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MakerSquare

MakerSquare

Avg Rating:4.41 ( 89 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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Hey there! As of 11/1/16 MakerSquare is now Hack Reactor. If you graduated from MakerSquare prior to October 2016, Please leave your review for MakerSquare. Otherwise, please leave your review for Hack Reactor.

  • MKS Review
    - 1/20/2015
    Neil Mithipathi • Graduate
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    MakerSquare was a very rewarding experience. I discovered a new way to solve problems, learned the fundamentals of computer science, and now I'm off to starting a new life in SF.

    I recently graduated from MakerSquare a couple weeks ago and am interviewing at a handful of companies in San Francisco. A few days ago a prospective student asked me a bunch of questions about my experience. I thought it would be helpful to share.

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    How was MakerSquare’s Career Services?

    Careers services after graduation is the most crucial time for them. Through their connections with companies in both Austin and San Francisco they have a list ‘Hot Leads’ compiled, which are employers interested in hiring students from MakerSquare. I have been introduced to several employers through MakerSquare and have set up 4 interviews within a week here in San Francisco. They will also set up a live portfolio for you, showcasing all your projects, Linkedin, GitHub, etc. which was very helpful when I was communicating with employers.

    What did you learn?

    One of the most important concepts I learned from MKS was a solid understanding of how computer languages work. I came into the program ready to make web applications and see what I could do. Before being able to do that, the first step was to understand the software design and the inner workings of each multiple languages: JavaScript, Ruby, HTML5, and CSS3. Now that I am comfortable with Object-oriented programming and software engineering fundaments (we did this with Ruby and JavaScript), I am confident I can now set out to learn other languages such as Objective-C, Java, Python, etc. You will be able to draw patterns between the languages allowing you to pick them up sooner rather than later.

    How was the quality of teaching?

    The teacher-to-student ratio is what helped me the most to grasp the computer science topics being taught at MKS. There was about one teacher per six students. Each teacher had a general knowledge of each topic but were mainly specialized in a single language, such as Ruby. The teachers offer office hours that you can set up as many times as you like. Office hours were helpful especially when the course picked up in pace.

    Did you live in their DevHouse?

    Ya. For me, it was a great decision. Whether I was at MKS or at home in the DevHouse I was always surrounded by students. This really helped me stay on track and keep focus throughout the 12 weeks. If I had questions about any material after class I could just collaborate with fellow students at the DevHouse. Studying and learning became easier living in that environment.

    Did you receive mentorship? Was it valuable?

    I thought the mentorship program at MakerSquare was very helpful. Mainly because I used our weekly mentor meetups as an opportunity to focus on my weaknesses. Coming into the program I was more comfortable with writing in Ruby rather than JavaScript. Maybe it was because Ruby read more like english or that they're were so many helpful methods I could use, I do not recollect. But what I do recollect was that my JavaScript skills needed an extra boost.

    So, during the Mentorship night, where all the mentors visit MKS prior to being assigned mentees, I made an effort to find someone that was dealing with JavaScript and could help me become better. Each week my mentor and I focused on what I was weak in within JavaScript. By the time final projects came around I was writing solely in JavaScript using Node.js on my backend and Angular.js on my frontend.

    Aside from the technical skills you learned, what newly acquired skills do you like to wave to prospective employers?

    My ability to continue to learn new languages. One strength I gained from coming out of MKS was an interest in learning new technologies. Before MKS, computer programming seemed pretty daunting and cryptic at the same time. Once I became comfortable with the fundamentals of Ruby and JavaScript I was more excited to expand upon it. In other words, once you fully understand one language you can start to draw parallels and recognize patterns in other languages making them easier to pick up. I did not set out to learn a new language, and I would not recommend it during the program, but I used this new way of thinking to learn multiple JavaScript frameworks during class (i.e. Backbone.js and Riot.js, two frameworks that MKS will cover). When learning these frameworks I always sought out patterns and anything similar while keeping the differences clear in my mind.

    So now when I reach out to employers I ensure them that I will be able to fulfill my role as well as consistently learn on the side.

  • MakerSquare Review
    - 12/7/2014
    Anonymous • Graduate
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    What were your expectations coming to MakerSquare?

    I expected an intensive 3-month program focusing on the full-stack web development with also supplementary topics including Agile methodology, algorithms, and special topics. I did get all of what I expected but only by inputting hard work and making full use of the available resources (instructors, meetups, networking, feedback from projects, etc.) will one expect to get full value from this program.


    Why did you choose MakerSquare?

    Compared to the other bootcamps (https://www.coursereport.com/cities/austin), I met and knew some of the MakerSquare alumni and felt confident that I could do the same. MakerSquare's humble beginnings and teacher-founder concepts attracted me to their reputation despite their novice delve into programming bootcamps. The cost, although high, was comparative and the conversion rate from student to jobs was high as well (my biggest factor in deciding to join).


    What was the environment at MakerSquare?

    Quite open yet competitive. Yes, its true that your classmates are also some of your competitors but that doesn't mean you can't network and learn from them. One must constantly remind themselves that the true competition is how much you knew before the program and what your true motivation is after the program. Do I really want to be a developer? Do I really want to program/design? Am I still attracted to this area of interest? MakerSquare's relaxed attitude for drinks/snacks/language helped me feel at home too haha.

    Interacting with other students
    All of the students come from a wide background, most in their mid 20s to young 30s, but almost everyone had a unique background. Secretary, english majors, accountants, engineers, still-in-school students, novice programmers, and more. All the students were filtered/screened before they entered MakerSquare making them quite knowledgeable, smart, resourceful, and creative. Each person also had some quirk to them that made everyone quite memorable lol.


    Working with instructors and staff

    All the instructors and staff were quite knowledgeable and ready to help, which made me feel comfortable despite my shyness to ask questions sometimes. I was glad for their help.


    What do you wish MakerSquare did a better job at?

    Giving more of the true work environment ranging from startup to enterprise. What is the typical workday like? How do you use typical project management tools (Atlassian (Jira, Bamboo, Crucible, etc.))? 
     
    Also, good vs. bad programming styles/tips when working with various front-end and back-end frameworks. Sometimes I do things just because that's all I know but is this hindering me from knowing that there could be a better way? Sometimes I feel afraid to deviate because that's all I know and I become befuddled by what I tried to experiment with and when I deviated from my learnings to test new things and expand my horizon as a programmer.
     
    Another things, perhaps more tutorials on how to setup typical apps: e-commerce/store, applicant/project tracking, super complex CRUD-app, how to make a bad website (good details to show how optimization works), data science integration and visualization, etc. providing a springboard for any of these ideas would be awesome to encourage beyond-the-classroom studies.


    What was your job search process like? 

    Job search wasn't too bad but it can be difficult if you don't understand the playing field. You are probably a non-CS major with a novice background competing against CS majors with good internship experience. You must play to your strengths: self-motivated learner for several months learning extensive materials (in breadth and depth) for full-stack development with proven portfolio of these skills. Then pick and choose all the companies from the meetups, job fairs, company sponsored events, job boards (there are a TON), 3rd-party recruiters (Especially these guys!), friends of friends, LinkedIn, Facebook groups' Austin Digital Jobs and Capital Factory Jobs, and any kind of networking. Looking for a job is a full-time job!! You must stay up to date in technologies and the community as well: Twitter feeds, all those free tutorial websites, and meetups.


    What is your current position and how did your MakerSquare experience prepare your current position?

    I am a front-end developer for a nation-wide financial company (NetSpend). MakerSquare prepared me with the fundamental concepts and project management skills to make suitable for the job. If anything, they taught me and showed me the basics on documentation reading, how to find resources, and get me used to the terminology and tools available.


    To whom would you recommend the program? Who should not take MakerSquare, and why?

    I recommend the program for anyone is loves to make things, appreciates the problem-solving nature of programming, loves to learn new things, and loves to break things. You don't need heavy math/science background. In fact, I think it may hinder you like it did for me (engineering).
     
    Don't take MakerSquare if you aren't willing to constantly google for resources or answers to your questions. Don't bother if you are only doing it in hopes of getting a job easily once you complete the program. You will set yourself up for failure if you don't understand the competition inherent to software programming.
  • MakerSquare Review
    - 9/15/2014
    Anonymous
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    Why MakerSquare over the other 5 bootcamps I was accepted to? I applied to, and got accepted to six different bootcamps, but I chose MakerSquare for a lot of reasons. All of my expectations were surpassed and I couldn’t be any happier. I’ll first tell you why I chose MakerSquare, then describe my (amazing) experience.

    1) Interview Process. During the interview, I was asked more questions that stumped me compared to other bootcamps. They were very engaging and enthusiastic about the conversation, and very prompt in responding to any questions or concerns I had throughout the process.

    2) Career Services. Most of the other bootcamps that I applied to had some sort of financial gimmick tied to their career services or you were only allowed access to the career services team for a certain period of time. The career services team doesn't have a time constrain or financial tie to your next job, they are just a group of people who are really passionate about finding you a job.

    3) DevHouse. I thought the DevHouse would help me make my transition to Austin from Ohio much easier. I didn’t want to get suck in a long term lease or live in a neighborhood that wasn't safe. I Had High Expectations I had pretty high expectations for MakerSquare before I got there, and they surpassed them within the first day. Everyone introduced themselves to me and was super friendly. My mom is a teacher, so I know some basics about teaching techniques and how to tell if your instructor actual cares about your experience. Every instructor that I met at MakerSquare was highly motivated and dedicated to my learning experience while I was there. I didn't enjoy struggling through every lesson, but it really is the best way to learn something, and I felt I learned more than I could ever imagine during my time there. Amazing Career Services Support I thought the career services team would be similar to the ones at a college or university, which aren't very helpful, but they too exceeded my expectations. They sit down with you individually and go over your resume, LinkedIn, and anything else you want to cover to make sure you are presented correctly online. I was also impressed they had numerous potential jobs lined up for us before we even graduated. Right now I am looking for a job and MakerSquare has definitely helped me during the process of finding a job. Many companies are impressed at what I accomplished in just three months. They do an excellent job at reaching out to companies that would be a good match for a particular student. I had one instance where a company reached out to me on Indeed after seeing my resume and the very next day a career services member told me that my information was sent over to them. I thought that was very impressive. The Environment - Great Instructors & Great Peers The environment at MakerSquare is what makes it such a great program. I is extremely hard for me to be on time for things. I am one of those people that you have tell me to be there at 3:30 if you want me to show up at

    4) I was not late a single day during my time at MakerSquare. I showed up every day excited to be there because everyone there was excited to be there too. MakerSquare did a great job of picking out a group of students for me to learn with during the program. They were all intelligent and I found myself many times talking to them about intellectual things that didn't just involve programming. We all came from very diverse backgrounds, but our common vision of becoming programmers brought us all together. Anyone who has written even a few lines of code knows the frustration you get when something isn't working. I ran into hundreds of errors in my code during my time at MakerSquare and the instructors were always willing to help. It was hard enough for me to not get frustrated over my errors, and I applaud the instructors that can come in everyday and fix numerous for other people's code. There wasn't a single problem that I ran into that my instructors couldn't figure out, and I had multiple situations where someone would sit down with me individually for an hour or more until the problem was solved. Compare this to college: I was lucky to get 20 minutes of my instructor's undivided time. Some Room for Improvement MakerSquare does a great job of finding really good instructors, but I think they could benefit from having more instructors. Most of the time there were definitely enough instructors available to answer questions, but sometimes it felt like even having 5 instructors wouldn’t have been enough. I think they are expanding rather rapidly because they do such a good job. They should continue to do a lot of hiring to help out with this expansion.

    Who should take MakerSquare? Who shouldn’t? I would recommend the program to people who love to learn everything, even things that aren't coding related. We code for everyone, not just other coders, so you have to be able to relate to clients from different areas and backgrounds. You should also be someone who is not afraid of failure. Becoming a great programmer comes after learning from many failures. It is inevitable that you will fail numerous times, so if you can accept this fact and not let it deter you from reaching your goal of becoming a programmer, you should be fine. You should also be someone who is a social person. I consider myself an introvert, but I still enjoy talking and getting to know people. If you are the type of person who likes to work alone and not talk to many people, then MakerSquare is not for you. I also wouldn't recommend the program to people who can't dedicate more than three months of time to this. You will never again be able to experience such an amazing learning experience when you are at MakerSquare, so it's important that you get the most out of it while you are there. There were many people who had families in the program, and that's okay, but just be aware that it will take up a significant amount of time. You will have to make sacrifices in some areas. You shouldn’t expect to get a job the day after you graduate (some students did though). It’s important you spend your time there learning, and waiting for going head first into job hunting directly after graduation. Overall It was the best learning experience of my life. Study hard before so you can get accepted, and consider it strongly compared to other bootcamps. I did and it was definitely worth it.

  • Robert Smith • Graduate
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    There were a few reasons why I chose MakerSquare over the many other programming bootcamps. To me MakerSquare seemed like a no-nonsense boot camp. There wasn’t any filler, the entire curriculum was centered on real world necessary skills for working in web development. Their program was practical for the skills needed to be a professional web developer. Over the three months at MakerSquare we all became a family, not just the students but also the instructors and all the other people making the school run behind the scenes. I can safely say that anyone there would go out of his or her way to help anyone else. It’s like belonging to a lifelong fraternity that is growing bigger and bigger with every cohort.

    The instructors and staff want nothing more than to see each student thrive and they made themselves available at all times to ensure that. The mentorship program added an extra layer of help and support. It was great having an outside perspective on projects, questions, and what life is like as a professional web developer. There is a great job search support system at MakerSquare. The career services team makes sure you know what you need to do to navigate the tech job market, they help get your online presence where it needs to be, and ease any concern or answer any question you may have. The staff prepared us for how to quickly and effectively send in a job application tailored specifically to each company. We also had professionals in the web development field come speak to us about things such as preparing for a technical interviews and working with third party recruiters.

    Looking for a job can be a daunting task but as MakerSquare alumni you don’t have to go into alone. MakerSquare is a great program but it isn’t for everybody. You need to be able to devote yourself 100% to this for three months. If you aren’t willing to or can’t do that then this boot camp might not be for you. However, the staff and instructors there want nothing more than for you to succeed and will do anything they can to make that happen. This is going to be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do in your life. You’ll experience the highest of highs and lowest of lows, but that’s normal. When you’re standing in front of your computer with the amazing projects that you made on open house night it’ll all click and that doubt will start to wither away. If you truly, truly want to web developer then MakerSquare is for you. Being that there is such a large amount of topics and information you need to learn while at MakerSquare it would be nice to have a more structured course schedule. Sometimes the jumping around from topic to topic made it difficult to commit to memory what you learned earlier in the day. Also, knowing ahead of time what the next week looked like could give you some time to prepare for the upcoming lessons with some reading so you aren’t going in blind. I know they are always improving their curriculum from each class, so in a way it’s a good thing that things are different, but it could help still to have some heads up each week. Overall it was excellent. If you get accepted, you should do it.

  • RC Johnson
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    TL;DR -> A good program, and only getting better. This is a great place to find junior developers. I am the Director of Engineering at WPEngine and formerly a senior manager and software engineer at Bazaarvoice. We hired our first MakerSquare grad at WP Engine a few months back, and I am confident we'll continue to look at MakerSquare grads to help grow our team. The individual we hired was trained on Ruby, JavaScript, and CS fundamentals, but due to our team’s current needs, we have asked him to working in PHP, and he was happy to jump in and help. Hiring from MakerSquare, it was nice to interview a group of individuals that have both relevant technicals skills and real-world work experience. In the particular hire we made, we liked his ability to quickly pick up PHP and literally add value on day one. It's also great that there is new talent coming out of MakerSquare every six weeks. They're constantly iterating on their program, looking to improve it, and I'm confident that they're working on the key areas for improvement I've seen (CS fundamentals, Big O notation knowledge, Data Structure pros/cons.)

  • Rui Nakata • Graduate
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    I'm a recent graduate of MakerSquare (just finished this past week) and spent the most fun 3 months of my life. It flew by! For future cohorts, I wrote a mini review about my time at MakerSquare: Why did you choose MakerSquare? I saw great reviews for MakerSquare online (via Facebook, Quora, Google) and its location in Austin was a huge plus considering its growth in the technology field. What was the environment at MakerSquare? The environment at MakerSquare was amazing! The people in my cohort were very motivated and friendly, the staff were very approachable, and it felt like I was a part of a family from the very first week. The founders really cared about what we thought about the program, so our feedback was addressed promptly. Because I felt so comfortable, I would get sad on the weekends when I couldn't be at MakerSquare. Working with instructors and staff The staff and instructors were the best part about MakerSquare! It's easy to see how much they care about the students and truly wish the best for them. I only had positive experiences with all of them. How did MakerSquare prepare you for your job search? MakerSquare did a decent job preparing us for our job search! Savrut and Jessica provided all of the information we needed in finding jobs. They were helpful during the entire process, and are available even after the course ends. They are limited to how much they can help, so you have to be proactive with your job search. To whom would recommend the program vs. who should not take MakerSquare, and why? I would not recommend this program to anyone looking to switch into software engineering for the money. You will have a tough time if you don't enjoy coding as a hobby. I would recommend this to anyone who is passionate about learning a variety of new technologies. It is not necessary to have an analytical/science background or heavy math background. As long as you enjoy coding, you will have a fulfilling experience. People from very diverse backgrounds came into my cohort and everyone became amazing coders!

  • Sachin Ahuja • Graduate
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    My expectations of MakerSquare: I didn’t know what to expect, my decision to come to MakerSquare happened very fast, so I was in Austin before I knew it. Why I chose MakerSquare: I chose MakerSquare because of their Austin location. I live in Corpus Christi, TX, so the short drive was convenient along with the cheaper rent in Austin. Environment - Immersive and fun! The bootcamp was very immersive meaning you are coding for most of the week. The combination of awesome students and staff made the experience fun instead of stressful. MakerSquare also made a conscious effort to create a positive environment by incorporating feedback during the course. People: Even though every student came from different backgrounds, everyone LOVED to code. That common interest kept every moment exciting. With the "work hard, play hard" mentality, the weekends made up for the difficult weeks. The MakerSquare staff were friendly and approachable. If they didn't know the answer to your question, they will definitely find someone who does or get back to you. The instructors were knowledgeable and you could see their passion and excitement to teach! Career Services: Not only do they have their own job board where you can apply to jobs they find for you, but they also give you resources on how to apply directly and through a recruiter. In addition, they give you organizational tools that you can use during your job search which are really helpful. Summary: You must like to code. You don’t have to be great, but if you’re the type of person that comes at a problem harder every time you fail, then you will do fine at MakerSquare. The immersive course is totally IMMERSIVE. Make sure you are prepared to work diligently and put in at least 40-50 hours a week.

  • Silas Rioux • Graduate
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    I was a student at MakerSquare and I am currently a backend developer at Bypass Mobile, a mobile point of sale start-up in Austin. Prior to MakerSquare, I was a SQL analyst at Deloitte. I had a great experience with MakerSquare and it is mostly a credit to the team, environment, and the skills I learned. Initially I had no idea what to expect. At the time, I realized that I was making a huge leap of faith putting my career on hold for three months and it made me more than a little nervous. After being introduced to the founders, however, I could tell how invested they were in my education. During the program they were always the first to arrive in the morning and the last to leave at night, and were constantly finding more ways to make the course even better. In all honesty, the education that I received blew any expectations that I had out of the water.

    The instructors were very invested in tailoring the instruction around the students, and making sure that we were all satisfied with our education and what we were getting out of the program. We were also given the opportunity to give extensive feedback during the course. The thing I found most surprising about MakerSquare was how incredibly smart and passionate all of the other students were. Everyone was devoted to getting as much knowledge and experience out of the course as they possibly could, and it really showed. The great thing about working at a small company, like Bypass Mobile and having a large amount of responsibility is that I have been able to use most, if not all of the technical skills that I learned at MakerSquare. While I still had a lot to learn in order to get up to speed at my new job, MakerSquare gave me a great foundation, and most importantly, taught me how to continue improving my software development skills on my own. Bypass Mobile is going great. I really enjoy interacting with the people I work with, and love going to work every day. I would recommend MakerSquare to anyone looking to break into a new and exciting career in software development or learn as much as you can about being a good software developer in order to improve your existing career.

    While I look upon my experiences at MakerSquare to be one of the best decisions of my life, I definitely don’t think that it is a decision that is right for everyone. When you sign up for MakerSquare, you’re devoting the next ~3 months of your life to being an software developer/engineer and pushing yourself and your classmates to learning as much as they can. However, not everyone is going to be able to put their lives on hold for 3 months. Most individuals cannot juggle their current responsibilities and take this course at the same time; you have to go all in.

  • Enter Cautiously!!
    - 5/20/2018
    Anonymous • Student
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    I'm writing this quick review to make sure you don't have to go through what I went through in LA, and that you're fully aware of what you're getting into.

    Overall, based on my class turnout and the online reviews, a good portion of the students ultimately get pretty much what they were hoping for out of the program; a decent paying job.  But my experience was not so.

    The first 4-5 weeks were fine.  We were learning the fundamentals of programming with decent material and ok instruction (the instructor was a recent hack reactor graduate ...6 months....who really was not knowledgable and couldn't teach worth a **^%).  After about week 5, the material obviously got tougher, and we began more and more to watch recorded instruction videos from a Hack Ractor instructor in SF, probably because our instructor was inept, and couldn't really answer questions adequately when asked.  I was completely lost and had no support and was just not advancing at all.  And from week 6-12 you're working all alone with your classmates on a project.  They'll tell you that that's part of the program.  

    At that point, I decided to talk to the management and put in my withdrawal from the course, and that's when they turned real ugly.  All the staff who were so nice and loving all of a sudden turned into the evel empire...LOL.  Long story short, all I wanted was a pro-rated refund, which they initially refused.  they started strong-arming me and separating me from my classmates.  In the end, they agreed to give me a pro-rated refund (after they nickeled and dimed down to the hour of when I came to them), only if I agreed to sign a non-disclosure form and keep everything hush.  I couldn't even say bye to my classmates.  

    Anyway, you won't find a lot of negative reviews for MakerSquare because they work reall hard to manage it and strong-arm people. 

    Conclusion:  MS LA is just a Hack Reactor wanna be, you'll end up with an inept instructor and watching online recorded videos from a HR instructor, which is absurd (for $17K).  

     

  • Anonymous • Software Engineer • Graduate
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    I am really hoping standards and expectations, for what was previously MakerSquare Los Angeles, are improving under the new Hack Reactor brand. Even when I attended, MakerSquare implemented the Hack Reactor curriculum and functioned in the same way. I found my experience at MakerSquare in Los Angeles to be a mediocre experience at best, with a poorly implemented curriculum, untrained staff, a lack of oversite, and a huge waste of money.

    When I arrived on-site with my cohort, MakerSquare was going through some staff turnover, which left inexperienced lecturers who had great intention, but lacked the experience to run the operation. The HR person was also new, and they just hired on the outcomes/career coach. Unfortunately, with an operation like MakerSquare, you don't have a way to insure stability of product, and whatever alteration to the curriculum the bootcamp wanted to try out at the given cohort was based on the feedback of the previous cohort. This was really frustrating since it would be nice to know exactly what you're paying for, and to know the people running the operation have appropriate experience.

    The first half of the program is where you go through sprints learning JS fundamentals, Angular, Node, React, etc. Since everything is so condensed, if you're paired with a horrible partner, your learning is greatly diminished. For example, I was paired with a partner who had a chip on his shoulder and refused for our group to ask for help so we could "learn by figuring it out all on our own", so my learning for that sprint was hijacked. When you're paying a lot of money to be there ($16 - 17k), this is incredibly frustrating.

    Regarding the senior phase of the program: There are some people who get a ton of learning and knowledge, and there are some who get little-to-none. The senior phase is the portion of the program where you build three projects with teams of engineers. In each group, there is usually one or two hot shots (perhaps simply because they were able to build in the frameworks of their choice) and the other members of the group are left in the dust trying to catch up with the framework they didn't focus on as a junior. Well, the staff doesn't really care about insuring everyone in the group is actually building.

    Honestly, I see a lot of extension programs (UCLA Extension, UC Berkeley Extension, UCSD Extension, etc.) offering bootcamp-equivalent educational experiences that I think would offer much more value, stability, and oversite, simply because there's an institutional assurance of product, and staff/educators with appropriate expertise. Did I learn a lot in this program? Yes I did. I do not want to diminish the fact that you do learn a lot here. However, there are so many flaws with the design of this program that I feel that my time could have been better spent getting a couple certificates from a local community college or UC extension program.

  • Anonymous • Entrepeneur • Graduate
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    There are a lot of things left out of the positive reviews here.  Mostly because most kids don't want to commit career sucide by publically admitting that there was not really much value added by MKS and that it is an organization that appears to operate without standards or credibility.

    That's not to say that people don't learn at MKS.  Most do.  But thats mostly because they are highly motivated, intelligent people putting in 80+ hours a week.  They largely succeed in spite of MKS, not because of it.  Here are some of the many things I would have liked to know before attending MKS, and which, aside from a handful of recent reviews on here, are not reflected in the information available to prospective students.

    Makersquare provides you with a crowded, noisy, and busy co-working space in which your main educational resources will be a series of video lectures (half of which are low quality and pedagoically poor) and the guidance of a handful of teaching assistants, who, just a few weeks ago were in the same position you were.  This is, with little exagerration, almost the entirety of what you are paying for.  

    This is not really communicated externally, but sit and think about it- you're paying $17k to have someone with 10 weeks of experience 'teach' you.  Depending on who the TA who is on call, half the time I didn't even bother to ask for help because I knew the TA knew as little about the problem as I did.  I say 'teach' because MKS emphasizes above all else 'self-suffieincy' i.e. google the answer yourself.  This is supposedly to help you become an independent learner but is mostly used as an excuse to largely not have anyone on-site with any relevant technical knowledge.  You end up with a half-baked base of knowledge cobbled together through trial-and-error hacking, trawling Stack Overflow, and otherwise doing stuff you could be doing from your own home, without MKS.

    I say this not to demean the TA's, because they're doing their best.  Its just ludicrous to have them as essentially the sole educational resource available.  In my experience, a good number of the TA's chose to continue as TA's after MKS precisely becasue they felt a lack of confidence in their technical skills and wanted to spend a few more months post MKS improving.  This isn't to say anthing against the TA's, who do the best they can, and, in my experience, are highly motivated, caring, and dedicated professionals.  Its just an absurd situation that is succesful only in allowing MKS to staff itself at the lowest cost possible.  Its an amazing business model when you can get kids to pay $17k, add no value, and then hire them back for a pittance to teach the next generation.  But that's exactly what they do.

    The first 5 weeks for me were extremely trying and consisted of sprints, which were presented in rapid-fire fashion without any real time for reflection or learning.

    The sprints seek to bring you up to speed by layering on multiple concepts on top of each other in a way that is unhelpful and confusing.  Hey, today we're going to learn about databases!  But we're going to do it within the context of using an MVC framework you've never used, and oh, what the hell, let's throw in an ORM-layer on top!  Nothing makes it easier to learn than half a dozen layers of abstraction!  Don't worry if you don't get it, because tomorrow we'll be moving on to something completely different.  

    Most of the TA's I spoke to admitted the sprints were poor and that they had been planning to rework them for ages, but last I'd heard nothing has changed.  This isn't really surprising since senior management seems checked out of the actual educational product and is focused on growing the business by adding new programs to sell, charging employers more to access students, and otherwise seemingly attempting to extract as much value as they can from students.

    For the second half of the program, you are placed in a group to work on a project that will be the sum-total of value received for your 10 weeks and $17k.  If things work out and you get a good group, you might have a nice project to speak to employers about.  If you're placed in a dysfunctional group, you'll be on your own and MKS will not do anything to help you.

    There is one person on the Austin instructional staff who cares.  His name is Gilbert.  You will be fighting for his attention with everyone else in your class.  The other 'experienced' engineer is a guy who is checked out of his job and will be absent from the curriculum if he can even bother to show up.  If you're wondering, hey, how might this actually be done in a production setting?  What is the best practice for this type of problem?  Save your questions for if/when you get a job, becasue outside of Gilbert, essentially no one here has a clue.

    It seems that there are no actual admission standards, that the 'hiring standards' they claim to uphold are in fact highly flexible (no one I spoke to had ever heard of anyone failing), and in my experience, the school will always act in its own interests before its students.  Since they hire the teaching staff from the former cohorts, I know more about this place than I care to.  Management has leaned on TA's to accept kids who don't meeet basic technical standards in order to drive revenue.  When people fail technically, MKS apparently carves them out of the employment statistics by having you sign a release.  When people fail the hiring assesment, they're apparently given a special pass and allowed to graduate like everyone else.  This doesn't do anyone any good except MKS.

    I mention their apparent focus on managing metrics because I took a week off after the program (it was the week of Christmas, FYI) rather than start my job hunt.  The main concern of MKS' careers team was to get me to sign a release so they could scratch me out of their hiring metrics, which demand that you adhere precisely to their instructions.  This is, in a sense, helpful in the very narrow sense that it insures that you have comparable data (i.e. everyone started looking for a job on the same day), but to my knowledge they do this with anyone they view as a potential problem case.  I would by very very suspicious of their reported metrics and I suspect that they are highly manipulated.  It seems to be that anyone that represents a potential problem case is removed from the data.  If MKS actually believed in transparency I would encourage them to report additional metrics that allow us to see how many people they carve out, what their outcomes are like, etc.  That will likely only happen with regulation because many of the practices I encountered suggests that MKS prioritizes itself over its students at almost every step of the way.  

    As far as I can tell, the only tangible value from MKS comes from the project you deliever.  Ours was challenged because we had a highly disruptive group member who experienced almost daily breakdowns and proved to be impossible to work with productively.  Despite MKS feeling wary enough about this person to prevent them from using the school's career resources and disavowing any relationship with them (although these are largely worthless in any case), they gave us no assistance in dealing with this person.  This speaks to their apparent philosophy - if they're protected, the students' outcomes don't matter. 

    Makersquare's management and educational philosophy is that if you repeat something over and over again, you actually start to believe its true.  

    These pressures to focus on revenue over educational quality are probably worse than ever following the Hack Reactor acquisition.  Despite this supposedly being MKS's main campus, I saw the CEO onsite once in 3+ months, although the co-founder did drop by once to hit on a few of the women in the program and offer some bogus motivational speech about how much he cares about you.  For me, seeing how apparently tuned out of the core business management was was a reminder that I had just wasted $17k paying for the startup equivalent of Devry University, wrapped in a trendy and self-serving aura of BS. 

    The career resources they emphasize consist of having a former pick-up artist coach and professional wrestler teach you how to negotiate through sleazy hard-ball tactics in 2-3 seminars in your last week (spoiler alert: these amount to 'negging' employers and refusing to ever name a price first).  This is the extent of your career prep, and his opinions are presented as the be-all end all reality.  I talked to more than one executive around town who told me that he was well aware of these tactics, found them distasteful, and had a negative opinion of MKS because of the kind of high-confidence, low-talent grads this place cranks out.  I have removed MKS from my resumes and professional references because I feel it raises as many questions as it answers for employers.  

    Oh, also, they now charge employers a $15k placement fee for accessing MKS students through the largely non-existant job placement they offer.  This was a new policy for my cohort.  This wasn't communicated to us even though, to my mind, this makes previous hiring metrics irrelevant.  Obviously there is a much higher burden to hiring kids when you are charging a recruitment fee on par with what an experiecned hire woudl command.  Again, I only found this out from industry contacts.  In either case, the job board they tout is a phantom.  EVERY SINGLE JOB I APPLIED TO from the MKS board I was informed by the MKS careers team that the employer wasn't actually hiring.  

    The degree of incompetence and laziness at MKS relative to the amount of value they extract from students seems to be so extreme that it borders on unethical.  I very much get the sense that management views this as a short-term play and is focused on maximizing their return before tech hiring slows down and it becomes impossible to hide how little value they add.

    One last, infuriating example:

    Literally the week of graduation they sent out an e-mail trying to sell us, for another $2.5k or something, an introductory course to algorithims and data structrues.  Even though that was supposed to be the first couple weeks of MKS.  It was one of the biggest middle fingers they could have possibly given me, and just reinforces the sense that this place is a start-up equivalent of a Devry University.  

  • Anonymous • Software Engineer • Graduate
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    I graduated from MakerSquare and enjoyed the program.  I am an employed engineer, but when I signed up part of it was the promise of future support including perpetual access to the application.  Less than six months after graduation they switched to a JS curriculum and would not open up to alumni.  Pretty much all support for us disappeared after that.  Then Hack Reactor bought them up and we were all basically forgotten.  MakerSquare wouldn't have existed had the first generation not taken the huge risk of enrolling in a completely unproven new industry.  I can't comment on the curriculum or experience anymore because the place I went doesn't exist anymore and it seems like the company wants to forget the very people who helped build it into what it is today.