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Operation Spark

New Orleans

Operation Spark

Avg Rating:3.75 ( 8 reviews )

Operation Spark offers a full-time, 13-week digital education immersion program for low-income individuals in New Orleans, Louisiana. Operation Spark runs intensive year-round bootcamps covering technologies like HTML/CSS, JavaScript, Node.js, and more. Operation Spark also offers apprenticeships and the opportunity for graduates of their programs to work in real production cycles for clients. In addition to the three-month, 700 hour, full-time Immersion program, Operation Spark offers a 5-week, part-time, 60 hour Intro to Programming Bootcamp. 

No past experience is required to apply. As a member of the Reactor Core network of schools, the Operation Spark curriculum was developed in part with Hack Reactor.

Recent Operation Spark Reviews: Rating 3.75

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  • Bootcamp

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    HTML, JavaScript, jQuery, CSS, Node.js, Front End
    In PersonFull Time4 Weeks
    Start Date None scheduled
    CostN/A
    Class sizeN/A
    LocationNew Orleans
    Our 5-week Introduction to Programming Bootcamp is a deep dive into JavaScript, functional programming, and basic web development. Bootcamp prepares students for entry into our 3 month Immersion program. The course is 3 hours a day, 5 days a week for 4 weeks at 60 hours of total instruction. Students can choose to aim for the Immersion course once completing Bootcamp or enter directly into an internship or apprenticeship. 
Prior to starting in the Intro to Programming Bootcamp, students must complete the material from the Prep program. Our Prep program helps our organization measure a student’s desire and aptitude for software engineering, while allowing them to figure out of a career in software development is something for them on their own time. As we want as many people as possible to try their hand at software development, our Prep program is free for all, and prepares students for entry into our one month Intro to Programming Bootcamp.
    Financing
    DepositN/A
    Financing
    Available through SkillsFund
    Tuition PlansYes
    ScholarshipYes
    Getting in
    Minimum Skill LevelBeginner
    Placement TestYes
    InterviewNo
  • Immersion

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    Start Date None scheduled
    CostN/A
    Class sizeN/A
    LocationNew Orleans
    During Bootcamp students have learned the foundations of programming but don’t yet have the knowledge needed to apply them in a workplace environment. Our Immersion track helps students build upon those foundations by offering comprehensive curriculum with over 700 hours of material. Throughout the course you’re gaining workplace ready skills and a deep understanding of standard developer tools such as Git, the command line, test-driven development, and debuggers. You’re also learning soft skills such as problem-solving, team collaboration, public speaking, and meeting goals and expectations. The course is in partnership with Hack Reactor and runs 11 hours a day, 6 days a week for 3 months.
    Financing
    DepositN/A
    Financing
    Available through SkillsFund
    Getting in
    Minimum Skill LevelMust have graduated from our 5-week Bootcamp
    Prep Work2 weeks of pre-course work to complete
    Placement TestYes
    InterviewYes
  • Andy Nguyen  User Photo
    Andy Nguyen • Graduate Verified via LinkedIn
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    As a recent grad, going through the program offered at Operation Spark was the best decision I've ever made. I use to work for a small company in New Orleans as an IT desktop support, and going from the hardware side of computers to learning how to create web applications all on my own is quite a feat.

    Yes the program itself is quite difficult, thats why the program is called immersion, but being able to offer real life skills in fullstack development, I wish I had this opportunity when I was younger.

  • Alex John Sfamurri  User Photo
    Alex John Sfamurri • Student Verified via GitHub
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    Best decision I have ever made. While I learned a lot of different theories and even multiple languages in college, non of those classes went as in depth as Operation Spark has. They also hold you to an extremely high standard, higher than many employers will to help you become not only good on your own, but also in a group. They teach everything in what feels like blocks, that you have to get through. This is a hard, challenging course, but the instructors are there to help you, not do it for you. Looking forward to progressing with the program. It has increasingly helped me find more confidence in myself as a developer, something college did not do for me. Anyone who feels this is elementary has not progressed far enough to make accurate judgment call.
  • Student
    - 9/29/2020
    Anonymous • Former student of op spark • Student
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    Operation spark has the right concept in mind, but has lost sight of their own mission. 

    I like another student mentioned below, finished the pre-immersion section at op spark during covid-19. I was privileged to attend op spark in person pre covid 19 and  now online. 
    When I signed up for op spark, I knew what I was getting into. A family member told me about the program in depth, and I have numerous friends who have completed the program and have jobs today.
     What was being "sold" to me isn't what happens behind closed doors. 
    The prep course was a great building block for someone like myself who has never coded, nor been confident with higher level concepts. It really is the square one for someone who does not know what a variable is. The teacher for that section and bootcamp, Ryan McFarland was and is still the best thing about op spark. Ryan would go above and beyond to ensure we knew where to look for information, offered links to sources other than op sparks ready made PowerPoints, and was approachable. 
    I say this, because anything about the overall program with op spark changes post bootcamp. 

    Pre course is $500 and no tuition assistance is offered, (you won't find this out until last minute and no payment plan is offered. Pay it, or you're not in the next cohort). From day 1 of pre course until the painful post test interview, you feel like an idiot. You aren't, but your teachers Kaelyn and Ali will make you question how you even tied your shoes this morning. I have witnessed first hand, students being told they cheated on a project, with no evidence, Students being laughed at or having their work chastised; the best example is when a teacher responded to a students questions with "TLDR" better know as too long didn't read, or when Ali told a student "what the f*** is that?" Really welcoming stuff here. 
    When I met Kendall and Cortez at the op spark info session (both amazing individuals who no longer work for the company) I was excited for a new opportunity and I knew I would have to put blood, sweat, and tears into this for the outcome I wanted. 
    What I didn't sign up for: being berated, last minute info about grants, changing loan companies and then asking for $11k not even a week later, no teaching whatsoever, DRAMA in between students and teachers in the middle of our "help desk" sections. I could go on. 

    Also, I've been hearing there isn't real job placement once you graduate! You just apply for jobs on your own and let them know if you got one. I can do that on my own--sounds like the grads are doing that anyway. 

    The purpose of this review was to shed light on what is really happening at op spark. I believe their original mission was noble, but, it no longer exists. To have 19 students get through pre-course and have 5 pass, some of whom do not want to give a cent to this place, but know they got this far, speaks VOLUMES.  You will be asked to pay $11k +, quit your job, and be belittled at the chance of making it. Good luck making a 40/40 on a test and still not going to the next session. 
    I'll be looking elsewhere for my future learning. 
  • Not What It Seems
    - 9/27/2020
    Anonymous • Student
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    I had high hopes when reading the Operation Spark website, going to the information session, and hearing what the non-profit organization was about. I was very excited, for someone who's coding experience did not leave the realm of Myspace. As I've gone through the program, I've been very disappointed, and do not recommend for anyone who is not a computer science major/dropout, studied  neuroscience, had coding classes in high school, or a physics major. 

    Operation Spark starts out with a two week free prep course, where they introduce you to the datatypes of JavaScript. This is a very good structure, where they teach you the material, allow you to practice it, and then test you on it afterwards. A basic structure for helping people with zero coding experience, learn. Heads Up, to get the most out of this, I would recommend going on Udemy to Colt Steele's JavaScript course, or Youtube and searching JavaScript Data types and learn from them, to make your experience that much better. A lot of people repeat prep, for the simple concept of they've just never seen this material, and anything new is a lot to take in if it's new. It's understandable. Retake it, and don't be embarrassed. 

    After Prep, you test into Bootcamp. Bootcamp is a 5 week course, that is about $800 or so... I can't quite remember. A lot of people were able to get half off for different reasons. But that is the initial price. STUDY BEFORE YOU GET HERE! The layout of Prep and the layout of Bootcamp are total opposites. Prep prepares you, Bootcamp just throws you in. On the first day of BootCamp, you will feel like you missed two weeks of class, and are lost. That's when the true layout of how Operation Spark operates comes out. They want you to just start out by googling every single little thing. Googling isn't the problem, we have to google throughout life all the time. But, there is a foundation you should feel prepared for, before googling. Google if you forget, Google if you want to know more. But to Google what should be taught to us, already kills great peoples confidence level in feeling like they don't know anything and aren't enough. Teach us. That's what we all wanted. Every teacher isn't the same, which we'll talk about later. Some do make it more manageable than others. They understand that this is all new material. So my advice during the two week break from Prep to Bootcamp, is to teach yourself, and go take other courses. Also, once again, it's okay if you have to retake it. PLENTY OF PEOPLE DO! They do say that you can't retake it more than twice. They will ask you to "pause" your program and take a few months off, then comeback and try again. It is a lot of information, so if people are trying, they should be willing to let the people keep trying. But that is neither here nor there. They say Bootcamp is a part time course, but it is full time. Be prepared to spend hours after class, on the computer. There is a lot of work.

    Next, is PreCourse. What a joke. PreCourse is where you pay $500, to literally teach yourself, and Google all day, with your partner who is equally as lost. PreCourse is about a week after Bootcamp. This is a three week course. The whole course is poorly managed. The first partner assignment, they just give you a link, and before you and your partner are able to start working, you have to spend a hour and a half, figuring out how to even get it on your computer and set it up. Something that can easily decrease the time into 10 mins, by just providing a simple sheet that tells us how to do it. Repetition help people learn. But no. Operation Spark operates on wanting to do the least, and expect the most. During class, weeks later, people are still frustrated on the way that was handled. But that sets the tone for how PreCourse will operate. Everyday you log on from 9AM-6PM, and given little instructions on something you've never seen before, and told to Google how to figure it out. Neither you and your partner know what to do. And you can't talk to other classmates for help or advice, to increase productivity, because that is forbidden. The instructor doesn't even provide links to YouTubes or articles that can help the class. Everyone, minus the people who have prior coding experience, are all just constantly lost. This type of teaching, or lack there of, makes the students feel very inadequate and that they aren't good enough. This is most of the class first time seeing this. People will have questions. But people are scared to ask for help. 

    There was a time where after 5 hours of being given an assignment, everyone was stuck. Nobody was asking the help desk, because people find it a place to be criticized and chastised by the TAs, or instructors of the program. So the instructor wrote in our Slack channel that the channel was very quiet, so if you are at a standstill, select a red car, if you are flowing through it, select some other icon, and if you are getting by, then select another. There were about 19 people in the class. 14 people selected the red car. If you care about students learning, then you would possibly call everyone out of their breakout rooms on Zoom, into the main Zoom, and try to see the missing gap. Afterall, it was FIVE HOURS after the assignment was given. That's not what they do though. What was said afterwards, was that we aren't going to even be asked if we're stuck in the next level (Immersion), so we need to start advocating for ourselves. Someone wrote a question about how do you know what to ask, if you're at a standstill. I wanted to react to it, but I didn't want to also be on the radar, so I agreed from afar. But it is true. They spend a lot of time, making sure we ask a question in their perfect way, but little time on actually helping us answer it.

    What these courses do, is teach you that you don't need them. I can't express enough that you are given a 10/20 min lecture, at 9AM, and until 6PM, you are given no further instructions, other than "did you Google?". I can Google for free. I can Google with Udemy. Other than the 100% job placement, which is probably rigged, why else is Operation Spark useful? 

    30 Kids or so, may be in your Prep class, and Boot Camp, and there are two different times of the day for both, so about 50/60 students, and only 5 graduate? For an organization that aims to help people with low skill, and change tech in New Orleans, why is that? It's not just because people can't afford it. If the value is there, people will find a way. Even if 10/20 people make it through to Immersion, that is $220,000, upfront, that they received from the class, who are teaching themselves. And not all of them graduate.

    Now let's talk about teachers. There have been a lot of good instructors in the past, who seem to want to help students. I know people who have gone through the program, and have said that teachers were more hands on. That isn't the case today. I want to give credit to Ryan McFarland. He is what Operation Spark is all about. He cares about the students, puts in the extra time with them, goes out of his way to help, provides links, additional courses to take, to help the course material, and very patient! I don't know one person who has anything negative to say about Ryan. He earns your trust and you know he is committed.  I believe right now, he currently teaches Bootcamp. Which the structure of Bootcamp isn't his fault, but he does make it better. 

    Next is Kaelyn, who teaches Precourse... I believe there is another review about her in this from earlier this year, and they were right on the money. That was the in person version. The virtual version is the exact same. Kaelyn does the bare minimum. Her attitude changed once she mentioned we'd be grading her, but not by much. Anytime she "helped" us, you saw the pain in doing so, through her voice. Nothing about her is welcoming. She aims to cover herself by trying to catch students "cheating", off projects. Projects that we are told to google things we've never seen or done before, and have it due within two days. Where are people suppose to learn this if they don't teach it? She did the program before, but you'd never know it. She doesn't talk about it. And if you have been through what other people have, why wouldn't you be motivational or give any words of encouragement. Talk about your experience... something. She is also a physics major, so her thinking is probably different, which may have allowed her to have gone through the program without repeating anything, so thats the chip on her shoulder. Whereas, Ryan went through college, so he may understand this is a lot of info compact into a small amount of time, therefore he is patient and understanding. 

    Then there is Ali. I think Ali is over the Precourse/Immersion portion, but he shouldn't be. Ali doesn't speak to anyone with respect. In Precourse, the only time you hear from him is when it is negativity, or speaks with such criticism when people ask for help. I haven't personally dealt with him, but I have seen and heard how he's dealt with people in precourse and in immersion, and it does not make me want to go forward. If people are truly new to coding, why would you speak to them as if they are dumb, WE ARE LEARNING! Ali and Kaelyn seem as though they forgot what it's like to be new at something, and it's not fitting for being a teacher for bootcamps. 

    Teach people properly, and checkpoints, and quizzes would reflect it. Instead you have a bunch of people faking their way, to the next portion of the program, just to build their portfolio. And it's a waste. The majority of us never feel prepared for the next level of this phase, and think we are spending our money to be abused, and discredited. Operation Spark needs to do a better job of earning our money. $11K is too much, just to be told to Google, and be harassed. 
  • Anonymous
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    First let me say that Op Spark's goal of diversifying the coding field is an admirable one. I fully support integrating more people of color into sectors of our economy which have been inaccessible to them due to either current racism, or the residual effects of past racism. I think programs like Operation Spark should exist in every impoverished community of minorities in our country. 

    I just wanted to clarify where I stand as I want to make sure that the issues I have with certain staff, and with a few factors pertaining to how the program is run, are not labeled as being inspired by racism. 

    My first negative experience at Operation Spark occurred on the first day of Boot Camp when encountering a young teacher, Kaelyn, who had just started teaching a few months prior, and was clearly struggling to meet the demands of her new job. Whether from her awkwardly disingenuous and pedantic tone, to the f-bombs she dropped in muffled conversation with her co-workers, to her description of herself as wanting to be a "jellyfish" so everyone would "LEAVE ME ALONE!", negative energy seemed to exude from her every orifice.

    Within the first weeks of coding several students had been shooed away from her desk when asking for help, Kaelyn claiming with a look of disgust on her lips that "that code is too messy!". It was clear that this was often her way of protecting herself from being put on the spot as several times students showed her code that was copied word for word from formal FreeCodeCamp.com documentation, yet she claimed that said students had not used appropriate syntax and therefore refused to glance at the code she was presented. Kaelyn seemed to over obsess about being exposed as not understanding certain material or not being able to decipher something as fast as certain students and would often use up valuable class time to justify her inferior approach to certain algorithms. 

    A perfect example was a case where the class was given a data set of test grades and asked to calculate (among other things) how many people had submitted an "incomplete" paper,  an incomplete test being specifically defined as one which received a score of zero. When a student attempted to correct Kaelyn's algorithm which failed to distinguish between tests that had received a low score and tests that received a zero, Kaelyn proceed to argue with said student for five minutes until she finally understood her error, and then matter-of-factly explained to the class that her approach was still correct because receiving a very low score was the same as receiving a score of zero. 

    Kaelyn's projection of her insecurities in the form of bossy, resentful criticisms of students was not the only way in which she attempted to insulate herself. It was clear that her lessons were oversimplified and taught at a deliberately slow pace so that she could avoid exerting herself beyond what was minimally required of her. 

    I can say that personally I was made to feel very unwelcome in her class and I know several other people that tried to transfer to another teacher only to find that the new class they transferred to was also taught by her. 

    Aside from the terrible experience I had with Kaelyn, I had a few other minor criticisms of the school. There seemed to be a need for courses that afforded more advanced students an opportunity to work at a faster pace as students in the top 30% of classes spent about half of their class time simply waiting around for their peers to finish assignments. 

    I also thought it a bit tacky that an article arguing that the murder of aggressive baboons has been shown necessary to bring peace to primate communities was attached to the school's mission statement - 
    https://www.nytimes.com/2004/04/13/science/no-time-for-bullies-baboons-retool-their-culture.html

    I think a school with such an admirable goal must be careful to distinguish itself from the divisive language of certain activists who claim that ALL suffering in our nation is due to DELIBERATE, ONGOING aggression, and that the only way to combat such behavior is through equally aggressive opposition. 

    All in all, the school has helped a lot of students who lack the educational background or discipline to teach themselves to code online. I applaud the leadership of certain professional staff members like Mr. Cortez who was equally helpful to anyone who consulted him. 

    If you are the type who can't study at home, or needs career counseling and perhaps some tips on assimilating into the average American office environment, I highly recommend this course - assuming you can access financial aid or afford the tuition. Otherwise, I'd probably save my $11,000 and teach myself online. 

    Personally, I decided to opt out of the program and have been able to teach myself more at home than I learned at school. FreeCodeCamp.com offers a forum  monitored by professional coders willing to answer any questions you may come up with 24/7 for FREE. Combining this with several free Youtube courses and the wealth of free coding libraries and documentation available for download online, I have felt more than equipped to complete a coding portfolio on my own, and even was able to build my own programs with more up-to-date languages than students at Op Spark (I was using React when they were still coding with Jquery : / ). 

    My intention in writing this is not to destroy Operation Spark by any means. I truly hope that a sound group of positive teachers is eventually hired and that the issue with advanced students not getting much from the program is solved. If you are not an extremely driven, resourceful, and patient student who can teach yourself at home, the program is still valuable. 

    I'll leave my criticisms at that. Good luck to all that decide to devote themselves to coding. My adventure has been arduous but extremely rewarding. I wish the same to all of you. 
  • Changed My Life
    - 8/3/2018
    Anonymous • Graduate
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    Operation Spark changed my life. Coming from a little to none coding background, I am now proud to say that I'm a Software Developer. The instructors are passionate about every student. They teach you more than just how to code, they teach you to learn for yourself. You learn full-stack web development. From the client to the server, to the database. After going through the Immersion program I am qualified to take on any task assigned to me.

  • Best Decision
    - 8/3/2018
    Anonymous • Student
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    I just finished the 3rd week of Bootcamp class and we've already learned Higher Order Functions... I've gained an IMMENSE amount of knowledge in just a couple of weeks and know for sure that by the end of Immersion, I will have condensed about five years worth of knowledge into about 4 months.

    This person who left a one star review needs to grow up. For one, saying that children are being 'plucked out of the ghetto' is extremely racist and ignores the fact that part of Operation Spark's mission is to give opportunities to low income people. Also, I'm in the same group that the previous reviewer would have been in, and I'm a college graduate in my late 20s. Nobody in my class is less than 18 years old. I'm really at a loss for who they could be talking about.

    About the militancy, I'd say YES, sometimes the instructors are hard on you but it's called Bootcamp for a reason. They're training you to be professional, arrive in a timely fashion, and present yourself professionally. Also, I'm pretty sure from that person's review, they were only present for the Pre-Course, which is a two week FREE session that has the purpose of helping you figure out if this program is for you. The only time the professional e-mail thing was mentioned was in the Precourse.

    To me, it sounds like this person is just bitter because they didn't make it to Bootcamp, which you have to test into. Reading this review incensed me because I look forward to going to class because I know every day presents a new challenge that I'm truly proud of once I accomplish it.

    For what it's worth, definitely try Operation Spark out if you're interested in programming... it's very fun and I feel like it's worth every penny.

  • Anonymous • Student
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    On the surface, Operation Spark appears to be a great cause. Unlike the majority (perhaps all other) bootcamps, it is a non-profit organization, so they offer an entrance system with tiered payments so that you're not at a huge loss if you decide early on that it is not for you. Unfortunately, this and other factors might have something to do with how you'll be treated after committing at any level.

    The organization makes use of a lot of free online resources anyone can access, so most of the benefit is being around other students and having externally imposed deadlines; someone else estimating the time frame it should take you to learn each piece of what it takes to be a "software engineer". Below are the details of why I included the words "negative experience" in this review.

    In the first week of the Bootcamp phase, rather than getting started immediately spending all the time learning how to code, you'll instead be taken through an elementary school like introductory phase. You'll be asked to watch videos and read articles about how to choose an "appropriate professional" and "inoffensive" email address. Furthermore, at the beginning of every lecture you'll be barked at loudly to "arrive at class on time, pay attention, speak up, ask questions if you don't understand something", etc. The instructors take a loud, militant, and at times abusive approach to what they still think of as "teaching". And as you may have noticed from my above example of the beginning of every single day of class, it's very much like elementary school... picture the crankiest teacher you had. My personal experience with the program involved immediate disdain from my teacher, which I weathered for awhile for the sake of learning... and it ended with her losing her temper on me in a very unprofessional tirade. I connect this below to what this program is really about, and how I did not fit the profile of who Operation Spark intends to serve.

    Operation Spark, by my estimation, is an organization attempting to pluck children out of the ghetto, shock them into learning how to behave, and fast track teach them very basic coding skills. The behavioral lessons and unfriendly/unintellectaul environment take up too much time for the program to include anything about topics like algorithms, data structures, etc.

    If you are not a ghetto child left behind who is responding to your situation with destructive behaviors and needing to be saved the way psychologists have long ago shown doesn't really work, this program is not for you. Professionals from different fields, those who have been to a few days of college, or anyone who was raised with good manners and is ready to actually learn how to code, then steer clear of Operation Spark and go to a more reputable code school.