Launch School is an online program for studious beginners whose goal is to become professional developers. The program focuses on fundamentals of programming and software engineering and guides students through a structured path of building up proficiency in software development.
The program consists of two main phases: Core Curriculum and Capstone.
The Core Curriculum uses a mastery-based learning pedagogy to teach fundamentals of software development. It takes approximately 1200-1800 hours (8-16+ months) to complete.
After that, there is an optional and admissions-based Capstone Program that's focused on helping students acquire career-launching opportunities. The Capstone Program takes 3 months full-time and employs an Income Sharing Agreement where students pay after they get a job offer.
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Recent Launch School Reviews: Rating 5.0
The Core Curriculum represents the "Study" phase of Our Pedagogy (https://launchschool.com/pedagogy) and is where we employ Mastery-based Learning (https://launchschool.com/mastery) and take a bottom-up teaching philosophy to help students build long-term mental representations of progressively more sophisticated and integrated concepts. Everything in the Core Curriculum is deemed fundamental and is mandatory.
- Minimum Skill Level
- Must be in "Study" phase of learning journey. See launchschool.com/pedagogy
- Prep Work
- Free prep work at launchschool.com
The Capstone Program
The Capstone Program is an optional, admissions-based, and final phase for students who have completed the Core Curriculum, which is our Mastery-Based Learning courses. The goal of the Capstone Program is to give students an intense finishing experience that results in a career-launching job. Because the end goal of Capstone is very ambitious, it requires in total 4 to 6 months of full-time focus, and possibly even longer. The first 3 months will be classroom instruction Monday-Friday all day; after that, there will be a 1-3 month Career Search process. All participants are selected among our top students from the Mastery-Based courses. It's not uncommon for Capstone participants to call it the hardest thing they've ever done. The projects, graduates, and salaries coming out of Capstone are outstanding and rival those at top-tier universities. See the Results & Outcomes page (https://launchschool.com/results).
- Minimum Skill Level
- Must have completed the Core Curriculum
- Prep Work
Launch School Reviews
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Soon after starting Launch School, I dropped out of college to study full-time with Launch School. I was a senior and close to graduation when I dropped out. Many people I knew called me crazy and doubt was thrown at me left and right. Despite this, I knew it was the right decision and I knew that if I persevered through Launch School's rigorous curriculum, I could prove to everyone else it was the right decision, too. Today, my life is proof that I made the right decision to trust Launch School. Launch School did nothing short of radically transforming my life and jump-starting my career.
I began Launch School with no programming experience beyond writing simple programs that would print silly messages to the standard output of the terminal. Over the course of about a year and a half, I progressed through the curriculum, logging in total thousands of hours in study and practice time. I embraced the rigor of Launch School and took the concept of "Mastery" as far as I could. Launch School caters to the highly motivated person who cannot accept sub-par performance or understanding. I knew this was the place for me because my own personal standards were high and Launch School was able to hold me to them in times of struggle, fatigue, and motivational lulls.
I received job offers for developer positions in my area before I had even finished the core curriculum. I was tempted to take them, but turned them down in order to participate in the Capstone Program and aim for the absolute best job I could get.
Capstone changed my life. Launch School poured resources into my success and they made sure I had money to live so that financial stress didn't derail my focus. After finishing Capstone, they helped me move to New York City, where I presented my project at speaking events, resulting in referrals from other engineers who were impressed with my work. Within two weeks of sending out my first application, I was getting contacted so often that I had to start turning away opportunities for interviews. I had the freedom to choose where I would work and I ended up accepting an incredible offer for a Software Engineer II position from a tech startup in Manhattan (I didn't apply for any entry level positions). It came with a signing bonus, a well over 100K starting salary, the flexibility to work in the office or remotely, and the opportunity to work closely - and be mentored by - very talented veterans in the field.
It's the best decision of my life and I wholeheartedly recommend Launch School for the serious-minded and motivated student who want to learn things well and are not ok with just surface-level awareness.
I came into Launch School previously as a "dabbler" & finally decided to get serious about learning web development & programming. I did a ton of research before choosing Launch School, and I'm so glad I found them. You can just take my word for it: if you want to learn programming or web development, there really is no better way! I believe it's because of their core philosophy that mastery-based learning & fundamentals are the foundation to a successful technical career, and I couldn't agree more. Their program is thorough & well-supported by TAs, and the online community is great.
Also, the world of programming is so deep that it's often difficult or overwhelming when trying to figure out a where to begin & what to study. They've distilled the core knowledge down in a logical progression of studies that will make you a well-rounded programmer when you're finished. I even believe I've learned how to learn better, and I've become a better problem-solver in general throughout the coursework. I personally wasn't looking to change careers, but I have highly recommended this course & their Capstone program to others that showed interest in that path. I've even met some new friends that were in the program locally & we still stay in touch. Overall the experience has been very rewarding.
I started Launch School with zero coding experience, and I am now gainfully employed as a programmer. I finished the core curriculum in just under a year. The transformation is long and certainly hard, but I don’t know of any curriculum – other than Launch School’s – that can teach web development fundamentals so well. Launch School is in a league of its own. I highly recommend it.
I studied with Launch School for a year and a half (10/2016 to 4/2018) and completed the Core Curriculum. I chose LS largely for the convenience of being able to work at my own pace and on my own schedule, but I gradually came to appreciate this program even more for its content, depth, and community. I'm glad I'll be able to start my career with confidence in the strong foundation LS has given me.
One of the first things I learned at Launch School is that programming is much more than learning a language. There are many concepts that are absolutely vital to understanding how any programming language works (variable scoping, referencing values in memory, etc). Equally important is having strategies for problem solving and debugging. Clear explanations and well-designed exercises throughout the program provide a ton of practice with all of the above (and develop language fluency at the same time).
Another benefit of Launch School is the support provided by TA’s, instructors, and other students. I regularly used the discussion forums for asking lesson-specific questions, and the Slack workspace for coordinating study groups with other students. The dozen or so assessments, spaced throughout the program, were very helpful interactions. We are asked to provide succinct but accurate explanations of various concepts in our own words, or to demonstrate concepts with examples. The feedback I received from this process deepened my understanding significantly.
It is clear that the Launch School team really cares about offering the best program they can. Their use of mastery based learning is an innovation that they believe in strongly, and they are continuously working to improve and update their materials.
While the Core Curriculum stops short of covering any of the various frameworks developers typically use today, I can attest that knowing the fundamentals well makes learning new frameworks relatively simple. I wholeheartedly recommend the program to anyone who is serious about learning real web developing and is willing to put in the time and effort to learn.
At the beginning of 2017, I started with the course. I had many doubts because there were several other programs on the Internet, but I was lucky to choose this one and I want to help other people who may be going through this situation.
If you are looking for a course where they teach you the fundamentals on which to build your career, this is the course for you. But if you're looking for shortcuts or something quick, then this is not your best option.
After having finished the course in 1 year and 4 months, I can say that today I feel with super powers because I have all the necessary knowledge to look for a job as a programmer or even start my own startup.
I have a HUGE happiness because it was a dream come true and the possibilities that I add to my career are spectacular.
If you sincerely want to be a professional programmer then I recommend what I did, spend a year and a few months of your life studying at Launch School, it will undoubtedly be your best decision.
I decided to start learning programming when I was 27. I tried many different resources on the Internet, either paid or free tutorials, but none of them really worked out. I mean, those are really great resources, however, I never felt I was able to achieve anything or build my own project after finishing the lessons. Then I came across Launch School.
I was looking for lessons that are systematic and intense. After browsing the syllabus of Launch School, I found it offers plentiful contents, not to mention great preparatory lessons and quality digital books. At Launch School, it's not about languages themselves. It's all about fundamentals and concepts. One of the instructors of Launch School used to tell me that any languages and frameworks can be out of date, and only if you have the solid understanding of the concepts of programming, you would be able to adapt yourself to the web development world.
I have been working as a Rails developer for almost 2 years. I might not be able to make this if I didn't choose Launch School. It's definitely one of the best decisions I have made in my life.
I’ve been with Launch School for over one year, and am happy to share that thanks to Launch School, I landed a Software Engineering Team Lead position at a multinational tech consultancy. Aside from being a good resource for beginners, Launch School has proven transformational to me as a prior startup founder with a few years of programming experiences and a MS in Software Engineering.
My intention with this testimonial is simple: no matter what cool things one has done, knowing things from the ground up is THE way to go in the long run. I’m currently half way through the Launch School curriculum, so I’ll focus on how the methodology sets me apart even when I’m not through with the curriculum.
Even a child can code. But does one know what’s going on under the hood? The zealous attention at Launch School to knowing “What does X mean?” or “What does this line of code do?” or “Why does it do X versus Y?” makes me more of a master than my Master’s degree has made me.
Interviewing is a skill in its own right, and it takes practice for one’s interviewing skill to catch up with his or her competence level. The requirement to pass interviews at Launch School motivates me to make this extra layer of coordination into an integral part of my problem solving (a.k.a. thinking out loud), facilitated by the emphasis on correct use of terminology.
One reading assignment in the orientation course makes points about the types of companies there are for a software engineer to launch a career, and also the differentiation between being in a cost center versus a revenue center. This talk is immensely helpful for me to persue companies that are worth moving forward with among the many options out there.
p.s. I gave a rating of n/a for job assitance because techincally they don't provide that in the core curriculum. I cannot speak for the Capstone program but I believe there's a lot more job search support in there.
My experience with Launch School was very positive. Learning to code can be extremely difficult, and with a seemingly endless array of computer science techniques and tools out there, it's not always apparent which direction one should go in. The LS curriculum's heavy focus on fundamentals is less about teaching you the newest parlor tricks, and more about building yourself into a person who can navigate the ever-changing landscape of web development with confidence and understanding. The old adage, "Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he'll eat for a lifetime", would appropriately describe their philosophy.
The Launch School curriculum is not easy and can sometimes seem very daunting, but if you are dedicated and are prone to self-study then you can gain a ton of invaluable knowledge and skills. It took me about 9 months of mostly full-time studying to complete the coursework. My brain got fried a few times along the way, but it was worth it! The instructors are really cool, and they are quite helpful at guiding you along the often difficult path. I also never felt that they were trying to sell me any BS, which is nice. This could be the program for you if you're looking for something that's more on the hardcore end of the spectrum.
It has been more than one year since I starting learning to program with Launch School.
Last but not the least, another thing that I like about the LS community is the writing and sharing of articles by students. You’ll see students do some wonderful things and go through a great learning experience and then write about that. Others might have a question and by asking and getting an answer, other students may also learn something in the process. Some former and current students have spoken at various conferences worldwide. Things like that inspire you to do something similar. I’m happy to announce that I’ll be one of the speakers at the Ruby Conference in Taiwan later this year. Although it’s probably not as prestigious as the American version and my topic is the Elixir language, I have to say thank you Launch School! Thank you for creating this wonderful learning experience.
Before joining Launch School I had worked 4 months as a programmer but never really felt confident in my skills as a developer, so after reading the rave reviews from past students I decided to join so I could pick up solid software engineering skills (like TDD, BDD and others). Launch School takes you all the way to the beginning, teaching you programming fundamentals from scratch. Because I had programmed before, it started out easy for me, but quickly picked up steam.
You can read my full experience through-out the program here. Every step of the way through-out Launch School, you will be getting delightful 'aha' moments, and there is also a very supportive community that is available if you need to ask a question or want to help someone else.
The whole curriculum is amazingly well-thought-out and slowly builds your skills and your confidence.
My initial thought was that I would spend 3 months on the program, I ended up doing well over 10 months, so expect to invest a lot of time and hard work in this program, but I can tell you that it is truly worth it, and because you pay in monthly instalments instead of one big lump sum, I think the program is very affordable.
This program is the real deal and I can't say enough good things about it.
I have been taking Launch School's courses for about 8-months now and I'm going out of my way to write a review because of how well I have enjoyed their courses. I have taken all of their beginning back-end courses, some of the advanced back-end courses and am just starting their front-end courses.
It took me a long time to find online programming courses this good - I've tried almost every other online one out there and Launch School is the best for a number of reasons. First, their content is by far the best you will find online. Everything is enjoyable to learn, accurately taught, and you will complete each course with a wholesome understanding of the subjects. Second, they teach mastery based learning. This is one part of Launch School that took me a few months to really accept as the best way to learn. As long as you take the time to do all of the assignments (and they all are important) you will really master the subjects they are teaching and you will have a very good idea about where you stand with the material. After almost every class they mandate a "interview" with them to be sure that you're really grasping everything they teach. This is a crucial part about why I think their graduates will be more successful than other online schools.
I think there is a ton of awful online material and competition in this space right now but I could not say enough good things about Launch School. I have recommended Launch School to tons of other people and I cannot say enough good things about it.
Thanks to the thorough curriculum at Launch School and the boundless effort and support of the instructors and TAs, I am now working as a software developer for one of the largest MOOC platforms in the world.
I can honestly say that a couple of years ago, even in my wildest dreams, I wouldn't have believed I would be working as a professional software developer at the age of 26 (with no college degree in Computer Science either!).
I tried many, many online programs and courses over the past couple of years, but the big difference with Launch School is that the curriculum is designed to allow anyone to gradually work up to the level of a professional junior software developer at their own pace. No other course out there goes into as much depth as Launch School. I can personally testify to this - in the first month of my job my mentor was extremely surprised how wide my knowledge base was, especially in topics such as Object-Oriented Design, Continuous Intregration and TDD.
Take one of the preparatory courses for free and get your foot in the door - you've got nothing to lose!
I participated in the Capstone Mentoring Program from January to April of 2016. It was a completely transformative experience and proved absolutely invaluable in my transition to a software engineer at a reputable and successful company in NYC. The fact of the matter is that I simply would not have been provided the top quality job opportunity that I ultimately accepted if it wasn't for the process that we followed and the mentoring that we were given.
If you are thinking about whether this program is right for you, the most appropriate advice that I could provide is this: be absolutely certain that you are willing to be unconditionally dedicated to this process. Kevin and Chris are not lying when they tell you that it will be hard work and that you will have to make a significant sacrifice in order to be successful in this program. You are going to work very, very hard. You should be prepared to allocate at least 60 hours of your time per week to the program. Expect to have daily meetings with your capstone peer and mentor and to fully immerse yourself. You will come out of it a changed person.
The program begins with a review and strengthening of your fundamentals - programming, problem solving, databases, algorithms, and general web development concepts. All of which is supplemented by an ongoing bookclub where you will have daily reading assignments and discuss/present your opinions on the assigned chapters each day. The books will introduce you to new concepts and importantly provide you with an opportunity to work on discussing your opinions across a range of material; excellent preparation for the interview process.
Quickly, you will move into daily pair programming with a capstone peer where you will review and dissect major open source applications together. You will also take ownership of reviewing discrete pieces of those applications and present your work during your daily meetings. Throughout this entire process, your mentor will be giving you constant realtime feedback and insight, helping solidify concepts and pushing you in the appropriate direction to accelerate your development.
Before you know it, you will be brainstorming with your peer and mentor regarding your capstone project. The process of coming up with ideas, settling on one, and then actually building something could be the whole program in-and-of-itself. You will pair program, work closely with your mentor, and put absolutely everything you have into it. You will live it and breathe it for several weeks. When it is ready, you will show it off. And it will blow people away. I cannot say enough about how well our capstone project was received by the community. It impressed even the most senior developers because it went so far beyond the typical “Yelp clone” project that would be expected of a bootcamp graduate and because it presented significant challenges at both the engineering and product management levels. It was our capstone project and presenting it at a meet up in NYC that raised the eyebrows of a senior developer at the company where I ultimately accepted a position.
With your capstone project completed you will move into the final phase of the program - interview prep and interviewing. In addition to pursuing any opportunities arising from your capstone project, you will select the companies you want to apply to and work with your mentor to strategize on how best to apply and who to apply to first. In parallel, you will drill hard in preparation for your technical interviews. Mock interviews and whiteboard sessions, code challenges, anything that may present itself during your technical interviews will be discussed and drilled on a daily basis so that you can go into those interviews confident and ready to further impress. At the end of the program your mentor will help you negotiate salary/compensation and weigh the pros and cons of any competing offers.
Throughout the process I attended several meet ups in the NYC area and had a chance to chat with several other students who were either currently taking courses with, or recent graduates of, other bootcamps. When I described LaunchSchool's curriculum and its Capstone Mentoring Program to them, the response was unanimous. They simply could not believe how much more in depth we go at every level. After being out in the community and speaking with several similarly-situated folks I can confidently say that this program is at the very top of the list. Make no mistake about it, this is where it’s at.
Your mentor is with you the entire way, from program kickoff to the signed offer. It will be bittersweet when you sign off of that last google hangouts session — but everyone signs off with a big smile and a feeling of true accomplishment. If you are serious about your engineering career, willing and able to put everything you have into the process and setting yourself up for success at the onset, I cannot recommend this process any more highly. What happens is nothing short of amazing.
I completed Launch School's Capstone Mentoring program with a job offer in hand last November. Launch School paved the way for me to save a significant amount of time in my education with software development. Before I go on to extoll the virtues of the program, let me tell you a little about me. I'm 30 years old and before Launch School my familiarization with computers was not much beyond Facebook and word processing. Launch School taught me everything from how to use the command line to OOP and far beyond. Launch School offers two main components: a supported self-paced online bootcamp, and a capstone mentoring arrangement (the Capstone Mentoring) where they help you bridge the gap to employment. It didn't take me long to appreciate the strength of their learning material and of their community (which includes very dedicated TAs who are easy to get a hold of).
But I'd rather talk about the thing that made the difference from mildly experienced beginner to employed with a junior position. This was going through the mentoring sessions with Kevin. He was with me every step of the way and remained devoted to my success and was flexible enough to accommodate my learning style and pacing. The meat of what we worked on, after brushing up the fundamentals, was a more significant Ruby project.
Throughout the process, Kevin showed incredible empathy, knowing when to kick my butt a little more and when to back off to give me a little space. At one point, he made the analogy to being a personal trainer. The image couldn't be more apt. After all, he spent relatively little time in the weeds with me, instead pointing me in the right direction to figure out technical details myself (isn't that was StackOverflow is for?) and kept a masterly handle on where I was, how I was progressing, and what should come next in the process. He knew when to dig in on a project and when to abandon ship and move on to something else. Let's face it, we're all human and fundamentally lazy so both a personal trainer and Kevin are there to keep us motivated. Working on code in a vacuum, alone in front of a computer, can be very lonely and indeed distressing. But when someone else is depending on you to get a job done, that extra bit of motivation helps with the worst moments of lethargy and resistance.
I couldn't recommend Launch School more highly to someone who wants to learn to code (and get a job at it!) but cannot do an in-person bootcamp for whatever reason. For some, Launch School may even be a superior learning environment compared to an in-person bootcamp. For me, it was the perfect mix of hands-on vs. freedom and hard pushing vs. giving time to breathe and consolidate knowledge. Lastly, Kevin is an incredibly congenial mentor and serves as a secure anchor in an otherwise very bumpy and uncertain ocean.
I studied Law and Economics and got a job in administration. I soon found out that this job wasn't for me and I found out that writing code was a lot of fun. Before joining Launch School I was learning web development on my own for 2 years. I went through courses and videos on Youtube, CodeSchool, TeamTreehouse, Lynda.com, etc.
I learned a lot but I lacked the fundamentals and problem solving skills that good employers are searching on the market. Launch School gave me a lot of knowledge on web development. We did a lot of coding challenges with the instructors and when I got my first job interview I was able to answer most of the technical questions and finish coding exercises they gave me.
Launch School also provides weekly live sessions. This is basically pair programming with an awesome programmers such as Chris or Kevin and what I've learned is that programmers are stuck with coding problem a lot more that I imagined. But when I took other online courses this was not obvious. Teachers were writing code without any mistakes and without searching the documentation on the web. At Launch School you will see the reality and the instructors will tell you the truth about learning to program.
If you would ask me what are the most important things to get from novice to job ready. I would say,
- Get great teachers
- Learn and practice on the fundamentals
- Read and write code every day
There are a lot of resources on the web to learn and practise coding. But getting great teachers that would help and guide you on your learning journey is probably the hardest thing to get on your own. You can get everything listed above and more at Launch School. All you need to do is devote your time and energy and learn every day for few hours.
I am grateful that Launch School exists. It helped a lot of people to get their dream jobs. I still can't believe that I went from a job that was basically shuffling papers to a job that lets me build an app for Olympic games.
Our latest on Launch School
Sun-Li Beatteay studied Oceanography in college, but after bouncing between jobs as a research tech, a barista, and a firefighter, he was ready to start a new career in tech. After a nudge from his wife who works in tech and some research online, Sun-Li found Launch School, a year-long online software engineering school. Learn how to stay motivated when learning online, whether the longer curriculum was worth it, and how this Launch School grad skipped entry-level to land a software engineering job at DigitalOcean!
Tell me about your career and education background. What made you want to switch careers?
I graduated college with an Oceanography degree. There weren’t many jobs in oceanography so for three years after college, I did odd jobs trying to find something that I really enjoyed. I worked as a research lab tech, a barista, I volunteered with AmeriCorps for a year helping low-income families with taxes, and I was a firefighter.
I eventually met my girlfriend, now wife, who is in the tech industry and she introduced me to the field of software development. I had an interest in coding before college, so I met with developers through her, got introduced to the tech community, and realized that it wasn’t too late to break into the industry.
After AmeriCorps, I studied physical therapy for a year. I applied to graduate school but was rejected. That was when I thought, "Okay, I can either wait another year to try to apply to grad school again or I can try tech and see if I get better results.
Did you have any coding experience? How did your path lead to Launch School?
I did a bit of self-teaching prior to Launch School. My very first lines of code were written in January 2016. I took online courses from Lynda and Treehouse. My first project was building my wife's portfolio website. For three months, I worked on her website and I was very new to web development, so it took me a while. I then thought, "Maybe I have enough skills to do this, but I'm not sure self-teaching is the best route. I want to have more structure." So that's why I started researching learning alternatives.
I found Launch School after searching on Google, and using Quora and Reddit. I looked at different options – either getting a certificate, going back to get a CS degree or a coding bootcamp. I was pretty familiar with Course Report so I did a lot of research on the site and found Launch School there.
What made you choose Launch School over other coding bootcamps?
I did a lot of research. I realized, "Okay, a bootcamp’s direct purpose is for learning to code quickly and switching careers." I didn't go to a traditional bootcamp like Hack Reactor because of finances, as many were asking for $10,000 to $15,000 up front. I was working as a rehab technician at a physical therapy clinic at the time so I was not making much money, and didn't want to take out more loans. So I tried to find something where I could learn quickly in a program focused on career switching, but at the same time was affordable and more self-paced.
I was really drawn to Launch School because they had an “anti-marketing” campaign – "Don't do this program unless you're really focused. It's really hard. It's tough. It's going to challenge you. Don't do this if you're looking for a quick fix." It made me want to attend an elite program that would challenge me. If I was able to go through this, I would have the skill set needed to go into the software engineering job market.
I was also drawn to their approach to learning, which is mastery based, as opposed to the bootcamp model which attempted to cram through all of web development in a few weeks. I wanted an elite program at a reasonable cost, which didn't seem possible, but here was Launch School at that intersection. It was the perfect fit for me.
Describe your application and interview process at Launch School. How did you feel about that process?
Launch School doesn't have a traditional application process since it's not a traditional bootcamp. The first thing that they want you to do is their free prep courses which determines if the school is right for you. You learn about Launch School, and figure out if you want to continue with the paid courses or not. A book called "Mastery" is required reading before you start, which focuses on the mastery-based learning paradigm. The free prep courses are in themselves very good in terms of getting started, and that essentially is the admissions process. If you can get through that, then you can consider their courses.
Describe the curriculum at Launch School. When did you attend?
I started Launch School in August 2016. I quit my job in Seattle and moved to the East Coast with my wife. I studied at Launch School full-time and finished the Core Curriculum in July 2017.
Launch School has two almost completely different programs: Core Curriculum and Capstone. Launch School’s methodology is that different pedagogies are required for different phases of learning.
How was your learning experience? What were some of the highlights of the course?
The Core Curriculum has an assessment model where you can't continue until you pass an assessment. Launch School models the assessment like a real job interview because everyone needs to be prepared for the software developer job market. All the assessments are very job interview focused – they each usually have a written component and a live coding component, to demonstrate that you've been learning the material sufficiently.
You also have the mock live interviews, which, having gone through real job interviews just a couple months ago, I would say is a very accurate process. The Launch School team will ask you in-depth questions and have you solve different coding problems that challenge what you just learned in the course. I thought the entire Core Curriculum was great for getting each student ready to tackle the job market as a software engineer.
How was the interaction with other students? Did you work on projects together?
For the Core Curriculum, the majority of the projects I did were individual, but Launch School has a vibrant Slack channel. I was very active in the Slack community, so I made a good number of friends and I still love talking to them. Launch School's Core Curriculum is self-paced because you can only progress after passing an assessment, so there aren't any team-based projects in this phase.
For Capstone, it is more like a traditional bootcamp and all projects were team-based and there were intense and intimate discussions with others all day every day.
I loved answering questions posed in the Slack channel by students earlier in the program. Answering questions reaffirmed my learning by teaching others.
Describe your final Capstone Project at Launch School.
For the last two months of the Capstone Program, you're working on a project. The instructors really push the students to make something non-trivial. For my capstone project, I worked with a remote team of three people to build Conclave, a decentralized peer-to-peer collaborative text editor. You can think of it as Google Docs, but without a central third party server. Pretty much every person who's collaborating on a single document is connected directly to each other – it's all peer to peer. It was very technically challenging – we had to read white papers, open source code, and we did a lot of research on peer to peer systems, data structures, and conflicting operations. We were using Google Docs a lot while in the capstone program, so we thought maybe we could try to remove the third party server so whenever people communicate together they are in control of the data. Everyone was really impressed with the project.
What languages did you use to build Conclave?
How did you balance your time while learning online? Did you work or do an internship while studying?
It was a range, but during the Core Curriculum, I would try to work on Launch School between 30 to 40 hours a week full-time. Some weeks I might drag a little bit, and on some really productive weeks, I’d work more than 40 hours. It's up to you in terms of what's sustainable. Once you get to Capstone, however, it is mandatory full-time and is 50-60+ hours per week.
I did do a brief internship at a design studio for a couple of months while I was doing Launch School. While I did that I would spend more 20 to 40 hours studying. I was more than halfway through the Core Curriculum and wanted to try my chances at getting a job. It wasn't the most interesting position because I mainly took Photoshop files and Sketch files from the designers and then made interactive static websites with them. I was at first super excited about that position, but I quickly got jaded by it. After that experience, I wanted to double down on my learning from Launch School because I knew I could land a better role. And I did, a much better role.
Do you have any tips for staying motivated while learning to code online?
For me, one of the reasons I was so motivated was because there was no Plan B. Programming was my only option. I know people tend to hedge their bets and have a fallback. I didn't – I was fully committed.
Since I was studying by myself at home, there were some weeks where I got lonely. Whenever it got really tough, I’d reach out to the developer community and other engineers, which helped a lot. That's why I would be very active in the Launch School Slack channel and I would go to Meetups in New York to meet other other developers.
There are points where you just stop and you look back and think, "Wow, I've learned so much just in the past like few months." Taking a moment to stop and see how much you've learned can be really motivating to keep learning.
How did Launch School prepare you for job hunting and interviewing?
Launch School definitely helped me a lot, especially in New York, the job market is so competitive. The Capstone Program taught us a lot about data structures, algorithms, and systems design – all the things you see on typical interviews in New York. Whenever I walked into a room and saw a whiteboard, I would say to myself, "I got this."
I started applying to jobs in January 2018 and accepted my position at DigitalOcean on March 2018.
How did that Capstone Project help you with your job search?
My final project was probably the biggest determining factor when it came to me landing a job. One of the toughest aspects about going to the job market from a coding bootcamp or from a non-traditional background is you don't have much work experience. It's pretty tough because interviewers are thinking, “Can this person really work and do what we need them for?" Having that Capstone Project on my resume and having a demo that people can use, showed employers that I can do technically challenging projects. That Capstone Project was well worth participating in Launch School.
Also, the fact I built Conclave with a remote team was very helpful because experience working on a remote team is attractive to employers. At DigitalOcean, most of my team is working remotely.
How did you get your job at DigitalOcean? Did Launch School help with that introduction?
Landing my job at DigitalOcean was a lot of luck and effort. Once you finish Capstone, Launch School encourages you to do coffee meetings since the best way to get a job is through referrals. Being in New York I knew a lot of people who used DigitalOcean and really liked it, so DigitalOcean was my number one company I wanted to work for.
I had a mutual connection with an engineer at DigitalOcean who also does a podcast that I liked. I reached out to him for coffee and we had an awesome meeting where I showed him my Conclave project, and he showed me other projects he was working on. I was able to get a direct referral from him to DigitalOcean. But then, I didn't hear anything back after the referral.
I kept interviewing and got a couple of offers from other companies, so I emailed DigitalOcean’s recruiter to let them know that I had offers but I was still really interested in working there. They got back to me the next day and they scheduled my phone screen interviews immediately. After my phone screen, my (now) manager really liked me, so they brought me in for an onsite interview. The very next day I got an offer so it was very fast!
Congrats on the new job! What is your role and how large is your team?
DigitalOcean’s Storage pillar is broken up into two different teams – you have the storage back end, and then the storage front end or storage apps. I'm a software engineer on the storage apps team. We have four engineers, a project manager, and our engineering manager. We're pretty much all remote except for me in New York.
What's a typical day like for you on the job?
Now I’m working on a content delivery network (CDN) component. We're working on partnering with third-party companies to allow users who host their static content on our Spaces product to enable a CDN for faster retrieval. I'm working on the public API that will allow users to enable a CDN for their DigitalOcean storage.
How was the learning curve of acclimating to the team and being at a tech company like DigitalOcean?
I have grown so much. The ramping up period was very quick because our team is small. There are lots of tasks that get shared around, and everyone gets a chance to take a large bite of everything. I was able to work on a bunch of different tasks straight away because of my strength in fundamentals. One engineer took the first two weeks to onboard me, and if I had questions, he would pair with me and tell me the tips and tricks of DigitalOcean. He taught me the different idiosyncrasies of DigitalOcean’s architecture and it was really awesome. I felt that Launch School prepared me really well to absorb new material, and their philosophy of learning fundamentals very well really kicks in when you're in a work environment and have to learn new concepts quickly.
Would you have got to where you are today by continuing to self-teach? Would you have landed your new job without Launch School?
I would not be where I am today in the tech industry in the same amount of time if I had not done Launch School. It may have been possible to figure out a good structure for myself with self-teaching, but it definitely would’ve taken a lot longer, because I was learning everything at a surface level. It's very difficult to know what you should learn, to what depth, and for how long. Launch School addressed all those questions and in Capstone, even more questions around career and growth.
What has been your biggest challenge or roadblock in this journey to becoming a software developer?
The biggest issue that Launch School students usually face is the time issue, because bootcamps are quicker. Hack Reactor and App Academy take a matter of months, while at Launch School, because it’s self-paced, can take much longer. It's a tradeoff – in the tech industry, there's time, money, and then adequacy or effectiveness of training. You can have a really quick course but spend a lot of money and don’t get a thorough understanding of the fundamentals. That's why I chose to go with Launch School – you're trading off time because it's going to be a longer process.
By the time I finished Launch School, even though it was a little longer than a typical bootcamp, I felt that in the long-term my journey would be much faster because I understand the fundamentals. I have fewer mental gaps and can learn more advanced topics much faster. That extra year of studying was also worth it to me because I skipped the “entry-level” job at Digital Ocean and went straight into a Software Engineering job.
What advice do you have for people who are thinking about making a career change and considering an online coding bootcamp?
Go for it! Studying remotely will definitely be worth it if you put the time in, master your fundamentals, and work on being the best engineer you can be. It’s going to be tough and will require all the mental fortitude you can muster. However, it’s going to change your life for the better. It’s worth every second.
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 →
For some students, the traditional 12-week, full-time coding bootcamp may not seem like enough time to acquire the skills that employers want. As the coding bootcamp industry has evolved, longer coding bootcamps such as Turing, Galvanize, C4Q, Ada Developers Academy, Learner's Guild, CODE University, Holberton School, Make School, We Think Code, and 42 have emerged with courses ranging from 6 months to 5 years. These schools emphasize computer science concepts, offer apprenticeships, and provide in-depth, cutting-edge technology education, without the opportunity cost of a traditional computer science degree. Think a longer coding bootcamp could be for you? Start your research here.Continue Reading →
NOTE: This Q&A may be outdated. Tealeaf Academy is now Launch School.
Matthew Barram had done some website development for his side-business, but had doubted his ability to be a full-time web developer. Based in Brisbane, Australia and too far from in-person developer bootcamps, Matthew decided on Tealeaf Academy, the online, mentored Ruby on Rails bootcamp. Find out what convinced Matthew of the Tealeaf approach, how Tealeaf manages to create a supportive cohort of students online, and how he landed a job as a developer at NetEngine.
What were you up to before you started Tealeaf?
Before and during the Tealeaf course I was doing project management work on big infrastructure projects. On the side I owned and recently sold a business called DoneItNow which does audio transcription.
I was exposed to software development through DoneItNow, having to develop the company website. I am passionate about making great solutions for people and so I decided I needed to learn how to code. Before this time I had doubted my abilities to be a developer and I wasn't confident that I could do it. This desire to solve problems took me to Tealeaf Academy.
Did you quit your job when you decided to do the Tealeaf course?
During the whole Tealeaf program I was working full time. It required a fair bit of dedication outside of my job, but it wasn't an issue and I was able to make it through.
Did you have any technical background before you decided to apply to Tealeaf?
I’d done a bunch of Codecademy and Code School courses beforehand. I enjoyed them but never felt like I learnt anything substantial from them. I had also project managed a few technical projects include a the development of an inhouse iPad app.
When did you do the bootcamp?
I started it in November 2013 and it took me 4 months.
What was your motivation for doing it?
Wanting to solve problems was the biggest one. I had things in my everyday life that I wanted to be able to do better and more efficiently. I also wanted to do something different and continue learning.
At the time I didn't even consider that I would end up working as a developer.
Is your plan to launch your own product eventually?
Yes. I’ve got a few products that I’m working on at the moment. Nothing particularly exciting- just solving problems that I have. They’re more like applications to continue my learning and to have fun with at the same time.
Once you decided you wanted to do a bootcamp, why did you decide to do an online program over an in-person boot camp?
I live in Brisbane, Australia. There are some bootcamps in Sydney, which is a much bigger city than Brisbane. I looked at those and they cost $12,000 to $15,000. But because I was working full time and didn't want to move I ruled them out as options. I also looked at Thinkful and Bloc. I selected Tealeaf because they focused on awesome content, hard work and support.
It was also easy to get started as the first course was only four weeks and a few hundred dollars. If I didn't like it I wouldn't have wasted lots of money and time. This was reassuring from an initial purchase perspective.
What was the application process like for you?
I had a bunch of questions I wanted answered from the Tealeaf team. As far as their standards go, they’re very clear that it’s not an easy program and is not designed for people who are doing it as a hobby. They’re doing it to educate people who want to get a job in the sector or develop their own product. It was clear from the outset to only apply if you’re serious.
I didn’t feel like the interview process was intimidating because students sign up and if it’s not right for them, they are free to leave at anytime.
Were you interacting with other students throughout the program?
Absolutely. It was an essential part of the program for me! I would have my chat window open and all the students would be in the chatroom. We would help each other out with questions and problems.
I’m quite good friends with a lot of the students in my cohort now. That was something I enjoyed about the course, the way that relationships between the students were formed. It made it easy to keep on track.
Were you working with a mentor or were you working one-on-one with an instructor?
We had several teachers throughout the program. All the teachers were super supportive and great to work with. I valued how all the instructors and teaching assistants took lots of time to make sure I understood the content on a deep level.
There were forums where I could ask a question in at anytime. I would get an answer really fast, which meant if I was stuck on Friday night I didn't have to wait until the following week to get support.
How personalized did you feel Tealeaf was to your needs? Did you feel that you could learn things that weren’t a part of the curriculum or did you all stick pretty closely to a curriculum?
I thought the course had a good mix of structure and flexibility. We would get a clear course outline of the things that we were going to learn and also the flexibility to learn about other things of interest. I remember we had did a bunch of sessions outside of the normal curriculum to show us how to build a web server from scratch. We asked for it and we got it, it was fantastic.
Why are the courses split into a Ruby course, a Sinatra course, and then a Rails course?
As someone who had very little programming experience, if I was to be thrown into Rails, it can look very much like “magic”. For example, I type one line and thousands of lines of code appear. I needed to understand what was happening before starting to use the “magic”
During the first two courses, you’re learning the foundations of how Rails actually works. It allowed me to have a different perspective on Rails when I actually got to it.
How long were you spending on Tealeaf each week on average?
I’d say between 20 and 30 hours a week on average, that was mainly in the evenings and on weekends.
My advice to other potential Tealeaf students when it gets hard, stick with it. It is worth it. For me, I just had to stick with it to come out the other side with the actual knowledge and understanding.
How did you stay on track?
It was the connections with the other students and having people that I could talk to and chat with. It reminded me that I’m not the only one going through this.
Tell us about what you’re doing now. Where are you working?
I work at a software solutions company called NetEngine. I work on a bunch of applications such as our team collaboration tool Trigger. We’re a small rails shop with a focus on quality and awesome solutions.
I enjoy getting to put into real life practice the skills and knowledge I learnt during the Tealeaf program. It is fun working with other developers (some a lot more experienced than me). They’re always helpful, always happy to answer questions. I think Tealeaf Academy set me up for that.
At Tealeaf they do everything as if it’s within a real company. They do things like sending pull requests and having experienced developers do code reviews. I use the same system of code review at work that we used during the Tealeaf program.
How did you get your job? Was it through Tealeaf?
One of the assignments was to go to a meetup. I didn’t want to go, but I forced myself to do it because it was part of my assignment. I met someone through there and before I knew it I was working as a developer.
Is there anything we didn’t touch on that you want to include about Tealeaf?
One of the things I really appreciated about Tealeaf how good it was for someone living outside the USA timezone. Being in Australia, even though my time-zone is completely different to the U.S. time zones, I was still able to get support anytime.
For people who aren’t in the U.S. or near an in-person bootcamp, an online one is probably the only option for a lot of people. For me, to get support in my time-zone is important, otherwise I’d be waiting 12 hours or more for a reply.
I think Tealeaf Academy is ideal for anyone serious about learning to code wherever they live in the world. It has helped me land a job doing what I love - coding and building applications.
Online, mentored coding bootcamps offer convenience and structure without forcing you to quit your job or move to a new city. But not all online programs were created equally, so which one is right for you? We'll learn from alumni at each online coding bootcamp, ready to answer your questions about their experience during class, how they found mentorship and community online, and how their careers have skyrocketed afterwards.Continue Reading →
NOTE: This Q&A may be outdated. Tealeaf Academy is now Launch School.
Tealeaf Academy is an online, Rails bootcamp that offers three robust courses in web development for students with varying levels of experience. We talk to Kevin Wang, a cofounder of Tealeaf, about what makes their online program effective and the types of students who excel in their courses.
How did Tealeaf start? What’s the story behind it?
We started about 2 years ago, before there were many coding bootcamps. My cofounder, Chris, and I just wanted to teach. We ran the first course in February 2012 under a different name - RailsTutors. We both came from a software development background. Chris went through a few senior technical roles before building and launching his own startup; I worked for one of the top Ruby shops in the world, after spending a few years building technical training solutions for IBM's Data Management division.
Take us through the curriculum. What will students master after going through your program?
We designed the curriculum to mirror the natural learning path for a junior developer. First, we guide our students to learn foundational skills and the basics of the Ruby programming language. You move on to learn a specific toolset- we focus on Ruby on Rails. Then, we take our students beyond this, to learn how to build a project. Learning to code is not enough, in our opinion. It’s about learning to be a programmer, solve complicated problems, and apply tools towards specific projects in a methodical way. That’s why we divided Tealeaf into three courses.
Our curriculum is designed to take our students beyond just a beginner level developer. The truth is, it is not so difficult to read a book, follow a tutorial, or launch a simple, toy app and become a beginner web developer. It is, however, very difficult to reach the next level of proficiency without professional working experience. Our program is designed to bridge that gap. We don’t want you to leave our program and still feel like a beginner; we want to take you far along enough and introduce you to the workflows, concepts, tools and best practices of experienced developers. Of course, you will need more practice to let things settle, but we will have expanded your horizon much broader than just learning a framework and building a simple prototype.
In fact, our graduates have told us that when they talk to graduates of other in-person bootcamp programs, they feel that they (our graduates) know much more and have much more confidence. We’ve had people who run consultancies, CTOs send their experienced developers to go through our 3rd course. As far as I know, nowhere else online can you find this type of non-beginner , profession level training program.
What are you looking for in potential students? Do students need to have a technical or programming background?
Our philosophy is that anyone who wants to learn to be a developer, we’re willing to teach them. But we tell our students that it won’t be easy and they have to work hard to become a professional-level developer. One of the goals of our first course is to show complete beginners how real programmers work and think, and solve problems systematically. It's not just introducing the programming syntax, but introducing a mindset and temperament.
So you never reject an applicant?
It’s not that we reject them, but we talk with each of them. We’re not a good fit for everyone, so we explain our structure, and our teaching philosophy. For some people, this is not the best fit, so we may suggest Bloc, Thinkful, or an in-person program.
What makes you different from Bloc & Thinkful?
The biggest difference is that we focus on depth. It’s very easy to become a beginner- there are a lot of materials out there, and it’s not too difficult for someone to use a tutorial or a book to build an application. But if you look at where companies are hiring, they’re looking for people with more experience. We take you further than any other bootcamp, which includes online and in-person programs. I’ve visited a lot of in-person bootcamps myself and we actually have many graduates from the in-person bootcamp, and they skip the first two courses and start in our 3rd course. Even after their weeks of training, they still haven’t gone deep enough. We want to take our students to an intermediate level, get them exposed to non-trivial problems and learn to build production quality applications.
Even though Tealeaf is online, is there any in-person aspect of the program?
We staff TAs, we have about 10-15, all over the world. In a week, we have five days of TA-led sessions, where our students can come in with questions and get help- we’re around to help them. We also have a running chatroom for quick help.
Do you have cohorts, or are your students all on their own track?
We have a prep course, which everyone has to take. It's fully supported by us, including live interactive sessions - we want to make sure our students are well prepared to go through our intensive program. There’s no time limit on that. Then, we have monthly start dates, and students can complete it at their own pace. The 3 courses are designed to take 4 weeks, 4 weeks, and 8 weeks to finish, respectively, but students are free to take longer time if necessary. We charge by courses, not time spent with us - our students pay us for specific goals, and we want to make sure we deliver values and match their expectations.
How many students have gone through Tealeaf?
That’s a hard question, because we now have three courses. We’ve probably had about 100 people go through all three courses, but some people do one or two courses.
Does Tealeaf offer a refund policy?
Yes, a full refund. For two reasons: first, our program may not be the best fit for everyone, so if someone realizes that, then we don’t want to take their money. They can take those funds and put them towards a better experience for them. We don’t do one-on-one tutoring, but someone might benefit more from that. Second, we want to take the pressure off of our students. If they commit, we’ll take them there, but we want to remove the risk.
How many of your students are outside of the US?
About half & half. We’re online, so we don’t push people away if they’re not in the US. Antarctica is the only continent we don’t have students in.
Does Tealeaf help graduates find jobs in tech once they've completed the program?
Chris and I have professional experience in the US, so our network and connections are most relevant to people in the US. We have used our connections and contacts to help students get an introduction, but because we have students from all over the world, we can't provide a guarantee. Also, we get a lot of professional developers,or existing Rails developers who are already employed. And we have companies who send their employees to be trained with us. We’re not purely a get-a-job school.
With in-person bootcamps, after you spend over $10,000 and take 3 months off of work, you’re probably going to be looking for a job, because that’s a huge investment. But we’re flexible, online, and more affordable, so we have a more diverse body of students with different goals.
If a student sticks to the schedule of the program, what is their time commitment?
It depends on the experience level. For a professional developer, maybe 15 hours/week. Someone with less experience could spend 20-30 hours/week.
After the California regulatory agency story came out, is Tealeaf concerned at all about becoming accredited as an online post secondary institution?
It doesn't impact us, so we're not concerned about it.