Flatiron School offers immersive on-campus and online programs in software engineering, data science, and UX/UI Design in NYC, Brooklyn, Washington D.C., London, Houston, Atlanta, Austin, Seattle, Chicago, Denver, and Online. Flatiron School’s immersive courses aim to launch students into fulfilling careers as software engineers, data scientists, and UX/UI designers through rigorous, market-aligned curricula, and the support of seasoned instructors and personal career coaches. Through test-driven labs and portfolio projects, Flatiron teaches students to think and build like software engineers and data scientists. Flatiron School’s UX/UI Design Immersive includes a client project to give students client-facing experience and an industry-vetted portfolio.
To apply, applicants must submit a written application about why they want to join Flatiron School, take part in an interview with an admissions advisor, learn some basic skills, and discuss it with an instructor. Flatiron is looking for people with passion and aptitude and aims to admit people with a variety of backgrounds. Flatiron School also offers several free introductory courses, including Coding Bootcamp Prep and Data Science Bootcamp Prep.
Flatiron School offers a money-back guarantee for their Software Engineering, Data Science, and UX/UI Design Immersives – if students don’t get a qualifying job offer within six months of graduation, they can get their money back (see eligibility at flatironschool.com/terms). Flatiron’s Career Services team provides weekly 1:1 career coaching sessions, mock interviews, and employer introductions to help students launch lifelong careers in tech.
Flatiron School, in partnership with WeWork, also powers the Access Labs Initiative – a 15-week immersive software engineering program in Brooklyn with deferred tuition for applicants earning less than $35,000. To increase diversity in its programs, Flatiron School has awarded over $10 million in scholarships for women, minorities, veterans, and other underrepresented groups in tech.
Flatiron School was one of the first bootcamps in the industry to publish outcomes, backing its 99% employment rate for the NYC Software Engineering Immersive, and 94% employment rate for the Online Software Engineering Immersive with annual independently-verified jobs reports (check out the full report at flatironschool.com/outcomes).
Recent Flatiron School Reviews: Rating 4.79
Recent Flatiron School News
- Why Datadog Hires Solutions Engineers From Flatiron School
- April 2019 Coding Bootcamp News Roundup
- Become a Developer at these 33 Summer Coding Bootcamps!
In PersonFull Time40 Hours/week15 Weeks
- Start Date
- Rolling Start Date
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- New York City
- No upfront tuition or deposit.
- Tuition Plans
- Open only to applicants earning less than $35,000 annually, all Access Labs students enroll with full deferred tuition. Once you have a qualifying job, pay 10% of your income in monthly installments until the full $17,000 tuition is paid.
- Refund / Guarantee
- If the full Career Services Commitment (https://www.accesslabs.org/career-services-commitment) is completed and a Qualifying Job Offer is not received by the student within 6 months, the tuition balance will be waived.
- Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire about available scholarship opportunities.
- Minimum Skill Level
- No previous coding experience is required, but we encourage all applicants to start learning through Flatiron School’s free Coding Bootcamp Prep course to prepare for their technical review.
- Placement Test
In PersonFull Time40 Hours/week15 Weeks
The Data Science Immersive provides students with the knowledge, skills, and experience to get a job as a data scientist – which requires a mix of software engineering, statistical understanding, and the ability to apply both skills in new and challenging domains. The program will teach students to gather data, apply statistical analysis to answer questions with that data, and make their insights and information as actionable as possible. Our pedagogy ensures not only job readiness for today’s market, but the aptitude and skills to keep learning and stay relevant. At Flatiron School, students learn by building. Students will come away with an advanced Portfolio Project to demonstrate their technical proficiency and creativity to current or future job managers and hiring leads. Our course dedicates three weeks towards completion of a large-scale data science and machine learning project where students work in groups of two. The project provides an in-depth opportunity for students to demonstrate their learning accomplishments and get a feel for what working a large-scale data science project is really like.
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- Rolling Start Date
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- Chicago, Houston, Atlanta, Washington, New York City, London, Seattle
- Lending partners available, including Skills Fund and Climb.
- Tuition Plans
- Tuition varies by campus location: NYC: $17,000; Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Seattle: $15,000; London: £12,500
- Refund / Guarantee
- Yes. Flatiron
- Visit flatironschool.com/scholarships to learn about current scholarship opportunities.
- Minimum Skill Level
- No previous coding experience is required, but we encourage all applicants to start learning through Flatiron School’s free Data Science Bootcamp Prep course.
- Placement Test
With more than 650% job growth since 2012, data science has catapulted to be among tech’s fastest-growing and most sought-after fields. This program will provide students with the knowledge, skills, and experience to get a job as a data scientist – which requires a mix of software engineering, statistical understanding, and the ability to apply both skills in new and challenging domains. Students will learn how to gather data, apply statistical analysis to answer questions with that data, and make their insights and information as actionable as possible. Our pedagogy ensures not only job readiness for today’s market, but the aptitude and skills to keep learning and stay relevant. Students in our Full-Time and Part-Time Online Data Science Immersives are eligible for a one-year WeWork hot desk membership included in tuition, enabling them to connect with other learners in their city.
- Start Date
- Rolling Start Date
- Class size
- Lending partners available, including Skills Fund and Climb.
- Tuition Plans
- Tuition varies across three course pacing options: Full-Time Program: $14,000; Part-Time Program: $11,000; Self-Paced Program: $8,500
- Refund / Guarantee
- Flatiron School's Online Data Science Immersive includes a money-back guarantee: get a job offer within six months of graduation, or we'll refund your full tuition. (See eligibility terms at flatironschool.com/terms)
- Contact email@example.com to learn about current opportunities.
- Minimum Skill Level
- No previous coding experience is required, but we encourage all applicants to start learning through Flatiron School’s free Data Science Bootcamp Prep course.
- Prep Work
- Placement Test
In PersonPart Time
- Start Date
- Rolling Start Date
- Class size
- Lending partners available, including Skills Fund and Climb.
- Tuition Plans
- Tuition varies across three course pacing options: Full-Time Program: $14,000; Part-Time Program: $11,000; Self-Paced Program: $8,500
- Refund / Guarantee
- Flatiron School's Online Software Engineering Immersive includes a money-back guarantee: get a job offer within six months of graduation, or we'll refund your full tuition. (See eligibility terms at flatironschool.com/terms)
- Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to learn about current opportunities.
- Minimum Skill Level
- No previous coding experience is required, but we encourage all applicants to start learning through Flatiron School’s free Coding Bootcamp Prep course.
- Prep Work
- Placement Test
In PersonFull Time40 Hours/week15 Weeks
- Start Date
- Rolling Start Date
- Class size
- Denver, Chicago, Houston, Atlanta, Washington, New York City, London, Seattle, Austin
- Lending partners available, including Skills Fund and Climb.
- Tuition Plans
- Tuition varies by campus location: NYC: $17,000 Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Seattle, Washington, DC: $15,000 London: £10,000
- Refund / Guarantee
- Flatiron School's Software Engineering Immersive includes a money-back guarantee: get a job offer within six months of graduation, or we'll refund your full tuition. (See eligibility terms at flatironschool.com/terms)
- Contact email@example.com to learn about current opportunities.
- Minimum Skill Level
- No previous coding experience is required, but we encourage all applicants to start learning through Flatiron School’s free Coding Bootcamp Prep course.
- Prep Work
- Placement Test
- User Experience Design
In PersonFull Time40 Hours/week24 Weeks
Powered by Designation, this course combines the world’s leading digital design program with Flatiron School’s best-in-class Career Services team and money-back guarantee (see eligibility details at flatironschool.com/terms). Students learn skills in user experience and user interface design and then practice those skills in a professional, client-based environment. Broken into two 12-week phases – this hybrid learning model allows students to study online for the first 12 weeks, and then join in person for team-based design and live client projects. Students learn quickly that design itself isn’t only about doing or creating; it’s always about learning— about users, clients, teammates, practices, tools, skills, and yourself.
- Start Date
- Rolling Start Date
- Class size
- New York City, London, Seattle, Austin
- Lending partners available, including Skills Fund and Climb.
- Tuition Plans
- Tuition varies by campus location: NYC: $17,000; London: £12,500
- Refund / Guarantee
- Flatiron School's UX/UI Design Immersive includes a money-back guarantee: get a job offer within six months of graduation, or we'll refund your full tuition. (See eligibility terms at flatironschool.com/terms)
- Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to learn about current opportunities.
- Minimum Skill Level
- Prep Work
- Before beginning the full time course, all students complete Design Essentials - a six-week online course covering the foundations of UX research, UX design, interaction design, visual design, UI design, and user testing.
- Placement Test
Flatiron School Reviews
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Quitting my job to attend Flatiron was a big decision. I did as much research as I could in advance about bootcamps - attending events, speaking to alums and getting opinions from working developers. It seemed that everyone and everything kept pointing back to Flatiron. On Day 1 I was completely overwhelmed, but by Day 5 I was confident that I was doing the right thing. I couldn't believe how smart and personable my colleagues were. Working in different groups was actually enjoyable, even for an introvert like me. The curriculum was challenging, but the instructors always gauged how overwhelmed the class felt and adjusted the speed accordingly. The career services team is incredibly responsive and willing to support in every way, be it proofreading a thank you email or giving you a pre-interview pep talk. This was one of the most positive experiences of my life and I look forward to my new career!
- Highly competent and passionate teaching staff; they really cared about your progress in the class and are experts in their domain
- Optimal balance between class-level and individualized attention
- Excellent cirriculum, tailored well for those without coding experience, and paced well for those who breeze through the material as well as who need a little extra help
- Great culture; students, teachers, and staff are universally kind, smart, and motivated
- Highly involved job placement - this exceeded my expectations, as the placements team was very high touch and passionate about their mission to help students through the job search
- Tuition ($15K for Web Development in Fall 2015) is non-trivial; one should carefully consider whether they are prepared to incur this cost
- Culture, not unexpectedly, is somewhat geeky and soft, but is a nice change of pace for those coming from a stricter work environment
I graduated from Flatiron in 2015, and have been working as a developer since then. The curriculum and caliber of the teachers was amazing - I can't speak highly enough about how great the learning experience was. I've programmed professionally in 6 languages since graduating so I really appreciate that the curriculum focused on programming fundamentals instead of a week here and there on whatever the hot technology of the time is.
My biggest gripe was that I don't live near NYC, so the career team wasn't as much of an asset to me as I had hoped. I did get a job reasonably quickly with their help, but for less money than I had expected. I'm still giving the career team 4/5 stars because I think they did everything they could, and it was more a matter of my expectations being out of line based on advertisements and so forth. That first job was a wonderful job working on really cool projects, and I enjoyed every day of it. After being in the industry for a while I had no problem switching to a different job at a market rate.
I attended Flatiron's web development course in the winter of 2016, and landed my first professional engineering gig a little over a month after graduation. At Flatiron, you are getting a lot more than 3 months of web development instruction. The network of friends and colleagues that directly resulted from my time there has been invaluable in every sense of the word ever since, and I draw on my Flatiron experience daily to inform my career decisions and make myself a better programmer. My head instructor was essentially a complete rock star (we lucked out in that sense, but all of the head instructors at Flatiron are excellent) and he was supported by two stellar TA's. In addition to the lectures and one-on-one guidance that the faculty provides, your actual coursework is the best possible simulacrum of real-world development work that you could hope for. Languages are learned through the completion of test-driven labs, and your work is deployed using git, setting you up to use best practices as soon as you get that first job. I will say that the course is not for everyone, and you have to be absolutely dedicated to the at times very difficult work. The hours are long as well, but enjoyable if you are there because you want to be there. Definitely the best boot camp in New York, and probably the country.
13 weeks of hard work that paid off in literally 10 days. I landed a job as a software engineer at 10k above the average.
The classes are challenging, exhausting and a serious amount of fun.
The Flatiron community is one of the best I have ever been a part of.
The support in the job hunt is unparalleled.
Complete the pre-work to decide if programming is for you, but the cost and the work are absolutely worth it if you can put in the 12 weeks.
It has paid off immensely and put me on a career path I enjoy instead of one I dread.
They do a great job of constructing cohorts with a wide range of backgrounds. Everyone got along well and worked hard to learn and produce great applications. I'm still in the job-search process (a month out and interrupted by the holidays), so I can't comment too much on that, but the career services folks have been very supportive so far.
I took this course in 2015 and it was such a great experience for me. I am an entrepreneur and did not take the course to become a developer. My goal was to learn how to make a MVP on my own and I succeeded it. Right after finishing the course, I self-learned Swift on my own and made a full functional iOS MVP with rails. I could even setup my server using Docker. A friend of my asked me if I knew any school that teaches Python but I recommended Flatiron school based on my actual experience. Some people complain about things no matter how hard the school tries their best. At the end of the day, you are the one who learns. You should not over-depend on the school. But if you try hard enough to learn coding at Flatiron school, they will give you what they promise.
I was a twenty-something female liberal arts major struggling to make something of myself in publishing. After dabbling in web design for years without making any real progress, I finally decided to take the leap and turn my hobby into my career by applying to and attending the in-person web immersive program at the Flatiron School in the fall of 2015.
It was easily the best decision I've ever made. The Flatiron School doesn't just teach you how to code; they teach you how to think like a programmer and to love every second of it. The instructors are passionate and truly care about outcomes. It's easy to see that they go above and beyond to help students out, throughout the program and even during the job search.
The curriculum is probably the best I've seen online, and I went through a bunch of free programs before I decided to enroll at Flatiron. What I like most about Learn is that it doesn't hold your hand through everything; it challenges you and teaches you how to struggle because that's what life is like as a developer, just a series of problems that you need to figure out how to solve.
What I also loved was the collaborative and supportive community at Flatiron. There was a good male/female ratio, and nearly everyone in the class was friendly and nice. During my time there, I made some great friends with whom I'm still in regular contact. When I was considering other bootcamps, it was the community at Flatiron that really sold me. They also do a lot of community-building events and activities, which breaks up the day and reminds you to be a human, even as you're furiously trying to solve labs.
Within two months of graduating, I was employed as a junior software developer. The career services team was there to support me throughout my search and they helped me get the best results for me, including helping me negotiate salary and accept and decline offers.
I will also add that this is a tough program. When you go to Flatiron, expect to learn at a breakneck pace and to challenge yourself beyond what you ever thought was possible. It's an enormous sacrifice for three months, and you will not do well unless you commit 110%. That means working probably 12 hours a day, every day, over weekends. For me, it was totally worth it. A few alumni I've spoken with have told me that Flatiron saved their lives. Now, a year later, I can say with confidence that I feel the same way.
I attended Flatiron School's web development program in the earlier days. I was able to learn Ruby on Rails and adopt a modern, open source / iterative approach to software development. The program was a lot of work, but working on projects with classmates was a huge eye opener. Self study doesn't prepare you for git conflicts, work prioritization discussions, and other aspects of working in a team. The course was definitely something where people got as much or as little as they put into it. If you didn't work hard on learning & understanding different concepts, you were the only one impacted by understanding less.
Job placement is a tricky subject, since every student's interview process was different. I was able to get a fulltime software position through the school, but I felt that looking for job opportunities was on my shoulders (and would have liked more help from the school).
I would recommend Flatiron School as a starting point for your programming education. It provides decent handholding to get up and running, but as with any 3 month course, there is not that much room for deep depth in any particular subject.
I attended Flatiron School in the Fall of 2013 with zero prior technical experience. The three months I spent there were without question the most intellectually productive of my life. To be successful, you need to work hard and challenge yourself - this isn't about a diploma or graduation - what you put into the program is exactly what you'll get out of it. The school does a great job of setting you up for success, with excellent curriculum and interview training. Give it your all, and you'll see the outcomes you want.
The bootcamp was the best I could have hoped for. Helped me transition into software development career in no time. Completed the program, had an offer within a month and started working within two. A year before enrolling in Flatiron, I would have never imaged that I'd be doing what I'm doing now. But about the program, what separates Flatiron from other is the Learn.co platform. By the end of the course you would have done over 150 labs in getting concepts across. To me this more hands on approach is much better than lots of reading, day long lectures or even online videos. Having others around you working towards the same goal is an amazing experience and you learn from each other.
- Lots of hands on training through labs.
- Friendly and always willing to help instructors.
- Team projects that help you learn to work with others and learn from them as well.
- Job placement assistance.
- Amazing community.
- Free coffee/tea!
Final note - Bootcamps aren't magic. You don't go in and just come out automatically with a job. You get what you put into it. Putting in the minimum, just coming in at 9am leaving at 6pm and not studying over the weekends you'll get the minimum results.
I attended the Flatiron school in the fall of 2015 and can wholeheartedly recommend the program. I had been interested in a career in web development for several years at that point but despite taking night classes in Computer Science at a local college and trying various online coding programs (such as codeacademy) I was still struggling to make the transition into a new career and unsure of how to continue fitting all these additional courses around my busy work hours. I eventually applied to the Flatiron School for the full time web development bootcamp. For me, the ability to learn how to code with in person teachers and with the support of students going through the same program was invaluable. Its always heard to gain the amount of knowledge needed for beginning a career as a programmer in such a short amount of time but I feel that the Flatiron School balanced teaching the essentials to help us establish a solid foundation, as well as gave me the tools to continue learning and growing as a developer in my first job out of the program. Additionally, thanks to the career placements program and the final week of interviews I was hired fairly quickly after graduation in a job I love and am still working in today. I can enthusiastically recommend this program to anyone who is looking to change careers into web development.
Flatiron School completely changed my life- in less than a year I went from nothing to employed developer. I didn't have any technical background but had tried a bunch of online courses and moocs before joining. They were good but never helped me put it together. The learning experience on Learn was amazing - it finally halped me put everything together. The community was also incredible- interacting with other students made learning a lot more fun.
The best part was definitely the staff. The instructors are amazing and the career services team is incredible- I'm not sure I would have gotten a job without their support.
Flatiron School changed my life. Literally. I am a graduate of the second semester of students from the Flatiron School. Prior to my semester I had absolutely ZERO technical background. I graduated from a liberal arts college and was an English Literature major and a French Literature minor. I love to read and write and play sports and do other creative work (like bake and do crafts projects). I dove into coding because I wanted to be able to work for an online blog or magazine from an editorial capacity, and have more on my resume than just being able to write content.
I felt so supported during my time at Flatiron School, and in the years since I've graduated. I went from not knowing what terminal was, to building full scale Ruby on Rails apps in just three months. I made friends that I will have for the rest of my life, and I learned a skill that made me desirable a desirable candidate in the workplace.
When I graduated from Flatiron School, I spent six weeks interviewing. I went through up to four rounds of interviews with companies, but ended up with more than one offer, and the ability to negociate the terms of my employment. Flatiron offered me resume help, technical interview support and training, as well general support and introductions to companies to set up my interviews. The read and reviewed every single email I sent to every single company. The team at Flatiron was that invested in my future.
In the years since graduating, Flatiron has continued to help me navigate the job market, from advice on negociating salaries to continued introductions to companies beyond just my first job. In fact, it was because of Flatiron that I was able to interview for my current position as Lead Ad Developer at New York Magazine.
It is crazy to feel so emotionally tied to a company, but without Flatiron, I literally don't know what I would be doing with my life.
Everything went fine in the applicatioin process until they found out I was over 40. Then they were very rude and condescending towards me. So much for diversity. All their talk of bieng able to teach anyone to code is just marketing hype. They are more interested in being politicaly correct and catering to females and minorities as they are given preferential treatement in the applicaiton process. Being over 40 I am definitely an underepresented minority but they clearly discriminate against age. I ended up teaching myself by taking udemy courses and Udacity at a fraction of the cost and now after 6 months of experience am making 85k as a fullstack web developer in the New York City Area. So save yourself some money and humilitaion and stay away from these hypocrites and teach yourself online.
My take on the Flatiron School
I was a student at The Flatiron School for their immersive iOS program and I do not recommend this school. I had to make sure I graduated before I left this review because if they found out that I wrote a negative review while I was a student, there would have been retribution against me and they would have made my life miserable.
The job placement numbers are complete BS
They make misleading statements about job placements. Perhaps I am naive, but I believed the numbers I got from the Flatiron reps and what I found on Course Report were accurate. The Flatiron School reports that 95 % of their grads are hired in technical roles with 120 days and report an average salary of $74, 447. This couldn’t be further from the truth! They suggested I even try to find some entry level position even if it was at minimum wage. I couldn’t believe this. I really felt that I was lied to. I still am in touch with several of my cohort mates and many of them are still looking for work, 6 months after graduating. As another reviewer noted – “2 weeks before the end of the program, they pretty much tell you to take whatever job you can get, even if it's free or minimum wage”.
The iOS program
Their main program is Web development and Ruby on Rails and you can tell that their web cohort receives a lot more attention than the iOS guys. Their iOS curriculum is also not well thought out and rushes through the topics without going into any depth which I realized when I started interviewing. And their teachers lack professional experience. Code reviews is another thing that this school lacks. Keep these also in mind if you’re considering their iOS bootcamp. So in my opinion all this was definitely not worth the 15k that I spent.
I really enjoyed the free Intro to Ruby course they use as a preview for the full $1500/mo course. Actually, that price changed three times in the 3 months I was a "Learner" (it was initially $1000/mo, then split into $500 or $1000, then raised to $1500).
The Slack community is enjoyable with fun and hard working people chatting throughout the day. And the Flatiron founder Avi was quite active.
Unlike the free course, there are no video lectures for each lesson in the full version, it's all text. After a few hundred of those, I got the feeling like this was basically a very expensive version of Code School/Codecademy/etc. When I had questions, the TA chat response time was around 30 minutes, which was way longer than it was in the free course (5 minutes tops, usually instant). Also, there are only 6 times were your code will be reviewed by someone. That's a terrible value and you will not feel confident that you are writing solid code even if you're passing the tests.
The worst part is that the slower you go, the more it'll cost. Also, just as others have posted here, the general advice they have is for you to take the first job you're offered regardless of the pay. Even paid internships. If you dig deeper into their Jobs Report, you'll find that the awesome numbers they report for salary and placement are for folks who received full time jobs, but many students don't, thus they aren't included as to not bring down the numbers. If you're like me, who has a family to support, a temporary, lowly paid internship is not what I envisioned when investing in the program.
I really wanted to love this program. My heart was set on completing it after interacting with the Slack community. I ignored my common sense when I learned that there would only be 6 code reviews. I ignored my common sense when I saw that the full version contained no video lectures and I was just reading GitHub Readme's that seemed similar to free content I'd found elsewhere online. I was blinded by my hope for a high salary and a better life.
That blindness cost me big bucks. I hope you will take this review to heart and let your common sense prevail.
* These outcomes are not audited by Course Report. In some cases, data is audited by a third party.
Flatiron School has an acceptance rate of 8%, of which 85% of accepted students enroll in a course. Of the students who enroll at Flatiron School, 99% graduate. 95% are hired in technical roles within 120 days and report an average income of $74,447.
Job Seeking Graduates Placed:
After 120 days
Notes & Caveats:
You can download the reports here!
Our latest on Flatiron School
Being a Solutions Engineer at Datadog takes a unique combination of technical and soft skills. And since many Flatiron School graduates come armed with previous client-facing experience, Datadog has hired 8 of them for this role! We sat down with Avery Johnson, a Technical Solutions Recruiter for Datadog, to understand the value bootcamp grads bring to the Solutions Engineer role, their partnership with Flatiron School, and what their new hires are working on at their jobs.
Tell us about Datadog and your role as a Technical Solutions Recruiter?
Datadog is a SaaS platform used for cloud scale monitoring. We offer three pillars to our product, infrastructure monitoring, application performance monitoring, and log analysis. It gives real-time insight and granularity so DevOps can see where issues are occurring in their environment. As a recruiter, I primarily hire Solutions Engineers.
How many Flatiron School bootcamp graduates have you hired?
I’ve interviewed many Flatiron grads for the Solutions Engineer role and we’ve successfully hired 8 of them.
What is the Solutions Engineer role? What does their daily work look like?
The position is a hybrid role working with the Datadog product and related technologies, while still being very technical – diving into source code, logging, scripting, and taking on side development projects. They get to be exposed to more technologies and experience by working with customer code and integrations. Our platform integrates with 250+ technologies so there are opportunities to learn about cloud technologies, containers, and Docker.
On a daily basis, Solutions Engineers are usually speaking with client engineers or developers, they could be asked technical questions, sent a line of code to assist with, or could have a project that takes a couple hours or a couple days working with software integrations, dashboards, alerts, anything to do with APMs, Logs – it changes every day, especially as our product is constantly evolving. They will also conduct product demos for prospective clients showcasing how the product works, visualization, setting up alerts, understanding if they’re in an AWS, Azure, or GCP environment, and showing the corresponding integrations for them.
Are there differences in hiring from Flatiron School or other coding bootcamps versus more traditional hiring channels?
The end of a coding bootcamp is career-focused – bootcamp grads learn about interviewing, building a resume, presenting themselves, and developing an elevator pitch. They learn how to navigate the job application process and go after what they want. Choosing to attend a bootcamp also shows how motivated someone is – this type of drive and devotion is something that we really value.
Do you see more diverse candidates coming through bootcamps for these technical roles?
The Datadog team and managers are really invested in diversity on their teams. They want hires with different types of backgrounds because they want different ways of thinking. Flatiron has been fantastic at providing a diverse candidate pool – we’ve never explicitly asked, but diversity is just a given among the candidates. I’m happy we’ve hired a lot of diverse candidates – it’s really exciting from my side.
The Solutions Engineers we’ve hired from Flatiron School had a wide variety of backgrounds! We’ve hired a math instructor, an administrative assistant, a college lab tech, a tech coordinator, a business ops intern, and a behavioral therapist. Another was a freelance developer and associate game designer with a bachelors in fine arts and game production.
Has it ever been a concern for you that these applicants don’t have traditional computer science degrees?
We really, really love bootcamp grads. Four of our Solutions Engineering Directors all went to bootcamps themselves – two are in New York, one is in San Francisco, and one is in APAC. They came from different careers, started in this role, and then worked their way up to director level. They appreciate people who have had different types of backgrounds and different ways of thinking. There are people with Computer Science degrees on the team and we definitely look to hire people with that experience as well. But in the Solutions Engineer role, it’s useful for people who have previously held a client-facing role or have built their soft skills.
What is the interview process at Datadog for a Solutions Engineer?
Applicants have a phone call with a recruiter like me, they’re assigned a technical takehome mini project that allows you to explore the Datadog platform. We obviously want to see their technical skills, but we also want to see how they would explain a technical concept to a client.
Once they submit the project, we bring the applicant on-site for a whiteboard interview and have them meet with team members and talk about a project they’ve worked on at bootcamp. Our interviewers really enjoy understanding what project a Flatiron grad chose to work on and why.
How does Datadog onboard and support Flatiron School grads in their first technical jobs?
Having a lot of open communication is very important to the team. We hire people who love learning but also love helping other people – whether it’s the client or other team members. They’re learning so much so quickly, so being able to help share information with others can help them out.
New hires start working alongside another Solutions Engineer so they can learn and grow together. When they first start, they go through an intensive onboarding week to set them up for success and are assigned a mentor and an office buddy.
Other training and opportunities include:
- A single Learning Day 6-8 weeks into the job to gain more skills.
- A Hack Day rotation – one day where they don’t do their normal job or work with clients and learn about something that interests them.
- Free Udemy courses for more learning.
- Side development projects
- Participating in Hackathons – we call them Hackadogs!
- Embed rotation period – a two-week sprint period where they’re fully integrated into another team that interests them, like Sales Engineering. They are assigned projects to give them more diverse experiences at Datadog.
Have the Flatiron grads you’ve hired gone on to other roles or been promoted?
Most of our Flatiron hires are still under the 6-month mark, but one person has moved up to a more specialized Tier 2 – a more specialized role where they are an expect in a specific part of the product. Some others on the Solution team however, have chosen to go to product management, technical writing, engineering teams, or sales engineering teams.
Do you have any best practices or advice for other employers who are considering hiring from a coding bootcamp like Flatiron School?
I typically like to get on the phone with applicants and find out what they’re motivations are – people can really shine on the phone more than one might be able to on a resume. Also, by giving all applicants a technical exercise, bootcamp grads can really show what they’ve learned instead of relying on their previous background.
Each month, the Course Report team rounds up the most interesting bootcamp industry news that we read and talked about in our office. In April, we were showered with a ton of exciting fundraising and acquisition news, ISAs (income sharing agreements) continued to be a hot topic, and coding bootcamps began getting approved for a new veterans program called VET TEC. We also saw some great diversity initiatives and scholarship opportunities for bootcamps in the US and abroad. Plus, a report from the Christensen Institute looked into bootcamps as disruptors, and two schools are planning to expand the bootcamp model into healthcare – read to the end to find out more.Continue Reading →
Oh Summer, one of the best seasons of the year! While it’s a time to relax, bask in the sun, and plan trips with family and friends, summer is also an awesome time to learn. If you’re a current student, teacher, or professional looking to learn to code, a summer bootcamp is a great opportunity to learn to code in a short time frame. Various coding bootcamps that offer summer courses to help you launch a new career in tech. Check out the following courses to help you #learntocode this Summer 2019.Continue Reading →
Flatiron School recently launched a new Income Share Agreement (ISA) program to its suite of financing options for in-person programs. Under this program, students don’t pay for their education until they leave the school and earn a minimum of $40,000 per year. We spoke with Annette Doskow, Vice President of Admissions, on the benefits for students, the job outcomes that support this initiative, and how the school’s career services team supports grads in the job hunt.
Flatiron School’s ISA Essentials:
- Payments begin six months after leaving the program and only if a grad is making a minimum of $40,000 per year. If a student is making under the threshold, they aren’t required to make payments.
- Students pay 10% of their monthly income over a maximum of 48 monthly payments.
- Payments are capped at 1.5x of the ISA amount (plus the deposit)
- The ISA is waived after 8 years if a student hasn’t made all 48 payments.
Annette, what is your role at Flatiron School and how are you involved the new Income Share Agreement (ISA)?
I oversee Admissions for Flatiron School and my team works directly with students interested in enrolling in our programs. Flatiron School has ten campuses and offers three courses in Software Engineering, Data Science, and UX/UI Design - all programs are available in-person on campus as well as online. We now have this exciting new payment option and I’ve stayed close to it so my team can provide students with the most updated information as they go through the admissions process.
Flatiron School has a number of financing partnerships and initiatives - what was the motivation for adding an ISA?
We offer a few financing options:
- Deferred Tuition in our Brooklyn and London campuses
- Climb Credit + Skills Fund
From the start, we’ve been committed to aligning our education to clear student outcomes, regularly releasing third-party audited outcomes reports. The launch of the Flatiron School Income Share Agreement allows us to bring that commitment to even more students. It makes the program financially accessible to more students – especially those who want to ensure their tuition is aligned with post-graduation income. We’re working with Vemo, a company that has partnered with many education institutions to service ISAs - they’re the experts in this area!
How does the ISA option differ from the deferred tuition option?
The deferred tuition program for our Brooklyn location is a very specific initiative for students making under a certain threshold of income before entering the program. In London, we created a deferred tuition model to meet the specific needs of the local education market. This ISA program is available to all students as long as they meet eligibility requirements.
Flatiron School has ten campuses now – which campuses is the ISA offered in?
We first launched the ISA with the Atlanta and Chicago campuses, and as of this week, now offer ISAs on our Denver campus as well. We are looking forward to making it available for more campuses as well as for the online program!
What are students’ biggest questions about the ISA program in the Atlanta, Chicago, and Denver campuses?
It’s all gone really smoothly, we’ve been able to talk with students on campus, on phone, in interviews, and during our enrollment process. An ISA makes sense to students. They’re excited about clear outcomes and the opportunity to align their payments to it. We’ve always been committed to student outcomes and our career services, and have been proud of the jobs our students get after graduation. We’ve also backed it up with independently audited job reports for the past several years - this new program just makes sense all around.
What requirements do students need to qualify for the ISA program?
The ISA is available for all students who meet certain eligibility requirements. The first step is being admitted to the school through our standard Flatiron School admissions process. Once you’re admitted to the program you can go through the ISA application process. Students have to be 18 years or older, US citizens or permanent residents and meet certain credit criteria.
What are the terms of the Flatiron School ISA?
Payments begin six months after leaving the program and only if a student is making a minimum of $40,000 per year. If a student is making under that salary threshold, they aren’t required to make payments during those months
- Students pay 10% of their monthly incomes over a maximum of 48 monthly payments
- Payments are capped at 1.5x of the ISA amount (plus the deposit)
- Tuition is waived after 8 years if a student hasn’t made all 48 payments.
Flatiron School is incentivized to get students jobs (exceeding $40,000/year). How will Flatiron School go about that?
This is in line with who we are – student outcomes are our North Star. Graduates of Flatiron School have always and will always get our full Career Services, a team dedicated to helping our grads find work, partnering with great companies, and evangelizing the Flatiron School graduate. Our Career Services team works 1-to-1 with students both before and after graduation to make sure they get the support they need throughout the job search. We also offer a money-back guarantee so if a student works with our Career Services team, follows our Career Services commitment, and doesn’t get a qualifying job offer, they can get their tuition refunded. We already have that in place because we feel so confident in our ability to help students get jobs - we believe in our students! They perform really well and are really competitive in the marketplace.
How do the ISA and money-back guarantee work together?
If someone qualifies for the money-back guarantee (see terms and conditions here), they would not be required to fulfill the tuition obligation in the ISA and would have their up-front deposit refunded.
What is your advice to a bootcamp student deciding which funding option is right for them?
We understand that every student’s situation is unique. We talk with them throughout the admissions process and encourage them to fully understand all the different payment options and available resources. We also encourage them to seek advice from friends and family, financial advisors, and others who personally know them so they can make the right choice. It’s a very personal decision - each student and their personal situation is unique, so we encourage them to do their research, understand their options, and make a decision that’s best for them.
Learn about Flatiron School’s bootcamp programs and their different payment options on the Flatiron School website and read student reviews on Course Report.
The landscape of online coding bootcamps is vast – ranging from $30/month subscriptions to full-time bootcamps that cost $20,000. And many online coding programs now offer Income Sharing Agreements, which adds another layer of complexity when comparing online coding bootcamp costs. In addition to flexibility, remote code bootcamps cost less than in-person bootcamps – the average online bootcamp tuition is $11,118 (and lasts ~15 weeks) while in-person bootcamp tuition is $11,906 on average (and lasts ~14 weeks). Cost is an important factor when choosing an online bootcamp, so how do you decide what to budget for? We're breaking down the costs of several popular online coding bootcamps.Continue Reading →
In February we heard some interesting debates about the ethics of data science, how bootcamps are partnering with universities, and companies like Infosys and Google, and how the number of tech education options in Africa is growing! Plus, Thinkful attempted to predict the Oscars, the Ohio Lt. Governor stopped by Tech Elevator, and women in bootcamps were recognized. We also looked at various ways to pay for bootcamp, and tips for breaking into tech. Listen to the podcast or read the roundup below.Continue Reading →
After Flatiron School acquired the Chicago User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) digital design program, Designation, the team is bringing their curriculum and expertise to New York City. We asked Designation Master Teacher Megan Mueller about how she is collaborating with her new Flatiron colleagues to make the Flatiron School UX/UI Design Immersive accessible to more students, provide additional career services, and maintain the supportive, holistic, and successful culture of Designation. Find out how students work with real clients during the program, and what sort of jobs they are landing when they graduate!
How did you come to work at Designation and now Flatiron School, and what is your role?
I’m a Master Teacher on the Teacher Training Team for Designation and Flatiron School, working in instructional and service design and supporting the teaching staff in the UX and UI design program. We want to understand the best ways to deliver the curriculum and content to students, train our instructors to ensure quality is being delivered, and expand our educational offerings around the world.
I attended Designation in its early days, so it’s been really great to have that context as a Master Teacher. When I graduated, I worked on initiatives with cross-disciplinary, global teams and different point people and learned to understand the different perspectives within the process. I eventually returned to Designation as an instructor and I was teaching for about three years before becoming a Master Teacher when we were acquired by Flatiron.
What technologies are taught in the UX/UI Design bootcamp and how will the new Flatiron course differ from the Designation curriculum?
The curriculum is focused on both UX and UI design disciplines.
We teach various tools between the two design tracks. Our UI design students focus primarily on learning Sketch and InVision, while also dabbling in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. Our UX design students focus primarily on learning Axure, Sketch, and InVision. We also encourage opportunities for our designers to discover and learn new tools as they work on projects so that they’re also developing habits of keeping up to date on emerging software.
Since the Flatiron acquisition, we’ve been working to make the program more accessible for more people. Not everyone could move to Chicago or uproot their lives for the in-person portion of the course. Now, with Flatiron, we can have different locations closer to more people. Our main focus right now is to continue to grow our community while maintaining the same quality and rigor that our program is known for.
Must students choose either the UX or UI track or can they do both?
We encourage students to choose either UX or UI design so that they can work to properly nurture a set of skills. We found that having students choose a focus allowed them to dive deeper into the tools, methodologies, and process. We also found that our students felt better prepared after having had more time to iterate and grow their new skill set. Our program is project-based so students can practice methods and tools in different contexts to refine their skills. Designers learn both UX and UI design in the initial six week Design Essentials course, allowing them to understand the basics of each discipline, and giving them context to choose the one they feel more passionate to pursue a career in.
What is the learning style at the UX/UI Design bootcamp?
The program asks students to unlearn a lot of things they may have learned in traditional education. In traditional education, there’s a lot of emphasis and reliance on instructors to give you the right answer through arbitrary structures that don’t translate when you get a job. The remote part of the course recalls traditional education structures – there is a grading system and students get background information for deliverables, but it still focuses more on qualitative, contextual feedback. In design, everything is situational and contextual so there’s typically not a right or wrong answer. It’s more about choosing the best solution based on research. We want our students to be comfortable with ambiguity, to feel empowered to make decisions, and to do their due diligence of understanding a problem versus expecting someone to give them the right answer.
The in-person part of the program functions a lot more like on-the-job training where students are only receiving qualitative feedback, like a review with your boss or a check-in with a creative or art director at work. Each cohort will work with an Instructor who will be delivering lectures and workshops and a Design Coaching Fellow who will be supporting the instructor and giving feedback to students. There’s an emphasis on getting away from the classroom mentality where they’re looking for answers and grades, as opposed to what they’re learning.
What is the time commitment for the UX/UI Design bootcamp?
- 6 weeks of remote, part-time
- 6 weeks of remote, full-time
- 12 weeks of in-person, full-time
In the first foundational six weeks of the program, students learn both UX and UI and have more context to choose a focus. This portion is part time and remote because we recognize many people can’t afford to not work for the full 24 weeks of the program, plus we wanted to make it a nice way to ease everyone in.
We highly recommend that the remaining 18 weeks be a fully immersive experience because the workload can be demanding – upwards of 60 hours per week in reading material, lectures and workshops, deliverables, and dedicated time working with your team in real-time collaborative environments. The more time and attention you put into it, the more you’ll get out of the program. We also provide community events to encourage people to take breaks and maintain balance while they go through this intensive program.
As you prepare to launch the program in New York City, are there any curriculum adjustments you’ve had to make to align with the market needs?
We’re trying to understand what New York companies are looking for in candidates so our designers can apply their knowledge when they’re building their resumes, portfolios, and case studies. We also want to understand what to look for in clients for the client phase projects portion of the program. We want to build client relationships where not only are our students are walking away with amazing work experience and case studies, our clients are getting a lot of value for their business.
What types of projects do students work on and how does the client phase work?
Students work on projects throughout the program to learn about the different deliverables, tools, and approaches to their chosen design discipline. In the immersion phase (weeks 13-17) students work on client projects but the primary client touch points happen at the beginning and end of the project. This eases our students into the process of learning how to build client relationships and effectively communicate design decisions to stakeholders. Along the way, students get feedback from their instructors like they would from a director or manager. At the end of the project, they present their final product and their journey to a panel of professionals and the client team.
When students move on to the client phase (weeks 18 to 21), the training wheels come off and students build towards becoming more autonomous. Students have dedicated meetings with clients and are the primary touchpoint after the project kicks off. Instructors are available in a support role – we attend client meetings, but the students lead them. The instructor’s role becomes mentorship. Instructors provide feedback and support to get students to think critically about their process. The students are responsible for deliverables, running client meetings, doing interviews, testing the product with users, and sending the product to the client for further development.
What types of companies have students worked with?
We do this work for clients in exchange for our students being able to use the projects for their portfolios, job interviews, case studies, and professional growth. So we really like working with small businesses and organizations that may not otherwise have the resources for or access to quality design work. We really love working with nonprofits and charities that have social impact. We’ve had UX teams who have developed start-to-finish projects for clients that had never existed before and then passed it to our UI team to build a prototype to be tested with users.
In the past we have worked with companies in many industries: financial services, education, hospitality, food and beverage, etc. Our students have worked on products ranging from retirement planning to finding reliable pet services to monitoring a newborns’ vital signs. We get some really interesting projects!
In New York, we’re currently exploring the startup and business community as well as the benefits of partnering with larger companies where we can work on internal products and with larger teams. We want to understand if the same values that we find working with startups will transfer and what new values we can provide for our students.
How important are these real-world client projects for students’ future careers?
They’re incredibly valuable. It makes a big difference for companies to have designers who not only understand the tools, but are adaptable, because tools are always changing. Additionally, while we focus on technical skills, the biggest value-add we hear from hiring partners is our focus on soft skills – how important it is for students to know how to build and manage relationships, communicate their work and journey, research the impact of their design vision, and collaborate with a team to produce something great. Those are not only a value-add but also a differentiator from other job candidates.
These skills are honed during the client phase work because students are going beyond just working in a team of peers. Students hear new perspectives from people from the business, development, and legal sides of the client company, and learn how to include those considerations into what they’re designing.
Has the application process changed since Flatiron School acquired Designation?
We now have an admissions team and not just one person! We have the capacity to take more interviews with people in New York and Chicago and we’re identifying what makes a successful student in our program. Some students have a transferable background like design, teaching, or psychology and some come from other industries like service and hospitality. We’re really trying to identify traits that make great program candidates outside of what’s on their resume.
What’s the biggest lesson that you and the Designation team are bringing to Flatiron School?
I think it’s our focus on honing emotional intelligence and the importance we place on students being not just good designers but also good team members. They know how to work with others, build relationships, communicate more effectively, and be empathetic. They’re working in a high-stress environment and sometimes working on social impact projects with high stakes, so we really value the importance of emotional support and community in peer-to-peer relationships and instructor-to-student relationships. We’re making sure that we’re all conscious of our impact on the working environment as well as on other people.
How will career services work now that you’re integrated with Flatiron School?
We’re looking at the best way to grow our career services. Our instructors will still be delivering career content and mentoring the students, but we’re looking into the best way to leverage Flatiron’s amazing career services team.
Flatiron currently offers a job-guarantee, will there be one for this program as well?
Flatiron School’s UX/UI Immersive includes a money-back guarantee: if you haven’t gotten a job offer after six months of working with your 1:1 career coach, they’ll refund your full tuition. See full eligibility at flatironschool.com/terms.
What types of jobs do you expect New York UX/UI Design graduates to land?
We’ve seen our alumni go to a variety of companies, jobs, and industries. We’ve even had some alumni who start their own businesses and freelance careers. From Google and Capital One to local startups and agencies, our alumni are all over and we expect that to be the case in New York, especially as a larger marketplace.
We have had a number of students from New York who took the Chicago program and they have gone back to New York and landed a job right away. We have grads working at Sullivan, Ollie, United Technologies, Stack Overflow, LearnVest, R/GA, and Planned Parenthood.
What’s your vision for the future for this UX/UI Design course?
It’s been a really collaborative process with our internal team and with the Flatiron folks to determine the best ways to scale the special elements of our program, and how we can produce quality experiences for our students as it continues to grow. I think our shared mission is to successfully grow our program while still maintaining the same quality.
What’s your advice for students embarking on a UX/UI Design bootcamp?
I think it’s really easy to get imposter syndrome. It’s something we hear a lot from our students. You’re making a huge change, putting your life on hold. It can be really stressful, and you can feel insecure in this decision. My biggest tip is to not downplay your work experience and life perspective that you’re already bringing with you. I think that’s one of the best things about design as an industry – the strongest designs are a result of varying perspectives and voices coming together.
In January 2019, the top news in the tech bootcamp industry was all about Income Sharing Agreements and university coding bootcamps – it was a flurry of fascinating news! We start with a potential policy change being discussed in congress, talk through a $30 million fundraise, and summarize articles about ISAs from the New York Times, Fortune, Vice, and TechCrunch. Plus, we will tell you about some student success stories, and the 11 new bootcamps we added to the Course Report directory in January!Continue Reading →
When Roniece first signed up for Flatiron School’s Access Labs bootcamp, she wasn’t sure there was space in the coding and development world for a queer woman of color like herself. Now, she’s paying it forward in Atlanta as a Teaching Fellow at the newest Flatiron campus. We chatted with Roniece about how she got into coding, her love for teaching the next generation of developers, and why she’s passionate about breaking down stereotypes of who can be a coder.
Tell us about your background and how that led you to enroll at Flatiron School?
I was interested in coding when I was young, but it never really stuck. I felt discouraged because I thought “I’m a girl, I’ll never be able to pick up all this math.”
I studied early childhood education, but ended up becoming a sex educator. At my previous job, a coworker wanted to create an app as a bridge between sex educators and individuals living in more remote locations who may be in need of education, assistance, or someone to talk to. I started thinking about whether this was something I could take on and learn how to do.
A friend of mine who went to a different bootcamp encouraged me, so I researched different types of bootcamps and ended up at Flatiron School. My main goal was to be able to live in New York City (which is funny because I now live in Atlanta), but I also wanted the skills to be self-sufficient in a way that I couldn’t find in other fields.
When you were comparing different coding bootcamps, what made you choose Flatiron School’s Access Labs program?
I had applied to a ton of bootcamps but I picked Flatiron School because my interactions with their team on check-in calls were really friendly, the process seemed a little bit more intuitive, and it didn’t require a ton of background knowledge. I felt like other bootcamps expected me to know a bit more than I did at the time. Flatiron starts from the ground up – I found that to be really helpful and the whole process made me feel better about the people I’d be working with at the bootcamp on a day-to-day basis.
The cool thing about Flatiron’s Access Labs in Brooklyn is that it has a deferred tuition model. I had saved up enough to put down a deposit on a bootcamp, but they were willing to stick their neck out for me. Knowing I would join other people from a lower income background made me feel like I belonged in that space.
What was the learning experience like at Flatiron School?
Access Labs was hard. It felt like a firehose of information coming at you every single day, but the community really made it possible. There was always somebody to talk to or to hang out with after hours. I felt like the friendships I made in the first two weeks were equal to what other people make over four years of college.
One thing that was really amazing – I get choked up thinking about it – was that my cohort was made up entirely of people of color. As a woman of color entering tech, it was something I never expected. To be honest, I thought I was going to walk in and be super uncomfortable – I’m black, a woman, and queer – I didn’t know if I belonged in this space. But I felt like my cohort really embraced me, and the fact that my Module One instructor was a young, black man was really meaningful for me. I finally felt like I could be in this space, and that this career isn’t exclusionary for people like me.
Congratulations on landing a Teaching Fellow position with Flatiron School! How did you get the role?
People sometimes become teachers at the campus they graduate from, but my experience was unique in that I finished Access Labs at the Brooklyn campus, then I helped open the Flatiron campus in Atlanta. After graduating, I was invited back to Brooklyn to give a talk at a She Geeks Out meetup where I discussed the intersection of sex, education, and technology and what it could look like in the future. Tammy, the new Atlanta campus director, was there – when she heard my talk she asked if I’d be interested in moving to Atlanta. So I applied to become a Teaching Fellow!
The application process involved a couple of culture interviews and a technical interview which was similar to the code challenges I did as a Flatiron student. The person who ran my technical interview was one of my teachers – that was a nice surprise! I started on the same day that the campus opened – I graduated from bootcamp in August, and my first day of teaching was October 29.
How’s it going so far at the Flatiron Atlanta campus?
I started teaching with the very first cohort and it’s sad because they’re going to be leaving soon – it feels like I just met them. I really love my students, and I think that Tammy did a phenomenal job in selecting dedicated people for the first cohort. I can tell everyone wants to maintain the Flatiron culture and keep the sense of community, even though we’re a distance from New York. It’s such an interesting experience to help open a new campus.
The campus is great. We’re located within WeWork Colony Square in Midtown, so students have full access to our WeWork common area and community. There are two full sized classrooms, a mini-classroom for students to have small review lectures, and groups of desks equipped with a display for collaboratively solving problems. On a fully ramped up campus, the average class size is over 20 students. Right now, we’re aiming to have about 15 students in a class.
Honestly, I was just excited about the idea of going on an adventure. There are so many people of color in Atlanta, so what better opportunity for me to be in this position now than to give back to other people of color and invite them into this space in the same way I was invited in. Also, the food here is really great!
How does your background inform your teaching style?
I try to support both visual learners as well as hands-on learners. If I have mix of students, I’ll have the hands-on person diagram things out for the rest of the group and then have them organize the steps we’re going to work on. It’s about working with everybody’s strengths and getting to know them as individuals, so they not only shine in group dynamics but they also get what they need, either alone or together in the group.
I originally studied early childhood education, before I got into sex education. So I think I bring a unique perspective on how to meet people where they’re at in their learning journey. Coming from sex education, which is inherently kind of awkward and weird, I think I’m usually the first person to admit when things are a mess and to encourage everyone that we’re going to get through it together.
I definitely want to continue to grow as a teacher, I really enjoy it. I also want to pivot into a software development role in a couple of years. I may end up returning to teaching but I’d like to have more experience doing the work so I have even more skills to help my students.
How does your role as a Teaching Fellow fit within the Flatiron curriculum and courses?
Is there a certain type of student who excels at the coding bootcamp?
The type of student who excels in bootcamp is willing to be wrong and willing to ask for help. As a cohort grows closer, they become more comfortable with asking questions and raising their hands, and they’ll even talk with each other first. Their discussions show they’re working out the material and they feel comfortable turning to a neighbor and saying, “Hey! I don’t understand how this function is working. You seem like you understand it, could you walk me through it?” Those types of initiatives can create an incredibly successful student.
How do you assess student progress at Flatiron School?
For every two-week module, there’s a mandatory code challenge to see where the student is at, what we can help them with, and what we need to dive into a bit deeper as an instructional team. If you pass the first code challenge, you’re exempted from the second one. The second code challenge is to check in after more review and one-on-one sessions – we’ve worked through anything they were stuck on and it’s really about seeing if they understand the material we need them to get out of this specific module.
If the student passes that code challenge, they move onto the next module – if not, they’re offered the opportunity to repeat the module. If they are still having trouble after repeating, the pacing of the program may be a bit too much for that student. We then offer them the opportunity to move to the online format where it’s at a self-driven pace, there’s more content, and you still have instructors to help you.
What type of career assistance is available at Flatiron School Atlanta?
We have a team of career coaches who help you prepare your resume and LinkedIn, and get ready for your interview. They’re also there if you’re feeling down about job hunting and the interview processes. It’s really great to have someone with you through that process who has worked with numerous students before and they’re able to hold space for you and just listen. We also have prep programs like TIPS – Technical Interview Practice Sessions – where students work through an algorithm as a group and then we talk about it afterwards.
What sort of jobs are available for students who complete Flatiron School in Atlanta?
Atlanta is becoming a tech hub. There are lots of places looking for full stack developers but they can’t find anyone to fill the positions. The graduating students are in a really unique position because their skills are in demand – plus there are already Flatiron graduates in Atlanta, giving them a solid network of contacts.
Ideally, our students would be working in a full-time role doing front end, back end, or full stack development. I have a classmate from New York working at JP Morgan, others are at more data-focused companies. People take really interesting directions that might be related to the industries they were in prior to coming to Flatiron. Someone who might have worked in architecture before might go back and work for an architecture firm, but now as a developer.
What local coding meetups or resources do you recommend for beginners in Atlanta?
Local meetups for beginners include:
We host a number of meetups at Flatiron School, including Flatiron Students Present where students get together and talk about a technical topic of their choice. There was one presentation on my campus about self-driving cars. There’s also a Science Fair where students get to present their projects. Since we’re located in a WeWork building, they can present to other WeWork members and members of the public. It’s a really cool way to see all the things you can do with code. We also host a lot of after-hours workshops like Intro to HTML or CSS. There are lots of opportunities to get involved and meet other coding professionals.
Is learning to code on your 2019 New Year’s Resolutions List? It should be! The average coding bootcamp graduate gets a job in tech and sees a 49% salary lift. A coding bootcamp could be just what you need to make a fresh start in 2019 as a developer, so we’ve compiled a list of 18 full-time, part-time, in-person and online coding bootcamps which have upcoming cohorts starting in January and February 2019. Most of these coding courses have approaching application deadlines, so submit yours quickly if you want to get a head start in 2019!Continue Reading →
As we near the end of 2018, we're rewinding and reflecting on the most interesting and impactful coding bootcamp news of the year. Come with us as we look at trends, digest thought pieces, break down the ~$175 million in new funding, and more. We’ll also look at our predictions for 2019 and our hopes for the future of coding bootcamps!Continue Reading →
As we near the end of 2018, we're rewinding and reflecting on the most interesting and impactful coding bootcamp news of the year. Come with us as we look at trends, digest thought pieces, break down the ~$175 million in new funding, and more. We’ll also look at our predictions for 2019 and our hopes for the future of coding bootcamps!Continue Reading →
When Susanna first moved to the US from Finland, she started teaching herself to code while waiting for her green card. When she wasn’t advancing as fast as she wanted to, Susanna decided to enroll at Flatiron School in Washington DC. Susanna tells us about overcoming self-doubt while learning to code, working machine learning into her final project, and ultimately landing a job with an education startup from Flatiron School’s Hiring Day!
What’s your background before you decided to enroll at Flatiron School?
I'm from Finland and spent all of my professional career there. I started out as a journalist and really loved it. Later on, I started doing communications for a human rights organization as a digital content producer, managing our website, working with coders, and doing more tech work than I had done as a journalist. I liked working on the website – I felt really constrained, but also I was very interested in how it all worked. I tried to teach myself but I felt like I needed more time to study coding.
About a year ago, I moved from Finland to Tampa, Florida to be with my partner. When I was planning to move, I knew I would have to wait for my green card, and wouldn’t be allowed to work for some time. I decided to use that opportunity to start teaching myself coding full-time. So I started learning to code using online resources and going to meetups in Tampa. But I wasn’t advancing as fast as I wanted to, so I started looking into coding bootcamps.
It sounds like you had done quite a lot of study on your own. Did you consider another path to coding like learning online or going back to college?
Two or three years ago I took some online courses on my own, like massive open online courses (MOOCs) at universities, and I really liked them. They were super challenging. I started out struggling through Java courses – I actually ditched the course two times and then on the third time I finally got it through. Even when I was still in Finland, I did self-learning with online courses.
I absolutely did not want to go back to university because I had just finished my journalism degree at the end of last year.
So you were living in Tampa – how did you end up going to a coding bootcamp in Washington DC? And why Flatiron in particular?
When I was researching last spring, there were no bootcamps in Tampa (there is actually a bootcamp in Tampa now). I had visited DC and really liked it, so I started to look into bootcamps in DC. I read as many reviews as possible on Course Report for General Assembly, Coding Dojo, Thinkful, and Flatiron School in DC. Some of them seemed to be very self-paced or mostly online, but I wanted the classroom learning because that's what works best for me.
Flatiron School had really good reviews and an automatic $5000 scholarship for all underrepresented groups, including women, for their new DC campus. Last spring, they also had full scholarships available, which is very rare. I was living off my savings at this point, so the price was a big factor. Flatiron School was by far the most interesting to me. They were very responsive and helpful in their communications with me. Getting a full scholarship and realizing that I’d be able to attend the bootcamp was one of the best feelings ever.
I did all of the Flatiron pre-work through the online portal before I was accepted. That helped me solidify my decision because the online material was amazing – they have actual human support even before you've signed on or paid for anything. I could still ping someone on the Learn platform and they would get back to me within minutes. Flatiron School was actually a really obvious decision for me – I moved to DC in June 2018 to start the bootcamp.
What was the Flatiron School application and interview process like for you? Was it hard to get in?
The labs and technical tasks in the technical application were easy, because at that point I had already taught myself a few programming basics. The most challenging aspect was the technical interview where you pair up with one of their Technical Coaching Fellows, and they ask you questions about the problem, ask you to explain it, and then ask you to change one little thing about the code. That was surprisingly hard because I had never been required to code while someone was watching since I was just teaching myself.
Do you have advice for somebody who hasn't done the interview yet? What would you do differently next time?
I would practice talking out loud about your code. I did not practice for the technical interview other than by reading my code. Later on, I realized that there are different problem-solving methods that are extremely useful in coding, like pseudo-coding or making sure that you talk through your thought process out loud. I’d recommend getting familiar with talking through your code out loud to someone and reading through some good guidelines for interviewing.
You mentioned that Flatiron was working to encourage more diversity in the Washington DC campus – was your class diverse in terms of gender, race and career backgrounds?
In terms of career backgrounds, yes, definitely. We had very diverse backgrounds including recent college graduates, people from the engineering field, academic professionals, and musicians. There were very interesting backgrounds.
There were nine people in our cohort – it was very small because it was a new campus – and there were two or three women. I think the cohort that started three weeks after us had almost a 50-50 gender split. In terms of race, I would say our campus was not as diverse as could be, but there were students of all ethnicities or races.
Have you made any observations about diversity in the US tech industry at meetups or in your job compared with Finland?
I went to meetups a lot in Tampa, and definitely noticed how weird it is to be one of the few women at tech meetups. At first, it would really puzzle me because I come from a majority women field. I was suddenly weirdly aware of being a woman, which I was not used to. Luckily, I think that feeling has faded away now.
I still go to women-specific meetups like Women Who Code. In the beginning, I went to a lot of Girl Develop It meetups. I really love those organizations and it's so amazing that they exist. Almost everyone I have met, both men and women, feels very strongly that there should be more women coders and that we should encourage all underrepresented groups to enter the tech scene. So the environment felt very welcoming, very encouraging. Once you get past that initial shock of being the only woman at a meetup, you realize there's all this support out there and it's amazing. Especially as a self-learner, that support is so valuable.
What was your learning experience like at Flatiron School?
The teaching was amazing. It fit my learning style well. In the beginning, they offer a lot of direction and support. Then we would have three or more lectures per day. Towards the end of bootcamp, there were fewer lectures, less support and more emphasis on being independent. Usually after the lecture, it's either pair programming (coding together on an assignment), or you have individual time to complete the labs. As the day goes by, you probably won't complete all of those labs, so you can finish them at home.
The bootcamp is made up of five, three-week modules. For each module, it's two weeks of lectures, labs, pair programming, and individual homework, and then the last week we are in project mode. For the first four modules, we did our final projects together with a partner. Then for the final project at the end of the fifth module, we did an individual final project.
Compare that to your undergraduate and graduate degree programs – was it a similar classroom experience?
Totally different. Our cohort was so small and the amount of time I could get for my questions was really great. The available individual help was just totally different from any higher educational experience I remember. Also, they actually put effort into creating the best possible culture for us to learn as individuals, and together as a group. In the first week, we had lectures on how to communicate, how to give constructive feedback, and how to handle your emotions when you're trying to learn so much at once – because you're inevitably going to feel really slow and stupid. And actually, you don't have to feel that way. That was unlike anything I had experienced before and very helpful.
Those lectures focusing on culture, learning style, building your student community, how to interact in it, and how to view yourself as a developer, really helped set the tone for the rest of the bootcamp. I felt like we had an awesome cohort and a great learning environment.
Can you tell me about your final project?
I was very interested in machine learning, and got a chance to add some rudimentary machine learning with a Ruby gem called Classifier Reborn. That was a lot of fun for me and made the bots a lot smarter, because it allowed them to distinguish between two different categories. A user could say, “I want the bot to be able to recognize between this and that," and then provide the training data. They could save their trained bot, and come back later to train it more. I was really surprised at how doable machine learning was, even for a beginner.
What are you up to now you’ve graduated?
I'm now a Software Engineer at CommonLit, a DC-based nonprofit startup in the education sector. It's an online learning platform for teachers and students. We have a lot of free reading material that teachers can assign to their students. There are also assessment and analytics tools. It’s hard to compare to other production apps because this is the first one I've worked in, but I think it's a pretty large codebase. I've been there almost a month and it's been so much fun!
CommonLit uses the exact same stack that we learned at Flatiron, so I was super lucky to be able to fit straight into it.
How did you get connected with CommonLit? Were they at the Flatiron School hiring day?
Yes. I don't want to downplay my own hard work, but I got extremely lucky. We graduated on September 14th, then two weeks after that, Flatiron organized a four-day recruiting event. Flatiron’s employer partnerships team brought in companies that were already interested in hiring Flatiron School graduates. We each got paired with four different companies and did an interview with each of them.
Before the career fair, Flatiron had organized an event called Cocktails with Coders, where I had already met a couple of super nice CommonLit employees. I followed up with an email, then met them again at the career fair. So through Flatiron, I had already established somewhat of a relationship with them. All in all, it was a very painless process, and whenever I had questions or doubts, I could turn to my career advisor at Flatiron.
Had your green card come through by the time you were offered the job?
I still can't believe this happened, but I got my green card in the mail the same day I graduated.
Did you have to do a technical or whiteboarding interview to get your role at CommonLit?
Yes. I did a technical interview, which was actually different than I expected. It was verbal, so I got asked technical questions and I had to talk through my answers. I was expecting one of those live coding technical interviews. My interviewer was really nice and the interview experience was great.
Looking back to when you started teaching yourself to code, is this the type of software engineering job that you wanted when you started your journey?
That's a very good question. Honestly, this job exceeds my expectations and what I had in mind. When I started teaching myself, even though I had learned some Java and studied back end programming languages, I was expecting to end up in an exclusively front-end position because I felt, as a self-learner, that would be my way in. I was expecting to have to do jobs that wouldn't be full stack. I was also expecting to have to take on programming jobs I wouldn’t feel so interested in, just so that I’d get some job experience. So I feel very happy and lucky to be working in my current position as a software engineer.
My current work environment is amazing. We pair program a lot. We have a very rigorous code review process. I'm learning test-driven development all the time. It's a very healthy, good environment to be in. I'm enjoying myself so much, which I didn't know would be possible.
I thought programming would be way more isolated, and more banging my head against the wall because I’m a beginner, and not wanting coworkers to know what I don't know. But at CommonLit, it's a very encouraging, supportive environment and you can reach out for help. That has really boosted my learning.
What's been the biggest challenge or roadblock on the path to learning to code?
The biggest challenge might be self-doubt, because it made me less ambitious. Especially when I was learning myself, but even later on when I was thinking of final projects, there was always this thought that, “I can't do this, it's too difficult.”
I'm still trying to get more comfortable with challenging myself to do things that I don’t think I can do. I’m trying to be more brave, more ambitious, and more okay with failing.
What advice do you have for people who are going to make a career change and go through a coding bootcamp?
I know that not everyone can put their life on hold while they are studying something for three and a half months. It’s a privilege to be able to do that. I don't have kids or other big responsibilities. If you're a person who really wants to become a coder and go to coding bootcamp, there is no doubt that you can do it if you're motivated. But if you have a lot of other responsibilities that you're already committed to, that will make it very challenging.
So when you do decide to go to coding bootcamp, I suggest letting your community – your immediate close friends and family – know that unfortunately, you can't commit to anything else for three and a half months. Your first priority needs to be the bootcamp, and you should not feel guilty about committing most of your time on this bootcamp.
This November has been super busy in the immersive coding education world, and at Course Report! We read about how Amazon’s new headquarters will impact the coding bootcamps in New York City, we celebrated successful coding bootcamp grads, we were sad to hear that a school is closing, we heard advice for being successful at bootcamp, and found out about new initiatives to improve diversity in tech! Plus we look at new schools and campuses around the world and discuss our favorite pieces on the Course Report blog.Continue Reading →
Just as coding languages are always changing, things also change very quickly in the coding bootcamp industry! In October we read about two big acquisitions, some fundraises, and partnerships and rivalries between universities and bootcamps. We heard about the interesting backgrounds of some female bootcamp founders, and what demand there is for software developers in the tech industry! There were also articles about companies teaming up with bootcamps and two coding bootcamps going through hardships. Read the summary or listen to the podcast!Continue Reading →
So you’re thinking about applying to a coding bootcamp. What should you expect in the application and interview process? And how do you ensure you get accepted to your dream coding bootcamp? We invited representatives from 7 coding bootcamps to ask all the tough questions about getting into coding school. In this live panel discussion, hear tips and advice about coding challenges, prep programs and more from Flatiron School, New York Code + Design Academy, Fullstack Academy, the Grace Hopper Program, Hack Reactor, Galvanize, and Codesmith! Watch the video, listen to the podcast, read the summary or transcript.Continue Reading →
We usually talk to bootcampers shortly after they’ve graduated – and while it’s so cool to see how quickly they get jobs after bootcamp, we wondered, “what are these bootcampers up to 3 years later?”We caught up with four bootcamp alumni to see how their careers have grown! Hear from Frances Coronel (Fullstack Academy), Pedro Martin (General Assembly), Alon Robinson (Hack Reactor), and Jennifer Sardina (Flatiron School) to see how coding bootcamps helped them achieve their goals (and set new ones)!Continue Reading →
We recently attended Flatiron School Access Labs’ Demo Day in Brooklyn, NY to see what their graduates had built in just a few weeks. What’s a Demo Day? It’s a day at the end of a coding bootcamp where students get to showcase their final projects to employers, family, and friends (almost like a science fair for apps). We spoke to two Flatiron School graduates, Eva Leake and Saige Leslie, to learn about their final projects, compare their skills from before and after Flatiron School, and to learn about their new jobs! Watch the video or read the summary.Continue Reading →
The coding bootcamp industry is always evolving, so at Course Report we closely follow news and announcements in the coding education space. In September we saw a lot of interesting new data around women in tech and how coding bootcamps are increasing accessibility for underrepresented groups. We also read about new apprenticeship initiatives, heard from students about their experiences, and founders told us about taking bootcamps in new directions. There were also articles about the impact of bootcamps on the education industry as a whole, and advice about finding a job after bootcamp.Continue Reading →
We are rounding up all of the most interesting bootcamp industry news that we read and discussed at Course Report in August! This month we heard about a $43 million fundraise and a big acquisition, we saw the decline of CS degrees in the tech job market, we read about a bunch of interesting alumni who were featured in the news, we looked at how coding bootcamps can help us avoid “robogeddon,” and we celebrated an initiative teaching women in prisons to code. Plus, we’ll talk about all of the new bootcamps in August and our favorite blog posts!Continue Reading →
Flatiron School has offered an Online program since 2015, but starting August 2018, students can expect to see three new online bootcamp tiers. Depending on your availability and learning style, you’ll choose between the Self Paced, Part-Time, and Full-Time Software Engineering Online Bootcamps – so what are the differences? We sat down with Flatiron School’s General Manager for Online, Rebekah Rombom, to find out what makes each course unique and how prospective students can figure out which option is for them.
Major Changes to Flatiron Online: Our Takeaways
- Previously, the only online option was self-paced; now, part-time and full-time courses are available to support students seeking additional structure.
- Part-time and full-time courses will have dedicated instructor resources, small class sizes, and dedicated peer groups with built-in community pairings, one-on-one technical mentorship, study sessions, and weekly expectations to keep you on pace to graduate by the end of the cohort.
- Part-time and full-time are “semi-synchronous,” so you’ll spend a lot of time working through curriculum independently, but at a set pace with your cohort.
- Self-paced options are designed more specifically to accommodate independent learners: You’ll have access to community resources, coaching, and live instructor chat, but self-drive through most of the curriculum.
- What’s not changing: Online Intro Courses and Bootcamp Prep will continue to exist (for free).
The New Online: Three Online Software Engineering Bootcamp Options
There are now three different ways that students can choose to learn online with Flatiron School:
#1 Full-Time Structured
- Teaching Style: Semi-synchronous. Just like the Part-Time Structured program, the Full-Time option brings the flexibility of an online program to the fast pace of an immersive.
- Time Commitment: 40-50 hours per week for 5 months
- Start Date: September 24th
- Perks: Similar to our part-time program, full-time students work through the program at a set pace with an established peer group and assigned cohort lead, but at an accelerated pace. Full-time students have the lowest instructor: student ratio at 1:20 and the highest level of one-on-one weekly technical mentorship. Additionally, full-time students receive two monthly Educational Coaching sessions (10 total throughout the program), a one-year WeWork Hot Desk membership, and early Career Services support to be job-ready in just 5 months.
- Price: Most expensive at $14,000 (but less than in-person immersives). Plus, Flatiron School is launching this program with the Citi Women Take Tech initiative to maximize accessibility, providing a $2,000 scholarship to every woman admitted. See full details here.
Money-Back Guarantee: Yes
#2 Part-Time Structured
- Teaching Style: Semi-synchronous. You’ll have weekly check-ins, but as Rebekah explains, “We want our structured programs to retain the flexibility of online offerings, so you won’t have to sit at your computer all day, every day.”
- Time Commitment: 20-25 hours a week for 10 months (with only some of those hours set across the cohort, and the rest on your own schedule). There will be times when you're meeting one-on-one with your educational coach or with your instructor, and times when you’re working through curriculum at your own pace.
- Start Date: First class starts September 24.
- Perks: Students in the part-time program now have access to an assigned cohort lead, dedicated peer group (average 40 students), and a set pace of curriculum, but with a high level of flexibility in their weekly schedule. Part-time students receive one Educational Coaching session per month (10 total throughout the program), weekly one-one-one technical mentorship, a 1-year WeWork Hot Desk membership, and the same access to live lectures, Career Services, and curriculum as all of our online programs.
- Price: $11,400
- Money-Back Guarantee: Yes
- Teaching Style: Asynchronous, which means you’ll learn on your own time.
- Time Commitment: 800-1,000 hours, completely self-paced
- Changes to expect: The new self-paced program is designed for more independent learners (expect fewer resources than the part/full-time programs) at a much-reduced price compared with the previous self-paced program.
Perks: Every student gets a pack of five one-on-one Educational Coaching sessions. Self-paced students will have access to the same comprehensive curriculum that has helped thousands of students start their careers as software engineers. Additionally, self-paced students have access to live lectures, a dedicated Career Services team member, and lifetime access to the curriculum.
- Note: Self-paced students will not get a 1-year WeWork Hot Desk membership.
- Start Date: Whenever you want!
- Price: Least expensive at $8,500
- Money-Back Guarantee: Yes
FAQs with Rebekah of Flatiron School
Why all of these changes to the Online program?
Rebekah: We've always known that people learn in different ways. Fundamentally, the new online course offerings are about expanding our options so that students can pick the learning experience that's right for them. In 2012, we had exactly one learning experience: 12 weeks, on-campus, full-time, in New York City. In 2015, we started an online learning experience designed to increase access and allow students to do the program if they couldn't or didn't want to learn full-time on-campus in New York City.
It’s even more clear to us now: in education, one size does not fit all. So we've built a suite of new program offerings to address different kinds of learners.
What should students’ expectations be for outcomes from these programs? Will any of these paths get students jobs?
Rebekah: Nearly every Flatiron School student who graduates and looks for a job, gets a job. All of Flatiron School’s career programs (in-person immersive, self-paced online, part-time, or full-time online) are focused on getting students ready for jobs when they graduate. Regardless of the program they choose, once a student demonstrates mastery, they graduate and get access to all of the same coaching and employer network resources. All of these programs have the tools and resources for students to succeed; it just depends on how fast and intensely you want to learn. All of our career programs even offer a money-back guarantee: If you complete the program, and job-seek according to our job-search framework, we guarantee you’ll get a job offer within six months — or we’ll refund your full tuition.
What is the ideal type of student for each of these Online options?
Rebekah: I think it’s most instructive to paint a picture of particular students. Our students learn online for a number of reasons. For example:
- You have childcare responsibilities;
- You don't live in a city with a Flatiron School campus, or;
- You’re working full-time etc.
Our full-time students are online learners who want:
- assurance that they will be on pace
- a suite of resources to support them, push them and pull them to keep them learning
- an aggressive pace, with instructor support, student community support, and educational coaching support - similar to our on-campus immersive.
Our part-time students are online learners who want:
- some flexibility based on their schedule
- the same level of support and resources as our full-time program, but spread over a longer timeframe
Our self-guided students are online learners who want:
- complete freedom to learn on their own schedule and pace
- a lower up-front cost with the same curriculum, Career Services support, and money-back guarantee
For the Full-Time program, how much of the day should students anticipate spending with classmates or instructors, in real-time?
Rebekah: The cool thing about the full-time program is that the way they structure their time commitment is really up to the students. We have guidance and course requirements for particular activities, like one-on-ones with your instructor, with your educational coach, and pairing sessions with fellow students.
Other than those expectations, you can be where you need to be, when you need to be in other parts of your life, as long as you're spending 40-50 hours per week on Flatiron School and completing each module on time.
How do you envision the instructor-led learning experience for students here?
Rebekah: In the study groups, instructors decide on a topic to lecture on with the group. Instructors will communicate with their cohorts about where they are on a topic and students can attend those together synchronously. Multiple study groups are happening every week for students, and each cohort has multiple choices for study groups each week.
Each program has specific expectations for completion and mastery at the end of every single week, and students have the opportunity for a one-on-one with their instructor every week as well - full-time students can meet one-on-one with their instructor for up to an hour. The student and their instructor dialogue about how the pace is working, how to catch up or add more for enrichment.
Who are those instructors going to be?
Rebekah: Our instructors are industry veterans who are trained to support and educate our students. We've added additional training during the beta phase of the program to further tailor the modules and study groups to better benefit students.
The self-paced program was always open to anyone with a computer. How will Admissions for the online programs change?
Rebekah: Because the part-time and full-time programs have rigorous pacing requirements, we'll have a technical admissions interview for both of those programs. We want to understand whether a student is ready to succeed working at that pace for five months or ten months, and we want to make sure students know they’re ready, too. Before they start the programs, students will have both a technical interview and assigned prework - we set clear expectations about what it takes to succeed in the course and what it takes to get ready for day one.
What can an applicant expect from the technical interview?
Coding bootcamps have to cover a lot of ground in a short time span, so we move through curriculum fast. A technical assessment is a way to test whether you’re ready to hit the ground running from day one. Applicants complete several coding challenges on their own in advance of a technical interview—a live coding session with an instructor—in which they will be asked questions about their prepared work and possibly to expand or change their code to solve new problems. Keep in mind: we are not trying to assess how you work under pressure; it’s more about determining your ability to learn, communicate what you’re learning, and improve in real time… much like what you’ll be doing as a bootcamp student, and later, on the job.
What happened in the world of coding bootcamps in July 2018? In our latest news roundup we look at the fascinating merger of two prominent bootcamps, an exciting fundraise for a bootcamp which focuses on apprenticeships, and a settlement worth $1 million. We also delve into the college versus coding bootcamp debate, celebrate lots of successful bootcamp graduates, and look at the proliferation of coding bootcamps in up-and-coming tech areas. Finally we look at new, innovative ways to finance bootcamp (and the potential for predatory behavior in them), and what the job market is looking like for grads right now. Read this blog post or listen to our podcast!Continue Reading →
In the coding bootcamp industry in June 2018 the biggest trend we saw was coding bootcamps funneling grads into apprenticeships! We also saw two big fundraises by bootcamp-adjacent organizations, we heard about some interesting new legislation which could change how online bootcamps operate, and some bootcamp alumni launched exciting new careers. We also look at the effect bootcamps are having on tech industries in areas around the world, which bootcamps are offering scholarships to help women and underrepresented groups launch tech careers, and partnerships bootcamps are forming with big companies like Facebook. Read the blog post or listen to the podcast!Continue Reading →
Apprenticeships have existed for hundreds of years - but what does a modern software apprenticeship look like? We sat down with James Kenigsberg (Founding CTO of 2U, Inc.) and Rebekah Rombom (VP of Student Success at Flatiron School) to find out more about the pipeline between coding bootcamps, apprenticeships, and the tech industry. Find out what to expect from an apprenticeship (and how to shine in one), the difference between an apprenticeship vs internship, and why, according to Rebekah, an apprenticeship is “not a stepping stone toward the beginning of your career; it is the beginning of your career.”Continue Reading →
We read a lot of news about coding bootcamps in May 2018, so we chose the most interesting pieces, and we’re rounding it all up for you in this blog post and podcast! We look at yet another coding bootcamp acquisition, share many wonderful success stories about coding bootcamp graduates, touch on some partnerships between bootcamps and companies, and discuss the role of coding bootcamps in the future of education and talent pipelines. We also chat about diversity in tech at coding bootcamps, and roundup all the new schools, courses, and campuses! Read the roundup below, or listen to the podcast!Continue Reading →
Changing careers is a challenge in self-doubt, especially when you’re entering a creative field like UX/UI design. Aspiring designers might ask, “Do I have the right background? Will I be able to do a good job?” To allay those fears, we asked four experienced Digital Designers who teach at the Designation (now Flatiron School) UI and UX Design Intensives, to tell us what they wish they knew before they started their design careers, how to overcome impostor syndrome, and their top tips for starting a new career in UX/UI Design.Continue Reading →
The team at Flatiron School is launching a data science bootcamp to keep up with the rapid growth in demand for data science skills. After running their Software Engineering Immersive for five years, they’re bringing the lessons they learned to the new Data Science Immersive. Flatiron School’s Lead data science instructor and curriculum writer, Jeffrey Katz, tells us about crafting the curriculum with input from local employers, the types of projects students will build, and how the careers team will leverage Flatiron School’s existing employer network to help students find jobs as data scientists.
- Flatiron School’s Data Science Immersive is unique because they don’t require a formal background in statistics or math. But you’ll need to pass a technical interview – their Data Science Prep is free.
- The Data Science Immersive will start in New York, with hopes to expand to online.
- The curriculum will focus on Python, SQL, plus Machine Learning.
What was your background in data science before joining Flatiron School?
I was an economics and political science major in undergrad, and I took statistics, multivariable calculus, and linear algebra classes as part of my economics major. After that I went to law school at Columbia University.
Flatiron School has been teaching software engineering for five years now – why is now a good time to launch a data science program?
In 2016, our co-founder Adam Enbar said that one of Flatiron School’s goals going forward was to launch a new course. After the WeWork acquisition, we had resources to start new initiatives, so the team asked me to start thinking about what a data science program would look like.
Data science has been a buzzword, but over the last few years, the number of data science positions has grown at a rapid rate. There used to be one data science job for every 20 software engineering jobs, and now we see one data science job for every five software engineering positions, so the field is really growing.
There is also a range of careers available to somebody graduating from a data science bootcamp. In our Software Engineering Immersive, graduates can go into front end or back end. Similarly, with data science – you can go into careers doing machine learning, big data, data journalism, or the sort of analysis you might see on FiveThirtyEight. We liked the idea that we could teach data science to people with a range of interests, and have them pursue a similar range of interests after graduating.
Are there any prerequisites to get accepted into the data science program? What does the application process look like?
One thing I’m really excited about is that we’ve developed this course with no experience prerequisites. There is a technical interview before the course, but we are not looking at your resume to make sure you have coded before, or worked as a data analyst, or had some math or science experience in undergrad. Flatiron School is more interested in your enthusiasm, curiosity, and whether we think you can be successful in the program. In the Software Engineering Immersive, some of the best students I taught were not from a technical background – they were artists or musicians and ended up becoming excellent engineers. We wanted to give the same opportunity in the data science program.
At the same time, candidates should be ready for the technical interview. Our pre-work aims to ramp candidates up in programming, essential math skills like calculus, and a couple of machine learning algorithms. We want to give each student the best shot to learn the material, even if they don’t have a formal background. Candidates don’t have to go through all the prework material to be ready for the technical interview – if they have a background in programming and some calculus, then they can do Labs to check their understanding, then apply to do the technical interview. The application process is an opportunity to see if each candidate is both a cultural fit and if they will be successful in the course.
As long as someone is interested, we want to give them the best shot that we can at enrolling.
What is the structure, schedule, and learning style in the Data Science Immersive?
Students come in at 9am and start working on a lab or a discussion question, and go through reading materials to prepare for that day’s lessons. The first lecture is generally one hour long, from around 11am to 12pm. After lunch, we have labs where students have the opportunity to work with each other. We love to get students pair programming to make sure they understand the material, and are ready to move onto the next topic. Students will then get more reading materials to prepare for an afternoon lecture at around 2pm. And after that – more labs. If students finish their day at 6pm, that’s great, but many often stay later. My philosophy with an intense program like this is that after 9pm, you’ve done your job for the day and it’s time to take a break and get ready for the next day.
Which technologies have you decided to teach in the data science curriculum and why?
Flatiron School’s VP of Education, Joe Burgess, and I did a lot of research – talking to employers about what data science meant to them, what the future looked like, and what skills would be relevant going forward. The main debate was Python versus R, and we decided to teach Python. The ability to collect raw data is a core component of data science, and Python programming skills are great for scraping data and using APIs. That would be a little trickier if we taught R.
Our philosophy at Flatiron School is to teach the fundamentals. Tools change, libraries get updated, so while we definitely teach machine learning and data science libraries, we’re focused on making sure people have fundamental Python skills. Once they have those programming skills, we’re confident that our students can keep learning new Python libraries on their own as they move forward in their careers.
The course is made up of five, three-week modules:
- Module 1: data engineering and engineering skills required for being a data scientist – Python, SQL, visualization, Flask.
- Module 2: statistical programming, including both frequentist and basest statistics, and how to do the kind of analysis you might see on the NYTimes Upshot, or FiveThirtyEight.
- Module 3: machine learning, including gradient descent, regression, how one variable relates to another variable, and big data.
- Module 4: deep learning.
- Module 5 is a three-week project to reinforce the material that students have learned and to create something to show employers.
What’s an example of a project that students work on in the final three weeks?
One good example is a search and recommendation project. A student could be looking on Yelp for a Chinese restaurant that’s also great for drinks and has a good social environment, but that information may not be searchable within Yelp reviews. The student can write an algorithm that will mine that information. That requires many different techniques that are covered in the course: we need to gather the data, say what the likelihood is that a restaurant fits your requirements, and use machine learning and deep learning for textual analysis.
Were there any lessons from teaching Flatiron’s software engineering immersive, that you have been able to bring to the data science program?
One of the things I learned is that the students should be having the most fun, so as an instructor, you can’t steal that from them. When I wrote the pre-work for the data science program, I ended up rewriting a lot of it to challenge students to build their own machine learning library. When students can explore the material on their own, they will fall in love with the subject, and see how rich and fun it is. If you teach people to love a subject, they will wind up being successful.
I also looked at the underlying principles of Flatiron School and how they translate to a new topic. In the Software Engineering Immersive, we teach fundamentals and don’t shy away from the big concepts, so we wanted to do the same for the data science program. We needed to cover the thoughts and philosophies behind data science, but also make the course practical so that students can get jobs.
Tell us about your instructors for this course – what sort of backgrounds do they have?
Our instructors come from a variety of backgrounds. I’m the lead instructor and I’ve been teaching at Flatiron School since June 2015. Instructor Mike Kane has been teaching data science for a few years at another bootcamp, has experience in curriculum development, and has an excellent background in machine learning and statistical programming. The other instructor is Lore Dirick, who has a PhD in Business Economics and Statistics, a background in education and curriculum development, and has been working closely on our deep learning curriculum.
How will you assess or track how students are progressing through the new curriculum? How do you support students who are struggling?
One of our key metrics is to check for understanding. I love to give students problems in the middle of the lecture. My main philosophy in teaching is that I shouldn’t be the one doing all the fun stuff! I want to see what the students know. So during lectures, we’re assessing students’ knowledge, and I’m assessing myself on how I’m conveying the material.
At the end of each module, we have a mini project, which is a great opportunity for us to gauge the students’ understanding. Before the project, if we see a student is struggling, we might suggest the student spend that time reviewing the material, and doing more of a guided project before moving onto the next module. That way we can keep students on the same page as they move forward with material, and I can make sure I’m moving at the right pace.
If a student is falling behind, one technique is to encourage lots of group work – students can crystallize their understanding by explaining a concept to someone else. Then, if a student needs extra support, the other instructors and I will provide that. This is also when Flatiron’s community really comes into play – I’ve come back to the classroom at 8pm at night and seen a student teaching their classmates.
How will career services work for the data science program? Will students get the same Flatiron School money-back guarantee?
Yes, there is a money-back guarantee for the data science program. Our career services department is already talking with employers – many of which have hired from our Software Engineering Immersive and are now interested in hiring data scientists. We’ve already seen overlap from our existing network of employers. I saw this first hand when talking to employers for curriculum research – when employers heard we were developing a data science course, they asked to be a part of it. They were really engaged and gave us input.
What types of jobs will graduates of this course be prepared for? What sort of companies will be interested in hiring them?
Students will be prepared for a range of jobs. Python and SQL are great skill sets to learn for data science, but are also popular programming languages for back end engineers. Another route is statistical programming, if graduates want to do data analysis with programming. The other option is a machine learning role, which involves more engineering than statistical programming does.
When you talk to companies, it’s clear that everyone has a different idea of what a data scientist does. To become a data scientist you need to have a range of skills, to make sure you can do what your employer needs. As the field matures, you might see students becoming more specialized, but right now we want to make sure that we’re training students in the range of skills that companies are looking for.
Almost every type of company needs data scientists. Companies are collecting so much data, and want to use it to better serve their customers. In medicine, data science can help compare different approaches or measure the benefit of a treatment. At Flatiron School, we use data science to evaluate students using our learning management system, to see which students need more help, or which topics they are strong in. People are writing books about the impact data is having on our society, and using data is becoming ubiquitous, with companies, government programs, and sociologists.
For students who are thinking about learning data science, what meetups or resources do you recommend?
Flatiron School holds regular meetups on data science to answer people’s questions. Check out our Meetup page and come visit Flatiron School. There is also a pretty cool Python project night in NYC where people present their Python projects, which often have a data component to them. It’s a great way to see what’s going on in data science. My other suggestion is to take a look at our curriculum – the Data Science Prep program is free.
What is your advice for students embarking on a data science bootcamp? Any tips for getting the most out of it, especially if they are trying to change their careers?
If you’re learning any subject, my best advice is to be curious about it and find what you love about it. These are very rich topics – people have been studying probability and statistics for hundreds of years, so there is a lot to dive into and get excited about. What has been critical for me is finding the coolest parts of a topic, and that has made me a better programmer and teacher. One more thing: don’t worry if you’re the best at something today, but not tomorrow – it actually doesn’t matter too much. In the long run you’ll be as good as you want to be.
In our April 2018 technology bootcamp news roundup we saw four overarching trends – bootcamp acquisitions, employers putting their own employees through bootcamp, a continued debate between college vs bootcamp, and efforts to expand accessibility to coding education for underrepresented groups in tech. We also look at apprenticeships, the evolution of bootcamp curricula, life after bootcamp, and new bootcamps! Read the roundup below or listen to the podcast!Continue Reading →
In our March 2018 technology bootcamp news roundup, we discuss all the industry news that we've been talking about at Course Report! We have some fun celebratory announcements, we looked at news about the positive impact bootcamps are having on individuals and companies, and the debate continued between coding bootcamps and computer science degrees. We heard about some great student experiences at bootcamp, some wonderful diversity initiatives, and new scholarship opportunities. Plus, a good number of new coding bootcamps and campuses launched in March. Read the roundup below or listen to the podcast!Continue Reading →
We know that coding bootcamp graduates get jobs, but are they successful long-term in their careers? It’s been 4 years since Ed Jasper graduated from Flatiron School – and he’s the perfect example of how much a coding bootcamp graduate can learn and excel (even without a college degree). Ed took his passion for fashion and retail experience, combined it with coding fundamentals from Flatiron School, and is now a confident Front End Developer at Rent the Runway. Learn about Ed’s career path after Flatiron School, why he’s committed to getting other folks like him – a person of color in the LGBT community – into tech, and his advice to make the interview process less stressful.
What did you study in college? How did your path lead you to Flatiron School?
I studied Marketing at the University of Central Florida for two years, but I didn’t finish school – it wasn’t the path for me. Soon after leaving school, I moved to New York City and worked as a personal trainer, then an Admissions Administrator at a health coaching school. I was working 9am to 5pm, sitting behind a desk, and I felt like I should be doing more.
I also used to work in retail and always wanted to be a part of the fashion industry. I wanted to contribute to something, but I didn't know what I could actually do without going to college. I did some research on careers I could transition to based on things that I like to do – being artistic, creating, and building. I also had this interest in HTML and CSS from middle and high school from when I was using MySpace – nothing too serious.
I had no idea what a “web developer” was, but when I found it in my research, it just felt right.
Did you consider doing a four-year computer science degree to learn web development? Why choose a coding bootcamp?
When I first decided to commit to becoming a web developer, I just assumed that I would have to go back to school. I actually did online university computer science classes through Udacity, but waiting another four years to get started in this industry didn’t feel right.
After doing more research on blogs, I found out about this new hot educational model called a coding bootcamp. I needed to figure out the basics of programming first and fast, and then I expected to learn more on the job in order to be a better developer. I felt like a bootcamp was the best path for me, and I found Flatiron School in my research.
How did you decide that Flatiron School was the best bootcamp for you?
I looked at a lot of bootcamps in the NYC area – General Assembly and App Academy. They looked great, but at the time (this was 2014), everyone was talking about Flatiron School and comparing it to the Harvard of bootcamps, so I had to be there.
The main draw was the NYC Web Dev Fellowship – I was looking at all these bootcamp tuition prices, thinking there was no way I would be able to attend. I couldn’t stop working in New York City and give up a salary to attend bootcamp.
I also liked that Flatiron School advertised themselves as being “language agnostic.” Basically Flatiron said, "We're going to teach you how to program using the most beginner-friendly software." They really focused on learning the fundamentals so that you could code in any language you want in your career.
Tell us more about the NYC Fellowship – how did that make it possible for you to attend Flatiron School?
Flatiron School introduced me to the NYC Web Dev Fellowship, where I was eligible to receive free tuition if I was an NYC resident, under 30 years old, and made under 50k a year. I applied and it was a very rigorous, stressful application process. Out of 1,200 applicants, I was one of the 28 that got in and it was a life-changing opportunity.
Editor’s Note: While the Flatiron NYC Fellowship is no longer active, Flatiron School just launched Access Labs, a deferred-tuition program for New Yorkers making $35,000 or less per year. Learn more here! And if you're interested in learning online, with the Dorothy Vaughan Scholarship for Diversity & Inclusion, students could receive 50% off of their tuition.
Who did you learn with? How did your classmates impact your experience?
My cohort was very diverse. Some people were just out of high school and didn't want to go to college; others went to Ivy League schools and worked for Wall Street. Their stories made me see, "Hey, I do fit into this crowd and if everyone else can do it, then I can do it too." And time proved that to be true.
You told us earlier that college was not for you – what did you think of the learning experience at Flatiron School?
It was definitely not what I was expecting – in a good way. I was expecting to go to Flatiron School, learn some code, make some projects, and then graduate in 16 weeks. It was so intense that I used every ounce of energy I had to make it through those 16 weeks! The bootcamp was emotionally and physically taxing; I had to stretch myself beyond what I thought I was capable.
The hardest part about programming is the paradigm shift towards thinking like a programmer. It’s rare to think as in-depth as a programmer; you don’t just accept that 2+2=4, you look into the mechanics of the algorithm. That shift in thinking was the hardest part – I never thought that I was going to get there.
I would sometimes think, "I'm stupid. There's no way I can get this. I've signed up for this coding bootcamp and I don't know how I’ll get a job afterward." But my Flatiron School instructors were very encouraging. They reassured me that programming is hard – that’s the name of the game – but I could do it.
How did Flatiron School prepare you for the job search?
During the bootcamp, Flatiron School did a great job stressing the fact that we were not imposters – we were developers. A month before we graduated, we did mock behavioral and technical interviews. I had never worked in the tech industry, so I had no idea what to expect. Flatiron School really helped me get ready for the technical interviews. Everyone fears the whiteboarding interview, but Flatiron prepared us for it on Day One without us even realizing it. We also pulled our portfolio together and put it on GitHub.
After I graduated, Flatiron School was really good at organizing my job search. They helped me put together a checklist of each step of the application, kept track of the employers I had talked to, sent follow-ups, and got interview feedback from the employer. They held my hand a lot, which I really appreciated. I still use a lot of the interviewing techniques I learned at Flatiron School today.
What was the interview process like as a person of color in the tech industry?
A lot of times, I would go into job interview rooms and be the only person of color or only LGBT person. (And most of the time, there were no women.) That was very eye-opening. I kept thinking, "Whoa, out of all the industries, I would have thought tech had progressed, but this one seems to be very much in the dark ages."
As a black man in the world, you encounter biases no matter where you go. Someone is going judge you based on how you look, and it was a little more prevalent when I first got into the tech scene.
It’s important to me that the company I work for has a good culture and values diversity. I took that into account when I was looking into Rent the Runway because other companies I worked for were not diverse at all. I felt like I had to prove myself a lot more, and I felt a lot of undue stress for feeling like a charity case or the “diversity hire.”
Do you have any advice for bootcampers who are currently going through their job search?
Number One: don't give up. Getting your first tech job is 100% the hardest part of the process. My dad always uses this analogy: “the first pickle is the hardest to get out of the pickle jar.” The tech industry is very much a “show me” industry. They want to see your GitHub portfolio, they want to see projects that you've published live, and as a newbie, you may not have that.
That being said, it's very important to keep going. Understand that when hiring managers deny you, that's not a reflection on your personal self – you’re not a bad person or bad programmer. There’s nothing wrong with you, you just didn’t get connected to the right role.
If I had internalized those tips in the beginning, then my process would have been a lot smoother (and less stressful).
How did it feel getting your first job after Flatiron School?
I'll be completely transparent, I probably bit off a little more than I could chew. Flatiron School was really good about hooking me up with different companies, but I was being super selective with my first role. I wanted to work in the fashion industry, and that made my job search longer because I kept ruling out companies. Eventually, I decided that for my first role, it was more important to get to work and practice becoming a better developer than it was to work in fashion.
My first role was as a Support Engineer at Maxymiser. Essentially, I was a mix between customer service and engineering. We had a bunch of clients, like Nike and Lord & Taylor, that needed help with software. It was great because I had customer service skills from my retail industry experience; it's helped me a lot in my career.
My first job was really about learning the basics of front end development. At Flatiron School, I was super gung-ho about doing back end development. But at Maxymiser, I fell in love with the power of working on the front end of websites.
You’ve had a few jobs since Flatiron School. Have you gained more responsibility and learned something new in each role?
Yeah, absolutely. My first job at Maxymiser set the foundation and made me feel like I was actually a web developer. Next, I had to think, “now, where do I want to take this?” I took a job at Barneys New York where I was the only in-house front end developer. It was a very eye-opening experience and it taught me why I wanted to work at a tech-focused company. I had a lot of responsibility there and it was a huge step. I learned so much about managing my time and managing other engineers. And I also had a lot of autonomy – I was able to learn new technologies like React, which I had always wanted to learn.
Now in my current role, I am the only one in the company who uses React Native. I'm building Native apps for the company that gets used in our retail stores. I have a huge impact on this startup that’s growing every day, and I couldn't have done that without the lessons I learned from those first jobs after Flatiron School.
Does your salary match your job growth? Did Flatiron School help you with salary negotiations?
Absolutely. Most people are afraid to ask for more because they think the company will reject you. Flatiron School reassured me that if you've made it to the negotiation phase of the hiring process, then the company is not looking to say no. You might as well try!
Flatiron School really helped me understand that salary is important, but culture is even more important because you've got to spend 40 hours a week at this place. Make sure that you're being nurtured and challenged. In my first two jobs, I focused more on salary. I got nice job titles and good salaries, but the culture wasn't there. When I was looking for my current job at Rent the Runway, I valued the culture just as much as the salary. I can now say that I love my current company and I'm very happy.
You're at Rent The Runway now – congrats! What do you work on these days?
Rent the Runway is a tech-enabled fashion company, so the tech team is about 100 people. I specifically work in front end development in the retail division, which is right up my alley. Being a former retail manager, I’ve seen the pitfalls of the technology that common retailers use. What I like most about my team is that we're building all of our software from scratch. We can really pinpoint our customer needs to deliver exactly what they want.
My tech team for the retail division is about four developers, and I am the primary front end developer. I do the front end development for our internal software that Retail Associates use and I also built the software that runs natively on our mobile applications using React Native, which is something I always wanted to work with. In my interview, I told Rent The Runway that I wanted to work with React Native and within two weeks, I had a React Native project.
Do you feel like you’ve grown as a developer since transitioning to Rent the Runway?
At Rent the Runway, I’ve learned a lot more about how to run software securely, along with the financial ramifications of development in this type of environment. I had to relearn a lot of my basic programming skills because now I'm trying to do a lot of intense data mashing with sensitive consumer information.
I've learned more about the design aspects of programming here too. It's one thing to make the code as concise as possible, but when you work with a team of people who also need your code, you need to make sure that it's also user-friendly. I had heard of these best practices, but at Rent the Runway, they are a priority for my role.
As a person of color and member of the LGBT community, do you think it’s important to help other underrepresented folks get into tech?
Since there’s a huge racial and gender diversity gap in the tech industry, it's been a focus of mine – more people from my community need to be web developers.
It would have helped me to see somebody who was black or in the LGBT community say, "Hey, I didn't finish college, but I felt like I could contribute to tech and I made it.” I wish someone would’ve told me about web development when I was younger. Part of the reason why there is a lack of diversity in tech is that many folks don’t understand that tech is a possibility for them.
I’m actually starting a blog focusing on work-life balance and being a developer, and I primarily want to gear it towards black people and the LGBT community. I'm also working on a side business to provide tech tutorials for black people from underserved communities.
When you look back over the last four years or so, what role has Flatiron School played in your career success?
The most important thing that Flatiron School has given me is courage. I was empowered knowing that if I made it through this program, I could probably make it through any job. This coding bootcamp made me realize that anything I wanted to do on the web is possible.
Do I think I could have done it on my own? Honestly, probably not. Like I said, the paradigm shift of thinking like a programmer is hard. You need somebody else to tell you that you're supposed to be struggling. Otherwise, you think that web development is not for you. For instance, I'm teaching someone how to code and she has no programming experience. I see so many similarities in what she's going through, compared to my learning experience. It's not just about the code; you have to think differently and it’s tough. Flatiron School helped me realize that you have to struggle until you get it.
What advice do you have for people who are thinking about making a career change and considering a coding bootcamp?
I would say 100%, do it. The lessons you learn in a coding bootcamp are lifelong. The experience tells you a lot about yourself and what you can endure. You can learn something new, no matter who you are.
We're all going to be consumers of code. In the future, you're going to either be a creator or a consumer. It's so important for everyone to learn a little bit about coding.
So you're going to graduate from a coding bootcamp – congrats! But just because you learn to code doesn't mean you're automatically handed a job as a developer. In this free webinar, a panel from two notable bootcamps – Turing School and Flatiron School – will deliver a roadmap to landing your first job after graduation.Continue Reading →
A lot happened in the world of technology education in February 2018! In case you missed it, we put together a roundup of all the coding bootcamp news we found interesting at Course Report. We read about government support for bootcamps and vocational education, we heard about companies training their employees at bootcamps, we saw coverage on the debate between colleges and bootcamps, and there was an in-depth article about the pros and cons of income sharing agreements. We also enjoyed hearing about the achievement of bootcamp grads, and what sort of initiatives are helping underrepresented groups get into tech! Plus, check out our updates about new bootcamps and campuses.Continue Reading →
Since WeWork acquired Flatiron School in October 2017, the bootcamp has started taking advantage of the opportunities the new partnership brings. A month after the acquisition, Flatiron School’s online students received complimentary membership to their local WeWork space. Flatiron School also has plans to open a host of campuses at WeWork locations around the country in 2018. The first new campus is taking root in the WeWork White House building in Washington, DC. We asked Flatiron’s Senior Director of Education, Joe Burgess, all about the new D.C. campus, including what instruction, classrooms, and career services will look like.
Joining WeWork was a big move for Flatiron School. How is the team feeling?
We’re so excited to have joined the WeWork family, and for the opportunities to help even more students — in new ways and in new cities — that come with it! In WeWork we’ve found a partner who is totally aligned with our mission and values, and we are thrilled about their commitment to help us increase access to our education and increase diversity in tech through new programs, scholarships, and more. 2018 will be an exciting year of growth!
When does the Flatiron School Washington DC campus open and how is the preparation for that going?
March 12th 2018 is the first day of class and applications are open! As the campus gets fully up to speed, we’ll be starting a new cohort of students every 3 weeks. I’m excited for the inaugural DC students to come through this journey with us and help us build this new community together. Hopefully, we can bring the unique qualities of Washington, DC and WeWork into the program, make it super fun and rewarding, and get the same outcomes as we get in New York City.
Our launch party was on February 1, and we’ll continue to host lots of events, including info sessions about how to get through our rigorous application process.
Out of the hundreds of WeWork locations around the US, why did Flatiron School decide to open the first new campus in DC?
First, DC is physically near New York, but different enough to New York that it was a challenge. There are a lot of people who are underserved by the current education system. When we looked at the number of open tech jobs in the DC tech, matched with the number of grads in DC, we started to see a divide, in the same way we saw a divide happen in NYC. The tech market in DC is really strong.
WeWork also had some space available for us in this beautiful campus, right next to the White House.
Why do you think the WeWork White House location is a great space for learning?
All WeWork locations are delightful, but I thought there was something magical about our students being able to see the Treasury Building and White House from the classroom – that exemplifies everything unique about DC. The WeWork White House building – where our DC campus is located – is like a triangle, but the middle of the triangle is an open atrium with little balconies with bookable meeting rooms. Finally, ensuring that our campus is easily accessible to our students by being close to public transportation was important for us.
Why is the tech market so wide in DC? What is going on in the DC tech scene?
There is the obvious reason – more and more government functions are being automated and brought into the 21st century. If you think about the way people interact with most services, they expect an Uber or an AirBnB experience. The government has been contracting with a lot of groups in the city to build out these things for them.
Also, with DC inherently being the center of the US, there are a ton of diverse companies that have opened DC offices. And finally, there are a lot of startups. People are starting amazing nonprofits, foundations, and government adjacent work, and want to have a big impact through technology.
There are a number of coding bootcamps in DC already – what will make Flatiron School DC stand out amongst the competition?
I’m really proud that we put out a third-party audited jobs reports every year. We work our butts off to be as successful as those numbers reveal. Another aspect is we’ve actually taught and successfully graduated a huge number of students. So we have a lot of experience.
We’re not just turning out people who can develop software, but individuals who are prepared to be professionals. We bring speakers from the industry, and we bring in computer science education so our students are well-rounded software engineers. Students work on individual project loads, so they learn to build something from front to back by themselves.
Finally, community is so important to us. When you think back to amazing educational experiences, you think about the teachers you learned from and studied alongside. A lot of folks think we are a machine, churning people through, but we’re not. We encourage students to build connections with the folks around you, and by doing that, you’ll work harder, because when the going gets tough, you’ll have friends and a support system. That’s more important than you realize.
Will you be teaching the exact same Software Engineering Immersive curriculum in DC like the one in NYC?
Who are the instructors and mentors at the DC campus?
One of our senior instructors in NYC, Niky Morgan, and a technical coaching fellow, Andrew Cohn, are moving to DC for 3 months, living in WeLive, and helping launch the new campus. In addition, we’ve hired our first permanent teacher. Until recently, he was working as a developer for an AI company, and he also taught our Flatiron high school program a couple of years ago.
Tell us about the Flatiron School classroom at WeWork?
WeWork has helped us massively, they have completely redone a corner office overlooking the White House to be our campus. They gutted the place, and rebuilt it from scratch to be our classroom. WeWork is custom branding the whole campus for Flatiron. It’s beautiful and exciting!
There are two classrooms that can hold about 30 students. All of our classes have maximum 20 students, but we put some buffer in there for people who might be observing. We have five pods of desks which each hold about 20 students. In addition, there is a lounge space and two breakout rooms dedicated to Flatiron School. So if we notice three different people on the same problem, we might go to a breakout room to do a quick review.
One of the things we learned from our campus in NYC is no matter how great the desks and monitors are, people like to have different ways to sit and learn, like hanging out on a couch or at kitchen tables. One of the things I like about WeWork is that students will have many different ways to unplug, recharge, and get back to learning. If you can’t figure something out you can go for a walk and work somewhere else and get inspiration. Students can use the WeWork common space as well, and if they have a meeting for a group project, they can grab a meeting room outside of the campus.
What sort of amenities and benefits are Flatiron School students entitled to as WeWork members?
We have all the amenities WeWork provides like free beer, free coffee, a fridge, and a kitchen. There is also an espresso bar on our floor, with $2 espresso drinks, and an amazing rooftop space overlooking the White House with a view of Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, and all the tourists walking around Pennsylvania Avenue.
There are also a bunch of opportunities to take part in WeWork community programming, like lunch and learns and events, almost every evening. We want to make sure our students are not separate but they really are part of that WeWork community in a WeWork space.
Our students also get all the discounts of being a WeWork member. There is a whole services store, with a huge number of discounts on different things like gym memberships, and meal delivery services.
How will Flatiron School make the most of being in a co-working environment like WeWork?
We are working with the Head of Events at WeWork White House to make sure students are invited to the events that are particularly applicable to them. And the WeWork team already puts out a ton of notifications about events coming up. I’m convinced students will go to a lot of great things, both serendipitously, and via WeWork’s internal marketing.
In addition, we will host our own events like study groups where anyone can come to the campus, talk to an instructor, and learn. We will also bring in great speakers at our campus, or in the WeWork event space. Our goal is whatever we do, whatever events we host, we will endeavor to include the whole WeWork community.
What other companies are located in this particular DC WeWork location, and how will that close proximity be beneficial to Flatiron Students?
IBM is there, and they have a huge office, as well as Spotify and Nexus. There are also a lot of foundations, and nonprofits.
We have this amazing opportunity for students to meet people and make connections in the building. It’s a cross-pollination of ideas, where students can connect their experiences with their learning. Students will have the opportunity to constantly get reminded of projects they are working on now, and connect to work they’ll be doing as professionals. We bring those examples in as teachers, but it’s better if it comes from other companies. The original point of a university was to bring together disparate minds to discuss ideas, so this is similar in a way, where people are learning, researching, and meeting people from all walks of life.
Do you envision that Flatiron Students will find jobs within the WeWork community?
That’s the hope. I would not be surprised if this year someone started working at one of the WeWork member companies. They could effectively do a 15-week interview process, plus there is a WeWork jobs board with freelance gigs and other opportunities.
Flatiron School is not slowing down on career services efforts – DC students will get just as good, if not better, support from our career services team. We are obsessed with student outcomes, so it’s important that students understand we are going to help them as much as we can. But we also need students to take it upon themselves to meet other companies in the building, and to realize what an amazing opportunity it is. If students aren’t working at it, they won’t be successful.
In addition to being hired by WeWork member companies, what other types of jobs do you expect students to get in DC?
We’ve had a few grads from our other programs find jobs in DC already – one of them, Jim Stricker who works at Excella Consulting, is going to speak at an event soon.
We train our students to get junior software engineering jobs, so I trust our students can get those jobs. The truth is, there are some jobs out there called “software engineer,” but really a junior person could do them. Potential jobs include working on a software project for a large government contractor in Java, to working for a super small startup. We try not to focus students on one industry or technology. We want grads to be general purpose, internet swiss army knives, who can do anything you ask them to do so that they have largest choice when they graduate.
WeWork is a different scene than the Flatiron School that we know in NYC – is there anything you’re concerned about losing in this new campus?
Very rarely are culture changes negative; they are usually additive. WeWork has always had a culture of personal expansion and personal growth. Their understanding of seeing how you can grow talent, rather than looking for degrees and checkboxes, dovetails very nicely with our philosophy that anyone can learn to code. So I really believe it’s additive to our culture. Every time I’ve talked to a WeWork employee about Flatiron School, they’ve been over the moon excited to have us. I’m excited to get some of that WeWork culture and ambition, and imbue some of our own culture of constant learning, and the bright eyedness of students, into WeWork itself and into the WeWork community.
What are the future plans for this Flatiron and WeWork partnership?
We are going to open campuses in a bunch of other WeWork locations in 2018 – you’ll hear more about them soon. We are probably going to outgrow our New York City space soon, and we are figuring something out. We love our campus, so I’d be surprised if we move soon.
Currently, all of our online Learn students have WeWork global access membership, so they can work in the common space at any WeWork. We have this amazing opportunity where WeWork can provide the space and the community, and we can provide education at scale via online and in-person delivery methods. We can provide more flexible and accountable ways for students to learn. For a lot of people it’s not all online, for other people, it’s not all in person, there needs to be some space in between. By the end of 2018, you will see an amazing new product that fills that space.
We are also providing a mini bootcamp for WeWork employees, we’ve actually already done a bunch of one-night workshops for them. Our goal is to provide access to our education to WeWork employees and members at a good rate.
Welcome to the first News Roundup of 2018! We’re already having a busy 2018 – we published our latest outcomes and demographics report, and we’re seeing a promising focus on diversity in tech! In January we saw a significant fundraising announcement from an online bootcamp, we saw journalists exploring why employers should hire bootcamp and apprenticeship graduates, we read about community colleges versus bootcamps and how bootcamps are helping to grow tech ecosystems. Plus, we’ll talk about the newest campuses and schools on the scene, and our favorite blog posts. Read below or listen to the podcast!Continue Reading →
Women make up only 24% of the tech workforce, and this number could shrink to 22% over the next 10 years. The US isn’t just lacking women in tech, there’s a general shortage of tech talent: universities only graduate about 52% of the technology workforce needed to satisfy a growing job market. Without alternative education funnels like coding bootcamps, which are particularly conducive to women, (the result of lower cost and flexibility) we won’t meet those requirements. To measure these impacts, Course Report surveys real coding bootcamp graduates to understand who is graduating from coding bootcamps and how successful they are. In our first post of this series, we explore the illuminating data we found about gender in coding bootcamps.Continue Reading →
Yes, we get it – most high-salary industries need more diverse workers, and tech is no exception. But while the conversation about diversity in tech usually focuses on gender, diversity encompasses racial, socioeconomic, cognitive, and experiential differences. Think pieces and diversity reports show large tech companies admitting they have a problem and beginning to address the diversity in tech crisis, but do we really believe change is coming? Even if companies make public commitments to hiring more diverse candidates for technical positions, is the pipeline strong enough to fuel those hiring commitments? As we track non-traditional routes to tech at Course Report, it’s clear that talented, diverse coding bootcamp grads can fill that pipeline and play a role in shifting the demographics of the US tech industry.Continue Reading →
In our End of Year Podcast, we're rounding up the most interesting news of 2017 and covering all the trends, thought pieces, controversies and more. Many schools are hitting their 5 year anniversaries – a reminder that although there is a lot going on in this industry, it’s still nascent and there is still room for new innovative approaches to the bootcamp model. We’ve chosen the most defining stories, and it was a very eventful year – a couple of big bootcamps closed, a ton of new bootcamps launched, some schools were acquired, and other bootcamps raised money.Continue Reading →
On the Course Report Coding Bootcamp News Roundup, we keep you up to date with the blossoming coding bootcamp industry. This November, we're covering the WeWork/Flatiron School acquisition, over $2M in funding to various bootcamps, and why tech is booming in "Heartland" cities. Of course we also look at new schools, new campuses, and our favorite pieces to work on this month for the Course Report blog! Plus, is The Iron Yard back from the dead? Read the summary or listen to the podcast.Continue Reading →
Pedro Acosta was a security guard training with the NYPD when he realized a career in software development would allow him to really excel and stimulate his mind like never before. Pedro quit the NYPD training and chose to learn part-time with Flatiron School’s Online Web Developer Program so that he could continue working full-time. See how Flatiron School helped Pedro prepare for the job search, how he landed his first developer internship at an artificial intelligence company (and turned it into a full-time position!), and read his tips on how to move up in the ranks and land a full-time developer role after a coding bootcamp!
What was your educational and career background before Flatiron School?
Prior to coding, I was pursuing a career with the New York Police Department. I graduated from John Jay College with a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice. At some point during my process with the NYPD, I realized joining the force wasn't for me. I wanted to look for something that would help me stimulate my mind in a way I never had before. After I became familiar with programming through a family friend, I never looked back and never regretted leaving the career I once wanted and initially went to college for.
Why did you want to change career paths and attend a coding bootcamp?
While I was working in security, I was also on the path to becoming an NYPD officer, which is a three-year process. I was towards the end of the process, but I realized that the organization does not allow people to prosper and excel. It’s a system that doesn’t care about the individual unless you have ties with those in upper management. My recruitment process was held poorly, so that turned me away and made me want to switch careers. I was also working in security at the time and felt the same experience of just being another number.
One day I got in contact with a manager at Trello, and we had a 40-minute conversation about possible careers in the tech industry, including programming. We talked about how software development is a promising career, people are excelling, and it could be a lot of fun. Once I did more research on Flatiron School, I saw that it was the best choice and from there I haven’t looked back.
How did you first learn about the coding bootcamp model? Did you consider other coding bootcamps?
While I was in the process of joining the NYPD, I was working as a security guard for a building and one of the tenants in the building was a tech company called Trello. One day a manager invited me up and told me about the many opportunities in programming. They gave me some recommendations and suggested some educational platforms to get me started. One of these platforms was Flatiron School. The manager explained how it was easier to go through a bootcamp than to go back to college to get a traditional degree. I also knew a few people who had graduated from bootcamps and became developers and engineers. I followed their recommendation and also did a lot of research in order to get a better idea of what it would take to become a programmer.
There weren’t many other online bootcamps when I was applying. Everything else I saw was in-person and it would’ve been too much to give up work altogether. Online worked perfectly for me, and it was self-paced. There was no deadline for when I needed to be finished – I could finish in a year or three months, and that was more appealing to me than anything else. I also applied to Startup Institute, but they canceled the course twice and I felt Flatiron School was more prepared.
What else attracted you to Flatiron School’s online program?
When I researched other bootcamps, Flatiron School stood out amongst the other options. The price was out of my range, but then I realized they also had an online program which had a tuition model that worked for me. I was one of the first students to apply to the online program and the structure was perfect for what I was looking for. It allowed me to work but get the same education and experience as a full-time student. I applied, I completed Flatiron’s free prep course, I got in, and ever since then I’ve been pretty happy!
When I first found out about Flatiron, they had just released a beta version of the online course and were accepting applications from students with little to no experience. As someone who graduated with a degree that was unrelated to technology or programming, that made me feel more comfortable. I felt like this could be something I could do and decided to do the free prep course before applying. I really enjoyed what I learned in the prep course and decided to go for the full program.
Since you kept working while doing Flatiron School online, how many hours a week were you able to study?
I started the course in December 2015 and I completed it in September 2016, while also working as a security officer. The amount of time spent studying varied based on my work schedule for the week. My position was on-call hours, so on average I spent 40 to 55 hours a week studying for Flatiron School – I wish I could’ve put in more but it worked out well. Self-paced learning was awesome. I never felt overwhelmed with work and going to school. It was still challenging and took a lot of time, but it was fun.
What was the online learning experience like at Flatiron School? How were the days structured and how did the instructors deliver the material?
It was a great curriculum and I thought it was organized very well. Flatiron School set it up in a way that allows people to feel good about themselves when they complete a lesson and mark off achievements in the curriculum. When I started it was fairly new so they were continually experimenting and evaluating student responses and feedback to figure out what was best for the students.
Since this is self-paced you could be stuck on the same project or lab for a couple of days – there’s no way around a lesson if you want to continue through the curriculum. There were times where I would struggle, but I knew I could contact other students or instructors for help through the Flatiron Slack channel. There’s also a button on the portal where you can let others know you’re struggling with a concept, and someone will help you out.
The way the curriculum was structured was very informative. I didn’t really need to go outside of the course to solve problems – even though I did, it wasn’t necessary. The Flatiron course provided enough information and there was more than enough help to get through every lab and every problem without needing to rely on extra sources.
What is your favorite project that you built at Flatiron School?
There was one project in particular that I was pretty excited about that I put a lot of time into – it was a baseball app. I play baseball and the website we use sucks, so I wanted to create something that we could use in the future. It tracked tracks, schedules, and rosters. I used Ruby for the back end and Angular for the front end.
How did Flatiron School prepare you for job hunting? What advice do you have for other online bootcampers going through the job search?
Flatiron School did a lot to help me with the job search. They helped fix up my resume, change my Linkedin profile, build cover letters, create cold emails, prepare for technical interviews, and more. It was pretty intense so it was almost like there was no excuse to not get a job.
For every company you apply to, reach out and send a cold email to a developer or hiring manager there. Don’t be afraid to do that. Also, go to a lot of meetups as you’ll make connections there. There are a lot of nice people out there who are willing to help fellow graduates.
Tell us about your job at CraneAI and how you found it! How long have you been there now?
I applied online to CraneAI a couple months after I finished Flatiron School. I went on a few interviews and got hired as an intern working in ReactJS for three months. I’m now a full-time Full Stack Engineer with CraneAI and have been in this role since July. I can't speak too much about what we currently do, but I can say we are an artificial intelligence (AI) company and the majority of my work has been around ReactJS. At first, it was very challenging, and one of the hardest things I’ve gone through in my life. There were nights when some of us slept here in the office! Now I’m way more comfortable so I don’t have to put in as many hours. CraneAI is a relatively new company and I was their second hire – we have about 12 developers on the team now.
Any advice for bootcamp students who are interns looking to get the promotion into a full-time role?
Be willing to accept different challenges and projects. Expect to fail. You’re going to fail every single day and that’s what I do every day. I’m comfortable with that, but I also have the willingness to learn. When you put in enough hours to work and have the willingness to want to grow, people are going to see that. When they see that, they know you are on the right path by being a good part of the team and they’ll want to help you out. Work hard and try not to get discouraged. If you don’t know something, ask. Your team is there to get through problems together.
Are you using the same programming languages in your role?
What is it like being a new software developer joining a small startup team? How has CraneAI been helpful to your first employer after a bootcamp?
I’ve never worked at a tech company before, but CraneAI is a lot of fun. We spend a lot of time with each other outside of work and there are a lot of experienced engineers and role models from whom I get great advice.
Even if I struggle, they put me into projects to help build my skills so that I can become comfortable enough to work on more intense, challenging projects. This team, in particular, has a lot of young guys. I’m one of the older employees at 25, so some people are more familiar with technology and I’m learning a lot from them. I ask a ton of questions all day long, and I’ve already learned a lot because there are so many opportunities for me to excel. Once my team puts me on the right path and I’m there, I’m very grateful. Everyone is very supportive and we all get along. It’s a great environment to grow as a developer.
From creating that project at Flatiron to getting the internship to now being a full-time developer, how do you feel like you’ve grown?
My skills have grown a lot compared to back then, but even now I still feel like I don’t know anything. There are so many things to learn. I try not to compare what I know now from before, but I like to see how much I don’t know to humble myself to see how much more I need to grow.
Do you feel you took anything from your experience studying to be a police officer or working as a security officer that helped you in your journey of learning to code?
Yes, working as a police officer requires you to constantly be aware of your surroundings and pay attention to details. This helped me with programming as I was familiar with having to research and mentally force myself to write efficient code.
Would you have been able to get to this place in your life if you hadn’t gone to Flatiron School?
No, not at all. Flatiron School supplied me with a fundamental grasp of programming and there’s no way I would’ve been able to do this without them.
What’s been the biggest challenge or roadblock in your journey to learn to code?
Making adjustments from going from back end to front end was one. Also, it’s challenging to explain what I’m trying to do in a technical sense. There’s certain terminology used that I wasn’t familiar with because I did an online bootcamp. Some tech terms were thrown at me that I didn’t at first get, so communication was a challenge at some points.
What advice do you have for our readers who are making a career change through a coding bootcamp?
Don’t be afraid to fail. If you’re not happy with your current situation regardless of what career you’re in, leave. There are so many opportunities out there, like programming, where you can put in a few months of effort to learn. There are many chances to excel and create a new career. Continue to push yourself and good things will happen.
Could you share why you’re thankful for code?
I am thankful for coding for giving me an opportunity to pursue something greater than myself. It has given me a new career and the ability to continue to grow not only as a programmer but as a person.
Allstate Product Design Manager, Dustin Hamilton, started mentoring Designation (now Flatiron School) UX and UI students, and soon realized that many of them would be great additions to his team. He has now hired six Designation graduates, and continues to mentor and get to know many of the designers as they go through the program. Dustin tells us why Designation is his first port of call over other education providers, what the interview process involves, and why he will keep hiring Designation grads. He also advises other employers to research the curriculum of a UX and UI bootcamp before hiring a grad.
As of 5/1/19, Designation is now Flatiron School. Read more about UX Design at Flatiron School on Course Report.
Can you tell me about Allstate and your role there?
I'm one of two product design managers at Allstate. The user experience and design organization here is more than 130 people right now, and we manage a team of 44 product designers.
We have a unique working model with a product-centric viewpoint. It's called Agile XP which stands for extreme programming where we do pair design. We take two designers, put them at the same table, and they each have a keyboard, mouse, and a monitor connected to a single computer. So they're working on the same thing at the same time. This model drives the need for somebody very articulate, somebody who has a lot of empathy, communication skills, and emotional intelligence.
For people who are new to the technology industry and the way design teams work, could you explain why an insurance company like Allstate needs UX and UI designers and product designers?
Allstate was traditionally an insurance company, then we began offering mobile apps and things of that nature. Insurance is still the core of what we do, but you could argue that Allstate is now a software company that also has insurance. We've done so much in the digital space outside of insurance, that arguably it's not the same company that was here five or ten years ago. It's a very different space at this point.
Do the product designers work in all areas of Allstate operations or are there specific places?
We work on all aspects of things. Not everybody in our design organization is a product designer – we also have specialists like UX architects, visual designers, and specialist researchers. The product designers are responsible for small teams doing the visual design, architecture, research, and content. They're very generalist kind of roles.
We've got product designers who are working on everything from call center apps that we use internally, systems administration tools that our IT team uses, software and rollouts, and of course public facing mobile and desktop apps. We also do business to business apps.
How did you first get connected with Designation?
When I first learned of Designation, I didn't look at it like an HR tool. My initial involvement was mentoring and speaking where one of the curriculum directors asked me to teach some classes on how to do design critique. It went really well and I was mentoring a number of Designation students. Then my involvement grew and so did my mentoring. At one point about 18 months ago, I would meet with a student every weekday to help them get their career started. I think that kind of mentorship is really important because it's not a resource I had when I started doing design work more than 14 years ago now. User experience didn't even exist then.
Later in my engagement with Designation, I've been able to help get a number of designers hired because I see a lot of talent through the mentoring program. When you see somebody who clearly “gets it” beyond their education, that's always a great thing. So I help connect students to people I'm connected to within the community so that companies can hire great talent.
Are you still mentoring Designation students now?
Yes. It's lessened significantly because I'm helping others get involved. At Allstate, at least half of the product designers and UX and UI practitioners mentor designers from Designation. Actually, I think Designation got to the point where they had too many mentors from Allstate and not enough students! We also present once a month at Designation to give students an opportunity to learn about something different outside of their schooling and it gives us a chance to practice our consultation and presenting skills.
I see it as an opportunity to help a very lean, scrappy program at Designation where designers are learning very rapidly, hands-on, and almost in a very gritty fashion. I have a strong appreciation for that.
How many Designation grads have you actually hired and what kind of roles are they in?
I have hired six so far, but there were other Designation hires at Allstate before I started in Chicago. My co-manager, who handles our Northbrook location, has a number of Designation folks on his team too. Needless to say, we hire from them quite a bit.
The Designation grads on my team are all product designers, which are purposeful generalists. We work in a pair design model and they do everything from visual design to architecture, to research. They do their own content creation, planning, and strategic work at the product level.
What are you looking for in a new hire? And what was it about those Designation grads that got them the role?
What I'm really looking for are people who shine in regards to soft skills. How do they communicate, how do they present themselves, how are they working, are they collaborative, do they have a sense of community? It's that kind of stuff because our model drives a need for soft skills. Whatever hard skills someone might be lacking, we as a group can help train them.
I mentored two of my Designation hires myself before hiring them. So I already had a sense of their communication style and skills. My own personal mantra is to hire personality and train skill. I fully recognize that anybody coming out of Designation has merit anyway, because they have the ability to learn quickly.
I think there's a spectrum of practitioners out there. On one end, I find the best designers have a broad sense of their skills. They've got a firm understanding of what they know, and an acknowledgment of all the stuff that they don't yet know. People with that mindset are more open to grow and learn. The opposite end of the spectrum is somebody who knows what they know but doesn't have an acknowledgment of what they don’t know. That limits their growth because you can't present them with new information and knowledge because they think they know everything already. But even at 15 years into this career, I'm still learning.
What kind of interview process do you put new hires through? Do Designation designers go through the same kind of interview process as any new hire?
I use the same process regardless of where somebody's coming from. It starts with a half-hour video conference where I describe our working model. I'm also interested in communication skills, focus, personality, that kind of stuff. If somebody is interrupting or asking what the salary is, that indicates to me they don't have a sense of the big picture. Then if I feel there's merit there and mutual interest, I’ll invite them in for an interview.
Part of the interview is a discussion to get to know the candidate and their background. Part of it is also like a showcase – I want to see a piece of work that people are proud of or learned a lot from. I'm looking to see how they articulate the process they went through, and then the pros and cons. Anybody can tell me about the great things they did on a product, but when somebody tells me, "We made this decision and it didn't work so well,” that's the kind of person I want to work with. Someone who isn't afraid to share that something didn't work, and acknowledges that design is a gritty process.
What are you looking for in candidates? Any tips for the interview process?
One of the key elements we do is a design exercise. We role play with the candidates where I act as a business owner, give them a client brief, and they have to act as if they were a consultant. I'm looking for how the person speaks and how they present themselves. Were they pacing, do they have their hands in their pockets, are they focused on the problem or are they talking about solutions already? Are they are asking questions and if so, are they good questions or are they superficial? So it's not the work itself, it's more like the “how”.
My most recent hire, we were doing the design exercise and it was 11 minutes in. I just started laughing and I told them, "You're hired." My guidance to everybody is just be yourself and do what you would normally do. It's not an assessment of skills. It's assessment of working style.
How important are candidates’ backgrounds from before Designation? Do you factor their previous backgrounds into their suitability for the roles?
It's always cool to hear about, but I don't consider that so much in hiring. It matters to me more that they got through the program successfully, and that they've got a good mindset. Then usually I can speak directly to Mike Joosse, Designation’s President, and find out more about an individual. I’ll get the intricacies of how they worked, where they worked, and what their challenges were. That means far more to me than what their background is. I like to mentor a lot because, unfortunately, the people who didn't come with some kind of background that's relatable to UX and UI have a harder time getting their first jobs. So I work with them to help them showcase their portfolios, resumes, and their interview skills, to try to help them get that first role.
When those Designation grads first start at Allstate, how much training do they need? Are they quite well prepared for the job already when they start or how much training do you have to give them?
Because of the way that we work in product design, I would say that everybody needs leveling up, not just Designation designers. Because of our unique working model, it takes all new hires about a month to really get into a good routine. The Designation grads bring a good mindset; they are eager to learn and they approach things with curiosity.
We also do a week-long product design bootcamp periodically for everyone. The Designation designers are excited when they hear that we have a product bootcamp, that we are investing in them, not only in their future here but elsewhere as well. A true mark of success for me is if any of these practitioners down the road says, “Dustin really set me up for my career." That would be awesome because I know this likely isn't an endpoint – I want to make sure they get set up in their careers.
How do you ensure that those employees continue to be supported in their learning as they progress? Do you have any kind of mentoring or apprenticeship-type programs going on?
We do. As I mentioned, our working model of pair design involves two people working from the same computer, with a monitor each, looking at literally same thing. It's difficult to find people with a generalist background in UX, UI, content, and research. So I often pair somebody from a UX background with somebody from UI background. Then that UX person will teach the UI based person about architecture, and that visual knowledge of the UI person is transferred to the UX person. So through that way of working, they are leveling up their skills constantly.
We also have the notion of pairing with a specialist. In some of our product teams, we have data scientists, so instead of a product designer pairing with another designer, they sometimes pair with a data scientist. It's all about mutual sharing of information so that the data scientist learns about the product, and the product designer learns about the data, how to use it, and what it means. There's a lot of learning that takes place.
I’m also very thoughtful when I put together management and reports. I’ll take a senior project designer with a very strong UX architect background and have them manage somebody who's visually based. And I'll do the same vice versa. Allstate is one of the best places I've ever seen for investment into employees – we do all kinds of training.
Since you've hired those Designation grads, have any of them switched roles or been promoted or do you anticipate that might happen in the future?
Oh, they definitely will. We have three levels of product designers. The first two levels are product designers, and we treat them the same. If you're in the more beginning stages of your career, you're in the first level. If you're at the higher end of experience, equating to a mid-level practitioner, you're probably going to be in the second level. The third level is the senior product designers, who typically have five years of experience or more. So eventually those Designation grads will progress through the ranks.
Other than Designation, what other talent pipelines do you have for UX and UI and product design hires? Are there other bootcamps or university programs that you look at?
If I'm looking for an entry-level practitioner, Designation is my first go-to. I will consider other bootcamps and other practitioners who are experienced or just starting, but I think because of my knowledge of the way Designation works, I feel more confident when I make a Designation hire. With Designation designers, I know what they're learning, and I know who they learned it from.
At any point when you were first thinking about hiring from a bootcamp, did you have to convince anyone else in your company?
I'm pretty transparent about that kind of thing, and everyone knows I'm a big fan of Designation. I advocate for the students whenever I hear an opening suitable for a fresh Designation graduate. I’ll give them three or four different candidate names and letters of recommendation from the people at Designation.
Are you able to give feedback to Designation and influence their curriculum if you notice any areas that your UX and UI hires might be under qualified in?
Yeah, I do look for that. Mike and I meet on a periodic basis and talk through those things and I give him a lot of direct feedback. When we walk away from those sessions, I know Mike is going to do what he feels is right for his students. I used to teach a class to every Designation cohort about mindfulness design critique. The students and staff reacted so positively to that, that they actually integrated it as part of their curriculum. So it's neat to be able to say that I can help influence what their students are learning to make them even better candidates.
What kind of relationship is there between Allstate and Designation. Do you have to pay a referral fee when you hire their graduates?
No. I would say it's semi-formal. We do a lot of work with them. We mentor a number of their students, and we do monthly presentations. One of the cool things about the relationship is my access to the Designers in Residence program. For every cohort, they pick one student to stay on for three months to be the Designer in Residence and work at Designation teaching other students. You could argue that the top designers out of every cohort get that role. What I do, which has benefits for me and the students, is meet with every Designer in Residence personally for an hour here at Allstate. And it's not necessarily a hiring thing for me; it's getting to know who is the top talent coming out of Designation and entering the design community, and helping get their careers started. I work with them to make sure that once they finish, they hit the ground running and get a good job.
Getting to know those Designers in Residence means that when I end up with staffing needs I've already got a roster of the top recent Designation graduates. I can just make a few phone calls and see if anybody's interested in making a switch. That really goes a long way in shortening the hiring process.
Will you hire from Designation in the future and if so why?
Absolutely. I like to say that Designation is a very meaty program, and when you come out of that program you've got one of the best baseline skill sets that you can grow upon. It really allows the students to have their personality shine to show that they have the soft skills to back up their hard skills. Designation is one of the first places I look when I'm looking for a fresh graduate, then also I'm keen to meet alumni as well.
Have you hired a Designation grad who's already had another job in design?
Yeah. Sometimes I will simply reach out to Mike and say, “I need somebody that's got two or three years of experience. Who is your best?" And he'll give me a list of two or three designers and a detailed synopsis of what they've done and how they did. That's an amazing resource to have.
What is your advice to other employers or hiring managers who are thinking about hiring from a design bootcamp or any kind of technology bootcamp?
Designation is a meaty program where the designers come out with that solid baseline set of skills. They know how design really works and that design isn't a pretty process. They come with an eager mindset to not only show what they know, but to learn what they don't.
The reason that ‘bootcamp’ is an alarming word is that it's so loosely defined. For instance, another program here in Chicago is one hour each week for four weeks. So you're learning UX and design in four hours. My advice to employers is to look deeply at differences between the bootcamps. Look for schools that have assessment or intake processes and don't be afraid to ask about placement rate. Designation doesn't take just anybody who applies, and they have a very high placement rate. Look at all aspects of a bootcamp and know that they're not created equal, and the terminology is often not the same.
Find out more and read Flatiron School UX Design reviews on Course Report.
One of the challenges that bootcamps face and have really taken head-on is building diverse classrooms. If you’ve looked at demographics research, you know that tech is not diverse – and that means everything from a lack of racial to gender to cognitive diversity. But a lot of bootcamps are doing interesting things in this realm, around scholarships, community outreach, and partnerships with local government to get into untapped communities and train people with a lot of potential but little access to tech. On today’s podcast, we explore how one bootcamp, Flatiron School, approaches diversity in their cohorts.Continue Reading →
October 2017 was a busy month for the coding bootcamp industry with news about growing pains in bootcamp outcomes, mergers, acquisitions, investments, a trend towards bootcamp B2B training, and diversity initiatives. To help you out, we’ve collected all the most important news in this blog post and podcast. Plus, we added 12 new schools from around the world to the Course Report school directory! Read below or listen to our latest Coding Bootcamp News Roundup Podcast.Continue Reading →
Learning to code is tough when you’re a beginner. There is so much information to sort through and it can feel like you’ll never learn enough to become a legitimate developer. But if you know what to expect before you start, then you’ll be prepared for these inevitable challenges. Flatiron School dean and co-founder Avi Flombaum taught himself to code, and went through the same struggles that beginner coders face today. We asked Avi to share the 4 crucial obstacles beginners face when learning to code and how you can overcome them!Continue Reading →
Need a rundown of everything that happened in the coding bootcamp industry this September? You’re in luck! We’ve collected all the most important news in this blog post and podcast. This month, we kept up with the status of the bootcamp industry, learned about how bootcamps are thriving in smaller markets, and explored different ways to pay for bootcamp. Plus, we added 7 new schools from around the world to the Course Report school directory! Read below or listen to our latest Coding Bootcamp News Roundup Podcast.Continue Reading →
Just as they’ve developed disruptive education tools, technology bootcamps are also adopting payment plans which allow students to pay nothing or very little until they graduate and find a job. Deferred tuition and income sharing agreements (ISAs) are becoming more widely available, and give students who don’t have $20,000 in the bank, access to life-changing learning opportunities. This guide will help you sort through the details and differentiate between the terms; plus, we’ve even helped you start your research by compiling a list of coding and data science bootcamps that offer ISAs or Deferred Tuition.Continue Reading →
As the co-founder of Designation (now Flatiron School), I have talked to a lot of aspirational designers. At last count, in the 3+ years we’ve been around, I have personally interviewed about 2000 candidates for the program. And in that time, I’ve identified some distinct patterns about the types of people that are well-suited to a career in UX or UI design. If this is at all a career path you’ve been considering, check out this list to see if you have these characteristics:Continue Reading →
Why do journalists and industry leaders think that two coding bootcamps are closing? And despite these “shutdowns,” why do companies like IBM still want to hire coding bootcamp graduates? We’re covering all of the industry news from August. Plus, a $3 billion GI Bill that covers coding bootcamps for veterans, why Google and Amazon are partnering with bootcamps, and diversity initiatives. Listen to our podcast or read the full August 2017 News Roundup below.Continue Reading →
What were you up to before Flatiron School?
My background was drastically different before starting at Flatiron School. I received my BA and MA from Xavier University in Theology, and previously served as a professional college campus minister for a local, private Catholic University.
What motivated you to change career paths and do a coding bootcamp?
While I loved working in ministry, I hit a point where it started to become repetitive and unchallenging. I did some soul searching, and turned to another passion of mine – technology. In the past, I had learned some very basic HTML and CSS in my downtime, so I had somewhat of a foundation, albeit a small one. I decided that a future as a software developer would be both an exciting challenge and the best career path for my growing family.
Campus Minister to Software Developer: that’s quite a career change! Has your previous background as a campus minister been useful in your new job in tech?
I’d say the biggest skill that has carried over is understanding how people feel, behave, think, and act, and being able to effectively communicate this understanding with them. It’s really crucial for any job, if you think about it. However, making a career switch amplifies the need and importance for such communication.
Did you research other coding bootcamps or did you have your heart set on Flatiron School?
Yes, I did research other schools. I took part in a couple of other informational webinars prior to investigating Flatiron School. However, Flatiron’s approach to education, their commitment to community, and their breadth of curriculum won me over.
Why did you choose to learn online instead of attending an in-person bootcamp in Cincinnati?
Being able to learn online was a key factor for me in my research process. I wasn’t able to drop everything and move away from my family for a few months to do an in-person bootcamp. While there may have been some in-person opportunities in Cincinnati, none of them were with Flatiron School, nor were they as affordable. And again, I wasn’t in a position to be able to immediately quit my job as a campus minister and do the bootcamp full-time. So online it was.
Yes, learning online was daunting at first. I had never taken an online course before – all my previous education was face-to-face. And yes, it was a risk for me. I didn’t know how I would adjust to such a change in learning style and environment along with such a big change in content (ministry vs. tech). However, it didn’t take long for me to realize that Flatiron School was so uniquely set up to accommodate people in similar positions as myself. The online community of fellow Learn-ers (Learn is the name Flatiron School’s online platform) and instructors made the transition smoother than I anticipated. I definitely believe that without them, I wouldn’t have been as successful.
Since Flatiron’s online program is self-paced, how long did it take you to complete the course?
When I started Flatiron School, I was still working in my previous career. Thankfully my superiors were incredibly understanding, so they let me go down to part-time so that I could do Flatiron part-time. I learned at this pace for a few months, then went to full-time learning when my contract was up (I was a 10-month employee, off during the summer). By the time I graduated, I was a student for 9 months – 3 part-time, and 6 full-time.
Is there something you’ve discovered every Flatiron School online student must do to be successful?
First and foremost, don’t be afraid to ask for help! There will most certainly be times when you get stumped to the point of wanting to throw your computer across the room. Fight that instinct, and use your better judgement – consult the Flatiron School community. No matter the difficulty of the question, an instructor or fellow student is always willing to lend a hand. This degree of attention was a lifesaver for me, and shows how much everyone at Flatiron cares about your success. Some people may be able to do it alone, but you’ll be missing out. Even just having casual conversation with the community can give you a different perspective and will definitely reinforce your love for coding!
How supported did you feel by instructors and other students at Flatiron School?
I really felt valued not only as a student, but also as a person in general. Aside from the help with the coursework as I previously stated, the community at Flatiron School held regular weekly check-ins to see how we were overall – we could share highs, lows, or anything we wanted the community to know. It’s an open and accepting place that made me feel like I truly belonged.
How is Flatiron School different from the other online resources you’ve used in the past?
I’ve tried some courses on Codecademy. The major difference is the quality of the content. On Codecademy, it wasn’t difficult to get a hint or even the full solution if you ran into a roadblock. It wasn’t a challenge. However, with Flatiron School, the quality of the curriculum is evident. In turn, you really have to put in some effort to match the curriculum. There isn’t a “hint” button. You have to do the work in order to move on and eventually be successful. It’s a great mirror of life in general, come to think of it. Those free online resources can be good to supplement your studies, but I wouldn’t advise relying solely on them.
Because you’re based in Cincinnati, how did Flatiron School help you find a job despite living in a slightly smaller job market?
I’ll admit there were some moments during my search when I wished I lived in a larger tech hub like New York or Chicago. But my career coach gave me some great networking advice and strategies which put my mind at ease. She was confident that I’d find a job and remain eligible for Flatiron School’s money-back Job Guarantee.
Throughout Flatiron School, I had two mock interviews: a cultural/HR interview and a technical interview. Even though I had been through many interviews in the past, they were a great experience and gave me some useful feedback to better myself for actual interviews. My advice to bootcampers, whether in tech hub cities or not, is to network. Get yourself out there – attend meetups, schedule informal coffee meetings, go to conferences. In my experience, the leads you’ll gain through networking are far higher quality than simply emailing a resume/cold applying for a job.
Tell us about your new job! What is CRäKN and what’s your role there?
I’m a software developer with CRäKN. CRäKN develops proprietary software for the death care industry, a.k.a software for funeral homes and directors. “Interesting…” you may be thinking. But, everyone needs software, and CRäKN helps the death care industry manage and simplify their daily operations.
What are you working on day-to-day? Is this what you expected when making a career change into tech?
I work primarily on the back-end, in Ruby and Ruby on Rails, but I do occasionally help out on the front-end using EmberJS. I help tackle issues with our app as they arise, and assist in adding new features, too. It’s a great mix. I couldn’t be happier at CRäKN. We’re small, less than 10 developers, which I really appreciate for my first job in tech. My team is very willing to help, which is beyond encouraging for someone new to the field.
Did you learn everything you needed to know for this job at Flatiron School or has there been a learning curve?
I’d say Flatiron School prepared me about 75-80% for my current job. That’s really what I was expecting, too. Each company isn’t going to be exactly like the bootcamp’s curriculum. In my case, the complexity of our Rails app is much higher than anything I had seen before, plus the use of EmberJS required some extra learning. But, as previously said, my team didn’t expect me to know everything right away. So the short answer is yes – there has been an expected learning curve.
How did you get your job in the end?
What’s been the biggest challenge or roadblock in your journey to learn to code?
For me, the dreaded “imposter syndrome” has been my biggest challenge. It may stem from my own personality, but I constantly fight the feeling that I’m not living up to someone’s expectations, comparing myself to others, and thinking that I need to be on the same level as others. When I hit these moments, I try to decompress and talk myself down, realizing that 1) I have a job, so someone must believe in my skills, and 2) If I do the that best I can do, that’s all anybody who cares really wants.
Have you stayed involved with Flatiron School?
I try to check in with the community on Slack whenever I get the chance, either to say how things are going or offer help if I can.
What advice do you have for people making a career change through a coding bootcamp?
Trust yourself and don’t be afraid. If you choose to go the Flatiron route, you’ll find a welcoming community who can make your dream of a career in tech a reality. Is it a risk? Of course! But, for me and likely for you, the reward is worth it! Oh, and good luck and happy coding!
Need a summary of news about coding bootcamps from July 2017? Course Report has just what you need! We’ve put together the most important news and developments in this blog post and podcast. In July, we read about the closure of two major coding bootcamps, we dived into a number of new industry reports, we heard some student success stories, we read about new investments in bootcamps, and we were excited to hear about more diversity initiatives. Plus we round up all the new campuses and new coding bootcamps around the world.Continue Reading →
With the closing of Dev Bootcamp (slated for December 8, 2017), you’re probably wondering what other coding bootcamp options are out there. Dev Bootcamp changed thousands of lives, and built a great reputation with employers, so we are sad to see it go. Fortunately, there are still plenty of quality coding bootcamps in the cities where Dev Bootcamp operated. Here is a list of coding bootcamps with similar lengths, time commitments, and curriculums in the six cities where Dev Bootcamp had campuses: Austin, Chicago, New York, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle.Continue Reading →
Missed any news about coding bootcamps from June 2017? Course Report is here for you! We’ve compiled the most important news and developments in this blog post and podcast. In June, we heard John Oliver and Megyn Kelly talk about bootcamps, we read about new investments in bootcamps, a number of newspapers wrote about the impact bootcamps are having at a local level, and we were excited to hear about more diversity initiatives and scholarships. Plus we round up all the new campuses and new coding bootcamps around the world.Continue Reading →
So you want to land a job after coding bootcamp? The statistics are on your side – 73% of bootcampers report being employed as developers after graduation. But did you know that many coding bootcamps go one step further and offer a job guarantee? We’ve put together a list of in-person and online coding bootcamps in the USA and around the world which offer guaranteed job placement. And don’t get caught off guard by the details – we’ve also included specifics about job guarantee tuition refunds, conditions, and tips to help you work out if a job guarantee coding bootcamp is right for you.Continue Reading →
Need an overview of coding bootcamp news in May? You’re in the right place! We’ve collected all the most important news in this blog post and podcast. This month, we read about a number of insightful surveys about employers, programming languages, and learners. We read advice about choosing a bootcamp, learned about efforts to encourage women and veterans to learn to code, and heard about student experiences at bootcamp. Plus, we added a bunch of interesting new schools to the Course Report school directory! Read below or listen to our latest Coding Bootcamp News Roundup Podcast.Continue Reading →
Learning at an online coding bootcamp means you may not meet face-to-face with your instructor, so we’re introducing you to Peter Bell, the Lead Instructor at Flatiron School’s Online Web Developer Program. Peter was already a big fan of Flatiron School when he joined the team in 2016, bringing extensive programming experience, and a background teaching at Columbia Business School and Github. Peter tells us how Flatiron School’s online program differs from the on-campus bootcamp, how he and the online team communicate with remote students around the country, and how his team continues to add new material to the curriculum.
Tell us about your background and experience in programming.
I studied a technical topic – I took a BEng/MEng in Electronic, Communications and Computer Systems engineering, but then I became a therapist, ran a sales training company and built an ad agency. I didn’t start programming professionally until five years after college when I started building CD-ROM product catalogs and trade show demos for clients in the mid-'90s.
Since you didn’t study computer science at college, how did you learn to code?
My college course didn’t include much coding (some Pascal), but I started programming as a kid in Basic on a Commodore Vic 20, and while in high school I went to a local community college in the evenings to learn to program in C. Later, I learned to program professionally using Visual Basic, ColdFusion, and Ruby, by selling apps to people and then figuring out how to code them!
How did you become aware of the bootcamp model? Did you need to be convinced of the effectiveness of this education style?
I know a lot of people in the industry and have always been convinced that we needed to improve the effectiveness of education. In fact, I quit college just before graduating because I didn’t believe a degree was a good way of determining how smart or capable someone was.
What made you excited to work at Flatiron School in particular? And why did you want to work in online education?
I know people running many of the top bootcamps and have always been a huge fan of what Flatiron School Co-Founder Avi Flombaum and the team are doing. They really care about changing lives and continuing to innovate – from working with underserved groups to providing independently-audited job reports. I also believe they have the perfect setup with a single physical campus for experimentation and a real investment in their online program.
What is your role as Lead Online Instructor?
I’m responsible for figuring out how we can help our online students be successful. I do that by hiring and managing a team of Section Leads, Program Mentors, and Technical Coaches who help the students with onboardings, live lectures, group check-ins, office hours, 1:1’s, accountability sessions and on-demand technical coaching to help them to stay engaged and learn to code as quickly and effectively as possible.
How many instructors, TAs and/or mentors are available to the Flatiron online students? And in what locations are they based?
The exact number of instructional staff changes pretty quickly as we’re growing the online program very fast, but we have over 20 people involved in providing instruction and support to our online students. It’s a “remote first” team so we have people from Seattle to Florida and from Tennessee to New York City.
What sort of teaching experience do you have? What is different about teaching at an online coding bootcamp compared with that prior experience?
Before I joined Flatiron School, I already had a bunch of experience with both online and in-person education. I taught digital literacy at Columbia Business School, have created materials for a number of different bootcamps, wrote a book for O’Reilly, created a video series for Pearson, and have presented at technical conferences around the world. For a number of years, I was also the only contract member of the GitHub, providing online and in-person Git and GitHub training to organizations around the world.
The biggest difference with creating educational materials and teaching online is that, generally, you get less feedback from students, so it’s important to be teaching materials that you have experience teaching in-person so you know how to present the material and the kinds of questions that are likely to come up. It’s also really important to think carefully about how best to engage students so they’re actively participating rather than just watching/listening.
How do you teach concepts through the online platform? How does this compare to teaching students in-person at Flatiron School?
Flatiron’s in-person NYC Software Engineering Immersive is great. You get to be in a room all day, every day with people all looking to change their lives by learning to code. It’s intensive, focused and if you have the time to do it, it is a wonderful way to learn to code in a highly structured environment.
On the other hand, Flatiron’s Online Web Developer Program provides students with the ability to learn on their schedule. In addition to reading text and watching videos, they get to work on labs so they can learn to code by writing code. And instead of just coding in a browser, throughout the course, they get introduced gently to all of the tools that professional developers use – from the command line and text editors to Git and GitHub. In addition, we have Technical Coaches available from 9am to 1am EST every day to help them when they get stuck and over 20 live lectures and office hour sessions every week where they can connect with and learn from the Section Leads and their peers. They also have the flexibility to go at their own pace and to live and work anywhere, rather than having to quit their jobs and move to NYC.
What unique challenges does teaching to a remote class present?
The biggest issue is getting feedback from students and helping them to keep coding when life gets in the way. As such, we are working on a number of accountability programs to make it easier for students to stay on track.
How do students communicate with other students and instructors?
We have both staff and student Slack channels and typically use some combination of Zoom, Screenhero, Slack and Google Hangouts for video chats and screen sharing.
Can you tell me about the upcoming changes to the online program?
We already have a great platform (our Learn.co “online campus") and a proven full-stack web development curriculum, so we’re continuing to look at how we can add educational services for our online students. We are continually launching new experiments to see how best we can help students to fit their studies in with their lives. Right now, we’re offering personalized onboarding calls with all new students to help them to succeed and are offering 30- and 60-day check-ins to make sure they’re making the progress they need, and to connect them with the resources they require.
What are the reasons for these changes?
Many of our students are already succeeding, graduating quickly, and getting great junior developer positions. However, we find that with a self-paced program, some students have trouble staying motivated and engaged when they get busy, so we’re working on a range of programs to try to help every single student to graduate in a reasonable amount of time.
How will these changes better prepare students to get jobs as developers?
Our graduates are not having any problems getting jobs (in fact, we recently released an online jobs report), so we’re just really focused on helping our students to graduate more quickly. We also continue to add new optional curriculum and live lectures on topics like algorithms and Test Driven Development so the students are ready to ace technical interviews and work successfully on high performing agile teams at the best companies.
How are you involved in those changes? In general, how are you involved in iterating on the online bootcamp curriculum?
As a team, we spend a lot of time talking to students and thinking about experiments we can run to help them to succeed even more quickly. My main role is to help the team organize the experiments, operationalize the winners, and learn from the experiments that don’t perform as expected. We have a whole separate curriculum team, so the instructional team does provide feedback on the content students are struggling with, but the curriculum team is actually responsible for improving the content.
Can you tell us about the ideal student for Flatiron School’s online bootcamp? Is there a certain type of student who does well in the class?
The ideal student really wants to learn to code, can find at least 20 hours a week to work on the program and is open to using tools like Slack and Zoom to connect with other students and instructors for encouragement and support.
Tell us about your biggest student success story!
It’s hard to choose just one when so many of our students are really committing to changing their lives by learning to code! You can read about how Kailee, Gabe, Shana, and Savannah reinvented their careers in very different ways on the Flatiron blog. People take the Flatiron School Online Web Developer Program for many different reasons.
How are you involved with giving career advice/helping students find jobs?
We have a whole separate team of career coaches who are responsible for helping our students to find and land great jobs – though I do have a lot to share about how to effectively build a career in tech.
What’s the goal for a student who completes the bootcamp?
The goal for the program is to give someone the skills to get a great job as a junior developer. Generally the difference between a junior and more senior developer is the number of years they’ve spent working full time on production applications, so the best way to become a senior developer is to get a job as a junior developer and then to keep on coding and learning for a few years!
For our readers who are beginners, what online resources do you recommend for aspiring bootcampers?
We know that the majority of graduates are finding jobs after coding bootcamp, but what happens in their careers two years down the line? Flatiron School recently surveyed more than 150 alumni who graduated 1 to 4 years ago to find out how their careers have progressed. We asked Flatiron School’s VP of Career Services, Rebekah Rombom, what coding bootcampers can expect their career trajectories to look like, and how they can position themselves for raises and promotions. Watch the video or read the summary.Continue Reading →
Zoe Sinner learned the foundations of UX/UI Design at Designation (now Flatiron School) in 2014, and has only continued to skyrocket as a designer since graduating. After freelancing and working at TaskRabbit, Zoe recently landed a coveted job as a Product Designer at Facebook. Zoe explains why great design is a journey, how to go beyond the foundations you’ll learn at a bootcamp like Flatiron's UX/UI Design program to perfect your craft, and why an alumni network can help you battle imposter syndrome as a new designer.
What were you up to before Designation?
I graduated college with a Bachelor’s degree in Arts and Communications and worked for two years in marketing for a medical association. I found that I was drawn to creating and knew I wanted to pivot to a creative role, but didn't really know how to get there.
I thought about pursuing a master’s degree in graphic or web design but they just didn't feel like the right kind of design for me. I felt like there was a lot of learning materials online in which I could teach myself at a fraction of the cost. This was in 2013, and “UX Designer” was not in my vocabulary nor did I know what that kind of design entailed.
How did you teach yourself?
I started looking for ways that I could get the experience or skills to go into a design role. I started with a little bit of Codecademy and thought that front end design was cool, but I also took some self-paced, online Photoshop courses. I watched so many YouTube videos about how to use Photoshop and Illustrator. Once I started thinking about how to get to a design role, I considered going back to school to get my masters degree. But after all the learning I had done online it just didn’t make sense in my mind to spend 2 more years plus thousands of dollars on a masters degree when I had made some progress. I was ready to make this change now.
Why did you choose Designation?
I discovered Designation in 2013, and at that time, there weren’t any other Design Bootcamps in Chicago. What really attracted me to Designation was that I would be able to immerse myself in design and knock out the course in a few months. I knew I was passionate about this career, and I could put in 100% to pivot my career in a shortened timeline. In college, you spend a few hours per week on a subject, but I wanted to learn foundational design skills, plus get the experience of building a portfolio. To me, Designation was the perfect combination of skills and experience that I needed.
Were you able to carry the skills from your degree in Art and Communications into Designation?
I did take a little bit of what I learned in college into Designation. If you're starting from scratch, there's definitely a lot of basic foundational material you should learn before you go to a bootcamp. Because I had taken classes in college and was doing some creative work in my marketing job, I knew I would enjoy a career in design. Some of that background just naturally carried over into UX Design. Later, I learned that some of what I did in my first job was actually UX, but I just didn't even know it.
I think it does help to have a little bit of a foundation, if only to validate to yourself that you understand the concepts and want to pursue it as a career.
What hard skills did you learn at Designation?
You get to choose your weapon of choice: Sketch, Illustrator, or Photoshop. In UX Design, there are certain deliverables like “journey maps” that you use on the job, so we learned how to structure those. You also learn UX/UI methodologies, like product thinking, research, hypotheses, and layout for UI. I also took away soft skills like collaborating and presenting, especially during the client work phase.
Designation also has pre-coursework, where you’ll get to know how to use a tool before your first day.
Do you suggest that people get familiar with tools like Photoshop before they even get to the bootcamp?
Absolutely, because it’s going to be much harder to learn a software program while also trying to learn the principles of design. On top of that, by playing around and getting to know the software, you’ll get a feel for the job. Learning your tools as much as you can before you start at Designation is really going to help you in the long run; you'll set yourself up for more success.
Could you tell us about your client work project at Designation?
The most successful project I worked on was with WeDeliver. We worked on their marketing landing pages to fix usability issues and make the brand more clear. We actually needed to do user research to understand the pain points of the current site, and then we redesigned it so that it better communicated their mission.
How did Designation prepare you for the job search?
Designation helps you build a great portfolio and they teach you the tools and tricks of interviewing well. They also have a great alumni network, and a support network that you can reach out to.
They’re not telling you to apply for certain jobs, but they really help you figure out jobs that you want to go after, what kind of company you want to work for, how to network, how to prepare for interviews, and how to structure your portfolio. But when it comes to actually getting the job, that's still on you.
Tell us about your career progression after Designation; how did you land a job at Facebook?
The first job after graduating is the hardest job to get, but after that, it becomes much easier. Designation actually connected me with a recruiter, which is how I got my first job. I worked with that recruiter to apply and find roles that were right for me. The first company I interviewed with was originally looking for a Senior UX Designer, but it was such a good interview that they decided to bring me on as a freelancer, which then turned into a full-time UX Design role.
One of the things that Designation emphasizes is the power of networking. After getting some experience in my first job, I was able to get my resume passed around, and made a connection with the Design Director at TaskRabbit. That's how I got my second job as a Product Designer at TaskRabbit. And from there, I was approached by a design manager at Facebook and went through the recruiting process.
I probably wouldn't have been able to land a job as a Product Designer at Facebook right after graduating from Designation, but because of the foundation and skills I learned, combined with the real-life experience of working at two companies, I had a successful recruiting process with Facebook!
What is the difference between a Product Designer and UX Designer?
In this world, the terms are so generalized. At Designation, I majored in UI, but my first role was a UX Designer. Actually, when I was interviewing for my first UX role, I realized it was really a hybrid of UX and UI. The takeaway there is that job titles are just job titles. You have to dig in to find out what the actual role entails.
To me, a UX Designer thinks about user needs and the correct user experience, whereas a Product Designer takes into consideration the visual side and more of the business side as well. I don't think there is a hard line to differentiate those two roles; as with all design roles, they all exist in an overlapping Venn diagram.
What is a UX Design job interview like?
There were some commonalities between each interview process I went through. First, you need to know how to tell your story and how you got to this point. You should also be able to talk about your past work. In every interview, I had to go through my work, and I think the trick here is telling a story and conveying intentionality.
Secondly, this is not a requirement for all interviews, but you should expect some type of problem-solving or design challenge. That may be a take-home design challenge where you need to create a visual interface or an in-person work session.
My Facebook interview involved all of the above, app critiques, plus a whiteboarding session where I actually worked with my interviewer through a problem on the board.
What are you working on now at Facebook as a Product Designer?
I'm part of the Growth Infrastructure Team at Facebook; I essentially work on internal tools that affect the end user as well. That could mean anything from a visual update to pushing a new feature, to researching current users, to cross-functional work. Day-to-day, my job is a combination of all different types of skills. I could be pixel pushing more one day and brainstorming the next day.
On my team, I'm the one Product Designer supporting seven Engineers, a Product Manager, and an Engineering Manager.
Did you learn everything that you needed to know for your job at Designation, or have you had to learn on the job?
This is a great question. I tell everyone that Designation will give you the foundations, but it's up to you to really foster those skills. For example, at Designation, I learned about the methodology of how to build a page with good UI and how to lay things out, but it was only after I graduated that I’ve become more confident in those skills. Likewise, you start to learn and practice the product thinking methodology at Designation, but in the real world, you’re getting better at that thinking and fostering those skills.
For me personally, my advice to bootcamp grads is to never stop learning. After Designation, my whole world has become reading design books, going to design meetups, reading blog posts, and understanding trends.
What’s the biggest lesson you learned as your design career has evolved over the last 3 years?
On the job, I would say owning my own personal process and improving that and tailoring it for the job. Another thing I had to learn on the job was how a tech company actually works and how to work with other roles as a designer. At Designation, you learn in a perfect world where design is highly valued, but in the real-world, it's very rare to find a company that really values design the way you value design. You need to learn how to work with other roles that don't have an understanding of design.
One common theme I find myself talking about with other designers and Designation alumni is, "How do you evangelize the value of design in different companies?” It's certainly been a challenge to realize that there isn’t this perfect way to apply design in every company. Getting frustrated about that fact will only stress you out, so you have to really own your own design, and then get buy-in from the right stakeholders at the right time.
What has been your biggest challenge in terms of your journey coming into your role as a UX designer for the last couple of years?
Imposter syndrome! To combat this, you have to find other designers either inside or outside of your company (even your bootcamp alumni network). For me, the Facebook design team is huge, and are all so very different. Finding designers or product managers who I can confide in and express that too is so important. You have to find a design mentor or buddy that you can lean on and get support from. And learn to be okay with being vulnerable and asking questions. You're new to design and you don’t want to seem too junior, but find the right balance between being vulnerable and asking the right questions.
Are there a lot of alumni in San Francisco that you keep in touch with?
Not at first, but now there's a healthy alumni network. We actually still communicate through the Designation Slack channel, and sometimes meet up in person too. In my previous role, I was on a design team of only four people, so I relied on my alumni group a lot more to chat about design trends and questions. I try to meet up regularly with the alumni group in San Francisco to talk about our issues and our challenges. It's good to vent to each other and talk about how we’re dealing with certain things.
Looking back on the last few years, could you have kept self-teaching, working in marketing and gotten to where you are now three years later?
It's very unlikely that I would have been able to get to where I am today without Designation. That’s mainly because it gave me the foundations I needed in design, networking and taught me design methodologies, all of which I've continued to build upon as I've grown throughout these jobs. And that would have been really hard to do on my own.
Any final advice to future designers who are considering a coding bootcamp?
There's something to be said about perfecting your craft. I didn't graduate from Designation magically able to produce beautiful designs. It's been a work in progress. Learning a craft like design is like playing the piano – you have to continue to work at it to get better. Once you graduate from a bootcamp, take the foundations that you've learned and continue to practice it to get to the next level or perfect your craft and feel confident. I'm passionate about helping people get into UX/UI Design because I went through it and I know what it's like. It’s a journey.
Flatiron School has been educating web developers in their NYC Software Engineering Immersive since 2012. But as technology and job markets evolve, Flatiron School’s education team felt the need to revamp their approach as well. We discussed these changes with VP of Education Joe Burgess, to better understand what these changes mean for students. Our takeaways? A longer, more flexible modular curriculum, regular student assessments, and greater focus on computer science and technical concentrations.
The most important change to a student may be the length- why did Flatiron School decide to extend its NYC Software Engineering Immersive to 15 weeks?
Honestly, four years ago when we started Flatiron School, we decided on 12 weeks and it worked well for our curriculum. Over the past four years, we've iterated and tried to squeeze more and more out of those 12 weeks. As this industry is maturing, one amazing thing that’s happened is that employers are demanding more from their junior engineers. The Flatiron developers have been increasing the caliber of junior engineers.
In our opinion, 12 weeks just isn't long enough to be able to create incredibly elite, high-quality junior engineers. Of course, we know that moving from 12 to 15 weeks is not a small consideration, but I think it's the right balance of time, depth, and breadth for our NYC program.
What are you able to add to the curriculum with those extra 3 weeks?
With those additional weeks, we’ll be able to add on project-based technical concentrations, in which students go really deep into a topic that interests them. Our Career Services team has been placing students for four years now, and we know what moves the needle– having a concentration in a particular topic is one of those things. The additional time also allows us to add a Product Series, so we can help students become well-rounded product engineers that understand there's more to being an amazing engineer than just slinging code. You have to understand how businesses work, how to solve problems, how to conduct user research, and how to work in a team, etc.
As we continue to talk to employers and to our alums who are thinking about their entire careers– their second, third, or fourth jobs– our alumni always say that they really wish they had gotten more Computer Science education, so we're building that into the 15 weeks as well.
Do you think that longer class time is a trend that we're going to see in coding bootcamps?
I would hope so. 12 weeks just isn't enough, and as much as I am really proud of how much we're able to squeeze out of 12 weeks in the immersive format, there are limits. I think many 12-week bootcamps will probably be making a move to a longer format. We believe that the return on investment of three extra weeks will be seen in better jobs and faster placement.
What do the new three-week rolling start dates mean for students?
This is really exciting. The three-week rolling start dates mean that we’re able to modularize our curriculum into five, three-week modules.
- Module 1: Programming fundamentals (Ruby, HTML & CSS)
- Module 2: Web Frameworks (Sinatra and Rails)
- Module 4: Front-end Frameworks (React & Redux)
- Module 5: Technical Concentrations (Databases, Performance, React Native, or a deeper dive into the Front-end)
Prospective students can take a closer look at these topics in our syllabus. At the end of every module, students will get two chances at an assessment to figure out how well they know the material before moving onto more material.
Why are you adding assessments to the curriculum?
Right now, Flatiron does not do regular assessments, and that can make it somewhat tough for students to know where they are in the curriculum. With these changes, in each module you’ll also get an initial assessment. If you pass it, you’ll go into a project for the last week of the module. If a student doesn’t pass the assessment on the first round, we will put together a customized learning plan and some extra instructional support to make sure they really understand it before moving on. If they still struggle with the assessment, then we let them repeat the full module at no extra cost. Assessments give us some flexibility as educators to tailor the course for every student where we weren't able to do before. It just felt fair.
Does that mean that a student can now technically fail out of Flatiron School?
Yeah, that is a big difference. Right now, we graduate nearly everyone and give extra help to people who need it, but we're not set up to really help people who end up coming in with a bit less experience. So instead of waiting 12 weeks before having a conversation with someone that says, "Hey, you're going to need to buckle down if you want to succeed," we're going to start having those conversations two weeks into your class. If a student fails an assessment, repeats the module, and fails it again, then the truth is that we've done everything we can do given the accelerated nature of the program. I also hope that students can also use this as time to understand their priorities and their passion for coding. That being said, the student will get some refund, or have the option to join our online program, which is self-paced. The self-paced nature of the online course allows less experienced students to take their time on difficult topics.
Could you give us an example of the technical concentrations that a Flatiron student can choose to focus on in the final module?
We noticed that we had a student who got really jazzed about a particular topic, and when those students got hired, their employers would always mention that they loved that the student was obsessed with NoSQL or Mongo or whatever.
During Technical Concentrations, students can choose from performance monitoring and software architecture, databases (traditional SQL databases as well as NoSQL), front end frameworks (React, Redux, and more HTML/CSS, D3, etc), and mobile application development with React Native. Technical Concentrations will be more student-driven. At the very beginning of the course, we're very prescriptive– we do everything with you. As the course goes on, you gradually become more self-sufficient. We still have instructors during Technical Concentrations, but they’re there to teach you how to learn, how to research yourself, and how to read documentation.
Will there be an assessment for the Technical Concentration module?
There will be an assessment, which will effectively be a mock technical interview. The whole point of the technical concentration is for students to “remove the magic” and actually understand what’s going on under the hood as much as possible.
What’s the new maximum class size at Flatiron?
The max class size is 20. Because we have classes starting every three weeks, we’re able to drastically reduce the class size. We went from 32 to 20 students, which means again that every single person that we admit has an amazing experience. For 20 students, we have two Junior Instructors and a Lead Instructor, so it's a really good student to teacher ratio.
Are Junior Instructors past Flatiron School graduates?
Yes. The title “TA” implies that they’re working part-time, and that’s not the case. We choose recent grads to be Junior Instructors because they’ve been through the curriculum. They know all the labs as a student and now as a teacher. Because they’re former students, we basically get to “interview” them for three months to make sure that we're hiring the best teachers. There are students who are constantly asking intelligent questions in class, and also naturally gravitating towards helping the people around them. They'd seek out opportunities to teach, and it felt silly for us not to hire those graduates as Junior Instructors.
Which computer science concepts has Flatiron worked into the curriculum?
The goal of adding computer science to the curriculum is twofold. One is that computer science is valuable to learn as a software engineer because it effectively builds your intuition. Secondly, knowing computer science concepts helps with technical interviews.
After talking to engineers at Facebook, Google, IBM, and all of our hiring partners about what they use day-to-day in their job, and what they look for in candidates, we came up with the CS curriculum. We are always trying to balance the theoretical topics with the practical, so we’ve added high-level algorithms and data structures– nothing too surprising. Students should expect to learn data structures like linked lists, trees, graphs, and hashes. On the algorithm side, they’ll learn searching, sorting, some binary tree stuff, some graph, minimum shortest path stuff, and then on top of all of that, algorithmic analysis, otherwise known as Big O Analysis. For the first few cohorts, computer science is taught on Saturdays. Our goal is to weave it into the curriculum, as well as offer extra work on Saturdays.
When will be the first cohort that sees all of these changes?
The March 13th, 2017 cohort will see all of these changes!
Was there an underlying force that pushed this revamp?
There was no specific catalyst; instead, we made the change because of conversations with employers and students. We're having conversations with our alums who have been out in the industry for three years and the alums that are now interviewing. We had enough data and the industry had matured in a rather serious way– so we knew it was time.
We spent 2-3 months talking to every department at Flatiron, employers, and prospective students to put together this plan. These changes are what the market requires from a well-rounded hire and software engineer, and we know that we can provide that with these changes.
Here’s what we found ourselves reading and discussing in the Course Report office in February 2017! We found out the three most in-demand programming languages, we read about how coding could be the new blue collar job, and looked at how new schools are tweaking the bootcamp model to fit their communities. Plus, we hear about a cool app for NBA fans built by coding bootcamp graduates! Read below or listen to our latest Coding Bootcamp News Roundup Podcast.Continue Reading →
Anne loved helping people as a college counselor, but she always felt like there was something missing in her own career. After a friend urged her to think about UX design, Anne realized she could combine her creativity and psychology skills, so she enrolled at Designation UX Design bootcamp in Chicago (now Flatiron School). Anne tells us how the pre-work phase prepared her for the UX Design bootcamp, how her background in psychology impacted her design skills, and the importance of a great design portfolio. Plus, we hear about her new UX Design job at Accenture!
Tell us about your pre-Designation story. What was your educational and career background before you decided to get into UX design?
I studied psychology and French in undergrad, then I went on to a master's degree in counseling. I was working as a career counselor for college students prior to Designation. I always wished I had done something more creative because I took some graphic design classes in early college, and absolutely loved it. But I went the psychology route.
In my career as a counselor, I loved the creative aspect of helping to uncover people's goals, helping them find their direction, but I always felt like there was something missing. So I career counseled myself out of it! A good friend who's a developer said, "Hey, have you heard of UX?" So I looked into it, and he helped me look at different bootcamp programs. I was initially deciding between front end development and user experience. I chose UX because I loved that it incorporated my psychology background and design into one.
Did you research any other UX bootcamps?
When I started my research, I looked at both front end development and UX Design bootcamps. There are more web development bootcamps out there than UX courses. I wanted to stay in Chicago because that's where I was already based. I would’ve been willing to go elsewhere for the perfect bootcamp, but Designation seemed to fit all my criteria.
I wanted to go to Designation because you actually get to work with real clients, so you get hands-on experience right away. Having that access to UX designers who have so much experience is so valuable to learning. After visiting the classroom in 1871 and meeting a couple of the people there, I decided that I wanted to learn UX at Designation.
Did you think about going back to college to study UX Design?
DePaul has a great program, so had I not already gone to grad school, I might have considered it. I did talk to a couple of people who had done that DePaul program, and it seemed like an amazing program, but I wasn't ready to spend another three years in grad school.
Could you share with us how you were able to pay for the tuition? Did you use a financing partner or get a scholarship?
I had known that I was going to switch careers in some capacity for a while, so I saved up and was able to float myself for those few months. I was very fortunate. I think that's definitely not something that everyone is able to do. A lot of the people I went to bootcamp with did get some sort of a financing or student loan.
What was the application and interview process like for Designation’s UX bootcamp?
There are different admissions processes at Designation depending on if you come from a graphic design background or not. Since I didn't, I did the pre-virtual session. It was a self-paced design course to get you familiar with the Adobe Suite, and some prototyping tools. We would submit feedback online, and there was an instructor available if I had any questions. After that, they review your portfolio and you get firmly admitted into the program.
For the interview process, since I was in Chicago, I came in and met with the Admissions Director Will Shandling. We talked for about 45 minutes, he showed me the space, answered all of my questions about the program, and gave a general overview. One of my big questions was "What are the chances I'm going to be successful in doing this?" After the interview process, I felt really reassured and confident that I wanted to do Designation.
So you do the pre-virtual phase, and then once you’re admitted, what’s next?
After the pre-virtual phase, there was a six-week online virtual program with the cohort that you're going to be with on campus. It’s almost a full-time remote program to get everyone ready to jump in on day one of the bootcamp. We did readings from a textbook, and we built our own prototype for an app. That's where I started to get more familiar with prototyping tools, and what it meant to do low-fidelity, mid-fidelity, and high-fidelity design. For people with graphic design backgrounds, that phase was their first bootcamp experience. In my cohort it was about 50/50 in terms of people who had design backgrounds versus people who didn’t.
My favorite part of the online virtual phase was the interactions with people in my cohort. We would have regular meetings with everyone once a week, and we also had smaller groups of four people with whom we would check in, work on projects, and ask each other questions. It was really nice and it felt like we already knew each other when we arrived in person.
How many people were in your cohort and what kind of diversity was there was in terms of gender, and race, and background?
My cohort around 20 people and it was a pretty good mix. I mainly had younger classmates- one person was just out of college. I was probably on the older side and I'm 31, but there were a few of us in our early 30's. My cohort was about a 50/50 gender ratio.
About a third of my cohort was from Chicago, with other people from all over the US. People had all different backgrounds; some came from graphic design and architecture, some from business, and one person was an actor.
I was really lucky with my cohort. It felt like we were all family. We looked out for each other and cared about each other. After the first two days being there for so many hours, you get to know everyone and quickly get comfortable. One of the greatest benefits of coding bootcamps is going through it with other people, having that support, and learning from each other.
Once you were all on campus, what was the structure of Designation?
For the first six weeks, we would get in at 10am every day and have a standup meeting. We stayed in class until at least 9pm. There were many nights when we stayed a lot later than 9pm and I was there until 2am plenty of times.
The day was a mix of lectures and hands-on work. We were put into groups where we worked on an app together. During the first part of the program, we built an app based on a problem statement that Designation gave us to get that experience of going from concept to high fidelity prototyping and doing testing. At the end, we presented our apps to professionals in the field, so you get that experience before the real thing with clients.
Did you learn any kind of web development or a programming language in the UX Design bootcamp? Was that necessary?
We had optional coding lessons on Fridays, which I (and the majority of us) chose to do. We had an HTML workshop and then a couple of CSS workshops. Each week, we were given an assignment, and our ultimate assignment was to create a portfolio website. Learning some programming really helped me understand what developers are going through and how to work with them. Before this program, I would not have known what a <p> tag was or anything like that.
Designation is unique because you actually get to work with a real client- who were the clients that you worked with?
Primarily, the clients are other startups who are based in 1871, which is a startup incubator in Chicago. One of my clients was from 1871, and the other was an external company. One client was in the financial industry, and then one project was a video camera lens prototype company. We got to work on different projects in different industries. You work with each client for three weeks, so the client phase is six weeks total.
What was your favorite project that you built?
I really enjoyed all of the projects that I did! During the final client project, we were almost given a blank slate. This company had come out with a new VR video camera lens that could connect with GoPros, and they wanted to create an app for their users. They were pretty open-ended about what they wanted. We had a lot of fun brainstorming ideas, exploring, and doing research before bringing our final idea together. I really enjoyed the creative formula of that project: the user research, interviews, and throwing different ideas out there.
We were working in groups of three or four people. Then we would have our creative directors who would step in and help us, and be there for all the client meetings. We met with the client once a week to present our progress.
Your portfolio must be pretty important as a UX Designer- did you have a portfolio before Designation?
Generally speaking, your portfolio is very important. I never had to have a portfolio before, because I applied for previous jobs with my traditional cover letter and resume. But your portfolio is what shows off what you can do as a designer. It should be a combination of visuals, your research, pointing at different posters during your affinity mapping, or a PDF of your final prototype.
We also include case studies that describe your entire process because people want to know how you think and how you execute a project. They want to know from beginning to end what you did, what you did well, what you may have failed at, and what you learned.
Did Designation help you develop your portfolio?
Designation has changed the structure a little bit since I went through the program. We had a career counselor who worked with employer relations and would do lectures once a week during our client phase. The current students now have two weeks devoted to portfolio development. We would have lectures on resumes and portfolio building and with an assignment each week. Those lectures were meant to prepare us to be able to build good case studies to apply for jobs when we leave. It was extremely helpful to get that advice. You also continue to have access to the Designation course material after you graduate.
Tell us what you’re up to now! Are you working as a UX Designer?
I am a UX Designer working for a division of Accenture Operations called the Accenture Operations Innovation Network. We are actually also based in 1871 right next door to my Designation classroom.
Shortly after I graduated, I was working on my portfolio and I hadn't really started the job application process. Mike, the employer relations and career counselor at Designation, talked to my current supervisor here at Accenture, and they were looking for somebody to join their team as UX/UI designers, and I was on a list of candidates.
At Accenture, are you using the skills you learned at Designation or have you had to learn some new skills as well?
Both. I'm definitely using the skills I learned at Designation. In spite of being a part of Accenture, we're actually a very small team– less than 20 of us. I am one of two UX/UI designers here. Our tasks can totally change by the day. This week, I've been doing a lot of wireframing and some high fidelity designing. Next week, I'll probably be working on personas, journey mapping, and initial low to mid fidelity prototyping. That part is great because you really get to experience the whole gamut of design based on your projects.
We also do some design thinking workshops when we meet with stakeholders. We actually recently went to our Bangalore office, and we'll be going to our Manila office next week to visit and do some workshops there as well.
Do you think that your background in counseling and psychology has been useful in learning and working in UX design?
A lot of UX research ties incredibly well into counseling. When you're interviewing people, a lot of the job consists of knowing what questions to ask and getting a sense of who the client is, what they value, what motivates them, and what frustrates them. A lot of that can be tied into counseling.
Later on, once you get to the actual design process, design is not necessarily just making things pretty. It's about making them usable and giving people a product that operates within their mental model. So psychology and counseling definitely tie into the design process as well.
How have your first few months been at your job and how did the company make sure you were ramping up and continuing to learn?
I'm coming up on my six-month mark now. When I first got to Accenture, Patrick, the other UX designer, was awesome. He basically showed me the ropes, and got me onboarded. In the Chicago office, you get to know everybody really well. I get to work across the table with our business analysts and innovators; I am currently sitting in a room with one of our developers. So it's great having everybody working together so that you can really go over projects in person. Everybody was incredibly welcoming and answered all of my questions.
What has been the biggest challenge or roadblock in your journey to becoming a UX designer?
When I was initially deciding whether or not to become a UX Designer, it was hard to have confidence in myself and force myself to take that big risk. Switching career fields entirely was the scariest thing, but the best decision I made. You have to take that initial leap, and then dive in and not being afraid.
How do you stay involved with Designation, and have you kept in touch with other alumni?
One of my favorite parts of being a Designation alum is that we have a giant Designation Slack network with tons of different channels. For example, I was recently looking for a new design thinking book so I asked other alumni for suggestions and got tons of responses. It's an awesome network of people. If you are going to a design event and you're looking for people to join you, anything like that gets posted on Slack. I love having that as a resource.
What advice do you have for someone who's thinking about making a career change and going through a UX Design bootcamp?
First of all, talk to people who are in the career that you think you want. Ask them about their daily life. Ask them for their advice. UX Design is an incredibly welcoming field– at least in Chicago the design community. I've had people find me on LinkedIn and ask me if they can just chat about whether or not a bootcamp is the right decision for them. It's really an individual decision, so it's not going to be right for everybody. If you do think it's right for you, then it's very much worth the risk.
Do your research in terms of what program is the best fit, not only in terms of skills, but in terms of culture. Then take the risk and do it.
There’s something about a good mobile app that just helps you throughout the day– be it your Linkedin, Google maps, CNN, Nike+ Training, or ESPN app– we depend on our smartphones for a lot. Due to the global rise of smartphones and tablets, mobile apps can be the go-to source for information, entertainment, productivity, e-commerce, and more. By 2020, global mobile app store downloads will reach 288.4 billion! With the rise of mobile applications on the market, the demand for mobile software developers continues to grow. We thought it was only right to give you a breakdown of what it really takes to be a mobile applications developer. From educational requirements to general stats on the profession to the top mobile coding bootcamps around the world– read below for our Ultimate Guide to Mobile Development Bootcamps.Continue Reading →
In 2014, Flatiron School was the first coding bootcamp to release an Outcomes Report. While that report examined outcomes for their NYC programs, they’ve since launched their online campus and are starting to graduate developers around the world (remember our peek into the types of students who are succeeding online?). Today, we’re diving into Flatiron School’s most recent Outcomes Report, which focuses on their Online Web Developer Program grads. See how this school is placing 97% of their online students in developer jobs!
This is not Flatiron School’s first Outcomes Report – it’s actually the third! Why did Flatiron School feel that reporting student outcomes early on was an important responsibility?
By the end of 2014, there was a lot of attention on the bootcamps that were popping up. A lot of those schools were amazing, but some were clearly being less than genuine with the ways they claimed outcomes. The very obvious public example is Devschool, which claimed 100% job placement, but also said they don't consider you graduated until you get a job. That's a really shady marketing tactic.
We saw what was happening with for-profit universities, which started with great intentions (colleges were wasting tons of money and putting students into debt; for-profit colleges thought they could do a better job). For-profit universities started growing really fast without much regard for quality, and the bad players basically ended up defining the entire industry. Now when you say “for-profit university,” nobody remembers the names of the schools that were well-intentioned; all you think of is University of Phoenix.
What drove us to release audited reporting was that we saw what was happening with for-profit universities, and we wanted to preempt that. Our industry was growing super fast, and there was no way for students to judge between school outcomes.
We want to send the industry in a different direction than that of for-profit universities. So we released the first ever audited outcomes report for our NYC campus in 2014. We then created the NESTA standards with a group of other bootcamps and the White House so that students could actually see which schools are willing to stand behind their marketing claims.
After digging into your online students’ results in the 2016 Online Outcomes Report, was there anything different between tracking online and in-person students?
We invest a ton in career services and coaching, and so we work very closely with our students. When they get jobs, we have all of that data.
The average salary is lower ($67,607 for online vs $74,447 in NYC), but that is to be expected given geographic variation. Our in-person students are all attending Flatiron School in New York, but online students are spread out. In New York, the average salary for online grads is closer to our in-person average. In San Francisco, the average salary is what you might expect there. In North Dakota, it's lower.
One thing that was inspiring to me about the online Outcomes Report is seeing the average tuition paid by graduates. So many online bootcamps are just online versions of their in-person courses, but because we built Learn.co, our self-paced proprietary learning platform, our students are able to work full-time and learn on the nights and weekends. They paid an average $5,601 in tuition and these people were able to completely change their lives.
What numbers were you most surprised by, negatively or positively, when you actually looked at the success of the online students?
I was surprised that the salary was as high as it was. 42% of our students are in the Northeast, and only some percentage of that are in New York, but seeing a $67,000 average salary across the country and internationally is insane. I was blown away by the fact that demand for talent is still high enough that employers are willing to pay that much for junior developer across the country.
One stat we noticed is that 15% of your online students are women, while women make up 40% of your in-person classes. Why the difference there?
It's possible that when we launched the online program, we took our eye off the ball and we didn't invest as heavily in trying to achieve the diversity we see on our NYC campus; but today, 40% of our online students are women.
Since we did that research, we've invested a lot more in creating more opportunities for women, including our Women Take Tech initiative, which we launched in partnership with Birchbox, and our Kode with Klossy scholarship with Karlie Kloss. In all, we’ve awarded over $300,000 in scholarships toward our online program for female students and collaborated on community events that take on issues facing women in tech. The response so far has been pretty inspiring and today those numbers are a lot more encouraging.
Arguably, the most important statistic here is the 97% job placement– can you take us through that conclusion and tell us how you got there?
The way to read this report is to first look at the 74 people who have graduated at the time of the report; then, of those people, 39 have finished a job search cycle (many of the graduates at the time we did the report were only a few weeks out from graduation). Of the 39 people who finished a job search cycle, only one person hadn’t yet gotten a job.
What does it mean to have completed a “Job Search Cycle”?
That’s simply defined as reaching six months after the beginning of your job search, or until you’ve accepted a job offer. And by the way, if you reach six months, have followed our job search standards, and haven’t gotten a job offer, we give you a full refund. But so far, everyone who has committed themselves fully to that process has been hired. The one graduate who hadn’t been hired wasn’t actively job seeking according to the standards our grads agree to follow for a long period of time.
Different schools decide to collect information from students in different ways (scanning LinkedIn for job titles, collecting job offer letters, etc). How does Flatiron School document a student’s job outcomes? Is that audited?
This is actually a huge differentiator and deserves to be discussed. We carefully collect comprehensive job data from our students, then we send our auditors a spreadsheet that has all the pertinent data: students’ names, contact information, their companies, titles and starting salaries, hire dates, and graduation dates – often with offer letters or contracts attached to further verify the information
We also send the auditors our financials, and then the auditors call 30% of the students at random. They require 100% response rate; otherwise, they won't certify the report. They also require 100% accuracy, meaning if anything is off by $1, they won't certify it. Think about that versus a report that only relies on a survey of students. There is a difference between a Review versus an Examination by auditors, and that’s something students should be aware of when they’re looking at the different outcomes reports being produced.
In-person schools are regulated by regulatory agencies like the BPPE in California. Is there a similar agency for online schools?
Even though we work with regulatory agencies for the in-person program, there are still no outcomes reporting standards from those state agencies. The reality is that online education is moving faster than regulation can catch up with. So there aren't really strict standards and regulations. We let our lawyers make sure we're doing everything we need to do.
For that reason, do you think it’s even more important to release an audited outcomes report for Flatiron’s online program?
Maybe. The larger the industry gets, the bigger the responsibility. Flatiron School was also the first to offer an online money-back guarantee. We spent six months really analyzing our program, designing commitments for both our students and our career services team and we worked so hard to get to a place where we were comfortable offering a guarantee. And literally within two months, there were five schools copying it. That's scary to me because there's no way they had time to prepare the way we did in order to actually stand behind the guarantee.
The online job report was fueled by the same idea: "We need to establish a standard by which students can actually evaluate the program."
Is there any chance that Flatiron School will work with other schools on common reporting methodologies like with Skills Fund, etc.?
We're always open to it. Since those standards have been designed, the conversations I tend to hear about new methodologies for standards are always less strict. And you have to ask yourself why. The NESTA standards are pretty easy questions: how many students enrolled, how many graduated, how many accepted a job, the average salary of those who accepted the job, etc... The questions are really, really simple. I’d love to see more schools get on board with those to start. We've also had some conversations with schools that want to make that standard even higher, which is interesting.
Ultimately, until there are some unified standards or strict regulations, I advise all students to be skeptical. This is a big investment and they should take the time to do the research and ask all schools the tough questions.
Read more Flatiron School reviews, check out the Flatiron School website, and explore Flatiron’s full Student Outcomes for yourself!
Welcome to the January 2017 Course Report monthly coding bootcamp news roundup! Each month, we look at all the happenings from the coding bootcamp world from new bootcamps to fundraising announcements, to interesting trends. This month we applaud initiatives that bring technology to underserved communities, we look at employment trends, and new coding schools and campuses. Plus, we hear a funny story about an honest taxi driver. Read below or listen to our latest Coding Bootcamp News Roundup Podcast.Continue Reading →
Attending a coding bootcamp can be a ticket to a fulfilling new career as a software engineer. But while demand for developers is high, jobs aren’t just handed out at bootcamp graduations. As the Flatiron School's Career Services Commitment emphasizes: job placement is a team effort, but you need to treat getting a job like a job – keep learning; put yourself out there; you get out of it what you put into the process. Find out how four Flatiron School alumni successfully launched their new tech careers – and how you can use their tactics in your own job search.Continue Reading →
Whether you’re just starting to learn to code, currently attending a coding bootcamp, or you're working as a software developer, it’s important to keep challenging yourself to learn more. After attending Flatiron School, working on the engineering team here, and recently starting as an instructor, I’ve been thinking a lot about my own goals for the New Year, as well as advice I can offer my students. Here are a few simple resolutions for 2017 to start the year off right and keep leveling up in your coding studies and career.Continue Reading →
It’s that time again! A time to reflect on the year that is coming to an end, and a time to plan for what the New Year has in store. While it may be easy to beat yourself up about certain unmet goals, one thing is for sure: you made it through another year! And we bet you accomplished more than you think. Maybe you finished your first Codecademy class, made a 30-day Github commit streak, or maybe you even took a bootcamp prep course – so let’s cheers to that! But if learning to code is still at the top of your Resolutions List, then taking the plunge into a coding bootcamp may be the best way to officially cross it off. We’ve compiled a list of stellar schools offering full-time, part-time, and online courses with start dates at the top of the year. Five of these bootcamps even have scholarship money ready to dish out to aspiring coders like you.Continue Reading →
Welcome to our last monthly coding bootcamp news roundup of 2016! Each month, we look at all the happenings from the coding bootcamp world from new bootcamps to fundraising announcements, to interesting trends we’re talking about in the office. This December, we heard about a bootcamp scholarship from Uber, employers who are happily hiring bootcamp grads, investments from New York State and a Tokyo-based staffing firm, diversity in tech, and as usual, new coding schools, courses, and campuses!Continue Reading →
If you’re researching coding bootcamps, then you’ve probably thought about job placement; so we sat down with Rebekah Rombom, head of Flatiron School’s Career Services team to learn about how Flatiron School’s online students are landing jobs. We dive into how the online job search compares to the in-classroom experience and how Flatiron School sets clear expectations to guide students towards a job that fits their needs with their Career Services Commitment.
What does Career Services at Flatiron School do for students?
Career Services at Flatiron School is divided into two functions: employer partnerships and career coaching. The Partnerships team is constantly engaged with companies to educate them about Flatiron School and to find opportunities for companies to engage with our students and graduates. They may organize end-of-semester interviewing, networking opportunities, meetups, or employer talks to the class.
The other part of Career Services is the Career Coaching team. Every student who graduates from Flatiron School and plans to engage in job search, gets paired up with a career coach. Together, you do a really robust set of activities to get you ready for your job search. We help you run a job search based on best practices. Not many people have spent a ton of time job-searching, but our team has seen this nearly a thousand times. Your coach helps guide you through that process.
How large is the career placement team at Flatiron?
With everyone on coaching, partnerships, and administration, we are around 20 people. We invest a lot in career services.
What's the difference between job placement for online students and in-person students?
Part of the exciting thing about the way that our career services department works, is that you get the same content as an online student or an in-person student. For an in-person student, a guest speaker will walk into your classroom and do a lecture. In online classes, the students might get that lecture via a video conference or with their coach.
We've identified the key steps that it takes to successfully get a job after Flatiron School, and we've made those location-agnostic. As an online student or an in-person student, you're creating a resume, sending it to your coach, and your coach is giving you feedback. You're retooling your resume based on that feedback, and then, you and the coach both do a final sign off. As an in-person student, you might do the first feedback session in-person versus over Skype, but the experience should yield the same results.
How do Career Coaches help guide you through Flatiron’s Career Services Commitment?
Part of your time with your coach is spent following up on a regular basis about what you've done to adhere to those commitments – contacting a certain number of people relevant to your job search each week, continuing to code, blogging about what you're learning, and meeting people in the community.
Your coach is there to talk about how those activities are going, keep you on task and accountable, as well as make suggestions about how you can get more leverage out of those activities based on the results that you're seeing.
Does an online Flatiron School applicant or student need to be job seeking? How selective is the admissions process?
You certainly don't have to be job seeking. Around 75% to 85% of our in-person students are job seeking, and we’re seeing similar numbers for online. You can certainly do the program if you're not job seeking.
For example, I’ve spoken with college students or incoming freshmen who want these skills, or entrepreneurs who want to have a better understanding of technology they're launching their startup with so that they can interact with their team in more valuable ways, and recruit more effectively. Other non-job-seekers are product managers or marketers who want to add these skills to their tool set so that they can be more effective at their job, but they aren't planning to become a developer.
For our Online Web Developer Program, we admit people who are going to be successful in the program. One of the key indicators that we use is that you've completed some of our content on Learn.co, our online campus, or other learn-to-code content already. You have a familiarity with the platform, and feel that you can be successful independently, online, remotely.
When are Flatiron’s online students introduced to that career coach?
Around 3/4th of the way through the course, once a student has passed their third code review in the online program.
Do you recommend that students wait to start the job search? Or should they be thinking about their dream job from Day One?
There's so much learning that happens so quickly, so your best bet as a student is to focus on learning as much as you can for as long as you can. In our Online Web Developer Program, we've timed the curriculum so that you start thinking about jobs as late as possible.
When you’re about three-quarters through the course, you'll start connecting with your coach, talking about goals, reviewing your resume and LinkedIn, and getting your materials ready so that when you do graduate, you’ll be ready to hit the ground running and start interviews.
If you think about your most successful online students, did they do something specific throughout the course that made them stand out?
I think it's about the craft. If you're only driven by a specific job, whether that's a sexy company or a salary number, that's not going to be as effective. What works is knowing that you want to do this craft and are passionate about this work. Our Online Web Developer Program is 800-1000 hours of independent, self-driven, bang-your-head-against-a-wall work, and when you graduate, you’re embarking on your first job search in a new discipline.
Finding your first job after Flatiron School is like looking for an internship as a college student. You're looking for a company where you can contribute, get paid, and continue to learn. That won't always be available at your dream company the second you graduate. Students who are open to doing this work, continuing to learn and hone their craft, and contributing to a team of people who also are passionate about this work–those are the most successful students.
We hear a lot that "anyone can learn to code.” Do you believe that or do you think that it's problematic to sell a dream that everyone can change careers and achieve upward mobility through coding?
I think everyone can learn to code and that everyone should learn to code. Whether you should be a software developer with that knowledge, I think, is dependent upon how much you enjoy it and how passionate you are. Knowing the basic concepts makes me better at my job and makes it easier to interact with the rest of our teams, but at the end of the day, I get more excited about other kinds of work.
You should choose a career that you're excited about, and do work that is sustainable for you. The students that I've spoken to who've graduated described the experience of learning on Learn.co as really, really challenging, but extremely gratifying - even thrilling. If that’s how you feel when you’re coding, then this might be the right career for you.
Flatiron School was the first bootcamp to release an audited, transparent Jobs Report. Will the next Jobs Report include Learn.co graduates in those numbers?
Of course! Our Online Web Developer Program is built with the same curriculum and the same outcomes goals, so we’ll certainly include online students. We are seeing pretty spectacular results from the online students who have already graduated, and we know that this data is important to applicants and to employers in the industry.
I'm working with our team and our auditors now to identify some data that we can get audited before the end of 2016, and we plan to release that data in January.
What are the biggest lessons that your team has learned about job placement?
Before Flatiron School launched Learn.co, we said, "If you don't get a job offer within six months, we’ll give you a full tuition refund." So when we launched Learn.co, we wanted to make it really clear to students what they needed to do in order to get a job. We thought really hard about all of the things that go into a successful job search. We took all of the learnings that we've seen over the previous three years, and put that into our Career Services Commitment, which students agree to before they launch a job search with us. As of today - over a year since we put the Commitment into place - nobody has followed all those steps for six months and has not gotten an offer.
What goes into that Career Services Commitment for the Job Guarantee?
Our Career Services Commitment outlines our responsibilities to you as well as what you’re empowered to do to make your job search more successful. You can see the full list of responsibilities and eligibility factors here. We set really clear expectations with students about the importance of these commitments for our Job Guarantee. You’ll need to complete all of your assignments. You need to create your resume and you need to read through all of our content about how to run a good job search. You need to be available for your coach when you both have scheduled conversations. You need to continue to code and attend your interviews.
The Career Services Commitment is a way to communicate to students again exactly what you need to be doing in order to get a job. As you start the job search, your career coach will help you refine the activities that you're doing to get you more aligned with the way you're going to be successful.
What's different about a developer resume versus your average resume? What do you recommend that people are emphasizing on a developer resume?
This may be a little bit more of a philosophical question to me than you intended, but I think that even more than the technicalities of what your resume should or shouldn't say, you want your whole application and your whole communication with a hiring manager or recruiter to convey the well-rounded value you can bring as a human and as an executor to this organization. Sure, a developer resume should have things like your GitHub links to projects. But if you're a career changer, maybe that means including one to two sentences about your path and why coding is important to you so that a recruiter can easily make the leap from your past career into your engineering resume. More than that, I think it's about finding touch points that are compelling to the reader that allow you to tell your story effectively.
If you can do that on your resume by having a very short bio and links to technical projects, and some bullet points about relevant transferable experience from your previous life, that’s awesome. But you should also have a cover note in an email that talks about that specific company and how your previous experience would benefit them.
Ideally, you're able to convey a more well-rounded communications strategy than just a one-page PDF that lists your past jobs and your Github.
Imposter Syndrome is a huge buzzword for bootcamp grads. How do Flatiron School students approach compensation, negotiation, and how can career coaches help navigate?
Your career coach is with you up to the point where you sign on the dotted line. That can mean help with negotiation, or figuring out if the offer is even reasonable, or taking a look at a benefits package or perks. Oftentimes early in your career, it's about finding your leverage, whatever that is. But your career coach won’t let you back out of an interview you’ve earned or a connection you’ve nurtured for fear of failing - and that can go a very long way.
Is there an employer network specifically for your online graduates?
It didn't really make sense for us to separate our employer network, because we want to put the best students for a given job in front of that opportunity and vice versa for the employers. For example, we have students from the in-person program who move back home to Denver. If we’re working with a Denver-based hiring manager, she’ll see good-fit online grads in the area, as well as that in-person student. So when we’re able to make connections, we base them on location and culture match, and employer needs.
Can you tell us about the success that you've seen amongst online students so far? Where are they getting jobs? Are they taking remote jobs?
Our grads are working primarily in full-time roles all over the US, and even internationally: San Francisco, San Diego, New York, Denver, Chicago and more. From what I’ve seen, the “Junior Full-Time Remote Developer” job is a unicorn, though. We do have some students who have a bunch of freelancing contract gigs that they're doing remotely, and have built a full-time schedule of work out of those. We're seeing a similar split between internships and full-time jobs among our online alums as we do for our in-person grads: about 40% going into internships and about 60% taking full time salaried jobs straight out of the gate.
Is there anything about learning online that is actually an advantage in terms of getting a job?
No matter what coding bootcamp you choose or where you are or what period of life you're in, a job search is always hard.
We've seen online students really embrace the hustle of the job search and go out in the community, make connections, keep at it, and continue to follow up until they land that job. That's a really important skill in the job search. Going through this really challenging and rigorous program by yourself, as opposed to in a classroom, our online students get a lot of practice in extreme resiliency.
People with different backgrounds, from around the country and the world, attend Flatiron School remotely through their online campus, Learn.co. So why do they want to learn to code remotely? And how do they balance studying with other parts of their lives? We spoke to three Flatiron School students, all with very different backgrounds and motivations, to learn more about their experiences juggling family, work, and travel, while learning to code. Meet Kenlyn, Lucas, and Maurice!
What is your background and how much coding experience did you have before enrolling in Flatiron School’s Online Web Developer Program?
Kenlyn: I studied biology in college, looking to help others via the medical field. My first job was at a cancer diagnostics company, manufacturing prototypes and diagnostic antibodies . Looking to expand impact by developing new products, I got my MBA at UCLA and eventually became a global product manager at the same company. During the time that I was responsible for the company’s hardware platform, I was introduced to software development by supplying market requirements to the R & D team.
After learning about pure tech product development through a couple of Product Management certification courses, I understood how short the development launch, and feedback cycles could be. You can iterate on digital products and provide value so quickly, versus heavily regulated medical devices, which take forever.
And then my life changed – I have a family now. And to do it well, product management work requires travel. So the timing seemed right to learn full stack web development because I want to be involved in developing technologies, tech skills are in demand, and there are many opportunities to contribute in the field.
Lucas: I first started to learn web development in high school. I was curious how the web works, so I taught myself HTML and CSS on W3Schools. Since then, web development has always been a hobby.
In college, I studied advertising and Spanish. When I graduated, I joined Teach For America, and taught bilingual Spanish and English at an elementary school for two years. I even tried to teach kids web development at that school, which was really interesting.
Maurice: I studied Business Management and Finance in college, and during that time worked for a nonprofit that organized a summer day camp and other activities throughout the year for underprivileged kids. After graduating, the next logical step was to get any bank job as soon as possible to gain experience and be able to update my resume. So I accepted a data entry job at a major bank. As tremendously boring and uneventful that job was, I reminded myself that I was working for a big-name bank and that’s all that really mattered. About a year later I moved to another bank and I’m still with them after 5 years.
I became interested in learning how to code about a year ago and decided to enroll in a C++ class at a local community college to get a feel for it. That was a pretty good experience and I wanted to learn more. I also did Treehouse for a few months and after a few lessons I decided this is something I definitely want to learn and eventually transition into. So I began researching schools and found Flatiron’s Online Web Developer Program. I consider myself a total beginner, just having scratched the surface with some online videos/tutorials.
Why did you specifically want to do Flatiron School’s Online Web Developer Program rather than an in-person coding bootcamp?
Kenlyn: I did a lot of research because I wanted to understand what it took to become a great programmer and find work as a developer. I heard stories of successful programmers who were self-taught and saw job descriptions that mentioned Computer Science degrees. However, after looking at Codecademy and other free resources, I had no idea what skills would make me stand out to a company. On the University side, even online meant at least 18 months of study, going into debt and maybe getting a job.
I looked at coding bootcamps and I thought 12 weeks to completion sounded awesome, but I couldn’t go to an in-person program because I have three kids under 10. I had to find something flexible enough that I wouldn't have to find childcare, yet was a great school that would guarantee a job within a reasonable time frame. And Flatiron School was it. I found them through a search for Learn to Code meetups in Seattle.
Lucas: I chose Flatiron School’s online program because it was the perfect fit for my learning style. Since I wanted to travel, I could work on Learn.co from anywhere because it was all self-guided. There is a curriculum, but it's up to me to choose how fast or how slow I complete it. The self-paced aspect really resonated with me because I could go back and review concepts, or I could move through quickly. I also really liked that it was hosted on GitHub and that we could learn through test-driven development. The main factor that set Flatiron School apart for me was their money-back job guarantee. The job guarantee made it easy for me to finally enroll and pay for the program. I started doing the free admissions course while I was in Peru and got accepted in February to start the course.
Maurice: At first, I thought an in-person full-time bootcamp would be a good choice if I wanted a speedy transition, but that would mean quitting my job, which I couldn’t afford to do. Then I looked around for an in-person part-time bootcamp. The very few options were expensive and none really attracted me like Flatiron School’s program did. My criteria were: reputation, flexibility, support, and cost. All the reviews and articles I’ve read about Flatiron School, and even the reactions from people I’ve met at other bootcamp info sessions were all very positive and people highly recommended it. Online coding bootcamp students were saying the curriculum was very similar to the in-person program and in some cases even more robust.
I also wanted something where I could study at my own pace, not feel rushed, and be able to go back and re-read material as often as I’d like. I also wanted to receive support when I need it, and I’m seeing first hand that Flatiron staff truly care about you as a person and as a student. Their ‘Ask a Question’ feature is amazing and reassuring. You can use it as often as you need, and it provides support within seconds if you’re stuck on a lab, or need clarification on a concept. Instructors also encourage Googling because that’s what you’ll be doing at a real job, but the extra support is there if you need it. They also offer a money-back job guarantee, which is even more appealing. So with all you get for the Flatiron School cost – it’s totally worth it.
Are you working full-time or part-time on Flatiron’s Online Web Developer Program and how long are you expecting it to take you? What pace are you working at?
Kenlyn: Initially, I wanted to match an in-person bootcamp schedule as much as possible, but it’s been four months and I'm about halfway through. My time commitment has evolved because I got the opportunity to become a Flatiron School ambassador in Seattle and it seemed like a win-win: I could help grow Flatiron’s presence and also dive into the Seattle Tech community. As an ambassador, I’m networking and immersing myself in the local developer environment. All that said, I guess it's going to take me a little longer. So I'm studying somewhere between 20 to 40 hours a week.
Lucas: I committed full time, but I still had the flexibility skipping a Friday because it was self-paced. I ended up finishing in about four months.
Maurice: I am doing the program part time. I try to squeeze in as much time as possible on Learn.co during the week on my lunch hour and after work. Sometimes I get to study on the weekend, which is a little difficult as I also want to spend time with my wife and two-year-old son. On average I set aside about four days a week, three to four hours per day. I’m in no rush and I’m not trying to complete the program as fast as I can. I try to remain focused on understanding the concepts, setting small achievable goals and being involved in student life. I estimate completing the program in roughly one year.
Where were each of you based while you were studying and what sort of workspace set up do you have to study from?
Kenlyn: I’m in Seattle and mostly study at home. I also go to coffee shops when I need a change of scene.
Lucas: The only constant throughout my studies was my laptop. I started the program’s intro courses while I was in Peru, then Buffalo, NY, then lived with my brother in Chicago, and finished the program in South Dakota. I did part time volunteering with an organization that I really love out there, doing web marketing and building houses on a reservation in South Dakota.
Maurice: I’m based in New York City, not far from Flatiron’s campus. I try to stop in every once in awhile – it’s a pretty cool space. At first, for a couple of weeks, I’d stay late after work to study either at Whole Foods or a coffee shop, but I missed my family so I decided I’d go home after work, hang out with my wife and son for a little bit, then study once my son goes to bed around 7:30pm. Ideally, I’d like to head to campus once a week and join their study group meetup.
What were your motivations to learn to code and what do you want to do when you graduate?
Kenlyn: I realized that most people who are successful and fulfilled in their careers are engaged in something that they're passionate about. I hit a point where, though I enjoyed my current role in medical devices, I could see that technology was having a big impact on it – and I wanted to be part of that impact.
I was also new to Seattle and not gaining a lot of traction in the tech-heavy job market. That’s when I realized that having a good college education doesn't guarantee you a job. I wanted to learn to program anyway and the money-back job guarantee with Flatiron was a big deal. There are so many innovative companies, and coding skills are in demand in Seattle. One source put demand at one and a half software developer jobs for every applicant. When I graduate I'm leaving it open as to what sort of job to look for. There's a lot of cool stuff in health technology, but as long as there's a valuable product and a great team, I would be happy. I think it's all about the people I work with. I'm excited!
Lucas: My original motivations were mostly about the creativity that comes with being able to build something, and move an idea in my mind effortlessly into something that's real, that I can share with people. It's such a satisfying process. It feeds my need to be creative. It’s also important to me that there's always something new to learn in web development.
The overarching reason I'm excited about development is that the people who are actually writing the code are the ones building the infrastructure and the software through which the rest of the world interacts. Most people are consumers on our devices; we open up an app, and we use it. I would rather be a creator who can write a website that accomplishes a specific task. Or write an app that's going to change the way that people interact with each other or with data. Being the creator of that is really amazing.
Maurice: I began reading articles about start-ups which were creating amazing looking applications and providing services that functioned so smoothly. As I read more and dug deeper, I started to realize the driving force behind it all was the code and that essentially nothing could function without it. Fundamentally, it was everything. I was also inspired by these people looking to bring about a change in the world and make us think differently. Their passion, persistence and strong belief in their product was inspiring to watch and I’d never seen anything like it before. The realization that every technology we use on a daily basis is run by code, was something so powerful, and I was curious to learn more. I imagined one day creating or designing something and just the thought of the possibility of it having an impact around the world was very motivating. Also, I was at a point in my life where I needed to seriously reconsider my career and not waste any more time doing something that doesn’t make me happy.
I don't have a specific job in mind right now. I think I need to get through more of the curriculum to have a better idea as to what I’d like to do. I still have a lot to learn. It crossed my mind to find a job that would blend coding with my finance background.
How did you find the learning experience studying through Flatiron’s Learn.co platform and how immersed or motivated do you feel when you're studying?
Kenlyn: At times I can feel a bit isolated learning online, but Learn.co is definitely a huge improvement on any other online course. The “Ask a Question” feature is great. In addition to meeting with instructors, I think Flatiron School encourages you to find solutions by yourself and collaborate because that's what we're going to be doing as developers. Overall, it's a very relevant, intentional program and I highly recommend it.
Lucas: What was most exciting for me was using real dev tools. An advantage that Learn.co has is that we’re always using test-driven development. Test driven development and test coverage is a huge piece of being a real developer. So it was a relatively graceful transition from being able to build a basic Rails app that does one thing to now writing production level code.
I had a job interview question about Git, and I was able to say, "I have used so much GitHub. I have 500 repos" – which are all the labs from Learn.co. Learn.co helps you build a very impressive GitHub profile. One of the interviewers said, "Yeah, we can skip over the whole coding project and look at your GitHub. It looks great."
With my background in education, l like that Flatiron School and their Learn.co platform are moving educational methodology forward. Instead of just filming a teacher lecturing, there are real tools, self-guided lessons, and ways to reach out to experts and get help. The learning is very individualized with an overarching guiding curriculum. That's super cool.
Maurice: Each time I sign on to the platform, I'm impressed. There’s a central dashboard outlining your progress, a section where you can create or join one of the many study groups on different topics. The curriculum is a mix of videos and text. There are plenty of labs to help solidify the concepts. I showed that amazing ‘Ask a Question’ feature to a friend in another coding bootcamp. She was amazed, and said, "I'm so frustrated. I can't get past this lab and I have nobody to ask for help. I have to wait for their weekly office hours."
I like the sense of community – everybody is so nice and helpful. They have their own dedicated chat platform similar to Slack where you can meet new people. There are also meetups, on-campus events, and online and in-person lectures. They do “Thoughtful Thursdays” where students express feelings about life, coding challenges or anything else on their mind. It’s unbelievable how many students are on Learn.co worldwide, all learning together and helping each other succeed. The other day, I was answering a question from someone in Dubai. So, I am doing an online program, but I certainly don’t feel alone.
I do feel immersed while studying, although, I often remind myself to stay focused and on-track because it’s easy to get distracted. So I try to listen to music, face a wall (which does help), and place my phone face-down. The material is there, the help is there, it’s all there waiting for you to absorb – you just need to remain disciplined during that time.
How have you managed to balance your Flatiron School studies with other commitments in your life?
Kenlyn: It generally means working around my family’s hours. If I’m really determined, I get up really early before my family is awake. At times, I also rely on my husband to take care of the kids so I can get some focused study time – especially around assessments.
Sometimes I run into walls and have to take a break, clean up my workspace, and/or get some exercise. You know what I mean? It’s trying to maintain the balance of life. You’ve got to fit it all in, but breaks are important in order to stay focused and get it all done.
Lucas: Being able to travel while doing the program was really great. I could travel on a Wednesday, then work on a Saturday. I could still hit my weekly hour goals, but shuffle them around. But the main thing was I had had this dream to go live and volunteer in South Dakota. And I was able to go and actually accomplish that while working on Learn.co simultaneously. I would work most of the day on the program, but when volunteer groups were there, I would study part time. It is really flexible, and I appreciated it that I could still hit my goal of four months.
Maurice: My wife plays a major role and she’s been so understanding as I’m working through the Online Web Developer Program. When I first started, I was putting in a lot of hours and staying late after work almost every day, but I that was taking a toll on my family life. So I decided not to stay late so often and go home to be with my family a bit more. My wife has been extremely supportive and encouraging and knows this is what I want to do. I reassure her that things will get better, we just have to get through this tough year or so. I had to find that balance where I could spend enough time with my family and also get my studying done.
What is your advice to someone thinking about doing an online remote program like Flatiron’s Online Web Developer Program?
Kenlyn: Set learning goals and figure out what options could help you meet them. Try Flatiron’s free courses to see if it’s a fit for your learning style. Worst case, you’ve learned some relevant code; best case, it fits and you will have already completed courses towards the full Online Web Developer Program.
Lucas: The most important thing to do is optimize your own self-motivated learning. Learning how to learn is an important step to getting the most out of self-directed programs like what Flatiron offers on Learn.co. There’s tons of information to absorb, so take breaks, get good sleep, and review concepts regularly to move them from short-term to long-term memory. Start on the free prep course on Learn.co and see how you like it.
Maurice: Flatiron’s Online Web Developer Program is an incredible way to learn to code, connect with so many people, and finally make that career change you’ve been thinking of. They’re passionate and serious about teaching you how to code and getting you job ready – it’s just up to you to consider how serious you are and how disciplined you’re going to be for the next 6-9 months or even beyond that in my case. Once you commit to the program, prepare a study routine for yourself and stick with it. It won’t be easy - there’ll be great days and horrible days. Keep cool and keep going. Prove to yourself that you can do this!
On October 26th, the Course Report team took over the Women in Tech Snapchat Channel and had a blast introducing everyone to coding bootcamps, Course Report, and even took followers along to tour three NYC coding bootcamps!Continue Reading →
There are many reasons to attend a bootcamp- maybe you’re ready to take the plunge into a coding career or you want to update your current programming skills. Or maybe you’re part of a rising generation of aspiring technical founders and you’re ready to launch your own startup…you just need tech skills. Should you go to a coding bootcamp to start a company? Many bootcamp alumni are enjoying the fruits of their intensive bootcamp labor by choosing the path of entrepreneurship and launching their own app or website. In fact, Course Report’s latest outcomes and demographics study found that 4.3% of bootcampers attend to learn the skills necessary to start their own company. Our team loves an inspiring success story, so we’re highlighting those bootcampers who took the road less traveled, and managed to strike it big.Continue Reading →
As a future coding bootcamper, you're most likely new to tech and full of questions – and misconceptions – about what learning to code and being a developer really entails. With over 1000 Flatiron School grads making their way through the tech world, Flatiron's team has access to a lot of developers who are eager to share what they’ve learned through their countless hours of mistakes and breakthroughs, whether they’re new to the field themselves or seasoned tech professionals.Continue Reading →
How difficult is it to build the elusive idea of community into an online learning platform? We sat down with Flatiron School’s Head of Product, Mat Balez to find out how technology can actually fuel community and make learning more effective. Skip ahead to read about Mat’s thoughts on how online students can leave their mark on the Flatiron community, stand out amongst bootcamp grads, and experience the “power of connection.”
As the Head of Product working on an online coding bootcamp, what’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned about community and interaction with other students/teachers?
If you think back to the most influential moments in your education, they almost always involve people. We make our first network of friends in school or through a significant growth experience; we remember the teachers who pushed us to go beyond our limits and the projects we worked on with our fellow classmates.
Flatiron School was one of the first coding bootcamps to open its doors back in 2012 and we’ve made it our top priority to build a supportive, inspirational, and diverse community of students. We often tell applicants: “We don’t admit a student, we admit a class.”
But what does that mean for your online program? Do you only admit students who show that they’ll be great collaborators? How do you build that community of online learners?
What we’ve always looked for in our students is passion; we want people who are passionate about learning in general and learning to code specifically. Ideal applicants don’t see programming as simply a means to an end (that is, learn a bit of code, get a cool tech job, and then stop learning). Rather, they recognize it as a craft that requires lifelong learning and they want to support fellow developers along the way on their coding journey.
Can “teaching style” exist online?
Absolutely. But it’s important to recognize that the Internet is fundamentally different as a medium for delivering education than a traditional classroom—and it’s important to be sensitive to those differences as you build an online program.
Over the past four years, the industry has seen many online bootcamps emerge—including Flatiron’s own online campus, Learn.co. Some schools mimic the experience of the classroom, offering video lectures (essentially putting a camera into a traditional classroom). Others set up daily or weekly mentor meetings. With Learn.co we’ve strived to build community into the heart of our platform.
We believe for learning to be effective, it needs to be social and hands-on. That could mean interacting one on one with an instructor over video chat or joining a student-hosted study group, as well as using real-world tools like GitHub and our own IDE (integrated development environment). Ultimately, we want to make sure students are prepared to start working as a developer on day-one of their job after Flatiron School and that they know how to continue learning. Because as a programmer, you never stop growing and honing your skills.
How do you balance the flexibility of online learning with the interaction that you get from learning in person?
As the Head of Product, my team and I set out to build a product that would account for the experience of learning in a way we’ve never seen done before online, combining all of the learnings from our successful in-person program with the powerful network effect of the Internet. We wanted to design a program that would serve any student who has ever thought online education “isn’t for me” or that they “learn better in person.”
Tell us more about Flatiron School’s online instructors and how students interact with them?
Just because someone is an amazing programmer, it doesn’t mean that they’ll be a great teacher. Our online instructors have been selected for their ability to do both—code and teach code. Students can use our Ask a Question feature to reach out to expert faculty (in addition to a community of helpful peers!) to get real-time chat support and one-on-one video support and screen sharing if needed. Most questions are answered in under a minute. For additional support, instructors will often conduct live lectures on pivotal topics.
Additionally, instructors host weekly “Thoughtful Thursdays” sessions, during which students come together in a virtual room synchronously to talk about what they're feeling, from imposter syndrome and balancing school to other life priorities that may be on their minds. Often these sessions are just the boost students need to keep pushing through toward their goal of finishing the program and becoming a professional developer.
As the Head of Product, you must have put a lot of thought into the Learn platform and the communication/collaboration tools that your students are using. Which tools did you choose (or build!) and why?
Learning to code is really hard and it’s even harder if you feel isolated and alone. That’s why we’ve weaved direct messaging into the experience, making it easy for you to reach out to other students you come across on the platform. To help you understand which fellow students are nearby, both in the curriculum or geographically, we created the concept of “Learn Neighbors”. Soon, you’ll also be able to “friend” them as you do on other social media sites and build a network of peers with whom you can stay in close contact. Friends can support and encourage each other, talk through tough concepts, and work on labs together. You can even initiate a Study Group (or join one organized by an instructor)—the platform easily lets people create a private virtual room automatically, with support for video chat and screen sharing. One of our students, Sarah, gives a great overview of what the experience is like to learn to code online at Flatiron School.
A large part of building community in an in-person bootcamp is the feedback loop between students and instructors. How can online students contribute to the evolution of Flatiron School?
We encourage all of our Learn students to share your insight and leave your mark on the community. All of our content is open-sourced on GitHub so anyone in our community can make suggestions to improve it–which means it gets better over time and is as up-to-date as possible (something that’s never been possible with classroom textbooks!). Our students have already made over 5,000 contributions to our curriculum, benefiting the whole user community.
What’s one tip for online learners who want to stand out from the pack?
Keeping a technical blog can be a great way to articulate what you’ve learned and set yourself apart among other job applicants. All of our students are required to maintain technical blogs and they’re able to see how their peers are solving challenges. To facilitate this process, we’ve built a blogging feature right into our online platform, and top posts are shared with the community via our “Learn magazine” which you can peruse just like you would on Medium.
What’s more, a blog can be a powerful portfolio piece and our students can now create a custom domain name—which helps them look extra polished to tech recruiters.
Anything else you’d like to add about the process of building community into Flatiron School’s online campus?
Danny Dawson is not your average programmer. He went straight into the British Army after high school where he focused on telecommunications design. That telecommunications background led him to start a telecommunications and e-commerce business in London. See why Danny chose to attend NYC coding bootcamp Flatiron School through their online campus, Learn.co (and how he landed a job at PWC Ventures after graduating).
What is your pre-bootcamp story before Flatiron School?
I joined the Army straight from school, so instead of a university, I did a technical, telecommunications apprenticeship within the British Army. After being in the Army for seven years, I worked as a telecommunications network designer for a range of UK telecom companies. Then I set up an audio-visual installation company with a friend and ran that for a couple of years (we grew too fast and unfortunately had to close).
I spent the last 5-6 years as a principal engineering consultant and project manager for IT and Audio Visual projects.
What made you want to learn to code?
I've run a couple of companies, in the audiovisual and e-commerce sectors. In my Audio Visual company I generally dealt with technical design and the web development work. This was back in 2006, when I was just getting into web development, so I used a template and modified it with basic HTML and CSS.
I always wanted to learn more about the web because I really enjoyed that basic HTML and CSS. Last New Year’s, my resolution was to learn how to code so I could essentially build my own MVP for a new business idea I had. I took One Month Rails, which was a $50 course teaching Rails in 30 days. After building a Pinterest clone, it got me hooked and I knew I wanted to be a full-time programmer. Because I am entrepreneurial, it's essential that I know how to code, otherwise I won't understand the possibilities.
It's been pretty hard, to be honest. But with each I course take, I fully believe that anyone can actually learn to code. You just have to expect to incorporate effort and push yourself.
What made you decide that a coding bootcamp like Flatiron School was the right educational path?
I've done online courses before, and I actually did the Stanford Technology Entrepreneurship MOOC, so I was quite comfortable with an online style of learning. And I knew that if I put the effort in, I could do it.
Secondly, because I was working full-time, I couldn't really afford to go back to school full-time. I'm 33 now, and I didn’t complete the last two years of high school in the UK as I joined the Army, so it was out of the question for me to do a four-year degree. I'm sure doing a CS degree is beneficial to every programmer, but a four-year track personally would not have worked for me.
What made you choose Flatiron School?
I spent about 1.5 years teaching myself using online resources. I knew that I could build an app in Rails/Ruby, but I didn't know the underlying technology behind it – the “why.”
At the time, I wasn't interested in a bootcamp because they were obviously quite expensive. I'd always had my eyes on Course Report, and when I saw Flatiron School’s Online Web Developer Program on Learn.co, it was the right time and the right place. I needed to continue working full-time, so I had to choose an online course.
Flatiron School is a well-established school. As I understand, they are one of the top few coding schools in the US that have online offerings. I liked the fact that Learn.co was essentially self-paced. There is a monthly cost, and you can do it as fast or slow as you’d like.
Did you face any challenges as an international student applying for Flatiron School?
I had a long chat with Flatiron School’s Dean, Avi, prior to doing the course – he is brilliant! He’s really infectious with how he wants to teach people and how he wants others to learn. It just got me excited about joining the school and obviously the new program they were coming out with. That's how I chose it really. In a way, it was like sort of like the luck of the draw but I think I chose it because Flatiron was one of the better schools out there. Flatiron School came up with an online platform right when I was thinking to doing it, and the price fit within my budget.
How long did it take you to finish Flatiron School’s Online Web Developer Program?
On top of working full-time and doing it out of hours for two months, it took me another 4 to complete full-ish time. So overall six months. The course was a lot more in-depth than I thought it would be, which is brilliant. I'm so glad I did it, and that it took that long.
How did you commit yourself to learning online? Any tips for our readers who are concerned about focusing?
I actually rented a desk at a co-working space. I went three days a week and surrounded myself with programmers and other startups; it definitely helped.
Coming from a very corporate engineering background, Flatiron School was very different to what I was used to. It helped being around like-minded people while I was trying to learn. When you're learning on your own, it's quite hard to stay motivated sometimes. I'll be honest, I love programming, but obviously you have off days and not be motivated.
As an online student, what was the application and interview process like for Flatiron School?
I filled out an application form and then created a video, detailing more information about myself and why I enjoy programming. They also asked questions like, “If you could do anything when you're a programmer, what would you do?”
Once I got to the interview process, everything was online through Skype interviews. I ended up talking with Avi, the Dean of Flatiron School. We had a half an hour chat on Skype about the course in general, a bit about my background, and what I'd get out of the course.
Then you take a free, 30-hour introductory course, which culminates in you building a Tic-Tac-Toe game in Ruby. Once you finish that, then you can apply for the full course. I liked that process because if you put the effort in and know you love it, you'll do better in the full course.
Tell us about your learning experience. What was the Learn.co online platform like?
Learning online 100% worked for me. When I first started I was still working full-time, so I could do Flatiron School coursework around my working hours. I used to get up in the morning at 6:00am, log onto Learn.co to do a couple of hours before work, sneakily do some lessons/labs at work, and then more in the evening when I got home.
Because I had already completed the 30 hours, I knew what to expect from the platform. There were instructors available for online chat/help if you needed them. If you needed someone to bounce ideas off or guide you to the answer without giving it away, there were mentors there for that. We also had a Slack community for Flatiron School, where we'd all keep each other updated and encourage each other.
The Online Web Developer Program on Learn.co was essentially an online version of the Full Stack Web Development Program that Flatiron School offers on-site in New York. The course had the exact same curriculum, so obviously it had been tried and tested for a few years beforehand. It was very well-developed, and you could tell based on its depth.
How many people were in your cohort?
Flatiron School’s online programs don’t really work in cohorts because they’re self-paced and people joined at different times. There were probably about 20 of us right at the start, then more and more people were added every week.
How was the teaching style and feedback loop for Flatiron School’s online program?
Although you're on your own, you never feel isolated – there are always instructors available, it’s easy to start study groups with fellow students, and there are live lectures you can join about three times a week. Because of my schedule, I wasn’t able to attend the lectures in real-time, but they were all recorded. You can go back and watch every lecture that someone has given online.
The teachers were pretty cool. They were always available to help if you needed them. Students could hit them up through Learn.co’s “Ask A Question” and built-in chat features, on Slack, or by dropping them an email.
What was your biggest challenge during your time at Flatiron School?
It's always a struggle learning to code, no matter who you are. Sometimes you think you've got the subject matter, but your command doesn't work out how you expect it to. But then when it clicks, it just clicks and you think "Yes, I've won!" (until you get to the next thing). It's a whole massive learning process.
I was always thinking about how I could transition into personal projects that I wanted to build. Design patterns were always quite a big thing for me. It’s always good to step outside of the curriculum and think about how this will apply to your future, because otherwise you lose why you’re in the course. The curriculum teaches you how to do something; you still need to think and evolve to be a better programmer.
What was your favorite project that you built?
We built four or five different individual projects—one at the end of each section of the course. The first project I built was a command-line Ruby Gem for a “World’s Best 50 Restaurants” website. Users could type into the command-line and it would give a full list and more information about the restaurants. You can choose which restaurant you want more information from and it will you give their signature dish, the address of it, a bit about the chefs, and more. It is a very basic project, but when you first start building sites like that, you feel amazing. Check it out here.
For one of my final projects, I built a project management app in Rails. It was an internal project that you could use to add tasks to a project, add people to a project, and then assign people on that project's tasks. These projects were just simple ideas, but I spent a lot of time trying to get my head around the underlying backend technology than building the best app in the world.
Learn.co gives free reign to build anything you want. You have an hour session with an instructor and they give you an outline of what you are expected to do, then you can choose any project you want to build. Instructors then assess what you’ve built and may even write tests with you and you explain your design decisions. It was pretty cool to get real-time feedback and individual time with an instructor for each project.
What was the job hunt like after you finished Flatiron School?
When I moved to Melbourne, I wasn’t in any technology circles and didn’t know any programmers. I started going to meetups, joined the Ruby Australia Slack channel, and went to a Ruby conference when I first arrived. By chance, I spoke to one of the lead devs at Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) and said, "If you're looking for a junior developer, I've got previous consultant experience, and I'd be very much interested in working at PwC." When I finished Learn.co, I passed my CV to the product manager and got asked in for an interview. I went through four interviews; it was quite a long process. There was an initial phone screen interview, a coding challenge, an interview with the lead dev and product manager, and then there was an interview with the group director.
I now work at PwC as a Junior Web Developer and have been there for about a month.
Tell us about your current role as a Junior Developer at PwC.
I work for PWC Ventures, which is under digital services. We look for inefficiencies in financial services, whether that be with government incentives or other areas. We think about whether we can turn these solutions into mini-businesses for PwC, and then we develop and build like a startup.
For example, I'm working on a project called Nifty Forms which helps companies in Australia, Canada, and the UK get tax rebates or tax allowances to pay most of your Research & Development costs. Nifty Forms essentially takes out the back and forth with companies and accountants and provides an easier way to apply for your R&D rebates with the backing of PwC. I also work on another product called Airtax which helps freelancers and Uber drivers with their tax returns on a quarterly and annual basis.
Do you feel that Flatiron School has prepared you for your career as a developer?
Definitely. I feel like I learned a lot during my time at Flatiron School. At PwC, I’m working in a large application, much bigger than while I have been learning, but I’m comfortable. Looking at the code base, I can tell what's going on and I already feel like I can contribute to the development. I definitely feel very much prepared.
Do you still stay in touch with the Flatiron School or any other alumni?
I actually worked for Flatiron School for a few months after I graduated. I wanted to continue learning and helping other students while I was looking for a full-time position. I was a Learn Expert, helping out part-time. I helped the students through the course materials or when they got stuck.
It was really rewarding, to be honest, and it was nice to help students understand tough concepts. Teaching solidifies the information in your mind as well. If you're not sure about something, and you have to convey how it actually works to someone else, it sticks in your mind a bit more. I also still communicate with alumni in on our Slack channel.
What advice do you have for people who are thinking about making that career change and joining a coding bootcamp?
I'd say the first thing is to make sure you love coding. Make sure you've done loads of prep work; don't just jump into it. It's a lot of money to be spending, and not everyone loves programming. You can learn all the information you want, but if you don't have the passion, the drive, and the excitement about programming, it's hard to get junior dev role. Don't fork out a lot of money if you don't know that you love it.
Welcome to the August 2016 Course Report monthly coding bootcamp news roundup! Each month, we look at all the happenings from the coding bootcamp world from new bootcamps to big fundraising announcements, to interesting trends. This month the biggest news is the Department of Education's EQUIP pilot program to provide federal financial aid to some bootcamp students. Other trends include job placement outcomes, the gender imbalance in tech, acquisitions and investments, and paying for bootcamp. Read below or listen to our latest Coding Bootcamp News Roundup Podcast!Continue Reading →
Many competitive coding bootcamps want you to have some programming knowledge in order to be accepted into their programs – whether they’re looking for past experience on your resume or require that you pass a coding challenge. For a beginner, it can be tough to get the experience that a selective bootcamp looks for in the application process. There are many ways to learn basic coding (including teaching yourself) but if you want to make sure you’re covering the right material and quickly, then a bootcamp prep program may be for you.Continue Reading →
In July 2016, we announced one FULL scholarship to Flatiron School in New York City. Because there were so many amazing applicants, Flatiron School decided to award scholarships to TWO stellar applicants, and we are excited to announce those winners today. Jessica, a musician/video producer, and Dallin, a marketing strategist, tell us a little bit about themselves and why they want to learn code at Flatiron School.
Congratulations Jessica and Dallin!
What are your career/ educational backgrounds?
Jessica: I went to college at Belmont University and studied Songwriting and Music Business. After graduating I started a small label and worked with a couple of bands (including my own at the time) in Nashville. I eventually moved to New York and worked several odd jobs while getting settled. Finally my college internships with several music companies paid off and I got hired to do video production for ‘stache Media. At ‘stache I worked in Premiere Pro and After Effects creating lyric videos, pseudo videos, and pre-roll spots. During most of my post-grad life I taught myself bits of coding on the side whenever I had time.
Dallin: While attending Brigham Young University (BYU) I worked as a marketing and social media strategist for a tech startup called Arsenal MKG. After graduating from BYU with a degree in business I chased my dream to one day live and work in Asia. I turned down a number of job opportunities in the states including a job with Real Salt Lake and Marriott Vacation Club to go on the job hunt in Thailand.
After a couple of weeks wondering how I would be able to get a job in a place where I knew no one and I didn’t speak the language I secured a marketing strategy job in the heart of Bangkok. I have had the opportunity to live and work with the local Thai people for the past 7 months. While I have grown to love the Thai people and culture the desire to take my career and skillset to the next level have been constantly on my mind. I feel that coding is the door to the future and I want to be involved in the emerging tech scene of New York City.
What got you interested in code and why did you decide to attend a coding bootcamp?
Dallin: I love creating and designing. From a young age, I have spent countless hours drawing up designs and logos for future businesses that I would start. By the time I got to high school, I was turning those drawings into realities as I started my own clothing company and later opened up a local food stand during my freshman year in college. Thanks to this entrepreneurial drive of mine I joined a tech startup where I worked closely with designers and programmers that were building incredible tools that would be able to help people. I spent hours in awe watching these programmers type things into a computer and create things out of thin air. I started to wonder if I would be able to do that too. So I signed up for an entry-level computer programming class at Brigham Young University. My professor ended up getting terminally ill two weeks into the semester and our class was left without a professor. Many students dropped the course but I stuck with it and tried to successfully pass my college course professor-less. While teaching myself in this class, I discovered Codecademy and completed the entire HTML & CSS course. I also completed the Build Your Own Website course. I have now discovered Learn.co and have been working my way through the Web Development fundamentals.
What made you choose to apply to Flatiron School?
Jessica: I started telling all my friends that I was trying to get into some coding bootcamps in New York and asked for advice on which schools to go for. Flatiron was on the top of my list because it seemed to really encourage creative thinkers. A couple of my friends are graduates of the school and raved about it to me.
Dallin: Upon deciding to go to coding school, I spent hours researching different schools. Of most importance to me was curriculum, teacher-student ratio, one-on-one mentoring, languages taught and actual career placement. As I read about Flatiron, I sensed that the school has a passion for teaching students to code that matches my passion for learning the necessary skills. I also like Flatiron's focus and emphasis on Ruby as I feel it is a great foundational language. Furthermore, as I've searched the web for introductory courses, I've found that Flatiron's Learn.co is the most effective course to teach yourself how to code and to interact with others who are doing the same thing. Learn.co has pushed me to think beyond the written curriculum and is a unique online classroom. I also love the fact that Flatiron is located in New York City. Lastly, and most important, I was blown away with Flatiron's proven career placement. I love the local connections that Flatiron has from so many successful alumni.
You’re both super-creative people. What are you most excited about learning at Flatiron School?
Jessica: For some reason when I play guitar I have a limitless attention span; hours go by and I don’t notice. The only other thing this has happened with me with has been coding. I get started trying to solve a problem and time just seems to slip away (in a good way). I feel like this happens because coding and songwriting both follow similar processes. Understanding the interaction of structure and creativity in music is a great way to think about code. Also, when you create a song you have to be able to take a risk and put yourself out there. There are guidelines to follow, like keys and chord progressions, but initially the page is blank. I feel like with coding it’s the same thing — you learn the proper tools and guidelines but in the end you’re taking an initial risk in simply creating something new.
Honestly, I’m most excited about simply having so much time dedicated to studying web development! After spending several years learning whatever I can on the side of full-time jobs and on the weekends it sounds like a total luxury. I’m also excited to put all of my pieces of self-taught information together into full cohesive lessons, and finally develop the tools I need to build all these crazy ideas for programs I have.
Dallin: My vision for coding is beyond making a living for myself and my future family. During my time in Brazil, I witnessed corruption, even to the point of death for some whom I was close to, as a result of poverty and lack of opportunity. The wheels in my head began to turn as I searched for a way to help their mourning families. With the price of education beyond what they can even comprehend paying for, and the hope for a better future is out of their reach. I have developed a plan of action to help those I love and others in similar situations overcome the corruption that is rampant in Brazil, as well as across the globe.
I dream of someday, in the near future, taking the skills I will learn through Flatiron School’s program, and my fluency in Portuguese, to start a not-for-profit coding school that I will offer to the people of Brazil. With the opportunity to advance their knowledge at an affordable rate and develop a marketable skill-set, they will be able to make better life choices that will assist them out of the poverty cycle. I live my life by the motto: “Teach a man to fish and they will be fed for a lifetime.” I find more fulfillment in my own success when I can share my knowledge and skills to help others improve and find their own success.
Can you tell me about your background and experience before you joined Flatiron?
I have been programming since middle school. I'm one of those kids who discovered coding at an early age, and fell in love with it. In high school, I taught at a computer camp for middle schoolers. That’s when I caught the teaching bug.
I went to Carnegie Mellon to study computer science and information systems; but it got very theory based, which didn’t really swing with me. I wasn't good at it. The reason I love programming is because I love making and solving things. I couldn't figure out how the deep theory was connected to building better software, so I dropped computer science and picked up economics and information systems. During school I was TAing for CMU courses: statistics, economics, Intro to C, and Rails. In my senior year, I helped write curriculum for an iOS course.
When I graduated, I actually just wanted to travel, so I joined IBM and consulted. I was looking for a way to give back to the community and wanted to volunteer to teach at the public library, but they needed people during the week when I wasn’t available. I then heard about Flatiron School through a friend of a friend who was in the school’s second ever Web Development class. I got in touch to see if I could help out on the weekends, and it eventually became a full-time job. I'd always loved teaching and programming, but I’d never thought of it as a career.
What did you think of Flatiron School at first?
I really liked how instructors spent so much time with students in these immersives, building really strong relationships. I also realized that people were quitting their jobs, spending a lot of money, and just dedicating their life to this so it’s our duty to make sure they learned as much as possible. It is on our instructors to make sure they have an amazing experience just as much as it is on the student.
What has your progression been since you started at Flatiron School?
I started working at Flatiron early July 2013. For the first year and a half, I was the lead instructor for the iOS class. We're a small company, and if a teacher was sick, or needed someone to cover, I'd help out. I would also represent the company at events.
Then I started helping Avi Flombaum, our co-founder and dean, with onboarding new instructors, instructor training, and some curriculum development stuff. We were trying to build processes around how we capture issues, how we respond to them, etc. Then we found another Lead iOS Instructor who took over the iOS class and I was able to become Director of the Faculty. In that role, I was working on instructor training, hiring, and mentorship of new instructors – coaching them through the process of teaching, and emotional support for the students.
This year, I became VP of Education. I oversee the online curriculum, our in-person instructors, as well as help out with some of the online instructors. So I'm interacting with the students, but never as much as I’d like. I am currently teaching our iOS course, and I also do a lot of guest lectures in the web development courses.
Tell me about the launch of Flatiron School’s online curriculum. How did that work?
It's nice to no longer be constrained by 12 weeks. We now have the ability to give students extra work during or after the program if there are technologies they want to learn or practice.
Is this Learn curriculum just for the Web Development class or your other classes too?
The Learn curriculum is currently just for Web Development. We are working on some stuff for iOS. The one big push we're doing right now is the move from Objective-C to Swift. We're building in a lot of curriculum work around Swift as well as more recorded lectures for Objective-C.
How many students and teachers do you have in each program?
We have 30 students each in the three in-person immersive classes (two Web Development, and one iOS). Each immersive class has a lead instructor and two teacher assistants. For the online program, we have a very different model around how instructors work. We have a network of “Learn Experts” who act as mentors and are available anytime to support students.
Can online students start anytime and how does that impact the sense of community?
Students start whenever they like. One of the biggest features of the online program is flexibility; flexibility to start whenever you like and to build relationships with people who are either close to you geographically or in the same spot in the curriculum, even if they’re in different time zones. We recognize that when you think of amazing educational experiences, you think of the people you did it with, and your instructors. So we want as much as possible to really prop that up and facilitate the social aspect of education.
What’s the structure of the online curriculum?
Essentially the online and in-person program are the same. All of the online curricula came from the immersive class. The immersive is where we beta test new stuff, and push the edges of what's possible to teach within a short amount of time. Because we have 30 students with three instructors, we're able to create really tight relationships with our students. We use these relationships to figure out the pacing and to get a tight handle on how fast to go.
How often do you update or iterate on the curriculum?
It's a pretty constant process. It’s an open source curriculum so it's constantly changing. We get 30 to 60 issues or pull requests per week. Some are from students, some are from instructors, and they're getting merged at a rate of about 50 a week. It's great to get feedback from students and be able to quickly iterate and push a new change within days.
Instructors are moving stuff around and playing with ideas all the time. Last semester we played with teaching Ember, and our instructors just pulled it together on their off time so we could see how it worked and if we could teach it. Having open source curriculum and having a standard developer flow of GitHub and pull requests means that it's frictionless for us to try out new content and approaches to teaching, so we do it all the time.
How do the instructors stay aware of all the little changes to the curriculum and make sure they're teaching the most up to date version?
It’s not easy – but super important. Before teachers deploy new labs, they'll take a look at the commit history of those labs and see the changes another teacher has made. Everything is in there.
For the larger changes – for instance, when we added Angular – the instructors help us build the outline and they review it as content is developed.
How do the in-person on-campus students use the Learn platform?
We run the whole course through Learn, but usage is a bit lighter compared to the online students. Although the students are able to hit the “ask a question feature” in Learn, it’s more natural to ask a teacher in person because they’re standing right there. We do use Learn a lot for its pacing. It shows us how the students are progressing. We can actually look at the data to see how many tests they’ve passed, how quickly they are working, and if they’re engaged to be a bit more data-driven in our decisions.
How do you assess students’ progress through Learn? Can students fail?
All of Flatiron School’s curriculum has automated tests to make sure students are finishing tasks. For the online students, we have live assessments with an instructor throughout the course. For the in-person programs, there's no real failing. It's more just discussion with teachers: “here is where you didn't succeed, you have some extra areas that you need to study up on.”
In the online program, students who fail assessments have to go back and make some modifications before moving on. It's really important that anyone who graduates from Flatiron School really knows their stuff. If you happen to get through some content without understanding it, then we want to make sure that you understand it before you move forward. If you just compound shaky on top of shaky, when you get further into the curriculum - to Rails and Angular – it's going to be difficult.
If students are struggling, we step in immediately and provide additional materials in the form of Learn lessons, extra one-on-one time, or extra one-on-small group time. We also continue to work with students after they graduate if they need additional practice ahead of interviews.
What kind of person do you think is the ideal student to do the in-person Flatiron School bootcamp?
I think the person that really values it is someone who has just fallen in love with code and wants to be completely immersed: physically, mentally, and philosophically surrounded by people who are passionate about coding. They want that really close knit relationship that comes from constantly interacting with your teacher. You sit next to your teachers, you have lunch with your teachers – so if you really love being driven by instructors and you can come to New York for three months, it’s a great option.
Learning this stuff is hard, so you need a community to support you. That’s true whether you’re learning online or in person. Both programs really embrace that concept.
Welcome to the June Course Report monthly coding bootcamp news roundup! Each month we look at all the happenings from the coding bootcamp world, including new bootcamps, what we’re seeing in bootcamps internationally, outcomes, and paying for bootcamps. Plus, we released our big Bootcamp Market Sizing and Growth Report in June! Read below or listen to our latest Coding Bootcamp News Roundup Podcast!Continue Reading →
Jennifer Sardina had a lot of interesting jobs, as a foreign language teacher, a chemistry lab technician, a health coach, and a full-time mom. But she wanted a career. She had never been interested in computers before, but when her brother gave her a programming book, she couldn’t put it down. Jennifer enrolled in Flatiron School’s Web Development program and is now a software engineer at XO Group for TheKnot.com. Jennifer tells us why she chose Flatiron School, how she juggled working full time with motherhood, and all about her exciting job.
What is your education background? Your last career path?
It’s ironic that I ended up in this field because I always knew I liked working with people and communications, but I did not want to work with computers.
I originally attended Stony Brook University to study chemical and tissue engineering. But as an animal rights advocate and a vegan, I decided I didn’t want to dissect animals, so I switched to literature. I studied Italian language and literature then went to Italy for some time. I came back and started working as a Spanish and Italian teacher, then became a health coach and worked as a chemistry lab technician. I had a lot of different jobs but I didn’t have a career.
So how did you get interested in programming?
My last job as a health coach was at a startup, and my job was mostly community outreach and working with patients. But I wore many hats, and often collaborated with a research team to track data. They were using excel spreadsheets, but it was frustrating because they didn’t have a real database. I would vent to my brother (a Flatiron School grad) and he suggested I might enjoy programming, because I’d be able to solve these problems with code. He shared Chris Pine’s book “Learn to Program” with me, which I secretly started reading and fell in love with. I quit my job a couple months later to go to Flatiron School full time. It was the best decision of my life.
Did you consider teaching yourself?
No I didn’t. I was having a lot of “aha” moments and it felt like I was playing games all day. At the same time, I was working full time, and I’m a full-time mom and wife. I felt like if I wanted to focus on it enough to actually become a programmer, I needed to devote 100% of my time to it. Otherwise, I was afraid it would just become a hobby.
Did you look at other coding bootcamps in NYC or just Flatiron School?
I did look at General Assembly and App Academy. App Academy sounded interesting because I wouldn’t have to pay upfront- they offer deferred tuition. But my brother interviewed with them and didn’t like the experience. I went to an open house at GA and heard alumni talking about their experiences, but it wasn’t as convincing as Flatiron School to me. My brother already went to Flatiron School and he loved it. So I applied, really liked the interviews, and I felt this positivity and excitement for code and that was really nice.
What was the Flatiron School application and interview process like for you?
I submitted the application, and I had a phone screening with a woman from the Admissions team. She looked like me, and she seemed interested in me, my experience, and why I got into programming. The human connection was a great first start.
After that there was a code challenge. Flatiron School wasn’t looking for an answer; they were looking at my thought process and my ability to explain it. I liked the questions during the technical interview with Avi Flombaum. He didn’t just say “oh this is working;” instead he asked me how I arrived at this answer, why this is important, and made me think about my implementation. Avi is also someone who naturally smiles, which made me comfortable.
How did you pay for Flatiron School?
I’m the sole provider in my household, so you can imagine that quitting my job completely and paying $15,000 upfront was impossible for me. Flatiron School offers a $1000 scholarship for women and minorities. I am a black, Hispanic, and a mom, so I did get some help there. After the two scholarships, I ended up paying $13,000 in total. My brother also helped me out, which was really nice of him, so I could focus on the bootcamp. Flatiron School does also offer financing options.
Was your class diverse in terms of gender, race, life and career backgrounds?
There were 18 to 20 people in the class, with a good number of women and different age ranges. There were other moms, there was one other Hispanic person, and one black person in the iOS class. And there was one instructor who looked like me.
Who were your instructors and how did they support your learning?
The main instructors were Ian, Rose, and Amanda initially, but then Amanda transferred to the other incoming class. They were awesome. I would bother them all the time and they were naturally so patient, and didn’t mind repeating the same thing over and over again with the same tone. They seemed like they were always having fun.
What was the learning experience like at Flatiron School?
Every day was different, but every morning you understood exactly what was going on. Our long list of tasks would be online already on the Learn platform. The intention for students is to never really be “finished” with the tasks; we always had to reach for more. First, we would do the Problem of the Day. Then we did group or solo activities, but we’re always encouraged to talk to other people at our table, and have study groups, so we could talk through the problem. One thing Flatiron School emphasized is explaining your thought process to others. And we did a lot of whiteboarding – every table was a dry erase surface, so you could draw out problems on the table. There were also two hours per day of lectures, and a lot of homework to do outside of class.
I was in the Flatiron classroom from 9am until 6pm, then I would run home to a three-year-old every evening. Some people stayed really late, and every morning people were there already. I think some people stayed overnight because they were open 24 hours a day - though I think that’s mainly because they were so enthralled with what they were learning.
What was your favorite project? Did you get to use your own ideas?
My favorite project was our final project, which was a heatmap of ethnic food in New York. I worked with two classmates, Jason and Jeremy. If a user searches for Indian food, they’ll get a heat map showing where in NYC the most Indian restaurants are. I thought that was really fun, partly because it was a single page app – we used Rails, and we practiced a lot of Ajax which was really cool because we hadn’t had much experience with that. We also got to use the Google Maps API and the Foursquare API. That project was a good combo of back end and front end work in a very short period of time.
How did Flatiron School prepare you for finding a job after you graduated?
Flatiron School definitely helped me make connections, and I met my current supervisor at the Flatiron Science Fair. They gave me confidence in talking about my technical background, which at that point was very limited. We focused a lot on our elevator pitch and finding the right words when presenting yourself to a potential employer. I tend to talk a lot, and it was good to learn how to choose specific words and stick to a one-minute pitch. Lastly, when it came to job offers, I had two job offers at once, and they were very supportive in helping me choose the right job for me.
Which job offer did you take? Where are you working now?
I ended up taking the second job offer because I really wanted to work at XO Group. I started as an associate software engineer at XO Group on June 1, 2015, about four weeks after I graduated from Flatiron School. The other initial offer was from a nonprofit organization with interesting problems and technologies, but I didn’t see any women! It was all men dressed in suits and very quiet. When I got the XO Group offer, the atmosphere at the office helped me make my decision.
Tell us about XO Group- where have we seen your work around the internet?
XO Group runs the websites The Knot, The Bump, and The Nest. We support couples through their most important life changes. When you’re getting married you can create a wedding website, registries, and manage your guest list on The Knot. You can use The Bump when you’re pregnant and about to start a family, and then use The Nest when you’re raising kids. I work specifically for The Knot in the wedding websites guest services team, maintaining the wedding websites and guests manager.
What does your day-to-day look like as a web developer?
At 10am we have standups, where everyone updates their team on what they are working on, if they have any blockers, and generally maintains situational awareness. Then we get started on work. Sometimes I work solo on stories or chores, sometimes I pair with other developers. For the first few months, I was the only full-time developer on my team, but it was great because I got to learn a lot. Now the team is growing and there’s a lot of room for pairing and learning.
We also have time to review code requests, when someone else looks at your code and gives you feedback, which is another great opportunity to learn. My team is 4 or 5 people including myself, and we’re all actively working on the same products.
Are you still using Ruby on Rails? How are you keeping up to date with new tech?
I feel like Flatiron School equipped me with a good foundation in programming with specific tools, languages and frameworks. I do sometimes think about getting a CS degree when my daughters are a little older, to learn more about big architectural problems and algorithms.
When you started at Flatiron School, did you know that your goal after graduating was to get a job as a junior developer?
I did want to get a job as a developer because I wanted to be able to focus on programming full time. When I started at Flatiron, I didn’t know what kind of company I wanted to work for. I was just leaving a nonprofit organization with a very small team of just 5 women. I thought about working for a small startup, but I knew I wouldn’t have time to have a life. I didn’t know I wanted to work for a large company until I went to XO and fell in love with it. The people are just so happy all the time.
What’s been the biggest challenge in your new job as a developer?
My biggest challenge is communicating technical thoughts confidently. Sometimes I feel like I know exactly what I’m talking about and I know it’s the correct answer or best implementation, but sounding confident and representing myself in the technical world has been a challenge. To combat this, I’ve tried writing blog posts and doing presentations. I challenge myself to do presentations at work, I presented at the NYCRB, and at the NYC Camp last year at the UN. Those things are helping, but it’s still a big challenge getting beyond that point.
What advice do you have for people making a career change after bootcamp?
My older brother once told me that if you want to find your dream job, find the job you would do for free. Before making a decision, make sure that programming is something you would do for free. I thought that was beautiful advice.
Programming is a field where you don’t stop learning. If you want to be competitive, you have to read every day and learn new technologies and continue developing. Don’t pay attention to how other people are doing, just look at the progress you’ve made as an individual. The marathon is not against other people but against yourself.
Apply now for the Course Report + Flatiron Full Scholarship!
Flatiron School has been a leader in immersive coding education since 2012, and we’ve watched as they’ve produced amazing graduates like Vaidehi and Stephanie. That’s why we are so excited to announce the Course Report Web Development Full Scholarship for Flatiron School’s Web Development Immersive. You read that correctly- a FULL scholarship worth $15,000.Continue Reading →
You know the stereotypes of the creative-minded artist and the technically-minded programmer. One with the creative writing degree but lost when it comes to tech; the other focused on computer science but too mechanical to be imaginative. One whose workshop is the artist’s studio or concert hall; the other tapping away in their terminal. Keyboard vs. keyboard. BA vs. BS. Well, it is B.S.
If you’ve met a real developer, you know these stereotypes aren’t true. Here at Flatiron School, we’ve seen students with creative backgrounds flourish as programmers—and the employers we work with have appreciated how our graduates from different disciplines bring their creative skills into the workplace. In fact, we believe that what separates a great programmer from a good one is creativity.
That’s one reason why an increasing number of people who love to create—from artists and linguists to chefs and designers—find a career in programming to be a fulfilling outlet for their talents. Just open up your terminal and start building something from scratch, no canvas or instrument required.
Some have even noted that our classes “run less like math classes than creative writing classes. Students build projects, review and discuss each other’s work, and then rewrite them.”
We believe so strongly in creative programmers that we're actually partnering with Course Report to offer a full scholarship to our immersive web development course in NYC for people with non-technical backgrounds. Whether you’re pursuing your creative talents professionally or as a hobby, we’ve seen students with this experience thrive here at Flatiron School. Here are a few of their stories:
Vaidehi Joshi: from freelance writer to full-stack engineer
Tyler Davis: from musician to startup founder
Tyler, a lifelong musician and multi-instrumentalist—and a Flatiron alum—brought together his love of music, design, and development through the launch of SoundViz: a site that converts the soundwave of your favorite song into a piece of high-quality, ready-to-hang art.
Stephanie Oh: from teacher and songwriter to product manager
Stephanie was a writing teacher, tutor, and songwriter, while also working in the talent management industry with artists like Def Leppard and CeeLo Green. She thought the end result of that path would be a job in marketing or PR, but wasn’t sure if either field truly excited her. After seeing the creativity present in websites and apps, she wondered: who were the people actually making them? She attended Flatiron School, convinced that an entry-level developer role would utilize more of her creative abilities than the path she had been on—as a developer, she would be the one making things. And she’s right: Stephanie has gone on to be a Product Manager at Splash, Constant Contact, and inMarket.
Grace Lee: mixing art with programming
Grace is a Flatiron student, who has been combining her artistic and programming passions in a fresh way. Take a peek at her technical blog, where she illustrates tough concepts through delightful pen and marker drawings alongside lucid written explanations. She also penned the art on this blog post!
If you want to come to NYC this summer and join our passionate community of web development students, apply for a full scholarship to Flatiron School’s Web Development Immersive ($15,000 value)! Applications are due June 21st and all of the details can be found here.
Welcome to the May 2016 Course Report monthly coding bootcamp news roundup! Each month we look at all the happenings from the coding bootcamp world, from acquisitions, to new bootcamps, to collaborations with universities, and also various reports and studies. Read below or listen to our latest Coding Bootcamp News Roundup podcast.Continue Reading →
What is it like to study at an online coding bootcamp? How will you interact with your instructors, mentors and other students? And will your learning portal be a place you look forward to learning each day? We have done the research and asked some of the most popular online bootcamps to give us walkthrough demos to answer all your questions about studying online.Continue Reading →
Since the first bootcamp acquisition in June 2014, we’ve seen several coding bootcamps get acquired by a range of companies from for-profit education companies (Capella Education), to co-working companies (WeWork), and other coding bootcamps (Thinkful + Bloc)! With rapid market growth in the bootcamp industry, for-profit education companies are taking note. These acquisitions and consolidations should come as no surprise, and some have been very successful, with schools going on to increase their number of campuses and course offerings. As coding bootcamps become more mature, we are seeing them get snapped up by more well-known companies, for increasingly large sums (e.g. General Assembly for $413 million!) We’ll keep this chronologically-ordered list updated as bootcamps announce future acquisitions.
Continue Reading →
If you're a college student, an incoming freshman, or a teacher with a summer break, you have tons of summer coding bootcamp options, as well as several code schools that continue their normal offerings in the summer months.Continue Reading →
Sarah was working as a grants manager for a nonprofit, when she got inspired by browsing beautiful websites to pursue coding. She wanted to find a way to study coding without quitting her job, so she chose Flatiron School’s online Learn-Verified coding bootcamp. It meant she was able to study with an established NYC-based school, while living in Des Moines, Iowa. Sarah told us about what and how she has been learning, and gave us a video demonstration of the Learn-Verified platform.
Tell us about your background and what you were doing before Flatiron.
I majored in marketing and writing at Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa. After college, I worked at a local nonprofit and did a year of Americorps. After that year, I got hired full time as their grant writer, writing and managing grants.
I’ve always enjoyed design and I started to get inspiration from web design; eventually, I realized that I could figure out how to make those sites work, so I started learning HTML and CSS through books, tutorials, and articles. I got frustrated with CSS because it never did exactly what I wanted it to do. At that point, I realized there was a lot more to websites than just HTML and CSS, so I just kept learning.
Once you decided you wanted to move on from learning by yourself, how did you make that decision to do a bootcamp?
About six months ago, I started to get really serious about coding and decided to pursue it. I really enjoyed learning about coding and I enjoyed the fact there was always something new to learn. That’s very important to me – learning is always going to be a significant part of my life.
As I was coding on my own, I was always wondering what I should be learning next or what I should be doing. If I wanted to take this seriously I realized I needed to know what I should be learning, so a bootcamp was a really good way to do that.
How did you decide you wanted to do an online coding bootcamp rather than an in-person option?
Is the teaching language (Ruby) at Flatiron important to you?
It definitely was. As I was learning on my own and making these decisions, I had read a lot about Ruby and about it being friendly, easy to pick up as a first language, and had a great community around it, so learning Ruby seemed like a great choice. Previously, I had built a few things in Rails, nothing super fancy or really cool but I at least had done Rails and knew how to start a new application.
Can you tell us about the application process with Flatiron Learn-Verified?
You start by signing up on Flatiron‘s website for a free introductory course which goes through some basics of Ruby, data types, basic logic statements, etc.
Once you complete part of the intro course, you are invited to apply and update your LinkedIn profile, submit that, then you have a short interview with one of the co-founders or admissions directors. In the next few days, you’ll hear back whether or not you were accepted.
Did you have to quit your job to start Flatiron’s online Learn-Verified?
No, I work full time and do all of my Flatiron work at nights and weekends.
Can you tell us about the learning experience at Flatiron Learn-Verified? What’s a typical session like and what is the teaching style like?
They have a really good learning platform set up. You start with a reading about a programming concept, they give you examples in that reading, tell you things to watch out for, show you ways you might solve this problem, and additional resources about the concept. After the reading, you’ll usually have a lab where you put what you learned into practice.
Then you do a lab for each section. Everything just keeps building on each lesson. Flatiron is really good at making sure you know the foundation of a concept before you get the quick fix for it.
So you always feel like you understand a concept before you move on?
Yes. The other nice part of it is everything is stored on Github so if I forget about how something worked, I can go back a few labs and look at what that was, then reference it or put it back into practice in whatever I’m working on.
How often do you interact with other students taking the course?
They encourage pair programming at different times during the course. When you finish each major section there are a couple projects - one that you’ll pair program and the other that will be your assessment. For the project, you’re encouraged to pair with someone else who is at a similar pace as you. There’s a Slack channel for the course that’s helpful for reaching out to other students and finding someone to pair with.
They explain a few different ways you could pair program (work linearly together, one person does one requirement and the other does the next, or both work on different parts at the same time and meet in the middle).
You’re encouraged to pair in each of these ways throughout the course so you have experiences working collaboratively.
What sort of pace have you been learning at so far? How many hours per week have you been spending on Learn-Verified?
It’s definitely varied. On a weeknight, I try to make sure I spend at least one or two hours. Obviously, that varies depending on what else I have going on. But then a lot of my weekend is also devoted to Learn, so I would say ten hours every weekend (Saturday and Sunday).
I started at the beginning of November and I’m more than halfway done. I expect to be done in April.
What are your instructors like? How often do you interact with them?
I usually interact with instructors if I have a question, if I’m a bit confused about something, or if I run into a problem. They have a nice ‘ask a question’ feature on the platform where I could ask about anything and get an answer. We also have a Slack channel and there’s always an instructor online who can answer questions. That also helps with getting to know everybody else who’s in the Learn-Verified community.
I believe they’re all based in New York but they have a great online presence and online community using a lot of different tools. It’s been good.
Logistically, I would hit the ‘ask a question’ button and type a question. They’ll either help you or refer you to another instructor. We also have a Slack channel so the other way I might get someone’s attention is by writing a question in there.
What’s your plan once you finish Learn-Verified?
Another thing that made this program exciting for me was the job placement guarantee. I’m definitely looking to switch careers and be a full time developer, whether that’s a junior developer or another programming role.
How is the Flatiron team going to prepare you for job placement?
One really great thing about the course is that it teaches you to be comfortable using professional developer tools - ie- the command line, GitHub, text editors, etc. Having the entire course on GitHub has been useful in the fact that it builds up a portfolio of projects that I’ve worked on. I recently went to a Ruby meetup for the first time. I was talking to some of the regulars and they asked if they could see my Github profile. We were able to look through it together, and he liked to be able to see what I was learning and to be able to get into the code. I think that’s helped a lot.
I know when I start looking for a job, I’ll have support from Flatiron. Someone will be checking in with me, helping me keep motivated to work on my code, and encouraging me to network.
Do you have any advice for people who are considering an online bootcamp? How can they stay motivated while learning online?
It’s been really important for me to have a goal at the end – that I want to get a job. So I have something to look forward to when things get a little difficult for me to grasp or figure out. I know I need to keep going and it eventually will pay off.
I would really encourage people to just dive into the material and to make sure they’re proactively learning new things on their own, too. So do your research, try to figure it out and really try to digest what you can and keep going.
Watch the video below to see Sarah's demo of the Learn-Verified platform:
Can you tell us about the Learn-Verified online platform and how it works?
The first page is my profile page. It shows what my Streak is, and every activity I’ve done. Right now I’m on a four-day streak, last week I was on a 21-day streak.
You can also see the lessons I’ve completed, including all the different sections I’ve gotten through. It shows I am on this Rails section right now, and all of the different readings, lessons for that section. Then it shows exactly which lesson I’m on within the Rails section.
Do you actually build projects through Learn-Verified?
To open up a particular lab I could hit the ‘open’ button and there’s a Learn gem you would install at the beginning of the program. Usually, I open Terminal, then I would input ‘Learn open.’ That will open up my current lesson as well as Sublime text for what I’m working on.
You were mentioning before how Github is integrated with this platform. Could you explain how you use Github?
All of the labs are on Github so I can open Github through the Learn platform. When I do “Learn open” in the Terminal, the files from the lab on Github get forked into my local machine.
Then just like a normal developer, I would work on all of the tests. For example if I run an R-spec, it will show me all of my tests that are not passing right now. And if I did have all of them passing, I would run a Learn command which basically is going to be R-spec right now. But if I was passing everything then the button would turn green saying everything’s passed and I’m okay to submit a pull request to Github. Once I did that, I would hit ‘Learn submit’. That’s basically how you use Github with this.
Once you’ve passed the local tests, does that allow you to move on to the next lesson?
Yes. Then after I’ve passed the test, I can go to Github and look at the test solution which may be a different than how I got everything to pass. I think it’s really great you can see different ways to do things and maybe that will help you see ways you can refactor your code.
So once I’ve submitted everything I’ll hit ‘next lesson’ and go to a reading for this next lesson. If I wanted to hit ‘next lesson’ before I finished all the tests, it’s not going to let me go forward.
How does this platform compare with other free online training websites like Codecademy?
I’d say this is a lot more comprehensive than Codecademy. It’s going to tell you ways you should do things and why that might be the best option. Another thing that’s different from Codecademy is I can see the tests on whatever lab I’m working on. I can interact with them and get a better feel for what I’m supposed to be doing. Whereas with Codecademy, it might tell you exactly which code to write, but I don’t always know why. On the Learn platform, I have full control over the code. I should not be changing any of the tests but I always get to look at them, see what they are, and what I’m working towards.
Have there been any parts on this platform you’ve found challenging or a steep learning curve?
The program is really good because everything builds on the last lesson. Once you get through some of the foundational concepts, you see a lot of patterns or ideas repeating themselves. There’s always going to be something that’s a bit further than what you’ve already learned, so those are the points at which it’s really helpful to go and Google things on your own, and try figure out what that concept is. Everything is eventually going to be explained.
Is there a feedback channel through this platform?
If I ran into a bug, I could report it through the platform. Otherwise, if I was to go into a pull request, I’ve definitely seen people say “check out this test” or “this seems funny” and things like that. That’s also the place where I would go to ask a question and if something seemed weird to me, I might ask it there.
Or I could also email one of my instructors to give broader feedback about the course.
What do you like best about using this platform?
I like that I have a clear path for learning. I can easily see after I finish Sessions, I’m going to learn Authentication. I trust that Flatiron instructors know what they’re talking about and they have a really good track record of getting people jobs and teaching people to code.
I like that they lay out that path for you and make it available so I don’t have to spend my time questioning what I should be learning or is this the right way to learn it.
I’d say it’s a great program, it’s definitely worth the time. I know a lot of people have put a lot of work into building it and maintaining its community – so I would definitely consider it!
Are Coding Bootcamps the new "replacement" for college degrees? Or are bootcamp grads missing out on valuable Computer Science theory by opting out of a traditional CS degree? As coding bootcamps rise in popularity, they face both praise and criticism- but what is the real difference between these two education paths? Join Course Report and our expert panel (seriously, these folks are running the best bootcamps in the world) to dive into this topic: CS Degrees vs Coding Bootcamps.
This webinar is perfect for future bootcampers or anyone interested in the coding bootcamp industry.Continue Reading →
How much do coding bootcamps cost? From students looking for free coding bootcamps to those wondering if an $18,000 bootcamp is worth it, we understand that cost is important to future bootcampers! While the average full-time programming bootcamp in the US costs $11,906, bootcamp tuition can range from $9,000 to $21,000, and some coding bootcamps have deferred tuition. So how do you decide what to budget for? Here, we break down the costs of coding bootcamps from around the USA.
You've heard of household bootcamps like Hack Reactor, General Assembly, and Flatiron School – but have you noticed universities that offer coding bootcamps? Universities have now been partnering with coding bootcamps since 2016, but these university coding bootcamps aren't all the same! Research your options below and find out which coding bootcamps offer college credit, which are part-time to accommodate your schedule, and read our tips for choosing the best university coding bootcamp for you.
These are partnerships where a coding bootcamp either offers classes on the university campus, taught by the bootcamp’s own professors, or students can study at the coding bootcamp campus but get college credit. Some of these partnerships also allow students to use the GI Bill to pay for coding bootcamp tuition.Continue Reading →
You've heard of household bootcamps like Hack Reactor, General Assembly, and Flatiron School – but have you noticed universities that offer coding bootcamps? Universities have now been partnering with coding bootcamps since 2016, but these university coding bootcamps aren't all the same! Research your options below and find out which coding bootcamps offer college credit, which are part-time to accommodate your schedule, and read our tips for choosing the best university coding bootcamp for you.
These are partnerships where a coding bootcamp either offers classes on the university campus, taught by the bootcamp’s own professors, or students can study at the coding bootcamp campus but get college credit. Some of these partnerships also allow students to use the GI Bill to pay for coding bootcamp tuition.Continue Reading →
Do you want to be a front end developer or a back end developer? Understanding your career goals at the end of a coding bootcamp can make it easier to narrow down which school is best for you. This can be a tricky task if you aren’t familiar with these terms – but no need to worry now that you have this guide. Let’s dig into the difference between front end web development and back end development: which programming languages you’ll learn, which coding schools teach them, and what to expect from a career as a back end or front end web developer!Continue Reading →
So, you think becoming a web developer is the right path for you?Continue Reading →
Garett Arrowood discovered Learn while at a crossroads in his life. As a freelance musician and former teacher, he’s always embraced a lifelong philosophy of learning and developing his craft. Now that he’s pursuing a career in web development, he opened up about what using Flatiron School’s online program Learn is really like, and gave some advice to those who are considering taking the plunge.
Why did you want to learn programming?
I no longer wanted to do what I was doing full-time, so I started looking around. I started reading one of those books that help you find your ideal career, and about a quarter of the way through it had me look at a bunch of different professions. That’s where I stopped. I got interested when I saw how much job opportunity was in this field and started investigating schools. I was planning on finding an immersive, but once I learned I could do it all online, I didn’t feel I needed to go to a physical school.
How is programming rewarding?
I started really liking it once I started doing it. I had no idea how much I would like it, but little by little what I found most appealing was the instant gratification. What’s really nice about coding is that you get what you put into it, so if you work and study hard, you’ll have a product right in front of your eyes. I’m a performing artist and teacher, and sometimes you can put in more effort than you get out. The more time you put into coding, the more value you get out of it. I feel like my time is always rewarded by having concrete things happening.
What were you doing before you started Learn, and how has that affected the way you learn to code?
I was and still am an active freelance musician. For the last five years, I also was a full-time teacher, but have been teaching in some capacity for my whole life. A major part of being successful in these fields for me was embracing a lifelong learning philosophy, forever studying and improving your craft. This lends itself very well to coding. As you meet more people in the tech community, you find that everyone is still learning and studying as they go. Since there is no way to learn everything out there, a good programmer learns how to learn, and keeps improving at it.
How have other platforms you’ve used compared to Learn?
I started learning with Codecademy. And it was great because each lesson is spoon fed. You are given a problem, shown the answer, and then stepped through reassembling that answer. But Learn asks you to do much more, and like the title implies, integrates coding knowledge. In addition to teaching the technical nuances, Learn shapes how you approach programming problems. It equips you with an understanding of how languages interact and how frameworks are structured.
What kind of software would you like to build once you start working professionally?
Software that has a positive effect on society. It would be wonderful to work towards making it easier for underprivileged minorities to vote. Fantastic to write something that makes it easy to identify and fix our gender pay gap. Software that helps visual and performing artists get a larger piece of the pie. And with all that said, something that is preferably written in Ruby.
Where do you see these skills taking you in the next few years, and what languages are you interested in learning next?
I am very excited about career possibilities moving forward. Due to the high demand for qualified programmers, I feel like I can finally decide where I would like to live as opposed to letting my profession decide that for me. The idea of eventually working remotely is also very appealing. I’d like to spend a significant amount of time living outside of the country. What languages I learn next depends on what my first job in this field needs. In the meantime, I plan to keep learning more tools and libraries in the languages I know.
What advice would you have for other people on Learn?
Two things — the first, ask a ton of questions. Keep putting your questions out there. Not just on Learn, but to anyone who you can ask. Second, have patience with yourself. Nobody goes through this easily. Anticipate frustration and be patient with yourself. Realize that you’re learning something everyday, and that’s an accomplishment.
Welcome to the October News Roundup, your monthly news digest full of the most interesting articles and announcements in the bootcamp space. Do you want something considered for the next News Roundup? Submit announcements of new courses, scholarships, or open jobs at your school!Continue Reading →
Flatiron School has made a reputation for itself as one of the earliest and most transparent programming immersives. Despite that, the company decided not to expand its adult programs outside of New York for years — until now. Adam Enbar, co-founder and president of Flatiron School, took some time to share the company’s new online platform Learn, which comes with a job offer guarantee for all accepted students. Read on about the direction online learning is taking, the most important component of a successful immersive, and what sets Learn apart from its competitors.
What have you been up to the last few months?
For the past six months I’ve been working with our high school program, which has been phenomenal but logistically intense. Avi and I actually taught our first high school class in 2013 just for fun when we had no employees and it was just us. We ran a program for high school students for the summer in partnership with Skillcrush.
The next summer in 2014, we had 150 students and they loved it. So this past summer, we decided to grow it out a little bit and the demand was so crazy that we ended up going to 13 cities in 10 states, teaching hundreds of students. It is so fun, but it’s chaos. We trained 45 teachers and the stats on them were incredible. Half of them had no background in programming, half were women, half were minorities, over half of them from Title 1 schools (Title 1 schools are designated as underserved, 75% of children received free or reduced lunch).
Thinking about computer science in K-12, there’s no precedent, so everything is looked at with fresh eyes. It’s a really interesting and amazing opportunity but it has to be navigated carefully, because whatever gets implemented will have legacy and that can be very hard to change in a dramatic way later.
Are you thinking about online education as a way to expand without losing quality? Why not open new brick and mortar locations?
We’ve always wanted to expand access to our program — but not at the expense of quality.
If you look at the fellowship program that we do, it’s amazing. It’s 18 to 26-year olds, no college degree. Actually, the most recent class averaged $100 higher on their average salary. And they have jobs at places like Goldman and Sachs, MasterCard, Foursquare and Kickstarter! We just launched a new iteration of the program program with NYC called the Mobile Dev Corps that’s giving free tuition to our iOS program.
Brick and mortar is expensive. Rather than invest in new locations and collect more tuition, we’ve focused on investing in technology and curriculum that will serve our students.
Why did you create Learn-Verified?
At the Flatiron School immersive program, we don’t let students leave until they’re successful. We’re transparent about our outcomes. And when we think about expanding access, we want to enable more people to get these outcomes without the costs and infrastructure of a brick and mortar location.
I think online education has failed us in a major way. At Flatiron School, we want everything we do to have a real, measurable impact on somebody’s life. In the immersives, these programs get people jobs. Learn follows the same philosophy. If you want to dip your toe in the water and level up a little bit, Learn isn’t right for you. Learn is for people who want to change their lives.
What’s the process for getting accepted into Learn?
In order to apply, you have to go through 30 hours of free coursework. We want to know that you’re serious, that you can do the work, and that you enjoy it.
I don’t think there is a product online today that is successfully focused on career change. At Flatiron School, we want every single person to not just learn, but to qualify for a job. We have the same exact expectations of online students as we have of our immersive students.
Are the Learn and Flatiron School application processes the same?
The standards are the same, but the application is a little bit different because they’re doing work before the application, so we can actually see their code on GitHub.
Are there students enrolled in Learn-Verified right now?
Actually, I’m shocked because we only launched on Thursday and some people completed the qualifying track in 24 hours! Hundreds of people have already started the free course, but we’re being deliberate about admitting people into the Verified program. Community is incredibly important to us so we still want to get to know all the students personally.
For someone who is familiar with Thinkful or Codecademy or even Hack Reactor Remote, how does Learn compare to those online options?
I think they’re all incredibly different. Codecademy is great for beginners — it’s where most of our students started their journey. They’ve even hired from Flatiron School. Hack Reactor Remote is essentially an immersive; you’re just in a different room. Thinkful is great, but hasn’t been focused on outcomes.
Learn is designed to open access by allowing people to go through the program at their own pace, while maintaining our incredibly high bar for outcomes, and at a dramatically lower cost than the immersive program.
I think different styles of education serve a different purpose. All of these things need to exist in a spectrum.
What makes Learn different from some of the other online education platforms?
We’ve spent three years teaching people and understanding what it is that makes people successful. We’ve been using the Learn platform for the last year internally. There are three things that we think are missing from online education today that are necessary for outcomes, and we’ve built those things into the platform.
The first thing that makes Learn different is using real tools. What do you get when you finish an online course today? A badge or a certificate after completing multiple choice questions. In order to complete Learn assignments, you have to use your terminal, GitHub, and a text editor. An employer that’s looking at a Learn student’s profile doesn’t see badges, they see code, various projects, and the student’s approach to an assignment.
The second thing is open source curriculum. In order for education to be effective at scale, it has to be open. We’re getting dozens of edits a day to our curriculum, so it’s constantly improving based on feedback from the community — whether it’s adding new material, changing parts completely, or even fixing typos.
Finally, there’s community. The Learn platform is built with community at its core. People don’t learn from videos, lectures, or textbooks. They learn from each other. Learn empowers people to come together in real time.
When we think about the hundreds of coding bootcamps today, is it the curriculum that sets bootcamps apart from each other?
No. The curriculum is not the driving factor. Walk into Barnes & Noble, go to the programming section, and there are 50 different curriculum options to choose from. It’s the people. Learning doesn’t happen from content. Learning happens when you connect people around content.
We thought a lot about the structure of Learn before launching. We looked at several different models — should we match students with a mentor once a week? Have group lectures? Nothing seemed right because students had the same complaint: “I had an awesome session with my mentor on Wednesday, but now I have a question and it's Friday. I have to wait until next Wednesday.” If you have a question that drives you nuts for two hours, why should you wait a week?
The entire community on Learn is built to answer questions in real time. A question is tied to a specific lab, so only students that have completed it will see this question, as well as instructors. When you ask a question, you can set up a screen share on this specific topic and up to 10 people can join.
Can you pair with other students?
Yes, you can all screen share. I can see an activity feed of who’s doing what. We also have a Slack channel that ends up being a lot more social. The point is, it’s designed to make you feel that you’re not alone.
I think one of the challenges with online platforms is that they have to make it easy. They don’t want you to get stuck. Unfortunately because of that, it’s never going to get you to the level where you can get a job.
We don’t make it easy. What we do is make it easier to get through the hard stuff. We can’t make the curriculum easy, but we can make the experience of going through that and going through that struggle feel better by offering a supportive community.
So to me those are the three things that are missing from all online education today; community, real tools and open curriculum. Those are very deeply built into the Learn product. We’ve been using Learn to run our immersives here, we’ve used it to run programs at Google and at some colleges and it’s worked. We’ve had people doing this for a year in Beta who have gotten jobs already.
Are students divided into cohorts or are they all self-guided?
We’re playing with that idea, but the reality is that if you start next Monday with 40 people, a week later you might be twice as far ahead as someone else. We’re trying to be more deliberate about connecting people that are going through it at the same pace, have the same goals, and maybe even are in the same locations. That way they can form relationships and go through the program together.
What type of student is Learn for?
We have a lot of students who were considering bootcamps, but they were worried about financing. Our goal is to make this as accessible as possible. I think $1,000 per month is a huge leap forward relative to somebody who’s going to do this full-time, it changes the costs dramatically. And we’ll give students a full refund if they’re not successful!
It’s still really expensive though for most people. We put a huge amount of infrastructure behind it — instructors, placement services and coaching.
Our goal is that over time as we build that community, we can rely on students to help each other more on community, and work with employers to aid the placement processes to bring the costs down (we even have some employers consider putting Learn Verifications in their jobs listings).
Do you think that having a cost associated with Learn will help with attrition?
In online education, we see articles that say thousands of people have completed a program and hundred get jobs. That’s not something to celebrate, that’s like a 10% success rate. To me, that’s a problem. If people choose to try it and don’t like it and drop out, fine — if it’s free.
But if you’re going to pitch a course as jobs-oriented, and students devote their time (which is precious) and only 10% get a job, that’s crap. The bar is so low, it’s so sad.
I think it’s a different world once you accept people’s money. You have to be explicit on delivering on what you’re promising. We are promising a career change, and that comes with a huge amount of focus and investment to make the process successful.
When do you expect your first graduates?
We have people who have finished it in the beta and have gotten jobs already. But of the paid, verified program, we’re not sure when the first students will graduate. We will do another Flatiron Jobs Report this year.
We explore the differences and similarities between App Academy and Flatiron School, two of the best coding bootcamps in the US. What type of student is each bootcamp best for? What's the culture like at each school? How does job placement compare? All of these questions answered and more!Continue Reading →
Of the many coding boot camps found in New York City, the tech capital of the East Coast, Flatiron School and General Assembly are two of the most established and recognizable. If you’re looking to jumpstart your career as a web developer, both schools offer great Web Development Immersive (WDI) programs. Catered to the beginner, these programs aim to engage students in a fast-paced learning environment that will directly prepare them for professional opportunities. But what are the key similarities and differences between these schools?Continue Reading →
As of December 8, 2017, Dev Bootcamp will no longer be operating. Dev Bootcamp and Flatiron School both offer intensive full-time web development programs that focus on Ruby on Rails, but that’s where their similarities end. Whether your focus is strictly coding or you are seeking a complete life overhaul, it’s a hard choice between these top New York coding bootcamps.Continue Reading →
Most immersive bootcamps are less than six months and many offer part-time options, allowing parents to balance childcare and work commitments with learning to code. But as a mom thinking about a code school, what should you consider before taking the plunge? Eight moms (who are successful graduates of bootcamps like Flatiron School, Turing, Thinkful, and DigitalCrafts) share their tips for switching careers and re-entering the workforce.
Before you initiate the hunt for the perfect childcare solution, find the time to take an online course or experiment with online tutorials and different software, to see if coding is for you. Prepare yourself for the experience. Research front end development, UX design, and full-stack development. Test the waters and see if any of these spark a passion within.Continue Reading →
This Wednesday, our friends at LiquidTalent hosted a spectacular panel of women who discussed their experience at New York coding bootcamps and transitioning into their first jobs. Course Report was lucky to moderate the panel- here are 12 things we learned from this rockstar panel of lady developers!Continue Reading →
While programming bootcamps can offer a high return on investment, the average tuition at code school is ~$11,906, which is no small sacrifice. A number of not-for-profit and well-organized programs offer free coding bootcamps. Some of these bootcamps are funded by job placement and referral fees; others are fueled by community support and volunteers. Expect rigorous application processes and competitively low acceptance rates, but for the right applicants, there is so much to gain at these free coding bootcamps.Continue Reading →
While programming bootcamps can offer a high return on investment, the average tuition at code school is ~$11,906, which is no small sacrifice. A number of not-for-profit and well-organized programs offer free coding bootcamps. Some of these bootcamps are funded by job placement and referral fees; others are fueled by community support and volunteers. Expect rigorous application processes and competitively low acceptance rates, but for the right applicants, there is so much to gain at these free coding bootcamps.Continue Reading →
Welcome to the March News Roundup, your monthly news digest full of the most interesting articles and announcements in the bootcamp space. Want your bootcamp's news to be included in the next News Roundup? Submit announcements of new courses, scholarships, or open jobs at your school!Continue Reading →
You don’t have to be a data scientist to read into these statistics: A McKinsey Global Institute report estimates that by 2018 the US could be facing a shortage of more than 140,000 data scientists. The field of data science is growing, and with it so does the demand for qualified data scientists. Sounds like a good time to pursue data science, right? No kidding! Data scientists make an average national salary of $118,000. If you’re looking to break into data science, or just trying to refresh and hone the skills you already have, Course Report has you covered. Check out this comprehensive list of the best data science bootcamps and programs in the U.S. and Europe for technologies like Hadoop, R, and Python.
Apple’s newest, beginner-oriented programming language Swift has made developing for the iPhone a possibility for new and experienced developers alike. iOS developers earn over $100,000 on average, so it's a perfect time to learn to program for the iPhone. With the help of one of these iOS bootcamps, you could find yourself developing mobile apps utilizing Objective-C, Cocoa Touch, and Swift.
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Welcome to the January News Roundup, your monthly news digest full of the most interesting articles and announcements in the bootcamp space. Want your bootcamp's news to be included in the next News Roundup? Submit announcements of new courses, scholarships, or open jobs at your school!Continue Reading →
A bootcamp's quality can be measured partly by how connected they are to their community, and two US bootcamps are leading the pack in engaging high schools in teaching students to code. Flatiron School in New York began with a summer academy, then expanded their Flatiron After School program into the academic year. Mobile Makers Academy in Chicago recently announced their partnership with Chicago-area schools to add programming into the STEM curriculum.
We compare the two programs and how they're making programming accessible to high school students.Continue Reading →
Looking for coding bootcamp exclusive scholarships, discounts and promo codes? Course Report has exclusive discounts to the top programming bootcamps!
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Sara Chipps is the remarkable co-founder of Girl Develop It, an organization that has taught over 4,000 women to code in a supportive environment, and joined Flatiron School as CTO in 2014. We caught up with Sara to learn about her role at Flatiron School, why she beleives in the coding school, and how Flatiron Labs, their unique on-site dev shop for graduates, is helping to produce excellent software developers.
You joined Flatiron in January as the CTO. What does it mean to be the CTO of a programming school?
My team and I build technology that supports the school and the students. Our teachers and staff all use web applications that make their job easier, whether it’s for admissions or building curriculum. Our teams builds and supports that technology
Do you have a large team?
We have 10 people now.
Have you had a role in designing some of the curriculum at all?
I haven’t built any of the curriculum here. That is the role of our teachers but what I’ve been looking to do is make their lives easier by building technology that makes it a lot faster and easier to build curriculum.
Do you ever do any guest speaking or teaching with the students?
Yeah; every semester we usually teach an introductory class where students can go and learn how to get started and different stuff like that. It’s really neat getting to know our students.
Before Flatiron School, you had cofounded Girl Develop It. What was the motivation behind Girl Develop It?
Girl Develop It started out of the experience of myself and Vanessa, my cofounder, of feeling uncomfortable oftentimes, asking questions when we were a minority in the room. We founded Girl Development, where there were no stupid questions; you didn’t have to feel self-conscious asking those questions.
I’ve noticed that a lot of schools will partner with their local Girl Develop It chapters. Was that a conscious decision or did people just start contacting you?
One awesome thing about Girl Develop It chapter leaders is that they’re super plugged-in to the technology community in their particular cities.
The city gets really excited about the opportunity to educate females in the world of technology and therefore it becomes visible to people. When schools have been moving into these cities, they’ve been reaching out to Girl Develop It chapter leaders to see how they can help students, which has been really awesome.
What do you think makes Flatiron School stand out in the bootcamp world and what made you want to work specifically with them when there are so many bootcamps these days?
Flatiron School really doesn’t consider itself a bootcamp as it implies that you learn everything you need to know in a short amount of time and then go out and work. We see our job to provide you with the first phase of your education, and then we continue supporting our students throughout their careers.
One thing I think that really set Flatiron apart early on was our teacher Avi, one of the founders. He really had an amazing approach to education and especially technology education. He was passionate about getting people literate and passionate about coding, who may not have that opportunity before. That’s one thing I really love about our students.
Another thing that I think sets us apart now is our 100% placement rate. That was really one of the numbers that got me on board, was knowing that each one of our students that made it through this program have gotten a job offer within 90 days. I think that’s really effective.
One thing I’m concerned with is bootcamp programs that teach people and then just say “Okay, go do your thing now.” It’s difficult, right? When you’re new in the field and you don’t have that support system of people that can introduce you to the world and the community, it can be a really scary place. So I think between Avi and the placement team, I think that’s really what sets us apart.
Does Flatiron require that a student must be looking for a job as a developer in order or them to be accepted? Could somebody do Flatiron School and want to be a technical cofounder or start their own business?
Absolutely. Right now we have a 7% admittance rate, so 7% of the applicants to Flatiron school make it in. Adam, our CEO, who is our admissions processor, looks for well-rounded people who have lots of different interests and people who have a record of grit and being passionate about their projects.
The thing that is most important to Flatiron School is that our students love programming and want to become amazing at it. We want people here because they are in love with this craft, and not because they want to become rich or see it as a means to an end, like founding a startup.
Typically most of our students end up being job seeking as they strive to become better coders and get mentorship after the program. However, we have definitely had founders come through our program. For example, one alum Danny, got accepted into Y-Combinator weeks after graduating, as a cofounder of Statuspage.io.
Flatiron Labs is a “dev shop.” Can you explain what a dev shop is?
In a dev shop, like Flatiron Labs, we take on client work where people are looking for an external company to build their web application.
How long does a typical client relationship last?
So far we’ve only been doing this for 7 about months, so our typical client relationship lasts 7 months!
It really depends; we’ve had one client that we’ve had since the beginning, we’ve had another one that we’ve had for the past 4 months. We haven’t made it far enough yet to see a long-standing pattern.
Do you see Flatiron Labs as being more of a dev shop or like an apprenticeship or some of both?
I think the focus is on the apprenticeship. We’re not looking to make a ton of money with the dev lab or anything like that; were looking to take our existing graduates and bring them to another level of proficiency and give them some experience.
Who are the mentors or senior developers working with the junior developers in the lab.
They’re people with 3 to 6 years’ experience working in the field as professional developers. They’re people that have been in other companies and can bring some of their experience to the apprentices and guide them when they run into trouble or mentor them when they have questions.
How many people have gone into Flatiron Labs after Flatiron School?
So far we have 6.
Would you ever accept somebody who went to a different bootcamp or a self-taught developer who wants to do an apprenticeship with Flatiron Labs?
Right now, that’s not part of our program. I can’t tell you if it will be one day but right now we’re focused on Flatiron School graduates.
The goal is to get students hired from Flatiron Labs as well, right?
Yes; the students have a 6-month contract and at the end of 6 months, the goal is to get them an offer with a client or to get them a full-time offer elsewhere.
Has that been successful?
Yeah, so far so good. I‘m really impressed with how far our apprentices have gone. They’re super viable full-time software developers; we’ve still yet to let one go. We may have to soon, but they contribute so much to the team.
Are the Flatiron Labs devs being paid like junior developers?
Yes; we’re very competitive.
What is the application process like? Is it just like a job interview that students would go through for a job?
After class, before they go interview with other companies, students can opt in to interview with Flatiron Labs. The team interviews everyone who is interested and then we make our decisions based on the people that we meet.
Are there any future plans to expand Flatiron Labs outside of New York?
The answer is no. What we really are focused on is quality here in New York. We don’t want to expand until we feel 100% confident that we’re pleased with every part of this business and we still have a lot that we want to focus on. So there’s really no rush for us.
Do you see Flatiron sticking to the iOS and Rails curriculum or do you see it expanding to any other languages?
We believe passionately about the value of great teachers, and like to say that we build classes around teachers, rather than hire teachers to lead classes. So we’re always looking to hire the best teachers in their field and are open to building new courses around them, but don’t have specific goals around launching courses that might lead to sub-optimal quality.
If you're thinking about applying to a coding bootcamp in New York, then you must attend this paneled discussion with top coding schools! Join Course Report and Launch LM in the Hive at 55 downtown space for an evening with alumni from 8 bootcamps.
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Zeke and Granger Abuhoff are giving new meaning to the term "brogrammers." The brothers are both learning to program at competing bootcamps in New York. Granger attends the WDI program at General Assembly (he transferred from App Academy) and Zeke is almost halfway through his Mobile Development course at Flatiron School.Continue Reading →
How do you choose a coding boot camp in New York that's right for you? New York City is home to 13 full-time coding bootcamps, teaching everything from Web Development to Mobile App Development to FinTech. With so many options to choose from, you should consider factors like your learning style, professional goals, and language preferences.
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If you’re over 18, an NYC resident, new to web development, unemployed (or earning less than 50K per year), and are authorized to work in the United States, then you may be in luck.Continue Reading →