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Redwood Code Academy

Irvine, Orange County, San Diego

Redwood Code Academy

Avg Rating:4.84 ( 37 reviews )

Recent Redwood Code Academy Reviews: Rating 4.84

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  • Full Stack Immersion

    Apply
    MongoDB, HTML, C#, JavaScript, .NET, ASP.NET, SQL, jQuery, Mobile, CSS, React.js, Node.js, Front End
    In PersonFull Time40 Hours/week12 Weeks
    Start Date
    November 12, 2018
    Cost
    $13,500
    Class size
    N/A
    Location
    Irvine, Orange County, San Diego
    Financing
    Deposit
    1000
    Financing
    We have partnered with Skills Fund to provide student loans
    Getting in
    Minimum Skill Level
    N/A
    Placement Test
    Yes
    Interview
    Yes
    More Start Dates
    November 12, 2018 - Irvine
    November 12, 2018 - Orange County
  • Part Time - Full Stack

    Apply
    HTML, Git, C#, JavaScript, .NET, ASP.NET, SQL, jQuery, Mobile, React.js, Node.js, Front End
    In PersonPart Time24 Weeks
    Start Date
    Rolling Start Date
    Cost
    $13,500
    Class size
    N/A
    Location
    Irvine, Orange County
    Financing
    Deposit
    1000
    Financing
    We have partnered with Skills Fund to provide financing
    Getting in
    Minimum Skill Level
    N/A
    Placement Test
    No
    Interview
    Yes

1 Scholarship

$500 Redwood Code Academy Scholarship

Course Report is excited to offer an exclusive Redwood Code Academy scholarship for $500 off tuition!

Eligibility

  • No eligibility restrictions.

Qualifying Courses

  • All courses in Irvine

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Life Changing
7/27/2018
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Brian Canlas • Frontend Engineer • Graduate Verified via LinkedIn
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Response From: Harrison Spain of Redwood Code Academy
Title: Founder
Monday, Sep 24 2018

Brian,

We were truly perplexed as to the claims you made in your statements knowing that there is a large documented history that tells a different story.  Besides, spreading false and negative statements about Redwood Code Academy is not the way in which you will find a job in the software development industry.  

On average, our students, who receive the same instruction and resources that you did, find industry work within three months.  As evidenced by the success of your classmates, we always do everything in our power to help our students.  The is has been true since we were founded and is still true today.

Despite the number of critical in class sessions you missed due to your recorded attendance issues, we continued to work with you for over a year after you graduated through resume reviews, code reviews, late night technical questions, portfolio reviews, and interview preparation. We made referrals for you into our hiring network as well as personally landing you an in person interview at on of the top consulting agencies in Orange County.  We also attempted to put into place processes to help you organize your job search and push through the troubled steps.  Again, this is all documented.

Based on feedback we received and our own observations, your inability to find a developer job came down to your inability to communicate professionally.  This was brought up to you several times as we game-planned your continued job search.  We went as far as to offer to sit down with you for every single phone interview you conducted to help identify where you can do better and to assist you in an on going fashion.

The ability to communicate professionally is critical in any business environment, but especially for entry level software developers.  If you had taken the lessons we taught on that topic more seriously, we think you would have had a much better result.

Once you decided to verbally and in writing attack our staff, students, and alumni, we had no choice but to dis-invite you from the Redwood community.  Making negative statements about our staff's sexuality, attacking alumni based on race and gender, attacking our staff's status as veterans, and making written threats are all decidedly against the way we do things and are the reasons we removed you from our community.  Your conduct left us no choice.

You graduated as a competent coder with our confidence and support.  Despite your recent actions, we still hope that you are able to find a way to communicate professionally and find work as a software developer.  Spreading false and negative statements about Redwood isn't going to help in that goal.

- Harrison

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Redwood Rocks
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Our latest on Redwood Code Academy

  • Getting Started in .NET: A Deep Dive with Redwood Code Academy

    Lauren Stewart9/18/2018

    .NET is used in a variety of software applications and industries – but what’s all the hype about? We spoke with Orange County-based Redwood Code Academy Founder, Harrison Spain, to learn all about .NET development. See which companies use .NET, learn the top skills you need to excel in the field, and check out how Redwood Code Academy equips their .NET students to succeed.

    Meet our Expert

    Tell us about your background in .NET and at Redwood Code Academy.

    I am the founder and lead instructor for Redwood Code Academy. I have been coding since grade school and have been a professional developer for 17 years. Through my career, I have worked for and founded several startups, published two games, built many software teams, and worked for Fortune 100 companies.

    My current goal is to help teach and mentor the next generation of software development talent.

    The Origins of .NET

    Let’s start with the basics: What is .NET, and what are its origins with Microsoft?

    • .NET is a framework for building software applications across a wide spectrum of platforms. It allows someone to learn a language such as C# and apply it to web, mobile, desktop, server, security, embedded, VR, game, or AI development and more.
    • .NET was originally created by Microsoft and ratified by ECMA in 2002. It included the CLI (Common Language Infrastructure) and C# and was intended to make development for Windows platforms simpler and more standardized. Since then, Microsoft released numerous updates and additions allowing for broader and broader uses for the tools and languages.  
    • .NET has been open sourced for nearly 4 years now under .NET Core, and is now a community-driven framework. This means that it will adapt quickly to industry changes, and these changes can involve newer techniques, technologies, and tools that the developer community collectively decides to adopt.

    Industries and Products that use .NET

    Which industries most commonly use .NET as their operating system?

    You will find .NET as the technology of choice across a broad range of industries. Any business that needs a robust system with the support of first class tooling and time-proven infrastructure can benefit from using .NET.

    That said, you will certainly see some industries that are especially heavy users of .NET:

    • Finance
    • Real Estate
    • Law
    • Aerospace

    These are all risk-averse industries which need a platform with a history of stability but also a clear future of innovation.

    What are some examples of products or apps built with .NET?

    • Stack Overflow (stackoverflow.com) is the savior and best friend for any developer today. It works fast, with rich features, a very large audience, and without any known downtime in recent history. It runs on the .NET platform with a fraction of the overhead needed for similar systems on other platforms. Here is a good article from 2016 describing the Stack Overflow architecture.
    • A few recent innovative fast food companies have also leaned on .NET for their mobile and web offerings. Taco Bell for instance runs their website and backend on .NET for both their web customer and new mobile app customers.
    • Olo (olo.com) also runs their platforms on .NET and their mobile app on Xamarin.
    • If you are into game or VR development, Unity is a top choice for today’s game developers and much of the development done in Unity is with C#. Some hit games such as Terraria, Bastion and Magicka were all built in large part with .NET.

    The Job Market Demand for .NET

    What is the demand like for .NET skills/jobs? Are they concentrated in specific parts of the world?

    The demand for .NET coders is higher than it has ever been. .NET coders can find work anywhere in the world and the demand is becoming relatively spread out geographically. With the introduction of .NET Core and the open sourcing of the tools and framework, typically non-Microsoft regions such as San Francisco are finding a resurgence of .NET adoption. It would be really hard not to find a part of the world that isn’t using the technology.

    What’s fueled the growth of .NET over the past decade?

    Stability. The tech world is renown for being fickle and moving from one fad to the next relatively quickly. .NET has been one of the common threads through the last 17 years of technological changes and I think that it attracts businesses and developers because of that.

    Since Redwood Code Academy is an Orange County bootcamp, do you anticipate that most of your grads will get hired in the area or move around?

    We anticipate most of our grads will stay in the area – who doesn’t want to live in Orange County? We have seen some graduates find work a bit north in Los Angeles or up to San Francisco, but there is plenty of work in OC to go around. The nice thing about graduating with .NET skills is that you don’t have to stay local. There is work wherever you want to go.

    Would you recommend someone learn .NET as a first programming language?

    .NET and specifically C# is a great first foray into coding. It is simple enough to let learners get into all the fundamentals of software development and computer science without being so complex that it would be hard to make progress. Object-oriented programming is and has been, a very popular design pattern in the industry for a long time. C# forces you to think about your code in an OOP way which lends itself well to then picking up other languages like JavaScript, Python, Ruby, Java, etc.

    Learning .NET at a Coding Bootcamp

    There are a lot of free online content to help people learn to build apps with .NET, so why do people need a coding bootcamp like Redwood Code Academy to learn?

    A coding bootcamp like Redwood Code Academy gives students the ability to interface with industry professionals and peer students in a rigorous and personal environment every day. Coding is almost never a solo venture and gaining the ability to code with other people will help tremendously once in the professional world.

    Also, it’s tough to be able to progress with coding skills when roadblocks, errors, and understanding issues take hours or days to resolve. By having someone literally right next to you to look over your shoulder, students can progress at a much faster rate and really accelerate the entire process.

    Redwood Code Academy teaches .NET.  What can students expect to learn in the curriculum?

    Redwood focuses on .NET as a vehicle for teaching a compiled, strongly typed language and to boost object-oriented programming concepts. It is introduced after our students have a proficiency of JavaScript and is used to round out our graduates’ skill sets.

    We specifically teach C#, ASP.NET, .NET Core, and Web API 2. Using these technologies, we add Entity Framework to manage our databases and PostreSQL as our relational database. Students are able to build entire enterprise ready back ends for their web and mobile apps using these technologies. This includes an HTTP RESTful API, file processing systems and data management processes. We also introduce students to Xamarin, which is Microsoft’s way to build native mobile applications using .NET.

    What do you think is missing in .NET development education these days? Is Redwood Code Academy working to solve this problem?

    The main thing missing with .NET development education is that most schools and coding bootcamps don’t teach it at all. Given the market share that .NET has in open software developer jobs, there is a large disparity in what schools and coding bootcamps teach, and what the market is looking for.

    Redwood Code Academy is working to be the leading coding bootcamp that also teaches .NET.

    As an educator, how do you build a .NET curriculum from scratch? Are you receiving feedback from potential employers?  

    Our .NET curriculum was built from our experience developing for the platform since it’s alpha days in 2001. Our educators and curriculum authors, including myself, have built multi-million-dollar products from the ground up using .NET as well as platforms for businesses such as enterprise space exploration companies, and financial underwriting engines. Through building the teams to build these systems, we know what is important to teach and how to lead someone from A-Z in these technologies. We also have a cognitive science specialist on the team who uses the generalized theories of learning to ensure that our methods can be understood by a wide range of students.

    Our employer network also uses .NET extensively in addition to many other technologies.  They continue to keep us up to date on what the needs are of the market and we adjust accordingly.

    On top of .NET, what other technologies are you excited about right now? What do you think is “next” in web development?

    React is huge right now and it’s only getting bigger. We are very excited to now include this as a core part of our curriculum and to stay current with its progress. React Native has become a go-to platform for mobile development – you can learn React for web development and essentially get mobile development with it.

    The most recent addition to our curriculum and something we are excited about is GraphQL.  We are also super excited to offer this as a part of the program as it solves so many real-world problems. Our employers are also happy we are teaching it as many of them use it in their core products.

    Becoming a Good .NET Developer

    What skills and qualities do you need to be a good .NET developer? Are there specific things you’re looking for in the interview process?

    Being a good .NET developer isn’t any different from being a good all-around developer. During our interview process, we are looking for the ability to understand abstract logical concepts. Someone who likes puzzles, taking things apart, or is interested in the way things work, is going to succeed in our program and as a professional developer. We look for those traits in various ways including an in-person interview and technical assessment.

    What would make someone stand out in a .NET developer job interview process?

    In an interview for a .NET position, interviewers will usually look for some basic object-oriented knowledge and how it relates to C#. Understanding the core principles of OOP and how they relate to C# syntax will get you a long way in an entry level .NET interview.

    Because .NET is such a wide-ranging platform, you usually will have to pick a niche within it once you start progressing beyond the entry-level positions. Picking that niche around web development will often be the best choice because it is the most sought-after skill set on the market right now. Understanding ASP.NET and its many components will make a candidate stand out in those interviews.

    For people who are interested in learning more about .NET, what resources or meetups do you recommend?

    Because .NET is such a proven technology with a long history, there are tons of online resources to learn more about it. Microsoft’s own documentation is some of the best you will find and you can often get entire example applications and walkthroughs through their docs. For instance, if you were interested in the open source .NET platform (.NET Core), you can find out all about it and get started with Microsoft’s .NET Tutorial.

    As for meetups, most software meetups will be applicable to .NET as the technologies involved will touch .NET in some way, or can be used through the .NET ecosystem. Technossus, a software consulting agency with a local office, often hosts meetups with topics in relation to .NET which are highly recommended.

    Read Redwood Code Academy reviews on Course Report. Check out the Redwood Code Academy website.

    About The Author

    https://course_report_production.s3.amazonaws.com/rich/rich_files/rich_files/4484/s300/lauren-stewart-headshot.jpg-logo

    Lauren is a communications and operations strategist who loves to help others find their idea of success. She is passionate about techonology education, career development, startups, and the arts. Her background includes career/youth development, public affairs, and philanthropy. She is from Richmond, VA and now currently resides in Los Angeles, CA.

  • How Isaac Got a Job at Microsoft after Redwood Code Academy

    Imogen Crispe7/31/2018

    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!

    Q&A

    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.

    I attended community college and took computer science classes learning HTML, CSS, JavaScript – really basic courses – and found software engineering and web development very interesting. But I soon noticed that the courses were all outdated, and that community colleges often can’t stay up to date with newer technologies. I started learning about other JavaScript frameworks, which I couldn’t learn about in school. When I was researching, I heard about coding bootcamps.

    During and after community college, I did a bit of web development. I built a website for a plumbing company using Wordpress, HTML, and a little bit of JavaScript. I also managed a database for a legal nonprofit, maintaining information and databases, working with server-side stuff using Microsoft Access, running queries, and producing reports.

    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.

    Find out more and read Redwood Code Academy reviews on Course Report. Check out the Redwood Code Academy website.

    About The Author

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    Imogen is a writer and content producer who loves writing about technology and education. Her background is in journalism, writing for newspapers and news websites. She grew up in England, Dubai and New Zealand, and now lives in Brooklyn, NY.

  • Alumni Spotlight: Quinton Fults of Redwood Code Academy

    Lauren Stewart2/24/2017

    redwood-code-academy-alumni-spotlight-quinton-fults

    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.

    Q&A

    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?

    The consensus I'd gotten for full stack development was that there are certain languages that are very, very big right now, they're not going away, and you're going to want to know them. Some of the big things I was looking for was anything that was going to teach me JavaScript as well as Angular framework, C#, and .NET. Seeing that Redwood taught those subjects was very useful.

    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?

    Yes. The cool thing about the course was that there were three end of phase projects. Your phase three project was your capstone project. The course is structured in a way that each phase’s project builds on top of the other. So you learn HTML, CSS, and JavaScript in phase one and you learn application with just that. In phase two, you learn C# and .NET, so you create an application using HTML, CSS, JavaScript, C# and SQL in .NET. Our phase three capstone projects introduced Node JavaScript into our work.

    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.

    Read Redwood Code Academy reviews on Course Report. Check out the Redwood Code Academy website!

    About The Author

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    Lauren is a communications and operations strategist who loves to help others find their idea of success. She is passionate about techonology education, career development, startups, and the arts. Her background includes career/youth development, public affairs, and philanthropy. She is from Richmond, VA and now currently resides in Los Angeles, CA.

  • Founder Spotlight: Harrison Spain of Redwood Academy

    Imogen Crispe9/26/2016

    harrison-spain-redwood-code-academy-instructor-spotlight

    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?

    Redwood Code Academy offers a full stack software development course. We teach HTML, CSS, Javascript, and AngularJS for front-end. And for the back end, we're using the .NET stack, which means we're teaching C#, ASP.NET, MVC, using Xamarin, and C# for mobile development.

    We chose that route because the only way to be marketable in web development is to learn HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. There are other options, but in terms of teaching software development fundamentals, we don't necessarily think language is the most important part of that. It's more about teaching the concepts. We're teaching C#, but the reason we use it is because it's an easy language to teach the fundamentals with.

    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?

    Absolutely. We have a few different paths people can go through to get that fundamental pre-work done. We give them access to exercises on the basics of software development, what the language syntax is in JavaScript and C#, and then some basic HTML syntax. We can track their progress, and we give recommendations for what's next to make sure they're as prepared as possible when they step into the class.

    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?

    We're actually going to be hosting a Javascript 101 event and a C# 101 event on nights and weekends coming up in October. We're going to be hosting those regularly in the evenings, and you can find out if it's something that really interests you.

    Find out more about Redwood Code Academy on Course Report. Check out the Redwood Code Academy website.

    About The Author

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    Imogen is a writer and content producer who loves writing about technology and education. Her background is in journalism, writing for newspapers and news websites. She grew up in England, Dubai and New Zealand, and now lives in Brooklyn, NY.

  • July 2016 Coding Bootcamp News Roundup + Podcast

    Imogen Crispe8/1/2016

    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!

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