like a family, and the materials provided are extensive and go the extra mile. This school was started by Scott Jones, the forerunner of voicemail technology, and the experience and influence in the coding industry shows in the extras you're given in the curriculum. They assist with mock interviews with real employers in which you are given feedback, resume review, and job placement, as well as workshops in Intellectual Property, Contracting and Law, and Soft Skills, among others. I chose this school because of a friend who went through the program, and was (and still is) gainfully and happily employed in the industry with their help, and I would reccomend it to anyone looking for a quick chance to jump into the nation's largest (and quickest growing) employment field.
Before I continue with this review- the background: I have given this a lot of thought and held out to write a review since I was removed back in September of 2017 to avoid coming off too emotional. I want to be honest and give my full critique of this Academy as objectively as possible so those future enrollers go in with all the warnings, what to expect, and that sort of notion.
The negatives: The main part I want to emphasize and get my message across.. The policy of Eleven Fifty at that time (and most likely still is) was very strict in the sense of the final projects to be turned in during the end of their individual tiers throughout the program, otherwise you will be removed.
In my case, I made some bad choices during the program and tried to remain independent of getting caught up which I failed to do so as well as to bring to attention prior to the end date of 1st tier. They say that they want to maintain some sort of business ethics upon their decision making and that allows them to uphold this overprivileged policy of kicking you out despite how expensive this place is.. over $10K. Regardless of the circumstances, would any of you individuals out there posing as someone running a business just take people's money like this? I wasn't asking for a refund. I was asking for a second chance- all in vain because of bearucratic powers that be "policy".
To my defense- I have seen what the other students turned in and being more than nice I can say that I could have expected high schoolers to create higher quality projects. This was the first tier however.. still sort-of-the-beginning of the program right? If that's the case why wasn't this given more consideration for my desire to stay and push through? My projects that were incomplete had bigger plans that I wanted to use to WOW the other students as well as the instructors. I aimed a little too high for my goals- is that always bad business practice? I strongly dislike turning in low quality work. I have always dealt with time-managing skills with difficulty- any other human being would say the same to some degree of themselves if they're honest.
This is the whole point I am making.. So early in the program- you cannot predict a student's prospects so early unless you are arrogant by nature. I admit I made mistakes and wished I handled it differently- but how does that justify their final decisions or the policy that stands? It would have been more reasonable if it were during the 2nd tier if you were to remove me- not the first.
I wouldn't care if they stripped the job assistance from me to maintain their golden image of themselves if I could have stayed and learned, but they did not budge or do anything that any other human capable of sympathizing would do. I understand not everyone at Eleven Fifty is capable of overriding decisions/policy.. But nobody has tried or shown any real sympathy. Saying sorry and acting in the opposite nature.. That's just a recipe to break someone down.
Summary: If you have difficulty learning/focusing... if you have budget restraints.. if you already have plenty of loans as it is.. I do not recommend enrolling here. If you will be paying out of pocket to some degree for this place- I would recommend finding cheap online courses like udemy or udacity instead of bootcamps and build a profile from what you learned. You would save more money and avoid heartache if this were to backfire on you like this. But if you have money to throw around and enjoy a challenge with high stakes with a good healthy demeanor and most importantly a natural talent for these sorts of things.. go for it. I gave job assistance 4 stars because majority of the graduates find it useful and I cannot leave it blank.
My message to Eleven Fifty: I have not reached out to you since I left because I don't know how to reason with unreasonable people- further efforts would have seemed futile as it was for me at the end especially the way I was feeling for several months after.
You should really consider changing the policy to better reflect student's needs a little more in the sense of not removing a student during the first tier to be the nonprofit you claim to be of helping the community. You let some students who didn't have high enough prospects for this sort of work graduate anyways just because they turned work in on time.. Two wrongs don't make a right.
I wouldn't mind coming back to regain what knowledge I lost in the future if it were possible- but I already paid majority of the program and got very little out of it other than a heavy dose of reality. I don't hate you guys. I loved your instructors while I was there- their enthusiasm for teaching shown brightly and helped keep my self-confidence afloat when I struggled. You show some promise in respects to bootcamps such as yourself, but this policy really leaves a bad taste in anyone's mouth who is dealt with it. Reflect.. Learn.. and improve as I have done since I have left this cohort.
Eleven Fifty is a great program and offers very talented instructors. I was thoroughly impressed at how willing to help each of the instructors are. This is a very tough course and your learning curve will no doubt skyrocket. As long as you love to learn and aren't afraid to ask for help, you will excel in the program.
The staff are still trying to improve curriculum and are trying different things to see what works best. There are some things that still need to be ironed out, but you really can't complain because of how robust the rest of their program is.
I was would like to see a little more help with trying to find a job. While a lot of students are held other jobs, there are a good amount of young students, such as myself, who are straight out of high school and it would be really helpful to have some guidance with job searching.
Overall I would highly recommend Eleven Fifty and their program.
I just graduated from Eleven Fifty Academy last week and am overall happy with my experience. I have specific things I liked that I will talk about but I will also touch on some things I didn't like and wish I had known before I started in August to better prepare.
First things first is that I do have a paid internship lined up that I will be starting within the next month. I received the offer for this before the bootcamp was even finished. Full disclosure, getting the internship had way more to do with my network, personality, and state grant that provides funding for training and employment than my technical training or Eleven Fifty's job placement.
I really enjoyed the cohort experience but it worked as well as it did because of the personalities in my cohort. The staff at Eleven Fifty is wonderful and I don't have any complaints about them other than that sometimes it seemed that they forgot that we are all adults. For example, there are 2 points throughout the bootcamp at which a student may be asked to leave the program due to poor performance. We had 2 students leave at the first checkpoint and there was no discussion in class about it until another student asked. I understand discretion, but at that point we had been there for 3 weeks and were starting to develop friendships. We wanted to know if we weren't going to see certain classmates again.
The curriculum was good and bad. The first 4 weeks of curriculum went fairly well but from there things fell apart in my opinion. The class dynamic still held on strong though and that made up for the curriculum short falls.
Eleven Fifty intentionally provides a lot of instruction at the beginning of the bootcamp and gradually lessens it so that you are teaching yourself at the end. This insures that you can be a lifelong learner and that you can work yourself through an issue when you are on the job. With our cohort though, it seemed less gradual and more abrupt. Our time with AJAX, Express, Mongo, React/Redux, and Angular could have been much more productive and meaningful if they had provided one day of instruction and 4 days of self-teaching for each of the topics instead of the way they chose to do it.
With that being said, no one ever gave me the impression that they would teach us "everything". They were very open about that from the start, I just didn't understand how that would play out and could have prepared more if I had. The full blame for this time is not on Eleven Fifty, however, as I had classmates who walked away from those weeks with a lot of knowledge and understanding, but there was still a good group of us who felt the opposite.
While Chris is absolutely amazing and incredibly helpful, I gave job assistance a 4 because Eleven Fifty does not guarantee you a job. For the price tag, it's hard to sign up for programs like these when the outcome is unsure. There is an expectation that the student be in control of their future but I know that this was hard for me to accept and almost stopped me from signing up. Chris provided a lot of assistance for me with my resume and organizing the grant requirements for my internship but I was never presented with an employment opportunity by him or anyone else at Eleven Fifty other than a fellow student. The mock interviews that you participate in can result in job offers but it only happens if that company is hiring and usually requires that you see the same company for your soft skills and technical mock interviews. This didn't work out for my cohort because of some students in the class not effectively preparing for the soft skills interview, which ruined it for the rest of us.
There were at least 2 students who received offers from mock interviews but in a cohort of 21 that isn't reassuring and only happened because their interviewers also asked technical questions during the soft skills interview. Perhaps the solution is to have the interviews last longer, be both soft skills and technical in one sitting, and happen twice throughout the bootcamp. That way students can see one employer at week 8 and another at week 12, if they don't get an offer from the first.
Again, overall I am happy with my experience I just would have liked for better outcomes for my classmates. There are about 20 of us who graduated and I know of 4 of us who have accepted job offers. Again, a large part of that falls to the individual students' shortfalls, but there is more that can be done to improve this. Some of the necessary steps to success were presented as though they were options and I think simply changing the language that is used can help a lot of students better prepare.
The big question is would I do it all again? The answer is yes, although I would buy additional resources for the subjects I mentioned above and probably try to spend even more time at school studying even though I put at least 2 extra hours in each day already.
Response From: John Qualls of Eleven Fifty Academy
We assure you we review all of these comments and your input will be reviewed and considered for improvements to our courses.
We look forward to hearing more about your continued success!
At Eleven Fifty Academy, you're not only taught the fundamentals, but also given the knowledge, tools, and resources needed to excel within the program AND in the workforce. The staff put in endless hours to help each and every student succeed and reach/be put on track to reach their goals. You are given honest, helpful feedback in your work and transactions with others, and provided with many opportunities to better yourself as a coder every day there (and not just through coding!). The instructors connect well with the students and go above and beyond to encourage student's learning in their own styles. The curriculum is very evident in how well-planned and thought out it is. The career-readiness prep is extremely helpful and sets you up for success (I even accepted a job offer on my second to last day!). The administrative staff cares a lot about the students and constantly pushes them to be even better than the day before (literally!), and the President has a very hands-on approach in guiding this program down the best path. My experience at Eleven Fifty Academy was truly exceptional, and I would HIGHLY recommend it to anyone wanting an accelerated, very intensive path into the tech industry.
Response From: John Qualls of Eleven Fifty Academy
Please don't be a stranger and keep in touch on your professional journey.
This is a good course. I learned a lot in a short time. It is a difficult course, but everyone who put in the work passed the course and is on a good path. I had a job lined up before school ended. I would recommend this to almost anyone.
Response From: John Qualls of Eleven Fifty Academy
Looking for a career path that didn't involve four years of school (and waaay too much student debt), I stumbled upon coding bootcamps and Eleven Fifty in particular because of my current location. The counselors were very encouraging from the very beginning and I was also able to get a good scholarship...make sure you ask about qualifying for scholarships! They were also very understanding of the fact that I had a long drive to and from school, and in bad weather always expressed concern and we were able to work around days when I wasn't able to be in due to the road conditions. Every teacher and mentor there was always available, even after school hours and after the class graduated. They were very supportive as I interviewed and looked for a job, which came in handy because I was searching for two months. After two months of studying full time for the interviews I got, meeting everyone in the field that I could, and very intentionally making every connection I could make, I got the developer job of my dreams! Waiting for the right work culture is absolutely crucial, and Eleven Fifty helped me every step of the way. The only Con I can see is that they are constantly evolving and tweaking their process, which leads to some days and details of confusion, but ultimately change is necessary to growth and I believe they are growing in all the right ways. Absolutely would recommend to anyone willing to put in hard work for 12 weeks, and reap the benefits afterwards. When you really put your mind to it, you can accomplish so much, and at Eleven Fifty you will build real life projects with your own code, instead of studying abstract principles from a textbook.
Response From: John Qualls of Eleven Fifty Academy
Knowing our values of genuine and authentic interactions, all your feedback will be carefully considered for improving our program. Please stay in touch!
This was a big chance I took by doing the .NET track because I had no experience in development other than taking 1 c++ class in college.I decideded I needed a career change. I quit my job and the next week was in class for the track. The instructors were great, and I gained a lot of experience in an extremely short amount of time. I also got help finding a job after the track was over and that helped tremendously. The instructors are definitely there to teach and care about you learning as much as you can, and I still keep in touch after graduating. The people there really care about what they are doing and make sure as many people as possible succeed, as long as they dedicate themselves and are engaged as much as they can be. You get out of this what you put in.
A note of caution: this will not be easy, it will be challenging. I have a degree in risk management and finance from Butler University in addition to doing this track, so that is what I used as a benchmark for the class. You will be pushed and will get extremely frustrated at times. It all really does get you ready for a job afterwards.
The reward is there, and by that I mean marketable job and coding skills to get you in the door somewhere, but you will have to work at it, and really stay focused and absorb all the information you can.
Overall, this was one of the best decisions I ever made and wouldn't have had it any other way.
Response From: John Qualls of Eleven Fifty Academy
Wow! You are amazing.
Thank you so much for allowing us to be a part of your journey.
Also, thanks for setting the right expectations. Nothing worth doing is going to be easy.
Very proud to hear about your success. That's what keeps us going during the tough times.
I found Eleven Fifty when I was looking to change careers. If you are in the same boat, then Eleven Fifty is a great choice. Though the Java Accelerated Learning Program was difficult and a lot to process in such a small amount of time, it has enabled me to quickly change careers to something that I really enjoy (and get paid better doing it)!
The instructors and staff really care about you and your success. I especially loved how much they focused on teaching us about soft skills as well as the hard, programming skills. When you finish the program, you have the skills and confidence to go out and land a great job. Not only that, but they have stayed in contact and have always been a great resource well beyond the course.
This will not be an easy experience for you, but it will be rewarding if you work hard and stick with it. I went from dreading getting up and going to work to being excited about what I was doing. I'm not sure I could have made that transition so quickly without Eleven Fifty.
Response From: John Qualls of Eleven Fifty Academy
So happy to hear about your positive experience with our program. Sounds like you took advantage of the opportunity.
Keep up the feedback (positive and critical)
We're committed to constantly improve the programs and experience.
I really loved my experience at 1150. Despite being the first java cohort, the curriculum was interesting, relevant and thoughtfully put together, even though there were some kinks in the system as we went, they made sure that they worked them out so we could have a great experience. The instructors are some of the most kind and caring people you could ever meet. They go super far above and beyond to make sure everybody gets the help they need. I took this course to transition to a career in software development, and even though we finished right around the holidays, I had a job within a month making the most money I've made in my life! Can't thank 1150 enough for everything!!
Response From: John Qualls of Eleven Fifty Academy
Glad we made the experience worthwhile! Keep the feedback coming. We're always looking to improve.
Eleven Fifty Academy (EFA) offers a great immersive nine-week learning program that also included an additional 12 week apprenticeship designed to help get you in the field. The instructors are fantastic and I would count them among the best I've ever had in my life.
The level of support and attention that Eleven Fifty offers is second to none. They are tied to your success reputationally and financially, which means they are actually invested in your employment. Traditional education (college) is great, but they don't care whether or not you get a job in the field. EFA is completely geared to getting you started in a coding job quickly.
The staff from top to bottom is great and I cannot recommend this program enough.
Response From: John Qualls of Eleven Fifty Academy
Can't thank you enough for making the investment in yourself and our small part in it.
We are committed to completion with a purpose of self-actualization. (aka A Job)
I was disappointed by my experience. I would have given 5 stars if the instructor had been better. I would have even taken more classes.
Con: The instructor was far too inexperienced to be teaching. He didn’t know how to explain or answer questions. He expected us to catch on right away without any explanations. Any wrong answer would result in eye rolling or mocking. It was clear that they needed someone with more experience teaching.
Pro: The environment and vibe is really fun. They try to make sure you feel welcomed and try to encourage a sense of community.
Response From: John Qualls of Eleven Fifty Academy
Could you share which course you took? Did you put these comments into your exit survey?
We're always looking to improve the experience and the instruction.
You can reach me directly at email@example.com
We've come a long way and we'd love to have you again.
I took the Intro to Coding course during a weekend and I loved it. The instructor was great; I had no coding experience prior to taking this course. Our instructor was helpful and so patient with everyone. The environment was amazing; everyone in the class helped each other as we worked through the problems and all of our needs were taken care of. The staff were friendly and made sure everyone was happy. The course was challenging but great because I was able to be exposed to what coding really is. I hope to take the next course in the near future to continue learning about writing code. I would suggest this course to anyone because anyone can learn how to code!
Response From: John Qualls of Eleven Fifty Academy
Thanks for taking the time to write this note. We believe the student experience is just as important as the technical learning.
On-Time Graduation Rate
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What makes for the ideal coding bootcamp student? Experience? Perserverence? Natural Skill? We've compiled advice from instructors and founders at top programming bootcamps like gSchool, Dev Bootcamp, Wyncode, and Fullstack Academy- aka the folks making admissions decisions every day. Read on for the 8 qualities that bootcamps tell us they look for in potential applicants. [As of December 8, 2017, Dev Bootcamp will no longer be operating.]Continue Reading →
Tell us first about your background before doing Eleven Fifty.
I graduated from the Indiana University School of Informatics. I studied Media Arts and Science and was specifically focused on 3-D graphics and animation. I pursued that career after college in Los Angeles at design studios and animation studios.
So I approached the Jones LaSalle office here in Indy about the class at Eleven Fifty; it was an intense process trying to learn outside of work, then apply it quickly.
Did your company pay for the course?
Did you consider doing other bootcamps, or only Eleven Fifty?
No. This is the only one that I looked at. It was local; it looked like a good program. It just all made sense. I live here so I don’t have to pay for a hotel.
What was the application process like for you? Did you do a formal interview or a technical interview?
I got in touch with Nick from Eleven Fifty and asked him some questions because I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t going to be in a super-advanced class. I was a novice, getting back into coding, so I wanted to make sure it was a beginner course.
Did you find that it was a beginner course?
It definitely was. The instructors read the group on the first day and scaled up or scaled back the curriculum. They’re really flexible depending on who’s sitting in the course.
How many people were in your cohort?
Including me there were four people who went through the whole week. There’s one gentleman who was with us for just half a day.
Who was the instructor for your class?
There were two instructors from the company Fretless, Dave Struss and David Jones. We called them The Daves: David and Dave.
What did a typical day look like?
Periodically they would throw a pop quiz at us. That was kind of nice. It made you think about things on your own. We also had labs throughout the day.
We worked on taking data from an input and pushing that into functions as well and then doing something with that data then outputting it back out to the application. We build about three to four apps in the week, all surrounding the idea of create, read, update and delete; the CRUD basics.
What is CRUD?
CRUD stands for Create, Read, Update and Delete; You’re creating an input; then the application reads it then it updates on the screen, in the browser. You can delete it too, so the user can delete it or edit it with an update.
How collaborative was the work at Eleven Fifty?
The labs were done individually and if you needed help the instructors would be there; but everything else was collaborative and in a group.
Did you have to pass a test at the end of the course?
No, there weren’t any tests or assessments at the end.
How many hours would you say you spent on the class?
It was 12-hour days from walking in to leaving. We had breaks and lunch so out of the 12 hours, I think we spent eight or nine coding.
That’s a fair amount. Did you feel burnt out at all throughout the week or did you find it was pretty manageable?
It was manageable but my mind felt like it was getting overloaded at times. To avoid getting burned out, I’d have to get up and walk around. The breaks were great.
Did you find that Eleven Fifty did job preparation at all with your class?
They taught you the fundamentals of a language then they partnered with Vitamin T which is a staffing agency. Vitamin T came in and explained their process and if you’re looking for a job this is how you could go about it through their company.
I’m not opposed to that process, but I did the course to enhance my current job skills.
Do you feel like you’ve learned everything that you needed to know to do the projects that you wanted to do at work?
I have done a project and I actually shared it with an instructor so they could see what I did outside the class. The project I did on my own resembles what we did in the first couple of days.
I’m slowly working up to more complicated things, depending on my company’s needs. What they needed initially is kind of basic.
It’s nice that even after the course, I can speak with instructors if I have questions and I’m also educated enough to find my own answers as well
Do you think the course would have been worth the money if your job didn’t pay for it?
Have you thought of doing another course through Eleven Fifty?
I have. Since I’m with my current company though, it needs to be something that I need to use in work. If not, I’d just be taking paid time off to do it on my own. I would like to use it for work.
Is there anything you didn’t expect about it or that you would have changed, feedback that you had for Eleven Fifty?
Overall, it was a nice course and a good experience. I don’t have many complaints. But I think for the level it was at, it was a pretty fast course going through the applications. So I think it would be nice to start slow and really nail the foundations.
Is there anything you wanted to add about your experience or advice to future students?
It’s a great, comfortable facility working at Scott Jones’ home. They provide great meals, the staff is great and the instructors are very nice.
A self-taught designer, Randy Oest is the Manager of Digital Design at an agency in Indianapolis. Wanting to add iOS development to his skillset and possibly even his company’s offerings, Randy turned to Eleven Fifty’s Introduction to iOS Development course. Randy tells us about the diversity in skill-level during his class, the scholarship he got to attend Eleven Fifty, and plans to incorporate his new skills into his current job.
Tell us about your background and how you found out about Eleven Fifty.
I’m the Manager of Digital Design at an agency in downtown Indianapolis called Williams Randall Marketing. I oversee all of our digital projects: landing pages, websites, display ads, etc.
Building mobile apps is not a service that we currently offer for our clients but it is something I was interested in. I figured that adding that to my skill set would be the first step to adding that to our business.
I had watched videos and taught myself a few things, but I was actually presented with a very interesting opportunity. I gave a talk at a convention in Indianapolis and Eleven Fifty was attending. They were giving away two scholarships and I actually got one of the scholarships.
The scholarship was a motivation for you?
I was very excited about that. The cost of the program had originally been out of reach for me, but they had lowered the prices for their classes to the point where the scholarship took care of the majority of the cost.
Once I got the scholarship, it was a matter of negotiating the time off with my current company.
It sounds like you had a pretty technical background before you went to Eleven Fifty, just not with iOS.
Yes, I definitely have a strong development background.
Were you self-taught in those technical skills?
I was completely self-taught. I actually went to the Art Institute in Pittsburgh after high school to do comic book design; while I was there, I fell in love with graphic design on the computer. I eventually became a designer, then realized that web design would be a necessary skill.
I learned through books, training videos, and even attended trainings.
Did you ever consider doing another bootcamp before Eleven Fifty?
The only other bootcamp I considered was the Starter League in Chicago. I’m fascinated by the Starter League and I think it would be really phenomenal but at the same time, I can’t afford to spend three-quarters of a year and $40K on that. That’s for people who don’t have little toddlers at home!
Honestly, a bootcamp is something that I would recommend to a lot of people. In the web design and development community, it’s not so much about degrees as it is about experience. As soon as you get that experience, you’re valuable. All you have to do is have enough in your portfolio to convince someone to hire you.
Was it easy to convince your employer to let you take a week off for Eleven Fifty?
A week doesn’t seem like a long time but it actually took a little bit of negotiating on my part. Working in an agency, I had to do a little bit of hand-wringing!
How many people were in your cohort?
More than 20.
Did you find it to be a diverse cohort in terms of age, gender and race?
Yes, I did. I found that there was a great deal of diversity, more than I expected. Indianapolis is fairly whitewashed so actually going into a class that had racial and gender diversity was great. I like situations like that because it makes me feel like I’m working in the “real world.”
Did you feel like everyone was on the same technical level when you started?
No, definitely not. I couldn’t break it down in percentages but I would put them into three rungs. There were experts, those who could follow along, and the group that should have taken the Intro to Programming class before this class. Our cohort was impacted a bit by the latter group..
Were you still able to all learn together or did it split off into groups of learners?
The diversity in technical skill had a tendency to slow things down a little bit, especially once we got further along in the class where there were certain basic assumptions that were being made. There were long gaps between information sometimes.
For instance, we would learn a new concept and some people would have trouble with it so we had to wait while everyone queued up with the TAs and the teacher to get things resolved.
Everybody who’s paid for the class deserves the right to ask questions and get their questions resolved so I’m not going to make a big deal about that. But I do think there were some people who could have benefitted from an intro programming class or prior experience.
What level did the curriculum start at? Did you start with beginner concepts or did you dive in to building products?
We started with the language and the syntax, which is the most difficult and boring part of learning any new language. We went over assigning variables, doing loops, etc. They all are basic concepts but you have to be introduced to them as part of the syntax that you’re using. I think a lot of people had a bit of difficulty with that because it can be very fatiguing.
Then we rolled into the application of those basics, which is the fun part.
How many instructors were there?
There was one instructor, Terrence, and between 2-4 TAs at any time.
What was Terrence’s teaching style like and did it work with your learning style?
He was very casual and very knowledgeable.
The only thing I would have changed (and he would have admitted it himself) was how he sent code to us. He would use Bit.ly to shorten a url and share it with us. If something changed he needed a new URL, which actually got a little bit confusing. He said he would fix that for the next class.
He’s obviously very self-aware as to what he’s doing and he’s making the class better every time.
Who were the TAs?
I don’t know exactly who the TAs were. I believe they were mostly Scott Jones’ family members, functioning as TAs and helping out. I didn’t really interact with them very often so I can’t say how effective they were. I can say that people would go to them with questions and they were very helpful, responsive and proactive. If it looked like somebody was struggling they would help out, so my assumption is that they did a good job.
What technologies did you actually learn over the seven days?
The class was an Introduction to iOS Development, which means building mobile applications for the iPhone and the iPad. In order to do that, there are a couple of components.
The first component is the Integrated Development Environment (IDE), which is XCode and that’s basically like your workstation area. We learned XCode and the underpinnings of that, the code itself that we were writing was Swift as the language. We learned Swift and how to use XCode to create these apps.
Were you satisfied with that curriculum? Did you feel like you learned the technologies that you wanted to when you set out to learn iOS?
Definitely. I got off to a very strong start. Obviously, one week, no matter how intensive it is, won’t make you an expert but it’s a skill that I consider to be in my toolbox now and I’m actually moving ahead with some personal projects to reinforce that before I roll it out professionally.
Which projects did your cohort complete?
We ended up building three apps over the course. The first one was a note-taking app which was a simple clone of Evernote. The second app that we built was a Snapchat clone, which allowed us to learn how to use the camera in a very sophisticated way. There are two ways to deal with the camera in iOS—a complicated method and an easy method. First, we were introduced to the difficult way to do it, then learned a couple days later that we could accomplish the same thing with a single line of code.
Did it help to learn the difficult way first?
Oh yeah, absolutely because then you appreciate the easy method. But it also opens up possibilities because when you do it the difficult way, you have more control over what happened.
The third app that we built was a Tinder clone, which was very interesting. It showed the age divide of the class—some people knew about Tinder, and others didn’t. We had a hilarious time learning what Tinder was.
Were you working on those together as a class or were you split up into groups or doing them individually?
We did them individually following along with the instructor.
How many hours a day would you say you were spending on the course?
Usually, 8am-9pm. 10pm was the cutoff. We usually finished class around 9pm then there was the Q&A time for people who had questions.
Were you pretty much on campus the whole time?
Everything was done together. I would leave campus periodically. They have an extended break in the afternoon where they do all sorts of crazy fun things – and I mean crazy fun things. I’ve seen some of the other cohorts do paintball; we went to Skyzone and played a lot of really lousy dodgeball—it was really nice.
What was the space like where you were learning?
The place where you’re learning is spectacular. I’ve visited a lot of college campuses; I used to work for the University of Pittsburgh and let me tell you, the learning environment at Eleven Fifty is amazing. You’re working inside of a mansion. I think it was voted MTV’s “Crib of the Year.”
You’re actually interacting with Scott Jones, in his home. Scott Jones is the man who invented voicemail, built and sold Gracenote, etc; you’re actually having lunch with him, interacting with him, and hearing stories from him. That’s inspiring too.
What are up to now? Have you started using iOS in your job?
As soon as I finished the class I ordered a Swift cookbook. My intention is to go through that and look for things that I didn’t learn in the class that are of interest to me to reinforce what I’ve done, then to go back through and rebuild the three apps that I did in the class.
Then I’ll see how comfortable I am rolling it out at my day job to offer iOS as a service. Anytime you offer something new like that, the best thing you can do is talk to your close clients and offer discounts to try out your new skills.
Would you recommend that other employees at your job also take this class?
I would definitely recommend taking the class, with no reservations. I think it’s well worth the cost. It’s a super intensive week, I think it’s a very scalable skill.
Do you think it’s worth the full price?
Yeah- the full price is $3500. I would have to consider that.
Was there anything that you gave feedback or anything that you would have changed?
The only thing I would change is to raise the bar a little for people to get into the class. The technical diversity can slow the class down so much if you’ve got a lot of basic questions being asked. At the same time, it’s an Introduction to iOS so where do you draw that line?
I would like to say unreservedly that I enjoyed my experience at Eleven Fifty and I do highly recommend it.
Is there anything else that you wanted to add about Eleven Fifty or bootcamps in general?
I definitely think the bootcamp really fits with my personality; I would definitely recommend that type of experience again. I’m considering future classes at Eleven Fifty. They have an advanced iOS development course so maybe after I’ve cut my teeth a little bit more, I’ll go back and see what that class has to offer. My wife is actually interested in the introduction to programming class so I’m trying to convince her to do that.
Trever Ewing became interested in mobile app development and Swift while studying computer science at Indiana University- this interest only increased when he started working in Apple’s customer care department. After completing Eleven Fifty’s Intro to iOS course in January and considering an apprenticeship through Eleven Fifty, Trever tells us about the need for self-starting in coding, how fun it is to learn at founder Scott Jones’ home, and putting his new skills to use in his current job.
What were you up to before you started with Eleven Fifty like your education background, your last job and you career path?
I started at the bottom and worked my way up. I started working at a call center called Teleservices Direct, then an Apple-authorized service provider called Computers Plus. Then Apple came to me directly and hired me as a WorldWide AppleCare Advisor
For about the last year and a half I’ve been working for Apple and I also go to Indiana University and major in computer science. Unfortunately, I haven’t taken many Computer Science classes; I’m still doing a lot of my general education classes. I had taken one CS class but I ended up not finishing it because I didn’t like the way the class was structured. I’m not rushing to finish college, because I’ve decided to get other job-related experiences.
Had you done Codecademy or used another online learning platform?
I had not done anything prior. Apple has a Swift book that I tried to use, but it can get overwhelming, especially when you don’t understand what it does or why.
What was your goal in doing a bootcamp?
It’s just something that I’ve always been interested in and wanted to learn how to do it. The great thing that Apple does is they put EA games and Joe Shmoe on the same playing field. You can reach the same amount of customers in the App Store. If you have a great idea, anybody can make an application.
I’m not a designer; I can hardly draw stick figures! But with coding, you can design and build anything you want to.
What was the learning environment like at Eleven Fifty?
I loved the environment. It is in the founder, Scott Jones’, home. They really do a good job of making you feel welcome so you can relax and learn. I’ve never been to another bootcamp so I can’t say for sure, but I have the assumption that most of them are probably not held in a mansion!
How much did you pay for the Eleven Fifty course?
It was $1150 actually. There are some scholarships available though so you can help set that cost aside. Your breakfast, lunch and dinner are all taken care of by Eleven Fifty as well. I didn’t expect that.
What was the application process like for you? Did you do a traditional application or an interview?
It was pretty much just a matter of getting in touch with their team. It wasn’t a long, drawn-out interview process. I think they try to make it pretty relaxed instead of making it really formal.
How many people were in your cohort?
There were 20 of us. This was the biggest class that they said they’d had so far; it was a pretty good-sized class.
Was everybody on a similar technical level?
Some of us had no programming experience at all; there were some of us that had some HTML coding experience, so there was a little bit of a mix. The majority of us came into it not knowing anything at all, though.
Was everybody able to learn together or did people split off into groups?
They were pretty good at making sure all of us were learning at the same level. If we were having a lot of questions, the instructor would stop and go back through it line by line.
Who was the instructor for this course?
Terrence Kunsteck. When we first started he was showing us a lot. He went over the fundamentals of Xcode, then Swift.
As we went through each section we would take a break because coding is intense so you really need to make sure you step back and take a break and let your mind process everything that you’ve been trying to learn.
We had hour or two-hour breaks here and there. He would make sure that we were caught up and if you didn’t understand you could go and talk to him or one of the TAs, they would walk you through it.
How many TAs did you have?
There were two of them, I believe. They were actually Scott’s children who had coding experience. They would help with the more basic stuff.
Aside from the teaching style were you satisfied with the actual material that you were taught throughout? Did you feel like you learned enough in one week?
Most definitely. Like I said, there are so many more things that I’d like to do. It’s just impossible to cover it all. After you had the basics, you could go learn on your own.
In the world of coding, it never ends. Every year, there will be thousands of new APIs and that you can use. This is just your basic foundation: this is how Swift works, this is how X code works, this is how you approach these kinds of things.
Eleven Fifty has a lot of content and you definitely want to dedicate yourself because it is a long process. But that condense week was the best approach for me. I can’t take three or four weeks off of work, so learning it in a week and condensing it down like they do works so much better.
Everybody was looking for different things in the class. For example, we made a Snapchat app and some people wanted to work on a “delete” button; I personally would’ve worked on certifications. You could talk to Terrence and he would walk you through the process of approaching different things.
Aside from that Snapchat app, what were the other apps you all worked on?
The first thing we did was a note-taking app and that taught us how to push information from one screen to another screen. The second one we did was a Snapchat app and the third one was a Tinder app.
Did you work on those alone or as a group?
We did them all as a group and if you wanted to customize them, there were different options that you could do.
How many hours a day were you working on Eleven Fifty?
We were there from about 9:00 am to about 8:30 or 9:00 pm – so about 12-hour days.
Did you ever feel burnout during the course?
Not terribly, because they build breaks into the schedule and that made all the difference. We got a morning break, a lunch, an evening break, dinner and then we have study hall afterwards. If you did get burnout, it’s probably because you were coding on your breaks and they really push you not to do that.
Did Eleven Fifty do job preparation with your class?
There is an internship program that they are recruiting for called the APPrenticeship. They only took a couple of people in that. I was actually offered it and I would love to take them up on that offer. There were only four, maybe five of us that were selected out of the twenty to do that. I just have to work out my job schedule and class schedule.
Since you finished the Eleven Fifty class, has it helped you be better at your current job at Apple?
Eleven Fifty will basically help as much as I apply it. Working with Swift is not part of my job description. But at Apple, we’re evaluated in three things: teamwork, innovation and results.
I want to write some kind of an app that we can use internally for scheduling changes; that would be an innovation type of thing making everybody’s job a little bit easier.
Are there things that you would have changed about Eleven Fifty?
The only thing that I recommended they do was to send a couple of projects home with students after they finish the course. I thought it would be nice if he made a homework assignment to do afterwards if you wanted to refine your skills. I told them that feedback and it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if they take that to heart- it sounds like they do really listen to students’ feedback to make this the best program.
Other than that, everything was great. I loved it.
Very cool. Would you take another Eleven Fifty course in the future?
I probably would if I didn’t get offered the APPrenticeship. I would take the advanced class, but if I take this apprenticeship, then that won’t be necessary since they are going to teach me there.
Coding Bootcamps are intensive programs- some require an 80 hour per week commitment, and all demand undivided attention in the classroom. This structure may be necessary to learn a new skill in a short time, but it can also overwhelm students and in some cases, cause burnout.
Luckily, at Course Report, we get the opportunity to talk with alumni from coding bootcamps all over the world, and we always ask how they avoided burnout during their courses. We’ve compiled the top eight best pieces of advice for future students from alumni who have been through it before!Continue Reading →
Leo Picado studies computer science and lives in Costa Rica. When he started doing contract work for a Utah e-tailer company, he found that he would need to sharpen his skills to build them the new mobile app they needed. After doing some preliminary work with Treehouse, he reached out to Eleven Fifty in Indianapolis. Having finished the weeklong Intro to iOS course, Leo tells us about returning to Costa Rica to finish the app, the factors that lead him to Eleven Fifty, and why he’s already considering going back for an advanced class.
What were you up to before you decided to do Eleven Fifty?
I’m currently halfway through my Computer Science degree; I’m a student right now at a school called CENFOTEC here in Costa Rica.
I’m a native Costa Rican and I have a BA in advertising. I worked in advertising for a couple of years but it wasn’t my thing. One thing led to another and I ended up in graphic design and that led me to computer science.
At some point I realized I needed formal Computer Science training so I started going to school. Halfway through I switched jobs. I’m working for an e-tailer now as a software engineering contractor on an hourly basis. A couple of months ago they picked me to build them a new mobile app. I had very little experience with Swift, which is the class that I took at Eleven Fifty.
Did you know some iOS before you went to Eleven Fifty?
What was the goal of taking a bootcamp?
I’ve been self-taught in many things but every now and then something will come up that I’m just unable to wrap my head around. And when that happens, I just need someone to hold my hand and to have them to answer as many questions as I have.
Did you look at other bootcamps, or just Eleven Fifty?
I looked at Code Fellows in Seattle and Hacker School in New York. They looked great, but I couldn’t put my life on pause for such a long time. I got married a couple of years ago, and I have loans, so I couldn’t afford to give up a paycheck. Eleven Fifty offered a way to spend just a week out of my life on Swift.
How did you find Eleven Fifty?
They found me! I was looking for more answers about building the app for my company. I took it to Twitter and asked a question about Swift, and someone from Eleven Fifty replied.
At the time, their iOS class was too expensive (around $3500). I tweeted a joke to Scott Jones, and asked about a scholarship. The next day, he replied and offered me a great scholarship!
Did you end up doing an application for Eleven Fifty?
No. They gave me a list of tutorial videos and suggested I go over them to prepare, but no real application.
How many people were in your cohort?
There were a lot of people; I’d say around 21 people were there.
Did you feel like it was a diverse cohort in terms of age, gender, race?
I would say so; there were a lot of people from all walks of life. There was a guy just coming out of high school, there was a teacher who was digging into iOS because he thought it would be good for his school. There were a few CS students from different local schools.
There was this woman named Marcia Williams who works for an NGO called EmployIndy. She was actually taking the class because she has a CS degree but she was trying to see if the bootcamp model would work for her community. It was very, very diverse.
How many instructors were there and who were the instructors?
There was one instructor, Terrence Kunstek, and three TAs.
Which technologies did you cover? Can you give us a rundown of the course and how they broke it up?
It was pretty much Swift for seven days. After that we got a bit into Parse and Objective C.
How many hours a day would you say you were spending at Eleven Fifty?
I spent my entire day there. I got there around 8:00am then left around 10:00pm. We had about 6-7 hours of classroom time each day.
Did you feel like you were burned out at all or did you feel like it was pretty manageable?
I did feel some burnout around Thursday and it was my own fault because one of the very first things the instructor says is not to code during breaks. They tell you to take some time or play basketball; just don’t code because at the end of the week you’re going to be burned out.
I ended up helping people a few times throughout the week during breaks so by Thursday around 6:00 pm, I really felt exhausted. I just wanted to go home and sleep for a few hours. But it worked pretty well.
Did Eleven Fifty do job prep with your class, interview practice, resume building and things like that?
We took some time on Friday when we were done coding and going over all the Q&A part of the program to go over LinkedIn; but there were no practice interviews or anything like that. One of the main goals was to have at least one app in the app store by the end of the week.
What was the app that you submitted?
We built three apps. The first one was a clone of Evernote. The second one was a clone of Snapchat and the last one was a Tinder clone.
Have you started building the app for your company now that you’re back in Costa Rica?
I have. I had before I went there and I told my boss, “I am pretty sure that the minute I get back I’m going to make tons of changes just because of all the stuff I’m going to learn” and exactly that happened.
Is there anything that you would have changed about the course?
I think my biggest peeve was I that since the cohort had a range of technical ability, I did pick up on a few advanced topics before others. If this class was someone’s first experience with computer science.
Even though you got a great scholarship, do you think Eleven Fifty was worth the $3500 price tag?
Yes, and I’m actually thinking of taking the advanced class now.
A former Lotus Notes developer in Washington, DC, Timothy Taylor tried a few online coding courses to update his skills. It wasn't until he found Eleven Fifty in Indianapolis that Timothy felt a genuine support system and learning community. We talk to Timothy about his experience with Eleven Fifty's iOS and Ruby courses, the unique environment, and his advice to future bootcamp students.
Tell us what you were up to before you started at Eleven Fifty.
I’ve been in the industry for over 13 years, but I was working for General Dynamics for a couple of years prior to Eleven Fifty. I was a Lotus Notes developer so I knew I needed more new training.
What is Lotus Notes?
It’s a workflow product. If you’re familiar with Sharepoint, you can do workflow applications pretty fast. You can build databases and applications, but it’s more of a groupware because it has an application server, a web server and a mail server. It used to be big in the federal government but IBM didn’t market it well so now it’s been replaced by Sharepoint and that’s the reason why I started taking new training.
So you obviously had a technical background before.
How did you decide on Eleven Fifty?
I went on your site, Course Report and I did a lot of research. I tried Coding Dojo’s online course, but it wasn’t a great fit for me. I also looked at Coding House. They had a 60-day program, but they didn’t have many alumni so I couldn’t find much information. I was back and forth. I looked at Hack Reactor’s Remote program, but their course is 90 days and I have a family to support, so their program didn’t seem as flexible. They have an excellent reputation but they’re just not as flexible.
I happened to come upon Eleven Fifty’s website. I got to talk to Matt, Scott, and Terrence who taught the course. Everybody just seemed to be so nice and cool. Whenever I needed to reach out to them they were there. They gave me their number and they would personally call and I liked that. I liked the fact that it wasn’t just about money to them. They really were proactively reaching out to me.
Was there an application process with Eleven Fifty? Did you do a technical interview or a culture interview or anything like that?
Which course did you take?
I took 3 courses: Beginner iOS, Advanced iOS and the Ruby on Rails course. I took the beginner iOS class first, and they decided to push the second iOS class back a couple of weeks, which actually worked better.
Terrence talked to me and pointed out that it might be overwhelming to take three courses back to back. You want to break them up to be able to spend time on each topic. It was a lot of information.
Why did you decide to start with the Beginner iOS course?
I really hadn’t looked at mobile and didn’t really know much about iOS and mobile development because I came from a Lotus Notes world.
After talking to Scott and Terence, they sold me on mobile. iOS wasn’t as big here in DC, where I live, but I looked across the nation and iOS was getting big and popular, so I just decided to go down that path. Eleven Fifty also told me that they would have the Ruby course later on.
Who were the instructors in those classes?
Terrence Kunstek taught the iOS course, then the Ruby class was taught by Dave Strus. All of them are great; they all continued to help when I reached back out to them.
The good thing about Eleven Fifty versus some of the other bootcamps that you see is that you actually build applications as opposed to going through a curriculum and only learning code structure. At Eleven Fifty, you learn code structure but you actually build complex applications, whereas a lot of times at other bootcamps, you build a basic application. You don’t really build real applications that you would use on a job.
Were Terrence and Dave lecturing in addition to building apps?
Yes. For example in iOS, we learned Swift development; Swift is the new language for Apple development. You go over a Swift language reference documentation for the first few days then for the next 5 days, we built an app.
They follow the same structure for the Ruby class. The first two days were using the Ruby language and then the next 5 we were doing Rails.
Were you working on the same projects in the iOS class and the Ruby class?
There were different projects but under the same scheme. For iOS we built a Tinder app clone, we built a tasking app and a chat app. For Rails, we built the tasking app and the clone of Reddit.
From speaking with Scott, I know he wants to make sure that each instructor takes everyone through building a real app, and ideally all of the classes would work on the same apps. But it depends on class size and level on how many apps are built. At least 2 are built. However for the iOS course we were able to do 3.
How large was your cohort for each class?
The first class we had four, maybe five students. The second iOS course had only three students. But the Ruby class was pretty big- ten students.
Did you feel like your classmates were on a similar level or at least able to learn together?
I probably had the biggest disadvantage because I came from Lotus Notes, which is more visual based client app development. Coming from Visual Basic, I hadn’t had a lot of object-oriented or iOS experience. Whereas some of the other guys in iOS had done mobile apps or had experience with C and C++ or even Python. I came in cold turkey so I’ve had to put in a little bit more work. In the beginning it took me some time understanding it but actually, I would say that after I did the Ruby course, things were starting to make more sense.
In the Ruby class, most of my classmates were already working with Rails, so they were all a little bit more experienced than I was.
Did you consider participating in Eleven Fifty’s APPrenticeship program?
Yes. I know two of the guys who have transitioned into the APPrenticeship program. I think it’s an excellent idea, because having some internship or on-the-job experience is very important when you’re doing app development and especially when you’re trying to learn a new language.
The fact that Terrence has been doing development for a long time gives those apprentices a great resource. They’re building live apps and getting great experience. If I was able to participate remotely I would definitely do it but it’s not going to work out for me because I live in DC, but I think it’s an excellent idea.
Terrence is very intelligent, very smart and he knows a lot of different languages so they’re in good hands.
What are you up to today? Did you get a job as a result of doing Eleven Fifty or what are you doing?
I had other experience with Sharepoint; I have a couple of offers that I’m still waiting on and I have another interview tomorrow with IBM but these are totally different than what I went there for, it’s for Sharepoint.
I know Terrence doesn’t like this but I like Ruby and Rails a lot. I can see myself being really great at doing that with practice.
So I’ve just been home. Now I’m preparing for this interview tomorrow for Sharepoint and .Net so I’ve been looking at some .Net stuff. They actually have a .Net course that starts Saturday that I was debating going to but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to go.
Is there anything that we didn’t touch on that you wanted to add about your experience at Eleven Fifty?
I’d just like to add that if anybody is looking to go to a coding academy, they really need to look at Eleven Fifty. I spoke to a lot of bootcamps and I could tell where some of the companies were just about money, but the content wasn’t solid. But like I said, the owner Scott really took the time to care about you. I haven’t seen another school with the structure- from the content to the catered lunches, to massage breaks. I think they have a great model. They just need the word out so other people will find out about it.
Colin got an undergraduate degree in physics, but became interested in programming after realizing that the skills would be integral to getting a job. When he started as a Rails developer at Mobi Wireless Management, they offered to sponsor the Ruby on Rails course at Eleven Fifty in Indianapolis. We talk to Colin about his experience in the 7-day class, how he dealt with “developer’s clay,” and why he’s already planning on taking another class with Eleven Fifty!
What were you up to before you started at Eleven Fifty?
I graduated college last December with a degree in Physics and right after college I started at a Rails gig in Carmel, Indiana. I recently found a new job as a Rails developer at Mobi Wireless Management and part of my training at Mobi was attending this course, to get me on track because I don’t have a traditional CS degree.
How did you get interested in Rails to begin with?
I went to a job fair during my sophomore year of college and I really didn’t know what to expect. All of the companies talking to Physics majors wanted to know if you knew how to program as well. I only knew how math and science at that time, so I took 4 Computer Science classes near the end of college and made a definite effort to push my career path that way.
So you learned what you know about Rails through Computer Science courses or did you teach yourself on your own?
I learned some of the concepts of programming in general through the CS courses but Rails itself was self-taught and I also used online resources using Code School and Pragmatic Studios.
Was Eleven Fifty a requirement from your new company or was it a suggestion?
It was neither. It was really more of a trial run, but it’s something that they’re trying to implement for future new hires. Some of the senior developers here at Mobi could be qualified to teach the Rails course.
Which course did you take?
I did the Ruby on Rails course, which was November 8th through the 13th.
Had you considered doing a bootcamp other than Eleven Fifty?
Did you have to do any kind of application?
No. They had some suggested course material that you would review but in my case, programming in Rails is already my job. I felt like I had a pretty good foundation.
Eleven Fifty pointed to a Code School course called Try Ruby, which would be a little difficult if you’ve never programmed before. They just wanted students to have exposure before going to the class. I feel like a good part of the class is just setting up an environment- that in itself is a class!
How many people were in your cohort?
9 to 12. We had two people that started but didn’t finish because of personal reasons. They weren’t able to finish the class but they were certainly capable of finishing. Everybody works with each other and everybody understands and it’s a very much team-driven.
Did you feel like everybody was on a similar technical level, that you were all able to learn together?
I felt everyone was definitely qualified to be there and had the necessary skills to learn. There was no one there that didn’t know what Terminal was; everybody had an intimate knowledge of computer science but there are definitely different skill levels, that’s for sure.
In terms of diversity of the cohort, did you feel it was a very diverse cohort in terms of age, race, gender?
Myself and two other guys were in their early twenties and then some of the other students were in their thirties and we had even people in their forties and fifties. Next class they’re having a high-schooler in the class.
As far as race and gender, we had two girls and there were a couple of different races represented. Pretty good diversity but it’s also Indiana.
Who taught this class?
David Strus and David Jones were the instructors. The instructors are from a company called Fretless, and they are just really fantastic. I know all three of them and they’re all great Ruby developers. It’s fantastic having them teach the course. I knew one of the Fretless guys before taking this class through a club called Indianapolis Ruby Brigade. It’s just a tiny club where Ruby developers can come in and chat and create camaraderie.
What was the teaching style like and did it work with your learning style?
Their teaching style did work with the way that I learn, and that’s hands-on and immersive, learning and collaborating with others.
Eleven Fifty is trying to be an alternative to studying by yourself with a book or another online resource. I think that’s why it’s a little bit more expensive. You would need the dedication and the time and the effort to really learn as much as you can in the same amount of time that we did. There were 10 to 12-hour days.
Did you feel like you learned a lot more than you already know? As somebody who’s already a Rails developer doing a Rails class, what level would you say you got to?
Just to make things scalable, let’s say I was an intermediate developer when I got there and at the end I was an advanced developer. It got you to the next level, as arbitrary as it sounds.
I made a couple of lists of all the things I learned. It’s concepts, tricks, all kinds of different things. It was well worth my time.
Did you ever feel burnout or get off track during the week?
You definitely get developer clay or you can’t think anymore sometimes.
What’s developer clay?
It’s like Writer’s Block. Your brain freezes up and you just can’t think anymore because you’ve been doing it for so long. I call it Developer Clay.
How do you deal with that?
What I do is exercise or do something fun or go for a walk; do something to get my mind off of it. I only experienced burnout once or twice. I was pretty much always fully engaged.
Everybody at Eleven Fifty is always talking about the facilities and the environment. Were those things helpful to you?
It’s literally the coolest house I’ve ever been in. Scott Jones is a very well-known entrepreneur and he’s got a house to prove it.
Honestly, it felt like being on vacation. I wanted to tell people that I was on vacation, partially because I didn’t want them to bother me; I wanted to be truly immersed into the atmosphere. The house and the venue is just icing on the cake. It’s not integral to the specific class, but it’s nice.
Can you tell us about the projects that you worked on throughout the 7 days?
We built clones of apps like Reddit and Evernote. We covered everything- uploading posts, submitting and commenting and replying and this whole UI interface and logging on. We build these from the ground up.
One afternoon we wrote a quick Twitter clone. Depending on what we were trying to cover and the concepts we were trying to learn, we’d delve into a different part of the application.
Did you work on those projects alone or as groups?
It was pretty much always as a group. We would have individual labs or assignments sometimes. They wanted us to struggle and hit your head against the wall for 5 minutes so we could try to figure it out, and someone was there to help you if we just couldn’t.
Do you feel that doing the Eleven Fifty course made you better at your job?
Yes, definitely. I would say I’m much more comfortable doing my job and talking about the topics with other employees and other developers. It bridged a lot of gaps that I had previously.
If I wasn’t at Mobi and I was applying for other jobs, I would definitely have the credentials and the abilities to start working at another developing position at a different venue. I very much have the skills to do that.
Is there anything that you would have changed about the class?
The only thing I said that they could improve on was really having a set in stone schedule.
Flexibility is always fine but it’s hard choosing between taking breaks and learning more. You’re here to learn code but breaks are good for sanity and for comprehension and retention.That was really my only complaint but that’s just me.
Have you considered doing another Eleven Fifty class?
Tell us about your education background and what you were doing before you started teaching with Eleven Fifty.
I am the cofounder of a company called Fretless, which is a web and mobile app consultancy based in Indianapolis. Prior to that, the Fretless team had all worked together, and we knew each other through the Indianapolis Ruby community.
How did you get connected with Eleven Fifty?
My business partner Miles organizes several local events for programmers, and someone from Eleven Fifty contacted him about sponsorship opportunities. They quickly got to talking about the need for a Ruby Instructor at Eleven Fifty. So we met the founder Scott Jones at a conference, and before we knew it, we’d worked something out.
Had you taught before? What made you want to move towards education?
My second job out of college was working at a proprietary school. I taught four computer-related classes and enjoyed it, but my career took me elsewhere.
Whenever I’ve had an opportunity since then, I’ve done some training and/or written or recorded instructional material. I’ve always enjoyed that at least as much as actually programming.
How did you get into programming in general as a career? Were you a CS major in your undergrad?
I was. I do have a computer science degree. Still, like a lot of developers, much of what I do day-to-day is actually self-taught. Like a lot of nerds, I originally thought I would make video games. I pretty quickly changed course.
Did you have to be convinced of the Eleven Fifty bootcamp model at all as it’s fairly new?
The bootcamp model didn’t make me hesitate at all. All of us at Fretless have attended bootcamp-style training in the past. I think it’s very effective. I’ve never done a month-long course; the ones that I have attended in the past have been 5 days long and not nearly as intensive.
Did those experiences help you develop the curriculum for the Eleven Fifty courses?
Yes, previous experience with bootcamps definitely informed our process for developing the curriculum. I think the most important thing is to be as prepared as possible. One always knows that one will end up improvising, especially when one finds out exactly who is in the class. The more you prepare, the better prepared you are to improvise.
How many cohorts have you taught?
Was it successful? What did you think after doing your first one?
It went really well. If anything, it exceeded my expectations; the students exceeded my expectations, and everything went incredibly smoothly. The folks at Eleven Fifty were a tremendous help, and you cannot beat the venue.
Were the students above the level that you expected?
On average I would say they had more experience than I thought they might. Thankfully, the way that we designed the curriculum, that didn’t really spoil our plans or anything. It allowed us to go deeper on certain things, and that was a lot of fun.
Do you feel like the curriculum is agile enough that you can adapt it to the students’ needs?
Yeah, the students’ experiences levels would impact how much time we spend on the basics of Ruby, the programming language itself. It was designed with beginners in mind, but with the more advanced crowd that we had, it was also easy to adapt to go deeper on certain aspects of the language and the framework.
Did you have a hand in the admissions process at all?
We were involved, but that’s primarily Eleven Fifty’s territory. We recruited a couple of people ourselves, and Eleven Fifty kept us informed of who our potential students were.
Who do you feel was your ideal applicant? What level of experience would you expect someone to have in order to start at Eleven Fifty?
Some very basic programming experience is obviously required. As a prerequisite for this course, we suggested TryRuby.org, which is a 15-minute introduction to the language, if you can read through that and it makes sense, you ought to be able to handle it. If you’re already a junior rails developer with a year or two of experience, you will almost certainly get something out of it as well.
Did you have any students who were already working as developers?
Yes, the majority already had jobs as developers and were sent by their employers, although they did volunteer. Eleven Fifty’s slogan is that they take you from 20 to 120 as opposed to zero to 100, so they’re a good fit. We also had some students looking to change careers.
Are you a fulltime instructor? How much time do you devote to Eleven Fifty as opposed to Fretless?
My day job is Fretless. When there’s a course scheduled, I don’t take any client work for a little while ahead of time so I have plenty of time to write the curriculum - because I do take my time on developing the curriculum.
Is Fretless considering hiring any of the Eleven Fifty grads?
We are not actively hiring right this minute but that has certainly crossed my mind.
Tell us how the 7-day course is structured?
In the 7-day courses, the weekend can be taken separately from the week. You can take either the weekend or the week individually, or you can take the whole thing. In this case, everybody took the whole thing except for one person who did not do the weekend course. She had sufficient experience, so that was fine.
All of the lecturing is extremely hands-on; we’re never just talking. They’re always doing a project and we stop pretty frequently for labs. We may talk them through the beginning of a task and then throw it to them to complete, giving one-on-one help as needed.
Which technologies will this upcoming course cover?
Is there anything we didn’t touch on that you wanted to include about the Ruby on Rails course or Eleven Fifty in general?
One thing I would say about the preparation is that it’s important to account for the fact that people will be there for 10 to 12 hours a day, as most attention spans do not last that long. It is definitely a skill to design a curriculum that can keep people engaged for that long. That’s also on the front of my mind in developing that sort of thing.
Do you give frequent breaks? How do you keep them from getting burned out?
Keeping them very active in their participation is important, I think. We never go long without asking them questions and/or throwing them a lab.
In our class we toss around a big orange fluffy ball thing – I think it was called a “fuzzbee” that we used to indicate who had the floor to speak, which sounds horribly corny and super annoying but actually worked really well.
11/21/2014Continue Reading →
Terrence Kunstek was the Director of Engineering at ChaCha before deciding to teach iOS development at Eleven Fifty. We talk to Terrence about the project-based curriculum in the iOS course, their innovative APPrenticeship program, and what he's learned from the first few cohorts at Eleven Fifty.
Tell us what you were doing before you started as an instructor at Eleven Fifty.
Before Eleven Fifty, I’ve been a technical team lead for about 10 years. Immediately before Eleven Fifty, I was Director of Engineering at ChaCha.
That makes sense, since Scott Jones founded ChaCha. I‘m assuming that you were working on iOS there?
All iOS and Android. All mobile all day.
Obviously at Course Report, we’re pretty supportive of the bootcamp model but did you have to be convinced at all? Did you have any doubts about it or were you totally into it?
Certainly not. I had been doing internet-based web applications in a BtoB world for most of my career. It was to a point where I just didn’t see myself writing another website. I couldn’t take it anymore. I went to a bootcamp to learn iOS back in 2010. I wanted to re-train myself. I bought a Mac and spent the first months trying to figure out how to copy/paste and use a Mac. So I took my own money and went to the Big Nerd Ranch in Atlanta to learn iOS. I had such a great experience that I went back a year later.
How long was the Big Nerd Ranch course?
It was an immersive 7-day course
Did that experience inform how you developed the curriculum for Eleven Fifty?
It helped frame out what I wanted to offer and also to identify the things I didn’t want to do.
What were some of those aspects that you didn’t want to include?
At Big Nerd Ranch, they told you what instructor you were going to get, but the instructor could be anyone from an awesome guy who wrote a book to a guy who had only been employed for a month and didn’t have any teaching experience. I felt like I could’ve just spent $35, bought the book and did it at home.
On a completely different occasion with the iOS course, I got an amazing instructor. He got me through so much so fast, so I got a lot out of that by contrast. Two radically different experiences from the same boot camp. And that shapes what we offer here at Eleven Fifty. We are focused on giving a 100% awesome experience for every student.
How did you develop the 7-day curriculum for Eleven Fifty?
There’s two things we wanted to do. First, we wanted them to work on real world projects where someone hands you a stack of screenshots and says “Go build this.” Because that’s the real world.
I started there and said what are three apps people want to learn? We know that EverNote, Snapchat and Tinder were “billion-dollar apps”. So we figured why not teach them those?
We started there and did a first pass; we wrote the apps. Then we did the second pass and wrote the apps in a way that a junior programmer would know how to do it versus how a senior programmer might.
So people are learning the technologies through building those apps. You’re not doing a traditional lecture?
Learning really happens when students are deep in the code, so we keep them there 95% of the time. The students are totally in the driver’s seat for their own apps, which optimizes the learning experience. There is a small amount of traditional lecture because sometimes an image does say a thousand words. For example, when I was showing controller inheritance, an image there can replace an hour of lecture. So we do use slides where appropriate and beneficial to students, but most of the time our students have their hands in the code, learning in a way that sticks with them.
Are you having people do pre-work before they get to Eleven Fifty?
We kind of market ourselves as taking people from 20 to 120 (as opposed to 0 to 60). If you’re starting out brand new, or if you’ve never actually done any programming whatsoever before, you’re going to have a rough time at our school. If you’ve programmed something (practically anything) before, you probably have enough background to benefit from our courses. Previous experience enables students to grasp concepts fairly quickly and apply new syntax to concepts that are already familiar.
All students, before they arrive, are communicating with our Chief Operating Officer. They go over prerequisites they should complete before the course begins. If someone hasn’t done any programming, they may be told to “go do this exercise, watch this video or read this book”. Those simple preparation efforts will help onboard students for this experience.
Do you have a hand in the admissions process at all or is someone else doing that?
Whenever someone is on the fence about whether they want to attend Eleven Fifty, we have them speak with an instructor to make sure they have a good starting point before they come. We’re not going to take someone’s money, have them flounder for a week and then go home feeling depressed. That will never happen here like it can happen at other schools. We are extremely proactive with our students to make sure they are prepared properly and getting all the support they need.
How many cohorts have you done?
We are just completing our 4th cohort.
Has everyone been able to get through the class and graduate at the end of 7 days?
Absolutely. We’re being very picky about our targeting criteria right now. The best story I have is one guy, he just came out of the air force and he wanted to learn how to program and he had almost no technical experience at all. By the end of the week, not only did he get it, but he went home and wrote his own app immediately.
So after teaching three cohorts, what have you learned? How iterative has the curriculum been?
Great question. We found that students, while they appreciate the opportunity to do this project-centric approach to learning, they do like a little bit of structure. So one of our “tune ups” is setting expectations even better--telling students what they’re going to learn and then at the end of the session, what they should have learned.
The second lesson we learned was based on time management--what do we do if the class is going too fast, what do we do if the class is going too slow? We’ve come up with improved ways to more nimbly change the pace to match the needs of the students during each section of the course.
Since you are working with students who primarily already have experience, what are the expected outcomes from the iOS class? Do you expect that somebody will be able to change jobs or get a promotion?
Categorically, I would say everyone has fit into two buckets. One is that they’re part of the development team at a company and the employer is about to write their first app, and rather than going out and contracting or hiring a new resource, they’re just investing in their employees and making them smarter.
There are also people who are in career change mode; I had a guy who was a developer then he kind of let his skills rot on the shelf. He ended up doing some server maintenance then he got laid off. He had programming experience years ago but he’s ready to get back in and write apps. After our course, he can walk into a prospective employer with a portfolio of 3 apps, which mimic the most popular apps on the app store and explain how the code works to them. That is the expected outcome.
Is there an emphasis on job placement at Eleven Fifty?
For this next cohort, we have sessions focused on job search skills, such as the importance of networking and how to brand yourself so that prospective employers can find you. As part of the class, we actually work the exercises you would see in an interview into the course.
So during the Swift part of the course, I have them write Fizz-Buzz, which is a popular interview question. Students work it out and understand why they do it.
There’s definitely emphasis on job placement. We’re planning to have guest speakers come in during the classes to talk about facets of placement. Again, looking at our people coming out of our 7-day immersive courses, we can tell that our efforts have already helped a lot.
Tell us about the APPrenticeship program!
Those who complete the course that are not yet ready to go out and get a job because let’s say it was the first course they’ve ever done, and they still don’t have enough practical experience, we have the APPrenticeship program. Our first apprentice started last week. He’s a Python developer who’s trying to broaden his skills to iPhone development and beyond.
Are you mentoring in that apprenticeship program?
Yes, each instructor becomes the mentor for apprentices who come out of their class.
Who are the APPrentices?
We talk about three tiers. There’s tier zero which has absolutely no experience and you would feel bad about loaning him to a friend to write code for you. Those people are onsite at Eleven Fifty 40 hours a week, and being hand-held.
You have tier one who can do all the work with a mentor looking over his or her shoulder onsite at our Eleven Fifty location.
Tier two is someone that has programmed for a little while. You would trust her or him to do work for clients at their site.
And then tier three is either someone that we hire on our permanent full-time staff, or we actively try and place that developer at a partner for full-time employment.
Are you a full-time instructor or are you doing this part-time and then also working on your own projects?
I am completely full-time at Eleven Fifty. In addition to instruction, we also have internal projects and for-hire projects in which I am involved as a mentor and as a developer. I also work with our new instructors to develop curriculum and adhere to our “hands in the code” very interactive, intensive, immersive teaching methodology.
I could teach those courses, but we really want to have the best people in the technology space teaching each course so we have hired an incredibly great team of instructors.
Are you all actively looking for those instructors right now or do you have them?
Is there anything that we didn’t cover that you want to add about Eleven Fifty or the curriculum?
I think it’s worth noting that another big differentiator distinguishing us above and beyond other tech schools is that they’re teaching you in like, a conference room in a Holiday Inn, or the equivalent. We, however, are teaching you “hands on, deeply in the code all the time” with one of the most prolific inventors of our time, in a mansion. When you walk in through that door, there’s a switch that goes off in your head. It changes you just walking in this very special space and feeling that energy and that vibe and what hard work and innovation can yield. How do you get that when you’re drinking black coffee at a hotel lobby? Or an executive retreat while they’re playing golf outside while you’re trying to learn something? This is unlike anything any developer has ever experienced before. We’ve created a very special coding adventure here at Eleven Fifty.
Michelle Schmaltz is a recent graduate with a Computer Science degree. She worked in IT, but wanted to learn new tech skills, so she took the 7-day immersive iOS course at Eleven Fifty. We catch up with Michelle and get the scoop on her experience at Eleven Fifty, the instructors who supported her throughout the course, and how she is using her new skills today.
What were you doing before you started at Eleven Fifty?
I graduated from Ball State this past spring with a Computer Science degree and I now work for an IT company in Indianapolis. Scott Jones, the founder of Eleven Fifty, has a connection with the President at my company, so when he mentioned he was opening a school and had an iOS course available, we decided that we’d try it out. I hadn’t done mobile development before but I gave it a shot because it seemed interesting to me.
So you had a technical background before you went there.
Right. But not with iOS development.
Did you do the 7-day immersive course?
Yes, it was iOS development which includes two days of strictly Swift language and another 5 days for creating 3 different apps. It was 7 days, Saturday to Friday.
Have you thought of doing any other bootcamps?
It was more of an opportunity to try it out because it was their first 7-day long move to iOS training. We were still kind of guinea pigs. There were a few students in class who had paid to take that course but I’d say more than half were just connections that he had just to get feedback and who also were interested in learning.
I haven’t really been in a position where I had wanted to take some type of bootcamp. If we come across a technology that we need to use then I would look into it and I would definitely consider Eleven Fifty again.
Was there an application process at all?
I didn’t have an application process but Scott said that they are going to have some sort of application going forward because they can’t take on someone who has zero experience. He said it’s more like taking someone from 20% to 120%. You have to have some sort of technical background.
Did you have an agreement with your employer to miss work for that week?
Right. And since most of the students in that class were local, they changed the schedule a little bit, so they shortened the schedule in the evenings so we were done by 7:30 or 8. But the normal schedule will go all day from 8:30 until 4, have a 2-hour break so the students can go back to their hotel room, regroup and then come back for dinner a 6 and then have another session after that. So you wouldn’t leave until about 8:30 or 9.
Did your employer pay for the tuition?
They took care of that and they understood that I was going to be at that course all week, so I missed a week of work. But you have no time really, for anything else. They want you to be fully immersed into it.
What was the rest of your cohort like? Were you working with other people who had the same technical background as you?
Most of them were from different IT companies. A lot of them knew programming in different languages. I would say I had less experience than most of the other students. I had just graduated and just started working. A lot of them had about 10 or 15 years in the IT field and knew a lot of different languages.
I know two students actually were involved with mobile development so they were probably the most advanced. Overall, everyone in the class was very technical. A couple students were unemployed but were looking to use the course to get a job at a company if they could show that they know Swift or maybe just develop apps on their own.
Who were your instructors and what was the teaching style like?
Terrence was the instructor the whole time. We would have breakfast for about half an hour and then we would get started at about 9 and learn all the way until lunch with maybe two or three 20-15 minute breaks.
The class was very fast-paced; he had displays that were in his theater in Scott Jones’ house so they were projected on a big screen. So you see his screen and he’s coding, and pretty much all the stuff that he shows you, he’ll stop and explain it if there’s any questions.
If somebody fell behind, he wouldn’t just stop the class to catch the one person up. He would give everyone else something to work on so you’re not waiting on someone else or just wasting time. He was really good about distributing that out.
You mentioned working out of Scott’s house. That’s definitely unique- what was it like?
Yeah, it was a really cool environment. Beautiful estate; but we were in just one wing of the house so it’s not like you really have the whole house to roam in. It makes it a better experience because you’re not just going in and sitting in some conference room. You could take off your shoes and relax and feel comfortable the whole time you were there, which would be better than sitting in a hard chair at a desk.
Can you tell us about the projects and what you were able to make while you were at Eleven Fifty?
The first app that we started was just a basic note-taking app, like the app that comes with the iPhone. So we did a simple note-taking app. When you are developing those apps, you have a simulator that is included in Xcode which was the environment it was in. So you can actually run the app and see the progress you were making on your phone or the simulator.
The second app was similar to Snapchat. So now you’re using 3 different pages instead of just that one or two from the note-taking app. We finished that one and I think since it was the first 7-day long class, the timing wasn’t exactly perfect so we didn’t get to the third one, which is like Tinder. I think if they work out the timing issues and just work out those bugs, they will be able to fit in all three in a week.
Were you working individually or as a team?
Mostly individually but everyone was really open. If there’s someone who’s getting it and running their code with no errors then you could ask them to review your code or help you. So that was really open how you could just ask others for help and they were willing to help. But mostly you’re just following the instructor and understanding what he does.
Did you get to work on your own projects or were they all pretty much assigned?
They were all assigned but I know a few students would go home and elaborate more on those apps and kind of make it their own.
For the first two days when you all were focusing on instruction, what languages were you covering?
Terrence spent the first day just going over the basics of Swift and then second day he touched back on Objective C to show how we transitioned to Swift. He showed us that a little, just to get the basics out of the way and to lay ground. And then we started the “doing” of the code.
So what are you up to today? Are you still with the same IT company?
Have you been able to expand your role because of the course or how has it affected your job?
Not yet; we haven’t started doing any type of iOS specific mobile development. I’m not saying we won’t in the future. I mean, it’s nice to know that I have this knowledge if we do ever need that but I’m still at the same company.
I want to start working on my own app, I just don’t have any ideas yet. But I definitely want to keep playing around with it and stay up to date so I don’t lose what I learned.
Obviously, you weren’t looking for a new job but did you notice some kind of job placement program at Eleven Fifty?
Not that I know of. I know there were a few unemployed students there. One of the guys actually, was just taking the course hoping to make his own app. But I know that Eleven Fifty has the APPrenticeship program where if you go through the course, you can start making apps for Eleven Fifty that different companies or individuals have submitted to Eleven Fifty. So it’s kind of like a job; you can work for them after you take the course. I know that they have a lot of submissions from people wanting apps made for them.
Would you do another Eleven Fifty course?
I would. I would do one maybe more relevant to the work we do. I do a lot of web development so if they would offer a .NET course. I feel like I learned a lot and Terrence the instructor was amazing. He’s very knowledgeable and very helpful so I know I could learn anything from him.
Is there anything else that you want to add about Eleven Fifty?
It was just a really cool experience; not only being in that environment but I just don’t see how it would be like any other course that’s out there.
Also, since it is 7 days, 10-12 hours a day, that it’s very intense and if you’re not willing to put in 100% then it’s not worth it. You have to be willing to learn and keep up and drink your coffee. I think that it’s tough but it’s definitely worth what you come out with.
Eleven Fifty is a unique accelerated learning environment where students learn in prolific entrepreneur Scott Jones's Indianapolis, Indiana home (of MTV Cribs fame) and are rubbing elbows with techie Scott himself, who has started a dozen+ companies, raised over $250 million in capital, and is responsible for voicemail, as we know it today. We catch up with Scott and co-founder Matt McIntyre to chat about the inspiration for Eleven Fifty, what makes their courses unique, and their APPrenticeship program!
For a limited time, Eleven Fifty is offering $1000 off tuition for the Course Report community!! Read the details here.
Tell us about your background and how it led you to start Eleven Fifty.
Well, my career in tech all started with voicemail; after Indiana University, I was a research scientist at MIT’s Artificial Intelligence Lab for a couple of years then started a company across the street from the Lab with a Harvard buddy that soon became the world’s most successful voicemail company, with over 2.5 billion subscribers globally, running circles around the biggest company in the world at the time, AT&T. We sold the company for $842 million.
Thinking I would try out retirement at age 30, I promptly learned how to fly planes, jets and helicopters. Not wearing “retirement” too well though, I vowed to “never do that again,” and I subsequently started a Midwest venture capital firm called Gazelle TechVentures and a startup company called Escient which grew fast by acquiring about a dozen hand-picked niche technology companies and distilling it all down into 5 operating companies, one of which you might have heard of: Gracenote, which was backed by Sequoia, and which still powers iTunes music discovery and other music services, delivering over half a billion lookups daily. We sold that company a few years back for $260 million.
I also started PrecisePath Robotics which has recently been acquired by MTD, a company that makes lawn equipment for Sears, Lowe’s, and others.
My latest venture has been ChaCha, which caused me to realize that there’s a real dearth of programming talent at the right level to crank out high quality apps with excellence and with speed. It’s a problem on the coasts and it’s a problem here in the Midwest.
It occurred to me that perhaps I could get something going right here in the Midwest that attracted smart individuals who wanted to become even more talented mobile or web developers. While many schools talk about being hands-on, we take it to a new level with our immersive courses that involve students cranking out code nearly from the moment they start until they leave 7 long days later. For example, students crank out their own “billion dollar apps” that closely mimic Snapshot, Tender, and Evernote. We call them ElevenChat, ElevenDates, and ElevenNote. Students upload their polished apps into the store and they learn Testflight too so all their friends can use their apps. It’s a great resume builder and confidence booster, not to mention cementing the critical skills to be a successful app developer. I don’t know any other course that gets students up the learning curve as fast. Our methodology is unique and special. We’ve had students from other training programs try ours thinking that it won’t be much different, but they are blown away by their fast progress using our unique methodology.
In your past experience have you been involved heavily in the technical side of your businesses?
Scott: Yes, in the voicemail days, I built the voicemail system- I did all the C coding in those early days, including hacking the UNIX kernel for custom-built hardware, similar to what Google did a decade later.
Then, as I moved into venture capital and startups, my focus became less coding and more business. I’ve raised over $250 million for my businesses and started over a dozen companies, in addition to serving as a director or advisor to dozens of startup boards and a few public company boards.
When did you start The Eleven Fifty courses?
Scott: We just started in the summer of 2014. We’ve already had a couple of awesome 7-day Swift/iOS immersive courses and those students are raving about their experiences.
And that first session was in iOS?
Scott: It was in iOS, yes. It was our soft launch, and we had insiders taking the class…it was great. Three of my sons, ages 18, 20, and 22) who are now at Indiana University taking Computer Science, took the Swift/iOS class with their friends and they all loved it. Then, we opened up the course publicly to companies that sent their employees and to students who wanted to greatly improve their skills and prospects.
What did you learn from the first cohort? What have you changed or iterated on after finishing the first cohort?
Scott: Our instructor, Terrence Kunstek, tuned up fast to provide a hands-on methodology where all students wrote their code individually but in unison, with nobody left behind. It’s a very powerful methodology. There is no book. Students end up becoming extremely collaborative with each other. In the course, there’s a lot of focus on real world experience from our veteran instructors. We talk about real world problems that arise, whether it be memory management or security, or simply getting your app approved quickly in the store; those sorts of things. There are the other dimensions that are the real world; our courses are pragmatic, they are not just academic.
How many people were in the first class?
Scott: We had 9 in the first class and a dozen in the second class.
Is that the cohort size you want going forward?
Scott: We’re shooting for 15 in each class. We can accommodate between 12 and 20. The room we usually do this in is called the Digital Palace; it’s the number one residential home theater in the world, ranked by MTV Cribs and other organizations. It’s a really cool environment, and, incidentally, it’s underground so there are few distractions – mobile phone voice calls and texting don’t work well there…. but our apps work just fine!
Tell us about the APPrenticeship program and what makes it different?
In our APPrenticeship program that we’ve created, students can take our courses and then immediately start working on real projects for which we pay them apprentice wages while they continue to learn by “swimming in the deep end.” Students are working on real world projects under our roof as we subcontract building apps for other companies. As soon as apprentices are ready, we encourage them to “leave the nest” and “fly” with their significant new skills.
It’s a really interesting equation because we can immediately take students from the classroom to writing code that’s going to be live on the app store and used by real people. We think that combination is pretty spectacular
Matt: I think the biggest difference as Scott said earlier is the academic side of bootcamps vs. the real world side of it – we focus on the real world aspects from the very beginning. You’re not sitting in front of a textbook and turning pages. Your hands and mind are in the code every day. And then you move on to publishing real world apps with the potential of being hired in an apprenticeship program and then moving to continue to build real world apps.
Scott: One of the complaints we had heard about other bootcamps was that students would go to bootcamps yet they weren’t getting hired because companies were saying “You just don’t have enough real world experience yet.” Even in the 12-week courses, do students really have what they need? We offer the APPrenticeship program where they can work for a few weeks or even a year and have these “training wheels on” with the help of an ever-present mentor. There’s a 6:1 ratio; 6 apprentices to one mentor.
Interestingly, since we’ve announced the APPrenticeship, we’ve had a flood of interest from people and companies who want us to develop their apps.
The classes are held in your home. What was the decision behind that and are you happy having people learning in the space?
Scott: I love it because I’m a lifelong learner. You asked earlier if I was more involved in the technical or business side. Well, I’ve been out of the technical side long enough. I work with engineers all the time, but I haven’t actually written lines of code for a decade, maybe two. So I’m taking these classes myself, and I’m starting to code again. I love that I can roll out of bed and go downstairs to Eleven Fifty Hall, and be taking classes that bring me up the learning curve fast.
Immersion is the way I’ve always learned anyway, and the fact that I can have an immersive course happening in my home downstairs, practically every day… I love it.
You started with mobile and iOS. Do you expect somebody to take multiple courses?
Scott: I would expect that people will have such a good experience that they will take multiple courses. We’re already getting people interested in signing up for the full stack of training. Some of those who took our first course have already signed up for the advanced immersion course on iOS8.
We offer an a la carte menu. Students can piece together these 7-day immersives and come out, over a period of 12 weeks or 6 months, with a really nice full-stack education.
Matt: The other side of that too is our apprentices will have the opportunity to take those classes. So an apprentice that comes in just for the iOS course will certainly be offered the chance to take the additional stack.
How experienced should an applicant be in order to apply for a workshop?
Scott: I don’t think we want to start with a complete newbie who has never written a line of HTML code or anything. I think we want somebody preferably that has some object-oriented background. The ideal student may or may not have a comp sci degree, but they’ve got some coding experience.
I like to say that, instead of taking people from 0 to 60 in a week, we’re taking them from 20 to 120, over two immersive course that are taken a few weeks apart.
While the immersives do require “some” programming experience, we’ve decided to offer a “drink from the firehose” introduction to programming and computer science that will take just one weekend. This would allow most people who have no programming background to still benefit from our immersive courses on app and web development.
How did you develop the curriculum for each of these courses? How are you structuring those 7 days?
Scott: Apple did us a favor by putting quite a bit of material about Swift on their developer site so we’ve borrowed some of that to guide us.
Our decision to get students building at least three “billion dollar apps” in a frenetic week really guides the curriculum, and it exposes students to everything about Swift and iOS. Terrence, our instructor, is very good at conveying essentials to students in a way that they “get it”, and he’s also good at building an exciting curriculum. Basically, he built this curriculum for the Swift IOS framework class in 6 weeks. We’re also using a similar format for all the other courses like Android, Java/Spring/MVC, Ruby/Rails, and Python/Django/microframeworks.
All the courses fit together. If you take the Swift iOS course and then follow it with Java/Spring then you’re really learning full stack: the front-end and the back-end.
Is Terrence the instructor for all of those courses listed on the website?
Scott: No, Terrence is the lead instructor for the group, which is expanding rapidly. Terrence’s specialty is iOS. He knows back-end and Android but those are not what he would consider his forte so we’ve brought on very experienced instructors/mentors to handle the other areas.
Is there a structured curriculum as part of the APPrenticeship or is it just learning on the job?
Scott: It’s all about learning on the job, i.e. “learn by doing” with the help of an experienced mentor, and with the ability for them to sit in on additional courses. Incidentally, we don’t just do the 7-day classes, we do 2-day weekend immersives. They can be fitting those in along the way to get one heck of an education. I wish this was around during my college years!
Is that free for them or will they pay for those as well?
Scott: Apprentices get a special discount. In some cases, we can provide full scholarships, when it makes sense.
What does Eleven Fifty mean?
Scott: Part of me wants to just leave it out there as a mystery; if you take the class, you will know what it means when you walk in the door.
Since the classes aren’t long-term immersive classes, who do you see as your students? Career changers? People who want to upskill for their current jobs?
Scott: We think that there are two primary audiences for these courses. The one group comprises those who are already developers--maybe they are Web developers at Exact Target here in Indianapolis or Angie’s List, but they’re interested in building apps. By upgrading their skills, they know that they can go from industry average salary of $60-65K and jump up to the $80-85K level if they’re also proficient mobile app developers in addition to being just web developers.
Then the other group comprises students who have either just graduated from college and not landed the position they really want or it’s the entrepreneur that really wants to hone his or her skills or at least understand how apps are built.
We find that it’s about 50-50. That was the case in the first and second classes we offered.
Did you notice that people were mostly from Indianapolis in the last cohort?
Matt: In the first classes, we had a few from Chicago too, but we foresee this special immersive, hands-on, highly-productive equation having a lot of drawing power from the coasts, and even beyond US borders.
Are there plans to expand outside of Indianapolis? What’s on the horizon?
Scott: We want to get it right with this one but there’s definitely an intention to be on the coasts. We’ve even kicked around the idea of opening a branch in Hawaii.
Where in Hawaii?
Scott: Probably Maui. It’s early in the thought process but wouldn’t it be cool to do an immersive out there?
Do you want to add anything about Eleven Fifty?
Matt: The biggest message we’re trying to get across is this is less academic or “by the book.” This is “get your hands dirty” from day one. This is 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. for seven days straight.
Eleven Fifty is a unique accelerated learning environment where students learn in prolific entrepreneur Scott Jones's Indianapolis home. Eleven Fifty offers 2-7 day immersive courses in iOS, Swift, .NET, Java MVC and more! For a limited time, the Course Report community will get $1000 off tuition!
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