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MakerSquare

Austin, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco

MakerSquare

Avg Rating:4.41 ( 88 reviews )

MakerSquare is a 12-week immersive career accelerator program in Austin and San Francisco that aims to turn ambitious beginners looking to learn computer programming into marketable software engineers. MakerSquare's curriculum focuses solely on JavaScript with a large focus on software engineering fundamentals. NodeJS, Angular, Meteor and Express are just a few of the libraries, frameworks and platforms students work with. Additionally, throughout the program, MakerSquare hosts a variety of interactive events like mentorship night, weekly Makerstories sessions, Demos 'n' Drinks nights, hackathons, and career prep events. MakerSquare hosts a Career Day at the end of every class and also provides ongoing graduate career support to help students get interviews with partner companies. MakerSquare is looking for students who are passionate, tenacious, curious, patient and critical thinkers.

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  • Dan  User Photo
    Dan • Full Stack Software Engineer • Student Verified via GitHub
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    I was a student in LA back in Jan 2016-March 2016. I graduated with a $95k base salary with benefits that exceed $120k (like paid lunches, ubers to and from work, health+vision+dental, bonuses + monthly paid out profit sharing of $1000 [untaxed] per month). So if you're questioning whether it works or not, it definitely works from my perspective. I was nervous at first when taking the dive - afterall $17-18k is a lot to trust in a school that is less than a decade old. But that's a better option than paying anyhwre from $65-200k on a 4 year degree. The dollar per time spent is a much higher value.

    As I like to say: you take YOUR brain (no one else's) to job interviews, so it's your responsibility for what is inside it by the time you start your job search after the program. Like anything in life, you are responsible for what you know and what you don't. Anyone who expects to passively take the 12 week course and get good offers floodiing in afterwards without a spiffy online portfolio and stories of lessons learned while building applications during the program are fooling themselves. After you're done, you need to hunt for your livelihood in the real world - and it's a game of selling your skills and negotiating for the best offer after your time spent learning during the program.

    While at Makersquare (hack reactor) you will need to put in 8-12 hrs per day to gain the skills necessary to earn a job in the field. Tha'ts what's great though - Makersquare gives you the focused cirriculum and support needed during the uncertain time of learning a trade to get you from novice to professional. If you learn on your own, it's hard to tell what is a waste of time and what will actually help you gain professional profficiency. For this guidance - Makersquare (aka hack reactor now) is very valuable. The students you are with are equally motivated to learn and they will help you discover tools / tricks of the trade. You will undoubtedly give back to them too with your unique perspective. 

    A lot of people complain about the video lectures, and that makes sense. The video lectures are just about as good as you can get online (if not as good). But that's not really the point of going to a bootcamp. The real value you gain is from struggling on real projects during the program using modern javsacript/(fontend and backend) frameworks and tools with real people who know more or less the same amount about software engineering as you do. You can't rely on someone who is more knoweldgable than you to get things done (just like the real world). You make mistakes, you get lost, and you learn through collective struggle. My brain hurt a lot through all 12 weeks. It felt like that ache that you get in my muscles after I work out, but in my brain. Through this process, I became a better individual problem sovler, and a better teammate. 

    As for career advice, i think the program was lacking here - but at the same time the confidence and negotiation tactics (aka learning the bravado necessary to make $100K/yr demands from employers) I got from the program did help me. They basically taught me how to look past the BS that recruiters will tell you, and how to defer saying a number first when negotiating for a salary (and what to ask for aka 100k/yr). I quickly learned while on the job search that recruiters are basically amateurs that dont know how to code that assume that they know everything about tech. It's best to avoid them, because they suffer from the Dunning Kreuger effect worst of all (which sadlly, we all suffer from but have to recognize in ourselves).  They trick themselves into thinking they know what companies value, when in reality, they dont truly know what it takes to provide value to these companies (or else they would know how to code).

    Anyway, I've talked too much already. In my opinion, you should do it because it lead to a great path for me. But if you're that baller that you can learn software engineering all on your own (see Dunning Kreuger effect) then by all means, go it alone. I'm proud to say this program helped me, and I dont need to listen to anyone else that doubts. 

  • Well Worth it
    - 7/29/2016
    Davis Martin • UI Engineer • Student
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    I was in the 3rd Cohort at MakerSquare back when they still taught Ruby on Rails and JS.  The main thing I can say is it is well worth it in terms of value.  Learned everything I needed to to get a job at a company I had always dreamed of working at.  As far as the job placement / interview process it was definitely rough at times during the tech interview part, but overall not that much worse then when I first got out of College with my batchelor's degree.   Also I am sure their connections have gotten a lot better since I graduated.

  • Brian Boyko • Software Development Engineer in Test • Graduate
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    My name is Brian Boyko - you can reach me at brian.boyko@gmail.com, so you know I'm a real person, real student, real everything. 

    I'm going to give an unqualified, enthusiastic recommendation for MakerSquare. 

    But, you have to come into MakerSquare with the attitude that you are there to learn.  You will be coached and pushed along by your peers and your instructors, but you only get out of the course what you put into it.  

    And yes, you do need to *actually like* coding.  This is important: I think that the promise of bootcamps is not that "anyone can code" but that the potential for learning to be a good coder can be found in unlikely places. I'm kind of a "prototypical" example:  Before MakerSquare I was a liberal arts major and marketing consultant who thought he could never program because he was "bad at math", and had even tried to major in programing in the 1990s, only to be told by professors that I'd never succeed. 

    But I always had an analytical mind, and if it wasn't for a (crazy) few life events, I never would have learned I had the talent, never would have gone to MakerSquare... never would be where I am now: an engineer. 

    That said, it *is* possible to do everything in MakerSquare with something like FreeCodeCamp.  I actually like and recommend FreeCodeCamp for just about anyone considering a bootcamp program.  But there are a few things that MakerSquare offers that FCC doesn't:

    * Free Code Camp is almost always done by one person, themselves. MakerSquare is structured so that the first half is dedicated to pair programming.  Both FCC and MS will teach you the technical stuff, but MakerSquare also makes sure you can communicate those ideas to your partners and teammates. 

    * Free Code Camp relies entirely on self-discipline.  That can be difficult for many.  MakerSquare's structure and required attendance helps you stay on track. 

    * MakerSquare prepares you for the job search, giving you guidance and advice for how to present yourself to employers, as well as lifetime career support.  

    Here's my thought: If you're on the fence about joining a bootcamp, go to FreeCodeCamp.com and give it a try.  If you hate coding, you just found out for free that it isn't for you.  

    If you are self-motivated enough to do it and have all the projects: Great! You saved a lot of money.  If you are happy doing this kind of work but maybe don't have the self-motivation?  That's where MakerSquare can help out. 

    Ultimately, I consider MakerSquare one of the most transformative experiences of my life. 

  • SOMEONE IMPORTANT • Graduate
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    I recently graduated from MakerSquare and received employment about 1.5 months after. More than just the curriculum, which was excelllent, the big thing I noticed about MakerSquare was that the instructors all care about the students and help in any way they can. They know that bootcamps are stressful and they offer any support they can. 

    If you're willing to put in the time it's definitely worth it. That Ricky Walker sure is a dreamboat. 

  • Outstanding!
    - 7/11/2016
    Bryan Buitrago
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    This Review is about the initial phaze of getting into the Fullstack Immersive program in NYC.

    I recently just started the process of getting into Makersquare Fullstack Immersive program in NYC. I was really impressed with the clarity of the steps, and the resources available to bring you up to par with what starting the program requires. They, not only provide you with the guide that you need, but also provide free workshops, so you that you can get a feeling of what the program is about. I am starting today the MakerPrep: Introduction to JavaScrip that lasts about 1 month, 3 days a week. 

    Although, I haven't finished the program yet, I have to say that of all the other coding bootcamps that I applied to in NYC, Makersquare has definitely been the best. I took one of the free workshops offered bt the school, and I loved it. The day following the free workshop, I signed up for a tour of the school, I was lucky enough to be given the tour by Omar Mohammed, who up to this day, has provided me with excellent guidance, as well as providing me with info about all the tools available by the school in super sincere manner, going above and beyond to help me. I also got to meet and speak with Tyler Lamber, who is the Managing Director. He is unbelieably friendly, and you can feel his possitive energy, and his willingness to make you feel warm and at home. Mr. Lambe was also present during the free workshop, overseeing the lecture, and helping prospect students with questions, and inquires about the program.

    I applied to some of the most popular coding bootcamps in NYC, and in most of these programs, everything has been more of a guessing game, and a gruesome and lenghty process, leaving you frustrated most of the time, with little or no guidance on the application process, with the exception of very few. This is where MakerSquare in my opinion, so far, succeeds, and exceeds. I am looking forward to finishing the program, and provide a more comprehensive review. I highly suggest that you start out by trying Makersquare. 

     

  • Anonymous • Developer
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    Great experience, even though I had to drive almost 2 hours every day it was worth being around an awesome group. The people are the difference here. The curriculum was challenging, but the staff, especially the fellows, were supportive and helped get me get through technical and non-technical challenges. The job support after graduation was effective, I had my first offer after 4 weeks. My suggestion to job seekers is to not apply to their first choice positions at the beginning of the search. Even though we did mock interviews and whiteboarding during the class, I underperformed on my first few interviews and I wish I would have gotten that practice for a position I was less excited about. At the end of the day, I'm at a company I like with a salary that is far beyond what I was making before so everything worked out.

  • It works!
    - 5/15/2016
    Anonymous • Graduate
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    Makersquare is hands down one of the best experiences I've ever had. The awesome community built upon an already awesome community is what makes this bootcamp so special. From the initial moment you see your classmates faces on day one, you know you're in for a unforgettable ride. Furthermore, the instructors and staff are genuinely excited to meet you and assist you on your path to a software engineer.

    But to describe Makersquare in a few words, it's almost like an intricate and beautiful timepiece with numerous parts working together to achieve one common goal. Cheesy I know, but it's honestly how my experience felt like.

    Almost all the pieces of this program are present in order to craft you into a software engineer: top of the line instructors, equipment, and community. But it can't finish the job until it has the last missing component, your endless hunger to learn and improve. You have to go beyond 100%. The moment you step out of your comfort zone and solve a problem, you're hooked. You look forward to the next day of being bombarded with unknown alien code and jargon for 10 hours because you know the feeling is amazing once you figure it out. If you stay hungry and are genuinely curious about the full spectrum of web development, then the program will take care of you because it did for me.

  • Daniel Sato • Front-End Engineer • Graduate
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    My experience with MakerSquare was enormously positive, and I'd recommend it to anyone with a genuine commitment to pursuing software engineering as a career. I was reasonably well-established in my previous career in sales before attending MakerSquare, and I'd like to think I did my due-diligence in terms of researching outcomes and comparison-shopping with similar programs - I even went all the way through the admissions process with one of the others. I chose MakerSquare because it seemed like the most rigorous, and I wasn't disappointed. I showed the pre-course work to a friend who'd attended another program, and she was blown away by the depth of knowledge we were required to have just going in.
     
    The curriculum was well-designed, and it included a lot of fundamental CS topics that I've heard employers express concern about when discussing boot-camp candidates - in fact, most of the topics that seemed at all abstract or esoteric came up in interviews during my job search. I think in that way, MakerSquare responds very well to the market conditions for its graduates.
     
    The program is loosely divided into the a curriculum phase and a project phase, and the curriculum phase wisely avoids delving too deeply into the hot modern frameworks (though when I attended, it included Backbone, and a quick introduction to Angular at the end). The project phase gave us broad latitude to select and learn the technologies we thought would be most relevant, and ultimately the ones we thought would look best on a resume.
     
    MakerSquare also provided a great deal of guidance during the job search, which I was grateful for. I ended up with three offers on the table, and I couldn't be happier in my new job as an engineer. MakerSquare suggests budgeting for a 3-month job search, and all of my cohort-mates that I've kept in touch had jobs within that time frame.
     
    My only criticism, and it's a small one, comes from the project phase, where I felt in retrospect that the instructors could have been more proactive in steering us away from less marketable technologies. The flip-side, of course, is that we were able to take advantage of full autonomy. One group wrote their back-end in Go instead of Node; my group pursued mobile-first development using Meteor and Cordova. The skills ultimately translated well to more widely-adopted technology stacks in the workplace, and so I don't see it as much of a negative at all.
  • Grant Redfearn • Software Developer • Graduate
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    I'd like to preface this review with this: If you are not ready to work and give a school 110%, MakerSquare might not be the place for you. Though it is only 3 months, It definitely takes a lot out of you. But what you get in return is much more than I could have ever imagined. 

    The staff was amazing. So many resources there to help you in constructive ways. Instead of giving flat answers, they worked with you until you would came up with the correct logic to the puzzle. 

    One of the toughest challenges in learning any programming language is getting passed the basics. Learning where and how to take that next step can take years. At MakerSquare, within a month I was learning advanced concepts, bleeding edge frameworks and technologies, and solving complex algorithms on a daily basis. 

    Upon completion of the program, I felt very prepared in every aspect for my future career as a Software Developer. Not only did I have the required technical and interview skills, but I learned how to properly work in a team to develop dynamic applications. 

    I was able to land an amazing job within about a month of graduating the course. It was the best career move I could have ever made. 

    10/10 would learn JavaScript again

  • Worth It
    - 4/28/2016
    Anonymous • Web Developer • Graduate
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    As a graduate of MKS27 I had a very good experience overall.  My main purpose in writing this review though is to not rehash all the stuff you've already read about them, but maybe offer some encouragement for a different group that might be considering applying.  

    I think alot of the reviews are coming from the type of person you're likely to see at Makersquare, namely  "unmarried, 20 somethings, that have some college or a less useful college degree".  All in all they are great people, hell they were me 10 years ago, but how many more reviews can you read from that same person. 

    I was not the typical MKS student.  I'm married with two children and was looking for a better future for my family.  If you are concerned about something similar, just know it's doable.  Budget, plan accordingly, lean on your family and friends, and just knock it out.

    The rest is like everyone says, namely it works.  Yes it can be difficult at times, but you learn enough to land a job relatively quickly that pays pretty well.

  • Student
    - 4/26/2016
    Alexander Navarrete • Software Engineer • Graduate
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    I attended MakerSquare as a student from July to October and stayed on as a Fellow until February 2016. Before I start telling you about how the many ways that MakerSquare has changed my life let me preface ALL of this with I came to MakerSquare with no technical background. I studied for a few months before I applied with the resources they suggested. 
     
    After reading all of the other reviews of MakerSquare, San Francisco on here I completely agree with everything they say. The quality of the curriculum, the sense of community, and the quality of instructors will all exceed your expectations(**you can read other reviews for more details on those areas). But I want to share with you a two things that I feel are key differences that separate MKS from other programs.  
     
    1) Passionate and Dedicated Staff - Every program can argue why their curriculum is superior (curriculum is less important, but rather how to think about solving the problem which is what MKS teaches), but one fact that I feel is not up for debate is that MakerSquare has the most committed, dedicated, and passionate team in the country. I would put the effort, love, and passion of the MKS team up against any team and I know they would win. This is infectious and will be a large part of the your experience. They regularly went out of their way to work with each student, stayed late, provided additional support (emotionally and technically), all the way until you get your first job as an engineer. 
     
    2) Career Services and Outcomes - Once the program ends and you begin the job hunt it i, but the outcomes team is there for you at every step of the process checking in, following up, and regularly giving you feedback to help you tackle all the hurdles that come along with the job search. The network, the hiring partners, the support, and the wealth of knowledge that they have on the interview/hiring process is priceless.  Friends from other programs were blown away when I shared the details of our career services. I once was in a position like you wondering...is this real? Those numbers? It is! I feel so lucky to have landed my dream job with a nap room and masseuse on site, but I know it would not have been possible with out all of the support from MKS and Outcomes!
     
    MakerSquare will not only equip you (they have already equipped 100's of other students) with the technical skills to succeed, but more importantly they will teach you how to value yourselves, your actual self worth, and how to believe in yourselves. From teaching you how to think about problems, to how to present yourselves online, to how to negotiate(**to this day still the scariest thing I have ever done!) -- essentially giving you all the tools you need to succeed in becoming a software engineer and in life! 
     
    MakerSquare will help you turn your dreams into memories!! 
  • Stella
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    I graduated from MakerSquare in December 2015 and got the first job in my life three months after that. Many friends of mine showed great interests in MKS and asked me tons of questions. Here is a list of questions one of them asked. I hope this could provide you with some help.

    1. When do you attend MakerSquare?  
    09/2015  
    2. What things you like and dislike about it?  
    In general, I like everything about it. 
    3. How do you like the learning environment there?  
    It is intense. 
    4. They cover lots of thing in the program, do you think you have enough time to digest and master all? 
    It depends on your previous background. For me, I spent a little bit time after class and I was able to keep up with the curriculum  
    5. How do they deal with people who fall behind in the program? How many percent of people drop out from the program? 
    It didn't happen in my cohort, but as I remember if it happens, they won't count you as a graduate of MakerSquare.  
    6. They claim they have high placement rate within three months. Are the placement result real? 
    I don't have the exact number of the placement rate. But based on what I learnt about the last cohort and my cohort, the placement rate is indeed high.  
    7. Most developer jobs required experience, how can MakerSquare help you to overcome this issue, to help you to get a job?  
    The job market is promising. Currently the demand is more than the supply. As long as you are willing to study hard, you should be able to find a job.  
    8. What advice you will give your friend before they attend MakerSquare or bootcamp in general? 
    Make sure you like coding. Work hard.  
    9. If you have to re-do the program again, what would you do differently?  
    Probably nothing. 
    10. If you have another chance, will you still choose attend MakerSquare over other bootcamp or choose another path? 
    I would still choose MakerSquare. 
    11. Overall, do you recommended MakerSquare to friends?  
    Yes, definitely.

  • Software Developer
    - 4/23/2016
    Salman Oskooi • Software Developer at Rackspace • Graduate
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    I attended MakerSquare in Austin and it was a consummately rewarding experience overall. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who has worked hard to build up their initial coding skills **and** realized as a result that programming is something they will enjoy doing. To make a successful go at it you really have to be okay with failure and be persistent about finding the right ways to understand and accomplish things. Those who struggle with this will have a harder time and may end up discouraged.
    For me the education and guidance provided by MakerSquare was nothing short of transformational. I chronicled my progress in monthly blog updates, from deciding to do the program and attending MakerPrep to getting a rewarding job as a software developer, on my website SalmanOskooi.com . Bottom line: you get out what you put in.

  • vidaaudrey • Software Engineer • Graduate
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    I moved to the SF bay area a little less than two years ago from Beijing. My previous jobs were related to public relations, market research and real estate. Early last year, after some consideration, I decided to try software engineering and spent a few months exploring different technologies, particularly iOS/Swift. Later as I dive into web technologies, I came across Makersquare and decided to try it out. And surprisingly it turned out to be one of the best experiences that I had.

     

    My cohort had about 25 students. They are from all kinds of industries and most of them are very very smart and talented. I felt quite fortunate to spend three months with my classmates and the amazing staff members of Makersquare.  What I love about the program are:

     

    1. Pairing. Pairing with different classmates helps us learn how to collaborate with others, how to use different parts of our brain by navigating and driving, and most of all, teach and learn from others. It’s a quite enjoyable process.

    2. Lectures. Chris, Jeff, and Josh are the best. I learned so much from them. Whenever I asked question, they were always very helpful and thorough. They can explain some of the weird Javascript parts in a very easy-to-understand fashion.

    3. Toy Problems. I found myself quite enjoying the daily toy problems. Even though I can find most of the solutions quickly, the thought process to optimize and troubleshoot edge cases is even more interesting.

    4. Group Project. I was project owner for two of the three projects. It was not easy, especially the groups were randomly assigned and the members changed after each project. We barely knew each other’s working style and we had to deliver the project in very short time. Working under extreme constraints also allows us to think fast, work hard and work smart. My thesis project is Trippian: https://github.com/trippian/trippian. We had to learn React and Neo4j while developing the app, all in THREE weeks. Even though there are a lot of things that I wish we did,  in general, I’m quite happy with the result.

    5. Classmates. The senior & junior group idea is brilliant. As a junior, besides the fellows, you can also ask questions from any of the seniors. As a senior, helping juniors understand some of problem potentially enhances his/her own knowledge. In general, it’s a very supportive environment. Everybody is super nice and helpful.

    6. Career Support. There are many positive comments out there and I think most are true. I was able to get several offers three weeks after the graduation. Without the support from TK and other encouraging Makersquare staff, it would be so difficult. And now I’m working at Coursera as a software engineer.

     

    There are many other things I like about Makersquare as well, such as the guest lectures, curriculum iteration, feedback-loop, fruit supply, space setup, location,etc. For anybody who is out there exploring like what I was doing last year, give it a try. It may become one of your best experience :)  

     
  • Dan Corman • Software Engineer • Graduate
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    Attending MakerSquare was the best decision I have made in my life. Now, you might be thinking, “This guy has a hyperbolic personality and I have to take this review with a grain of salt.” Honestly, I wouldn’t blame you for that perspective. But my experience at MakerSquare was one of enlightenment, transformation, and reflection. The culture of the institution has been carefully constructed to enable individuals to struggle, learn, and thrive in a contained and safe environment - setting up students for promising careers. 

     

    This isn’t to say that MakerSquare hands this easily to students: the program isn’t for everyone.  Only people who are self-starters, who have motivation, ambition, and a passion for learning and collaboration, will thrive in this environment. Thankfully, the admissions team at MakerSquare is incredibly selective. They go to great lengths to ensure that only the most capable and motivated are accepted into the program. As a result of this, I found myself surrounded by people just like me with a hunger for knowledge and an aptitude to learn. If you aren’t motived or you don’t like working with others, then this program may not be for you; furthermore, software development in general may not be for you. But if you are, then MakerSquare will provide you with a network of brilliant individuals who will stick with you throughout your career. That alone was well worth the tuition for me.

     

    This is not to say that the program has no imperfections. MakerSquare likes to iterate over the curriculum to provide the most accurate and powerful tools to their students. While this is part of what makes its approach so effective, it can also result in processes and materials seeming a little unrefined. There were times as a student that I was frustrated by this, but looking back, I can see how this actually helped me to develop a unique skill set. I learned to conduct research autonomously and work closely with my peers as a team. I became more independent. I am now confident that no matter what real-world situation I encounter, I will be able to produce a great result. This confidence is something that I developed as a result of MakerSquare’s iterative process.

     

    I have now been working professionally as a Software Engineer for 6 months and have a very promising career path ahead of me. I have already earned more than six times the return on investment from my tuition to MakerSquare and have never regretted my decision to attend. I encourage anyone who is confident, excited, and passionate about technology to consider MakerSquare as a powerful stepping stone to a successful career.

  • Anonymous • Graduate
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    I was a member of the MKS23 cohort.  I came into the program with some programming knowledge but with no JavaScript experience and without having built a web application. I currently work as a Node.js developer as a result of the skills I picked up at MKS.  The program cannot possibly cover everything you will encounter on the job but if you go through the program, you'll be more than comfortable wherever you end up.  Ultimately, as with all things, you get what you put in. The best advice I can give to someone who is thinking about going through the program is to go through the first eight chapters of JavaScript: The Definitive Guide (the Rhino book) and to get a handle on functional programming in JavaScript.

    This program is hard work but it is very rewarding and you'll surprise yourself about how much you can learn in 3 months.  It isn't a perfect program. There were moments of disorganization where it wasn't clear what we were to be doing and certain elements seemed to reveal a bit of patchwork. None of that was a deal breaker for me.

    Where MKS shined was the quality of the instructors and fellows and the environment that they fostered.  I met a lot of great people at MKS and learning with and from them was a truly rewarding experience.

     

     

  • Kayla Handy • Software Engineer • Graduate
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    I can't say enough good things about MakerSquare. After college, I started a career in marketing, which never truly felt 'right' to me. I wasn't ever excited going to work and counted down the minutes when I got there. I started doing a few online tutorials to learn programming and immediately fell in love with it. I'd finally found something that kept my attention for hours and something I wanted to devoted all of my time to. 

    I went back and forth on applying for a bootcamp for about a year. As a marketer, I knew how people would skew data to work towards their goal, so I was wary of the '96% hiring rate' that MakerSquare promoted. After reading everything about MKS online that I could, I decided to go for it. I was accepted and decided to move to Austin to attend. 

    MakerSquare was one of the best experiences of my life. I was surrounded by brilliant people all day every day who shared the same passion for learning that I did. There were times that we all felt frustrated, but MakerSquare helped push us through those times of uncertainty. I learned far beyond anything I could have taught myself in such a short period of time. 

    Just three weeks after graduating, I landed my dream job at HomeAway. I absolutely love my job, my company, and the industry. MakerSquare truly did change my life. If you're thinking about applying, do it today. It'll be the best decision you've ever made. 

  • Anonymous • Software Engineer • Graduate
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    The purpose of a school like this isn't to make you an expert at software development in three to four months.  MakerSquare creates an environment similar to what one might encounter if they were hired as an entry level developer at a mid-sized tech company.  You will get support and guidance from some incredibly talented and smart engineers, but most of the learning takes place as you work through programming challenges on your own or with a pairing partner.  An educational model like this is empowering, because for the rest of your career you can apply this ability to learn on your own.  The goal is for you to learn how to learn, not learn everything there is about JavaScript, Angular, Node.js, or other frameworks that they cover. 

     
     
  • Anonymous • Software Engineer • Student
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    TL;DR - Curriculum is solid, some ancillary parts not quite there. Totally worth the money. I was a skeptic and the program proved its merit.


    This is for MKS25 in San Francisco, Q4 2015.


    Demographics and Social Aspects

    There were 24 people in my cohort. Not 100% white hetero dudes, but could still be better. Seems to run about 20:4 male:female, and SF-esque racial diversity (meaning many different races, except African-American). Varies a bit cohort to cohort, given the small sample size. Very wide range in backgrounds, from 19-yr-old CS majors to 22-yr-old college dropouts to 25-yr-old Stanford grads to 40-yr-old musicians (I was 35/36). If you're having doubts that you'll fit in or anything, don't. Anyone can learn JS if they put in the time and effort. The staff creates a very inclusionary, accepting environment for students, and they're attempting to broaden diversity in the application/enrollment process.

    Probably by luck, my cohort seemed unusually cohesive socially, and about a third or so of us still meet up weekly just to hang out. Students come from all over and most aren't local, so the social aspect is pretty important. And given the unique schedule and stress, the social aspect is important even for locals. Also: live in the city if you can. It's worth the money to avoid a long commute for those three months. Maximize your time either working or sleeping.


    Admissions

    The literature given wasn't great at really explaining what we needed to know for the technical interview. Know your JS basics, be able to re-write many common utility functions you could find in Underscore, really learn what's meant by closure and lexical scope. Get comfortable passing functions as parameters to other functions. Don't worry about actually learning functional programming yet, and don't spend a single second on any frameworks of any sort. Just learn vanilla JS. Also, start using Sublime or a similar text editor, and learn to evaluate your code outside of a sandbox like Codecademy or Coderbyte. Be very comfortable knowing how your code will execute, and why. You will likely interview with a person and a text editor, and will notbe able to check your code in the console.


    Curriculum and Feedback/"Grading"

    Our program was split in two halves: the first comprised of topical two-day pair-programming sprints, and the second, a series of group projects. There's a tremendous amount of material thrown at you, and you have to get used to not being able to learn everything. You figure out what you need to know and how you can find out anything else you need, rather than rote memorization of details. Since you're either in a pair or a group, you also learn to work within that dynamic.

    The curriculum put a heavy emphasis up front on JS basics and CS fundamentals (like data structures, time/space complexities, algorithmic/recursive thinking, etc.), which I think is really smart. You learn quite a bit about "why" before you start to get to abstracted away into frameworks. It's pretty unopinionated, teaching prototypal and class-based inheritance, OOP and functional programming (as they exist in JS), etc. Also there's a good emphasis on professional best practices, like Github and agile scrum and whatnot. The curriculum is full-stack, teaching Node (with and without Express), as well as SQL and NoSQL databases (with and without ORMs), creating RESTful APIs, and build tools like Grunt and Gulp.

    The program is perhaps a bit slow on embracing new frameworks, but you can always learn what you want for the group projects. My cohort was still Angular 1.x heavy, which my group broke away from to learn React+Redux. Hopefully they'll incorporate some Angular 2.0 and Ember 2.0 in there as well eventually. Head of Curriculum and General Bad-ass Kyle Simpson is also working on some cool material covering things like generator functions, observables, and reactive programming.

    There isn't "grading" exactly, but there are weekly "self-assessments", which are tests by another name. The staff does look at them and will pull students into extra tutoring sessions if needed for a particular topic, but aside from that there is no feedback. It's a weird "no news is good news" paradigm that I never really got used to. But students tend to know how well they did on a self-assessment, and it's a good check to see if you know the material. Note: even people who struggled on some topics worked on them and became strong engineers.

    There's also time devoted to toy problems and whiteboarding, which have been prevalent in hiring (though are becoming less so, from my experience). Both are valuable, especially the whiteboarding. It's really important to be able to talk through and present a solution to a problem, rather than just muttering to oneself and scribbling out some code. This includes some one-on-one whiteboarding with an instructor, as well as a mock interview. Both were valuable, and actually kinda fun.

    Throughout, but concentrated in the last week, is professional development. You'll create a new resume, think through answers to common interview questions, learn a specific job search strategy, etc. Even if you've gone through the job hunt before, it's nice to hear a software engineering specific version. And though I've personally heard complaints from companies that "bootcamp resumes / cover letters all look the same", apparently it's still effective.

    The staff also seeks feedback from the students in bi-weekly feedback sessions, which we dubbed "Airing(s) of Grievances". It's a mostly-useful way to let the staff know what's working and what's not. It's nice to have a "public" forum to discuss issues as they arise, rather than only speaking with staff one-on-one. This can also be a good place for staff to explain changes in more depth; (lack of) communication was a constant frustration in our cohort, and the feedback sessions were a place to get the staff to actually address changes and the reasoning behind them. (I expect the communication issue to change for the better in the future — see next paragraph).


    Staff

    Overall the staff is wonderful. One of our instructors, Chris Rhoton, is now running the place, which I think means even better things are coming in the future — he's a really great guy and a strong leader. The rest of the instruction staff was similarly awesome. You can tell they really care about the material and the students, and aren't just collecting a paycheck (those paychecks would be much higher if they were still in industry!). I also really enjoyed working with Jeff, the resident "old school guy" with decades of industry experience, who concentrates on fundamentals. The program also employs former students as Fellows, which are essentially Teacher's Assistants. Our Fellows were mostly quite helpful, since they've been through the program already and know most of the common pitfalls.


    Lifestyle, or How Did I Survive

    I've lived in SF for a number of years, so my experience was a bit different from those coming here just for the program. I explained to my friends that I'd basically be dropping out of life for three months, which was mostly true. The schedule of 9am–8pm, six days/week, is pretty tough. But it wasn't as bad as I thought. I didn't see my friends much, but I was still able to go to shows every few weeks or so (though I became the "old guy at the show", happy when the band finished at 11pm so I could go straight to bed). I was hoping to still have somewhat normal Sundays, but between needing to catch up on sleep and needing to run the week's errands and make the week's food, it mostly didn't happen. I did manage a quick camping trip during Solo Week (the half-time week in the middle of the program), but mostly worked and slept. It's just three months.

    Also: the cliché is true, you get out what you put in. You can go through doing the minimum, and you'll become a competent engineer; or you can maintain a thirst for knowledge, and you'll do some bad-ass stuff. And everyone learns at different rates. I saw some people struggle early on, put in extra hours, and become strong engineers. I saw others work insane hours, burn out, and start to get sick and miss days.

    For me, "slow and steady wins the race" was a good mantra. I tried to leave at 8pm and keep a good school/life balance throughout. The most important thing is to keep up on sleep and fitness. Get a gym membership and use it during the given workout periods (I didn't do this, and should have). Leave as close to 8pm as you can each night, and try to get 8+ hrs sleep. Get groceries every Sunday, and spend a couple of hours making food for the week. Eat healthy food throughout the week and don't just get crappy fast food and work through your meals. I found that my effectiveness and happiness was tied directly to my health.


    Career Services

    This is where I found the program is a bit lacking, but also where I think it mostly doesn't matter. There's a hiring team that works with companies to give graduates a "warm handshake" into the company, for a better chance at getting hired…in theory. In practice, at least in my cohort, this did more harm than good. We were to apply through a special job board, which would go through the hiring team and to the company. However, this never seemed to happen, and applications would be eternally "pending" with no reply from the company (who knows if they even saw the application?). After a while, some of my cohort then applied directly to the company, and  did get a response. Additionally, many of the listings on the job board were outdated or just plain wrong. I'm not sure what the hiring team is actually doing, but a "warm handshake" this was not.

    The prescribed strategy was also a bit "one size fits all"; while it worked well for me and many others, it was less useful for those with visa issues or other concerns. Keep in mind that the placement statistic quoted (96% percent as of Feb '16) only applies to those who follow the MKS strategy. You're welcome to job search however you like, but only those who stick to the strategy are included in that statistic.

    But like I said, I think this mostly doesn't matter. The advice leading up to the job search is largely good and helpful (though be reasonable — if you don't have prior programming/engineering experience, you are not going to get hired as a "senior" anything). MakerSquare, via Tiffany/TK (who is wonderful!), was there for support and advice in the search, but I didn't really use it much. And they're upfront about it: they don't guarantee you a job. Just as with the rest of the program, you get out what you put in. I conducted my search through the typical channels (Indeed, Glassdoor, AngelList, etc) as well as my personal network, stuck to the MKS strategy, and got a job in about 4–5 weeks. It's with an interesting startup paying market rate, and I'm happy.


    Final Thoughts

    I went into the program to shift my career into overdrive and get a good job doing interesting work at market rate, and MakerSquare helped me accomplish all those things. I was skeptical about how much one could learn in three months, and how employable a graduate would be. While MakerSquare's not totally perfect, it was totally worth the money. I learned a tremendous amount and became an employed software engineer.

  • KC Carlton • Engineering Manager @ PayPal
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    My name is Hudson Carlton and I am an engineering manager at Paypal. We hired two MakerSquare graduates to fill a couple roles: an application engineer role (non-junior) and one junior level role. 

    In hiring, I typically look at LinkedIn, local meetups, and recent graduates. I decided to look at MakerSquare and found qualified candidates that have the skills to learn quickly.  

    The graduate that I hired has on-boarded and is currently working on a project built with our KrakenJS stack.krakenjs.com

    Lastly, I was asked "would I look at MakerSquare for future hiring?" My answer: Yes, I definitely will look at MakerSquare graduates when we are looking to hire again.

  • TL/DR: Do it!
    - 3/27/2016
    Ben • Software Engineer @ PayPal • Graduate
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    TL/DR: Do it!

    I just finished MakerSquare at the end of January and the program was fantastic. It wasn’t perfect, but it continues to evolve. These imperfections, however, are vastly overshadowed by the unmistakable value it offers for those willing to work hard.

    I do say ‘offers’ for a reason, because you get what you put into it. 

    You can expect to basically live and breath code for 12 weeks. I easily spent 70+ hours either at campus or at home pouring over a project or reading documentation and sleeping every once in a while, haha. You need to dive in head first and just try to absorb anything and everything and the investment will be worth it immediately. 

    If you aren't fully committed, you could go each day, be flooded with information and not learn a dang thing. But if you really throw yourself at the program, take everything in like a sponge, digest as much of it as you can and then throw yourself at it even harder as the topics get denser, deeper and more specific, you can't help but learn a ton. I say this because there are some who enter the program with specific things they do/don't want to learn or have preconceived ideas about what would/wouldn't be useful to them, and I think that holds them back in many cases. 

    Basically, be the thirstiest sponge you can be, ask questions as you encounter them, but also be willing to trust that the instructors have thought long and hard about what is important to teach you and when. 

    We used JavaScript and Ruby on Rails for our lessons, which you will be extremely comfortable with by the end, but the true value comes from gleaning the programming concepts which can be applied to any language/framework. There are lots of people from my cohort who took jobs in languages/frameworks we never even touched during MakerSquare; employers see that although MakerSquare grads might not yet know the syntax of whatever language the company is using, we come out of MakerSquare with a strong conceptual understanding and the ability to learn new technologies incredibly fast.

    MakerSquare has promoted really high placement numbers. I am not sure the details of other cohorts, but all I know is that my classmates and I have been landing real jobs earning real paychecks; the salaries in Austin have been anywhere around 50-75k/year, generally in junior level positions. 

    And while I understand that all this might sound too good to be true, it's not. Becoming a developer in 12 weeks is not easy, but it's absolutely achievable.

  • Shreeya • Software Engineer • Graduate
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    I attended Makersquare in fall 2015, from August through October. I am a recent grad from college, and I actually studied computer science. I decided to do a coding bootcamp because after a year of working in industry, building web products, I realized I lacked a good understanding of the various frameworks and tools that are specific to web development, and my own efforts at constructing a syllabus for myself and self-learning during my free time, despite my background in comp sci, were proving to be ineffectual. It was important to me to find a coding bootcamp that had a strong syllabus that covered these various frameworks and allowed me to produce a body of work demonstrating my abilities.

    Makersquare turned out to be exactly that, and more, and I would highly recommend it to anyone that is in a similar position. Class size is around 20-25 people per cohort, and you can be sure to receive a lot of personal guidance and mentorship. The syllabus is solid - it's being curated by Kyle Simpson, an extremely influential person in the Javascript community, and they are able to iterate incredibly fast. The staff is professional, but also warm, and constantly seeking feedback from people in the program. I'm particularly glad for the community - staff and fellow students alike - the whole time I was there, I felt like I was surrounded by people who were devoting their every last bit of energy towards making themselves better, and it was always positive, never competitive, and I found that to be an incredibly inspiring environment to be in.

    I was one of three girls in my twenty two person cohort, and initially, I was a little uncomfortable by this gender ratio, but Makersquare works pretty hard to create an inclusive, no-bullshit environment, and I thought they did a decent job of it. I pretty much spent 11 hours a day, 6 days a week at this place for three months, so it was important for it not to feel like a hostile environment in any way, and I'm very grateful and relieved that this ended up being the case.

    Whether you're thinking about a career change, or you're a recent grad who wants to learn a ton of stuff in a short period of time, if you're prepared to put in the hard work and time, I would highly recommend Makersquare. I'm really proud of the things I built while I was there, and looking back on those three months, I realize I achieved a remarkable amount of personal growth thanks to the people, the syllabus, and the environment. I'm really, really glad I did it. :)

  • Ross • Software Engineer • Graduate
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    MakerSquare provides its students an abundance of challenging curriculum, hands on learning, and even some help with your career development during and after the program. The school starts you off by learning the fundamentals of JavaScript by re-implementing the code from the popular Underscore.js library and learning about all the hard concepts of JavaScript. After developing a solid foundation you then explore relevant and popular frameworks, libraries, and tools that are commonly used by the software engineering community.

    MakerSquare also devotes nearly half of its program to building your own applications. These applications can be on any topic and use any technology you are interested in. The support from the MakerSquare staff does not end here, you will continually have meetings with technical mentors that will help guide you through whatever issues your group is facing and will make recommendations for how you might handle them. 

    The most important thing that MakerSquare will provide you during your time here is the ability to become an autonomous learner. You will continually encounter technologies that you aren’t familiar with. You learn to look at the api documentation, books, videos, or online resources. Software Engineering is an industry that is constantly evolving and you often won’t have all of the skills required for a particular job you are interested in; but because of your ability to learn quickly and autonomously you have the confidence to learn those skills which you may be lacking and excel at them.

    Career services are also provided to its current students and its alumni. During your time at MakerSquare you will be given time to develop an impressive cover letter and resume, and more importantly an advocate for your job search that will help you through anything and everything during your job search. From formatting emails to a prospective company to salary negotiations, you have the support you need throughout your programming career.

    MakerSquare has a great community of truly determined and caring staff. This school measures student outcomes as its beacon for success rather than enrollment rates or profits. The network of friendships that you create and the ever-growing list of alumni are invaluable to have as a software engineer.

    MakerSquare is a great school, if you come prepared, willing, and determined they will undoubtedly mold you into an excellent software engineer.

  • Immersive program
    - 3/23/2016
    Scott • Software Engineer • Student
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    I attended cohort 24 in Austin, TX

    First, a little bit about me. I entered Makersquare with roughly 2 years of Wordpress development experience. I was mainly self taught (aside from Comp Sci 101) through my job at a digital advertising company here in NYC. I was tired of working with Wordpress and wanted to take my dev skills to the next level, and work on some more interesting projects (I was working on click bait websites). I chose MKS because it teaches the Javascript stack, and their interview / application process was much more enjoyable than at Full Stack Academy.

    Some advice before applying: Make sure you are serious about becoming an engineer. If you are doing this because you don't know what else to do with your career, or are expecting MKS to baby you every step of the way, this may not be the right place for you. Their methods are very much geared towards "making you a better learner". While there are lectures (Gilbert is a rockstar) and solid course material, it is up to the students to work together and solve problems without very much hand holding. The senior project feels exactly like a job, where you are responsible for the product from start to finish with no set daily schedule.

    The program: It is rigorous. You WILL struggle. Do not let it get you down. There WILL be people smarter than you who will make you feel inadequate. Just remember it is not a competition! If someone is catching on faster than you, don't get discouraged... ask them for help! I always say that 95% of being a software engineer is failure. It's that 5% of aha! moments that makes it all worth it. I feel like I had a new aha! moment every single day here. It feels like you're struggling mightily, but when you get to the project phase, it's absolutely astounding how much you've learned in such a short period. Also, don't plan on having a social life during these 3 months!

    Outcome: I was able to land a job 3 weeks after i graduated, working for a former boss, making 60% more than my last job with a better title (software engineer). I was able to negotiate using the awesome tactics that student outcomes taught us. I made $10k more in 20 minutes! It's amazing how few people actually negotiate their salary. MKS does a very good job teaching you these skills. I probably have a bit of an advantage over most people coming to MKS since I had 2.5 years experience, and a strong network of former co-workers here in NYC, but with the skills gained at MKS i am confident that every who graduates is strong enough for at least a Junior level job. I joined MKS knowing I would not be using their hiring network (which is mainly Austin, LA, and SF), so I can't really comment on that.

    Negatives: MKS is not perfect, but they are always iterating and trying to improve. They are a startup, and it is apparent that they are experiencing typical startup growing pains. Also, your experience could be brought down if your cohort has some bad apples. Pretty much everyone I met was awesome, and I made some great friends, but the student body is very young, and some students are not mature enough to handle the kind of pressure involved with the program. MKS very rarely kicks anyone out, so it's possible that you'll have someone on your team not pulling their weight, dealing with emotional issues, being a jerk, or causing drama. (not all necessarily in my cohort, just what I've observed). MKS likes to spin it and say that you're going to have to deal with difficult people on the job, which is a great point, but not when we're spending a lot of money. Towards the end of my cohort, they hired someone will act as a student mediator to try to deal with these types of situations, which is a testament to how MKS listens to their students and strongly values their input.

    My advice: DO IT! It was possibly the best 3 months of my life. I've never learned so much so fast, and the outcomes are real. Just about all of my cohort is employed. Have fun, don't take it too seriously, and Always Be Committing!

  • MakerPrep Review
    - 3/22/2016
    Anonymous • Student
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    This review is for the MakerPrep program offered by MakerSquare in Feburary 2016, not their full-time immersive program.  I had originally planned to apply to MakerSquare without taking their MakerPrep program. Upon realizing that I needed some more time to prepare for the MakerSquare tech interview, I decided to take MakerPrep on the basis that the $750 fee would be contributed to the MakeSquare tuition - why not, right?  I had already decided on going forward with MakerSquare, but I wanted to get a feel for the MakerSquare environment, which seemed to put an emphasis on paired-programming, so that I could feel good about committing the full tuition and 4 full months of time.  I figured that I'd learn more Javascript and be better prepared for the tech interview in the process. The MakerPrep signup page states, "Classroom time will be split between concept lectures, live-coding along with an instructor, and collaborative, project-based work with other beginner developers."  

    The reality was that classroom time was spent with the "teacher" displaying his code on the screen, half-heartedly explaining it, and then stating, "ok, now you try".  We would then work on our own for an hour or longer.  There was no real paired-programming or "work with other beginner developers."  There was no collaborative environment--it felt like I was in Baskets Career College, receiving bad lectures and busy work--but we weren't attending a part time night class to merely pass for a certificate at the end, we were there to actually learn. There wasn't even any legitmate lecturing happening!  The teacher was unorganized and never proactively helped the students, he just sat at his desk making conversation.  Appropriately, half the class stopped attending by the end of it. I spent more time in class working through free online resources, which better prepared me for any tech interview, than working through the class material.  I am not sure if this is a fair assumption, but I decided that the MakerPrep class is a reflection of the MakerSquare program itself, and decided not to interview for their immersive program.  To anyone serious about learning the basics of programming, I'd suggest you take advantage of the numerous free online resources, all of which will do a better job of preparing you for MakerSquare or any other similar bootcamp.