Redwood Code Academy
Recent Redwood Code Academy News
- How Isaac Got a Job at Microsoft after Redwood Code Academy
- Alumni Spotlight: Quinton Fults of Redwood Code Academy
- Founder Spotlight: Harrison Spain of Redwood Academy
Recent Redwood Code Academy Reviews: Rating 4.86
Full Stack Immersion
Students will learn the fundamentals of full-stack development, work in teams to build a portfolio and gain necessary skills. The program is broken up into: Software Fundamentals, Web apps and front-end development Full-stack .NET and SQL Starter Portfolio Project Capstone Portfolio Project Interview and Industry Prep
Part Time - Full Stack
- We have partnered with Skills Fund to provide financing
Full Stack Immersion
Students will learn the fundamentals of full-stack development, work in teams to build a portfolio and gain necessary skills. The program is broken up into: Software Fundamentals, Web apps and front-end development Full-stack .NET and SQL Starter Portfolio Project Capstone Portfolio Project Interview and Industry Prep
- We have partnered with Skills Fund to provide student loans
Part Time - Full Stack
- We have partnered with Skills Fund to provide financing
$500 Redwood Code Academy Scholarship
- No eligibility restrictions.
- Full Stack Immersion (Irvine)
Redwood Code Academy Reviews
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I attended Redwood Code Academy Summer of 2017. I was always interested in development and technology, before I found Redwood I worked a bunch of minimum wage jobs that were not fulfilling. I got fed up so I decided to better myself. I found Redwood and took there tour and Harrison was great at explaining what you will get out of the course. During my time there I learned different technologies that are on demand in the market. I enjoyed the courses and gained a strong foundation in which i can excel in the field. A month after graduating I was able to land a job at Santa Monica, CA for a software company called CallFire.
Here is my linked in if you have any questions.
I looked long and hard for a web development bootcamp in Southern California and I am so glad that I chose Redwood Code Academy's Full Stack Immersion Program.
My favorite part about Redwood is the teachers. Harrison, Taylor and Patrick are extremely knowledgeable about complex topics in web development, yet completely understanding and encouraging to students who are learning them for the first time. They provide a ton of support for students who struggle with the material without holding their hands, ensuring that everyone grasps it on their own terms. It is abundantly clear that the instructors truly care about the success of each student, and will go out of their way to help them when they need it.
If you are looking for a constructive and engaging environment to jumpstart your web development career, then Redwood Code Academy is for you. I would highly recommend for anyone who is serious about becoming a full stack developer
I attended Redwood Code Academy (RCA) in April 2017 and I am currently working as part of the Xamarin Team at Microsoft.
Harrison who is the lead professor and the Founder of the academy has invested so much in making RCA the best Coding Bootcamp in the OC. Harrison and his staff care about the student's success in and out of the program. All the instructors are very knowledgeable in the technologies they teach and work hard in making sure that you understand everything they show you.
After I completed the program, Harrison helped me every stepped of the way until I found my dream job! I really felt that RCA went above and beyond by helping me prepare for every interview I attended.
I would recommend Redwood Code Academy to anyone who is serious about becoming a software engineer and are looking into making a life-changing career.
I want to start this review by stating that bootcamp, as a whole, may not be for everyone. Every day that you are attending bootcamp, you are making a commitment to yourself to put your best foot forward and become a better asset in the job market. When you read coding bootcamp reviews, they are usually all positive. People talking about how they were successful and how they landed their dream job. It sounds like a miracle! Who wouldn't want to have the opportunity of job security and a high paying salary? However, the truth of the matter is, coding bootcamp will not provide that for everyone. It will provide that for the people who show up daily and do the grind. The hours are long and you need to have self-discipline. At Redwood, they do their best to create a stress free environment by having ping-pong tournaments and class parties after class on occasion. They don't do this to distract their students, they do this to help us all out. We spend the day staring at a computer screen, working our butts of to get things done. When I was attending the bootcamp, I had no life outside of it. My dreams started to contain code, I started telling coding jokes! It invaded every facet of my life. And I loved it. I wrote things down that I didn't understand and I researched them when I got home. During the project weeks, I went home and worked on the code til the wee hours of the morning. It was fun to learn and I loved every day of the bootcamp!
With all that said, this bootcamp is not a free hand-out. You can't expect to pay the money and have Redwood get you a job if you aren't willing to work for that job. If you are willing to work for it, Redwood is there for you. I never missed a day, I showed up on time, I asked questions and I put my everything into the bootcamp. At every turn, Harrison, Karim, Taylor and Zach were there to support me. They were all so supportive in their own ways. Some days I would come in and be so stressed out from a late night and Karim would be there with a joke to cheer me up. Any time that I was freaking out that I wouldn't get a job, Harrison would be there to pick me up with positive reinforcement. Zach and Taylor were always in the classroom during our daily labs, helping all of us with our problems and finding those pesky little syntax errors.
Another thing to take into consideration when choosing this bootcamp is that you are entering a bootcamp that is small in size, relatively new and owned and operated by the lead-instructor. It isn't some huge corporate bootcamp that has been around for ages. But that it what I loved most. When I finally decided to take the plunge and start a bootcamp, I started looking around in the Orange-County area. Redwood was the only bootcamp that sent me a personalized email. When I went into Redwood for the first time, the first person that I spoke to was Karim. He greeted me at the door with a huge smile and a warm welcome. I spoke with Harrison as well, but briefly since the cohort before me was currently in session. Like I said before, Harrison is doing a lot. I have so much respect for what he does. But it's important to remember that people can't be in multiple places at once. I think one of the main reasons for my success at the bootcamp is that I used the staff for the things they were there for. I never fully relied on one staff member for my success. There is a reason that the people that work there are there and if you do end up going here, use them! They are all so nice and they all really do care. They wouldn't be working with all of us and our craziness if they didn't.
When it came time to find a job, Redwood had my back. Harrison brought out some people that he knows from the industry to prepare us for what people in the market are looking for. They never sugar-coated the fact that the job hunt would be a grind. It really was. In the beginning, I was filling out job applications for hours a day. About 15 a day. It was exhausting, and I wasn't getting a call from anyone except recruiters. Harrison told us, never turn down an opportunity. So I answered every email and every call. I signed up for every job site I could think of. I took phone interviews from every company, leaving my opinions out. Within about 2 months, I was accepting a job offer.
I wouldn't be here without Redwood, Harrison and the rest of the staff. I will always have gratitude for the opportunity they provided me. It is an opportunity that I would relive if I could. There was so much learning, growing and fun had at Redwood! Thank you.
Redwood Code Academy Review
Check out the review on switchup.org and on yelp.com. Just search for Red Code Academy.
My Medium Review:
My name is Brian Chotisunanta.
I attended Redwood Code Academy from March 2017 – July 2017 for both the front end and full stack classes.
Part-time front end class (No longer being offered):
Date: March 7, 2017 – May 11, 2017
Days and Time: Tues & Thur, 6:30 PM – 9:30 PM
Instructor: Billy Pruden (lead instructor)
Full-time full stack class:
Date: April 24, 2017 – July 14, 2017
Day and Time: Mon – Fri, 9 AM – 5 PM
Instructors: Billy Pruden (lead instructor), Harrison Spain (founder and lead instructor), and Taylor Thomas (assistant instructor who joined during the week starting on May 15, 2017).
Starting in Sept. 2016, I visited every single coding bootcamp in the LA and OC area. I was going to attend General Assembly in LA in Nov 2016 but backed out because the admissions guy kept pushing me to enroll, which I didn’t like. After the part-time front end class ended, I was thinking about going to either Coding Dojo in April/May 2017, and considered going to General Assembly again in May 2017, because I figured since Billy Pruden attended the General Assembly Web Immersive Program a year prior, and seeing how good he is as a developer, I must have been wrong about General Assembly months ago, and thought about reconsidering because I wasn’t sure what the .NET framework was.
Before reading the Review, I would like to define what defamation is to avoid legal conflicts and to prevent my review from being removed:
My review for Redwood Code Academy is not an attempt at committing defamation, specifically libel, which is written defamation.
I am citing defamation from the following source:
Defamation is not a crime.
To show Defamation, you need to show published, false, injurious, and unprivileged statements.
"Published" means that a third party heard or saw the statement -- that is, someone other than the person who made the statement or the person the statement was about.
A defamatory statement must be false - otherwise, it's not considered damaging. Even terribly mean or disparaging things are not defamatory if the shoe fits.
The statement must be "injurious." Since the whole point of defamation law is to take care of injuries to reputation, those suing for defamation must show how their reputations were hurt by the false statement.
The offending statement must be "unprivileged." Under some circumstances, you cannot sue someone for defamation even if they make a statement that can be proved false.
I know Harrison Spain is going to try to have my review removed and/or threaten legal action against me.
I have to protect myself by stating what Defamation is before proceeding with my review.
All statements made by me in this review are accurate and honest.
It’s quite long, so you might want to sit down and get some coffee…
Look, initially a month after the bootcamp, I wrote a very positive, good review about Redwood Code Academy. But I never posted it on CourseReport.com or SwitchUp.org because I wanted to see how things played out after attending the coding bootcamp, especially in terms of post-bootcamp support, and in gaining employment as a web developer after going here.
I have to take some responsibility because I made the choice to go here. BUT, I only went here because after speaking with Harrison in-person TWICE, I felt like this is the guy that can help me and teach me the necessary skills to get a web developer job in 2017… I was wrong… it is now June 2018 and I still don’t have a web developer job… and honestly, I’m in financial trouble because of the SkillsFund loan that was used to fund my Redwood tuition.
We played a lot of ping-pong. We had pizza parties, free candy bars and candy, and got a free Redwood tee-shirt, hooded sweatshirt, stickers, a water bottle, and a paper certificate (I actually disposed all of these things… as you keep reading my review you will understand why – I will be posting the video of this on my youtube channel, where I will be talking about my experience at Redwood – Stay tuned!). On the day of the final project presentation, there was lots of food and drinks. These things are the only highlights of going to Redwood.
I did get some help with the code for a web app that I was building, in Dec 2017, a few months after the bootcamp, but it took them over two weeks to get back to me, and they only added 10-15 lines of code, to help me get my functionalities working properly.
ONE THING THAT REDWOOD IS GOOD AT:
Redwood Code Academy, specifically Harrison, is good at marketing his coding bootcamp as the go-to coding bootcamp in Orange County, CA. Redwood is claiming to be “… the Fastest Growing Orange County Coding Bootcamp” (taken from redwoodcodeacademy.com/full-stack-immersion/). Harrison is definitely good at misleading people into thinking that you will be learning current, in-demand, relevant skills, at least he did to me in 2017 and the rest of the other people that went to Redwood in 2017, when in reality, that was not the case. I mean, redwoodcodeacademy.com clearly states on its homepage:
“We make becoming a software developer a reality. Join our growing community of passionate, driven, and motivated coders. People enroll at Redwood Code Academy Orange County coding bootcamp to change their lives by learning skills that the world needs.”
Now the last sentence in this quote is definitely hypocrisy! It’s BULL****!
Basically, what I’m saying, Harrison is a master BULL****TER, Marketer, Scammer!... and he’s good at it.
I have to tell it like it is…
False promises, Misleading actions, and Breach of Contract:
I never received or undergone help in resume writing, online profile setup, such as LinkedIn, interview prep, mock in-person interviews, and mock phone interviews, like Harrison said we would do from Day 1. This is why I’m still struggling to this day. Let me tell you, I paid for this stuff and it never happened. I want my money back… seriously and immediately!!!
I actually had to take a resume/cover letter writing course 3 months after the bootcamp, to learn to how effective build my resume.
Redwood never followed through with everything that they said, either in-person, on redwoodcodeacademy.com, and/or on their brochure.
I am referencing the 2017 Redwood Code Academy online pdf brochure because that was the year that I attended Redwood.
The brochure can be found here:
I mean they say in their brochure, “Your success is our success. We will do everything we can to help you meet your goals.” BULL****!
Here I am still without a developer job a year later.
Lack of Integrity, Transparency, AND Fraudulent and Misleading Statistics:
Redwood is claiming on their online pdf brochure that they “are confident that we can achieve a 95% graduate hiring rate within 120 days of graduation,” and “Our graduates are expected to receive entry level offers soon after course completion.” BULL****!
Is the graduate hiring rate correct?
NOT TRUE… BULL****!
It’s more like 95% NO HIRING RATE!
Redwood is claiming average salaries for roles in Southern California:
Full Stack Developer - $82,000
Front End Developer - $71,000
Mobile Developer - $69,000
Business Analyst - $69,000
What Harrison tells you at the end of the bootcamp is to expect salaries from $50,000 to $70,000 per year. The salaries listed on the brochure seem to be for experienced developers, not for coding bootcamp graduates, specifically Redwood graduates.
Negligence to review each student’s code:
Not all of my projects underwent “code reviews” to see if the coding was good. Your web application can still function, and function well, and look great, even if the code is bad, unorganized, needs refactoring, or just plain written sloppily.
Demo Day presentation lacked potential employers and recruiters:
I was disappointed that during the Demo Day: final project presentation on Wed, July 12, 2017, there were NO potential employers and recruiters, only other student’s friends and family. I was the only one that didn’t bring anyone. I was under the assumption that there was going to be company reps for job placement. This did not happen. Disappointing.
Lack of Integrity and Misleading:
After the bootcamp, as the days turned into weeks, and the weeks turned into months… I became frustrated and disillusioned about going to Redwood because I still haven’t found work as a developer. Other students who went to this bootcamp, that don’t have developer jobs yet, can probably and most likely relate. I understood that there was no job guarantee.
BUT, I was under the assumption from Harrison that there was going to be on-going job assistance and support… There wasn’t any!
Here’s the thing (The Bad Continued):
You are going to learn how to code. BUT, you’re not going to learn enough to get hired as a front end developer or full-stack developer.
Throughout the past couple months after attending Redwood, I have had other developers, who have professional experience, review my code. They tell me it’s not good enough to get a “junior” developer role. After hearing this from a few professionally experienced developers, I realize that the THREE PROJECTS THAT I MADE AT REDWOOD ARE NOT GOOD ENOUGH TO GET A WEB DEVELOPER JOB. You cannot just make a simple, basic CRUD application with RESTful APIs, either through the use of a third-party API, or by building your own API in the back end of your application, with a topic that you are interested in, like Star Wars characters, and expect to get hired as a front end developer, and/or full-stack developer. There is a lot more to web applications than just CRUD and RESTful API HTTP verbs. I did not know this!
The curriculum is NOT targeted for a Full-Stack Developer position:
The term Full-Stack Developer is a marketing ploy used by a lot of coding bootcamps, such as Redwood, but they just don’t give you enough training to get you to that position.
You are not going to get a job as a Full-Stack Developer going here!
Look at the job descriptions for Full-Stack Developer on Dice, Glassdoor, Indeed, LinkedIn, Monster, ZipRecruiter, and other job sites, and you will see that the curriculum is not enough to get the job. I did not know this!
I have undergone a tremendous amount of learning months after the bootcamp to supplement the skills that I did not get while at Redwood. Why did I even pay Redwood, specifically Harrison Spain, $12,500 for leaving me with a lack of skills?
Leaving Redwood without a full understanding of C# and the .NET framework:
Until this day, I somewhat know C#, through signing up with Treehouse.com, but I still don’t have a clue about .NET, ASP.NET, .NET Core 2.0, or any other functionality that the .NET framework provides… I don’t understand every single line in .NET because Harrison didn’t go over every single line of code in the .NET framework!!! You know what Billy’s answer was… go buy a C# and .NET course on Udemy. And these guys are claiming to be “supposedly” industry professionals? WTF!
Curriculum taught by a former Redwood Student with no Professional Experience in the tech industry:
SQL, which was taught by Taylor, who is the Head of Outcomes at Redwood, didn’t teach it very well and all I know is that you just do queries… SELECT, FROM, ORDER BY, WITHIN… that’s all I know about SQL. His lesson notes were sloppy, unorganized, and just a copy and paste of the markdown files.
Another frustration I have is that we never learned how to build a database. As of June 2018, Redwood is teaching their students MongoDB. We never learned MongoDB. They changed and updated their curriculum after my class.
Before going to Redwood, I asked Harrison if he would ever hire any of his past students like other bootcamps have done, and he said NO. He Lied. He did the exact opposite and hired Taylor (who was in his first class from Sept-Dec 2016). You can see Taylor’s review for Redwood on CourseReport.com, dated on 12/28/2016, titled: A great experience.
How can someone teach someone how to be a web developer, if they have never worked professionally as one?
If I had known this, I would have never gone here. I was misled and misinformed = lack of integrity and transparency.
Unknown job placement statistics among students that attended Redwood:
I don’t even know if everyone from my class has a web developer job because Harrison doesn’t want to tell me how many students that attended Redwood have secured a developer job. He told me some guy from my class got a job at Microsoft. So I looked this guy up on LinkedIn and “supposedly” he works at Microsoft as a Support Engineer (which has nothing to do with web development, so I don’t think this counts). But I don’t know if this is true or not. Anyone could claim on LinkedIn that they work for “supposedly” Company XYZ. I know that a lot of students that went to Redwood don’t have developer jobs.
High Cost to attend Redwood:
I paid $12,500 to attend this coding bootcamp...$12,500…$12,500…
And NO!... this is not a typo, I actually typed out $12,500, 3x TIMES in a row to prove my point and frustration in wasting that much money. I had to get a loan to go to Redwood. Harrison financially screwed me!
I mean there were days where we played more ping pong than actually code.
I didn’t pay $12,500 to play ping-pong!!!
I paid $12,500 to learn all the necessary skills needed to secure a job as a front-end developer, full-stack developer, and/or web developer in general… but not enough was taught to get any of these jobs.
I WOULD SAY THAT I ONLY LEARNED ABOUT 20-25% OF THE SKILLS NEEDED TO BECOME A FRONT END DEVELOPER.
What is the point of going to Redwood, if Harrison tells me that I need to learn the other skills all on my own? Why did I pay Harrison $12,500, if his answer is that you need to learn it on your own? Redwood is basically saying pay them $12,500 and learn the rest through online learning platforms, such as Udemy. What!!! You have got to be F***ing kidding me!
Long Lunch Breaks:
In the beginning, lunches lasted for 1 hour and 10 mins, and towards the end of the bootcamp, increased to 1 hour and 30 mins, to 1 hour and 45 mins.
Redwood Code Academy’s website doesn’t’ use C# and .NET:
Redwoodcodeacademy.com is built with PHP and Wordpress, instead of C# and .NET. It’s very surprising that Redwood would teach a web technology, such as C# and ASP.NET, and not use it in their own website/web app.
I found out that it is so easier to build a website with Wordpress and PHP.
I really don’t know what to say about this.
Just go learn PHP and Wordpress on your own and you can get a dev job too I guess.
Here’s the thing (The Bad Continued):
Misleading Job Network:
Redwood and/or Harrison has a list of “Employer Networks” and claims that “We have an extensive employer network who have hired and are looking to hire more of our graduates.”
The companies listed on the redwoodcodeacademy.com are Cake, Glidewell Laboratories, First American, and Technossus.
Here’s what people don’t know, these four companies are Harrison’s past employers, except for Glidewell Laboratories. These companies are not going to hire you straight out of the coding bootcamp because they don’t hire junior level developers. I don’t know anyone who went to Redwood that got hired by any of these four companies. Maybe some have, but they just haven’t updated or posted their current workplace on their LinkedIn.
Here’s the truth:
Redwood states that “We are ready to take anyone from zero to hero.”
Here is the reality:
Too much competition for junior developer jobs:
Orange County, primarily the Irvine area, and LA is filled with many, skilled Web Developers. These hiring companies don't care that you've attended a coding bootcamp. In fact, you’re not even supposed to tell these companies that Redwood is a coding bootcamp. Harrison tells you at the end of the bootcamp to not tell these companies that attended a coding bootcamp, UNLESS they ask you directly.
Because these companies (NOT ALL THOUGH) are VERY SKEPTICAL about people who attended a coding bootcamp. Once I bring this up or if they ask me this on my phone interviews, the interview immediately goes downhill from there. A lot of these companies want someone who has 3-5+ years (this is mostly mid-senior level developer jobs) of web development experience with proven “professional experience” NOT “academic experience.”
Other Redwood Students CourseReport.com and SwitchUp.org reviews:
I don’t understand how almost all the reviews on the coding bootcamp review sites are giving Redwood 5-stars for job assistance, yet these students failed to talk about what Redwood actually did for them in terms of job assistance, and what company they currently work for or got a job in thanks to Redwood. A lot of the Redwood reviews were written really fast, contain large amounts of grammar and punctuation errors, and just hype up the school WITHOUT providing details.
This should be a big red flag to prospective students.
Two attempts to check-in with me only after the bootcamp, but not from Harrison:
After the bootcamp, I only received a phone call TWICE, by Taylor Thomas, the Head of Outcomes, at Redwood, and this was within two weeks after the bootcamp ended, around the first week of August 2017 and another phone call approximately a month after the bootcamp ended on July 14, 2017.
The first time Taylor, the Head of Outcomes called me, he left a message, because I didn’t answer my phone (I forgot why but I must have been busy or maybe in an area with low cell reception). I returned the call and left a message back but he didn't answer his phone.
The second time that Taylor called me, he didn’t leave a message, so I HAD NO IDEA IT WAS HIM. I had to look back at my call logs to figure it out.
What is really disappointing about this, is that, why doesn’t Harrison (the founder and lead instructor at Redwood) himself make the phones calls to past students to follow up on their job progress? The answer must be is because he doesn’t care or is lazy to do so. F***ing BULL****!!! Straight Up!
A lot of Redwood students are in my SAME SITUATION:
Harrison has made over $637,500 since he started Redwood Code Academy, so I don’t feel bad for him. He ruined me financially. I will hold him liable:
Redwood had the following number of students in the FULL-TIME CLASS ONLY (This doesn’t include the PART-TIME STUDENT CLASS numbers)
Nov 2017-Jan 2018:
Total Full-Time Students from Sept 2016 to Jan 2018:
9+3+7+15+17 = 51 Students
51 Students x $12,500 cost of tuition = $637,500
(This doesn’t include the money Redwood made from the part-time classes)
Sought out advice from other competing bootcamps:
Beginning on May 2018, I started visiting other coding bootcamps to ask them for help because I was getting NO HELP from Harrison and from the instructors at Redwood. I told these other coding bootcamps that I went to Redwood and it has been almost a year and I didn’t have a job yet. Redwood and Harrison left me to hang dry. I was shocked to learn that for the past 3-4 months, several students from Redwood have approached these same coding bootcamps, that I visited, stating the same exact thing I was, that we went to Redwood and it’s been months and we still don’t have a job. I am not surprised!
So I brought this up to Harrison, in-person on Wed, June 6, 2018, and he simply says that they are bull****ting me, and not to listen to them. Harrison even confirmed to me a lot of students that went to Redwood are in the same situation as me. This wouldn’t and shouldn’t have happened if Redwood was really teaching the right stuff. Harrison, I think I know and the rest of the other Redwood students know, who the REAL BULL****TER is!
The question that pops into my head is,
What Job Assistance?
There is no Job Assistance. It’s more like Job Instruction or Job Tips. I was never given any instruction on how to write a well-written cover letter and resume. For the first 3 months post-bootcamp, I was submitting a not-so-good resume, which I thought was good because I threw in all the keywords, but I did not get any attention from companies or recruiters from it. All I got was rejections and no replies.
I had to take a resume writing course (that I paid for), 3 months after the bootcamp, so I could learn how to write my resume from the beginning, and get it noticed by the employers and recruiters resume software systems ATS.
Currently, I have submitted my resume and applications to over 250+ Developer jobs.
Applying for developer positions:
If you have applied to developer jobs, you should have noticed that there really is no such thing as a Junior Full Stack Developer position. The term “Junior” doesn’t really exist for these job descriptions. It also applies to a majority of Front End Developer positions as well. That’s why you have to actually click on every single job posting and read the descriptions. And this takes time, hours. To put into perspective, if you do this and actually apply to jobs you think you qualify for and want, 10 jobs can actually take up 7 hours of your time!
No Help and Response from Harrison:
On April 15 – 16, 2018, I contacted Harrison via Slack, for help in getting an interview with First American, because I applied for the Associate Software Developer position there, and figured he would have “connections”, since he used to work here years ago and that’s what he is claiming on redwoodcodeacademy.com.
Even while at the bootcamp last year, he told me, and the rest of the class, if there is any company that you are interested in to let him know so that he can make the connection. Now, did he make the connection for me (And this is the only time that I’ve asked him to make a connection for me with a company since the bootcamp)… NO!... In fact, he never responded and blew me off. This is what I’m saying… WHAT JOB ASSISTANCE??…
var jobAssistance = false;
var jobReadiness = null;
TO SUM THINGS UP:
Are you going to learn how to code at Redwood Code Academy?
But is the curriculum competitive enough, compared to other coding bootcamps, for you to get a job as Full-Stack, Front End, or even Web Developer in the tech industry?
Does Redwood teach enough coding for you to have the necessary skills needed to be employable?
Personally for me… NO!!!
Do some students who went here, have a job, or have gotten a job while, or immediately after the bootcamp?
I DON’T KNOW… really I have no idea! Harrison doesn’t keep track of where students go, or at least Harrison doesn’t publicly post it on their site.
I have asked Harrison for this valuable information and he responded very aggressively and defensively towards me on Slack on June 21, 2018, and vaguely in-person on Wed, June 6, 2018. This is why I had to write my insulting email to Taylor, and got banned from Redwood for life.
And those students that have gotten jobs probably have connections or know someone from the company.
The Real Question:
I even asked Harrison, in-person, on Wed, June 6, 2018, after 4 PM at Redwood, because I was in the Irvine area, how many students have gotten jobs? He told me some students have got jobs and this is not a scame. Some? Scam? So I said how many? He said he couldn’t tell me the exact number. I don’t understand why he cannot even say how many students or give a percentage of the number of students who have gotten developer jobs, out of the 80+ students that have attended Redwood. This to me is sketchy, deceptive, and malicious.
I actually asked Harrison in-person, at Redwood on Fri, June 15, 2018, between 2:00-2:30 PM, before going to my interview at Technossus, which he managed to secure, but failed to inform them (more like unintentionally left out the info) that I’m at the level of a junior developer, knowing since he has worked there as the Director, that Technossus only hires senior developers. I asked him what he told them about me, and he just said why does it matter in a condescending way. He just said I managed to sidestep the phone interview for you, so just be grateful, show up, and interview.
I asked for interview prep 2-days prior and he wouldn’t help me out. If this is his idea of job assistance, it is very lacking and non-existent. Like I said earlier, What Job Assistance? He told me that he taught my class ES6, which is completely false.
I was wondering why no past students from Redwood who have spent months and almost a year like me without work, haven’t written Harrison a review below 5-stars, and I think I know why. It is because he possibly sends them an email and threatens to take legal action against them. He cannot take legal action against someone calling him out for his false, deceptive business practices.
Harrison comes across as a very dishonest person. I just don’t trust him.
Harrison doesn’t want to answer how many students have gotten jobs because only a very few students from Redwood have gotten jobs (Redwood has like a 95% NO HIRING RATE!). He doesn’t want to be held liable. He doesn’t want to help any of his students get jobs. His job network is his past employers that only hire senior developers, not junior developers. He has no connections or refuses to share them with the students.
Those very few students that are on LinkedIn, that have an association with Redwood Code Academy, that have dev jobs ALREADY have experience in the tech industry, either professionally or academically. Some of these students have Computer Science degrees from Cal State Fullerton or Cal Poly Pomona. Some of them have actually worked as developers prior to attending Redwood. I have no idea why these students would go here if they already have jobs in the tech industry as developers. Probably to switch over to web development and learn C# and .Net I guess.
Harrison is trying to convince companies to hire junior developers instead of senior developers. Who is he to tell these companies how to conduct their way of business? This makes no sense!
Does Harrison not realize that people go to coding bootcamps in order to learn modern, current, in-demand skills, to become a web developer… right?
Yet he is not teaching those things.
Harrison is teaching legacy developer libraries and frameworks:
jQuery from 2006 and Angular.js from 2010, Agile/Scrum from the 1990’s instead of the current TDD software cycle. He should have started teaching React/Redux and/or Angular 2 and above, when he started Redwood, instead of Angular.js. He misled a lot of students like myself, walking into his school excited and naive about web development, into thinking that what he was teaching was current, modern, in-demand developer technologies, so he could fill in the seats in his classroom.
I helped him fill in one of those seats and helped provide income for his family. Harrison was teaching the wrong stuff and he doesn’t want to admit it because of liabilities.
Banned from Redwood:
Harrison and his only staff member, Taylor, clearly do not care about the outcome of their students. They just like to collect thousands of thousands of dollars from naïve, prospective students. I felt like they gave me a big
so I had no choice but to send them an insulting email with a lot of
Now I am banned from Redwood Code Academy, in-person and on their Slack account. Harrison has stated that he will be recording my emails for possible legal reasons. What legal reasons? For sending an insulting email?
I’m the one that should be taking legal action against Harrison and Redwood Code Academy.
I did not pay $12,500 to support Harrison’s lifestyle and Taylor’s vaping/smoking lifestyle (This is some of the things I said in the insulting email). Clearly, Redwood doesn’t’ have a drug-testing policy for its employees.
You cannot take legal action against anyone for insulting someone. I think Harrison just wanted to stop “supposedly” helping me, and he is using the insulting email, as an excuse and legal threat against me to do so.
My view of Harrison:
I don’t think Harrison never really liked me. I was just there because I was there. I just think that he just let me in his coding bootcamp because he was desperate for people like me to sign up. I helped him fill in a seat for his bootcamp. That seat cost $12,500.
He just wanted to make money. When he met me, he saw “easy money.”
Harrison, you just don’t get it or give a F***! I didn’t pay you $12,500 to go to your school and get a useless paper certificate with the wrong date of completion on it.
By the way, getting a certificate from Redwood or any other coding bootcamp is irrelevant. It’s the skills that these bootcamps are teaching, that enable you to get a dev job, is what makes it relevant.
The way I see it, I hired Harrison for his “services”, which is to teach me relevant, in-demand skills to become a proficient web developer, so that I can get a web developer job in 2017. Harrison didn’t provide that “service” because he didn’t teach current, relevant, in-demand skills. Harrison and Redwood Code Academy was teaching our class legacy, out-dated technology libraries, and frameworks.
They were teaching SHIT!... Shit that will not get you a job in 2017 and forward.
I have never had any great conversations with Harrison. All of our conversations involved SHIT that we said to each other just to be nice, or it seems like. It was made very obvious to me especially after the bootcamp ended.
Harrison has never called me once to follow up with me, at all, about whether or not I have a dev job or not.
He never provided feedback on what I should put on my resume (remember I had to take a resume writing class after the bootcamp!), and never looked at my LinkedIn profile. Harrison has never even endorsed me for my developer skills on LinkedIn. All these things say a lot about the guy.
It says he doesn’t give a F*** about whether or not you succeed in getting a job or not, he is just there to collect the cash.
So when I showed up at Redwood on Wed, June 6, 2018, at around 4 PM, frustrated and pissed off, what kind of reaction does he expect from me. A happy and friendly interaction?
You have got to be F***ing kidding me!
The guy robbed me of $12,500, and it has been a year, I still don’t have a dev job. He taught our class Angular.js in April 2017 but knew that it was no longer in demand.
Why do you think I had to send that insulting email to the Head of Outcomes?
I probably should have sent that email directly to Harrison himself.
Harrison is a pathological liar. I don’t trust him. At this point, I’m disgusted by the guy.
Better onsite coding bootcamp options:
If I could go to another coding bootcamp again, I would have chosen to attend General Assembly or Coding Dojo in the LA area. Even LearningFuze would be an option (a lot of their students have jobs in the OC area). Sabio, I am not sure about them. Orange County Code School, is like the Hack Reactor of Orange County, it is very difficult to get accepted into, which is why they have a 100% Graduate Hiring Rate.
The illusion that you could code:
Zero Outcomes and 0% job placement for front end classes:
Teaching the wrong framework and lack of skillset:
Online learning platforms are a better option than attending Redwood:
I would have just signed up for the Udacity’s Nanodegree or Treehouse’s TechDegree programs that cost $200/month and saved myself thousands of dollars on the price of going to Redwood, hundreds of dollars on gasoline and maintenance cost for my car, and most importantly, not wasted almost 4 months of my life learning outdated, “supposedly” best practices in web development. I would find another onsite or even online coding bootcamp to go to in the Orange County/LA Area in Southern California.
Billy is telling me in an email that Redwood taught us everything that we need to get the job. Well Billy, if
Apparently, the policy at Redwood is to teach you some fundamentals and you have to LEARN THE REST ON YOUR OWN, either through Udemy courses (like Billy suggest) or through other resources. Well, the REST THAT YOU NEED TO LEARN is what you NEED TO GET THE DEVELOPER JOB, like I said earlier in my review. So does Redwood actually teach you enough code to be job ready immediately?
Other Redwood Students:
If you have attended Redwood and it has been over 6 months and you have applied to over 100 developer jobs, and still don’t have a job, and if you want to connect, contact me on LinkedIn (I am not on the Redwood Slack channel because Harrison banned me from Redwood).
You still want to go to Redwood:
Despite reading my review and you still decide to go to Redwood, my question to you is
Like I said, there are other bootcamps and options out there. I would not recommend anyone go to Redwood Code Academy.
Do not go to this coding bootcamp!!!... It is F***ing BULL****!
Most importantly, if Harrison thinks that I’m just going to let him walk away with my $12,500 tuition, and be left thousands of dollars in debt by his BULL**** coding school, he is wrong. Harrison claims in the Redwood contract that Redwood Code Academy is part of the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education. This is NOT TRUE. I am going to report Redwood Code Academy and Harrison Spain to the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (https://www.bppe.ca.gov/).
To sum up my experience at Redwood in several one-word words:
… I could keep going but I’ve already made my point!
Before going into Redwood Code Academy I had very little computer science knowledge, had taken a course or two at a local community college.I had learned a lot more at redwood than I did in a full semester. The atmosphere is great, instructors were very supportive. If you had trouble with the material being reviewed they were more than willing the help you out every step of the way. If you ever find yourself stuck on certain material dont be afraid to ask for help, thats what they are there for. Always continue to learn. 5/5 Would recommend. Some quick advice for anyone looking to join, review the prework assigned and put in some hours after class.
I came into Redwood with a very limited background in comp sci and software development and as of 3 days ago, I've successfully completed 12 weeks of their full-stack development bootcamp. The huge amount of material we were able to get through was very well laid out and taught by Harrison and their instructors. The lessons themselves were very helpful to get an introduction to all the moving pieces that are involved in web development and I believe I have a strong foundation to start my career in software development.
TL;DR -- 5 stars. Would recommend!
As of three days ago, I completed Redwood Code Academy's full-stack immersion program. While it may be premature to say it was the best career choice I've ever made, it has the potential to be. I cannot be more excited to embark on a new career and take the skills I've learned and apply them. Harrison, Billy, Taylor, and Karim were integral parts in my acquiring the foundational knowledge and best practices that will help me succeed in the field of software development. Each had their own area of expertise and it was evident in their lessons. Equally as important, all were more than willing to help me through my bootcamp journey even before and after class. Coming from a background in education, the lessons were well adapted to multiple learning styles and engaged students individually, in pairs, and small groups, which was a plus. If you are looking for a school in Southern California, I would highly recommend Redwood.
Redwood is the code school to go to!
I have a little bit of a unique experience because I have previously completed the course at Orange Count Code School and worked for a year and a half as a front end developer.
Redwood has exceeded my expectations as a code school. We learned far more technologies than I thought was even possible to learn in 12 weeks. The teaching and support here is incredible and the teachers really care if you understand what you’re learning.
I think it is a huge privilege to graduate knowing the C#/.NET stack and the MEAN stack. Yes, the programming concepts are the same but you have a larger skill set for the job market and you are able to figure out if one strikes a greater passion in you than another. Personally, I got a job using C# but my passion is the MEAN stack and I was able to figure that out here.
Bottom line if I had to choose all over, I would have come to Redwood in the first place because the teachers are outstanding and I really felt comfortable asking questions here.
Redwood has proved to me that they are efficient as a school and as a business. The staff maintains a great balance exhibiting professional and personable manners. I was never treated in any condescending way, as I had been at a previous coding bootcamp. The course is streamlined to guarantee every student picks up the languages at the same pace, build applications accordingly as individuals and as a group. Assistance is available at any time, after class and even when you're at home.
I greatly respect the efforts Redwood's staff has put in, to ensure the students are crafted into full stack developers, and would invite anyone curious - to spend a day here to get a feel for what a typical day is like. Watching the staff work with all different kinds of students who learn differently, have different personalities and behaviors that shape them into their own kind of developer, it's fascinating to see how fast they all can move and handle such a variety of people. Every student's frustration and challenges were always taken care of. The E in Redwood could go for exceptional or efficient, either works well. Redwood has a community that is evident with previous students and professional developers coming in as guests speakers, who are able to use the environment as a mini work space or to just hang out and visit.
A very good friend of mine in my cohort had actually become employed halfway, week 8, (this is not to say you will be employed early on), he accepted the employment and Harrison was personally helping him with in-depth learning in a particular language, guiding him with problems and making his transition out of our bootcamp smoothly into his new full-time salaried job! This bootcamp does not guarantee its' students a job, but job assistance is most certainly available and is put in place. For anyone who is worried about job placement, at any coding bootcamp you go to - it's always going to be up to you to do the hours of searching, applying, interviewing and putting yourself out there. Redwood does provide the environment, time and effort being put into us to ensure we are maximizing our productivity of job search.
As a business too, they genuinely care about how they're doing, if they're meeting the students' expectations. We have one on one's that check in on how the student's are doing, how they're feeling so far and what kind of feedback they have if any - this happens every few weeks. I have never read any coding bootcamp reviews about the schools' staff and Founder, taking the time to check in on student's personally and making sure that both sides are happy. They promise a specific cirriculum, and they delivered accordingly.
When I was 18, I thought I knew exactly what I wanted do, had my entire life planned out to the very last detail, and put in countless hours to get to where I wanted to be. After graduating from UC Irvine, I received an amazing offer at an established company that provided me with many opportunities. Although everything was falling into place, I began to feel a great sense of emptiness. I was very fortunate have an extremely patient supervisor that provided me with the resources to succeed, however, I knew that this was not path that I wanted to continue on.
Despite the countless moments of conflict, I was assigned the task of redesigning the company website which I eventually took on the role as a Project Manager for this project. I used Adobe Illustrator to create wireframes of the look we were aiming for and also worked with the developer to determine the best user interface for our customers. Althought it was not an easy process, it was extremely rewarding to be able to be a part of creating something that our users enjoy using! This was the most enjoyable project that I had the opportunity of working on and this was also when I began thinking how could actually make this a career.
After much consideration, I decided that it was time to redefine my goals and move on. I knew for a fact that I wanted to be in an environment where the learning opportunities are dynamic and continuous. I looked further into Software Development and found the field to be absolutely fascinating! I then left my job to pursue a career in Software Engineering, which was extremely intimidating as it is a field that I had absolutely no background knowledge in.
In the first couple weeks of the program, I felt extremely overwhelmed and was extremely uncertain if this was the right path for me. As time progressed, however, I can't believe that I've found myself falling more in love with programming with each passing day. It's definitely not all rainbows and butterflies as the instructors at Redwood constantly push us with new challenges each and every day. They won't give you the solution to the problem, but they do an amazing job at guiding you get to the solution on your own. Their curriculum and approach to teaching definitely prepares their students to succeed in the workforce.
Although I find myself constantly challenged each and everyday, it's been an extremely rewarding journey thus far. Whether it's something big or small, we are literally creating something everyday - Whether it's building a game, creating a website, or collaborating with other developers to make a app! Redwood has countless resources to help you succeed so all you have to do is just ask and they'll be there to guide you in the right direction.
Whether you want to leave a job that you're unhappy at, change careers, learn a new skill, or whatever your heart desires - I challenge you to take control of YOUR life and just DO it. It took me a year and a half to muster up the courage to make this transition, but I've never been happier and I wish the same for all of you!
I was nervous about taking a risk of attending a full-time bootcamp, but since I've gone through it, I am confident I made the right choice. They helped guide me through a few steep learning curves that would have taken me much longer to get through on my own. This applies to both the languages themselves and the tools used to make it all work. There have been some concepts that seem overwhelming, but Harrison and Billy are very knowledgable and break it down into smaller bits that are easier to digest. Having done my research before attending a bootcamp a common piece of advice I read about was that you get out of it what you put in, if you're willing to put in the work, Redwood will definitely go more than halfway to get you to your goals. I highly recommend Redwood to anyone that is serious about learning to code.
I was just like anyone else at the beginning of the course. I had a lot of hope that this was not going to be a bust or waste of time and I'm so happy that 9 weeks later I feel I'm doing things I used to watch other techies do and wonder if I'd actually get to learning it in my lifetime. Now I'm mad I just did not do this a long time ago Harrison and Billy really have an excellent way of teaching so that you get the meat of it all.
Harrison and billy are a beast when it comes to knowledge and experience in the field and I'm so happy I came here because I know for a fact it very rare that instructors have such a deep pool of knowledge to draw from. I feel very confident on interviewing for the job I want due to the fact your teacher could pretty much hire all the people that would be trying to hire you. Harrisons Bio doesn't come close to what you learn about him in person and Billy is always there to back you up when hit that wall.
Jobs Jobs Jobs That's what you want to know about well in the mean time I'm trying to get everyone I know in here for the fact I already have three job offers halfway through the course. The need for developers is not dying it's growing as we head into this new technological era so once I started just telling people what I was studying for people were giving me there business cards offering pay that is 50% more than what I currently make at my lame 9-5 job ummm can you say complete life change.
I have a daughter coming around April first and at the beginning of this year I was stressed out on how I'm going to pay for everything so i can be a great dad considering I have not been back to school in 20 years, to be able and pick this up and start a new life is beyond words to me.
I personally feel that this is the time to get into a boot camp and save yourself for 4 years of debt. If you go to college it would take 4 years to get what we get in 3 months at Redwood but main difference is we use the technology when it's hot, school you will be going back to BootCamp to learn what's up to date. If you don't have the luxury of time and free rent, food and people just flat out paying all of your bills this is the place to be, and if you do, it's still the place to be lol. Redwood Code Academy did not change my life it literally saved it to think I was going to procrastinate and take a later class, id just be further away from the success that I'm enjoying today and the class is just 4 weeks to go.
Is it tuff yes its a challenge you will hit that brick wall but the teachers are here to pull you up and they always do. My advice is to never give up stay hungry and time will fly so many people waste so much time in 3 months you are literally a different person and personally I'm basking in the new me.
10/10 Life Changer
Before I attended Redwood Code Academy, I had no knowledge or experience in web development. I've always heard of coding bootcamps, but didn't really think that was for me, mainly because of the lack of experience and the cost to attend one. However, I was still curious and did some online courses and exercises to see if this was a possible route for me. This peaked my interest, and I decided to go in person to Redwood Code Academy to get a better sense of the bootcamp. After speaking with Karim and Harrison, I was convinced that despite my lack of experience or knowledge in this field, I could still become a fullstack web developer if I really dedicated myself to the program and gave it a 100% effort. After twelve VERY difficult weeks, I can say that this program was worth it and that I learned an incredible amount of material. Now that doesn't mean I am a master in web development, not at all. However, this was a great place to actively learn and start my career as a web developer. Harrison, Patrick, Taylor, and Karim are all great instructors who truly cared about our growth and progress. I asked alot of questions, and they were there to answer every single one of them. Now that the cohort is over, I am excited to improve and learn more about software development. Not only did I learn about web development over these last twelve weeks, but I also became a better learner and a more resilient person. During the program, there were times when I thought I couldn't do it and that this was a mistake for me, but it's important to keep your head up and keep going forward. Thanks Redwood!
When I arrived for an info session at Redwood I exprected to be ushered into a room full of people for a typical hour of power point slides and a general sales pitchy type session. Instead I was welcomed by Harrison, Redwood's Founder and Karim, Redwood's Program Director who sat me down for an individual interview which I appreciated. This allowed me to get better insight for the program and allowed me to ask questions I would've been hesitant to ask in a group setting. The transparency was present from the beginning and reassuring when making a big decision like this. It truly set them apart from the options in OC.
Got nothing but respect for everyone in my Cohort. We all put in hard work, long hours, coded together and on most Fridays had a student podcast. Friends were made and I would be happy to work with any of my fellow RCA alum knowing they have the skills and programming thought process required to make software.
Things move fast in development and the technology stack that was covered was a great starting point for my foundation of knowledge. I left knowing I would need to continue to evolve over the next few months and years to come.
All instructors Harrison, Billy and Taylor we’re always professional accessible at any point of my frustration or confusion and I knew that help was only one slack message, "Hey Billy, or help me.. I don’t get it. "
In the end..
My personal limits were the only boundary… RCA might teach programming but they teach a skill even more valuable and that’s the ability to think like a programmer. To me, programming is a thought process and I can confirm that the RCA instructors can teach one to become a developer if the student is willing to be taught.
Updated my resume with my newly acquired software development skills and had no issues finding work with in the software industry. Happily coding most days.
I did a lot of research before I picked a coding school and these guys lived up to their online representation. This review is for the Full Immersion program.
The professors are dedicated to the students, the curriculum is relevant and up-to-date, and Harrison is pretty much a genius and can solve any issue that comes your way when working through labs or projects.
It is absolutely true that you get what you put in, but the professors are right there with you and always providing support and encouragement while keeping expectations realistic when it comes to projects.
They don't overly micromanage your time, so your lunches are yours and if you're done with all labs etc. for the day sometimes people would leave early, but most of the time there is a stretch lab so you can keep going to learn more, again you get out what you put in.
Great career advice and prep and had industry speakers come in and share their knowledge the last couple weeks.
Would highly recommend this school.
Hit me up @codernoon on Instagram if you have any specific questions or contact the school directly, Karim is super helpful.
I came to Redwood Code Academy with some prior university experience in Computer Science and found it to be very helpful in learning more hands-on coding projects. You'll get very comfortable building a project from idea to completion. When it came to emotional support, Redwood Code Academy is a great family to have. Getting advice on future career paths is easy and very helpful. It's a place where help is easily in reach if you need it.
My biggest advice for those thinking of coming here without a coding background, do the homework given and continue to ask and ask for help/clarification whenever you do not understand anything. This is a very tight-knit bootcamp and you should take advantage of the support system. The curriculum is very fast paced and likely those who will want a richer experience with a certain technology will have to ask for that extra time. They're very accomodating to that if you ask.
Curriculum Personal Favorites:
- React/React Native
- MongoDB with Node.js
- 4 project weeks
Anyone that is on the fence about whether or not to attend a bootcamp - stop debating. If you’re researching the code schools to death and still feel unsure of where to go - stop looking. My only regret is not starting this sooner. I researched a ton of camps before deciding to attend Redwood, and I am so thankful that I made this decision. The curriculum is current and relevant to the job market. The content is challenging and intense, but you can still feel comfortable asking questions and seeking help when you need it. If your curiosity of a particular technology takes you somewhere beyond what the course curriculum entails, the instructors are more than willing to work with you on whatever your interests are in their free time. You have 24/7 access to the truly brilliant minds of the leader and instructors, which is an invaluable resource. What sets Redwood apart from the rest is the obvious dedication, brilliance, and enthusiasm that exudes from their staff. It’s apparent that they eat, sleep, and breath code. The instructors are excited about development and dedicated to your success as a developer. They provide you with the knowledge, training, and resources that it takes to secure that dream job. I have no complaints about this program and would highly recommend it to absolutely anyone. Don’t just take my word for it though...contact Harrison with any questions, concerns, or thoughts you may have about the program. I assure you he will respond in a timely manner with all of the info you’ll need!
I came into this course not knowing anything in regards to coding. I had my doubts and had visited several boot camps before making a decision. The first impression is always the most crucial and Harrison Spain blew me out of the water. He walked me through how this course works and what the expectations are. He put my mind at ease. Over the past 3 months, i have had ups and downs, I have felt completely lost and each time something connected the feeling of accomplishment was amazing. Several fully functional apps later I have a solid grasp on coding for the languages that we have learned and full confidence in learning new ones with ease. 10/10 would absolutely go through this experience again. The teachers were awesome, the students were great and I am all the better having gone through this class!!!
This decision changed my life. Before I decided to embark on this journey, I was completely miserable. Even though I was doing well career-wise, I absolutely despised my job! My experience here has been rewarding, challenging, and WORTH EVERY PENNY!
Harrison, Billy, and Taylor are the most knowledgeable and patient instructors I've ever had the pleasure of working with. The structure of the class is small so that each student has the opportunity to obtain personal instruction should they need to.
Overall, my experience has exceeded my expectations, and I am excited to finish this journey and see where this path leads me!
After watching "Silicon Valley" on HBO one sunday night, I was inspired, and wanted to learn how to code, and be able to create things, as part of a team, or on my own. Before enrolling into Redwood Code Academy, I was in the medical field as a Respiratory Therapist, with no experience in coding. I started teaching myself code by trying out free courses online, and did that for a month. While I was self teaching, I found myself learning at a slow pace, and needed to go somewhere that would push me to learn..
MAN!!!, did I get what I was asking for.. At Redwood Code Academy each day would start off with a lesson, and after lunch would be a lab. The lab would take up the rest of the day. It would make me think, and occasionally frustrate me. The thing is, they dont always expect you to finish the lab, but understanding the concept from the lesson prior, is what they are really trying to push.
The instructors: Harrison, Billy, and Taylor are very knowledgable know their stuff, when it comes to making RPG games, teaching, and what jobs will be looking for during an interview. There will be days when you feel like you hit a wall, but the instructors are there to help and point you to the right direction.
I am 6 weeks in, and half way through the program. My experience so far at Redwood Code Academy has been nothing but challenging, and I wouldn't have it any other way! I have learned so much these past 6 weeks, than I would have on my own. My colleagues in my cohort, come in all different ages, from their mid teens to their late 30's! I say this because, it's never too early, or too late! If you have been considering to learn to code, and want to go to a place that will give you that push! Redwood Code Academy is the place to be!
This is a comprehensive review of Redwood Code Academy.
About me: before Redwood, I was a student looking to develop my understanding of programming so I could better contribute to an app development project at Stanford University. I specifically sought to increase my skills and understanding of front-end design using HTML and CSS, while simultaneously getting to know how code works. These goals, along with my schedule and financial situation, led me to take the part-time class at Redwood Code which runs in the evenings from 6:30 to 9:30PM.
Content/Course: the course is fast-paced! Do your homework and pay attention while the instructor talks. Billy, the lead instructor, is very funny and personable and is there 24/7 to answer any concerns and issues. If you get stuck while he is lecturing, Taylor, another kind instructor, walks around the room to help debug and resolve any issues. Throughout the course you learn CSS, HTML, Java and more and the languages’ application in the real-world is tested in your homework. Homework ranges from review to challenges so you have plenty to do after class! You are provided with resources to review content before and after class and additional material to supplement your understanding, but as with all coding bootcamps, what you get is what you put out. The structure of the class goes from learning in lectures, a short break, to practicing in the lab time where you can do homework with guidance from the instructors. My advice: definitely come in with snacks on your break as it may get tiring at night, give yourself enough time to learn before and after class, and be patient! Learning a new skill is not easy, but with practice you will find yourself feeling more and more versed.
Billy and Taylor (did not experience Harrison) were generous, light-hearted and knowledgeable instructors, you felt at the same time safe and challenged asking questions, providing input, and also working in the class while doing the lab. I got to witness Harrison lead other classes and noticed his calm demeanor and confidence in teaching as well!
You work in a small cohort
There are many OC locals and everyone has a story, so you can always relate.
Doesn’t feel too technical nor impersonal at this academy unlike some larger academies.
There is always one-on-one help whether in-person or via a Slack channel.
Billy was thoughtful to put a dongle on my desk every day knowing I had a Mac that only had a USB port.
It is a very cool and chill working space-- I liked having the choice to work in the office spaces and classroom. There’s even ping-pong and VR for a mental break!
I wasn’t searching for a job, but I could see that the team here was intent on sourcing their students.
There were side projects and hackathons suggested for students to develop their programming skills outside of the classroom for cash prizes, and portfolio and skill development.
I was able to work on the Redwood Code Team as an intern, which reduced my cost of attending the part-time class. Harrison was very intent on providing an opportunity for me to learn despite my financial constraints.
Our latest on Redwood Code Academy
Isaac wanted a career in software development but found that community college couldn’t teach him the technologies he’d need for the job. After doing his research, he chose Redwood Code Academy in Orange County to learn modern, full stack web development. Isaac tells us about the learning style at Redwood Code Academy, gives advice for other students considering a coding bootcamp, and explains how his final project at Redwood ultimately led to his new career as a Vendor Support Engineer at Microsoft!
How did your path lead to a coding bootcamp?
I’ve always been intrigued with computers. I got my first computer when I was 10 and enjoyed messing around with software and installing games. When I graduated high school, I didn’t know anyone who was into software engineering, so I wasn’t sure how to get into the field.
With that web development and data management experience, it sounds like you already had a pretty good understanding of technology – why did you need more skills from a bootcamp?
Even though I built a website, I didn’t fully understand the concept of web development, and I didn’t think I was prepared to get a job in software engineering. My role at the nonprofit wasn’t a very technical job, it just helped me learn how a server works. I knew there was a difference between front end, back end, and databases when it comes to building web applications – and those were things I wanted to learn about.
Why not just learn to code on your own, online?
Even though there are good online courses that you can use to teach yourself, I personally needed to have someone to ask questions when I was stuck. I honestly wouldn't think I would be in this situation without Redwood. I decided to go to a bootcamp like Redwood because I knew I would have resources, and wouldn’t have to rely on asking questions on Stack Overflow or on forums. Redwood has definitely played a big role in starting my new career at Microsoft.
What made you choose Redwood Code Academy? Did you research other options?
There were some highly recommended bootcamps in Los Angeles, but I live almost two hours from LA, so they weren’t convenient. I only live about one hour away from Redwood Code Academy in Orange County. I used Course Report to look at reviews and tuition costs, but one thing that stood out about Redwood was their part-time course. Because I was working full time, I wanted to take a part-time course at first, then enroll in a full-time program. Redwood was only one I saw which had an in-house part-time program. I talked to Redwood Code Academy founder Harrison Spain, met the other instructor, and they were willing to work with me.
I started off as a part-time student, then I switched to the full-time immersive program. My parents offered to help me out financially, so I quit my job at the legal nonprofit and started the whole course again. I got double the front end learning because the program started from scratch, then we moved on to back end and server-side technologies.
What was the application and interview process like for you?
The interview process was a little easier than I expected – I had heard from YouTube and podcasts, that some code academies were pretty selective. I had a one-on-one conversation with Harrison, he showed me what they expected of me, and what I was getting into, but there was no project to build or any coding test. After that interview, and after paying a down payment for the school, I got pre-work to work through before class started.
What was your cohort like at Redwood Code Academy?
There were seven of us in the cohort, and we all had different backgrounds. One of my friends is a mother of four and was looking into a career change and very eager to learn. She was an inspiration to me – seeing that she had all these responsibilities and still came to bootcamp for eight hours a day really pushed me. Another friend taught science at a high school, other people were trying to learn technology like me but had found it hard to pursue in community college or university. We were all eager to learn, and learned a lot from each other too.
What was the learning experience like at Redwood Code Academy?
In the morning we got a refresher of what we learned the day before and could ask any questions we had. There was some discussion, a code review, some coding challenges, and maybe some whiteboarding. After that, we had a new lesson, we’d download the class material on Github, and follow along with that until about 3pm. From 3pm to 5pm we had a lab, and the professors would hang around to help us complete it.
Every three weeks, we had one week to build an application using what we had learned so far. The instructors would help us with whatever we wanted to do, then we would present our projects.
The learning experience I had at Redwood was amazing – I really enjoyed it. I don’t regret one day I was there. It was very intense and hard, but it prepared me to be more disciplined, and I spent time after each class learning more. The professors are very knowledgeable, and Harrison has a lot of knowledge and history from his career. Everyone really cares about student success, and they were always there, even after hours, to help out.
What was your favorite project that you built at Redwood?
For the final project, we could build whatever we wanted, using any technology. I decided to build a mobile app with Xamarin, a technology that wasn’t taught in the class. That was something I was proud of – out of all the students in the cohort, I was the only student who stepped up and learned a new technology in two weeks.
How did the bootcamp prepare you for job hunting?
In our last week of class, we worked on our resumes. Harrison used to be a hiring manager, so he knew what the industry was looking for, and prepared us for job interviews, helped us out with LinkedIn, mock interviews, and whiteboarding exercises. We also worked on our soft skills, which sometimes can be forgotten as an engineer, and how to show that we’re eager to learn and want to pursue a career in technology, even though we don’t have much experience.
After our cohort finished, Harrison was still available after hours to provide job preparation. For every job interview I had, Harrison did a mock interview with me, with code challenges and whiteboarding, showed me how to present myself, and how to talk about my experience.
So you’ve been at Microsoft for 8 months now! Congrats! How did you get the job?
I’m a Vendor Support Engineer. I was approached by the recruiter from the vendor company Allyis Inc. They pursued me because of my experience with Xamarin; they reached out via email and LinkedIn, then we had a phone call. Xamarin is the mobile development technology I taught myself for my final project, and having that on my resume helped me stand out for positions using C# and mobile development. It’s a great opportunity, I love my position.
I interviewed with the account manager who is connected with Microsoft and the vendor company. Then I did a technical interview with a Senior Escalation Engineer from Microsoft. Before that interview, I subscribed to Xamarin University and studied for a whole week, so that I could answer the questions. From there I went on to interview with the hiring manager. That was more of a conversation about why I was interested in the position. They called me about two hours after that last interview and offered me the position. That was a great experience – I never would have expected to be working my first technical job at Microsoft. It’s a big blessing and a very humbling experience.
Tell me more about your role, your team, and what you are working on.
As a Vendor Support Engineer, I’m in a support role for the Xamarin framework. There is a team of 10 of us, and on a daily basis we help developers around the world with their applications. It could be your average engineer who is learning the technology for the first time, or a smaller company which is building a mobile application with Xamarin, or big corporations like airlines, hotels, governments, and banks, who use our framework for their applications. We help them with certain features that they want to implement in the application, build sample projects for customers, or help them troubleshoot if their database is not connecting properly.
We have direct contact with the Xamarin product team and let them know about issues and bugs that customers are experiencing. The support engineers are basically middlemen to communicate customer issues to product engineers.
On the team we have very senior engineers who have been working for Microsoft for over 20 years. That’s something I like because they are open to teaching, they want you to know more and always be up to date, they have seen the history of Microsoft and working with something that’s a new tech, and are very knowledgeable and willing to help out.
What was the learning curve like when you first joined Microsoft? How did they onboard you?
When I first started I was at the Microsoft campus in Texas for 6 months – from December to June. They gave me the option to stay in Texas or go back to California and work remotely, so I chose the California option, to be closer to my family and my girlfriend. Working remotely, I still do the same thing but from a home office.
At the Microsoft campus the first three months were training, preparing, getting everything set up, and making sure I had a strong understanding of what I was going to do. The onboarding process was very interesting. When I came in, they gave me a mentor who helped me out and introduced me to my role. My manager requested that I get certified as a Xamarin developer, so I worked on that and within three weeks, I took the exam and got certified. I also had to learn about customer support, and get familiar with the regulations. The onboarding process was pretty smooth. Now having been at Microsoft for eight months I feel more comfortable than when I first started.
In addition to improving your Xamarin skills, did you have to learn other new technologies when you joined Microsoft?
I’m constantly learning here. One technology I had to learn was Azure, because most of our customers use it for databases. I’m also learning about other .NET frameworks.
Even though Redwood didn’t teach Azure in their curriculum, they taught us how to research and find documentation for new technologies. So when Microsoft asked me to learn Azure, I knew how to research and break down the documentation. That has really helped me in my career here at Microsoft. You don’t know what customers might ask you – it could be about a technology I’ve never touched, so I regularly use Stack Overflow and Google to research the answer to a question.
How has your background doing web development and data management been useful in your job?
When I first started searching for new opportunities, I thought my background wasn’t going to be useful, but I did put it on my resume to show that I had worked in the past. One skill I learned at the legal nonprofit was being able to communicate with customers. I knew how to work with clients, attorneys, and the DA, so I had to have very good written and verbal skills, and be able to politely ask for information.
Have you kept in touch with Redwood instructors or other alumni?
After I graduated, Redwood made me feel more than welcome to hang around, help out students, and share my perspectives and experiences about the bootcamp. Since I got back from my Microsoft training in Texas, I’ve been in communication with Harrison and I’m in constant communication with at least two or three alumni in Slack. I feel like Redwood is like a community and we have a good relationship with each other.
What advice do you have for people making a career change through a coding bootcamp?
If this is something you’re very interested in, and something you will love doing for the rest of your life, I would say pursue it. Do your research – Redwood worked for me, and offered me a lot of tools, but there are a lot of great code schools. I would highly recommend going to visit each classroom. In general I highly recommend coding bootcamps for those who are very set on a career change and serious about becoming a software developer.
Quinton Fults served in AmeriCorps in a variety of roles from child life specialist, to nutrition and math teacher. After finishing his service, he realized that coding may be the best next step so he enrolled in courses at a local community college. After one week, he dropped the course because he was introduced to Orange County-based coding bootcamp, Redwood Code Academy. See why Quinton decided to learn to code at a bootcamp instead of community college, read about his Redwood Code Academy learning experience, and hear his tips for the job search.
What was your educational background and last career path before you started at Redwood Code Academy?
I never really had any interest in computers. After graduating from high school my first job was through AmeriCorps and NCCC out of their Southwest Region in Denver. I did team-based national service for about two years. I did an eclectic variety of things – I was a child life specialist at a children's hospital, a certified tax repairer, I did rural addressing for the Navajo reservation, I taught nutrition classes, I taught math, and I was a contract painter. It was fun. After that, I came home to Fountain Valley and started looking into coding bootcamps.
What was the connection between your AmeriCorps service and realizing that you wanted to learn how to code?
I have a cousin who has been very influential for me. He's the CTO at a software company in Irvine called Technossus, and we're very close. We're the only two people in our family who are the same age range that could be brothers. He'd always talk to me about bootcamps when I'd come home. He’d talk about the level of connection between service and web development, and also music as well because I'm a professional banjo player.
What made Redwood Code Academy stand out in your search?
My cousin was working with a guy at Technossus called Harrison Spain, who is the founder and lead instructor of Redwood Code Academy. They worked very closely together, so my cousin told me about Harrison’s background and what the school was doing. One thing led to another, and I decided to enroll because I thought it was a really good opportunity. Talking with Harrison about the level of experience that I would get out of the school, it seemed very project based. I learn a lot more from working on something. So after talking with him, I had a very good sense that there would be a good amount of quantifiable outcomes that I could gain from experience. There were a lot of very introductory and then refined skills that I could really benefit from if I wanted to get into the coding world.
Did you try to learn to code on your own at all before Redwood Code Academy? How was your transition from AmeriCorps to bootcamp?
When the opportunity presented itself, it was a pretty spur of the moment thing. I had just started going to college at Golden West, but I decided as soon as I saw the coding bootcamp path that I would drop out and start preparing for that instead. I had been at Golden West for a week and I ended up dropping out just under the wire to get a full refund. My time coming out of AmeriCorps was pretty structured for what I was going to do. I knew I was going to go to college. But then I had a couple of days where I had met with my cousin and Harrison; talking about the coding bootcamp sounded really exciting. So I discussed it with my family and decided it would be in my best interest to take this route, try to find employment for a few years, and then get into the industry. My ultimate goal being to establish myself well enough that I could start freelance work while in college.
I had about two weeks until it was starting, and Harrison was very kind. I asked him if there was anything that I should work on prior to the course, and he sent me a couple of courses in HTML and CSS to get my feet wet. I had a couple of weeks of rigorously going through some online content on preliminary subject matter. Also, Udemy was offering a new year, new me deal for their online courses which was remarkable. The courses are $100+, but they had all their courses on there for $10.
Did you consider any other coding bootcamps within Orange County or were you sold on Redwood Code Academy?
Through the work my cousin does with Technossus, I found out a lot about Harrison and Redwood Code Academy. I'd spoken with a few other people in the industry, but within the Irvine area, where I live, the consensus was pretty much the same. If you want to learn how to develop software, Harrison is the guy you want to learn from. He is the coding wizard. Learning a bit about his level of understanding and skills, and from the recommendations of the people I talked to, he seemed to be the number one person in the area to learn from.
Were you looking for a specific type of curriculum offered by Redwood Code Academy?
I know I learn better with a project or task-oriented curriculum. I benefit from being taught a lesson, and being given a task for which I have to look up information, think about what I just learned, and apply it. From what I had found out about the course, it was very project oriented. Since I graduated, I've been taking more online courses to continue to grow my knowledge base. One thing I always look for in a course is something like "Learn Angular by building 12 applications.” That's something that Redwood provided on a daily basis; new curriculum and a project that would apply the skills.
Tell us about the application and the interview process for Redwood Code Academy.
The process of getting into the class was supposed to be similar to how your first coding interview would be for a job. It’s not necessarily technical questions, but more finding out where your passions lie and why you're interested in development. It's a course for pretty much anybody with any level of background whatsoever. Redwood Code Academy goes from ground level one, to the full extent of the subject area. Regardless of the pre-work, we had about a week and a half worth of HTML and CSS, learning that definitely supplemented the online courses they provided me. It was very useful especially in the application of the skills side. It was nice to come with a beginner's knowledge of what to expect and then go in there and be able to apply those skills.
Do you have any tips for our readers on how to ace the Redwood Code Academy interview?
Yeah. Harrison has a background with doing a lot of technical interviews. The course is really open to anybody interested in web development, so you don't need to have any coding background whatsoever. The interview is actually optional. Something that's good to know all around is the idea of being honest and being very real. This applies to any coding interview, in the job field interviewers can tell if you're not being fully honest with them.
With my spur of the moment choice to go to Redwood Code Academy, I was very honest with Harrison about my background and what my interest in doing it was. I was very real about who I am and why I’m interested in doing the course. You want to make good impressions on people. Harrison and the co-instructor Billy Pruden can be very good assets for you in the future so being honest is a good way to keep that relationship strong.
How many people were in your cohort? Was it diverse in terms of age and gender?
We were about 10 people. Race and age wise, it was fairly diverse. I was definitely the youngest person in my cohort, being 20 at the time. There were three or four people in their mid-to-late 20's and six or seven people that were 35 and up. As far as gender, our group was all men.
Could you give us an overview of your learning experience at Redwood Code Academy? Share a typical day and the teaching style.
The course is separated into three phases. Phase one is front end development, phase two is back end, and then phase three is different frameworks and more specialized learning. The phases start with an introduction to that type of development. During the last two weeks, you do an end of phase project either by yourself or doing pair programming. On the last day of the phase, you do a presentation of that project.
On a daily basis, the morning and maybe the beginning half of the afternoon would be a lesson. Either Harrison or Billy would walk the class through either a new language, or more specialized concepts on the language you had just learned. Towards the end of the lesson, they'd introduce us to the afternoon project. Typically, when you're starting off on a language, they like to do console applications. For example, let's say we just learned C#. They would create a roleplaying game where you're battling monsters and collecting gold in the console application. So you’d work on that using the skills that you just learned from the class. Billy and Harrison would go around and help answer any questions that you had. On occasion, they’d finish the day with a final little lesson to refine a concept, answer overall questions, or they'd do a practice interview question. Usually, you’d get a weekly chance to go in front of the class and practice doing a technical interview question on the whiteboard.
Did you have a final project that you had to present?
What did you create for your capstone project?
My partner and I really encompassed every single thing that we had learned in Redwood for our capstone project. We used every single language and framework that Harrison and Billy had taught us, as well as any of the more specialized things we learned during the phase three section – to do with Node, using cookies, and Express.
What was a really good move on our part, and I would suggest this for anyone attending the school, is to ask Harrison and Billy "What kind of applications will we be expected to build in the job market as full stack developers and what would look good on our portfolio or GitHub?" They recommended a customer relationship management (CRM) app. It was not the most exciting idea that people came up with, but it’s invaluable for showcasing our skills and comprehension of the languages to employers.
The CRM app is on my Github and we called it Turn because it helps turn leads into clients. One of the questions that came up was whether or not we should host these capstone projects. Harrison and Billy informed us about how typically when an employer is looking at your work, they want to see your code as opposed to the application. Very rarely would they try to run it; employers want to see how well your code is written, maintained, and debugged.
Now you've graduated from Redwood Code Academy, how have you been spending your time and how’s your job search going?
What's really good about Redwood is that there's a week or two towards the end of the course where they talk about what you should do while you're applying to jobs. The job market right now is a bit shaky. It's the beginning of the year and companies are starting their new year budgets, so hiring is put on the background. There's also tax season, as well as the U.S. political shift. January 2017 and February 2017 are definitely not the easiest months for applying to jobs, so I’m still on the search.
But I'm never without something to do in regards to continuing to be an asset to myself. There are a lot of things to do, like working on projects, doing online courses to expand my knowledge base, refining the projects I'd previously done, and contributing to open source projects.
When finding your entry level position in development, something that Redwood Code Academy highly recommended was canvassing. In southern California, there are a good deal of development jobs, but in order to be really successful, you have to apply to a lot of places. One of the big tips Harrison gave, which I found to be very useful, was to get my name out there. Every morning I should be applying to at least 10 new positions. Spending every day working on a new project, learning a new language, applying to a dozen jobs is really the way I've been spending my time, and I'm finding it very useful.
Are you still interacting with Redwood Code Academy for your job search? Are they still helping out even though you’ve graduated?
When you're coming out of a bootcamp and looking to expand your value as a developer, you may also want to learn things that you're more interested in. Redwood helped provide a way to continue my learning and help my job search, which were two things I wasn't expecting to get out of the course, but have been very useful.
One of my big recommendations I have for any job seeker is keeping your connections alive. Have a circle of people that you really want to stay in contact with. It's been very beneficial for me to be very engaged with Harrison and Billy. I have lunch with Billy once a week and talk to him about the job search, different topics on coding, and ask for advice.
Are you going to different networking events in Orange County? Are you still keeping in touch with the other Redwood Code Academy alumni?
Yeah. There's definitely a bond that's formed from being in a bootcamp with a group of people. There are a lot of good groups that meet in the area and I'm a regular at a meetup in Long Beach called Uncoded. So there are a lot of smaller things aside from job skills that you gain from the coding community. It’s great to be able to talk about the industry, and learn new things. With these coding meetups, I think someone who doesn't have much previous technical experience might find themselves a bit lost. Having a better understanding of how to code has been very beneficial for getting immersed in the scene.
What has been your biggest challenge or roadblock in your journey to learn to code?
When starting out it was hard for me to take the initiative of not asking questions. There's a certain mentality you need to have to bang your head against a wall for an hour for you to learn. My biggest challenge has been not asking too many questions. There are things that if I would spend the time, I could figure it out for myself as that's where the real learning comes from. Having that confidence to trust myself to figure it out on my own was a challenge for me. Billy and Harrison are very helpful so it was easy to simply call them over when you're working on a project in class, and ask them for help. I don’t want to discourage asking questions because they definitely value very good questions, but there's definitely a level of expectation that you really need to allow yourself to struggle with the code.
What advice do you have for people thinking about making that career change into software development and thinking about attending a coding bootcamp?
I would advise anybody that enjoys creative problem solving, puzzle solving, and working on putting the pieces together in any sort of project – this is a good career move. But coding is not without its challenges. One thing that programmers need to be comfortable with is the arc of the coding process. You have to get comfortable with going through moments of complete clarity, and moments of complete loss and confusion. You can’t let it emotionally affect you or frustrate you because that is part of the process. You really need to enjoy the game of puzzles and trying to solve different problems, because coding is really about breaking things and fixing them; and then breaking them again and fixing them again.
With 16 years experience as a software developer and a hiring manager, Harrison Spain saw first hand how hard it was to hire competent software developers. To help fill this talent gap, Harrison decided to launch Redwood Code Academy in Orange County, CA. Harrison tells us where traditional education falls short, why he chose to teach .NET, and how his experience in the Marine Corps has made him a good leader and teacher.
What’s your background and why did you decide to start a coding bootcamp?
I've been a professional software developer for about 16 years, and a developing manager and hiring manager for the last 10 years. I've hired hundreds of developers, have been very involved in the Southern California tech scene, and I’ve worked with a lot of different startups and enterprise companies. Through those experiences of hiring, working and building teams, I saw a really big talent gap. It was really hard to find developers to hire.
Looking at traditional college education, I just didn't feel students were getting the skills necessary to succeed. So I decided to start Redwood Code Academy to fill that gap between traditional education and the real world skills that are necessary to get a software development job.
Why is the world ready for Redwood Code Academy now?
I had this idea about four years ago, but I decided that the market is right for this now. There's a really great need for Redwood, especially in Orange County where there are not many coding bootcamps. There are a lot of people looking for an education like this, and I've always had a passion for teaching, coaching, and mentoring.
How did you originally become a software developer? Did you teach yourself to code or did you get a CS degree?
I’m mostly self-taught. I've been doing software development since I was eight. I started out playing around with Visual Basic, then in junior high school I learned to program a TI graphic calculator. I went to UC Irvine for a computer science degree, but most of the skills I use day-to-day were learned on the job. I feel that a lot of learning happens by doing.
With that self-taught background, is that why you identify with the bootcamp learning style?
Yeah, 100%. If something like this was available back in 2000 when I started, I would have jumped on the opportunity to attend a school like that. It just wasn't around back then, and even now it's still kind of grassroots.
I spent six years in the Marine Corps as a tank commander. I feel my experience learning how to instruct, how to lead, and how to mentor a group of people in the Marine Corps is very relevant to software development in general, especially to a coding academy like this. I think it lends a unique perspective as well, because I don't see a whole lot of Military veterans in software development.
What technology stack are you teaching at Redwood Code Academy and why did you choose those specific technologies?
We also found that there is market need for .NET right now in Southern California. And we feel like if you know .NET, and C# specifically, you can really translate that to a lot of other programming languages, like Java or Ruby.
Is your own background mainly in .NET and C#?
Yes. I've been working with the Microsoft stack since 2000 when .NET 1.0 was released. I've worked with Objective-C, Java, Ruby, and others, but most of my experience is in .NET.
What was your curriculum development process like? Did you start from scratch?
I've been teaching and mentoring developers from entry level through senior level for the last 10 years, so I've learned quite a bit about natural progression between concepts and how to teach full stack software development. I use that experience as the basis for our curriculum.
I also looked at other coding schools’ curriculums and what was working for them. I talked to other bootcamp graduates and asked them what could have been done differently or better.
In the last five years, I've worked with dozens of employers. I know what skill sets they would hire for immediately if they could find developers. I'm using that information and incorporating it into the curriculum, so that when our students graduate, there will be companies that need exactly what we've taught here, which is really important.
Do you have a team with whom you collaborated to write the curriculum?
Redwood Code Academy is myself, plus a team of coaches, mentors, TAs and former bootcamp graduates.
How did you decide that 12 weeks was the right length for Redwood Code Academy?
Twelve weeks is a really good timeline to get a student to the point where they can do a technical job comfortably. It's not so short that there might be significant gaps, and it's not so long that you're wasting money and time before you could actually go land a job and learn a lot more on the job. I think 12 weeks is a good middle ground, and it's the average length of a coding bootcamp right now.
What's the structure and learning style of the program?
We're going to be doing daily instructional lectures. We have morning exercises, and then we go into a lecture that I will give on each day's topic. We will then have hands-on exercises in the afternoon, assisted by myself and the TA. In the evenings, the format will be like a reverse educational forum where students are either working on their portfolio project, or working on extending exercises from the day. They can specialize a little bit, they can ask questions they might be struggling with, or they can move forward a little bit faster.
How many instructors or teacher assistants or mentors will you have on campus at Redwood Code Academy?
For this first class, it is going to be myself as the lead instructor, with one assistant instructor. The assistant instructor comes from a Ruby background and has worked at a few different startups and on a lot of software projects. He went through General Assembly’s full stack web development course, so he has the experience from one of the tried and true courses. He knows what works, knows what could be done a bit better, and he helps out in that way.
What's your ideal cohort size? Are you aiming for a certain student to teacher ratio?
We're looking at 18 students per cohort, and so about a nine to one ratio. Our first cohort is shaping up to be a full cohort with 18 students.
Where in Santa Ana is your campus located?
We have our own space, which is about 4,000 square feet in the Red Hill Technology Center. It's right behind the Tustin District, off of Red Hill Ave and Barranca Parkway. It's a couple blocks away from the new SpaceX building. In the Tustin District, there are a ton of hip places to eat, drink, and hang out. We're right down the street from the John Wayne Airport tech scene. There are probably 200 companies hiring within a mile from this campus.
What's your classroom actually like in Santa Ana?
We have a classroom for 18 students with a projector, screen, and dedicated workstations for everybody. We have a break area where people can have lunch. We're setting up another area as a collaboration area, and an incubator for graduating students. Then we have a couple of conference rooms and offices for breakout sessions. It’s a work in progress, but our cohort starts on October 3rd and I think it's going to come together really well.
What are the admissions requirements at Redwood Code Academy? Are you looking for particular experience or knowledge of programming?
We're not requiring any experience. There’s an interview process where we talk to every potential student to make sure each person is passionate about what they're doing, that they're dedicated to the program, and have some of the very basic fundamentals of understanding coding. We will start at the core of "here are the basics of HTML, or here are the basics of languages," but at the same time it's requires someone that at least understands what software development is in general.
Over my years of interviewing and talking to potential employees, I think I have a pretty strong sense of the mindset that it takes to be a software developer. So I'm using that interview process as as the main gate and the qualification to join.
Will applicants have to complete any sort of coding challenge?
No. We do ask some technical questions on the phone interview, but we don’t have a specific coding challenge at this stage.
Once a student is accepted into Redwood Code Academy, do they have pre-work to complete before their first day?
Of the students who you've been interviewing so far for the bootcamp, what types of people are being drawn to Redwood Code Academy?
For the most part, our applicants are people who have always wanted to do software and were just never quite able to put it together, but are drawn to the logical aspects and the career stability of software development. We have a few musicians, which is interesting. Musicians seem to be drawn towards software development. They would like a more stable career, a better-paying job, and feel like it would be a good fit.
You mentioned you have an incubator for graduate students. Are you hoping to see students who actually want to start their own business when they graduate?
I think for the large part, people who attend a coding bootcamp are the same types of people who want to start a business. They have that entrepreneurial mindset and are looking to do something new. That opportunity is there if they want it.
If graduates want to start up a company, and have an idea, we have about four or five offices and a co-working space built into our Redwood Code Academy space. It will be free, but they will have to apply for it. They have to come up with an idea, and a basic business plan, and it will be relatively competitive. We will take people who we feel are going to have the highest chance of success, and who have the highest level of drive.
As well as physical space, will you be giving those incubator students any other kind of support?
Yes, absolutely. A big part of Redwood Code Academy is the support that we’ll give to students and graduates. The founders of Redwood Code Academy and myself especially, have a lot of connections and relationships within the industry. Being able to make those connections and introduce people to different companies is going to be pretty big.
We also have quite a few ties into the venture capital scene in Orange County. By having an incubator in the OC, we can definitely make introductions to people who are ready to invest in startup companies, and people who are looking for our specific type of graduates.
Is your first cohort at Redwood Code Academy going to be local to the Orange County area or coming from other parts of California or the United States?
We are attracting students from across the country for our first cohort. We have students coming from places like Colorado and Oregon, but for the most part, it's relatively local. Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, and Riverside are where the majority of our students come from.
Once people understand what we can provide post-graduation, the incubator space, and the level of instruction we can give, I think we'll pull students from a pretty wide area.
How are you attracting a diverse applicant pool at Redwood?
Being a veteran myself, I would like to offer scholarships to veterans. We're working with a group called VetNet that helps find jobs for veterans, so we’ll be able to get a diverse group of people coming out of the military, the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Airforce who are looking for a job. Veterans are a smart, motivated group, ready to dig their hands in; they just need the opportunity.
When I was a hiring manager, diversity was at the forefront for me. It’s important that equality is built into our application process, to see if they have the drive, the passion, and the understanding to do software development. I think that attitude of being impartial, really creates a very diverse group.
Speaking of veterans, are you considering going through the VA approval process so that veterans can use the GI Bill to pay for their tuition?
The accreditation process to do that is lengthy and expensive, but it is definitely something we are exploring. It would be a huge benefit to veterans to be able to use those GI Bill benefits to pay for the school, but there are other ways that we can make it feasible for them as well, until we can get that accreditation.
Is there anything special you’ve had to do to get licensed to operate in the state?
Yes. There's the post-secondary education licensing that we're going through right now to be fully licensed and official. We're filing all the paperwork with the city of Santa Ana, and the state of California
How are you going to help students prepare to find a job when they graduate?
Towards the tail end of the course, we'll dedicate time for resume preparation, and we’ll cover what you should say to land an interview, and eventually land a job. We’ll do interview preparation on answers to interview questions, how to speak in interviews, how to handle technical challenges, etc.
We'll also be hosting hiring days on campus where we'll bring in potential employers, and give the students the opportunity talk to them. It will be like a meet and greet or a reverse job fair. We’ve already lined up a number of interested employers.
We’re interested in the job market in the Santa Ana and Orange County areas. What sort of companies are hiring and what sort of skills are they looking for?
In terms of company types, it's really all sizes and types of companies. I know at least six different startup companies that are picking up steam, and I know for a fact they're having a hard time filling out their development team. Orange County is really heating up in terms of venture capital money. There are also stable Fortune 500 and enterprise-level companies, the majority of which are also using the .NET framework.
Now that .NET has been open-sourced, it's also really opening up itself to the startup scene. We see a lot more startups using it, especially because the tools are very inexpensive if you are using C# versus some of the other competing languages. There's a lot of need across the board for graduates.
There are other coding bootcamps in Orange County like LearningFuze, Sabio, and Orange County Code School. What do you think sets Redwood Code Academy apart from those bootcamps and makes it stand out?
I think a few things make us stand out compared to those schools. Our campus has a lot of space dedicated to learning; plus, we have a dedicated incubator within the campus. Also, the level of instruction, some of our instructors have 20 years of teaching experience, is high. And we have great relationships with the Orange County tech scene. Plus, aside from Sabio, there aren’t other code schools teaching .NET, so having a full stack .NET curriculum will be a really big selling point.
What's the biggest lesson you've learned in launching Redwood Code Academy?
Once I started promoting Redwood Code Academy, I realized that the applicant pool was larger than I anticipated. There's a ton of support behind Redwood and a ton of interest in it. So I've learned to think big, and work out how we can accommodate more students.
What sort of resources or meetups do you recommend for aspiring developers in the area who want to find out more about coding?
Welcome to the July 2016 Course Report monthly coding bootcamp news roundup! Each month we look at all the happenings from the coding bootcamp world from new bootcamps to big fundraising announcements, to interesting trends. This month the biggest trends this month are initiatives to increase the diversity in tech, some huge investments in various bootcamps, and more tech giants launching their own coding classes. Read below or listen to our latest Coding Bootcamp News Roundup Podcast!Continue Reading →