Before starting a full-time course, applicants must complete a 2-week free intro course to learn the basics. After passing some test assignments, applicants are invited for an interview with a school representative.
Lambda School is committed to helping students find employment by providing interview preparation, portfolio review, effective resume writing tips, and salary negotiation practice. Lambda School offers an Income Sharing Agreement where students start paying for the program after they find a job.
Recent Lambda School Reviews: Rating 4.91
Recent Lambda School News
- May 2019 Coding Bootcamp News Roundup
- April 2019 Coding Bootcamp News Roundup
- Meet UX Design Instructor Nick Basile of Lambda School
- In PersonFull Time40 Hours/week33 Weeks
Java, Kotlin, and computer science
- Start Date
- None scheduled
- Class size
- $0 down (No deposit, no down payment)
- Tuition Plans
- 17% of income for 2 yrs after getting a job
- Minimum Skill Level
- Prep Work
- We provide pre-course work lessons free of charge.
- Placement Test
In PersonPart Time45 Hours/week54 Weeks
A six-month full-time or one-year part-time online computer science course that’s free until you get a job making at least $50,000/year. During six months at the Lambda Academy of Computer Science, you will spend nearly as much time studying computing fundamentals and writing code as you would in most four-year programs. You'll not only be an excellent web development practitioner, but will have a deeper grounding in the fundamentals of computer science, including algorithms, data structures, operating systems, and more. In short, you'll learn the practical skills and modern languages required to become a software engineer, but also how to think abstractly and solve problems from first principles. We're so convinced you'll get a job after finishing our course that you can enroll and take the entire course for free. Once you get a job making at least $50,000/year, you’ll pay a percentage of your salary for two years. Check out our website for the details.
- Start Date
- None scheduled
- Class size
- $0 down (No deposit, no down payment)
- Tuition Plans
- 17% income for 2 yrs
- Minimum Skill Level
- Prep Work
- Pre-course work is sent after acceptance to the program
- Placement Test
A six-month full-time online data science course that’s free until you get a job making at least $50,000/year. During six months at the Lambda School, you will spend nearly as much time studying computing fundamentals and writing code as you would in most four-year programs. You'll not only be an excellent data science practitioner, but will have a deeper grounding in the fundamentals of computer science, including algorithms, data structures, operating systems, and more. In short, you'll learn the practical skills and modern languages required to become a data scientist, but also how to think abstractly and solve problems from first principles. We're so convinced you'll get a job after finishing our course that you can enroll and take the entire course for free. Once you get a job making at least $50,000/year, you’ll pay a percentage of your salary for two years. Check out our website for the details. Our curriculum covers the following topics and more: - Statistics - Linear Algebra - Regression - Data Visualization - Principal Components Analysis - Neural Networks - Deep Learning - Computer Vision - Clustering & Search - Natural Language Processing - Data Collection - Data Science - TensorFlow - Amazon AI Services
- Start Date
- None scheduled
- Class size
- $0 down (No deposit, no down payment)
- Tuition Plans
- 17% of salary for 2 yrs
- Minimum Skill Level
- Basic Python and algebra
- Prep Work
- Pre-course work will be sent after acceptance to the program
- Placement Test
Swift, Objective C, and computer science
- Start Date
- None scheduled
- Class size
- $0 down (No deposit, no down payment)
- Tuition Plans
- 17% of income for 2 yrs after getting a job
- Minimum Skill Level
- Prep Work
- We provide pre-course work lessons free of charge.
- Placement Test
A comprehensive, 30 week course that will teach you to be a UX developer.
- Start Date
- None scheduled
- Class size
- $0 down (No deposit, no down payment)
- Tuition Plans
- 17% of income for 2 yrs after getting a job
- Minimum Skill Level
- Prep Work
- We provide pre-course work lessons free of charge.
- Placement Test
Lambda School Reviews
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The online tutors are friendly, competent, knowledgeable and willing you to suceed . They use slack zoom and github to teach and interact. you projects are submitted and evaluated on github. They listen carefully to student feedback.
I'm so glad i did this course.
I used to work in clincial filed, when I decided to become a web developer, I did lots of research about bootcamps. Most of these programs are 12 weeks, with 9 weeks classes and last 2 to 3 weeks for career. I had 0 knowledge about CS when I made my decision, so I want to find a program that could teach me more about CS fundamental besides the web development techs. I found the Lambda School, and checked reviews for Lambda. There are 3 reasons why I chose Lambda:
1. 6 Months CS fundamental and web development
2. teachers care students (got this info from reviews before final decision, It is ture!!!)
3. Online classes. No need to waste time for cummute.
Lambda School has the best teachers!!! As a student, I learned from their lectures, I did my homework, and I am also benefit from code challenges, brown bags from Lambda School. I started from 0, but now I can create an App from scratch to deploy on heroku.
If you want to make big change to your life and want to be a software engineer, you should start making plan from applying Lambda...
Often in the software development and engineering field, I have found it important to find resources that allow me to become a better developer. I have often looked for the right education platform that worked at the pace I do. High volume is important to retention, the more you do it the more you learn, at least that is what I believe. Lambda School goes through an intense course of learning that even an experienced developer can appreciate. It take many years to get great, Lambda School can help you push your limits and teach you the skills you will need to know to be able to develop efficient well thought out applications using some of today's more popular languages and frameworks.
Lambda has its perks:
- $0 to start
- Take classes from anywhere
- Learn from elite instructors
For me, the last point was most important. I wanted to learn the equivalent of the four semesters in a quality computer science undergrad program in just two semesters. Lambda provided that for me and has opened many doors for me in my career.
The fact that Lambda presents an opportunity to people who other wise would not have this type of option says a lot for what type of company it is. There is no hidden rules, hidden fees, "whats the catches" or anything of that sort. It is pure opportunity. If you want to be a better programmer they will make that happen. With anything else in life it is still about how much you put in. There is no magic wand to automatically make you amazing at development. but there is a school with instructors who spend an insane amount of hours to make it as easy as possible for you. I have gotten quite a few job offers and they started coming well before I graduated as I have not even graduated yet. The full stack side is amazing and throws you in the deep end but also throws you a float to make sure you don't drown. The instructors are amazing and it is literally the best thing I have done. I am able to talk to anyone with questions or etc about the school.
OK, so I don't want this to just be a rant and rave about the other bootcamp I attended (and paid $10,000 for), but Lambda School was seriously 1,000,000 times better.
The instructors were experts and very approachable. In the other program I couldn't even talk to instructors.
Luis was awesome, Ryan was helpful, Sean was great if not a little standoffish, and Beej and Aaron are clearly incredibly smart.
I had help instantly whenever I needed it.
The curriculum was hard, but much more in depth.
When I talk to students form other bootcamps I'm blown away by how little they know compared to how much Lambda School students do. Maybe it's that other bootcamps are all that bad, maybe it's that Lambda School's extra time and curriculum makes a huge difference, but I see Lambda School students graduating and getting jobs within days.
It's not perfect, of course, there were some communication issues around scheduling, but all in all it was a phenomenal experience, and one that I can't recommend enough.
As for my job search, I got a couple of offers quickly, but I'm still on the lookout, because I didn't love either of those comapnies.
I took the web development mini-bootcamp and the part time full stack web development course. It was tough in the beginning but I was highly motivated by the end of the course. It was the first time I worked so hard and invested time and money. But, it was all worth in the end. The teachers were always available to me, and really supportive throughout the process. I had a great time going through the course.
I didn’t have any experience in programming or advanced computing whatsoever. And, my sole intention in joining lambdaschool was to become a programmer and get a job. I did not research anything about the bootcamps, and joined lambdaschool because it was online and cost effective.
Now, I am glad that I joined lambdaschool but I immediately regretted after the first class. It was way too fast for me. And, I think almost all of the coding bootcamps are paced like that to cover everything in three months. Anyone who has no background in programming is going to have hard time going into these courses, and lambdaschool is no different. Don’t be afraid to ask, instructors are amazing. They will answer anything and repeat any time you want.
I eventually caught up, but I had to work a lot to barely catch up. But, I am glad that I was able to catch up and thankful for wonderful instructors who helped me, and Austen for the support.
I have been an anti-bootcamp person for a while. (I have a fair share of friends that have taken them and came out not much better than they went in). I was doing the normal FCC/Udemy courses and just not making it anywhere. Have a problem? Go google it and have a sparatic understanding of the question or get little to no answer at all and just randomly copy and past stackoverflow posts until your tests pass or code does what you want. This is the overwhelming issue with self learning or these "pre recorded" video courses wether they are on Udemy, MOOC's, Udacity and even some of the expensive online bootcamps are just recordings being played back for you.
I took the PT bootcamp so it was mon - thur 6pm - 9pm and sat 9am - 6pm I only bring this in because when i'm talking about what was being taught at the different stages it will vary if you do the FT or PT stuff.
Now I have no personal experience with any other bootcamp but from what my friends have told me/complained about with other bootcamps I knew I made a good choice right out of the gates. We started with Data Structures, Hash Tables, Linked Lists, Graphs, Binary Trees and lookups. Now this was tough and really challenged my brain but these were things that my friends were being asked about in their interviews and had no knowledge of from their $15k bootcamps. Immediately i'm thinking awesome this is a great start. Then we start ramping up and going over how to use these data structures, manipulate and do various other things that we will need through out the course. The other amazing thing was there were coding challanges at the beginning of every class. Really helped to drive home the ideas from the first week (as you can't learn all of that stuff and remember it from just a week or 2). Then we go over React and the basics, followed with Routing and then we dive into Redux and Redux-thunk. Now this in my opinion was almost worth the whole admission amount in and of itself. I could not wrap my head around Redux or Redux-thunk. I have had this same problem before and no course, article or anything else really cleared it up for me. Since these are live classes not pre recorded I DM'd Ben and we got on a google hangout and we took 15 mins, LITERALLY 15 mins and I was able to ask direct questions and get direct answer and I was able to wrap my head around how to layout the actions, reducers and store which was HUGE. Not waisting a day or 2 trying to tie multiple articles together to try and usually only gain an entry level understanding if that, was SOOOOOO amazing and SOOOOO worth it to just ask and be taught. Along the way we were building a front end project with React to connect all of the pieces together.
Then we jumped over to node and the backend. This again was a super huge benefit to have Ben the instructor right there and he even had some guest instructors teaching stuff which was awesome too (usually people in the field). A decent amount of those guest speakers are not instructors with Ben so you will get that benefit along the way. There isn't a whole lot for me to go in here but it was awesome to build backend servers with node, express, mongoDB and mySQL. Along the way we continued to build a backend server and keep on building through out the weeks we were learning this. After we had a lot of GET/POST requests working and doing various things for us we went over how authentication works. Encrypting passwords and the right way to store the encryptions (not the passwords) and how to check if someone was authenticated and provide limited access depending on that, which we used web tokens to keep track.
The last month for us was putting all of the previous stuff together to see how you put the front end and back end together (which this again was another HUGE mind blown situation). All of the other courses I have seen or taken were either FE (react/angular/vue) or the BE (node, express, templating language) and I never understood how the pieces fit together and that opened my eyes SOOO much. After that you will never look at site the same again! This time was really really cool cuz we were doing out own thing with minimal instruction (compared to the rest of the courses) or Ben would do a video, let us know what it was gonna be about then let us choose to watch or not. This was awesome because the instructor was available for more one on one time and helping along the way.
Also for what it's worth I interviewed and received an offer 2 days after the course end while I was back home. I was able to negioate an above average salary for both that area and the area I actually live in. The fact that I could speak to CS style questions (hash tables, binary searches, linked lists and things like that) put me according to the interviewer "above the other people interviewing" and allowed me to negotiate a higher salary.
Here is the big thing, can you learn the same things and end up with the same salary as I was offered for free?? Yes you can but I have been trying for a 1.5 with FCC and various other courses and NEVER got close, let alone the CS stuff that is really hard to wrap your head around. The money spent was the best investment in myself I have ever made. I got direct access to the instructor during the lectures, a direct path to learning, a great bunch of class mates and an environment mean to help you learn. Lambda School has free options know which make this an even BETTER option if you are willing to apply yourself and work with the team at Lambda School.
I hope this was helpful and if you are serious about becoming a "developer" I think this is a great option as the knowledge taught will put you more on the software developer side of things which in most areas equates to better pay/options.
I couldn't even get through the admissions process. I suppose no reply within 4 business days means I didn't make the cut. It's been 2 weeks and no word from Karen. I sent her a screenshot of my Web Dev application which lists my email address, but I guess she still couldn't find it. She didn't know the email address that I listed on my application was a short domain email address despite the fact that she was still able to email me and I was replying. I also hadn't entered my full name thinking I could just fill it in later, but to my surprise, there isn't an edit button for the application. I guess they want to re-submit your application should you need to edit something. You can only view your application. Easy fix for a bootcamp, no?
Anyway, that's really all I can say about it. It's fine though since I was getting cold feet from the bad reviews in the midst of all the good reviews. Many of the glowing reviews are from people who have experience in the field already. That isn't to say there aren't any newbie reviews, just not as many.
Lastly and more importantly are the numbers - 17% capped at $30k is steep. No thanks, but thanks for not getting back to me. Dodged a hole in my pocket.
I started Lambda School in April of 2018 after much deliberation about whether an online school provided the same quality education as one in person. On the surface, it seemed like Lambda School was too good to be true: free until you get a job, world class instructors, ability to get in touch with your instructors at any time. I just graduated a few days ago, and Lambda has delivered on every part of what I signed up with. The instructors were amazing; if I ever had a question about something they were very eager to help (I once had a problem and an instructor spent 2 hours with me to troubleshoot), everyone is extremely nice here and everything is very transparent. I’m so thankful that I chose Lambda when I started. One of the things that I didn’t think about was how important a career coach is after you’re done with instructions. My career coach was able to help me every step of the way and was easily one of the biggest highlights of my Lambda experience.
I joined Lambda School with Project Manager Experience and a professional background of working with developers for a number of years. I am a millenial with a college degree who was looking to bridge over to programming and development.
I find that lambda school's Full stack web program started off very cheery and promising but quickly fell short as soon as the first month was over. It immediately became apparent that they only cared about getting you job ready for maybe a very rigid corporate environment and focused much more on things like doing a code challenge everyday, reviewing your peers code even if everyone has identical code and asking your pm for help- even if they often dont provide any help. They focused less on making sure that you actually understood course material by providing adequate resources to help you understand whats wrong with your code and more on job prep fluff. TLDR: It became a teach yourself, while they put time constraints and focused on fluff to get their ROI.
In the end you are paying Lambda 20-30k for these 6 months. While I dont think they are total cons, im glad my github repo has expanded as much as it had. I do think there are some fundamental issues in their structure of hiring students as section leaders and PMs (glorified term for a T.A.) when they themselves barely know the content to teach students who will then be hired to do the same. a lack of knowledge or curriculum changes perpetuates this knowledge gap through generations of cohorts. like their React program for example.
They also dont seem to take feedback very well and have shut me down many times just for the sake of winning an argument so it seems, perhaps because they cant withstand any negative press atm. I complained about having been switched around group to group 6 times in 4 months, they agreed it was a mistake they overlooked but it continued even when I approached the SL to rectify the issue. Despite being exposed to so many PMs i can say there have only been three or four at the most who i can say know what they are talking about. Basically any student who comes to lambda with previous programming knowledge is better off than those who have none. and those students who have programming knowledge from the start end up being better PMs. Lambda rides on the success and knowledge of the students prior to any value added by them. it is quite the circus.
So do be advised that in time there will be better options in ISA's and education than Lambda provides
I went to Lambda School something like 7 months after they launched (They were only live for 7 months!!!).
Of course, I experienced a lot of the growing pains that come with being an early user of a brand new startup (hence the 4 stars I gave for the curriculum, I had to keep it honest). Some parts weren't very organized, some material wasn't well explained, etc... etc...
But the transformation from month 1 to month 7 was m-i-n-d-b-l-o-w-i-n-g. Night and day.
And here's the thing, they're not done evolving!
I was on the 7th cohort. Right now they're working with the 15th cohort.
Each one gets better, and better, and better. I'm sure by now they have a 5-star curriculum. (If I were you, I'd jump in quickly before they become harder to get into than Harvard 😜)
And their job support is AMAZING. My friends and I each got EXACTLY what we wanted.
- One friend of mine wanted a job where he made exactly $80k a year, and he got it.
- Another friend of mine wanted a remote job so he could keep traveling, and he got it.
- I wanted to work for a real Silicon Valley startup, and I got it.
There are hundreds of stories like these at Lambda. They really are that amazing.
Our latest on Lambda School
In May the coding bootcamp industry got a lot of coverage in mainstream news including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. In our latest podcast we discuss the new ways military veterans can learn to code, we look at three New York Times articles about coding bootcamps, and hear about a coding bootcamp facing closure. Income share agreements remained a hot topic, plus find out about diversity scholarships, university and coding bootcamp partnerships and more!Continue Reading →
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 →
As a self-taught UX designer and coder, Nick was looking for a way to pay it forward and help others transition into an exciting career. He found an opportunity to be the first UX Design instructor for Lambda School’s online UX Design school! Nick tells us about his own UX background, why the Lambda School education team is always tweaking and improving the UX design curriculum, and how he tries to be “the most engaging instructor” to help motivate and encourage his students to launch new UX design careers!
How did you get into UX Design and what lead you to teach at Lambda School?
I’m American but I went to school at Franklin University Switzerland and double majored in international economics and international banking finance with a minor in studio arts. I thought I would do economic research at a big bank, but realized it’s hard to land those kinds of jobs.
After graduation I worked at two startups simultaneously (I don’t recommend it!) doing accounting, bookkeeping, business administration, and sales. The startup founders often had challenges describing what they wanted in product features to their developers. Because of my studio arts minor, I was able to help the founders create mockups and wireframes – that’s how I got exposed to the world of interface design and user experience (UX). I started teaching myself, doing it on the job, and learning about user research, ideation, and the user experience process. It was all about practicing, reading books, and meeting as many designers as I could.
I taught myself how to code and knew that coding and UX design was the career for me. My first Front End Developer job was at International Studies Abroad where I was also the unofficial UX designer. After that, I had roles at different startups as Lead UI/UX Engineer and Full Stack Engineer where my role was again a hybrid between development and UX. I started UX consulting with some early-stage startups helping identify their problem space and solutions, doing user research, articulating that into interfaces, and advising on their product development.
I was also teaching on the side for Vue School creating their Vue.JS Intro Course. I was blogging, doing YouTube live streams, and falling in love with teaching and giving back to the community. As a self-taught designer and developer, it was always super important to me to give back and help the people who are where I was just a few years ago. I saw the UX Instructor opportunity at Lambda School and thought it was something I could do! I started in August 2018.
Why did you want to work at a school like Lambda?
Being in the tech space, I’ve worked with a number of tech bootcamp graduates and they’ve always been good at their jobs. A remote online bootcamp was a bit unique, but I’d been teaching online and knew that plenty of people can learn effectively that way.
It was exciting to get in on the ground floor of the Lambda School UX Design bootcamp and be the first UX Design instructor with the Program Director, Christijan Draper. But what excites me most about working at Lambda School is how focused everyone is on seeing the students succeed – the entire Lambda community, not just the instructors. I also like the income share agreement option – the school is aligned to support the students from Day One and makes it as risk-free as possible to access this incredible life-changing education.
How does teaching for Lambda School differ from your other teaching experiences?
The other course I taught was a recorded course so I only had to set up the curriculum and record some videos. Lambda is all live instruction so I now have the opportunity for dialogue, discussion, and helping students in the “classroom” – which takes place in an online Zoom video conferencing room. There’s a lot of interaction between myself and the students. Just today, we spent an hour doing a Q&A about their current project, the tooling, being a UX designer, and the industry at large. That discussion and facetime communication is what I think makes teaching at Lambda School so special.
What does each UX Design module cover?
The UX Design curriculum is broken up into six different units and I’m currently teaching the first one on UI design. The instructors switch around so we’re not teaching the same module over and over again. We’re currently reevaluating our course. One of the things I love about Lambda is we’re so open to change and making the best programs possible. We’re constantly thinking about reorganizing information, presenting it in different ways, and making it more action-oriented and project-centric so we’re producing the best UX designers possible.
The current modules are:
- UI Fundamentals, UI Design and Design Theory – Students become familiar with tools like Sketch and InVision. We talk about design theory, color theory, visual hierarchy, typography, and skills you need to be an effective UI designer.
- UX Fundamentals – Covers UX techniques and processes like user, contextual, and observational research, wireframing, customer journey mapping, user personas, and user flows in the context of the Product Design Cycle. We make sure everyone understands all the tools and techniques we use as UX designers, and how to think like designers. We look at how to choose which tools to use.
- Lambda Labs Round 1 – Students build a project from start-to-finish. This is about six weeks long and they work with a small team of developers to get real-world experience.
- Advanced UX – Students reflect on the collaborative project, what they learned, any insights they gained from that real-world practical experience, and how they can build on it. We also go into advanced concepts like analytics and how to use that to inform design decisions.
- Lambda Labs Round 2 – An opportunity to learn from previous project experiences and have another strong portfolio piece. Students also mentor students in other cohorts going through the first round of Lambda Labs.
How does Lambda School integrate career preparation into the online UX curriculum?
We pepper in career prep throughout the course, starting on Day 2 where we talk about setting the students up for their careers. They learn about what a portfolio entails, the types of case studies they need to include, and when they need to be thinking about it throughout the course. We talk about networking, being engaged in the design community on social media, and how blogging can help your online visibility, highlight your design thought process, writing skills, and critical thinking abilities to potential employers. After that, every week we sprinkle in additional career curriculum with our career instruction team.
Students are always welcome to come to me or any other instructor with questions about their portfolios, social profiles, job postings, or guidance in general. I’ve helped a couple of students with networking. We also have a dedicated career coach who is the point-person for helping students be the best candidates possible. Students have multiple resources, people, and touchpoints, to ensure they’re as prepared as possible for their new careers as a UX Designer or a Product Designer.
What does a typical teaching day look like for you at Lambda School?
Students begin with a morning warm-up activity for an hour where they review work from the previous day with a peer, have design discussions with their small groups of eight students and a Project Manager (like a Teaching Assistant in a university), or do pre-work for the web development course. I’ll then give a two-hour lecture where we walk through a specific concept via a guided project, which is a realistic project that pertains directly to the day’s topic. After lunch, students work on an assignment until 5pm and end the day with a stand-up with their Project Manager (PM) groups to reflect on their work. I’ll often go through students’ assignments and try to give as much feedback as possible.
For example, the other day we were teaching UI Design in Sketch – we walked through Sketch, the buttons and concepts, how to design an interface, and what the workflow looks like. For the rest of the lesson, we practiced designing an interface and using the different components and features to bring the interface to life. It’s a very practical curriculum. We want to make sure you’re learning-by-doing and practicing.
How do you personally work with students and help them understand the concepts?
Outside of the classroom, we have a weekly Q&A, and I have office hours for individual student questions. There’s a lot of discussion and collaboration. Unlike in development, where you can be right or wrong, in design, there’s only better or worse. Our conversations are about designing in these contexts and understanding what’s working based on the information we have.
I try to do the opposite of what I experienced in traditional university classrooms (boring lectures with slides). I want to be as engaging as possible, show students through concepts, discuss back and forth, help them with corrections, and ask them to share their screens to show me what they’re working on. I like to start every lesson with music as people are hopping on to the call to make sure we’re fired up for the day.
I’m trying to be the best instructor I know how to be. There have been times when the feedback demonstrates that half of the students missed the concept – this means I’ve failed in some capacity and we should cover the material again the next day to make sure everyone understands. That’s illustrative of many instructors’ mindsets at Lambda School. We’re going to do everything in our power to make sure the students are understanding the material.
How do you and the PMs work together to assist the bootcamp students?
As instructors, we do the two-hour lesson every morning, make sure students understand the material, and answer any questions. After that, the PMs are the first line of defense. They are current students who have already taken the material, performed excellently, and have a good grasp on the information. A PM can answer a lot of the smaller questions and the instructors can tackle more conceptual questions or if something’s not clicking.
As a remote bootcamp, how do you communicate with Lambda students?
Pretty much all instruction and in-person interaction are done live in Zoom, and if a student is struggling or has questions we can jump on a call and sort it out. We also use Slack. Each cohort has their own private Slack channel where they can ask questions, and there are public channels like “UX Help” where all the UX students can collaborate with other cohorts. Newer students can ask questions of the students who have been in the program longer. Lambda is a community of life-long learners, and people are willing to help each other out. I don’t have to jump in and answer questions very often, because the students themselves do a great job.
What has been one of your biggest student success stories?
One specific student from our first cohort is working on his final project and gearing up for his job search. The growth I’ve seen in him from Day One to what he knows now has been nothing short of astonishing. Whenever I get stressed out, I think of his and all of our students’ successes, and it gets me fired up. It’s been a powerful reminder that we’re here for them, we’re here to change their lives and to be the best possible resource.
How have you contributed to the Lambda School UX Design course curriculum?
I primarily work on curriculum updates in the afternoons while the students are working on their projects, in between answering any questions. We’re very data-oriented and are always using feedback from students to improve the curriculum. It’s also very effective when students can demonstrate their understanding of a concept or if they missed the goal of the task.
We also interview hiring managers, talk to people who will be hiring our students, find out what skills they’re looking for in job candidates, and incorporate those insights into the curriculum. I joined the team with Christijan Draper as Program Director, who had the vision for starting the program. We brainstormed the structure, developed the lessons, assignments, and projects, and we’ve already revised it a few times. Now that we have a few more instructors, we each focus on our individual units and each have full ownership over the material.
What types of learning opportunities does Lambda provide their instructors?
While we can’t take the other bootcamp courses because we’re teaching simultaneously, we do have access to all of the curriculum material. I’m frequently poking around the mobile and data science courses because I’m interested in those fields, there are some incredible professionals teaching those courses, and I’m trying to pick up new skills! All the instructors meet weekly to catch up; we share tips and keep each other informed about what’s going on in our fields, and across the instructional teams.
What are some resources or recommendations for anyone curious about learning more about the UX field?
- “The Design of Everyday Things” by Donald Norman – this is the first book anyone interested in UX should read.
- “Don’t Make Me Think” and “Rocket Surgery Made Easy” by Steve Krug – good resources for dipping your toes into UX
- Nielsen Norman Group – lots of articles and research
- Design Twitter – People talking about UX and how to make it better
- I’m on Twitter! Happy to answer any questions
- Lambda School UX Precourse – this is a great first start to try out our curriculum, understand how we work, and gauge your interest level
I was self-taught and learned a lot on the job, and I always think about how I wish Lambda School had been around when I started. The staff is so aligned with helping you succeed and land the job in a way that I never saw in my own educational experience. At Lambda School, we are here to help you get the life you are ready to have.
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 →
Lambda School has taken its curriculum (and popular Income Sharing Agreement) abroad! We sat down with Tommy Collison from Lambda to learn the motivations behind the school’s international expansion, how the ISA terms will shift for European students, and exactly what’s changing as Lambda School imports its curriculum to the EU and UK.
Tommy, what is your role in Lambda School’s European expansion?
I started off as a part-time student at Lambda School. I’m now the on the growth team, and my role is to help the school expand overseas as seamlessly as possible.
I live in San Francisco, but I spent the first 19 years of my life in Ireland before attending college in the States. This gave me perspective on the differences between the American and European college experience. When I heard about Lambda School’s overseas expansion goals, I wanted to help, and I’ve been working on the school’s expansion ever since.
What was Lambda School’s motivation for expanding to the EU and the UK?
It really comes back to Lambda School’s central philosophy, that talent is equally distributed, but opportunity isn’t. Our goal is to reduce barriers to a great technical education. We believe that by bringing people of all different backgrounds together, we can take students from day one of class to Day One of a great new job. We’re committed not only to teaching our students the technical skills they require, but also to helping them find jobs that will change their lives.
In expanding overseas, what will change about Lambda School?
One big change is in the terms of our income sharing agreement, based on the way the European tax model works.
Secondly, Lambda School lives or dies by the strength of our hiring network and hiring partners. We have amazing team members working on developing a strong hiring network, connecting our graduates with companies that want to hire developers. We'll continue to work on building this out in Europe, figuring out how best to connect the graduates from our European program with companies based here.
Finally, the time difference was a challenge (in the US, Lambda School operates from 8am-5pm PST, which is 5pm-2am in Europe). Asking students to attend class at those hours was obviously not going to work. We’ve hired a new instructor who teaches on local time. We also had a lot of conversations about which language to teach the classes in, since so many different languages are spoken in Europe. Eventually, we decided to teach in English.
Which countries/cities will Lambda School be expanding to?
When Lambda School launched in the US, it was very important to us to be available all across the US. Two people can be equally talented and equally hard-working, but if one of them lives in a tech-friendly city like New York, Seattle, or San Francisco, they have a huge competitive advantage.
So, when we launched in Europe, we similarly wanted to launch in as many places as possible. Our first European class started January 7, and included students from six or seven different countries. These students were from all over Europe, not necessarily just people concentrated in the big European tech hubs. Again, from the outset, our intention was to offer opportunities to as broad and as diverse a group as possible.
Which companies are already in the Lambda School hiring network in Europe?
Fundamentally, they’re the same kind of companies we’re talking to in America. There are so many American companies that need to hire a certain number of developers by 2020. These roles will also be in high demand in Europe. The skills that Lambda School students learn — from web development to front-end and back-end development — are skills that every company needs. In the London, Berlin, Stockholm, and Dublin startup communities, there’s going to be a huge demand for developers with the networking and computer architecture skills that Lambda School graduates come away with.
Will you be tailoring the curriculum to cater to different market needs in Europe?
At least initially, our students have been following the same curriculum we designed for the U.S. But we’ve also done our due diligence, working with European hiring partners and recruiters to learn more about what their specific needs are, and what it is they’re looking for. We’ve built the curriculum backwards from there.
For example, Lambda School’s European cohort will learn web foundations, front-end, and back-end development. They’ll learn data structures and algorithms, and computer science side of things, such as networking and computer architecture. They'll also work on what we refer to as our “build weeks,” and lab projects – essentially building production-ready, stand-alone applications that they can later include in their portfolio to show future employers.
It’s possible that in the future, there may be a specific skill or programming language which European companies are seeking. If that happens, we’ll rook at tailoring our curriculum to ensure that our students are learning the skills necessary to give them the best possible job prospects.
How will the ISA (Income Sharing Agreement) be structured differently in the EU/UK?
As in the US, Lambda School in the EU, will have no upfront tuition. Ultimately, we thought it made more sense to take a smaller percentage of a graduate’s salary for a slightly longer period. Instead of tuition payment, we charge our graduates 10% of their salary for four years, capped at 27,500 Euros or 25,000 English pounds. We do this because we want people of all backgrounds to find their way into the tech industry.
We recently announced another change at Lambda School – we’re moving “graduation” from our lexicon. Graduating from Lambda School doesn’t mean anything until you get a job. We’ve now moved the job search portion of our school into the pre-graduation curriculum. We no longer consider a student “graduated” until they’ve gotten a job.
What does that change mean in terms of a graduate’s timeline to start paying tuition back?
The ISA is identical – students get more Lambda School for the same price. Our students don’t start making repayments until they get a job. It’s much more important for us to shift our focus towards graduates mastering their technical education, and finding jobs they love.
The ISA seems extremely popular in the US right now (perhaps due to the cost of education and debt in the US). But is the demand there in Europe?
I think so. Fundamentally, ISA’s represent an agreement between a student and the school. We want our students to do well; when they do well, Lambda School does well too. That’s why we invest so much in students and their education, in a way that most traditional European universities can’t or don’t. The student debt crisis in the US is on another level entirely – that kind of thing just doesn’t exist in Europe. But we think the ISA has a place in the European market.
Salaries for developers, on average, are lower in the EU/U.K. than they are in the U.S. Do you think it’ll take longer for your European students to pay back tuition?
I think our ISA repayment model, which involves having a smaller percentage of a European graduate’s salary taken out over a longer time period than our US students — over four years instead of two — will make a big difference. We’re confident that investing in talent is good for students, and good for the school.
There’s skepticism around ISAs due to the fact that they’re largely unregulated. What measures do you have in place to stay transparent and accountable?
There’s nothing I’d love to see more than high-level regulation of ISAs. It’s also important to understand how powerful ISAs can be in terms of opening up opportunities for people, and helping them get better jobs.
We’re upfront about the terms of the ISA on our website. There are no asterisks. We’ve taken great lengths to ensure that our ISA’s are devoid of surprises or hidden terms. Every decision we’ve made regarding ISA’s has always been with the student’s best interest in mind.
There are already a handful of coding bootcamps in the EU. What will set the Lambda School apart?
For starters, Lambda School is a hybrid between a coding bootcamp and a traditional Computer Science (CS) degree. The length of the program is 30 weeks, full time, nine-to-five Monday through Friday, which is a lot longer than traditional coding bootcamps. That’s about 75% of the length of time it would take to attain a CS degree. That extra time allows students to dive deep, and for the material to become ingrained.
Additionally, Lambda School is hyper-focused on mastery. Our courses are designed each week to be their own self-contained module. Students learn the material Monday through Thursday, and then on Friday they have a “sprint challenge assessment,” where they have to demonstrate their mastery of the material. Our students don’t continue until they’ve successfully demonstrated that mastery.
Lambda School isn’t just making an investment in students during week one, week two or week 30. We’re ensuring that our students understand the material inside-and-out, up, down, backwards, and sideways. That’s the Lambda School commitment: it’s not about getting students through school, it’s about giving them the skills they need to succeed in the workplace.
Can students start applying now?
Yes. We launched January 7, and we've got full time classes starting in the next few months.
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 →
Burnt out from teaching high school math and science for four years, Joanne Jordan decided to search for a new career direction. After discovering the potential of Machine Learning at a startup, she enrolled in Lambda School’s online Data Science Track. Joanne tells us how the vibrant online community kept her motivated to keep studying, how she built her capstone project analyzing health and environmental hazards in NYC, and how Lambda School invited her back to teach the next cohort of students while she figures out the next steps in her data science career!
What is your background and experience before enrolling in Lambda School’s Data Science Track?
Before taking the bootcamp, I had studied Applied Physics in undergrad and then got into teaching. I taught at a charter school in Brooklyn and over four years, I taught nine different courses in math and science ranging from algebra to calculus, as well as statistics, chemistry, physics, and computer science. I loved teaching, but it was a lot of work and I got burnt out, so I took a step back and did freelance tutoring while I figured out what I wanted to do next.
I took a role as a temporary content writer for a startup SAT prep company called PrepScholar. They used Machine Learning to analyze the questions from different standardized tests and used those models to analyze student responses. They then create an individualized curriculum for each student to maximize their time and gain the most amount of points on their next SAT test. I was impressed with how powerful Machine Learning and data science can be, so I started looking into coding bootcamps as well as graduate school programs.
What stood out to you about Lambda School’s online Data Science program?
I kind of stumbled upon the program and I think I got really lucky in choosing it. Lambda School stood out to me because it was a remote bootcamp, but taught live. I need human interaction so the live classroom aspect was really appealing to me. Because it was online, I didn’t have to stay in one place – while I was studying I moved from New York, back home to Los Angeles.
I also liked their income share agreement because the school is incentivized by my success – I didn’t have to pay until I found a job, so their fate was tied to my ability to get a job after I graduated.
What were the Lambda School application and interview processes like?
Before I was admitted, I had to do Lambda's free two-week data science precourse covering the basics on Python, statistics, and other concepts, then pass a couple of test assignments to be considered for the program. Then, there was a 30-minute interview with a school representative asking about my background and why I wanted to do the bootcamp. There was a question in the application about my background in math and coding, but it wasn’t a requirement for admission.
What was your cohort like?
There were around 25 of us in the cohort, which was a perfect size. We had a male majority (but not overwhelmingly), there was a good amount of racial and ethnic diversity, and huge diversity in background experience. Because of the intro course, there were people coming in with no programming experience. Some had studied math, some came from programming, and some didn’t have experience in either but because they passed the precourse, they were able to keep up throughout the program. It was a really big mix and Lambda did a great job of attending to the different needs of the students. In all of the assignments, there are basics and then more in-depth concepts, as well as stretch goals for those who had come in with more knowledge.
What was the remote classroom experience like and how was the material taught?
I was in the first data science cohort, covering topics in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Data Science. Every morning we had a mini coding challenge to get us into the mindset and then there was a two-hour lecture on the topic of the day. The instructor shared their screen live through Zoom and the students simultaneously chatted together on Slack. The instructor could see our questions and we also were able to help each other. After a lunch break, we received an assignment and were encouraged to ask questions on Slack or make our own Zoom conference to pair program with another student.
Each of us was also on a team of about 6 to 8 students and after everything was done, we’d connect to discuss how our days went, review anything we got stuck on, and help each other out to close the day. Our teams were really tight, so I never felt like it was remote – I have friends from the program! We’d fill out a form giving feedback about the lecture and the material, which the instructor would then use the next day to address any problem issues or clarify any questions.
Did you have a favorite project that you worked on while you were studying with Lambda?
We had two main projects: a two-week personal project and a four-week group project. The group project was a simulation of a Lambda client interaction, so they gave us an objective and we had to go find the supporting data. It was fun to work as a team and provide a completed deliverable. For the personal project, we could choose anything we wanted. We had to create a proposal and discuss the feasibility with the TAs. I’m a teacher, so naturally I’m interested in education and public health, and the related sociological elements. I decided to do my project through Small Area Analysis, where you analyze the data of small communities within a larger area. I looked at New York City’s neighborhoods and compared health and environmental hazard data alongside education attainment data. It was a lot of fun to combine my skills to do something that I was interested in and passionate about.
How did your applied physics and education background help you during the data science bootcamp?
Having a strong math foundation definitely helped me understand some of the concepts, and my experience working with people and knowing when to ask for help was one of the main factors of success in the bootcamp. It was really helpful to be part of a team where I could go and ask someone when I was stuck on something. Having a collaborative environment was similar to teaching since I was both a general education and special education teacher in an inclusive classroom environment. I would have to collaborate with the other teacher in the room and would ask senior teachers for help if I needed help figuring out something or solving a problem with a student. Those were skills I was able to bring into the data science bootcamp to help me succeed.
How were you able to stay focused while studying remotely? Do you have any advice for others doing a remote program?
I think that participating in the community was really important. It was really integral for me to learn with others because I had found I wasn’t able to teach myself the concepts alone. I took advantage of the live, interactive lectures, and knowing that at the end of the day I was going to be accountable to our instructors, the TA, and the team, kept me focused on completing the assignment. I think the community feel of Lambda School is fantastic – there are certain parts that you’re required to participate in, but the more you take advantage of it, the more you’ll succeed.
Congrats on your role as a Teacher Assistant at Lambda School! How did you land the position?
Lambda School is a really great environment and I’m really enjoying being back as a Teacher Assistant (TA). Initially, they asked me to be a TA for a part-time evening program while I was still a student in the bootcamp because I was performing well. After I graduated, I was working on some projects and trying to figure out what I wanted to do next when the head data science instructor asked me if I wanted to come back and be a TA for the second Data Science cohort. I was still connected to the community through career coaching, so returning to the learning side sounded fun!
What does your role as a Lambda School Teacher Assistant involve?
As a TA, I attend the lectures with the students and monitor Slack throughout the day to see if they have any questions. I also hold office hours in the afternoon through an open Zoom link and students can pop in any time and ask questions. I’m also assigned to a team, so I lead the meetings at the end of the day, and then grade and give feedback on their assignments.
Having been a teacher at the high school level, I can see similarities in the way I work with and manage a group of students with different skill levels. Some students get frustrated with the material and some are very advanced and work through things quickly. I try to note the high performing students and give them challenges to raise their skill level.
How does Lambda School prepare students for job hunting?
Career coaching occurs once a week starting about a third of the way through the program. Career coaches give lectures on basics like writing resumes and cover letters, setting up LinkedIn, organizing portfolios, and networking. Students are assigned to a specific career coach who is connected to the business partnerships and they also are assigned to a team with an instructor whom they can ask for more technical questions and advice, or to read over a final submission for a job interview. Lambda School also has a program called Lambda Next, an opt-in, full-time program (and free if you’re a student) which has assignments geared towards helping you build your portfolio and network, to help you figure out your next steps.
What are your next steps? Are you planning on staying on as a Lambda School TA or will you do something different?
The TA position is intended to be temporary for Lambda grads so I’m looking at data science roles in fields related to education and public health or healthcare as my ideal next step. I’m also considering coming back to Lambda School as an instructor some day. They really value instructors who have industry experience, so I want to go out and get some real world experience and come back to Lambda better equipped to help the next group of Data Science bootcampers.
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 →
Lambda School offers an income share agreement where students pay nothing up front, and don’t pay until they land a job. It sounds almost too good to be true, so we sat down with Lambda School’s VP of Finance, Trevor McKendrick, to find out exactly how Lambda School’s ISA works, what the eligibility requirements are, and what the repayment process looks like. Trevor also tells us how ISAs compare with loans, how the Lambda School Careers Team works to help students find jobs, and what sort of salaries their graduates are earning.
What you need to know:
- Anyone who is legally able to work in the US and have a US bank account can apply to use an ISA for Lambda School’s immersive courses.
- Grads start repaying once they are earning $50,000 per year.
- Grads pay back 17% of their salary for 2 years, with a $30,000 cap on repayments.
- If grads don’t find a job within 5 years, they don’t have to pay anything.
- Students can choose to pay $20,000 up front instead of using the ISA.
Trevor, what’s your role at Lambda School and how are you involved with Lambda School’s income sharing agreement (ISA)?
I work with students to make sure they understand their income share agreement. I’ve also helped create the FAQs for students on our website to make sure students understand what they are getting into when they sign an ISA. Finally, I work with our partners at Leif, who manage the signing, collection, and on-the-ground work for our ISAs with our students.
Why does Lambda School offer an ISA? Has Lambda School always offered one?
Lambda School has been around for just over 18 months and I believe we’ve offered an ISA for all of our immersive courses the entire time – the Fullstack Web Track, the iOS Development Track, the Android Development Track, the Data Science Track, and the UX Design Track.
In most education today, you pay tuition upfront regardless of your outcome. College is a classic example: you pay all this money before you walk in the door, often taking out out large loans. It’s not that those schools don’t care about their students, but there is a lack of an incentive to get students a job when they graduate.
We like committing to ISAs because if our students can’t get a higher paying job after we’ve taught them these new skills, then Lambda School ultimately fails. We are excited about that incentive, and students, employers, partners, and other people around the world, are also really excited about seeing an educational institute like Lambda School align incentives with the goals of its students.
Can Lambda School students still pay upfront or are they required to use the ISA option?
Yes, a small percent of our students choose to pay upfront. The majority of those are in the Data Science Track. The Data Science class tends to attract students who already have some sort of a development background, meaning they already had a job that pays reasonably well, so they feel a little more comfortable paying upfront. We’re happy to offer that to them.
Can you explain why you chose to partner with Leif to power the ISA and how that partnership works?
Leif and Lambda School were both some of the first organizations in the US to get into the ISA space – we’re one of the first schools to offer ISAs, and Leif is one of the first organizations to service ISAs. We both took a bet on each other, and it’s been working out really well.
In our partnership, Leif services the ISA. They manage all of the contracts and signatures, then once a student has graduated and successfully increased their income, Leif also manages the collections on those ISAs. At Lambda School we have a really good relationship with our graduates, so we sometimes help with that and reach out to students too.
How do you make sure students pay back the ISA?
We track and incentivize our students to pay their ISA back in a couple of ways:
- When they sign their ISA, students agree to give Leif, our partner, access to their tax returns, so Leif does a reconciliation at the end of the year to make sure graduates have been reporting on their income accurately.
- There is an incentive for graduates to report accurately and pay on time because if they don’t, it could affect their credit score. In that way, the ISA is similar to a loan, in that there can be consequences if it’s not paid.
During the application process are you assessing students based on whether they are a suitable candidate to pay back the ISA? Are you looking for someone with a certain background?
No. We accept about 5% of applicants, but we don’t reject people because of ISA concerns. We accept students based on our judgment about their ability to succeed. We have various coding tests and an admission process where we do our best to determine an applicant’s potential.
What are the eligibility requirements to get an ISA? Does a student have to be living in a particular city or hold a degree or have a certain credit score?
The main criteria to qualify for an ISA is that you have to be legally able to work in the US, and you have to be able to have an American bank account. You can live and learn anywhere you want. If an American citizen with an American bank account is living abroad, that’s fine too. We just did a company retreat in Tampa Bay Florida last weekend, which wouldn’t be the first place you’d think of for developer jobs, but found we had 20 or more students who lived in the area, so they drove in to meet with us.
What are the terms of the Lambda School ISA?
- There is no upfront deposit.
- Grads start repaying once they are earning $50,000 per year.
- Grads pay back 17% of their salary for 2 years, with the important caveat that there is a $30,000 cap.
- From the time the student graduates, we have 5 years to collect on the ISA. If those 5 years go by, and the student hasn’t increased their income to at least $50,000, then the ISA expires and we don’t collect on it.
So if a student doesn’t find a job within the first two years of graduation, but finds a job within those 5 years, then they still have to pay back the ISA?
Will you track students to make sure they are actively looking for work?
We have an entire team of people working with employers across the country to help our students get jobs. It’s something we think about constantly and spend a ton of resources on.
That said, at the end of the day the student has to want a job, and be willing to put the work into preparing, applying, and interviewing.
Since it’s in Lambda School’s interest to get paid, how will Lambda School make sure grads find jobs earning over $50,000 (the threshold amount)?
The vast majority of jobs students get after they graduate are above the $50,000 threshold. The median starting salary of Lambda School grads is around $70,000. One responsibility of our outcomes team is to identify employers who are looking to hire junior developers, and invite them to do a brown bag talk with our students once a week. They love doing that, and they do it with the stipulation that they will also interview some of our students. And again almost all of them are employers that will pay more than $50,000 a year.
How many graduates have already paid back their ISAs? On average, how long does it take for graduates to pay back the ISA?
Graduates are definitely already making payments on their ISAs. But the ISA payments are over a two-year period, and we haven’t yet been operating for two years so no one has paid back a full ISA. Barring some emergency, we don’t expect it to take much longer than two years to fully repay your ISA. Some of our best students do end up with six-figure jobs, and developers tend to get significant rises pretty quickly, so some will end up reaching that $30,000 cap in less than two years.
For students trying to decide between another bootcamp where they can take out a loan, or going to Lambda School and using the ISA, what is your advice? What are the benefits of an ISA versus a loan?
We have a repayment cap of $30,000, but when you take out a loan, there are fees and penalties for not repaying the loan. With an ISA with Lambda, you know that if we don’t do our job within five years, you don’t have to pay us anything. It was something you tried and didn’t work out, and you move on.
If a student takes out a loan they are going to be on the hook for that loan plus interest, no matter what the quality of the school is. I would just recommend that you really look at how the school operates as a business, what are the school’s incentives, and can the school continue to operate if you don’t get a job? For most schools out there, they don’t need you to get a job in order to succeed.
What are hiring managers looking for in a new developer? A mix of practical engineering skills and foundational CS knowledge helped a Lambda School grad land a job at Utah fintech startup Divvy! We got to chat with Divvy’s VP of Engineering, Greg Larson, about why he chose to hire a coding bootcamp grad. Learn what stands out to hiring managers during the job interview process and how Divvy is partnering with Lambda School to help their students get more real-world experience!
Tell us about Divvy and your role there.
Divvy provides a spend and expense management solution for small-to-medium size businesses. We essentially help companies get access to credit and each of their employees gets their own Divvy credit card where administrators can plan and track expenses in real-time. We work with clients across the board – companies with one or two people, companies with thousands of employees, and they span from construction, healthcare, nonprofits, education, and other tech companies.
As VP of Engineering, everything technical reports up through me – software development, IT, DevOps, QA, and a few other functions. When I first started here, there were around 10 Software Engineers and since then, we've grown to over 30 full-time engineers across the board. One of my main functions is growth – sourcing, recruiting, and hiring our engineers. It’s up to me to strategize how we grow the team and what positions to fill. I used to lead interviewing and the tech assessment, but now that we're scaling, we've got more people to help with the process.
I used to work a lot more in the code in our early days – we are a startup, so everyone wears multiple hats. I still oversee the higher level architectural decisions, so other daily activities include working with the other executives and teams here at Divvy to ensure that we're able to support the vision and the strategy set out. That often means considering a new partnership that requires some technical integration, seeing if there's an opportunity to capture more of a market with certain features or internal tools to enable customer success. I'm involved in a lot of those discussions to figure out how we're going to execute on the engineering side, and make it happen.
How many Lambda School graduates have you hired?
To this day, we've only interviewed and hired one Lambda School graduate – Antonio – as a Software Engineer. We do have one other Lambda graduate in our pipeline right now, and we're doing our final group interview with him later today – we'll see how that goes.
How does Divvy usually source developers? How did you meet this Lambda School graduate?
With our employees being so new at Divvy, we have a lot of fresh networks to tap into. We have a referral bonus program for employees that refer engineers. Also, because Divvy has been experiencing meteoric growth, there’s some buzz about us in the local industry and are attracting better talent than normal because of the good things we're doing and the media coverage.
When I source candidates, I first try to search locally for people who have relevant experience and match a profile of the right kind of personality and culture fit. Our Lambda graduate came through a referral from a friend of one of our employees. We had heard about Lambda School, and how they take a different approach to the bootcamp paradigm. I had only heard good things about Lambda School, so I was excited to interview a graduate.
Did you have to tailor the hiring process at all for a coding bootcamp grad? What does your hiring process look like?
We kept the hiring process the same – we were pretty deliberate about that. We only judged him differently simply because he was a bit more junior, so our expectations were for a junior candidate.
Typically, we have an initial one-on-one interview. Depending on the situation, it's either a phone or in-person interview. It's a basic screening, so we don't get too deep on any technical things – we explore the candidate's background and experience to see if their interests align, and we get an idea of how they work with others. Assuming all that looks good, we then send them the instructions for a technical assessment to do on their own time. They have to build an application which usually takes a few hours. We try to be sensitive to people's time, but it's not something you can just hurry and get done in one night.
Once applicants return the tech assessment solution, we have a committee of engineers that reviews them. If everything looks good at that point, we have the candidate come in for a group interview or call in via video. We’ll ask about problem-solving, design and architecture, but there’s usually not a whiteboard test. Once the group interview is finished, if everyone gives the candidate a thumbs up, then we extend the offer.
The way Antonio performed in his interview made us feel pretty confident that he's a good fit now, but we also saw a ton of potential because he demonstrated that he can pick up on things quickly. He had already shipped one or two real products, so that at all made us feel really excited about hiring him. He’s been with us since April 2018.
What stood out about the Lambda School graduate you hired? What helped them get the job?
We knew that we wanted to hire one or two junior engineers. Our Lambda grad, Antonio, immediately stood out because he seemed to have a great balance between being confident, but not being a know-it-all. In the past, it seemed like other bootcamps produced grads who felt they should be hired and get paid tons of money right away. On the other hand, recently, I’m seeing almost the opposite where I interview bootcamp grads who don't seem confident or sure of what they want to do.
Candidates need to have a focus and understand the direction they’re going in. And Antonio had that. He had the confidence that he could do the job, but knew he would need to keep learning and progressing. He was really sharp in comparison to a lot of other candidates. He had applicable, practical experience, and knew the fundamentals of software engineering. That's something we like to see, especially because we're a fast-moving startup. People always need to be learning here – even our most experienced engineers are constantly learning new things. The ability to learn, demonstrate that you can learn, and use what you learned to be effective in your job, is really critical here.
Did you have to convince your team to hire a non-traditional developer?
Because I had heard good things about Lambda School, I was excited to see Antonio’s skills. I was curious to see if he would be more like a bootcamper or more like a computer science grad. Antonio seemed to be in the middle of the two, which was good. And because Lambda had a good reputation with me and a few other people whom I work with, I didn't have to really convince anyone.
Bootcamps do a great job of teaching efficiently, but you can still only learn so much in a short time frame. Lambda School is a longer program at 6 months, which is good because students have more time to soak in information.
Does Divvy have mentorship programs in place to ensure new hires are supported?
Yes, we assign a mentor to every new hire, regardless of whether they’re junior or not. Even our new senior developers have a mentor for the first couple of months to help them get acclimated to their role. We also put together onboarding plans for every hire’s first few weeks. All of those things are more high touch with candidates who have less experience, so junior engineers get more attention. We work with them closely and make sure they have access to people to help them. However, since Divvy is still a startup and moving really quickly, we're not in a place right now where we can take on too many junior engineers.
Antonio had some experience working as a professional Software Engineer, which is really helpful. No matter who you are, when you start at a new company there's a lot to learn; but if someone's already had a job in the tech industry as a Software Engineer, they've learned a lot already so we don't have to teach them the basics.
Is there a feedback loop with Lambda School about their curriculum? What does that relationship look like?
We're actually going to be trying something pretty exciting with Lambda soon. At the end of the Lambda curriculum, students do a capstone project and split into small teams. Divvy is going to be a partner company to give students more applicable experience with those projects. We're looking into sponsoring one of those capstone projects and be there to help, mentor, and judge projects. It’ll be a fun way to engage with the school and we’ll get some insight into how their students are doing.
Also, because our back end is built in Elixir, a less common language, Lambda is even willing to invest some time into teaching a group of students Elixir. That's obviously a win for us because if we want to hire one or two of these graduates, they already have some experience with Elixir.
Engaging with a school like Lambda is a lot of fun, and we’re building a good relationship. It helps the students because they get real influence from a real company, but then it also helps us because we get more insight into the curriculum and give input into how to shape some of the candidates that we might be interested in hiring.
Does this mean you’ll be hiring from Lambda School in the future?
That's the expectation. We're definitely growing, so as we have opportunities and the capacity to add more junior engineers to the team, Lambda School would certainly be one of the first, if not the first, bootcamp that we look at.
What is your advice to other employers who are considering hiring from a coding bootcamp, or Lambda School in particular?
Honestly, I think Lambda School is different enough that the same advice may not apply to other schools.
Hire for potential and not immediate skill or experience; look for what the candidate could be capable of. Sometimes that's hard to assess, but look at how well they did after the bootcamp, even just in the first few months after. That tells me a lot about their passion, dedication, and ability to continue to learn.
I would advise that anyone hiring from a bootcamp needs to be able to provide continuing education – more so than they would expect with other engineers. Expect that you're going to have to help them continue to learn because a bootcamp doesn't teach them everything. Bootcamps get them started on the path, but as an employer, you have to keep helping them along that path.
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 →
How do you get started in Android mobile development? With cheaper (read: more accessible) devices and a large user base worldwide, Android jobs are abundant – but what makes a great Android developer? Chance Payne has a BA in computer science and is a self-taught mobile developer (and teaches the new Lambda School Android course) shares the ins and outs of Android. Learn about which devices use Android, get a better understanding of the Android job market, and see how you can be part of the next generation of Android developers.Continue Reading →
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 →
The skills you learn in the classroom aren’t everything you need to work in a real tech job. Realizing this, Lambda School has launched Lambda Labs, a month-long final team project that gives students the opportunity to work in teams and build functioning products from start to finish. How do students in the online bootcamp collaborate remotely? And are these Lambda Labs projects helping students through the job interview process? We check in with Lambda School Instructor Ryan Holdaway and recent Lambda School graduate Cassidy Avery to find out!
What is Lambda Labs?
Ryan: Lambda Labs is the final experience for our students. Our goal at Lambda School is to train students to join dev teams and be able to contribute right away. We found that there was a gap between the kind of learning that takes place in a classroom and the kind of work that's done on the job. So we wanted to make that transition smoother and arm students with some of the practical skills they would need in their jobs.
Before Lambda Labs, students were split into teams for their final projects and could brainstorm and pick their own project ideas. A lot of times, those projects ended up being loosely defined, too ambitious, incomplete, or not practical to show to a potential employer. We felt like that was a pretty weak final experience for Lambda School students before we sent them out into the job market.
With Lambda Labs, we plan final projects in advance for students. We sometimes work with outside companies for that, or plan internal projects. The goal is for students to work on something that's useful from start to finish, professional and complete, and deployed to production on the internet. Our idea for Lambda Labs is to simulate a dev shop.
Is Lambda Labs offered with all the Lambda School majors – Web Development, iOS, and Machine Learning?
Ryan: Yes, it will be offered for all of the majors. We'll adapt it to each of the programs – web, iOS and machine learning. Students will work on practical, real-world projects that mimic a real job. Our long-term goal is to have students across different programs work together. For example, an iOS class and a web development class could work together where the web students write a back end system and the API, and the mobile students build a mobile client.
How does Lambda Labs fit into the overall curriculum?
Ryan: For the last month of Lambda School’s six-month program, students work on projects in teams of three or four, along with a project manager under the supervision of a professional developer. The project manager will lead students in daily stand up meetings where they'll discuss what each student was working on yesterday, what they accomplished, what they're going to be working on today, and any blockers that the team needs to resolve.
Students pick their own tools as far as technology stack and toolchain, and what to use for the database, back end and front end system. Teams follow a Kanban style project management system with tickets on a ticketboard that they progress through, including things in progress, things in testing, and things that are done and shipped. They'll have a Trello board with tickets and wireframes in the design document for what the project should look like, and they build it to specification.
We feel like that's really good practice for students going into their first jobs. When software developers start a new job, one of the first things they often do is build a project that somebody else dreamed up. We wanted to zero in on the skills needed for the job we were training students for.
What sort of projects will students work on? You mentioned company projects and internal projects.
Ryan: We have worked with a couple of organizations that gave out students projects. We have one month to work on a project, so if we find an outside project that fits within that scope, then we're happy to work with outside companies.
For our most recent cohort, we partnered with an organization that plans concerts and music events in Austin, Texas. They needed a platform to connect performers, venue owners, sponsors, and other vendors. A couple of Lambda School students build that over the last month.
If students don't have an external project to work on, they work on something planned by a member of the Lambda School team – a project that can be completed start to finish in one month. Ideas come from students, instructors, friends, and family. If students have ideas, we can work together to plan the project ahead of time so that preparation is done before the students start work. It's really important that they have work to do on the first day and are not wasting time planning a project and making product decisions.
For example, Cassidy's team built a standalone SaaS product that's a bingo card generator where people can create custom bingo cards for a specific event. It's a party game. Users can input different choices for their event, shuffle all the squares, and print out a bunch of cards. It was a fun project that students worked on for about a month, and delivered a nice, functioning, SaaS project.
Cassidy, can you tell us about your background and why you decided to enroll at Lambda School?
Cassidy: I am a pure career changer. Previously, my career was a bit all over the place. I started out doing software integration for a hospital as part of the medical records team. That experience initially sparked my first thoughts that I should be doing something more technical, because solving problems and making things work is really satisfying. I also did a lot of customer service management.
What made you choose Lambda School over another coding bootcamp?
Cassidy: Finding a good fit in a coding bootcamp was a little difficult. A lot of bootcamps require a lot of money up front, or they need you to move to another city. For me and my family, that was not something that we could do.
I heard about Lambda School in Spring of 2017. They were pretty new and small, but their goal was to align the school's needs to the students’ needs, and it was completely remote so you could do it from anywhere. They also don’t charge any tuition up front; instead you start paying once you get a job, which is really helpful to people that don't have the funding.
Lambda School is also an excellent school. They've been trying really hard to bring in some of the best and brightest instructors from top companies like Google, Apple, and NASA, who have worked in the field and have really impressive resumes. In addition to teaching us, they can also mentor us and tell us what to expect when we’re looking for a job. I thought their team was really impressive, so I jumped in.
What was the learning experience at Lambda School like? Can you tell me about a typical day before you started Lambda Labs?
We spent about eight hours a day, hands-on coding. During our lectures, we were coding along while we listened, and we had sprints where we would also code along. Then we would have small projects to complete, either independently or paired. At the end of the week, we would have individual projects to reinforce what we had learned that week. It was a lot, but it was really good. We had many opportunities to reinforce what we were learning.
Tell me about your experience working on your Lambda Labs project. What was your role and what sort of team were you working with?
Cassidy: I worked on a three-person team with a project manager who was a Lambda School employee. Just like in a real dev team, we had someone who would check our project every day, we did stand ups every morning, and we would check in with each other.
I did the full React + Redux build of the front end. I also started the database, got it to a bare-bones skeleton stage, then one of my teammates took it over and hooked it up to the other parts of the app. Our third teammate actually built the bingo card generator, and used a PDFMake at the end.
We all had our own little parts, but regularly throughout the day, we were checking in with each other and saying, "Anyone need any help?" Even though we were working from all over the country, we could still communicate at any time via Slack, so all my team members were available at my fingertips. If one of us was stumped about something, or wanted feedback about an aspect of the project, it was so quick to hop on a Zoom call and have a quick chat.
How much help did your team need from Lambda School staff?
Cassidy: For the most part, we were using the knowledge we already had to build the project, or doing a lot of research, which is what you would do in the real world. For example, our third teammate was doing a lot of research, and trial and error learning, to use PDFMake, to make it work appropriately and correctly with our project.
Just like in the real world, you don't know everything. It's impossible to know everything because the field is growing and changing all the time. We did what we knew, we learned what we had to learn on the fly, and if we got really stumped, we could always go to our project manager, and he might be able to guide us or point us in the right direction.
Did you learn new technologies or skills during Lambda Labs, outside of the regular curriculum?
Cassidy: The biggest skill we learned was how to work on a developer team. This was the first time we had worked on a project where we had different personalities coming together, making decisions together, and building things that would work together. We really learned to work with other developers in a different way.
It was really helpful to have a project that was basically given to us by a “client” that had goals, a structure, and a clear idea of what we needed to work towards. We didn't have to hit our heads together about what we were going to build, but we still came together to make decisions on how to build it. Lambda Labs was definitely different than working on projects on our own and I'm absolutely glad that we had the experience.
What was the outcome of your Lambda Labs project? Is it finished? Were you able to deploy it?
Cassidy: Absolutely. It’s hosted on Heroku. It's a functioning product. It's bangarangbingo.com.
That's awesome! And what are your plans now? How is your job search going so far?
Cassidy: I'm based in Charlotte, North Carolina right now. I've applied to a few jobs here, and to a few remote jobs, and I'm starting to expand up the Eastern Seaboard a little bit. I've had some interviews and nothing's really panned out yet, but it's been a really good interviewing experience so far. I am actively looking, and hopefully, I'll land that first job soon.
I’m looking for a role where I can use these new skills. I really like being able to do a little bit of everything on a project. So I am basically trying to find something that will give me more of that full stack experience and a chance to learn more on the job.
How did the Lambda Labs project prepare you for interviewing?
Cassidy: As Ryan mentioned, we used a Kanban board for planning our project. Now that I'm interviewing, I’m realizing that a lot of the companies are using the exact same sort of workflow that we used in our Lambda Labs project – Slack, Zoom, Kanban, and Trello or something similar.
On top of those tools, it's great to show off a fully-realized, well-executed project that was built and deployed by our team in 22 days. Now we can all say, "We have these skills just like a normal engineer out in the field, we know how to work together, we know how to follow the lead of a project manager, we know how to use the same sorts of tools that are used in the field to manage projects, and we understand how to build these sorts of projects." I think it's really important to be able to show that we know what we're doing.
As well as having that project to show employers, how else is Lambda school helping you with your job search?
Cassidy: They have a dedicated Career Services team, who are awesome. During the last month and a half of the program, we had mini "brown bag sessions" every other week to discuss everything from how to structure your resume and how to use LinkedIn, to how to focus your job search. We also did mock interviews, and regular mock whiteboarding to prepare us for interviewing.
Now that we're in the search process, we have regular follow-ups with the Career Services team to keep us on pace and make sure we're doing the right things. We check in with a career counselor at least once a week. And if they come across anything good for us in our areas that they know about, then they share that with us. So long as we're actually out there doing our due diligence and trying to find a job, Lambda Schools is also helping us find a job.
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 →
So you want to be an iOS developer! You’ve heard of Swift, but you’re not quite sure whether it’s the right programming language for you. In this guide to Swift we ask veteran iOS developer Andrew Madsen, who now leads Lambda School’s remote iOS Major, all about the iOS language Swift. We’ll cover the origins of Swift, the difference between Swift and Objective-C, and what the future looks like for the world of iOS programming. Plus Andrew gives some examples of apps built with Swift, and a few great suggestions to start learning.Continue Reading →
Artificial Intelligence encompasses computer science, machine learning, and data science, but what does it all really mean? We spoke with Lambda School’s Director of Machine Learning, Thomson Comer, to get the details. Learn about the history and growth of artificial intelligence, how AI is commonly used today, and see what it takes to succeed in a machine learning course like Lambda School’s Online Data Science Major: Machine Learning!Continue Reading →
Joram Clervius was passionate about music and computers growing up. When college didn’t work out, he used his self-taught computer skills to get a job in web design. Joram soon realized that to build products from scratch, he needed to learn software engineering, so he enrolled in Lambda School’s full-time, online Computer Science and Software Engineering bootcamp. Now Joram is a Senior Developer at software company Nexient! Joram tells us why he chose Lambda School (hint: it’s to do with zero upfront tuition), how he balanced coding with competitive bodybuilding, and why he’s “so thankful” he “went the Lambda route.”
Can you tell me about your background before Lambda School?
I’m from Haiti and moved to Florida with my family when I was 10. Throughout elementary school, middle school and high school I was very involved in music, but also had a big interest in computers. I enjoyed taking them apart and teaching myself things. During high school and college, I did some web development and design projects for other students, but it was always just for fun; I never considered programming as a career.
Not too long after, I came up with an idea for a startup. I created a business plan, submitted it to the Miami Dade Chamber of Commerce, and won a grant to pay for office space. So I quit my job to start working on it. I soon realized that I couldn’t build my idea without more skills. I started to teach myself software engineering concepts, then enrolled at Lambda School.
Web design is very different from web development and software engineering. It’s like knowing how to make a house look nice, but not knowing how to build the house from scratch because you don’t know how to do electrical wiring, or plumbing, or construction.
Once I decided that I needed to learn software engineering, I struggled with not knowing where to start. There are so many languages and frameworks. Do I learn Ruby? Do I learn C? Do I learn C++? Do I learn Swift? Do I learn Java?
To tell you the truth – I’ve experienced what it's like to learn from Lambda School versus what it's like to teach myself, and I am so thankful that I went the Lambda route. There is no way I could have done it by myself.
How did you choose Lambda School and did you consider other online bootcamps?
I saw an online ad on Facebook or Twitter for Lambda School and they mentioned their deferred tuition – you didn't have to pay them back until you got a job. I had considered Wyncode and other bootcamps that were close to home in Miami. But I would have had to pay tuition upfront, so when I found out about Lambda School, I was really excited.
Did you think about going back to college to study computer science?
When I attended a demo day at Wyncode, I found that a lot of students had graduated from college with computer science degrees and still needed to go to a coding bootcamp. If you get a computer science degree, you know a lot of the computer science theory and computer architecture, but not so much about frameworks and development languages. I wanted to know how to build software, rather than just the theory behind the tech, so that made me less interested in college.
What was the application and interview process like for Lambda School?
I signed up, sent in the application, and received an email saying they had received more applications than they expected, so I'd have to take an entrance exam. That freaked me out because I really wanted to get in. I did the exam, which was mostly logic and math, with no coding. Then a couple of days later I got the email saying that I made it. I was really happy!
How did you stay engaged while learning online and balance Lambda School with your life?
Lambda School gave me a full schedule on Google Calendar. From the minute I woke up, I had my whole day planned out for me. Class time was at least eight hours of the day, and I would spend extra time studying outside of class. I was actually interested in learning this stuff, so I spent my nights coding and my weekends working on projects. I started coding from the moment I woke up each day and I have a computer and desk at home, so I just studied from home.
One of my hobbies is competitive bodybuilding, so I'm very active in the gym and work out a lot. That is a very important part of my day. After I finished studying and doing school work, I would go to the gym and work out, then come back home and continue studying.
What was the time commitment for Lambda School? Could you learn on your own time (asynchronously) or did you learn with your classmates at the same time every day (synchronously)?
The instructors taught us through live video lectures, so we could ask them questions, and they'd answer right away. The instructors paired us with other students for pair programming, and we worked on group projects. Every day I was interacting with other students and teachers.
Lambda School taught the course from the West Coast, which was three hours behind me in Florida. It was actually good for me because I didn't have to wake up as early as everybody else. Most people’s schedules were 9am to 6pm, but I started at 12pm and finished at 9pm.
Tell us about a typical day at Lambda School.
One good thing Lambda School does is to make sure students don’t focus on one topic all day long. At the beginning of every day, the very first thing you do is a code challenge. They give you an hour to work on it, then you start the morning lecture and you start learning things that have nothing to do with that code challenge. After that, you move on to working on either a project that was assigned to you the day before, or a new project. The topics get harder as they progress because you start working on multiple concepts at once.
Who were the other students in your class? Was your Lambda School class diverse?
Yeah, it was very diverse. I studied with students from all over the country, many different races, women and men, and all age ranges.
I liked that diversity a lot, because as a black man, especially in software engineering, I’m used to being the only other, the only person who is unique. Whereas at Lambda School, everybody has something unique about them, so that was really nice.
Lambda School actually has a completely blind entrance program where they don't know the gender or the race of the applicant at all; instead, they just see their answers to the application questions.
While you were at Lambda School, what was your favorite project that you worked on?
It was a personal project which I really took to heart. It was a crowdsourced dictionary for Haitian Creole. I built it with React, and I was very proud of it. Before Lambda School, I thought I would need two or three years of React experience before I would be able to build something like that.
How did Lambda School prepare you for job hunting?
Lambda School staff reviewed our LinkedIn accounts and our resumes, and told us where to go to apply for jobs depending on what our interests were. Whiteboard practice was the most helpful. Part of web development job interviews is solving problems on a whiteboard, and people can get nervous being put on the spot and having to code in front of other people. Practicing whiteboarding at Lambda School in front of the rest of the class made the hardest part of the job interview much easier.
Congratulations on your new job! Where are you working and what are you working on?
I'm a Senior Developer at Nexient LLC. It's in Ann Arbor, Michigan and I think the only completely US-based software services outsourcing company. It's a very big company, and we build software solutions for companies around the country. I've only been here for four weeks and love it. I moved to Michigan especially for the role.
How did you find the job at Nexient? What was the application process like?
I found it through a job listing website like Indeed or Dice. I sent Nexient my resume, then I got a callback. After that, I went through two interviews, then received my offer letter. During the interview, they tested I how much I knew and gave me a hard whiteboard question to test my knowledge. Because of that really hard interview process, I surprised myself by making it through.
The position I applied for was a senior developer role. I just decided that I wasn't going to be afraid to go for it, because my entire life, I’ve always tried to go for hard things.
How have your first couple of weeks on the job been? How did they onboard you and ramp you up?
Nexient is also a very diverse company, just like Lambda School. There are a lot of women here, and I work with one woman on my team. I like everybody that I've met so far.
Are you using the same programming languages that you learned at Lambda School or have you had to learn a new language on the job?
How is your previous background in web design useful in your new role as a developer?
It’s very useful. When I first started at Nexient, I asked my supervisor if I could restart one of my projects from scratch. I was able to come up with a whole new design for it, and it looks really nice.
Now that you have a job, have you started paying back your Lambda School tuition? How does that work?
Yeah. Once you start working and earning $50,000 or more, then you start paying 17% of your income. You pay that income-share for either two years or until you've paid $30,000.
What advice do you have for other people who are thinking about making a career change through an online coding bootcamp?
From my own personal experience, the coding bootcamp model does work, and it works well. As long as you dedicate the time and the energy towards it, you'll reap the benefits 10 fold.
That being said, it was really hard. With my personality, I’ve found that whenever things are hard, I enjoy them more. I focused hard on Lambda School because it was really hard and I ended up doing really well.
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 →
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 →
- If you don’t get a job making over $50,000 a year, then Lambda School doesn’t collect tuition.
- Your commitment: learning online, full-time, for 6 months.
- Lambda School is “synchronous” education, which means you’ll need to be online at 9am Pacific and learn with the rest of your cohort.
As the co-founder of Lambda School, what is your background and what inspired you to start an online coding bootcamp?
I was going to college for advertising and found that college was not a very effective use of my time. In fact, my co-founder and I both stumbled upon this idea. I was not in the financial position to afford a bootcamp, so I actually never attended one. I figured out everything on my own by reading books and building projects.
I wanted to create a more risk-free environment that was accessible to people that didn’t have $10,000 upfront. I had quite a few friends that did a coding bootcamp but didn’t have a good experience – $10,000 or more is a lot to spend at a bootcamp if you don’t get results. We created Lambda School because we wanted a bootcamp (plus a little more) that was free upfront and low risk for students.
Tuition is an important part of choosing the right bootcamp – explain why Lambda School chose to offer a deferred tuition model.
First, there are a lot of people who simply can’t afford to pay for a bootcamp upfront – that is obvious to anyone who has ever run a bootcamp. We’re so passionate about that idea that we don’t even require a deposit; it’s 100% free upfront. Even more than that, we wanted our incentives to be entirely aligned with those of the students. Part of our model is that if the student doesn’t get the job making over $50,000 a year, then we don’t make money. That’s very intentional. If we don’t do a good enough job, then we don’t get paid, and we think that’s fair. Bootcamps generally try really hard – but if a student pays $20,000 and can’t get a job, then that’s a really rough deal and we wanted to solve for that.
We knew we wanted to create a longer course with a lower price-point than other bootcamps. Deferred tuition requires upfront investment by a bootcamp. We could almost fund the deferred tuition model ourselves but partnering with Y Combinator to fund the model certainly helped. Y combinator has done a lot for us – we have about 50 hiring partnerships through them and they understand tech really well. They were primarily excited about Lambda School having a deeper computer science curriculum than the average bootcamp. Y Combinator companies will hire thousands of engineers a year and they need a deeper level of understanding if they’re building world-changing technology.
What should students expect with this new curriculum?
We spent a lot of time talking to different employers – we wanted to figure out why some employers will not consider hiring bootcamp graduates. We learned that the best bootcamps will teach data structures and algorithms, but most don’t, and that there are a lot of subjects that bootcamps don’t have time to cover. Subjects like computer architecture, operating systems, scaling – that was the knowledge that employers really wanted their employees to have. And bootcamp grads, almost by definition, don’t understand that material. It’s not that bootcamps do a bad job, but they literally don’t have the time to teach that material.
Lambda School is not just a coding bootcamp; we also include computer science as part of the curriculum. We’ll cover all the subjects that a bootcamp would, but we’ll also spend a few months giving a deeper understanding of computers and how they work, along with how to build apps to scale. Lambda School offers a more rigorous computer science lesson as opposed to just web development and web applications.
Has the Lambda School admissions process changed? Tell me about the ideal students for the new deferred tuition model.
When we were running a shorter bootcamp, we used the traditional interview and coding challenge.
Now, one of the most important parts of the Lambda School admissions process is that we are entirely race and gender blind. We’ve built an applications process that won’t let us interject our own biases as to which students we accept. We developed a logic-based challenge with behavioral scientists to determine which applicants have the highest aptitude for a technical career. The two things we really look for is innate technical ability and dedication, not necessarily how much you’ve programmed in the past. Can you think analytically? Can you think at a technical level? If you give us someone who is really dedicated and sharp, we know that 6 months later we’ll have a really solid engineer.
We also have pre-course work, and seeing a student complete that (especially quickly and thoroughly) also helps us know that they’re dedicated.
Are there time-zone requirements? Do students learn synchronously and need to be online at a certain time each day?
Yes. Students need to be available from 9 am to 6 pm Pacific. There is no way around this, because everything we do is interactive and live.
Do you expect students in different cities to see different outcomes?
In terms of students based in different locations, our main goal is to give as much access to as many people as we can. We originally wanted to host the bootcamp in San Francisco because that’s where the majority of our hiring partners are, but living costs here are expensive so it just didn’t make sense. We offer our bootcamp online so that people can attend from their own city without having to move and pay 6 months of SF rent.
There are more jobs in bigger cities, but there’s also more competition from them, so we’ve had a lot of success in smaller markets as well.
Is there required pre-work, or would you recommend taking a pre-course before Lambda School?
We’ve designed our own pre-course curriculum in-house. We actually want you to apply first and then we send you the pre-course work after your application. Once you’ve completed that pre-course work, then you can begin the application. You don’t need any coding experience before Lambda School – the pre-course material will take you through the basics. It may take you a little bit longer to get through based on where you are in your knowledge but we wanted to create a course where you can just get started and we’ll get you through the rest.
Do you have assessments or a way to track how students are progressing through the curriculum now that there is a new tuition model?
We bake that into the curriculum. Everything is live and interactive. We know that there are self-paced, online programs that show you a bunch of videos- we’re not that. Everyone learns through pair programming and working together with other instructors and students. We have a pretty good pulse on our students’ progress- we have daily challenges, and we’re working in Git, so students submit assignments to instructors and we’ll get those pull requests. Each weekly challenge is designed to see how students are doing in the class so that we can dedicate resources where needed.
Online education has a reputation for low completion rates. How do you keep students engaged while learning online?
It’s hard to discipline yourself when learning online – if you get stuck there’s no one to turn to and it’s easy to schedule your way out of the course. With Lambda School – we know when you’re online and we monitor when you’re working. There’s no difference between this and a formal classroom because we understand what people are doing throughout the course.
What types of instructors are teaching at Lambda School? How do they ensure success for their online students?
Our instructors have taught computer science at Stanford, come from the math program at Berkeley, and others have taught at coding bootcamps. We are matching Ivy league computer science knowledge with coding bootcamp expertise. We look for instructors who have experience teaching. There are a lot of people who are really good developers, but not as knowledgeable when it comes to teaching computer science. We do a good amount of training around ensuring our instructors know how to instruct. We usually give new instructors a trial run during our free mini-bootcamps that are open to the public. That gives us a good idea on whether we bring them on full-time.
Your incentives are pretty aligned with students getting jobs – how will career services work for students?
In the last few weeks of the course, we do resume preparation, update portfolios, practice for interviews, and code challenges. We have a career services team that’s there to help students find and land a new job. It all depends on geography. In the Bay Area we have a lot of connections and more partnerships. Outside of the Bay Area and New York, we do not yet have developed partnerships with every single geographic location, but we teach principles that help you find jobs.
What’s the biggest lesson your team has learned at Lambda School as you’ve been developing this new course?
First, don’t underestimate people. We’ve met some students who score well on the logic challenges, but for some reason when we talk with them we feel a little uncertain. Those are the people that always outperform. The people that you have to take a risk on and don’t have any other options – they prove that they’re really dedicated.
One of the biggest misconceptions that we battle is that applicants believe that Lambda School is too good to be true. They even think we’re a scam because it’s different to see a bootcamp that only gets paid if people land a job. Our team would love for everybody to completely understand the bootcamp world, but not everyone has exposure to this learning model. We were surprised at how many people were concerned with degrees and certificates as opposed to skill. If you spend enough time in Silicon Valley, you forget that that’s the way most people think. They don’t understand that degrees are not what matters anymore.
What is your advice for students embarking on a new online coding program? Any tips for getting the most out of it, especially if they are trying to change their careers?
Be honest with yourself about what you need. We see a lot of people who say they can teach themselves and that they are dedicated and hardworking, yet two years later they are in the same spot. My biggest recommendation is to understand that it’s okay to have help. It’s okay to have someone else write the curriculum. It’s really hard to learn things when you don’t entirely understand what you need to learn. Have humility, work hard, and be honest with yourself if a self-paced program isn’t working for you. Don’t be afraid to make the changes you need to provide a structure that works for you.
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 →
Haven’t had time to keep up with all the coding bootcamp news this March? Not to worry– we’ve compiled it for you in a handy blog post and podcast. This month, we read a lot about CIRR and student outcomes reporting, we heard from reporters and coding bootcamp students about getting hired after coding bootcamp, a number of schools announced exciting diversity initiatives, and we added a handful of new schools to the Course Report school directory! Read below or listen to our latest Coding Bootcamp News Roundup Podcast.Continue Reading →
How do you get a job after coding bootcamp if you have no relevant, real-world work experience? Only 1.4% of bootcampers have worked as developers in the past, but most career-changers have little – if any– client experience when they start looking for a developer job. Some bootcamps help students overcome this hurdle by offering opportunities to work for the bootcamp itself, or with real clients through projects, internships, and apprenticeships. These opportunities can give students substantial experience to add to their portfolios and resumes, and kickstart the job hunt.Continue Reading →
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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 →