Recent LearningFuze Reviews: Rating 4.98
Recent LearningFuze News
- Landing an IoT Job with React Skills from LearningFuze
- New Year, New Career? Learning to Code in 2019!
- Learning to Code as a Couple at LearningFuze
In PersonFull Time65 Hours/week12 Weeks
- Start Date
- May 13, 2019
- Class size
- Orange County
- $250 Seat Reservation
- Tuition Plans
- Payment Plans Available for 12 months through the bootcamp and 3rd party lender (Skills Fund)
- Refund / Guarantee
- Prorated within the first week of the program
- $12,305 average tuition after scholarships, discounts & credits are applied. Visit https://learningfuze.com/faq#/discounts for a complete list and contact us with any questions.
- Minimum Skill Level
- It is important for students to have taken the initiative to learn on their own with specific recommendations outlined on the LearningFuze application pagehttp://learningfuze.com/full-immersion-application-guide/
- Prep Work
- Students that have reserved their seat take the Root Level 1 class for free as well as the Root JS class which is strongly recommended.
- Placement Test
More Start DatesMay 13, 2019 - Orange CountyApply by May 1, 2019
In PersonPart Time15 Hours/week8 Weeks
Live instruction with the option to participate in-person or remotely. A curriculum designed to make students development and employment ready based on the full immersion program. The Part-Time Comprehensive program is tailored to students who are looking for a part time alternative to the full immersion program, and is designed to deliver the same content and intensity of the full immersion program, but with the flexibility to take the program over time, in steps or “modules” based on their schedule. Additionally, students looking for skills and knowledge in a particular technical area but not necessarily all 5 modules can simply choose to take an individual module of their choice rather than each module sequentially. Students can also choose to specific modules or "Tracks" related to Front End Development (Modules 1,2 and 3), Back End Development (1,2 and 4) or Full Stack (1,2,3 and 4). The 5th module is optional for those students looking for career services. Simply apply and ensure you are ready to get the most out of the instruction. Of course, whether taking an individual module or two or working through all of the modules, the program is all about the practical skills of development by building numerous full scale projects in a work like environment led by seasoned instructors!
- Start Date
- March 23, 2019
- Class size
- Orange County
- Not available
- Tuition Plans
- Please inquire with the LearningFuze Admissions Team
- Refund / Guarantee
- $500 discount for Module 1
- Not available
- Minimum Skill Level
- No prior experience necessary
- Prep Work
- Recommendations on each module
- Placement Test
More Start DatesMarch 23, 2019 - Orange CountyApply by March 22, 2019
- Start Date
- April 27, 2019
- Class size
- Orange County
- Minimum Skill Level
- HTML and CSS
- Prep Work
- See LearningFuze part time courses
- Placement Test
More Start DatesApril 27, 2019 - Orange CountyApply by April 26, 2019
Root Level 1 is a 2-week remote/in-class web development training program built for beginners that want to learn how to code and are considering a path to becoming professional developers
- Start Date
- March 30, 2019
- Class size
- Orange County
- None required
- Minimum Skill Level
- Some understanding of HTML and CSS and ability to effectively navigate a computer
- Placement Test
More Start DatesMarch 30, 2019 - Orange CountyApply by March 29, 2019
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This is from the perspective of a current software engineering student.
In my classes at school we learn about a lot of different specific aspects of computer science, but not much of what we do has directly practical applications (at least so far, I'm starting my third year).
LearningFuze was great. For me it started off a little slow, although given that I've been studying logic, algorithms, and general programming practices for a few years, while pretty much everyone else had never written a line of code, that was to be expected. It picked up the pace very quickly and we started learning a lot of practical skills. One aspect I loved about the program was that it was completely project based. We were given simple practice problems about specific skills as we learned them, and once we had the necessary skills, we were given projects that utilized those skills.
The things I learned at LearningFuze I would not have ever learned at school, and I'm really glad I jumped on the oportunity to take this course. A week out of the program I already have an job as an independent contractor for a consulting firm. Also, the alumni network at LearningFuze is really good. The instructors, even after the program is over, are more than willing to help out with anything I need.
So, at the end of it all, I've already got a job, a sweet portfolio, and a lot of practical web development skills. I really enjoyed my time there and highly recommend this course to anyone wanting to learn web development, as long as they are willing to put the time in and sacrifice those 12 weeks, because it is a huge commitment.
My approach to programming problems changed drastically from the time I came in to the time I graduated. Whether you're completely new, or you've done a bit of coding before, there's plenty of benefits and learning experiences for everyone. I highly recommend considering LearningFuze for education in full stack web development.
Once I knew I wanted to become a web developer, I checked out a local bootcamp close to home, and as much as I liked it, I always have to compare before I make a decision, so I decided to check out LearningFuze. I was so impressed by LearningFuze that I changed my entire plan, and instead of going to one 15 minutes away from my house in the state I lived in, I sold my house, quit my job, and moved states to Orange County to learn to code. It was a completely life changing decision, but once I got here and started learning, and seeing what I was capable of, I knew i made the right choice. Not only do they teach you the tools you'll need to became a successful web developer, but they also focus on preparing you for entering the workplace.
Anybody that's looking for a bootcamp, check out LearningFuze! Especially if you're near the Orange County area! But like me, even if you're not, still check it out and see how great they are!
I came from an Art background and always had passion for tech. I just thought I would be working in the art field using a little bit of technology. However, everything changed my perspective after my friends told me about development and coding.
I started studying by myself using Codecademy, code school and some videos from Youtube. But I felt like there was still something missing and had a desire to fill the gap. That’s when I started looking more into coding bootcamps.
I spent a good amount of time researching the right bootcamp because I knew that I wanted to find the right one that will teach me the skills that I need to enter the industry. A few things that definitely confirmed my decision on taking the bootcamp at LearningFuze were, the program and how organized their schedules were by week. Everyone wants to learn as many languages as possible but we only have 12 weeks, and personally I think LearningFuze did great job on determining which languages to focus on within given time.
The second most important thing that I looked at were the instructors and the team members. I knew the program was gonna be intensive so I wanted to have the best people around me when I’m struggling. Dan, Eric and Fabian were the best instructors that I could ask for. They were always available for help (even at 2 in the morning) and I loved how patient they were with me. Developing could be really frustrating time to time, because it doesn’t always work the way I wanted to. But they really taught me to think like a developer. Plus every time I felt overwhelmed or doubtful about anything, Bill, the director of operations, was always open to talk to and really gave me good advice and guidance, which helped me tremendously to finish the program strong.
I believe this was the best decision that I have ever made and I’m so proud for pushing myself into doing this. I’ve been waiting to find a job first before I write a review but I can proudly say that my first job as a Front End Developer is starting next Monday!
Now I can be as creative as I want and super techie which combines my art background and technology together. Many many thanks to LearningFuze and the team for making this happen!
My Name is Travis Ueki and I just graduated from LearningFuze in their 4th Cohort. If you are in the Orange County area and looking at potential bootcamps, you should consider LearningFuze. I will admit that I was skeptical of the whole "Pay us $10,000 and we will teach you to code" business model. I was pleasantly surprised at the dedication of the entire staff (instructor staff in particular). If you are looking to make a career change, LearningFuze will get you there. Fair warning, do not consider LearningFuze unless you are completely commited to becoming a web developer! If you are not 100% commited, the curriculum will be overwhelming. If you are and graduate, Bill is constantly speaking and networking with employers to ensure that graduates have the ability to explore opportunities that fit their employment goals. I highly recommend LearningFuze to the individual dedicated to a career change in software development.
I came from a non-technological background, it was a big relief for me that Learningfuze caters people who have no experience in the field of technology.
Things I really love about Learning-Fuze:
-During and near the end of your time, someone will be there to help you assemble your resume and assist you in the job search.
-You will be given the opportunity to choose if you want to go back-end or front-end, but they don't limit you if you want to learn both.
-The course is 12 weeks, but you also get two weeks of additional class that will prepare you for the basic such as HTML and CSS.
The curriculum is focused on learning the principles of computer programming, which to me was more important than just memorizing code. They will teach you how to approach solutions, and place an emphasis on learning the logic behind it. The course is tough, and you will need to be self-disciplined if you want to succeed. Noone will be here to hold your hand, but they will be here if you ask for help! Be ready to feel vulnerable, but it will eventually make you a better programmer. You get more out of the program, than just learning how to code. You also learn how to ask better questions, as well as learn that its ok to not know everything. If you do join Learningfuze, you will find yourself surrounded by funny, helpful, and passionate people who truly love what they do.
I've had the privilege to go through LearningFuze's curriculum.
This review speaks to the prospective students of web dev bootcamps in this area. This review assumes, on the part of such students, the obvious level of maturity and fortitude necessary for this kind of gruelling self torture and by extension, the availability of and willingness to sacrifice time, money, social life, marriage, your first born son, etc...
If you've been dabbling with the idea, have taken some steps on your own to learn web programming and have realized that you like this stuff but it will take you forever to learn it on your own, go to LearningFuze.
If you learn better and faster in a classroom environment, exchanging ideas with people, working with people on projects, asking questions 100x on stuff that you just don't get, go to LFZ.
If you need a structured curriculum with live lectures, documentations, practice problems, projects, a dedicated and knowledgeable group of instructors (who's there 7/8am - 9/10pm most days), go to LFZ.
If you need a structured job search process with resume reviews, mock interviews, even job search assignments, a dedicated career counselor, go to LFZ.
If you want access to the school, the material, the instructors, career advice after you've graduated and gotten a job, go to LFZ.
If you need industry insiders to come and give presentations, Q&A, recommendations, pep talks, almost on a biweekly basis complete with beer and pizza, go to LFZ.
If you need to be able to work on your programming 8am - 10pm 7 days a week, go to LFZ.
If you need to be able to work on your programming 8am - 10pm and then sleep on their couch till 8am the next day, go to LFZ.
If you need a coding school that often pulls you aside to check on your progress and get your feed back, then incorporates it into their stuff, go to LFZ.
If you're worried about the bottom line, it's the cheapest in the area. And, given the enormity of value you get for your money, it's probably unbeatable in soCal.
Comma splices are awesome.
If you’re passionate about programming and/or serious about becoming a developer, then LearningFuze is the right place for you. You’ll learn so much about web development during the course of the program. It won’t be easy but if you have the determination, then nothing can stop you.
The instructors at LearningFuze are very friendly and helpful. They will stay late after class to help you with questions and concerns. After the program, there’s also help available with portfolio building and job hunting.
I was an accounting, but now I’m a web developer. I’m very happy with where I am right now
Our latest on LearningFuze
Steffany’s 10 years in IT and project management gave her a taste of the coding world – enough that she started teaching herself to code. She eventually enrolled in LearningFuze’s 12-week full-time immersive bootcamp in Irvine, California to launch a career in front end development! Steffany tells us about her experience learning React alongside students with varied backgrounds, how LearningFuze directly helped her with her job search, and how she’s enjoying building projects in React at TensorIoT!
What was your background prior to attending LearningFuze?
I got my associates degree 6 or 7 years ago, but I worked straight out of high school. I’ve worked in IT for more than 10 years. I started out as an office manager at my dad’s IT company and most recently I’ve been a project manager at a digital web agency. I learned how the IT industry worked on the job. I was managing projects and working hands-on with developers, and was fascinated with what they were doing. I’ve always loved solving problems and got to watch that daily. If we didn’t have enough hands, I tried my hand at coding through basic tasks in WordPress and front end development. I decided I wanted to make more money and felt learning to code was the way to go.
Did you consider teaching yourself or going to college to learn to code?
I definitely did. I think free online courses are great if you’re motivated, and if you can find the time and space. I had been looking at Free Code Camp, but I’d finish a project and then work or life would get busy and I would forget things because I wasn’t actively using those skills every day. Before LearningFuze, I also did some side projects but it wasn’t consistent because I was still working full time.
I decided to enter a structured, full-time learning environment to learn enough that would enable me to move forward, advance my career, and expose me to a wide variety of coding opportunities. I considered a few options. I spent a lot of time thinking about whether a bootcamp was right for me and whether I was able to validate investing finances into it.
A friend and coworker had been coding for over 10 years and helped me make my choice. I discovered that in tech and IT, it’s less about your degree and more about your proficiency and portfolio. Going to a community college would have been a decent option financially, but would have taken longer and I was worried I wouldn’t learn the same set of targeted and marketable skills for the daily tasks. I looked at several coding bootcamps like General Assembly, Redwood Code Academy, Coding Dojo, and Orange County Code School. Once I learned one of my coworkers was a graduate from LearningFuze’s first cohort I focused on them!
What was your impression of LearningFuze in your research?
I went to a LearningFuze info session to meet people, get an overview of the program and curriculum, and ask questions. I was mostly interested in the employment assistance after graduation. I was wary of speedy technology courses that sold unrealistic expectations of what students can learn in a short timeframe. However, the entire LearningFuze team was completely honest about what I could expect from the bootcamp. Their goal was to ensure I finished the program completely prepared for a career, not to get me through a 12-week program and send me away.
I toured the facility and asked questions about the staff and instructors. I really loved the feel of the place – they had Star Wars decor! I got to chat with current bootcamp students who answered my questions and gave me an insight into life at bootcamp. That was really helpful.
I met with TJ Kinion, the Program Manager, who asked questions about my background, my interest in the program, my technical knowledge, and why I wanted to make a career change. They ask candidates about learning style because it takes a specific type of person to thrive in a pressure cooker environment. They want to make sure that bootcamp is a good fit for you.
Who were the other students in your bootcamp cohort?
There were about 17 people from different ethnic and professional backgrounds. At least a third of the cohort was women and it was very ethnically diverse – I never felt uncomfortable. It was focused on everyone having the same experience, so everyone could be successful.
We all had a variety of different backgrounds. One of my cohort-mates had been teaching himself and doing projects on the side so he was way ahead of the rest of us. There were others who had a little bit of experience or picked things up quickly. One person came from managing an art gallery, a few people were in sales, someone was from architecture, and a few were students. Some people had a lot of coding experience, some had none.
When they paired us off into groups, they combined stronger members with others who might need some additional help. There was a lot of camaraderie and everyone helped each other out throughout the bootcamp. It helped to have people around me who were more comfortable with the tech world.
What was the learning experience like at LearningFuze? What was a typical day?
We would start with a skills assessment at 10am going over what we’d previously learned. Each day we’d have a lecture on a new topic, and then work on a project like a test or a prototype to apply what we had just learned to retain the information. For example, if we had just learned loops, we would build something small that included loops. After lunch, depending on the day of the week, there would be another lecture or time to work on a project. We had a new project each of the first six weeks, so they built in time for us to work on them along with learning new concepts.
Was React a main part of the LearningFuze curriculum?
The front end is focused on React and, just like the first six weeks, was really hands-on learning and the instructor was always available for questions. We would go over different pieces of React each day and build something out together. We’d start with a task-app and build it out over the week adding different features as we learned different things. My final six weeks was pretty much all React-focused.
What was your favorite project at LearningFuze?
My favorite was our group project in the final six weeks of the cohort. We built an app in React, and I was one of the main front end developers for it. The app helps you find a new mobile game to play – if you’re bored with your current games, this provides options to find a new one. I was able to learn a lot about React in that project because there was so much involved and as a former project manager, I liked that React is set up in components so the code stays cleaner.
How did LearningFuze prepare you for the job hunt? What types of career guidance did they provide?
The career guidance from LearningFuze was fantastic. there’s a lot of prep work to help us feel more comfortable. We had whiteboard sessions with the team to imitate a day-in-the-life of a developer. TJ and Bill Cunningham, the founder, set up mock interviews with us, gave us feedback on our resumes and our speaking skills, helped us see what we could do differently, and suggested additional tips to make ourselves more marketable. Because I’d been in tech so long, I knew a lot of answers to the interview questions but they helped me tailor my responses towards development.
We also picked three different projects to clean up and refine for our portfolios. I spent three weeks after the course ended cleaning up those projects so I would be interview-ready. TJ and an instructor gave suggestions for improvements and, by fixing the projects, we learned more skills because we had to fix things in real time. Once our portfolios were approved, TJ helped us apply for jobs. A member of the team called me once a week with tips and tricks, chatted with me about job hunting on a Slack channel, and provided information and resources.
Congrats on your new role at TensorIoT! Tell us about how you landed the job.
The LearningFuze team keeps a pulse on who’s hiring – I actually got hired because someone approached the school and TJ sent them my resume! If I ever had questions about interviewing or a coding challenge, they were willing to help guide me. I was nervous about interviewing in a new field, but everything my new manager asked we had already gone over in our mock interviews. He asked me questions about React and working with APIs, and I felt really prepared. LearningFuze empowers you with the knowledge to make your employment search successful. They’re a great resource and support system.
What does TensorIoT do and what is your role there?
TensorIoT does a lot of work with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and we do proof of concept work for projects involving the Internet of Things (IoT), Machine Learning, and smart devices. I’m working on six projects right now, so there’s a lot happening and I’m learning new things on each project! I work a lot with React dashboards to track data from different IoT devices. I parse the data coming back from different sources like AWS or back end, and display it to the customer in a format that’s easy to view and understand. I’m currently on a team of 24 people (and growing!) There are five of us on the front end development team and two of them were in my LearningFuze cohort! It’s been great working with them.
Did you feel prepared for the role? Are you using React?
LearningFuze’s philosophy was, “we’ll teach you everything we can but there’s no way to teach you everything,” which was an important and honest distinction. They taught us the core knowledge of how to learn, how to look for things, and how to Google for answers. I’ve learned a crazy amount since joining TensorIoT but I would have been in a more challenging position if I didn’t have those basics. It can be overwhelming and fast-paced, but I felt prepared for my role.
I’m mainly working in React and I have learned a bit of Angular. I’ve learned new aspects of React too and I’m improving all the time. Recently I was looking at one of the projects I worked on when I first started, and even though it’s only been four months, I couldn’t believe how much better my code has gotten! I have a better understanding of how React handles different things and components, I have a better understanding of implementing items and adding to them, and how to use the power of React to confidently build projects.
TensorIoT is focused on our learning and bringing new ideas to the table. They provide access to Udemy, are open to additions to the tech stack, and empower you to learn new things and make the company better.
How have you used some of the skills from your previous job in your new role?
My experience from my project manager role has definitely helped. I can manage projects and clients effectively and I’m good at managing my time. I worked a lot with budgets and time restraints, and I understand how long things should take. Clients always ask for extra deliverables so, having been a PM, I can notice those and address things more quickly and make recommendations.
Looking back, do you think you would have been able to get to TensorIoT through self-teaching?
No, not even close. I would never have been able to do it without LearningFuze. It was a stressful time (never attend a bootcamp while planning a wedding!) but overall, it was a great experience. I spent a lot of time focusing on something I enjoyed. With my tech background, I knew I wouldn’t be terrible at coding, but after a few weeks, I realized I loved it and wondered why I hadn’t done it sooner. It’s been life-changing for me – I’ve finally found what I want to do with my life! It’s a great combination of my skills and things I enjoy, and LearningFuze’s environment helped me feel comfortable and confident in what I was doing. There’s no way I would have achieved that on my own or in a less focused environment. LearningFuze made a massive impact on my success. I loved working with them and it was a very noticeable impact on my success.
What advice do you have for others considering a career change with a coding bootcamp?
The most important thing for me was making sure I was mentally prepared for it. The second week I was questioning whether I had made a horrible decision, but I pushed through and made it. It’s a pressure cooker environment. You’re not going to sleep, you’re working all the time, you probably won’t speak with anyone, and you’re putting your life on hold. But LearningFuze was committed to helping each student regardless of their learning path or the assistance needed. It was a very focused and personalized experience to make you successful beyond graduation.
Is learning to code on your 2019 New Year’s Resolutions List? It should be! The average coding bootcamp graduate gets a job in tech and sees a 49% salary lift. A coding bootcamp could be just what you need to make a fresh start in 2019 as a developer, so we’ve compiled a list of 18 full-time, part-time, in-person and online coding bootcamps which have upcoming cohorts starting in January and February 2019. Most of these coding courses have approaching application deadlines, so submit yours quickly if you want to get a head start in 2019!Continue Reading →
What’s it like to go through coding bootcamp with your spouse? A few months after their wedding in 2017, Brian and Alicia Evans enrolled at LearningFuze in Orange County to learn to code together! With Alicia’s background in publishing and nonprofit work, and Brian’s background in music and data management, they came in with very different skill sets, but both ended up loving it and found great jobs. The pair tell us about the ups and downs of going through such an intense program with your partner, how they bonded with their LearningFuze cohort, and how they both ended up working at the same company a few months after graduation!
What are each of your backgrounds? How did you each decide you wanted to go to a coding bootcamp?
Alicia: I got my MFA in Creative Writing. I worked in publishing in New York, then switched to non-profit work, supporting people with developmental disabilities, and working as a Case Manager at a family homeless shelter. I knew I was doing good work but it wasn’t sustainable for me emotionally or financially. A friend from one of my jobs in New York quit to go to a full-immersion bootcamp and loved it. That really appealed to me, but it seemed like a big risk to move into another career that I wasn’t sure I’d love or be any good at.
When Brian and I were engaged, I told him I thought he would be an excellent programmer and did research on bootcamps to get him excited about it. He thought if I was excited about it, I should do it too. I took a few Codecademy courses and really liked it. A couple months after we were married, we quit our jobs and enrolled at LearningFuze!
Brian: I have been a musician for most of my life. I made some money from music and had some part-time jobs. Right before LearningFuze I was working full-time doing data management for a healthcare company. This involved SQL querying, data merging, and some Python scripting. It was something I fell into and learned as I went. I had coded some Apple Basic when I was young, and made websites for bands in the late 90s and early 00s. But I had gaps in my knowledge that prevented me from working as a developer.
When Alicia was trying to convince me to go to a bootcamp, I was resistant to the idea. She started looking into it and eventually narrowed it down to a few schools. She invited me to go to an info session at LearningFuze. She was sold on it; I was less sure, but thought it was interesting. Then, I had a really bad day at work and decided it was time for a change. So I signed up!
What made you each choose LearningFuze over other coding bootcamps?
Brian: I chose LearningFuze for a few reasons:
- My wife was pretty set on going to LearningFuze.
- The lead instructor sold me on the idea of learning one 'stack' and learning it well, rather than the multi-language approach some competitors had.
- The career support at the end felt like a big value add. To know that I would have help finding work was a BIG deal for me.
What was the application and interview process like for each of you?
What was your LearningFuze cohort like?
Alicia: We had an amazing cohort. We were in the same cohort but mostly sat with different people. We had 17 people to start with and 16 graduated with us. Five of us were women, and most of us were in our 20s and 30s. There were a lot of people with science backgrounds and a couple of tech and engineering folk. We tried to keep things upbeat, ask each other for help and offer it, and keep up a spirit of “we’re all in this together” rather than one of competition.
Brian: Everyone was really supportive and I felt like we worked through things as a unit and tried to make sure no one got left behind. Since you spend so much time together, these people become your family during the program, then become your peers and network connections afterward. We regularly see many of the people from our cohort even now, 9 months after the program, and I work with three other LearningFuze alumni at my job. The network and friendships you make at a bootcamp can be a big part of finding good work.
What did you each think of the learning experience at the bootcamp? And what was it like learning with each other?
Brian: The learning experience suited me much more than traditional college or high school education. The day was split between projects and lecture time, with breakout sessions. If something was too easy, I could do a more advanced version. If I was struggling, there was always an instructor or another student to help me through it. The teaching style was very interactive. People were excited to share solutions and see other people’s solutions.
Alicia and I sat together at first, then started sitting near people who challenged or supported us in various ways. With different backgrounds, we had different struggles. We spent breaks together and provided emotional support when things got hard. But mostly we were two students who happened to show up and leave together. We had one or two frustrating moments while working together, as our learning styles are different. But those were the exception.
Alicia: The learning experience was good. It felt like chaos basically all the time and was pretty frustrating a lot of the time. I discovered that I liked the gratification of solving a complex problem, and it was so much better to go through with people who became close friends. Brian and I tried to pick separate paths and not sit by each other. He did back end, so I did front end.
How did LearningFuze prepare each of you for job hunting? Do you have any advice for other bootcampers going through the job search?
Brian: In the second half of the bootcamp, resume and interview prep was a regular part of the curriculum. We did mock interviews, code challenges, and whiteboarding. Staff helped us craft resumes to highlight our new skills and present our past work in a favorable light. They prepared us for the idea that it may take a while to get responses and be prepared to send up to 100 resumes for the first job. I was a little discouraged at first, but sure enough, interviews and offers started to come in. My advice: be patient, stick with it, ask for help from the job support staff.
Alicia: When you start applying, it’s going to feel like nothing is happening. Get as much feedback on your resume and cover letters as you can. When you start to get responses, you’ll keep getting responses. I put a lot of emphasis on my portfolio. I wanted each project to showcase a different skill and also reflect a part of my personality or history. I spent 6 weeks working the same long hours I worked in the bootcamp, putting together my website and portfolio. I also wrote cover letters wherever I could and didn’t limit myself to entry-level only.
Congratulations on both of your jobs at FormulaFolios! How did you each find your jobs? Were you hired at the same time or separately?
Brian: We were hired separately. I responded to a job ad on Stack Overflow because it listed Python, which I really enjoy. It turned out to be a PHP position, which I was less interested in. But I did a phone interview, I really liked the engineering manager's management style, and they asked me to come in for an in-person interview. I had another offer too, but I liked the stability of the position and company, and the offer was solid.
In a weekly one-on-one with my boss he asked how Alicia’s position was going. I mentioned that her contract had ended and she was looking for work. He suggested she learn Ruby On Rails and contact him if she was still looking for work. A few weeks later, I mentioned that she had accepted a C#/.NET position. He asked if she'd entertain another offer, so I called her to find out. She ended up taking the position at FormulaFolios and we have been on the same engineering team (though on different sub-teams) since. It has been great!
Alicia: It’s funny how it worked out. Brian hadn’t been trying to get me a job there; it just kind of worked out. I actually worked two contract positions before I started working at FormulaFolios doing exclusively React.js work, which I found on Indeed.com.
Can you tell me what FormulaFolios does and what you each work on there?
Alicia: FormulaFolios is a fintech firm focused on smart investments. My title has been Site Accessibility Engineer, but I am moving over to one of the Ruby on Rails teams. My next team will be made up of three women. It’s pretty cool. We all sit together and get along, so I think it will be great.
My current project is writing a Python program that audits all our sites for accessibility. I had never used Python before working here, but it wasn’t so hard to pick up. I’ve also done accessibility remediation for Wordpress/PHP projects. We have two-week sprints, including grooming meetings, daily standups, and an end-of-sprint retrospective. We always know what we should be working on, which takes away a lot of stress, and there are many opportunities to ask questions.
Brian: My title is PHP Developer. The engineering team has around 16 people. My team has four people including myself. My team builds marketing websites for our company, its products, and the financial advisors that contract with it. We use a combination of PHP, Wordpress, SASS, and VueJS to create those websites. A typical day starts with a morning standup, then I work on whatever assignments I have for the rest of the day. I am currently building the front end for a financial advisor's website and had recently been working on the PHP code for an interactive information management portal that lives in the backend of one of our websites.
Do you feel LearningFuze prepared you for the role? What was the learning curve when you first joined, and how are you continuing to learn?
We are encouraged to stay up to date on tech, do research and we often talk about new and emerging things. There is also a focus on doing things right, rather than doing things fast. That leads to more education, sharing knowledge, and deep Stack Overflow rabbit holes.
Alicia: LearningFuze got my foot in the door. What I discovered – I’ve been offered a lot of jobs at this point – is that people tend to care more about how you think, than what languages you know. Once you know one programming language, the rest are easy to learn – that’s something that’s become very clear for me. I’ve been able to pick up PHP, WordPress, Python, and Ruby for different projects at work pretty quickly because of the foundations I learned at LearningFuze. You also learn how to not know something and just set to figuring it out.
We have quarterly meetings, an active Wiki page that’s always growing, and lots of documentation. We are encouraged to review each other’s code. We are expected to work independently, but there is sometimes mentorship as needed.
How have you used your past experience on the job?
Alicia: I just happened to be offered a job as Site Accessibility Engineer after working for five years with people with developmental disabilities. It’s something I knew a fair amount about and felt strongly about as well. My writing skills have come in handy as well.
Brian: At my last position we had to deliver results quickly and reliably. That work ethic has carried over to this position. I also sometimes use the SQL skills I picked up at that position.
What have been each of your biggest challenges or roadblocks in your journeys to becoming fully fledged software developers?
Alicia: You have to feel comfortable not knowing answers and not feeling confident in what you’re doing. You’re never sure if you’ll have what it takes to finish a story, but somehow you do.
Brian: The biggest challenges prior to finding a job were perseverance and patience – putting in the work and trusting that something would come. There were occasional low moments where I thought things were too tough or that maybe this wasn't for me. But I stayed the course and reaped the rewards. On the job, the challenges are around learning to do something someone else's way. I imagine many developers struggle with this. The result is code that is familiar to a whole team rather than an individual, so I see the benefit, it just takes time to get used to.
When you look back at the last year, what role has LearningFuze played in your success? Would you have been able to get to where you are today by self-teaching?
Alicia: I would say it’s possible, but it would have taken a lot more time. I definitely self-teach a lot now, but I have the necessary base understanding to do so.
Brian: I am a big proponent of self-guided education. I am constantly learning and picking up new skills. That said, I do not think I would have gotten to where I am without the focused learning environment and program that LearningFuze provided. I would have still had big gaps in my knowledge, I doubt my confidence in my skills would have been as high, and I would have lacked a support network. So maybe it would be possible by self-teaching, but it would have been a difficult and long road that only the most determined of people would see the end of.
Do you suggest other couples do a bootcamp together?
Alicia: I had a great time going through the program with Brian. It can be a strain on relationships if one person is fully immersed in a program like this and the other is not. I don’t recommend all couples go to bootcamp together. It’s not going to work if you’re glued to the hip. But if you know yourselves, you know if you can do it or not.
LearningFuze itself was skeptical we’d be able to do the program together. But we’re both stubborn and had to prove they were wrong about us. Plus, this had to work. We’d both quit our jobs, and there was no going back. We learned a lot about how to communicate about work, which really helps us now that we’re at the same company.
Brian: It very much depends on the dynamic of the relationship and how you react under stress. I think doing it together is probably a better idea than doing it separately, with a few caveats. If you are a couple which argues a lot or doesn't know how to be each other’s support system, then it may not be a good idea. But if you know each other well, and know how to be adults in a sometimes stressful situation, it could be great. You could go through something life changing with your best friend/partner. It was great for us, and I imagine would be for lots of couples.
What advice do you have for people making a career change through a coding bootcamp?
Alicia: The most important thing is, you’re going to feel stupid. If you know you’re not, that helps. But, it’s an inevitability, so lean into it. Ask the stupid questions – it speeds up your understanding. If you think you’re going to figure it out on your own, you’ll end up far behind everyone else. Realize that no one is good at everything; everyone is struggling with something, and most people are struggling most of the time. Put in the time – 10 to 12 hours a day – you spent and risked a lot to be here! And make it your own.
Brian: My advice is to do it! I tell that to almost anyone looking to change jobs. Coding is not some kind of magic (though it does feel that way sometimes). I believe that anyone who is willing to struggle through problems, put in the time, and take it seriously can have a new career and a new skill set. We were told at the info session that we would be giving up three months of our lives to change our lives. That is exactly what happened. It was the best possible change and lived up to all of the hopes I had for our outcome.
Why did LearningFuze decide to launch a part-time program? Did you see demand in Orange County (Southern California) from students who needed a part-time option?
LearningFuze had contemplated starting a part-time program for some time. However, we were initially having a difficult time determining how to make the part-time program equivalent to the full-time program as far as what students were able to learn, and the ability to produce students that were ready to code professionally given that there is a close correlation between the number of focused hours committed to learning development and being professionally ready. In the past, employers had discussed how they would be interested in sending select employees for part-time training.
What can students get out of a part-time program that they can’t get out of a full-time one?
The part-time program allows flexibility for those that simply can’t make the commitment to the full immersion. The part-time program is for those students who simply can’t quit their jobs, or have personal obligations that don’t allow them to enter the full immersion program. In addition, the program allows students to enhance their skills in a particular aspect of development if they choose rather than going through the whole program.
What is the actual time commitment for the students in the part-time program?
Typically, students will be required to commit about 15 to 20 hours a week to get the most out of the instruction; this includes both instructional hours as well as individual time spent working on projects. Classes will take place in the evening during the week and on Saturday. Students can expect two-weekday classes in addition to the Saturday class. Typically students will be in-class for instruction about 8 hours per week.
How will LearningFuze support students who are trying to balance a full-time job or parenting with their studies?
We will have a lead instructor and support staff for every aspect of the part-time program. Students will be able to access instructors at almost any time of day with an emphasis on evening hours. Students will need similar support to the full immersion program and we are committed to making sure that is in place. There will be numerous instructors available to students which is so important in a hands-on program.
Tell me about the ideal student and the admissions process for the part-time program. Are you looking for applicants with experience, a certain background or culture fit?
The ideal student depends on the course. As with the full immersion program, we are looking for students with a passion for development and an unwavering commitment to learning in the part-time program.
During the part-time program registration process, students may opt to take any course they’d like without taking the preceding course if they can demonstrate the technical skills. The part-time program is made up of 5 individual courses that allow students to gain the equivalent education to the full immersion program. If a student would like to skip courses, they will need to test into that particular course. Students that are taking the classes in sequence do not need to “test in” to any of the courses, as the prerequisite is to take the courses offered in sequence. The admissions process is very straightforward in that students simply need to register for the class and make payment.
How do you support part-time students who might be falling behind? Can they repeat a module?
Similar to the full immersion program, the part-time program is all about projects. We will have multiple instructors per course, each with a specific role whether that is a primary instructor or support instructor. Students will be assessed periodically throughout the course so we can understand how they are progressing and provide additional support and resources to help.
How will career services work for part-time students? Do you expect students will see the same outcomes as full-time grads?
There is a specific course dedicated to career services that all students will need to apply and interview for in order to be accepted and participate. Any student can take the career-focused course whether they have gone through the available part-time courses or simply have decided to test into the course. All students will need to demonstrate a specific level of technical proficiency in order to be accepted into the career course.
Tell me about the biggest lesson your team has learned throughout the time of operating the Full Immersion Developer Bootcamp. How are you bringing those lessons to the part-time course?
It’s really important to ensure there is an appropriate number of staff members on hand to help students. Similar to the full immersion program, the part-time program is very hands-on and practical, and that requires the right amount of support and a certain number of instructors per student. Students also need to know that they can talk to someone to help work through any frustrations or difficulties in grasping concepts. It is vitally important that both the student and the bootcamp program understand that this is a partnership, and both need to be equally committed.
What is your advice for students embarking on a part-time program? Any tips for getting the most out of it especially if they are trying to change their careers?
The full immersion program is still the gold standard for effectively learning development. However, some students simply cannot quit their job or have personal obligations that don’t allow them to study full-time. With that in mind, students need to be very committed and organized in ensuring they are setting aside the appropriate amount of time to learn the technologies and concepts taught in the program, as well as reaching out to staff if they are having difficulty.
How would you recommend students prepare before they start the part-time program? Any events/meetups you suggest?
The more students can do before entering any program is always better as students are then well prepared to get the most out of the instruction. We have recommended online programs for students to take in order to help them be prepared which will be included for each course on the website at learningfuze.com.
Is there anything else special or unique about the part-time course that our readers should know about? When does the first part-time program start?
To effectively learn development and engineering principles, this is really a linear relationship between the number of focused hours committed and being professionally ready as a developer. The program is structured so that it allows the maximum amount of flexibility, given most students will be employed full-time, while also ensuring that each student is able to commit the appropriate number of hours to be ready for a new job in tech or move into development with their current company, should they choose to go through the entire program.
The first classes will be launched in early to mid-September. Students are now able to register for classes!
Read more LearningFuze reviews on Course Report. Check out more info on the LearningFuze part-time program.
So you’re thinking of hiring a coding bootcamp graduate, but not sure how to approach it. After speaking with 12 real employers from companies like Cisco, Stack Overflow, and JPMorgan Chase, we’ve compiled the best advice and lessons learned when hiring a coding bootcamp graduate. Following these steps will help you build a diverse, open-minded, loyal engineering team that finds creative solutions to software challenges. If you’re a prospective bootcamp student, this is also for you – these employers also explain why they hire coding bootcamp grads!Continue Reading →
Oh Summer, one of the best seasons of the year! While it’s a time to relax, bask in the sun, and plan trips with family and friends, summer is also an awesome time to learn. If you’re a current student, teacher, or professional looking to learn to code, a summer bootcamp is a great way to learn new skills in just a few months. We chose 28 coding bootcamps that offer summer courses to help you launch a new career in tech. Check out the following courses to help you #learntocode this Summer 2018.Continue Reading →
What do tech recruiters want? It’s a difficult question for a new coding bootcamp grad to answer, so we asked a former recruiter to give us some insight. TJ Kinion is the Program Manager at LearningFuze coding bootcamp in Southern California, and as a former recruiter, he’s interviewed hundreds of candidates for tech roles. Now he’s tasked with preparing LearningFuze students for the job search when they graduate. TJ explains which technical and soft skills recruiters are looking for, how to approach a recruiter, and how bootcamp grads can prove themselves in the interview.Continue Reading →
Yes, we get it – most high-salary industries need more diverse workers, and tech is no exception. But while the conversation about diversity in tech usually focuses on gender, diversity encompasses racial, socioeconomic, cognitive, and experiential differences. Think pieces and diversity reports show large tech companies admitting they have a problem and beginning to address the diversity in tech crisis, but do we really believe change is coming? Even if companies make public commitments to hiring more diverse candidates for technical positions, is the pipeline strong enough to fuel those hiring commitments? As we track non-traditional routes to tech at Course Report, it’s clear that talented, diverse coding bootcamp grads can fill that pipeline and play a role in shifting the demographics of the US tech industry.Continue Reading →
Why is LearningFuze launching a 2-week React 101 class?
We want to give developers a chance to learn React in a guided environment that benefits from a hands-on approach, and from the great student-to-teacher ratio that has made LearningFuze graduates so successful. Learning a complicated framework on your own can be frustrating, and in this React class we help alleviate that frustration.
Why do you think React is a good programming concept for beginners to learn?
React helps break up complex software into components that are easy to understand, and can give developers a leg-up in their careers because companies are actively seeking to expand their core competencies.
Why is React popular right now?
React has a component-based structure that helps organize large-scale projects and its DOM-mapping technology allows for efficient render-times. The structured nature of React and similar technologies like Angular 2.0 help relatively new developers organize projects. React's transpiled nature also allows developers to homogenize their code to take advantage of the newest techniques and have it still be functional with most browsers.
Can you give some examples of what React is used for?
Content management systems primarily, though you could conceivably make most applications in React. React is most beneficial for applications with high reuse of components, such applications like Google Docs, Blogging software, and financial applications.
What prerequisite knowledge does this class require? Or is it open to complete beginners?
What sort of backgrounds do you expect students in the React 101 class to have?
Students should have worked at a company for about a year or more to show they have some knowledge of what is required to build a functional application in a business. I wouldn’t turn someone away who is self-taught and trying to get into the industry, but they may not have a context for things like dealing with a MVP, ideating a project, and figuring out what to do for the process. You need to be able to break these things down to minute, human level tasks so that you can convert them over to programming.
The biggest problem that most programmers have is not the syntax, the problem is putting everything together. You might have a person who knows how to put together 2x4s for windows, and how to put a door into a door frame, but if you ask them to build a whole house, they don’t know how to put the pieces together. The benefit of having some experience under your belt is having worked in a production-level developer environment. It gives you knowledge about how things get put together, and the ability to further research and ask questions.
What is the application and admissions process like for LearningFuze’s React class?
What concepts will the React 101 class cover and how will the material be delivered?
- Curated slides with live-code examples
- Overview videos
- Hands-on prototypes
- Small projects to put concepts together
We will track and assess student progress through those hands-on projects and their achievements in crafting functional code.
Can you give an example of a project students will work on?
The most readily understandable project is a to-do-list or blog application featuring modular components, routing, and full application state control. It’s a typical content management system, which you could undertake in any language. Students usually will have built a similar project in another language. So the benefit of this is, in most cases they’re not trying to work out how the application is supposed to work programmatically. By the time they build a to-do list with React, they know what needs to work, and just have to work out how to do it the React way.
What is the time commitment and schedule for the students in the React 101 class?
The class runs for two weeks, three days a week. Students are required to put in a minimum of two to three hours of study per night during off nights, and four to five hours of study on in-class days.
Will this React class prepare students for the immersive program?
The React course is not directly related to the Full Immersion class, though the material and methodologies are based upon the same material used in the Full Immersion class.
So is this React class something that graduates of the full immersion program might benefit from doing after they graduate?
It depends on when they came through the full immersion program. We only started teaching React in that program about six to nine months ago. We used to teach Angular, so those students could come through and learn more.
Will you be the main instructor for the React 101 class? How did you start teaching?
I will teach the React class with the support of other instructors. I also teach the back end of the full immersion class. Scott, who is the primary React instructor for the immersion class, will be my assistant in the React class to make sure I don’t say anything grossly wrong, so we back each other up.
I’ve been working as a programmer for over two decades, from advertising companies to gaming companies. I got hooked on teaching while I was Tech Director at an education software company, and that has helped guide my path to LearningFuze. So I teach this React 101 course and the full immersion program, and I’ve been at LearningFuze for 3 years.
What is your personal teaching style?
In my previous role at the educational software company, I was exposed to a lot of educational approaches. This included the typical approach focused on test-based instruction, regurgitation, memorizing concepts, and following the paradigm of “just in case education,” where an educator says, “You might need this someday.” But I prefer the approach of analyzing content and saying, “Is what we’re teaching really critical?” As the teacher, it could be critical to your personal knowledge, but if you’re honest with yourself, how much is needed now, or needed later on when there is more context? So what I prescribe to is a “just in time education – here’s what you want to do, here’s the end-point for this set of lessons, here are some concepts you need to learn, and here is how to do those concepts.
The other part is scaffolding. You can’t just throw a whole bunch of new material at someone and expect them to assimilate to new concepts, especially on a quick timeline. What you do is find some common thread that they have already understood, and build on that.
How did the first React 101 class go?
We did a beta program with some of our past students who were already used to our method of teaching to get feedback. We also had an owner of a company who wanted to sit in on the React course. We realized early on that we definitely needed to up our education game on topics like OOP. I think I had unrealistic expectations as to how quickly students would get through some of the projects and prototypes. That’s why we decided to implement a self-assessment test to figure out if students are really ready for this, because with a short timeline there is a lot more lead in necessary to hit the ground running. With the full immersion class, if you’re having trouble with something we have time to take you aside and help you, but for a part-time class, we simply don’t have that buffer.
Other than that, I got a lot of positive feedback especially from the company owner who said it was right on par with other React classes he’s taken, and it gave him a lot more insight into the background of React. All students came away with a functional knowledge of React that they can now build on, as long as they keep pushing.
How will taking this React class help people in their careers?
It’s different for different people. If you’ve never really worked in advanced frameworks, then the advanced structure that a framework can give will prepare you for other frameworks, no matter what they are. So you can learn React, then move on to Angular, Ember, or Laravel.
There’s a lot of keen interest in people who know React. If you have React on your resume, it’s either going to allow you to bring that React knowledge into your current shop, or if it’s already in your shop, you can become a more integral part of the team, and have more leadership and control over what you are doing. If your company does not value React skills, then there are plenty of other companies that do – it’s pretty simple to get another job, especially when you have a heavily in demand knowledge set of React.
When is the next React 101 class? Does LearningFuze plan to launch more short classes in the future?
We are shaping up to do another course starting on February 3rd. In addition, we are expanding to secondary 201 classes that will go into more advanced topics like Redux, Axios, reconfiguring webpack, and really getting a handle on the nuts and bolts of React. At the end of the day, it’s not only important to have knowledge about a technology, you also have to be able to discuss what it is, why you’re doing it, and what each part is doing – that’s what the advanced classes will accomplish. In the first class students get an introduction and learn the syntax, then the advanced classes teach more advanced concepts of course.
We are also planning to launch classes covering Amazon Web Services and Machine Learning.
Co-founder and CTO of app demo company AppOnboard, Adam Piechowicz, recently hired a LearningFuze coding bootcamp grad as a multi-disciplinary Creative Engineer. And get this – the grad scored above average on the technical interview, making him a no-brainer hire. Learn about the differences Adam sees between the LearningFuze grad and traditional hires, how AppOnboard supports new hires to learn many new technologies, and why Adam plans to hire more coding bootcampers in future.
What does AppOnboard do and how did you come up with the idea? Describe your day-to-day role.
AppOnboard makes the highest quality, full-fidelity demos of games and apps using patent-pending technology. We also provide next-generation heatmap analytics with the goal of helping developers have an easier time gaining insights into and optimizing key parts of their apps. Our early partners are also finding we have excellent performance as a user acquisition platform.
The idea came about from discussions between our co-founders about the pain points and direction of mobile development, and what we could do to make things easier given our extensive backgrounds in ad tech and game development. AppOnboard is a little over a year old.
As co-founder and CTO of a startup, my day-to-day responsibilities range all across the spectrum. I’m making high-level decisions involving when to integrate a platform or service versus developing our own solution. I’m making hiring decisions. I’m writing or approving every line of code that we ship and I’m even providing direct technical support to our integrated partners.
How many LearningFuze graduates have you hired? How did you get connected with LearningFuze?
We’ve hired one LearningFuze graduate so far, Sloan Tash. We connected with LearningFuze through a previous relationship with one of their employees.
What specific role did you hire the LearningFuze graduate for?
Sloan was hired to fill a dual-purpose role as a “Creative Engineer”, someone who creates our demo experiences using proprietary in-house tools, and as a Junior Programmer.
Other than LearningFuze, how do you usually hire developers? What are you looking for in a new hire? Do you notice differences in hiring from a bootcamp?
We also hire through traditional channels such as LinkedIn, Indeed, etc. Typically we’re looking for passion and continued learning because a lot of our focus is on cutting edge tech whether it’s the newest iOS features or augmented/virtual reality.
We haven’t worked with any other coding bootcamps yet. But in my experience, the most notable difference amongst bootcamp candidates is this feeling of team spirit. They have a camaraderie with the students in their bootcamp program, and it transfers readily to the new team environment.
Did the LearningFuze grad that you hired go through a technical interview? Have you tweaked the application process for non-traditional applicants (like bootcampers) at all?
Yes, all applicants go through a technical interview. Sloan scored above average on the technical interview. The process isn’t tweaked for non-traditional applicants, but I do make sure to give non-traditional applicants a chance to explain how their other experience and skills can potentially benefit us as a company.
Did you have to convince your team (or even yourself!) to hire a bootcamper? Did you have any hesitation?
I did have to convince one of the executives a bit. Personally, I value self-taught/motivated programming skills as much as academic-style ones. They both bring a useful perspective and it’s good to have a mix on your team.
One of the biggest concerns we hear from bootcamp alumni is how they’ll be supported in continuing to learn in their first jobs. How do you ensure that the new hires are supported in that way? Do you have mentoring or apprenticeship programs in place?
Part of the benefit for me in hiring this role through a bootcamp was knowing I’d be getting someone eager to expand his or her skill set and with a proven track record of doing it. I’ve been assigning tasks to Sloan to push him to continue learning, with the understanding that I know he’s not an expert in all of them and that learning is an expected and potentially time-consuming part of the process. Usually for a new skill, I or another expert (if available) will take a couple hours helping get the ball rolling with mentoring, but for the most part I’m counting on that learning to be self-directed.
I do also allow a portion of time per week to be devoted to skills development independent of that task-oriented learning.
Since you started hiring from the bootcamp, has your new hire moved up or been promoted? Or do you anticipate that they will?
We’re small enough at this stage that titles and promotions are still informal but since being hired, Sloan has taken on more responsibilities than I anticipated. One noteworthy example is him taking an important role in creating and maintaining the reporting system that we send out to our clients explaining their financial results, which is some delicate business. I anticipate he will continue to grow!
Do you have a feedback loop with LearningFuze? Are you able to influence their curriculum if you notice your dev hires are underqualified in a certain area?
I do communicate with the management at LearningFuze to give feedback. I like the way they continue to evolve and improve their curriculum.
Will you hire from this bootcamp in the future?
I would hire from LearningFuze again. It’s been a very positive experience. The position was a tricky one to fill and we found a very appropriate candidate who has exceeded expectations.
What is your advice to other employers who are thinking about hiring from a coding bootcamp or LearningFuze in particular?
I’d absolutely recommend looking to bootcamps for candidates for non-traditional roles that need an unusual mix of skills, or an especial commitment to learning. The candidates I interviewed were all exceptionally passionate and generally above-average team players. Many are career-changers who can have surprisingly relevant backgrounds in audio/video, customer service, etc. They can also have weaknesses, typically where they’re less experienced in debugging or higher-level design considerations.
If you’re looking to add a bootcamp candidate in a more traditional role it’s important to make sure they’re a cultural fit with your team, because in a sense your office will become their new bootcamp. They’re going to have instincts to collaborate and learn and in some cases, a balance would have to be struck between quiet focus time and open team time.
Sean Mee was a restaurant server before deciding to learn to code at Southern California coding bootcamp LearningFuze. He had started teaching himself to code when he was 13, and decided to revisit his passion for coding after discovering an intensive bootcamp would accelerate the web developer coding skills that employers seek. After Sean completed LearningFuze’s two-week Root 1 preparation class, he began the full immersion bootcamp with newfound confidence. We sat down with him and learned more about his transition into the world of coding, his thoughts on bootcamp prep courses, and his job search plans once he finishes the bootcamp.
What is your pre-LearningFuze story? What was your educational background and career path before you decided to do attend a coding bootcamp?
I received my bachelor's degree in communication advertising about three years ago from Cal State Fullerton. I started going down the communication advertising path, while at the same time also serving in various restaurants, which can be a difficult transition. “You need a certain amount of experience” is what I kept hearing from employers when I was looking for careers in advertising and I never received that experience; so it was tough.
I kept working in restaurants and eventually moved back to California from Colorado. I started looking into programming because I'd done a little bit of it when I was younger. I learned HTML and created some websites on my own when I was 13. I started to get back into it just for fun and then started to think about it as a career because it came back to me really naturally.
What kinds of resources did you use to get back into coding?
I went to Cypress Community College to get some programming certifications in C++ and Visual Basic. I thought that certificates were good, but that it would be better to have a degree when trying to get a job. Then my mom mentioned coding bootcamps. At first, I just brushed it off, thinking certificates would be more viable than a three-month course. But then I looked into bootcamps and thought, "Oh, wow. This seems incredibly legit." So I started researching reviews for all the different bootcamps.
Did that exposure to programming classes at the community college help you focus on what type of technologies you wanted to learn at a bootcamp?
What made LearningFuze stand out in your search?
From the reviews I read, LearningFuze just seemed to be the best bootcamp. There were other bootcamps nearby but LearningFuze was the closest school to me. When I started looking at other coding bootcamp reviews, it just seemed like the other bootcamps changed instructors a lot so it was hard to get the same instruction.I liked that LearningFuze had consistent instructors that had extensive industry experience.
I went to a free seminar at LearningFuze and talked to the staff. LearningFuze is honest; they told us "This is going to be really hard. Just so you know, if you want to do this, make sure you really want to do this." They don't really try and sell you on it so much. They kept saying, "Make sure this is something you want to do." After looking at their success rate, I knew I really wanted to do the bootcamp. I completed the Root Level 1 Course, and it was a lot of fun, and I learned a ton of stuff. Root Level 1 is the 2-week prep program for the full-time immersion program which I’ve just recently started.
What motivated you to do the Root Level 1 program first? Were you already thinking about doing the full-time bootcamp?
People should do Codecademy before doing the Root course because it gives you a very good base. I had to do a lot of work for the Root 1 course. I learned a lot, but I feel like I learned more because I already had the basics. I didn't have to learn how to set up a style sheet because I already knew that, so I got to learn the cool stuff about what you could do with the style sheet.
Can you explain the Root Level 1 schedule and what a typical day was like for you?
The course is three days a week. It was Tuesdays and Thursdays remotely, and then on-site on Saturdays. Even though it was only three days a week, I was still programming several hours a day for the Root course. The way they set it up is really good. Any time I had a question, I could just go on Slack and I could ask anyone a question. Daniel, Collette, Tim, Shawn, or any of the main instructors would get back to you really quickly.
LearningFuze gave us an agenda every day. They would say, "Here are a couple of things to read, here are some slides, here's a video. Now go over all the things on the slides." It's like they give you the CliffsNotes version on the slides, but then when you watch the video, they go in depth with each little note they have. You also have a project each day. It started off with basic HTML, then advanced HTML, a little bit of CSS, advanced CSS, then got into bootstrap. They give you big projects to do with media queries and making sure that what you're designing can be seen through all different spectrums, be it a laptop, desktop, phone, and or tablet.
How many instructors were teaching the Root 1 program?
Daniel Paschal is the director of the course and he has two additional instructors that are there for any kind of support you need. There were probably about three instructors on site each day. The class is only 12 people, so you get a lot of hands-on help.
What was something that stood out to you within this prep program and was there anything that solidified your decision to do the full immersion course?
LearningFuze makes the learning process really fun, and the personalities of the instructors really convinced me. Daniel, for example, really wants to make you a programmer. He wants people to think like a programmer, and it's really helpful. You can tell he wants you to succeed. They all want you to succeed. If you go to community college, it's just not the same. They're getting you in and getting you out – there's not really any independent help.
Did you work a lot with other students in Root 1? Was your cohort diverse?
On Saturdays, when we were in class together, we got to spend time working together. They paired us into groups of 3-4 for exercises. LearningFuze also gave us survey questions a few times throughout Root 1. We did a quiz, then got together, discussed the answers, and if you have any questions, the whole class discussed it. I would talk with the other cohort members a little bit on chat and then more in the classroom.
As far as occupational backgrounds go, it was pretty varied. There were people like me who were servers in restaurants. There were musicians. There were people who work in insurance who were there to help understand how to talk to programmers who they work with. There were younger students, but I'd say the age range was early 20's to late 30's. All different kinds of ethnic backgrounds were represented and it was probably 3:1, male to female ratio.
Has Root Level 1 helped you decide the type of job you’d like to pursue?
I think I'm waiting for the full immersion course to make that decision. I know that front end web development would be nice because it’s rewarding to see what you code. Eventually, I'd like to get into game development, but that would be down the road. I just enjoy coding, regardless of the job. If it's a program that does something cool, I’d like to work on it. Back-end is important, of course, but I just get a little bit more satisfaction from front-end development.
Did LearningFuze touch on career prep and the job search in the Root 1 program?
In Root 1, they did touch on career prep in the intro course and the Root 1 program. I heard more about interviewing when I went for my interview; The Director of Operations talked about how LearningFuze is connected to different companies and recruiters and that they also teach you how to effectively interview for jobs in the programming industry.
Did you have to reapply for the immersive bootcamp after you finished Root 1?
I didn't have to reapply because the LearningFuze team knew from the start that I wanted to do the full immersion course. They constantly asked who was considering the full immersion course, and every time I'd raise my hand they’d say, "We know that you are, Sean!"
Do you feel prepared for the full immersive course?
The instructors suggested to mostly focus on for-loops and CSS bootstrap before starting the full immersion bootcamp. It was really helpful to know the important things to concentrate on beforehand.
What’s the Irvine, CA tech scene like? Will you stay in the area after the full immersion course?
The tech scene in Irvine is huge. Another great thing LearningFuze does is constantly help you build and update a portfolio for your resume. Once I finish LearningFuze, I’ll be able to start getting experience to include on my resume.
Another really good resource that they talked about at LearningFuze is meetup.com. I looked at web development in like the Los Angeles area and there are hundreds of meetups for game developers, web designers, back-end programmers, and front-end programmers. LearningFuze teaches you how to network like crazy.
Once I‘ve got some experience, I'll probably leave Southern California and go back to Colorado. I've looked on Monster and Indeed, and there are so many jobs out there. I have friends in Colorado who have said multiple times, "We need a good front end web developer. Our website looks like garbage." I see that I could already do way better from what I've learned in the Root course.
How has the first week in the full immersion course been?
What has been your biggest challenge in your transition into tech?
I feel like the biggest challenge is going to be that first job – that's always scary. You don't want to fail. But so far it's been nothing but good. I do a lot of active stuff, and I exercise a lot. As a server in a restaurant it's really hard to do that because I don't want to go out and run six miles and go rock climbing, and then go and run around a restaurant for six hours having people yell at me. I see programming as exercise for my mind. Computer programming and physical exercise go hand-in-hand in a way. You're getting a mental workout and a physical workout.
What advice do you have for people thinking about making a career change and attending a coding bootcamp? Should they do a prep course first?
I would say do a prep course first because coding is definitely not something that's for everybody. Do a two-week prep course and see how you feel. If it's not clicking, it might not be for you. But if it is, and you get it at all, keep going with it. If you like it at all, there are so many options. Bootcamps are great. If someone is already doing a computer information science degree, my advice is to keep going, and supplement it with a bootcamp later on. It's a lot of fun, and there are a lot of opportunities out there- you can move anywhere and make a lot of money.
It’s that time again! A time to reflect on the year that is coming to an end, and a time to plan for what the New Year has in store. While it may be easy to beat yourself up about certain unmet goals, one thing is for sure: you made it through another year! And we bet you accomplished more than you think. Maybe you finished your first Codecademy class, made a 30-day Github commit streak, or maybe you even took a bootcamp prep course – so let’s cheers to that! But if learning to code is still at the top of your Resolutions List, then taking the plunge into a coding bootcamp may be the best way to officially cross it off. We’ve compiled a list of stellar schools offering full-time, part-time, and online courses with start dates at the top of the year. Five of these bootcamps even have scholarship money ready to dish out to aspiring coders like you.Continue Reading →
If you’re wondering what type of career help you’ll receive if you attend LearningFuze’s 12-week full stack coding bootcamp in Orange County, CA, look no further. We chatted with Director of Operations, Bill Cunningham, to learn more about the job placement process and how they are helping students find new roles as software developers. See why LearningFuze focuses on teaching students how to learn, find out the top technologies for Southern California employers, and what tips they have for improving a student’s online presence for potential employers!
Tell us about the career placement team at LearningFuze and how they guide students towards their first jobs?
We have a staff dedicated to the employment prep and search process led by our program manager. However, everyone at LearningFuze plays some role in the placement process given that the instructors have relationships in the marketplace and often interact at different functions in which LearningFuze participates or sponsors.
With that said, career placement is a partnership between the student and the bootcamp, and both parties need to be wholly dedicated to the process. There is some misinformation in the market that pursuing a job in a vocation where there is strong demand is relatively easy. It takes dedication and hard work just like the commitment and passion needed to learning software development. It’s about finding that company that is the right fit at the right time, and that takes work.
When does the job placement process start at LearningFuze? Do you believe that students should start the job search before they graduate?
The search portion of job placement should optimally begin once a student has completed and polished their portfolio and resume. We encourage students to not begin looking for employment until the completion of the program so that they are completely focused on learning and acquiring the necessary skills. It is important to be focused without distractions during the training so that graduates are best prepared to compete to land that dream job once the search begins.
What types of jobs are LearningFuze students prepared for when they graduate? Even though LearningFuze teaches PHP, could a student apply for a Rails job or even a front end developer job?
We teach students to think programmatically and we teach students to learn as well as gain the skills technically. This is the reason we go very deeply in the technologies in which we focus. We have had students land positions across the spectrum of development from front end to back end and across a myriad of technologies not even necessarily taught in the program. Often, companies want problem solvers and people they want to work with as much as they may want specific technologies.
The technical interview is notoriously tough. How does LearningFuze train students to get through that process?
We conduct mock interviews, resume reviews, mock whiteboard interviews with senior instructors and discuss the importance of soft skills and effective presentation in an interview. In addition, employers often come to the facility to address the students and provide valuable perspective on the importance of soft skills, culture fit, and technical skills.
Where do you suggest LearningFuze students start their job search?
We work with students on the job search in a number of different ways:
- Connect them with our employer relationships directly or through different events we host or in which we participate
- Connect them with specific recommended recruiters
- Connect them with alumni and other developers in the marketplace
- Provide a structured approach to the job search so that we and the student are able to track their progress and assist with specific companies in which they have applied
How important are meetups and networking to a LearningFuze students’ job search process?
A large percentage of positions (60% to 70%) are often never even posted, but rather the positions are in the mind of the hiring manager, or an executive at the company. Tapping into the unseen job market through networking is an important part of the process. We encourage graduates to network with the mindset of how he or she can help someone else. This magnanimous approach is much more effective and leads to stronger relationships and often helps to reduce the reluctance to network. LearningFuze hosts several Meetups and collaborates with others in the tech community to either sponsor or host different networking/educational events.
What sort of advice do you give your students for creating their online presence on LinkedIn, Twitter, or a personal portfolio site?
A job seeker’s online presence starts with LinkedIn, and graduates need to have a profile that is appealing. The profile should include a picture that is appropriate as well as contact information, projects, GitHub profile, and of course experience. Twitter profiles should also have an updated picture, background and bio, and include projects and GitHub profile. Leveraging Twitter can be equally powerful to LinkedIn in making contact with hiring managers, mentors, companies, and others. A word of caution from many employers that have come to the facility to address the students is to ensure that the online presence (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) best represents them and does not detract from their character by containing offensive or questionable content. One of the first things that employers will do is to Google applicants to see their online presence!
Is there a Job Guarantee at LearningFuze?
LearningFuze will continue to help students until they find a position. If you successfully finish the program, you can obtain a position in the industry with the help of our employer connections and relationships. Students have the option to receive a prorated refund on their tuition up until the end of the first week of the in-class session should they not be satisfied with the program or unable to continue.
Do most LearningFuze students choose to pursue their first job in web development after graduation? How do you support entrepreneurial students?
Students have started their own business as well as landed employment as developers. For instance, Ingen Concepts was created by LearningFuze students. LearningFuze supports all graduates and we are always available to alumni to answer any questions technically or otherwise. Once we make a commitment to a student, we are all in!
In your experience, what do employers like about LearningFuze graduates? What makes LearningFuze grads different from other Orange County developers?
LearningFuze teaches very deeply in the technologies most needed in the Southern California marketplace. This is to ensure students have a sound and fundamentally strong understanding of those languages that are most critical to employment. The program emulates a worklike experience so students not only learn the technologies, but also how to function in a Dev environment. Our motto is that we want to produce students we would would want to hire in the commercial marketplace!
Once we accept a student into the program we feel strongly that we have made a commitment to that student and have an obligation to ensure that we provide the necessary resources and time so that the student is able to acquire the necessary skills. This is a partnership however, so students are equally committed and passionate about their education and the program, which leads to the best learning experience for all involved. We also have four senior level developers with commercial development experience that all instruct or assist students in their specific areas of expertise during the course of the program led by lead instructor Dan Paschal. In addition to the seniors, there are three junior level instructors to assist students during the day-to-day interaction. This leads to a very favorable student-to-teacher ratio.
Finally, the curriculum is administered through a proprietary platform so that students have access to the materials and content 24 hours a day if necessary. Given that students are essentially working on projects that are eventually used in their portfolio throughout the day, it is important that they have ready access to the instructional material.
Can you give some examples of the sort of jobs your graduates are in now?
It runs the gamut from large companies such as Intuit, Kelley Blue Book, and Nike to small to medium size companies. We’ve had students hired before leaving the program and some the day after the cohort concludes. We’ve also had students that want to take their time, or decided to start their search after tackling personal issues. Anyone that is committed, has a passion for development and problem solving, and is willing to continue to learn while putting the time can succeed!
What does a LearningFuze + Hiring Partner relationship look like?
We have developed relationships with numerous companies in the Southern California market, with students gaining employment in Orange County, LA, San Diego and the Inland Empire. Students are introduced to employers that are looking to fill positions through the LearningFuze staff at the conclusion of the program.
Have you noticed that employers are looking for a specific language or specific soft skills in LA/OC/Irvine?
Do employer partners have influence over the LearningFuze curriculum? Is there a feedback loop in place?
We are constantly talking to employers and gaining feedback on what is taught in the program to ensure the curriculum is meeting the needs of the market. LearningFuze has received valuable feedback from Kelley Blue Book, BigRentz, and Experian.
Does LearningFuze have current stats on acceptance rates, job placement stats, and average starting salary for graduates?
The hiring rate slightly varies from one cohort to the next, but approximately 96% of graduates engaged in the employment search process will be employed within 2 (2.08) months of beginning their job search.
Stan was a lab assistant who moved to the HR department while pursuing his marketing degree. But he soon realized that marketing wasn’t for him, and decided to switch gears to learn code at LearningFuze web development bootcamp in Orange County, California. Stan is now a web developer at YoloCare and loving it. Find out why LearningFuze “was the best, most intense, and most fun learning experience” he’s ever had, and how he’s now giving back by mentoring new LearningFuze students in his spare time.
What was your educational or career path before you attended LearningFuze?
My path before LearningFuze was somewhat of a mess because I didn't really have a career. I’m originally from Singapore and moved to the US at 17. I had been in California for about four years or so, and had been doing different office and restaurant jobs. I also worked at Quest Diagnostics as a lab assistant and the HR department while getting my degree in marketing all the while looking for my passion.
I did try a job or two in marketing, and concluded it wasn’t really for me. I'd always really liked working with computers, so I did some research into bootcamps and specifically LearningFuze.
What made you want to learn to code after getting a marketing degree?
I've always been very computer oriented, and in my marketing roles, I had the opportunity to set up Wordpress sites. Many were crummy sites with very limited capabilities but my interest was piqued and wanted to be able to do greater things around building applications and websites.
In doing my research, I thought to myself, "Okay, I want to do this and I'm not really doing anything right now." I had quit my job at Quest and had gone to Peru to do some traveling. During that time, I made the decision to apply to LearningFuze and after working through the application process a week later I was in the program!
One of the things that helped me make the decision was that one of my friends at the time, had attended a coding bootcamp. She kept saying, "This is awesome. I'm making a lot of money. I can work remotely. I can vacation all the time. I’m coding in Hawaii!" It just made me realize, "Oh, yeah. I want to do that."
Did you research any other bootcamps besides LearningFuze?
I looked at other bootcamps, but the amount of good press on the internet for LearningFuze far outweighed other options.
Did you use any online resources to teach yourself web development before you attended LearningFuze?
I used Codecademy and Treehouse, and pretty much anything that I could find. Sometimes it made more sense to watch additional videos on You Tube about a certain concept.
What was your LearningFuze admission process like?
LearningFuze encourages you to go over the recommended study material, and they also provided practice problems to answer and I got most of them right. Then I was interviewed by the founder and staff to see if I was really capable of keeping up with the pace of the program. I guess they thought I was capable because I was admitted a week later.
Could you walk me through a typical day at LearningFuze?
I would wake up really early and get there at 7:30am, way earlier than the 10am class start time which was recommended by the lead instructor. I was a part of the morning bunch where we would do practice problems to get the day started. The learning would be nonstop until about 7:00pm or 8:00pm at night. The experience was pretty intense, especially during lessons that were a bit overwhelming. Because the learning is nonstop and LearningFuze is throwing new material at you, you’re completely immersed in it.
There were some breaks throughout the day where you could go outside and play badminton to clear your mind. Usually, those breaks allowed you to figure out the solution to the problem you were working on. Then it would be time to get back to coding.
Describe the instructors at LearningFuze.
We had two instructors, Dan, the lead instructor, and then there was Eric, one of the senior developers who also provided instruction. Dan was a warm and caring teacher so I really gravitated towards him. There were also other LearningFuze junior developers that assisted during the course of the day. A large portion of the instruction was done by Dan, and he's really excellent at it! This was the best and most fun learning experience I’ve ever had. It blew everything else out the water. If I could just learn at LearningFuze forever, I would do that.
What was your LearningFuze cohort like?
Our cohort was a really good group of people and we're still great friends. There were about 25 people, including about five women, and we had a hodgepodge of backgrounds. One guy turned 21 during the cohort, so the students took him out and did a little “celebration” on his birthday. That was fun!
LearningFuze conducts a small personality test pre-cohort when you're still doing prep work from home. We were told the majority of the cohort were really more introverted except for me and a couple of other people. We were the party starters and the dynamic worked well.
While you were at LearningFuze, was your favorite project that you worked on?
At the beginning, when you don’t really know what you’re doing, there's a big feeling of togetherness throughout the cohort. Everyone felt that, "oh, I don't really know what I'm doing. How do you do that?" So you would try and help each other. Towards the end, you have real, complex team projects where it's six of you on a team, and you're each doing your part. So this was a different kind of togetherness. I liked the whole experience and every project. There was no real favorite.
Did LearningFuze help you with job search preparation?
Yes, LearningFuze had mock interviews on whiteboards where you'd actually answer technical questions on the whiteboard, which was terrifying. Instructors would purposely make the questions difficult but it was great preparation for when you’d have to do a real technical question in an interview.
LearningFuze also worked to get your LinkedIn looking good, and our resumes and portfolios had to be submitted for review. They also brought in a guy who helped us with job placement. I trusted the process and listened to him because he’s helped a lot of other bootcamp grads find jobs.
What are you up to now that you’ve finished at LearningFuze?
I'm now a Web Developer for YoloCare and decided to go with a smaller company where we make websites for nursing homes. We have a lot of different clients and I also maintain and manage the servers and the websites. Whatever the support team can't do on the backend of WordPress, I also do.
Congrats! Tell me what the interview and hiring process was like for your new role.
It seemed like I was putting in a bunch of resumes, and for about a month, I wasn’t hearing anything back. It was kind of depressing because then I thought “Did I do the right thing? Did I make the right choice? Oh man, that was a lot of money.” Then everyone started asking me for an interview at the same time.
So the week I met with YoloCare, I had an interview with other companies every single day, so that felt great. I had applied to YoloCare the night before, and the very next morning I got an email asking if I could be there in an hour. Fortunately, I was available so I went. Everybody was super nice and super chill. Almost immediately, I felt that I wanted to work there. It seemed like the stars aligned and everything clicked.
What's a typical day like for you as a web developer at YoloCare?
I’ve been at YoloCare for about three months. The company is really flexible because when there is less to do, it's okay for me to study “stuff”, like topics I'm interested in because ultimately it will help the company. The more I know, the more I can do. So I love that about this job.
What was the ramp up period like for when you first started as a web developer?
I was so terrified. There’s one other developer on the team and he was on a surfing trip in Mexico when I first started. When I came in, I didn't know how everything was set up. Tickets would start coming in and it was pretty much, "yeah, fix this, fix that." It took some initial adjusting and at first I kept thinking, "oh, they're going to fire me!" And then he came back from his trip and he showed me how things were done at the company and I was set.
Are you utilizing the same languages that you were taught at LearningFuze in your current role?
Oh, yeah. One of my favorite parts of the job is coding on the server side in PHP. It’s great because I’m doing exactly what I wanted to do.
What would be your biggest challenge on your journey to learning web development?
I honestly think the hardest part is polishing your portfolio after you're done with the bootcamp. You're not always at the facility anymore so it’s important to stay focused, never stop learning and to stay motivated.
Are you still connected to the LearningFuze community?
Yes, I was there just yesterday helping out. I like being there because it's fun and it’s a good environment. LearningFuze gave me a lot, so I like to go back and help others with their problems and projects. I can sit down and talk them through by asking questions like, "Why is this working like that? What exactly are you trying to do? Have you really identified the problem?" and then they get to work, it feels great.
What advice do you have for people who are considering attending a coding bootcamp?
Just do it. I am 100% glad I did it because my life is so much better.
Eric Johnson started programming in the “dot-com” days, and has worked since February 2015 as a senior instructor and developer at LearningFuze, which is a web-development bootcamp and code school in Orange County (Irvine), CA. We talk to Eric about hiring developers without Computer Science degrees, the types of jobs LearningFuze students are landing in Southern California, and how the program has changed over the years to offer the most updated and relevant curriculum to future developers.
First tell us about your background and experience. How long have you been programming?
I started programming 17 years ago when I was bored and decided to experiment with a build-your-own-site platform to create template versions of certain websites. I saw that when I used the HTML version, I could see the results of changing code which was exciting to me. Soon after that, I had a mentor who was a computer programmer and got me more into computers.
I worked in several jobs to figure out what I was passionate about - from I.T. at a real estate company, to database work, to Flash animations. It wasn't until I went on Craigslist and found my first web position at a small company that I discovered what I really loved.
Did you get a traditional Computer Science degree?
I actually never thought about getting a CS degree. While CS programs do teach a lot of good things, they take a lot of time and money, and I think a lot of what makes someone successful comes down to the individual person. I’ve had experience hiring people who had CS degrees but who ended up not having practical knowledge and didn’t meet expectations. And I’ve hired people without CS degrees who have done really well. Knowing what I know now, if I had to choose between going through a bootcamp followed by getting 3+ years of job experience vs. spending four years getting a CS degree and no experience, I’d choose the bootcamp route every time.
That being said, one of our senior instructors has a CS degree, and we value students having one as well because they’ve already learned a lot of programming fundamentals. This reduces how much instruction they require in that area, so we offer discounts to people who already have a CS degree or who are part-way through a CS degree program.
Since you spent 17 years as a self-taught developer, did you have to be convinced of the effectiveness of the bootcamp model?
Actually, I was more into the idea of a bootcamp because I was self-taught. I know you can’t fit 12 years of knowledge into a 12-week bootcamp, but you can certainly fit a lot in, and it forms the basis for how you learn. When I was learning on my own, I was essentially learning the hard way. A bootcamp turns the lessons others have already learned into a curriculum to help jumpstart someone to becoming a developer way quicker than they could have done on their own.
Did you have teaching experience before teaching at LearningFuze?
My teaching experience before LearningFuze comes from managing a team of developers which entails a lot of teaching, one-on-one instruction, best practices, and knowledge transfer, and I’ve done that for many years.
Now that you’ve been an official instructor at LearningFuze for a year and a half, what have you learned about being a teacher?
I’ve learned that my passion for teaching actually is energized by the students’ excitement for learning to code and that I don't tend to give answers as much as help students find out how to ask the right questions. Instead of giving an answer, I look for ways to respond with another question to help reason through to the solution. Some people really appreciate that style because they know they’ll need to be able to learn the right questions to ask, to solve problems on their own in a real-world work environment. That’s not to say I never just give answers, but as the saying goes, if I can teach someone to fish rather than give them a fish, that benefits them more.
Are you involved in the admissions process at all? How do you filter for those ideal students at LearningFuze who are actually going to be passionate about learning?
Sometimes I am directly involved, but a lot of the time it’s behind the scenes work such as enhancing the process, upgrading the registration system or flow, changing how we assess people, etc. We want to admit people who we think will be successful in the program, whether they have little experience or a lot of experience, and we are continually trying to improve our assessments to gauge that.
In my job before LearningFuze, I hired probably 50 or 60 people over five or six years, and what I found after major modifications to the interview process is that there are certain questions and responses that are valuable in predicting someone’s success potential, and certain questions that aren’t very reliable.
How has the curriculum changed since you've been at LearningFuze and what warrants a change to the curriculum?
We change the curriculum every cohort and in iterative ways, not in wholesale changes. The students in each cohort learn differently, so we tailor and refine the curriculum with each cohort. We’re always trying to better engage students, make the projects even more interesting and relevant, or focus on specific technologies, concepts, and frameworks that we think will best benefit students in the job market. We cover a lot of things, but we spend the most time on technologies that are used by major sites like Wikipedia and Facebook and also are used by a huge percentage of smaller sites and are in demand both in the area and nationally.
Since I came on board at LearningFuze, we’ve also tracked progress better. We have our own custom learning system and a specific agenda for students to follow; whereas before, we just stuck to a verbal curriculum. We’ve built a learning platform that students log into and see their progress and how their skills are progressing, and we continue to build onto and enhance this so it’s more and more valuable to students.
One thing we have done to branch out to different topics, even more so recently, is host a lot of meetups for graduates. Those aren’t necessarily public meetups, but rather for alumni to be able to learn something specific that we may not have covered in depth in the program. Once we have enough graduates who ask about a certain subject, we’ll refine new projects and topics during a meetup, and then consider introducing it to future cohorts.
Do most of your students still get jobs in PHP when they graduate?
Do you have a student success story that stands out with you?
About six weeks into a cohort, one student was really struggling. He had trouble articulating what a variable was at that point. We had a serious conversation with him and told him this wasn’t going to get any easier, so if he really wanted to succeed, he’d have to put in time, energy, and effort. By the end of the program, he was middle to upper tier because he buckled down and put in the work that was needed. He has since graduated and now he gets excited about things on a daily basis, and sees those challenges as something fun to solve. It's cool to see someone come so far, and it says a lot about them as a person.
Is there an ideal student to teacher ratio at LearningFuze?
Our goal is to stay at 5:1 and to keep everyone actively engaged by having at least one or two senior level and one or two junior level developers per classroom. If a student has a question, a junior developer is there for them, but can also quickly escalate it to senior developers. What’s great about our junior developers is they’ve been through the program so they know the curriculum and aren’t just coming up with whatever they may think is best.
Besides myself, there are two other senior instructors. There’s our lead instructor who started programming before I did, who has professional experience with a lot of different programming languages and platforms. He worked for many companies including leading very large teams and companies. He also has prior instructional and educational experience and is really committed to the students. The other senior instructor has a computer science degree, certifications in PHP, MySQL, ASP.NET, and Javas, plus 10 years of experience at a digital agency where he was the director of web development and worked on a wide variety of sites for big name companies.
What resources or meetups do you recommend for aspiring bootcampers in Southern California?
LearningFuze also hosts the Orange County New Developers Meetup which we’ve tailored to very junior level developers. That’s a great way to learn what it takes to be a good developer (both technically and non-technically).
David was working in technology sales when he discovered his passion for coding. He tried to teach himself but had too many unanswered questions, so decided to attend LearningFuze coding bootcamp in Orange County, CA. He graduated in early January 2016, and is now a developer at digital agency Taylor Digital. David tells us why he wanted to learn PHP, why he continued coding and learning during the job search, and how the fast paced nature of LearningFuze prepared him well for his new job.
What is your pre-bootcamp story?
I graduated with a health policy and administration degree from Penn State, then went into technology sales. I worked at an IT reseller for two years, in Chicago then I moved to California for another technology sales job. While I think sales is a fulfilling career, I wanted to find something I had more of a passionate interest in.
Why did you want to go to a bootcamp?
My goal was to transition out of sales. Without a finance or business background, it was hard to find a job I was qualified for outside of sales. I actually didn’t know that coding bootcamps existed until a friend of mine who works in tech told me about them. I realized I didn’t have to go back to school, and started researching coding bootcamps. My goal in going to a coding bootcamp was to get a job as software or web developer.
Did you try to teach yourself to code before investing in a coding bootcamp?
Since I work in tech sales, I had always tried to teach myself to code a little bit and dabbled in Codecademy, but it was just too difficult to learn on my own. I struggled personally because I had so many questions to ask. After LearningFuze, I can Google anything and even if the answer is written in code I can understand it and figure it out. But when I didn’t have a strong understanding of programming, it was hard to move forward.
Did you research other coding bootcamps or only LearningFuze?
At first I was also looking in San Francisco, but my girlfriend and husky are here in Orange County, so disappearing for 3 months wasn't really an option. Also a lot of the coding bootcamps in San Francisco told me that their employer network is only the Bay Area, so I was looking primarily around OC for bootcamps.
I went to a couple different open houses. I looked at Sabio, I went to an info session at Orange County Code School, and then LearningFuze.
I chose LearningFuze because I could tell that I wouldn’t be afraid to ask questions in their environment. I went to a front end web development intro class to see if this is an environment where I’d be supported. I wanted to know if my questions would get answered, what’s the student to teacher ratio, etc. I found that in one day I learned more than I did over two months of studying and learning on my own. It was incredible just how rapid the learning was. Going to the classroom and seeing how amazing it was is what got me hooked.
Was it important for you to learn a specific programming language or stack?
I looked at all the job opportunities in Orange County, and I realized that the coding bootcamps were all teaching different technology stacks. As I was researching, I saw the majority of jobs posted on LinkedIn and Indeed were LAMP stack – PHP and MySQL, and LearningFuze focuses primarily on that.
One of the instructors informed me they were not only teaching us the languages, but also the fundamentals of programming itself, so regardless of where you end up or what you’re doing, you’d have a strong fundamental understanding of how things work.
All the cards aligned perfectly, from what they offer, to what the market is demanding, to what I wanted out of a program, to where I thought I needed to be personally. I made a very calculated decision to make sure LearningFuze was going to get me to where I wanted to be in my career.
Did you think about doing a 4-year Computer Science degree?
My parents asked me that too, and I don’t think I need one. Once you know enough to be able to research and Google questions on your own, you don’t need a CS degree. Before LearningFuze I couldn’t teach myself because I had so many questions, but now I can answer them myself. Plus there were also people with CS degrees in my LearningFuze class.
How did you pay for it? Did you use a financing partner? Did you get a scholarship?
Fortunately I was able to pay for it myself. I saved up a bunch of money, and my parents helped out as well, since they’re happy to help with education. I know LearningFuze has a financing program, but I didn’t have to use it.
How large was your class? Was it diverse in terms of gender, race, life and career backgrounds?
There were about 20 people. All of the sales jobs I had were like boys clubs- very macho. It was nice being in an environment where it’s the opposite of that and very diverse. My class was half women, half men. As far as demographics, there were people of all cultural and ethnic backgrounds. We were able to learn to program and make friends. I still talk to plenty of my colleagues now over Hipchat, part of the alumni network.
What was the student:teacher ratio at LearningFuze?
The teacher student ratio was about 1:5. Dan and Eric were the senior instructors and we had two junior instructors – Scott and Travis.
What was the learning experience like at LearningFuze — tell us about a typical day and teaching style?
At around 11am there is a lecture for around 30 mins on a new topic. The instructors try not to talk to us for too long, because they want us to actually be programming.
LearningFuze was very fast paced. I wouldn’t be halfway done with one project and we’d already been assigned another one or a group project. You’re constantly working on different things, different projects, debugging problems in your code. There would be a feature list of requirements on the board that you need for certain projects, so you’re constantly working on building and implementing those. And of course a big part of the program is getting stuck, figuring out problems, and having a support team of people there to help you move along. It was shockingly similar to what I’m doing now at my new job – I’m working on 15 different projects, jumping around, fixing stuff, building in new features.
What was your favorite project that you worked on?
I also liked my final project, an apartment finder. I continued working on it after the end of the bootcamp for a month before I started applying for jobs. I built it in a new framework. Doing that, while getting my portfolio together, and interfacing with LearningFuze on job search, was a really cool experience. It’s hard when the program is over because you really have to figure things out yourself. Working on this project was the first time I was set free, and had to figure everything out on the front and back end.
How did LearningFuze prepare you for job hunting?
We had about 5 or 6 projects we worked on during the class. Almost 100% of getting in the door for the first interview is having a presentable portfolio. You can be the most knowledgeable programmer but if you don’t really have a portfolio, or no experience on paper, why would someone interview you? It was important to have a solid, presentable, clean, unique portfolio. I had the projects I’d done in class and the work I’d done on my own outside class.
As far as the job hunt goes, Bill Cunningham (the founder of LearningFuze) was instrumental in helping me get a job. He’s like your job hunting partner. I found a job in just a couple of weeks. I was in sales so I knew how to crawl LinkedIn, mass apply to everything, and reach out directly to a bunch of recruiters, and HR people. I was doing my part and getting about 50% of my own interviews, but on top of that Bill was throwing interviews my way.
There were also soft skills mock interviews during the course. Most of us had never interviewed for a developer job, so the instructors did technical interviews with us, then Bill was handling the soft-skills. I’ve learned you can be very technical, but if you can’t articulate that, it’s going to be tough to get a job. You can also be very articulate, but if you’re not technical enough then you may not know enough. You have to have to be strong in both areas which is something LearningFuze tries to help you polish throughout the program.
Tell us about your developer job now!
I work at a digital agency in San Clemente, CA called Taylor Digital. They build custom web applications and websites for clients throughout the state and nationally. I’m primarily a backend web developer, working with PHP and frameworks like Laravel, CodeIgniter, and I’ve started learning ColdFusion.
What’s your role, and what does your day to day look like as a new developer?
I’m the lead developer on a couple projects, and it’s a small team, so I often help out on other projects too. Every day, I don’t know exactly what I’ll be working on – it’s always something different and new. That’s why LearningFuze designed their bootcamp to be very fast paced and constantly jumping from one thing to another.
I work under the direction of very experienced senior developers, so I get to learn a lot, not just about languages, but about the web, best practices, how things should run, and how to make efficient sites which can handle 1000s of hits. It’s a really good opportunity to be in an environment where I can keep that bootcamp mentality alive, keep pushing forward, accelerating, and learning at a rapid rate.
How did you stay motivated during the job search? Any advice for future bootcampers?
It was frustrating getting out of the bootcamp mindset, and moving into the job hunt mindset. But it’s important to keep coding and keep moving forward. Balancing out the 12 hours a day of coding I was used to doing with the 8 hours of job hunting that I needed to do was tough.
I would try to send out 30 to 40 resumes per day, using websites like Zip Recruiter, Indeed, and LinkedIn. I found if I shot out 30 resumes one day, the next day I’d have 1 or 2 people call me back. So every day I’d block out an hour or two to send out applications, then spend the rest of the day coding and learning. There were so many jobs with different technology requirements, so I was trying to learn different build tools for those. The job hunt is no different from the bootcamp- you’ve got to work hard every day. The whole point of LearningFuze was to get a developer job.
Are you using the PHP stack that you learned at LearningFuze? Have you had to learn new technologies?
Yeah it’s been crazy. I’ve had to learn a new text editor called Coda, a front end system to combine your files called Gulp, and a backend language called ColdFusion. I’ve had to work with two different content management systems, WordPress, and OpenCart, a PHP framework built on CodeIgniter. I had to learn another PHP framework called Laravel as well for another project. The terminal is huge in this job. I’m learning something new every day.
What was the ramp up period like? How did you learn all of these new technologies?
There was an expectation that the faster you learn, the faster you can start diving into these projects and working on them. I was given two days to learn Laravel. Even though it could seem overwhelming at the time, it was no different from what I was doing before I started the job. I was already spending 12 hours a day coding and learning.
Programming really feels like more of a hobby than a job, which is one of the reasons I wanted to do it in the first place. If I came home from work at 5pm, I’d spend 3 to 4 hours learning at home. I still spend that time coding, either doing Laravel or learning new technologies that I find interesting.
How do you stay involved with LearningFuze after graduation? Is the alumni network strong?
LearningFuze is always hosting events, and we’re invited to all of the guest speaker events. For example, they hosted a hackathon last week, and I recently guest judged the final projects for a cohort. Every week there’s a lunch, events, alumni meetups, so I try to go to some of them. The alumni network is going to be my biggest resource, so I try to stay engaged and involved.
Plus, I had such a great time at LearningFuze; it’s almost like going to summer camp for three months. You get to learn real world skills, and you’re learning skills to get a job, but you also make friends, have a good time and build relationships with the instructors and the people there.
What advice do you have for future bootcampers who want to make a career change like you did?
First, you should definitely try Codecademy and make sure that coding is something you want to do every day as a lifelong commitment, as well as something you can find passion in and do as a hobby at home. It’s not just a three-month ride at a coding bootcamp and then you’re done. I’m still working every day to learn new things, whether for my own personal gain or for work. And that’s not going to end. One of my instructors put it well when he said, “it’s a marathon not a race.” Programming really is a 20-year journey. I’ve come so far since LearningFuze, but I’m still light years away from where I want to be. You need to understand that before you do a bootcamp, otherwise you can get burned out.
As far as researching bootcamps, find one that teaches the skills that will help you get a job in the market you're applying in, because the tools in demand are going to be different in every area. And, make sure you find a bootcamp with an environment you can excel in.
A coding bootcamp can propel your career in tech to new heights, but that often means quitting a job, uprooting your life, or moving to a new city. Maybe you’re moving to a new city to become a developer and need a short-term housing option. Or perhaps you’re an international student without credit history. Regardless of your background, funds can become tight when committing to a full-time, intensive bootcamp, and suddenly expenses like rent and food can be stressful. Luckily, there are coding bootcamps that make housing easy.Continue Reading →
Trevor Linan discovered his love for code when a friend asked him to help design a website for an underground music label. He quit his job as a museum store associate, and started LearningFuze’s full time coding bootcamp in Irvine, CA in June 2015. After graduating he quickly found a job as a front end developer, but had his sights set on starting his own business. He is now co-owner and CTO of startup Hero Cybernetics, and a web designer at inGen Concepts.
What were you doing before LearningFuze? What is your educational background? Your last career path?
I spent the past 10 or 11 years in retail. Right before LearningFuze I was working at Bowers Museum in their gallery store, running the register, helping customers, and helping the manager with graphic design work for the TV displays. I started at Cypress College right out of high school, but had no real direction. Then about four or five years into my studies I really got into philosophy and decided to major in it. And doing philosophy is how I met my current business partner, Jose. We were both class presidents, and took a symbolic logic class together.
What made you decide to quit your job and focus on web development as a career transformation?
My best friend wanted to start a record label for underground music and build a website for it. His mom, a programmer for Boeing, started to put together a website, but she had no design experience at all. I don’t have official education in design, but I’m good with design, so she asked me to help her out. I was using an outdated web design tool, called WebEasy Professional. As much as I enjoyed designing the website, there was a lot of stuff I couldn’t do but wanted to do. It intrigued me to figure out how to do it on my own, so I decided I wanted to dig deeper into coding. That led me to learn HTML and CSS which I absolutely loved. I was hooked from my first HTML class.
What tools did you use to start learning to code? How useful were they?
Did you look at other bootcamps or just LearningFuze?
I looked at a couple of online coding bootcamps, but that was pretty much it. LearningFuze was the first one I found that I really wanted to go to. So I set up an interview with them and went to check out the school. Purely based on their presentation on website, and my initial interview with them, I knew right away that’s where I wanted to go. There was no question, it was really simple for me to decide.
What factors were important to you when choosing a coding bootcamp?
Price definitely mattered, but most of the bootcamps I looked at were in a similar price range. My concern was more with quality of people and education. I absolutely loved interviewing with Fabian and Bill from LearningFuze. They were super friendly, informational, and interested in me and what I wanted to learn. It was very easy for me to decide go to their bootcamp.
Their curriculum was a huge factor also. Most other bootcamps I looked at were offering specific languages or frameworks, like Angular or Mean Stack, but LearningFuze focuses on core concepts behind the languages, not a specific language. That was exactly what I wanted to learn. If you don’t know the basic concepts behind programming, you’re not going to be able to get very far. Having that knowledge was very valuable.
Did you think about doing a four-year CS degree?
When I was getting into Codecademy, I did a day or so of research on CS degrees, and decided I wasn’t going to do it. It was too extensive. When I was at Cypress the highest level of math I took was stats, and I’d have had to continue with the math part. A CS degree didn’t make sense to me, I didn’t think it was necessary. I wasn’t really planning on being a general software engineer, I was more interested in web development and design.
Tell me about your class. Was it diverse in terms of gender, race, life and backgrounds?
There were 14 of us. We had two girls in our cohort and it was diverse in terms of gender and race. I still go see LearningFuze once a month, and I know they have quite a few more girls now. It was pretty diverse in terms of background, we had people with electrical engineering degrees, people from finance. We even had a married couple in our cohort. And some people came a long way to do the program – one gentleman packed up from Arizona and moved here.
A popular question we get is — How did you pay for it? Did you use a financing partner?
I had family help in paying for the school, I didn’t use financing or anything. I feel very fortunate I was able to do that. There were financing options, so if I hadn’t had help from my family, I would have used financing, no doubt.
What was the learning experience like at your bootcamp?
The required hours are 10am to 6pm Monday to Friday. But I was there from 8am until 8pm on weekdays, and 10 hours each day on the weekends. I put a lot of time and effort in. When I got there early, our main instructor Dan was always there. If you’re willing to put the time in, they invest their time in you too.
Throughout the course we also had tests, to see what we were or weren’t comprehending. Then they would give us feedback, and help us where we were struggling. Those were very valuable.
What was the coding environment like there?
Coding can be very stressful, but at LearningFuze, the staff emphasize that you need to take breaks. They say “hey, take a 10 minute break then go back to it.” It was so much fun. We had badminton competitions, there was an Xbox there, and all kinds of stuff to get your mind off coding. They made sure you were not only working hard, but also taking care of yourself. I really felt like they cared. It was like a family in there.
What was your favorite project that you created?
Tell me about the job you got after you graduated. What were you doing there?
This is a long story. After graduating from LearningFuze, before I started job hunting, I spent a month improving my portfolio, and working on a project for my friend Jose. Then right when I started looking for jobs, Jose asked me to partner with him and start a company – Hero Cybernetics. I said yes, figuring once I got a job, I could still keep working on the business.
When I started job hunting, it only took me a week to find a job. I had my first interview with Arbonne International, and got hired the same day as a front end developer, but I only worked there for four days. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Arbonne, it’s a fantastic company to work for. I felt bad quitting, but while I was there, inside I felt I wanted to be working on Hero Cybernetics. We already had companies interested in the project who would let us use them for beta testing. So I decided I needed to focus full-time on the startup.
Tell me about Hero Cybernetics! What is your life like as a co-founder?
We are building technology to optimize business activities. Essentially we want to create one complex ecosystem within a company. It will eventually have full autonomy, incorporate AI, learn from the company, learn from itself, and improve anything that’s running inefficiently. Hero Cybernetics is cloud software, so you’ll be able to access it from any device.
Within the next couple months we want to test a beta version with one or two companies. Then within a year and a half, we want to have a fully functional system that can be incorporated into a business. Then at that point we plan on expanding.
I’m building the software for Hero Cybernetics – front end and back end. I’ve been working on it about four months now. Jose handles more of the business aspect of it and helps with the coding when he can. He is the CEO. My official title is CTO.
What programming languages are you using to build Hero Cybernetics?
What sorts of things are you doing to learn new programming languages and skills after bootcamp?
I’m always plugged into the latest news feeds to do with web development. I follow pretty much all coding languages on social media, and read articles about them. I’ve also taken a few Udemy courses since LearningFuze, to keep updated on newer technologies. It’s about being proactive and involved in the web world. If you just focus on one thing, your knowledge will stagnate and you won’t progress.
You are also freelancing – tell us about that.
I have a company called inGen Concepts where I do freelance web development, web design and UX/UI work. It provides me with income while I’m working on the Hero Cybernetics software.
Was it always your goal to start your own business after the coding bootcamp?
It wasn’t at all. My intention was to go to LearningFuze then find a job doing web development, working full time in coding. After Jose asked me to partner with him, I found this part of myself that was very entrepreneurial, and I’ve taken that perspective in life now. I don’t intend to work a full time job again now. With the skills I learned at LearningFuze, plus my new sense of entrepreneurial freedom, I feel like there is no limit to what I can do.
What does a typical day look like for you as a web developer?
I split my time between Hero Cybernetics and inGen Concepts. At first it was complicated – one of the first things you learn very quickly when you’re working by yourself is how to manage your time. So now I allocate specific days or times to do one or the other.
I’ll get up and start coding straight away. I meet with Jose two or three times a week, and we’ll go through software, the business plan, and make sure we’re on schedule. It’s pretty much the same thing every week until the software is fully built out. I’m working from home, and sometimes at Jose’s place.
What advice do you have for people making a career change at a coding bootcamp?
Just make sure you know you want to do the bootcamp. I know it sounds vague, but when I wanted to go to a bootcamp, there was not one speck of doubt that I wanted to do that. Just know with 100% certainty you want to do coding and that you’re passionate about it. And if you want to take the bootcamp route, go and meet the people and really get a feel for the environment and the bootcamp and decide which one you want to go to.
Is there anything else you want to add about LearningFuze?
LearningFuze changed my life. The people there were so encouraging, so motivating. I really loved every single moment. I can’t stress that enough. I go back every month, and visit or have a badminton battle. They have a fantastic alumni network and hold events. I keep in touch with a lot of my cohort members. I wouldn’t change anything about my experience there.
Move over tinsel town and make some space in the greater Los Angeles area for some of the finest coding programs in the country. While LA once paled in comparison to San Francisco when it came to the sheer quantity of bootcamps, we've seen a surge in LA coding bootcamps this year. There is a wide choice of code schools with campuses in LA's "Silicon Beach" that all bring a unique take on web development training.Continue Reading →
The July News Roundup is your monthly news digest full of the most interesting articles and announcements in the coding bootcamp space. Want your bootcamp's news to be included in the next News Roundup? Submit announcements of new courses, scholarships, or open jobs at your school!Continue Reading →
Jordan Kimura already had a solid foundation in design and marketing. Armed with a B.A. in Graphic Design and an M.B.A., Jordan wanted to add to her web development to her skillset. She knew she wanted an immersive learning experience that offered full-stack development so that she could learn front-end and back-end coding languages to enhance her design scope. She also knew that she wanted somewhere in South Orange County to allow her the flexibility to remain active at a couple of hours per week in her humanitarian efforts. Four years ago, she founded Project Joy, where she donates generated proceeds to increase educational and social skills for children and adults with special needs. LearningFuze offered a top-quality coding education along with a perfect location for her. After attending an info session and a front-end coding workshop, she knew that LearningFuze was right for her.Continue Reading →
If you’ve been accepted to a coding bootcamp, then you’re probably smart, mature, committed, and responsible (not to mention brilliant for recognizing the importance of digital skills in today’s job environment). A great coding bootcamp admissions team should also be selecting students who are collaborative and can work well with others, and who have proven that coding is the career for them. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the ideal student is already well-versed in programming; it does mean that s/he has experimented with coding, built a personal portfolio site, or worked on cloning an app like Twitter. However, some of the best students aren’t rockstar coders, and mental preparation for a bootcamp could play just as big a role in your success as technical aptitude. Here, we’ll touch on Do’s & Don’ts for a successful coding bootcamp mindset with LearningFuze’s Fabian Toth.Continue Reading →
After managing the technical team at an education company called GameDesk, Dan Paschal caught the education bug and was hired as an instructor at Southern California bootcamp LearningFuze. Dan talks to us about programming being the new literacy, the three goals of pre-work at LearningFuze, and how their PHP curriculum continues to change.
Tell us about your background, your experience with education, programming or both.
I started programming when I was a kid, and I was self-taught because there were no readily accessible internet resources at the time. I went to college to study Computer Science, got really bored and actually had a few job offers. I dropped out and started working instead, mostly as an independent contractor. I loved the hours and I could be creative; it was really fulfilling in that sense.
After working as an independent contractor, I got into the private sector because I wanted more meaningful work, something that would have some impact in the world. After climbing the ranks to senior developer at a startup iOS game, my next path was a Dev and Technical Director at an education company called GameDesk, and I was really bitten by the education bug. I wanted to continue making that sort of difference, but I was a little hesitant to become a teacher because I wanted to affect more than just a handful of people at a time.
Before starting out here at LearningFuze, my teaching experience was with 11-year olds; but there’s a big difference between 11-year olds and Adults who are investing substantial time and money into changing their lives.
How were you introduced to LearningFuze?
I found it online through a job listing on Craigslist. It seemed like would either be really cool or an utter scam, so I explored it further, and I’m glad I did!
Had you heard of bootcamps in general before? Were you familiar with Dev Bootcamp or some of the other ones in San Francisco?
No, I wasn’t at all familiar with that concept. The only developers I’d known were people that went to school for it or people that taught themselves. The bootcamp model made perfect sense; I just didn’t realize that the rest of the world had figured that out!
Did you have to be convinced of the bootcamp model? Why did it make sense to you?
I’ve heard recently that programming is going to become the new literacy. By that, I mean that what literacy was to people within the last 200 years is what programming is to us today. It’s going to be required for interfacing your home heating system, your car’s system; everything’s going to start becoming more and more programmable because we simply can’t rely on a few programmers to make an interface that works for everyone; it just doesn’t work. Moreover, we can’t rely on others to tell us that something is safe or what it does. That puts us in the same position centuries ago when only certain people could read Latin and tell us what was in some of our most important documents.
Programming is slowly transitioning to a more common vernacular that we’re all contributing to; as programming languages evolve, they get simpler and simpler. Anyone who wants to spend the time and really double down on their education can learn. Career changers are learning to code, and more and more, we’re moving programming into younger ages.
When I went to college, one of my main problems was that the material we learned was at least four years old. The bootcamp model addresses a lot of those shortcomings.
Was it important to you that LearningFuze teaches PHP?
I’m sure that was important for them. I’ve done Ruby on Rails but I have more PHP knowledge than I do Ruby.
We focus on full stack development; of course, there are some aspects like Apache or server infrastructure that you technically need to know, but that we won’t teach in such a short amount of time. As a junior developer you most likely won’t be dealing directly with the server unless the job requires it specifically, then they can dive deeper into those areas and learn fairly quickly. PHP gives a readily understandable starting point that you can then enter other realms like Ruby or Python.
Is this the first cohort that you’ve taught?
This is the first one that I’ve taught as the lead instructor. I’ve been a guest instructor in past cohorts, and have done weekend tutoring and late night sessions. We’re “all hands on deck” so other instructors will come in earlier or later and on the weekends.
How have you been able to influence the curriculum?
The curriculum is always a work in progress because with each pass, we learn new things. The biggest change that I brought was probably simplifying the slides and the materials. Slides are a lot like billboards. If you have more than 7 words, you’re probably giving too much information at once, especially if you’re just beginning and being overloaded.
Can you tell us about LearningFuze’s approach to Pre-Work?
The purpose of prework is to give everyone some common starting point. I have not met a single person, no matter how well prepared they were, that at the end of a bootcamp was not fried from all the information. You don’t actually understand things until about two weeks after you learn it. It starts sinking in slowly and after three months, what was hard two weeks ago is now second nature and you’re now freaking out about some new thing that’s really hard at the moment. Meanwhile you’ve partially forgotten that you actually learned some things before, and it is floating around in your head, waiting for a context to be understood..
To facilitate that, the pre-work is designed to do three things. One, let you know what we’re going to be talking about in general so you can get some sort of glimpse into the future and use it for reference. Two: to give real world working examples to initially foster that feeling of success. Then – and this may seem counterintuitive – the pre-work wraps up fast, almost to a point where you feel like you’re being thrown off a cliff, with no choice but to fly or crash.
Do you have anybody who goes through it and doesn’t make it through and quits before they get through the pre-work?
We try as much as possible to weed out the people who don’t have the commitment for it – not a disparagement against them, it’s just that not everyone is ready for this yet. More than just quitting, what often happens is that they will switch to one of our simpler classes like front end development rather than the full stack, so it’s less of a monetary commitment, less of a time commitment and then they can get a feel for it it’s really for them. We often encourage that, in fact, if we see them struggling too much.
Tell us what a typical day looks like.
It can be a bit fluid depending on the class and their needs. Recently, students have readings from the previous night called primers. In the morning, we have exercises that are heavily scaffolded. You start off with super simple examples that go off of what you read, then you have other examples that start building upon other things you learned.
Then the final questions will be much more complicated in that they’ll start building upon themselves, more combinations of what they’ve learned, maybe some trick questions; not meant to be cruel but to make you think about this, not blurt out an answer and think you’re done with it.
That’s probably the first hour/hour and a half. We cover the material, we go over questions, a lot of one-on-one time. Then we go into a full lecture on a new topic. We talk about that for not more than 15 – 20 minutes at a time. We really try to break down the speaking sessions to no more than 20 minutes because that’s when people start losing focus and not internalizing things.
After lunch, students work independently for a period of time and ask questions. We go onto a little bit of lecture about topics for the next day, go over what we have learned that day then the rest of the day is more work time for assignments that need to be done or any exercises that they didn’t complete adequately the first time. We really try to give good feedback on anything they turn in so that they can learn from each iteration.
Do you have students work independently on most of the exercises or are there times when you have them pair programming or working in group?
All of the above. We’ve had hackathons where 3 to 4 people work together. We also work in paired programming.
Most of the time it’s individual programming; however, there’s nothing that prevents someone from going to talk to other students. We encourage that because it really builds camaraderie with the students; they automatically group together to try to understand something and explore.
If someone is weak in one area and someone else is strong in that, they listen to that student and build bonds. It’s what they’re going to have to do when they get into the real world because they’re going to be working in teams. Of course, if someone is just gleaning answers and not bothering to understand then I’ll come by (with a stern eye :)). But most of the time, I let them ‘get away’ with collaboration as long as it’s healthy for them.
Do you have a teaching assistant working with you or do you have a co-instructor?
We have two other instructors/programmers that primarily are responsible for our infrastructure and curriculum. We’re continuously enhancing our infrastructure to support our lessons. I was also in that role before so this time I’m in the hot seat and the previous instructor is doing the programming. Then they come in to instruct on specific topics.
Also, we’re working on building our repertoire of advanced topics so that way if we have students who are quickly done with a project, we can throw them more complex bones so they can start working on that.
How many students are in this cohort?
What type of student really excels in LearningFuze?
The people who have succeeded, even if they weren’t naturally adept at programming, were the ones that worked their butts off. Those who didn’t put in the time are the ones that struggle. We haven’t had any attrition this time but I’ve seen it in the past where life creeps up – which happens – but you have to make choices.
You put all this time and money into it; this is very serious. This is your future we’re talking about. That’s the biggest determiner of success.
There is natural aptitude but with the programming world changing day by day, it’s not always that straightforward. You have to be able to sit there and work through your problems and be good at sleuthing and debugging; reading through instructions first before trying to ponder things.
Do most of your students have technical experience before they get to LearningFuze?
Only a few. In fact, those who do have technical experience didn’t necessarily get it from their job. They usually started getting into tech but they knew that they didn’t have either the time or the will to push themselves through it on their own.
We have one person who was an office manager, a couple of salespeople, a marketing person whose only technical experience was working with sound systems. We had a CS major who started web development and it was a rude awakening for him.
Are you able to find time to pursue your own projects?
It comes rarely because teaching is very much a full time gig. When I get some free time I work on outside projects, but there is so little free time. When the students are working late at night, usually that means I am too.
Will instructors start to rotate?
Yes. We have the idea of rotating through because it’s a 10-week intensive class, spending 8 hours a day in the classroom and you really get no time to take a break.
As we grow and get more instructors it will become easier but we also have that desire to branch out and get more classes in. We found that the ideal ratio is 1 instructor to 5 students.
Do you have any other advice for a future bootcamper?
One of the biggest things I would recommend to any student in any bootcamp is: ask questions. If you don’t ask questions, you will never solve the problem or take way too long. You don’t have the option to give up at LearningFuze, so you’ve got to get in the habit of asking good questions, even if they sound stupid. That’s what you’ll have to do in the development world, because no programmer knows everything there is to know on any given topic; best to leave your ego / fear at the door because in this world, you are the architect of your own destiny.
Jeff was working in sales, but looking for a career change. He started using online resources like Codecademy to learn the basics, but he hit a wall in his learning and was looking for an immersive experience. LearningFuze was the closest bootcamp to Jeff’s home in Orange County and after talking to founders Fabian and Bill, he was convinced. Having now graduated and landed a job as a Front-End Developer at Digital River, Jeff tells us about LearningFuze’s realistic work environment, the “Fail Fast” mentality, and why he’s loving his new job.
What you were up to before you started at LearningFuze?
This was a total career change for me and it’s completely different from what I’ve done before. Up until now, web development was more of a hobby that I was doing in the evenings. Before that, I was in sales.
I do have an automotive background, which is what put me in college. I ended up working in sales, then lost my position and wanted to find a job that I was more passionate about, something that I enjoyed. That’s why I made the actual career change to get into coding.
How were you learning when you were coding as a hobby?
I used Learning Tree and Codecademy. Those are great online courses; they’re phenomenal, but what it was lacking was the direction once you finished that section of learning. You use their code editor so I wasn’t even aware of other code editors out there. I didn’t know how to go forward or about any of the local meetups.
Was your motivation to get a job as a developer in a company or to start your own business?
My goal was to get a job as a developer. Of course, I think every developer has something in in mind that they want to develop themselves so it’s kind of a hobby that I think all developers do on the side.
It was a full career change and I wanted to become a developer at a company that I could see myself growing with and expanding my knowledge of the development field.
Why did you end up choosing LearningFuze and what were the factors that you were considering?
I was in the Orange County area, which is about 30 miles south of L.A. County, so there weren’t a ton of coding schools. I researched MakerSquare and Hack Reactor in San Francisco, which both looked awesome. They are well-established courses, and I was totally amazed by it and blown away.
Once I found these bootcamps, I started searching locally and came across LearningFuze. I looked at the language they taught and the courses they had available. I then took that information and went on Craigslist local job boards to see what the local market an industry was really looking for.
I found that they were right on point with about 75% of the job postings out there for my area. When I went in and talked to Bill and Fabian and started talking to people in the industry, it was clear that employers are looking for teachable employees, not necessarily only applicants who know everything already.
If you can learn some of these fundamental languages, they carry over to other languages; the syntax changes and so on but the formulas are relatively the same. They just want to make sure that you’re teachable.
What was the LearningFuze application like for you?
We had a phone interview and then an in-person interview. We didn’t have any testing although they did ask some basic coding questions.
Did you feel you could answer those with your Codecademy skills?
Yes, I could. I was part of the first cohort, which was a bit like a trial run because they were just being established. Since then, LearningFuze has become more strict with admissions and asking qualifying questions.
In the beginning, they interviewed me and the reason why they took me was because I was personable. They saw that I was more focused on exactly what I wanted and I was pretty persistent. I kept in touch with them, I followed up with them, they followed up with me.
You’re not just given a job. You still have to work for it. You’re still in the industry and there are still people out there fighting for jobs. They look for that type of commitment that you’re willing to bring in addition to the knowledge.
In that first cohort how many people were in your class?
There were five.
Did you feel like everyone was on a similar technical level when they started?
We weren’t all on the same technical level. For me, that didn’t matter. I sought out the people that were more advanced than me and picked their brains as much as I could.
Tell us a little bit about the instructors and teaching style at LearningFuze.
My instructor was Thi and he’s the lead instructor. Fabian is the director of LearningFuze and he would sit in on the sessions.
For us it was a one to five ratio and they ended up hiring a new instructor, but they still have the one to five ratio.
Their teaching style was really designed for us to fail. It was for us to learn proper coding but they really let us go and make mistakes and we really had to troubleshoot and find those mistakes and how we’re making those mistakes and fix it. It was a lot of repetitiveness and learning by failing. There were no manuals that we needed to read up on but they had a list of well-known authors and books that are out there that they found they liked to read and reference.
One important thing we learned was how to search Google correctly. Now if I search something I find it really quickly, and my returns are really specific. So even their teaching of how to correctly search was huge because I do that continuously even in my job now.
Was the curriculum project based? What did a typical day look like?
A typical day started with a little bit of lecture in the morning and we would follow along.
They would hit us with the whole project. We’d wireframe the project as a group. It was almost like a timed training because they want to put a little bit of pressure on you. The instructor would work on the projector overhead so we could see it live on his device.
It would change daily. Sometimes we’d come in and they’d say “Okay, we need to build this calculator within four, five hours. Get to work on it.” So we’d come in and start doing a project. The instructors also acted like a project manager would. So they were introducing us to the water flow management type system of organization and then agile development project management. They try to mimic actual real environments, and now that I’m working, it’s right on point with what I actually do every day.
Did you feel like those projects were the way you were evaluated or did you ever do exams or assessments at the end of a lesson?
They did an assessment every Friday. We would review with the instructor and the director of LearningFuze and we would touch base on your progress, any frustrations or anxiety.
As an individual making a career change, your finances are being depleted quickly and because this is a full immersion you really don’t have time to work. You can stress out with all these things. They were really on point with addressing those issues with you. They wanted to make sure that you were staying focused, that your emotions and anxieties are being addressed and worked through. So you’re not just left there wondering, getting stressed out; they’re actually coaching you through it as you do the course.
They were awesome in that they listened to what we had to say and they addressed every concern that we had to really make the most of it for us.
How much time were you spending on LearningFuze?
Our hours were 9:00 to 5:00 but they kept the doors open till 7:00. I would say 75% of the time, I was there from 9:00 to 7:00. If I wasn’t there, I was still going home and practicing because it is a full immersion. You have to be doing something 12 hours a day if you want to be successful.
Since your goal doing LearningFuze was to get a job, was there a job guarantee?
They did have a job guarantee at first when they got started because they had no record. To tell you the truth, I didn’t focus on it because I was determined to get a job no matter what.
Coming into the last phase of the program, they started doing resume reviews. We issued our reviews and they critiqued them, made changes and adjustments to it. We had projects that we were working on for our portfolio that were personal. If you looked at everybody’s portfolio from that class, everybody has a unique one. It wasn’t the cookie cutter projects that we did, everybody had their own projects that we did ourselves.
Did you all do interview prep?
We did. We did role-playing interviews and that was handled by Bill. We went over soft interview questions about personality, and then we had a whiteboard interview where we had to code out the response and role play with each other back and forth, asking clarifying questions.
What are you doing now?
I work for a company called Digital River based in Minnesota. I work at their office in Irvine. We have clients that range from your Fortune 100 companies all the way down to Mom & Pop’s. We handle all their website purchasing and their stores that they have on their websites.
What’s your role there?
I am a front-end web developer so my main focus is on the front end. It’s constant troubleshooting at this moment because I came into a company that’s established, so we have projects that are constantly on the board that are coming along continuously. But until those projects actually get the okay, we have to maintain any changes.
If there’s a new sale item going on or if you want to change a dropdown to a different style, those come through the agile project management team and we make the changes.
Did you get that job through networking or through a connection with LearningFuze?
It was all the above. You have to have drive in order to get a job. They were constantly working with me to maintain my skills as I was searching for a job. Once you finish the program you’re still on a rollercoaster because you don’t have a job.
LearningFuze does meetups at their location and works with a lot of social groups. Part of the requirement for the class was we needed to attend meetups. I reached out to every single person that came to speak at LearningFuze with an email and I tried to keep in contact with them somewhat. I’ve even met with them to pick their brain a little bit more. I was always out looking for a mentor-like person to point me in the direction, give me what things they thought I should read or what my next step should be.
Don’t be afraid to apply for jobs online, also. I would submit my information and more often than not, I would get the phone calls and they would have a soft interview with some technical questions. Once I started getting those, LearningFuze prepared me enough to where I was able to land in-person interviews. I landed in-person interviews with Experian and Digital River.
How did the technical interviews at Digital River and Experian go?
I was totally prepared for the technical questions; all of the role playing that we did at LearningFuze was right on point.
Did you find that your age was ever a factor during LearningFuze or in interviews?
It’s a huge deal. It’s not just a commitment to yourself, it’s a financial commitment to yourself. You are investing in yourself and your future. But you need to be honest with yourself.
Like I said, it’s always been a passion of mine to be in computers, I just never went down that road for whatever life circumstances that I had. I had to make money now so I never got into a field that I was passionate about. For me, it wasn’t just making a change into another job, it was making a change into something that I absolutely love to do. For the first time in my life since working in high school, I’ve felt like a kid again when it was time to go to work.
Is there anything that you would have changed about the program?
That’s a great question. During the process, they listened to their students. We were a full-stack training program but in that first cohort, all of us were more front-end focused. They really adjusted their teaching and training to meet the needs of that class.
What type of person would you recommend LearningFuze to and who would you not recommend it to?
I’d recommend LearningFuze to anybody with a technical background; anybody that likes change or is in a dead-end job. If you like change, I’d recommend getting into web development, because every single day is completely different than the day before. The issues and the problems are totally different.
The last thing I would say that I didn’t mention, I would say LearningFuze stands behind their product really well because I have gone back to the school and have taken another class or have sat in on another class on a subject that I wanted to familiarize myself with.
I went in and sat on a segment of the second cohort and reworked some of the issues and some of the projects that they had. I did this while I was looking for a job so I would stay sharp on my job. When we were done with that, they made sure that we all knew that just because we finished a program doesn’t mean their doors are shut. So we are all welcome to come back and continue the education and sit in on the second cohort’s classes and use their facility for searching for jobs. If I wanted to role play further, I could have; you just have to schedule it with them.
The instructor is still available. We have an instant messaging thing that I’m still a part of that I can shoot him a question and he gets back to me. I’m still welcome on their Google Docs. Sometimes on a weekend, the instructor will show how to bring a website and make it go live.
There’s all these little things that the instructors are constantly doing that I still get emails and invitations to.
That was the greatest thing. I feel like I finished the program and they didn’t abandon me. They’ve stuck by me and still are willing to have me come back and relearn something.
Coding Bootcamps are intensive programs- some require an 80 hour per week commitment, and all demand undivided attention in the classroom. This structure may be necessary to learn a new skill in a short time, but it can also overwhelm students and in some cases, cause burnout.
Luckily, at Course Report, we get the opportunity to talk with alumni from coding bootcamps all over the world, and we always ask how they avoided burnout during their courses. We’ve compiled the top eight best pieces of advice for future students from alumni who have been through it before!Continue Reading →
Ryan Choi was looking for a career path that allowed him to be creative when he found LearningFuze in Irvine, California. We catch up with Ryan about his experience at LearningFuze: how he learned to build breaks into his schedule, the PHP curriculum, and LearningFuze's committment to job and interview preparation.
What were you up to before you started at LearningFuze?
I graduated in with a degree in Biology and I worked in science for three years. Studying biology was interesting to me and I really enjoyed it but felt like working in the field was very different from what I was expecting. I thought that science would be a bit more creative than it turned out to be. I had creativity in mind and I had to use that.
I was looking back on my childhood and I remembered creating a web app during middle school winning an award for it. That motivated me to try building a website.
How were you teaching yourself?
I had just found out about Code Academy so I used that; it was okay but it was inefficient and it wasn’t enough for me to actually build a website.
I was looking into bootcamp programs but most were too far away (I live in Southern California), they were too expensive, and too long; I would have had to sacrifice a lot of things.
Why did you choose LearningFuze? What factors did you consider in your decision?
I found out about LearningFuze from a Facebook ad, and I contacted Fabian and started talking to their team. I considered it for about two months before I signed up.
Which other bootcamps did you consider?
I looked at Dev Bootcamp and Hack Reactor but Hack Reactor was looking for more experienced people so I looked in more detail into Dev Bootcamp.
LearningFuze was number one in my mind just because of the location. It was very close to my home and the money was right, especially considering what I would have to spend for living expenses in North California which is much more expensive than South Cal.
Did you quit your job and start LearningFuze?
Yes. My last job only required me for a day shift; I asked them if I could switch to night shift or part-time but they refused so I had to sacrifice that in order to do the bootcamp.
What was the application like for you?
First they did a phone interview to see where I came from and what my motivations were. Then they invited me to their location in Irvine so I could see the environment and also get the vibe of the facility and talk to the team. Then they set up a person-to-person interview- we did a cultural interview and a technical interview.
Once you were accepted, can you talk a little bit about the pre-work? How long did it take you and what was it like?
So I concentrated on typing those basic symbols without looking at the keyboard. I’m from Korea, so even typing in English is kind of hard without looking at the keyboard. That a crucial part of the prep-work.
Once you started the class, how many people were in your cohort?
Including me there were six. One had to drop out before class started because she had a problem with her company. She’s now in the second class but we started out with six and ended up with five on the first day of class.
Did you think that it was a diverse cohort in terms of age, gender and race?
I was the only Asian man, but there were really young people and there were a couple who were in their thirties. For the first class, gender-wise I don’t think it was diverse because it was all men but the second class I heard there were more women.
Did you feel everyone was on the same technical level? Was everyone able to learn together?
Oh, yeah. I think ⅗ of us had tried Codecademy or something like that before they came in but I think we were pretty much on the same beginner level. The prep work was made to get us onto the same page when we started first day of class.
Who were the instructors or instructor during the course?
Aside from Fabian there was another senior instructor/engineer, Thi. He has over 15 years of experience, so he was really great from the front-end material to the back-end material. And since then they have brought on additional experienced instructors to the team to maintain their ratio and grow the program.
What was his teaching style like? Was he very hands-on or did sort of let you get stuck?
Well, they were pushing us hard, but in the good sense. For example we would have a sample project, and then we were tasked to try and build it in only 2-3 hours to simulate real world development. After working on specific tasks or assignments we would do Q&A instructor led walk throughs to review code and discuss places we got stuck on.
Throughout non-assessment assignments they often jumped in and lead us through the process, giving us hints instead of just giving us a solution.
After that we would do another session of hands-on coding, it was very persistent. Then at the end of the day we reviewed where everyone was at, whether you’re stuck, or what has been completed. The next day, we would start with instructor led reviews and start the whole process again.
What technology stack did you learn?
Were you satisfied with that curriculum and with the actual material that was taught? Did you feel like you covered enough?
Yes. I was looking at Northern California bootcamps initially where I’d heard a lot about Ruby on Rails, but in Orange County and Socal in general, PHP is huge! Every single job I searched on Craigslist, they were looking for PHP developers. I was pretty satisfied with that curriculum.
How many hours a week were you spending on LearningFuze?
The team at LearningFuze wanted us to arrive at 8:00am and leave at 5:00pm. But everyone is so concentrated on what they’re doing, they couldn’t stop so they stayed until 6:00 or 7:00 and later, then we went home and ate dinner.
After dinner, I was free to do anything I wanted if I was done with my tasks but I usually put in another 3-4 hours of coding after that.
Wow; so probably between 40 and 60 hours a week. Did you ever feel burned out or get off track throughout the course?
Yeah, of course. I got off track many times. Just think about it- you’re learning a different language. You’re learning all that new syntax, new grammar and new words, new processes and using a lot of brain power.
One by one, we all experienced periods when we felt we got off track or got lost; we had times we got stuck and were really pissed off and felt like our brains were about to explode!
Did you take a break or how did you get over that?
The first few weeks of LearningFuze, I guess we didn’t know how to take breaks properly. That was a huge thing they taught us- learning how to get away from the work and take breaks. After a couple weeks we started getting up from the desk periodically, going to a space where we can play a game on the Xbox or just lay down, relax and chat in the lounge area. We had to practice taking breaks consciously, though.
Did your class work on a final capstone project?
Yes. The last two weeks of the course, we started building our own personal project without any help from the instructors aside from guidance and encouragement.
Were you working on it as a group or individually?
Individually. We did pair program; we had one project that we had to work on together – but the personal project we had to work on ourselves. Most of us got done, some are finishing up, but mine is a really ambitious project so I’m still working on it and adding features.
What is the project? Can you tell us about it?
It’s a personal sized task management system. You put your task in the program, create a project and invite people to collaborate on all the tasks or the project together.
What are you up to now?
So far I’ve got three interviews from three companies. I did the onsite interviews but I’m waiting for the response right now. One company just sent me a coding test so I need to complete that and send it to them. They are looking for an intermediate position and I am junior level so far so it’s pretty challenging. I have confidence that I can finish it in time although I do have concurrent projects so we’ll see.
How did you get those interviews? Was it through your own networking or through LearningFuze?
A couple of them were through LearningFuze as I followed through with employers they brought in. For one company, the CEO actually came in as a guest speaker so that was a great contact. We probably had a guest speaker every week or two, sometimes twice in one week. Through that we developed connections on LinkedIn and we would also go to meetups. From that particular company I got an interview. Another one was personally from just reaching out connecting on LinkedIn.
Did you feel like LearningFuze put a lot put a lot of emphasis on job placement and preparing you for getting interviews?
Yeah, absolutely. For two weeks they not only focused on technical interview skill but they did a lot of resume reviews and mock interviews, which touches more on soft skills like how to react to a certain situation or how to approach solving problems and communicate during the interview, and interacting with co-workers and people in general.
Is there anything we didn’t touch on about LearningFuze? Would you recommend it to a friend?
I was the first cohort at LearningFuze. Honestly, I was a bit skeptical about it at first because I was going to be in the first cohort, their pilot class.
I was asking them a lot of questions about the course and they were pretty straightforward and responsive about it. They’ve also been really great about helping with finding me a job. So I’m pretty satisfied with it; I don’t regret it. I know I spent money on it but that’s just taking a risk to get the reward!
LearningFuze is a full-immersion 12-week web development training program in Los Angeles, and Fabian Toth is the Director of Technology & Learning.We talk to Fabian about how he got involved with LearningFuze, the market for developers in Southern California, and how LearningFuze is educating students in PHP and LAMP stack.
What were you doing before you started LearningFuze?
Before LearningFuze I was a project manager at an internet company. I was working with a team of designers, developers and engagement managers. We were working on mid to large size projects for clients; anything from e-commerce to social media marketing to designing an entire back end system, things like that.
Before then I was running an agency called Search Demand for about 5 years and I was doing pretty much the same thing on a smaller scale for development strategies and design for companies that did not really have an online presence, and developing a couple of web apps as well.
I came from being an athlete my whole life. I was a swimmer and I was a Division One athlete at the University of Minnesota. I moved to California and started working at a hedge fund before finding out that technology really was my thing. So training and education has always been very close to me.
How did you get involved with LearningFuze?
I was pursuing education on many different levels and I was going to San Francisco for their EdTech startups and I had my ideas for how education should be taught and changed. Bill Cunningham comes from a background of entrepreneurship and he asked me about my ideas for education. I talked to him about a skill-driven model that I’d been developing for a very long time. It started a few years ago when Dev Boot Camp was the first one out. I thought it was a perfect way to implement what I had been developing. One thing led to another and a few months later, we were setting things in motion, building the curriculum and creating the platform for LearningFuze, which was the foray into what we really wanted to do. And a few months later here we are with our first cohort.
How did you design the curriculum?
We determined what a junior to intermediate level developer would need to have experience with and need to know to be able to be proficient. Then we worked backwards from there. We looked at the types of projects developers typically work on and are exposed to, their team environments, and their work flow. We used those types of experiences and the languages that are very relevant to our market, and we built it from there.
Getting the supplemental information for it required a ton of research and expanding on it but luckily we have very experienced people here so that made it a little bit easier to put together.
What is the technology stack the students are going to be learning?
Why did you choose that language? A lot of these boot camps are very heavy on Ruby on Rails. Why did you decide on LAMP stack and PHP?
The market down here in Southern California is very different than in the well-developed technology industries, whereas the demand for Ruby developers in Northern California is extremely popular. Here in West California the demand is probably 1 in 9, whereas understanding of PHP and MySQL is more like 1 in 4.
So we’re definitely targeting for that market because we’re in Southern California.
How long is the course?
The course is composed of a 3-week prep course online. That’s online through our platform which we’ve worked very hard to develop based on our skill-driven model. Then students come in fulltime for about 9 weeks of in-class training.
How did you decide on that 12-week timeframe?
One of the things we were looking at even from the very beginning was how to pace the class. We need to have a pace to keep things moving but you also have to make sure you’re taking care of some people that are moving faster or moving a little slower depending on their background.
We’ve implemented a mentorship program afterwards for students that are still finishing some of their projects, still honing their skills. We want to build a community here in Orange County; even after students have completed their training here and they move on to their jobs. We want them to continue to come back to share stories, talk about their experiences and bring that awareness to this market and continue to grow the excitement.
What do you have students complete during that pre-work time?
One of the things distinguishes Learningfuze and our goal is that we’ve always been about the education aspects and how people learn. The skill-driven approach really comes down to some of the aspects that might hinder people from learning at the beginning. We’ve developed a platform where you learn in the browser. You have a code editor and you’re going through what we call sequences. These sequences expose you to typing code, building apps in a very specific manner.
Will students have access to instructors during the pre-work session?
Absolutely. The prep work is comprised of self-validating tasks in the platform but there are also open-ended tasks for projects that they need to submit. We review them and give the students feedback on where the challenges are.
Throughout the whole 3 weeks, it’s a completely open Q&A discussion until they get here.
How many instructors do you have?
Currently, we have 2 full-time instructors and we’re bringing on 2 more part-time instructors for our other classes. We’re currently looking for one more fulltime instructor because we’re expecting to get a lot more students in the near future.
What do you want the ratio to be?
The ideal ratio is 1:1. What we currently have is 1:5. Actually, it’s 2:5 but our lead instructor currently takes the reins most of the time.
Are you one of the lead instructors or are you a supporting instructor?
I act more as a supporting instructor but we take leads during different portions of the program, depending on different languages or skill sets that we agree on; who’s better suited to present this information and guide through that portion of the program.
As an instructor, do you have a hand in the admissions process at all?
Absolutely. We want to know everybody that comes to LearningFuze; we want the instructor to know who’s coming in, their background…it’s going to be a personal relationship. It comes from my background in coaching where there’s a level of trust and understanding between a coach and a student. Instructors need to know where their students are coming from and how they think so they can better adjust their presentation, their approach and their expectations.
So before every cohort comes in here, we go over the interview questions; their backgrounds, their resumes, and we go over how they perform during their prep work.
Do you have an ideal student in mind for LearningFuze?
We’re in the middle of our first cohort but that picture is very clear for us. The ideal student is rare but he or she probably has learned to do some coding by themselves already. We understand that. Our expectations are catered towards people that are ready for this. They need to have pretty good critical thinking skills and have given thought to it. They should have a little bit of experience with trials and tribulations from what they’ve done in the past and overcoming them. That’ll be ideal for succeeding or getting the most out of this program.
Is there an emphasis at LearningFuze on job placement?
Yes. Actually, we take that part extremely seriously. We went out and started building relationships with local employers from the very beginning.
We bring in speakers to talk- almost two speakers per week- from our network of employers. It’s an awesome aspect of the program that you don’t get online or you can’t get from a book, to have a representative from a really big tech company come in and have a conversation with you.
Does Learningfuze have a financial structure set up with those hiring partners? Do you take a referral fee?
Not currently. Our current efforts are to figure out everything we need to do to have the most polished student and then afterwards, we’ll look at the industry and how that relationship would work.
Do you expect that everybody will get placed in a job or do you envision that students may want to start their own businesses.
Yes and yes. Our emphasis is on making students ready for the job world because that’s different from just teaching them how to code. There’s a whole different layer there that’s extremely crucial. It’s almost more important than just learning how to code by yourself. If they want to start something on their own, which some have indicated, that’s something we accept absolutely. As long as it contributes to a positive team environment, that’s something that we take on. You need that entrepreneurial vibe to have a little bit of creative spirit rather than just corporate.
Is there anything else you want to add about LearningFuze?
We’re set apart by our background going into this. We’re in it for the educational aspect and bringing the technology to this community. We’ve created a platform that we’re very excited to continue to develop over the next couple of year. I think that’s something that separates us.
Have you thought about learning web development to get a job as a software engineer in Southern California? LearningFuze is a full-immersion 12-week web development training program in Los Angeles. Watch our webinar with Fabian Toth, Director of Technology & Learning at LearningFuze.
- The technologies students become experts in during the course (think LAMP stack with a focus on PHP).
- The ideal LearningFuze applicant and how you can stand out in the admissions process.
- Scholarship and financing opportunities.
- Plus, bring your own questions about the school to get answers straight from the source!
Fabian Toth started his professional coding career almost 6 years ago in a transition from trading currencies, options, and stocks and is a testament to others looking to enter the world of web development. As an instructor at LearningFuze, his past knowledge and experience is indispensable to new students. Here, Fabian blogs about opening a coding bootcamp in a smaller market, Irvine, California, and how to choose the right programming language when learning to code in Southern California.Continue Reading →
LearningFuze is a full immersion 12-week web development training program that aims to bridge the gap between the growing demand for capable developers and the vast shortage in supply. The Course Report community is eligible for a $500 scholarship off tuition to LearningFuze!Continue Reading →
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