Sabio is a developer community offering 12-week full-time coding bootcamps in Los Angeles and Orange County. Sabio focuses on .NET/C# and trains across the full-stack in Mobile, Front End, Back End, Source Control, Database and Development platforms. Its project-based learning curriculum and pedagogy provide a superior training experience that exposes its students to the full software development life cycle.
The Sabio curriculum prepares students for entry-level developer jobs by including a real-world project for a client and 4 weeks of career support and guidance. Students also get 6-12 weeks of instructor-led pre-work before starting the intensive bootcamp. All students have access to Sabio's extended mentorship and their professional development program for five years. Sabio instructors have over 100 years of combined professional software engineering experience. Their commitment to small classrooms and expert instruction gives students an edge when competing in the job market.
Sabio is approved by the state of California and is also a founding member and current board member of CIRR, a coding industry organization seeking to provide transparency in outcomes reporting, illustrating their commitment to student outcomes and truth in advertising. Sabio innovates based on experience, expertise and market knowledge.
Applicants do not need previous programming experience, but individuals with prior experience are placed in a faster track than others. The application process at Sabio identifies motivated and engaged students from a variety of backgrounds. Past students include those with advanced degrees in Computer Science, Engineering but also Musicology, Psychology, Finance, Mathematics and many others. All applicants should have a great personality, work ethic, and ability to solve basic logic problems.
Recent Sabio News
- Data Dive: How Much Can You Earn After Coding Bootcamp?
- The New Cyber Security Curriculum at Sabio
- Alumni Spotlight: Philip Percesepe of Sabio
On-Time Graduation Rate
180 Day Employment Breakdown:
Notes & Caveats:
Full Stack Weekday Training (12 weeks)
- SkillsFund - http://sabio.skills.fund/
- Pave - http://hello.pave.com/sabio/
- Payment Plan
- Only through financing, not through the institution.
- $500 Course Report Applicant Scholarship $1,000 Jill May Women Scholarship
- Minimum Skill Level
- No programming background required
- Placement Test
- Prep Work
- Minimum of 1 PreWork course (4 weeks) or successfully passing the assessment.
- SkillsFund - http://sabio.skills.fund/
- Pave - http://hello.pave.com/sabio/
- Payment Plan
- Only via financing partners, not directly through the institution.
- $500 - Via Course Report $1,500 for Women via Jills Mays Scholarship
- Minimum Skill Level
- No programming background required
- Placement Test
- Prep Work
- Minimum of 1 PreWork course (4 weeks) or successfully passing the assessment.
In PersonFull Time40Hours/week10 Seats
In PersonFull Time40Hours/week10 Seats
The course will expose you to the many different skills needed by leading Product Managers. We will also be covering "Blockchain for Product Managers" and select top students to have their ideas built out by our Full Stack Developers.
- Not at this time
- Payment Plan
- Minimum Skill Level
- We are looking for people with either the professional or education background that indicates they would thrive in a in a collaborative and challenging environment.
Full Stack Weekday - REMOTE
- SkillsFund - http://sabio.skills.fund/
- Pave - http://hello.pave.com/sabio/
- Payment Plan
- Only through financing, not through the institution.
- $500 Course Report Applicant Scholarship $1,500 Jill May Women Scholarship
- Minimum Skill Level
- No programming background required
- Placement Test
- Prep Work
- Minimum of 1 PreWork course (4 weeks) or successfully passing the assessment.
Full Stack Weekday Training (12 weeks)
- SkillsFund - http://sabio.skills.fund/
- Pave - http://hello.pave.com/sabio/
- Payment Plan
- Only through financing, not through the institution.
- $500 Course Report Applicant Scholarship $1,000 Jill May Women Scholarship
- Minimum Skill Level
- No programming background required
- Placement Test
- Prep Work
- Minimum of 1 PreWork course (4 weeks) or successfully passing the assessment.
- Yes Via Skills Fund and SallieMae
- Payment Plan
- Yes Via Skills Fund & SallieMae
- $500 Course Report $1000 Woman in Tech
- Minimum Skill Level
- Placement Test
- Prep Work
- Yes, in person or via remote login
$500 Sabio Scholarship
Sabio sees an imbalance in the current tech landscape, and their mission is to strategically train underrepresented and underemployed individuals to diversify the technology workforce. The Course Report community will get an exclusive $500 off tuition to Sabio!
- Offer is only valid for new applicants to Sabio. Applicants who have already submitted an application cannot claim this scholarship.
- All courses in Los Angeles
- Full Stack Weekday Training (12 Weeks) (Orange County)
- Full Stack Weekday Training (12 weeks) (Seattle)
$500 Jill H. Mays Women in Tech Scholarship
The Jill H. Mays Scholarship is open to all individuals that identify as women. The Course Report community will get an exclusive $500 off tuition to Sabio!
Offer is only valid for new applicants to Sabio. Applicants who have already submitted an application cannot claim this scholarship. It cannot be combined with the other $500 CR Scholarship (you must pick one or the other).
- All courses in Los Angeles
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Our latest on Sabio
What will your salary be after coding bootcamp? Coding bootcamps are judged almost entirely by their ability to find students high-paying jobs as software developers. Some schools release data about alumni jobs, others offer money-back job guarantees or deferred tuition, but how much are students earning when they graduate and how does their earning potential change as they gain experience? Every year, Course Report surveys real coding bootcamp graduates to better understand who is graduating from coding bootcamps and how successful they are in the workforce. In our second post of this series, we explore the lucrative data about salaries after a coding bootcamp.Continue Reading →
With a growing skills shortage in cyber security, Los Angeles technology bootcamp Sabio is launching a cyber security bootcamp in addition to their well-established web development program. Experienced IT and security professional Gwenique Williams recently joined Sabio to build and teach the new curriculum. Gwenique tells us what technologies and skills the program covers, why background checks and security clearances can be important when working to protect sensitive or confidential information, and what sort of companies are hiring for various cyber security roles.
What you need to know:
- The 20-week part-time program starts in February 2018
- The 12-week full-time program starts in July 2018
What’s your background and experience? How did that lead to you joining Sabio?
I first enjoyed coding in fourth grade when my math teacher taught us Dot programming language. Growing up, I learned how to program a Texas Instruments computer, and how to use programs like Wordperfect and Soft Pro, which led to some great part-time jobs throughout high school.
I studied IT Administration and Management at UC Riverside, but didn’t initially finish that degree. My husband was a programmer and electrical engineer for the Navy and wanted me to stay home with the kids. When my first child was five, I realized I still loved computing, and taught myself enough to get jobs in technology training at CompUSA and SBC Pacific Bell (now AT&T). I eventually worked full-time in training and operations management at AT&T for 16 years. They also paid for me to finish my IT degree.
I eventually left AT&T and started working with government contracts. Over time, working in IT systems, I had realized the importance of cyber security, so I went back to school to get my master's degree in Cyber and Electronic Operations and Warfare.
Because you have a traditional undergrad and masters degree, what did you initially think of the coding bootcamp model?
Right now there are 300,000 unfilled cyber security jobs – there just aren't enough skilled candidates to fill those positions. So I thought the idea of a bootcamp was amazing.
Cyber security should work in conjunction with any IT position because these threats can affect any IT network. Students these days already have a lot of hands-on experience with the internet. At Sabio, we can give them the skills to help organizations prepare for attacks on their network or protect themselves from internal or external threats.
Having worked in cyber security, do you think this is a skill that can be taught in a coding bootcamp?
Sabio wants to meet the needs of the tech community and open up a new career option for their students. Right now, there are a lot of individuals who would love to go into cyber security, but maybe they can't afford to pay for a bachelor's degree, or they don't have the time. Other people are looking for a career change and this course could be it. Cyber security is a field where you can learn the key concepts, demonstrate your skills, and be immediately hired.
Which Cyber Security technologies and skills will the Sabio program cover?
I'm currently enrolled in a Cyber and Electronic Operations and Warfare master's program, so a lot of the curriculum is inspired by what I’ve learned. Sabio is focused on getting students to master the hands-on aspect of the cyber security field.
We'll start off at a high level with an intro to cyber security because we don't assume that anyone knows what cyber security is. We go over some of the basic concepts and why we need it. Then we will define what security management is, talk about risk assessment, how to identify threats, and some of the existing vulnerabilities today.
Security refers to protecting your network inside of an external network. In protecting it, you want to make sure that each person working at a company understands that. Otherwise, an employee could not understand the risks that are involved with email, how attacks occur, and how to do risk assessment tests.
Students will learn to protect a network through ethical hacking, so we will have students sign a disclosure about ethical hacking. We'll touch on VMWare, cloud networking, AWS, and a little bit about Linux and Windows operating systems.
So programming will be a part of the cyber security curriculum?
Yes, mostly because you need to know how to scripts to listen in on a network through the command line. We can do some testing using scanning software like Nessus or Wireshark. We will probably teach students some of those tools, but we also want to teach them how to program. If we rely solely on a tool like Nessus or Wireshark, then we’re relying on the tools working properly.
You mentioned ethical hacking – how do you teach students to be careful with their new skills?
A cyber security professional will likely involve getting access to confidential or sensitive information, and logging into other users’ computers. We teach students that they must always get proper authorization and understand that the tools and techniques they are learning are similar to teaching someone how to break into someone's home or their car. These techniques can be against the law if you're not practicing them ethically. That can be shocking to some students at first.
We also have to make sure that the students we admit to Sabio are suitable for these sensitive tasks.
Are there any prerequisites to take the cyber security course? Do applicants need security clearance or a tech background?
First, we will be hand-picking the students, and students will need to sign disclosures. A lot of veterans who come to Sabio actually already have security clearances, which is really good. Most jobs in cyber security do require some form of security clearance. You’re not allowed to have a criminal background in a lot of InfoSec jobs, so that is something that we will easily screen for through background checks.
As an instructor, and because of my own background, I don’t think applicants necessarily need any prior tech knowledge. They just need to be ready to learn everything that they possibly can and be willing to study on their own too. If they do have a technical background, it will be easier for them to understand these concepts. For example, a programmer can create scripts. But for someone who doesn't understand programming, we’ll teach them the basics of Linux, basic commands, how to create a file, and some Bash.
Will students be learning cyber security through lectures or projects?
Because this is a bootcamp, we’ll use a combination of 30% lecture and 70% hands-on instruction where we will do labs to demonstrate concepts. We will define a term and then apply that lecture to hands-on tools
For example, we’ll learn about Amazon Web Services (AWS), and then use our own network access to use AWS or VMWare and do penetration testing.
Will Sabio cyber security students work on real client projects as part of the course?
We are working to get clients and government contract that have a need for protecting their data or training their staff in cyber security. Students can work with clients remotely or on-site to do hands-on work, based on their client’s needs.
Really great students may be ready to go on site to the client's office, and Sabio would support those students to make sure they are up to speed on the client’s software and needs. There are so many companies who have a need for cyber security, but they don't have the budget to hire a full-time role.
You had a lot of training experience before you joined Sabio. What’s your own personal teaching style?
I have trained beginner, intermediate, and advanced students. I really enjoy breaking a topic down to the point where it's so simple that anyone could make sense out of it. Sometimes that can be a little bit frustrating for someone who is extremely advanced, so I will tailor the lesson based on who's in the class.
Overall, I’m trying to teach students that they now have the keys to some very powerful skills that they need to use appropriately.
What is the goal for a student who graduates from the Sabio cyber security bootcamp? What sort of jobs can they get and will they get any kind of certification?
There are different types of roles that require cyber security skills, so we’ve designed the curriculum by looking at requirements in unfilled job descriptions. I’ve looked back at every job I've ever applied for and thought about what they were looking for, so that we’re teaching Sabio students exactly what they need to get jobs in cyber security.
There are a lot of different jobs out there that require the skills we are teaching. You could work in penetration testing, or do training for a company, or you may be printing reports that another department implements patches for. These include Technical Analyst Information Security Control, Transport Engineer, Cyber Security Threat Analyzer, Infrastructure Project Manager, Fiber Security Analyst, Technical Support Representative, Cyber Security Consultant, and more. Some of the jobs are permanent where they want you in-house, or they might want you on a short-term contract.
There are a few different certifications out there, but our goal is to eventually get students certified as CISSP (Certified Systems Security Professional) Security Engineers or similar.
What sort of companies need these cyber security specialists?
Every company needs cyber security! AT&T has a lot of open positions in cyber security. Others include the Pacific Gas and Electric Company, GE, and just about any company that has an IT department. Healthcare departments or some research companies are now being required to hire cybersecurity staff because they have so many documents which, based on HIPAA, have to be protected and secured.
If you have a security clearance, organizations like the CIA are looking for individuals with cyber security skills. A website called clearancejobs.com is great for people who have military backgrounds to find cyber security job listings.
A lot of cyber security tasks are becoming automated with artificial intelligence, but companies still need individuals like us to actually program all of these robots and maintain them. For an individual who is looking for a new career where they can learn, get paid well, and keep doing on a long-term basis, this is the way that our world is going.
How will Sabio help students to find jobs in cyber security?
We will do mock interviewing to give students an idea of the questions they will be asked during an interview. We’ll assess resumes to make sure they show all of the skills they learned at Sabio and their past experiences.
We also teach soft skills. It's one thing to understand how the computer works, but it's another thing to deal with how human beings work. It’s very important to have a good understanding of body language, how the corporate workforce operates, how to fit in, and work in a team. I’ll teach a team lab where students work in groups of 2-3 people on an attack-prevention scenario.
Are there meetups or intro classes that you suggest for beginners in cyber security?
At Sabio, we host Saturday classes from 9am to 5pm to introduce prospective students to cyber security.
As Philip Percesepe was transitioning out of the Marine Corps he came up with an exciting tech startup idea. He realized he needed more specialized technical skills to build the idea, so he used the GI Bill to enroll at Sabio coding bootcamp in Los Angeles. Since he graduated in February 2017, Philip has continued to work on his startup, Knot My Yacht (like Airbnb for yachts), and has launched a couple of other businesses. Philip tells us how his military background was helpful both at Sabio and in a startup environment, and why going into tech through a bootcamp is a “no brainer” for other veterans.
Tell me about your background in the military and beyond, and how your path led you to join a bootcamp?
What is Knot My Yacht?
We created a technology solution for the recreational boating and yachting industry, which is currently extremely fragmented and archaic – they still use scheduling sheets and log books. So I came up with a web-based infrastructure to allow companies to run their businesses, check their metrics, and check fleet management. Then as a byproduct of that product, we created an “Airbnb for yachts.” All that data allowed me to put a list of all the available boats, yachts, and jet skis into an application where you can see boat availability in real time. So theoretically these products should replace yacht companies’ entire operating procedures with a tech platform. We did our hard launch on Veterans Day.
I personally learn the best in a hands-on environment. There are only so many YouTube videos I can watch, and only so many Codecademy exercises I can do to pick up everything. To become relevant in the technology industry, I needed to have a much more in-depth knowledge of software and web development. I realized that going through a coding bootcamp had to be my next step if I wanted to have any kind of credibility as a technical co-founder.
What made you choose Sabio as a way to upskill, rather than another bootcamp, going back to college, or teaching yourself?
I was living in LA, which is where Sabio is based, so that was one of the first things. Around the time I was shopping around different bootcamps, Sabio had just started accepting the GI bill, which was huge for me as a veteran. Because of the amount of time I’d served in the Marines, the GI Bill covered my entire tuition for Sabio. Sabio also had some really good reviews, and when I spoke to Liliana and Gregorio on the phone, I clicked with them both and knew it was the right move. I also considered a bootcamp in Colorado which also accepted the GI Bill, but logically it made more sense for me to stay right here in LA.
What was the application and interview process like for you? Did you find it difficult?
What was your cohort like at Sabio?
It was a very diverse melting pot of people from all sorts of backgrounds, and countries all over the world. There were 4 or 5 other veterans in my class, as well as people with math degrees, finance degrees, people from marketing, and people with no experience. There are no two people going through Sabio who have the same background.
What was the learning experience like at Sabio? What was a typical day and teaching style?
Once you enter the immersive bootcamp, you’re basically working a job and the typical day is modeled around startup life. We show up at 9am, have stand up with the lead developer who is our instructor and the other developers in the cohort, to talk about plans for the day, what we accomplished the day before, and iron out our tasks. Then we jump right into coding. We learn as we go, so every day we have a different task to be applied to the project we are building. We would get lectures during the day, but 90-95% of the day is spent writing code. We worked on a real project that got deployed and is actually being used right now.
Can you tell me more about the real world project you were working on and what that process was like?
Sabio students work on real-world projects with real clients. The lead instructor handles architecture and tasking; and us, the developers, take a piece of the puzzle and create it. The final result is an actual operating, deployed platform that is scalable. The project my cohort worked on was called Print Collab, an online marketplace where users can upload artwork, and buyers can search through the site, look at artwork and buy it.
How do you think your background in the military prepared you for something as intense as a coding bootcamp?
Being in the Marines, you’re always ready, so the hours weren’t very difficult for me – I was expecting it to be pretty tough. You do need to be resilient because Sabio is pretty challenging. Then, as a Junior Developer, you’re still in learning mode, so you really have to be humble, understand that it’s going to be tough, that you will struggle, and you need to power through. I think the resilience and persistence that I learned in the military definitely translated into tech.
Programming isn’t just sitting down, writing code and creating a product. There is a lot of problem solving, research, digging, and persistence required; it’s all about resilience. We had a “no fail” mentality in the Marine Corp, so when you’re programming, you need to have the same mentality. Probably the most important thing that transferred over was the ability to use critical thinking to solve problems. In the Marine Corp, I was constantly fixing problems and preparing for missions and tasks. When you’re doing web development, you’re critically thinking the entire time, and everything you do is problem solving.
How did Sabio prepare you for job hunting? Were they able to help you with your entrepreneurial goals?
They do spend a lot of time throughout the program preparing you for your career. They say, “Listen, you’re coming here because you want to be a developer and to get a job.” I wasn’t necessarily looking for a job as programmer, I just wanted more experience in tech. I saw myself more as an entrepreneur. Gregorio comes from a background of successful tech companies, and so his real-world experience was really valuable for me. We had one-on-ones with Gregorio and Liliana all the time, and they just made themselves very available. I can definitely credit much of my success to them.
In addition to Knot My Yacht, it sounds like you are involved in a number of different tech ventures. What have you been up to since you graduated?
I had some partners whom I linked up with before I went through Sabio’s program, and we set up a private equity fund focused on service-based businesses. I handle the tech portion, and we have a portfolio of companies like insurance brokerages, web development companies, corporate risk, a law firm, and other service-based companies. Knot My Yacht is part of that portfolio, and we have a few other side projects going on that will launch in 2018.
How is Knot My Yacht going and how big is your team now?
We’re bringing on a fourth member to our team soon for sales and marketing. We recently brought on our first developer, and our CTO is a Harvard computer scientist with almost 20 years of experience, who is currently a VP at a Fortune 500 company. He and our developer will continue to work on the project, identify bugs, and come up with plans for scaling. After the hard launch, we’ll go into implementation mode for the rest of the year. We are doing additional testing from now until February 2018. We are also working with some investors right now to close a series A round.
Are you doing any programming yourself?
I had to take a step back from actual development to manage the direction of the company. Right now, I’m sitting as CEO and sole founder. I’m not doing a whole lot of coding, but I did have a part in getting this platform online and getting it hosted.
Since you graduated and continued to work on Knot My Yacht, how do you feel your skills from Sabio have been useful in your role?
We built Knot My Yacht using the MEAN Stack, using Node, a Mongo database, Express for routing, and Angular JS, which is what I learned at Sabio. Even though I’m not programming day-to-day, the technical skills I learned at Sabio have been very important because I’m also running the tech portion of our portfolio. For example, we started another company for our portfolio called Acelly, which provides tech and business solutions like custom CRM development, and building apps for clients. Having these tech skills allows me to create the architecture needed to pass projects off to our in-house dev teams. That has been worth its weight in gold.
Wow, it sounds like you’re busy! How much time do you spend on each venture that you’re involved with?
Luckily the Marine Corps trained me to have a lot of bandwidth. I definitely spend most of my time doing Knot My Yacht and Acelly, then I have to have a hand in the basic operations of the private equity firm. I just hired a portfolio manager to run my operations during the day, so I can shift more focus to Knot My Yacht, as we prepare to launch. I’m also in the process of identifying some people who are strong in dev ops to help with some of the daily workload for these entities.
Do you think you would be where you are if you hadn’t gone to Sabio? How have you grown as a developer and an entrepreneur?
I do credit Sabio for much of my success. If I had tried to dive deeper into tech on my own, I would have faced many roadblocks. Having gone through Sabio and learned actual programming languages and actual problem solving, I look at things from more of an engineering standpoint now. A lot of problems that I solved have really seasoned me and prepared me to take on various challenges. I credit a lot of what has been going on to Gregorio and Liliana – I know I’m not the only one who had a great experience.
How do you stay involved with Sabio? Have you kept in touch with instructors or other alumni?
I definitely keep in touch with other fellows, and I still see Liliana and Gregorio on a regular basis. I’m actually in the process of converting one of my companies into a non-profit recruiting company, and we are going to focus on helping veterans find tech jobs. Once it’s fully up and running we will be able to help place veterans who are graduating, into tech jobs, all over Southern California. My goal is to help Sabio place veterans into some good gainful tech jobs.
I talked with the Sabio crew the other day, and right now they have an entire cohort of 12 to 15 people who are all veterans. Southern California is the most densely populated region for veterans in the country, and Sabio is the only one in the area offering a GI Bill-approved bootcamp. We have a bunch of military bases like Camp Pendleton, Miramar, 32nd St Naval Base, and El Toro out here, so service members are constantly transitioning, and Sabio is getting a lot of traction with veterans.
What advice do you have for other veterans coming out of the military who are figuring out if tech should be the next step in their career?
I’m definitely a big advocate for technology as a whole, because that’s the way the world is going. Tech is becoming the biggest industry and it’s just going to continue to grow. So when I talk to people who are looking to transition out of the military, I always recommend they look into getting into tech. Sabio has served me very well, and I recommend that transitioning service members at least check it out if they want to do something with tech or programming. One of the biggest things service members look for is a seamless transition into school, education, or a job. The way Sabio is modeled with the GI Bill to cover tuition, and actual job assistance; it’s a no brainer for veterans. I don’t know of a faster or more efficient route to getting into technology and becoming a programmer. Dollar for dollar it’s the smartest thing you can do, and down the road it will continue to benefit you.
No matter your background, you have to put in the time, focus, pay attention to what you’re doing, think critically like an engineer, and look for ways to solve problems. One of the best ways to solve problems is to take a step back, see the big picture, then fix things in a modular way. Plan everything you need to do, then pick it apart to come up with the best, most efficient solution.
Read Sabio reviews on Course Report. Check out the Sabio website!
Should you learn React? Sabio coding bootcamp graduate Sara Inés Calderón uses React every day in her engineering role at Musx in Austin. Here, Sara shares her four top benefits for learning React (plus a couple of inevitable drawbacks), and how you can use React in your own development projects.Continue Reading →
With clients like Sony Pictures, Warner Brothers, and AT&T, the five (5!) Sabio grads who landed jobs at PDG Consulting are working on some seriously exciting projects. We sat down with HR Lead Domenick Calise to find out how he works with Sabio to recruit Associate Software Engineers onto the technical team at PDG. Read on to learn what separates Sabio graduates from other bootcampers, how Sabio developers have adapted to learn new programming languages on the job, and why PDG Consulting will be hiring more Sabio graduates in future!
Tell us about PDG and your role there in talent acquisition.
PDG is a software development consulting firm specializing in media and entertainment. We work with some of the biggest players in media and entertainment: Warner Brothers, CBS, Sony Pictures, Fox, NBC, and AT&T. We develop software that helps them track and manage different aspects of their business like IP rights licensing and distribution, delivery of targeted ads, as well as Financial Incentives.
I wear a lot of hats at PDG, but mostly handle our People Operations.
How many Sabio graduates have you hired so far?
I hired our first Sabio fellow in September 2016 after connecting with him on LinkedIn. I actually had no idea what Sabio was! I brought him in to interview and he met with one of our senior developers at the time who was really impressed with his knowledge and said, "This guy really knows this stuff."
After that, one of our senior developers left PDG to work at Sabio as an instructor. I stayed in touch with him, and now, every time Sabio has a graduating class, I go meet with a handful of the students. I tell them a little bit about PDG and give them a little bit of interview experience.
Since September, we've hired five developers in total from Sabio including Ariana Rodriguez.
How large is the dev team at PDG?
We have around 65 employees right now, and about 90% of them are developers. We're a pretty dev-heavy team, but also have some business analysts and a QA team.
What roles are you hiring those Sabio graduates into? Are they going into internships?
We hire Sabio grads directly into full-time, Associate Software Engineer roles.
At Sabio, students learn .NET – does that line up pretty closely with the languages your developers work in at PDG?
Have you had to convince your company (or yourself) to hire developers without that traditional computer science degree?
I didn't really have a difficult time trying to “sell it.” We’re a small tech company in LA. When you’re in the shadow of giants in a booming tech scene, you have to get out of the office and build your brand in the community. I go to college recruiting fairs, meetups, utilize referrals, and I recruit from LinkedIn and Stack Overflow. I tap into as many unique pools that I can get to. As long as there is a talent pool, I'm there. Sabio has been a great opportunity to build that brand in the local community.
Once you get the courage to hire your first bootcamp grad, I bet a lot of companies go back and hire more. They're worth taking a chance on.
Did you notice differences in hiring from a bootcamp versus those more traditional channels?
I think bootcampers are absolutely valuable. The owners of PDG are all very smart, and they’re confirming that the students we're hiring from Sabio are very bright.
One of the things that a coding bootcamper lacks versus more experienced developers or Computer Science graduates is an in-depth understanding of object-oriented programming principles. And that just means it takes a bit longer to train, and that's not an issue for us. Our Sabio new hires spend a month or two with one of our Directors of Engineering, they get a good feel for some of the systems that we’re working with, what the code looks like, and who our clients are. So it might take a little bit of time to get them up to speed, but as far as their skill and their talent, Sabio grads are spot on.
There are a lot of coding bootcampers competing for jobs these days. What stood out about the developers that you hired from Sabio?
It sounds cliché, but I’m looking for candidates who will perform very well in our environment. Whenever I go in to interview, there are at least two students that stand out – whether it’s their personality or culture fit or their sense of passion for tech.
The Sabio students all have really interesting backgrounds. We hired a woman who had experience as a data analyst and then she went back and decided to take a deeper dive in software development and that worked out great. Another one was a Business Analyst prior to Sabio, decided to get more comfortable with code. A lot of the times, coding bootcampers have prior experience within the tech industry and that translates very well.
We don't only hire people who have experience in the tech industry. We hired someone who went to school for Economics and another who studied Applied Science.
Have you hired from other coding bootcamps yet?
I have not. I've interviewed applicants from Hack Reactor and General Assembly, and we give them the same whiteboard challenges that we give all of our applicants. But Sabio students’ technical skills seem to be a bit stronger.
Do you pay a referral fee for your Sabio hires?
No, Sabio just invited me into their community. For them, it's more important that the Sabio fellows are finding jobs, rather than Sabio making money from referrals. So they haven't charged us a dollar and that’s been great.
Could you give us an example of a project that a Sabio student is working on now at PDG? What do they work on day-to-day?
Three of our Sabio developers are embedded with the same client and working on a business intelligence project. They're doing an ERP implementation and then they're building custom reporting as well as a portal in C#. One of them is working in SQL and the other is focusing more on the front-end.
Another Sabio developer is embedded at Fox and she is working on their IP rights licensing and distribution. Something interesting is that she's actually working in Java, even though all of her experience is in C#. She got thrown into the fire a little but from my understanding, she's doing really well. We were able to bring her onto that project and nurture her, so she's in good hands.
We have another developer at Sony Pictures, working in Java as well and working on new functionality within an application that we've already built.
It can be tough to transition from a coding bootcamp to a developer job. How do you ensure that new hires are supported when they get to PDG?
I think that the best way to learn is by doing. Our new hires are always paired with a senior developer or put on projects where there is an opportunity for mentorship. We have a little bit of flexibility and we take the time to be patient and understand that they're going to make a few mistakes.
There's never an instance where a new developer is thrown into a brand new client on a team of two and they're just going to be up a creek without a paddle. We do our best to ensure that the projects we're placing any of our entry level developers on are ones that have support readily available.
Have any of your Sabio hires been promoted or been given more responsibility since you started hiring from Sabio?
Gilbert is doing a great job and recently got a title bump. We just started hiring Sabio grads in September, so nobody has been promoted yet. But I get great feedback from clients on all of our Sabio hires, so there's no doubt in my mind that they're going to be moving up the chain.
Is there a feedback loop in place? Do you get to give feedback on the Sabio curriculum?
Yeah, Sabio asks me for feedback all the time. So far I haven't had any feedback because everyone's been doing such a great job. The only thing that Sabio grads lack is work experience. I mean, a bootcamp is trying to pack four years' worth of education into six months total. It's tough. What I like about Sabio is that the students actually get experience working on real projects. In a CS degree, you study theories and methodologies before you start practicing. That’s an advantage, but Sabio grads are getting hired and they've been doing a great job.
Sabio’s placement rate is over 90%. So even if we can't hire a Sabio developer, I know that someone else will, and then they may end up back at PDG in a couple of years. My biggest advice to Sabio students is to get as much practice as you can, get a little bit of exposure and understand the methodologies within the object-oriented programming.
Will you hire from Sabio in the future?
Of course, I will!
Do you have advice for other employers who are thinking about hiring from a coding bootcamp or thinking about hiring from Sabio?
Honestly, I think it comes down to just giving coding bootcampers a chance. When I started recruiting and bootcamps were just getting popular, a lot of people were hesitant.
Sometimes you need to go out on a limb and hire someone based on their skills. You will realize it might just take a little bit of hand-holding, but you'll get a quality developer. You just can’t be afraid to give it a go.
Ariana Rodriguez has a degree in Applied Math and was working as a statistical programmer. She had always wanted to be in tech and didn’t think it would be possible without a CS degree. She considered going to grad school to study data science before realizing that she could reach her goal by going to Sabio in Los Angeles. Ariana explains why the real-world project that she worked on at Sabio was so important, how she got her job as a software developer at PDG, and shares her advice for future coding bootcampers.
What were you up to before Sabio?
In college, I majored in Math and learned R. In my senior year, I figured out that I wanted to pursue programming, but it was a little too late to change my major. After college, I was working as a statistical programmer using SAS, which I learned on the job. My job involved a lot of reporting and creating crosstab tables. I knew that this was a technical role, but I wanted to be even more involved in the tech scene. I've always wanted to do computer programming.
What motivated you to do a coding bootcamp?
I was thinking about going to grad school for data science, but realized that was more of a requirement I put on myself than something I was passionate about. I thought that grad school was the only way I could get into programming, but when I met Sabio co-founder Liliana at a tech conference, I realized I had other options. Once I met Liliana, I started researching coding bootcamps and ended up going for it. I started Sabio in January 2017 after four months of pre-work.
Did you ever consider teaching yourself or did you feel like you needed a structured environment to learn in?
Before I started the Sabio pre-work, I did some Codecademy exercises to try to learn the basics of coding. But I’m the sort of person who needs a structured environment to learn in – especially when it's something as difficult as coding. If someone is holding me accountable every day, then I'm going to learn a lot better than by myself.
Did you look at other Los Angeles coding bootcamp options? Why did you choose Sabio?
Yes. I went to an information session for Coding Dojo. It was good, but I asked them about their statistics – how many people get jobs after the bootcamp and graduates’ salaries– and they didn't have that information, which was a bit alarming.
When I went to Sabio, it was very different. They knew all their stats. I really liked that the curriculum was project-based, because I didn't see that in other bootcamps. I feel like that's really important because going into interviews, you’ll actually have some experience to talk about. I just thought Sabio was a better fit for me and it felt more welcoming.
Was it important for you to learn a specific programming language?
No. I knew Sabio had two options: .NET or Node.JS. I chose to learn .NET because I saw a lot more .NET opportunities in the job market. Without a traditional software engineering background, I felt I needed as many job opportunities as I could get when I graduated.
How many people were in your Sabio cohort and how diverse was it in terms of gender, race and backgrounds?
There were 12 of us in the class. In terms of gender, it wasn't very diverse. There were three women in the .NET class, and one woman in the Node class, and the rest were men. But coming from a math background, that's always been my experience, so I wasn't alarmed by the lack of women. There wasn’t much racial diversity either, but I also experienced that in school. There were mostly white and Asian people, and me and another woman were Hispanic.
People came from history majors, finance, English, and there was one other math major. Some people didn't go to college, so there were diverse backgrounds. There was one person who had experience in tech but his background was in older technology, so he was taking Sabio to get accustomed to new coding languages.
How far into the bootcamp were you when you started working on the real world project, and how long did you work on it?
The first week at the Sabio campus, we built a general blog. Then after the second week, we started on the real-world project RetGrid. The product owner, Dan Tutolo, came in and explained his idea. He ran through the storyline for the user and client, and from there, we started building it from scratch with agile scrum methodologies.
The bootcamp is three months long, so we probably worked for about nine weeks on it. We spent the last week and a half on career prep and applying to jobs.
What was the real-world project and what sort of functionality did you build into it?
The product owner, Dan, wanted us to create a real estate app which would encompass every step of buying a home in one app. That included the search, finding your agent, messaging your agent, doing transactions, and keeping track of transactions on the app.
The app was also designed for real estate agents; it allows them to keep track of any milestones they hit, routes they took, and how many miles they drove, and they can send automated emails after a client goes to an open house. The entire buying process for the agent and the client lives in one app – it was a big project.
How did you divide up the tasks amongst your teammates?
Everyone in my cohort worked on different parts of the app. There were lots of components, so our instructor acted as the product manager and created different assignments. He put sprints on our Trello board, which we would pick up as we finished.
What was the learning style like at Sabio? Maybe you can give us an example of a typical day?
You start off your day at 9am with a SCRUM meeting. Each person shares the sprint you're working on, what you want to finish that day, and what you're going to work on in the future. From there, you go to your Trello board and pick a sprint. Each sprint is like an assignment, which you work on for as long as you need to. In each sprint we would usually cover the front end with Angular, the middle tier with C#, the back end, and the database in SQL Server.
Did you have tutorials or lectures from your instructor while you were doing the project sprints?
Yes. Everything we learned was through the real-world class project. If there was a lecture, it was usually related to the project.
After lunch the instructor would sometimes give us a lecture if someone was doing something that deviated from the regular front end to back end motion. Students could also present their work – if someone was working with an API like a Google API or a GreatSchools API, they could show the class their code. Then at night when the instructors would leave, we would sometimes take turns demoing what we worked on during the day.
What technologies did you use to build the project?
How often did you communicate with the product owner during those nine weeks to check in and see if you're on the right track?
For the first four weeks, he came to the classroom every Friday to discuss the product. Then he had a baby, so he was a little absent for two or three weeks. After that, he would come every Wednesday and Friday.
We had a lot of meetings with him. If we had any questions about how he wanted things done or if he wanted them to look a certain way, we would have meetings to discuss that. He allowed us to give our input and build things the way we thought was best. It was really nice of him to give us the opportunity to work with him and collaborate together.
To what stage did you get the project by the time you finished Sabio? Was it ready for launch?
It was just MVP (check it out). Most of the final product was functional. He wanted to add a lot more to it, but we had to stop at a certain point to be able to finish what we had started and make it functional.
The last I heard was that he was going to get funding from a family member and try to keep working on it on his own.
How important is it to be able to show a project like this to employers in interviews?
It felt really important because it shows employers that you've actually been working on something and not just sitting behind a computer, watching videos and doing exercises. It's important to actually apply those skills to something you're creating because that's what you’ll be doing in your job. That project was one of the biggest reasons why I got the job that I did before I graduated.
Congratulations! Can you tell me about your job and how you found it?
We started applying to jobs about two weeks before we graduated. I applied everywhere. I went to probably 10 to 15 interviews and had about 20 phone calls.
Our assistant instructor used to work at PDG (Principal Development Group) so he invited the head of HR, Dom, to come in and interview everyone in the class. He selected a couple of people, including me, to interview at the office. When I went in for my interview, I felt really comfortable because I had met Domenick before. He explained my background and coding experience to the other interviewer, and they asked me to explain my project. When they heard about my project, and found out that students at bootcamps work around 65 to 70 hours a week, they were really impressed. I got a call back two days later, got an offer and accepted.
How's the job going so far?
I started in mid-April, and it’s been good! PDG does entertainment consulting, so they have clients like SONY, CBS, and CW. They're client-based so you go wherever your client is. My current client is the makeup company Jafra Cosmetics, and I'm working out of their downtown office with a team of nine people from PDG.
What kind of work are you doing for Jafra Cosmetics?
I'm on the business intelligence side. They're currently converting into a new system and reported need to be written in SQL Server. I'm writing a lot of queries and store procedures. SQL is what I was strongest at while I was at Sabio, so it worked out well.
Has the PDG team been ramping you up, and mentoring you since you started?
Yeah. They have been showing me how the database is set up and where I can find certain data. I have to talk a lot with the business analyst to make sure I understand what each report is asking for. The store procedures are pretty complicated – I didn't write anything like that at Sabio.
Have you found your experience building that real estate app has been useful so far since you started your job?
Yeah, it has. I was already really comfortable in a project setting, working with people, and doing SCRUM meetings in the mornings. It takes time to feel comfortable talking to people about what you're working on and explaining it. But that is exactly what we did at Sabio.
Have you stayed in touch Sabio and other alumni since you graduated?
We have a Slack channel where we talk to alumni and staff. I get a lot of information through that about upcoming meetups, and what's going on in the tech community. May 6th was the ZipRecruiter hackathon, which I competed in with a bunch of people from my Sabio class.
You mentioned there were only three women in the Sabio class and you had a similar experience in your math class. Is it a similar dynamic at PDG?
Yeah, it is. The company has about 55 people, of which five are women. Three are on the tech team, one is the office manager, and the other one is a business analyst. In the downtown office, I'm the only woman besides the office manager. As a woman in tech, there may be moments when you feel out of place in the beginning. But the thought of being in a field that is male dominated should never deter someone from doing something they love. That feeling definitely goes away and your environment becomes the norm. To me it is now something empowering and I hope more women start to see that.
Sometimes you feel out of your element because you're surrounded by guys who have been doing this for a long time and have degrees in software engineering. I come from a background where I didn't have as many opportunities as other people. I had to work really hard to get to UCLA, and math isn't easy at all. When I left college, figuring out what I wanted to do, and dealing with the fact that I was going to be out of my element for a while, was a little hard. Just like any situation when you're thrown into an environment you're not used to – you have to get accustomed to it. But when you do, it's great.
What advice you have for other people who are considering a coding bootcamp.
My advice would just be "Do what makes you happy.” And if you think that doing a bootcamp like Sabio would put you in a place where you are content with your life and happy to go to work, then I think you should go for it because it's going to be worth it in the end.
I almost went to grad school. One day I was at the doctor's office and heard the receptionist talking about how her parents had encouraged her to study nursing, but she really wanted to be a chef. I thought that was so sad because it wasn't something that she wanted to do. I applied that to my own life and asked myself why I wanted to go to grad school. I came to the conclusion that it wouldn't make me happy. What would make me happy was doing something that I'd been thinking about for a while – going into tech and creating things with code. So I decided to go to Sabio.
Is there anything else you want to add about your experience at Sabio or the project you worked on?
If anyone in my class had any questions about bootcamps or needed advice about jobs, Sabio was very supportive. I had two job offers, and really needed to talk to somebody about what I should do. My parents had never been in that situation before, so it was great to have mentors like Liliana and Gregorio and my instructors to ask for advice about what to do about job offers or even if I wasn’t understanding something. They were really helpful.
What sort of companies hire Sabio grads? We spoke with Betagig co-founders Melissa Hargis and Nicki Klein, to see why they prefer to hire motivated Sabio bootcamp grads to work on their job-shadow-to-hire platform. And get this – these co-founders are also Sabio grads! You may remember how their Hackathon success helped them launch a company of their own. Read on to see the reasons why Sabio grads continue to stand out from the rest!
Tell us about Betagig and your role there.
Nicki: I’m the CEO of Betagig and we help companies implement job shadow-to-hire programs, which is a new, unique, and innovative way of hiring. You’re able to give candidates a realistic job preview and be able to try out candidates before you “buy” them.
Melissa: I’m the CTO of Betagig. I oversee all technology and implementation of our product, and I also code every day on our web app.
How did you come up with the idea to create Betagig?
Nicki: We’re both career changers. We were walking in Golden Gate Park about to participate in a Hackathon that was five days away. Melissa turned to me and said, “ Wouldn’t it be cool if there was an app where you could literally switch lives with someone for the day?” I told her, “no, it would be cool if you could change careers with someone for the day.” We went back and forth on whether it would be cooler to trade jobs or your entire life, and Melissa finally asked me if we were to change careers how could we make that happen. I said job shadowing! The idea for Betagig was created out of this conversation, and we won that Hackathon five days later. I’m actually a four-time career changer, so for me Betagig really hits home.
Melissa: I was a college professor for years before becoming a software engineer. As someone who has experienced first-hand the standard journey from college into a career, and having spoken to numerous students going through the same ordeal, I have strong feelings about how we need to make some serious changes and create transparency when it comes to career development.
You’re both Sabio graduates, but you’ve now started building out your team with other Sabio grads. How many Sabio grads have you hired at Betagig? How are they doing?
Nicki: Betagig is just over a year old and we have a team of seven. We’ve hired two Sabio grads and they are both software engineers who work under Melissa.
Melissa: I interviewed other developers, but it was the Sabio grads who performed best on the coding challenges. On top of that, I know how they’ve been trained and what they know because I’ve been through it myself. These are the devs I want working for us.
What are you looking for in a new hire? Do you notice differences in hiring from a bootcamp (vs. using recruiters, or hiring from colleges etc)?
Nicki: We look for motivated, driven self-starters – people who are able to take on a new project and figure it out. That’s how we do everything since we first started. Neither of us has an extensive amount of software development experience, so we think the best developers are the ones who are the most resourceful.
Have you worked with any other coding bootcamps yet? What stands out about Sabio grads?
Nicki: We hired a developer prior to last year who was not a Sabio grad; he was a bit behind and couldn’t keep up. We interviewed several people, a few of them not from Sabio, and the Sabio grad did the best on the coding challenge, so we hired her. Melissa and I talked a lot about the coding challenge when we developed it. We don’t believe in whiteboarding but candidates work on a project using any tool and then submit the final product within a few days – that’s how we determine whether or not to hire a new employee.
What does the relationship look like between Betatgig and Sabio? Do you pay a referral fee when you hire their graduates or are you paying to be a part of their hiring network?
Nicki: No, we do not pay a referral fee. Since we are Sabio grads ourselves, they are still like family to us. Now after hiring someone else from another bootcamp and seeing the results of the coding challenge – I think Melissa would agree with me that we’d only like to hire from Sabio in the foreseeable future. We will always interview other candidates – Melissa has a relationship with UCSD–so we are open to others. But after seeing the results of the last coding challenge, Sabio grads have been doing the best. We will see what happens in the future.
Melissa: Of course we’re open to hiring engineers from other bootcamps or methods of training, but they would have to outshine the Sabio candidates. Given our success with Sabio, that’s naturally our first go-to spot for hiring devs. Nicki and I are still very much part of the Sabio community and always will be. We were in Cohort 2, so we feel a strong kinship with Sabio, as we were there almost from the beginning.
Are your Sabio grad hires learning new languages at Betagig?
Nicki: Sabio originally only offered the .Net Stack, and now they offer the MEAN Stack as well. We’ve previously hired grads who learned the .Net Stack, but they then learned the MEAN Stack with us at Betagig.
Melissa: Yes, both of our Sabio developers were trained in C#/.Net. We use Node at Betagig, and so both devs started learning and coding in Node the first day on the job. Nicki and I were also trained in C#/.Net at Sabio, but we learned Node on our own in a very short period of time. Not hard!
One of the biggest concerns we hear from bootcamp alumni is how they’ll be supported in continuing to learn in their first jobs. Did your bootcamp hires need extra support or mentorship?
Nicki: Of course, we’ll give them help if they need it, but I would say no, they don’t need extra support at all. Melissa and I both know what they’re capable of because we came out of the same bootcamp and we remember where our knowledge level was when we graduated. They are in good standing in their own right after Sabio.
Melissa: I’m hyper-aware of their development abilities, simply because I went through the same process less than three years ago. I do challenge them, and encourage them to have confidence when I assign a new task outside of their current knowledge. In such cases, I walk them through the architecture and give a high-level overview of the process they should take. Then they’re off and doing it like pros!
Do you have a feedback loop with Sabio at all? Are you able to influence their curriculum if you notice your dev hires are underqualified in a certain area?
Nicki: I did make a request a while back before hiring Sabio grads – my one request was for Sabio grads to learn the Terminal because I didn’t learn the Terminal when I went to Sabio. I’m not sure if it is yet implemented in the curriculum, but we love working with Sabio.
Melissa: I’ve never made any requests of Sabio regarding their curriculum.
What is your advice to other startup founders who are thinking about hiring from a coding bootcamp or Sabio in particular?
Nicki: I would highly recommend hiring bootcamp grads. If you want to try before you buy, check out Betagig to get some good bootcamp hires.
Melissa: I highly recommend it! Coding bootcamp grads get relevant on-the-job type training with the most up-to-date practices and technologies. And they tend to be highly motivated, as most are career changers and have had to make significant sacrifices along with the bold decision to take a leap into a new career.
Learning to code at an intensive bootcamp takes dedication and focus. And even though you’ll reach that finish line (we promise you will!), it’s important to remember that the learning doesn’t end at graduation! Whether you’re acclimating to a new technology stack on the job, or you’ve decided to add to your skillset through online resources, there’s always room to grow. A great developer's job is never done, and the learning will continue. So how do you stay on top of the ever-evolving tech scene? We’ve collected advice from bootcamp alumni and employers in our 8 steps to keep learning after a Coding Bootcamp.Continue Reading →
How do you get a job after coding bootcamp if you have no relevant, real-world work experience? Only 1.4% of bootcampers have worked as developers in the past, but most career-changers have little – if any– client experience when they start looking for a developer job. Some bootcamps help students overcome this hurdle by offering opportunities to work for the bootcamp itself, or with real clients through projects, internships, and apprenticeships. These opportunities can give students substantial experience to add to their portfolios and resumes, and kickstart the job hunt.Continue Reading →
After successfully establishing Sabio’s second campus in Orange County, Aaron Gibson is moving to Seattle to launch the coding bootcamp in a third city. Meetup events have already started at Sabio’s Seattle campus, and the first cohort is due to start in late May 2017. We asked Aaron why the Sabio team chose to expand to Seattle, why Sabio will stand out amongst the other coding bootcamps in Seattle, and whether grads are likely to get hired at local giants Microsoft and Amazon.
Why did the Sabio team decide to expand to Seattle?
Expanding to Seattle is a good idea on several levels. First and probably foremost, Microsoft and Amazon both have world headquarters there, as well as many other technology companies. The demand is there both for people who want to enter the tech industry and also for companies who need to hire programmers. On top of that, we've been getting a lot of requests on our website and via email asking us to open a Seattle campus.
Seattle has a reputation and a history of being a town that's very focused on inclusivity and equality. That really appeals to our principles at Sabio because those are the same principles by which we guide our company.
And on a personal level, I had never actually been to Seattle before. I traveled there for an open house on President’s Day Weekend, and it was an amazing experience. Despite it being a holiday weekend, we had to actually bring in extra tables and chairs to accommodate all of the demand from interested students. I really felt connected to Seattle– the values of the people, the conversations I had– in a way I wasn't expecting. It just has a different vibe than what I’m used to, and I really liked it. So I think Seattle is a good place for Sabio to grow.
There are quite a few coding bootcamps in Seattle already – what will make Sabio standout amongst the competition?
We stand out in a number of ways. First and foremost is our curriculum. There are a lot of bootcamps, but not many of them are teaching the Microsoft Stack, which is strange because Seattle is Microsoft's front yard. Other bootcamps teach Python, for example, which is a very valid language to learn, but if you look at the numbers in the Stack Overflow developer survey, Python was about 12-13% of the market whereas C# Microsoft product accounts for ~31% of the market. There are more jobs available in the stack that we teach. Sabio’s arrival is going to address a vacuum that needs to be filled.
In addition, Sabio has been teaching web development since 2014. We're currently on our 28th cohort. We've got the reputation and the experience that other bootcamps just don't have. We've had great success with our formula in Southern California. I can't imagine we're going to have any less success in Microsoft's hometown.
When we expand to a new city, we’ve got our whole community behind us. There are around 230 people who have already graduated and are out in the workforce as actual web developers. We have the numbers, the experience, and a formula that we know works.
Why are you specifically excited to grow the Sabio community?
I was actually the first instructor at Sabio in Los Angeles when the business was still bootstrapped. Now Sabio has grown to two campuses with five or six senior instructors.
In the year since establishing the Orange County campus, we've doubled our capacity and are hiring more senior instructors. Demand has been off the charts and we've had very good success with getting people hired and we’re seeing increasingly higher salaries, so we're just going to take that same formula and keep applying it.
I have had pretty good success in Orange County, and I'm going to take what I've learned and apply it to the Seattle location. But the stakes are a bit higher this time, and things will be a little more difficult. I'm really looking forward to the challenge.
When will the Seattle campus open?
The pre-work section has already started. Students are doing the pre-work remotely so that when I arrive there in late May, we will be able to just jump right into the bootcamp.
What is the Seattle Sabio campus going to be like? What neighborhood is it in?
Sabio Seattle is in the South Lake Union neighborhood. The campus is in a WeWork coworking building. The thing that really struck me about the office space is how comfortable it is– the youngsters use the word “chill.” There are good amenities like free coffee, free parking, even free beer.
We're going to have our own permanent classroom within the WeWork. Sabio students are usually given keys to the classroom because the bootcamp requires about 70 hours of work every week to pass the program in 12 weeks. The space is going to be similar to our classrooms in Orange County and Culver City. The whole atmosphere in Seattle is a little bit different; it's got its own vibe which I really enjoy.
How many students are you expecting to have in this first cohort?
We keep our cohorts at 10 seats to ensure a high quality. We're expecting to have a full cohort of 10 people in Seattle. We had about 20 people show up to the open house a couple of weeks ago.
Are you the main instructor and will you work with any teacher assistants?
At first, I'm going to be the main instructor for the pre-work and for the bootcamp. We do have some Sabio team members in Seattle to help us set up, but they're both interviewing at Microsoft right now and there’s a good chance they're going to get hired there full time. So it's going to be my job to recruit other instructors to assist me and help me run the Seattle campus. Demand is so high that I think we'll be able to support two or more cohorts very quickly.
Are you're going to be teaching the exact same curriculum as you've been teaching in Orange County and Culver City or will you be tweaking it to suit the Seattle market?
The core of the Sabio curriculum will remain the same. Of course, every single cohort we run is different because we are working on a real project for a real client, but the core skill set that our graduates have as junior developers is going to remain the same.
We will tweak the interview prep portion of our cohort to tailor it a little bit more to the local community because our research indicates that there are certain things that they do a little differently in the Seattle culture compared with Southern California. So we’ll tweak those things to suit the local environment, but we’re not overhauling the whole curriculum. We're just going to add a couple of things to the tail end of it. What those things are, people will have to show up to find out!
Are you going to be looking for local companies whose projects your first cohort can work on?
Yes. The ideal situation is that the students work on projects for local clients so the client can come in and do weekly demos and see our progress.
Right now we're working for a startup in Irvine called Bringpro.com, to build them a new admin platform to help route their delivery trucks. Their plan is to take what our cohort builds and put it into production and start using it in a couple of weeks. So we're doing very cool things with the local startup community, and becoming more and more happy about this side of our business. I don't see any other bootcamps in Seattle or any other city doing anything close to real client work right now.
But we do work with remote clients. We've worked with a former client of mine located in New York City, and with Beauty Streams in Paris, France. It just depends. We use a screen sharing tool on our computers to demonstrate our progress.
How does the Seattle job market compare to the Orange County and LA tech scenes?
The Seattle job market is competitive. You have to really know what you're talking about, and know how to pass a technical interview, to be successful there. What we found at Sabio is that passing the technical interview is really a whole second skill set that you have to learn in addition to programming. That's the way we approach it.
It's competitive because there are a lot of good programmers in Seattle, but at the same time, it is a smaller market. Salaries are higher, and there are still more jobs than developers. When our graduates go into the job market having already worked on a real project for a real client and have their code in production, they tend to get hired.
What companies might be interested in hiring Sabio graduates?
Our intention is to make a lot of noise and place people at companies in the whole spectrum of startups there. We've been in competitive situations before, and we feel very confident of our chances in that type of environment.
What we've seen here in Orange County is that everyone needs developers, not just tech companies. We have people going to landscaping companies, plumbing companies, law offices, real estate offices - many different places. People graduating from Sabio tend to have an advantage because they often have a background in the financial sector, medical sector, or education sector, and then that informs the area that they apply to as a developer.
There are lots of giant companies in the Seattle area. I already mentioned Amazon and Microsoft, but there's also Costco and so many others. I think it's going to take us a minute to work our way up to those higher level companies. But that being said five Sabio alumni have already been working at Microsoft through their Leap Program, a program to increase diversity.
Our intention is to demonstrate that our graduates bring exceptionally high value to their team no matter the size of the company. I feel very confident that within six months to two years, another Sabio graduate will make it to that level in addition to the ones already at Microsoft.
Amazon also recently announced that they want to hire thousands of military veterans to work on their technology for them. Sabio is approved to accept the US GI Bill benefits for veterans, so we are ideally placed to train the veterans for that talent pipeline.
So are there already a few Sabio grads in Seattle? Is there already a little bit of a Sabio network in Seattle?
Yeah, there is. At our open house the other weekend, we had four alumni there. Some of them are working at Microsoft, others are working at other companies.
What are you most looking forward to about moving to Seattle and getting the Seattle campus going?
On a personal level, I'm looking forward to being out of the hustle and bustle of Southern California, and the opportunity to live in a more pristine environment.
On a professional level, I felt very connected to a lot of the people I met at the open house. They've demonstrated that they've got the attitude that they're willing to work hard and put in the effort that it takes to really become a good developer. To me, that's really encouraging. The reception was overwhelmingly positive, and I appreciated that.
It's been a long, hard road to get where we're at, and it feels really good that people recognize that amount of effort and integrity that we've been working hard on.
I love the people I met in Orange County and I'm going to be sorry to go, but we're still connected on our alumni channels. So it's not like I'm going to just disappear from their lives. But I'm very much looking forward, on a professional and personal level, to getting up there and being part of the amazing community in Seattle.
Are there any Sabio meetup events that are already happening in Seattle?
Dan Tutolo was a Chinese linguist in the U.S. Army, then worked as an Oracle Administrator and learned SQL before deciding to become a web developer. As a Military Veteran, he chose to enroll at Sabio in Los Angeles, partly because the school accepts the GI Bill, and because he would learn by working on a real-world project. Dan tells us about the process to apply for GI Bill funding, and how current Sabio students are now building Dan’s own website as their real world project!
What’s your educational and career background before you enrolled at Sabio coding bootcamp?
I was in the U.S. Army as a Chinese linguist for eight years, and then I worked as a contractor for the government continuing to do Chinese translation. My first experience with coding was playing around with complicated financial Excel workbooks when I was working in real estate.
In my most recent job with the government, an opportunity came up to work on the database in our department, so I started learning SQL on an Oracle SQL server. The department was trying to hire an Oracle administrator to come but they eventually gave up their search because I had learned so much. I also did a little bit of Python scripting and some C Sharp app development.
After that experience, I took some Computer Information Systems classes through DeVry University. I wasn't very satisfied with that style of learning. Everything was disjointed. I wanted to find a school that taught in an integrated manner using real-world projects from front end to back end, and that's why I started looking at coding bootcamps.
When you were first starting to learn SQL, Python, and C# how did you learn those? Did you teach yourself or did you use particular resources for those?
Everything started with on the job training, learning from people who had experience. And then, of course Google is my best friend. I also started taking the classes through DeVry and I took a one-week Oracle server administration bootcamp.
What made you want to switch from Oracle server coding to web development?
Web development is a future trend. Enterprises will always have in-house applications, but I like the power of web development in that you can access your information from wherever you are. Especially with my experience with real estate and Chinese language translation, I saw so many areas where tools could automate certain tasks. I just had the desire to explore the front end world and see what I could do with it.
Once you decided you wanted to go to a coding bootcamp, did you research other coding bootcamps? What made you choose Sabio?
Being a military veteran, I first researched if there were any schools approved for the GI Bill. At the time, I think RefactorU in Colorado was the only one approved. I wanted to relocate to LA because my fiancé was in LA, so I focused my search on LA. Sabio was a no-brainer because they had GI Bill approval.
For veterans who might be reading this, how does the GI Bill actually work? What's the process for applying for and using it for coding bootcamp?
First, you have to get a certificate of eligibility. You go online to a system called Von App to initiate your GI Bill application. Anyone applying should leave a month or two for that process. Everything after that can be handled by the school. So you need to contact the GI Bill representatives at the bootcamp you are applying to, and they can give you the official word as to whether your program's going to be covered by the GI Bill or not. Once you contact them they'll tell you everything you need to do to get the ball rolling.
The other piece of advice would be to contact someone who's currently in the program, who's a veteran, and they'll also be able to help you with the process and guide you to that representative.
Can you share what percentage of your tuition you were actually able to get paid by the GI Bill?
The GI Bill covered my full tuition for Sabio. It's an amazing opportunity. They also offer a living stipend that is also very helpful.
Wow! I talked to a RefactorU alum a little while ago, who only got 50% of his tuition covered.
Yeah, it depends on a couple of factors. One would be the rate that you're covered at. So I'm covered at 100%. The other is the GI Bill. Generally, it only covers the state tuition amount or what the cost of a state college would be for a state resident. But in this case, Antioch, with whom Sabio has a relationship, is in the yellow ribbon program, which is a program where if the school costs more than the state tuition, the school kicks in the rest. AU has a relationship with the VA, and that enables more GI’s to use their benefits, and not have to pay out-of-pocket for tuition.
What's your opinion on coding bootcamps offering or accepting the GI Bill? Do you think it's a good thing for veterans to be able to access?
I think it's a no-brainer for any veteran. I've seen people start Sabio, graduate, and be offered at least $60,000 to $80,000 salaries.
Once you had that certificate of eligibility, what was the Sabio application and interview process like?
The interview process wasn't any different than how it is for any other student. You have to go to the info sessions, take some of their pre-work classes, then get evaluated. You've got to become accepted as a regular student at the school.
At the time, they only had a bachelor's degree option where you have to be enrolled at Antioch to be able to attend Sabio under the GI Bill. Now they have a Certificate in Web Development option where you can take the Sabio classes without any other requirements.
What was your cohort like at Sabio? How many people were there and was it quite diverse in terms of gender, race, life and career backgrounds?
It was a really nice mix of people. There were 12 people in the class. There were only a few women, but it was good to see women because tech is just so male dominated. There was a mix of different races. We had a few Asians, an African-American man, and a couple of Latino guys. It was good to see a full representation of people in the community. There were people there with no coding experience and there were people right out of college. I think I'm the oldest in the class at 44, so it was a good mix.
Were there any other veterans?
Not in my class. There was a veteran in the cohort right before me and the cohort after me.
What was the learning experience like at Sabio? Can you give me an example of a typical day?
On a typical day, we'd get in at 9am and review where we had left off the day before. Around 10am we had a daily standup meeting where we briefed each other on where we were at, and our goals for the day. Then we usually continued to code until lunch. In the afternoon we'd have a lecture or a code review. We would review somebody’s work as a group and the instructor would suggest ways to improve the code, and look at different ways to deal with errors that came up while debugging the code. Then we'd code for the rest of the day.
A couple of times a week in the evenings, each of us would give presentations on different aspects of the project that the others didn't have exposure to. For example, if someone was working with a third party plugin for a file upload or a third party plugin that did image cropping, they would give a presentation so that everyone else was aware of how that plugin worked and how to integrate it into the site.
What was your favorite project that you worked on at Sabio?
Sabio split up the time into two sections. For the first two weeks, we did some practice by each building our own blog sites. Then weeks 3 through 10, we were working on a real world project which was a website for a real company.
Towards the end, as we were preparing for interviews, we did individual projects to make sure that we had a portfolio of coding examples we could show to an employer. We showed that we have the capability to work from the front end to the back end on our own.
What was real world project you were working on?
It was for a company called Optio, which is a job website for security guards. It's a combination of job search functionality and management capabilities so that companies can log in, post their jobs, search for employees, and also manage their employees. The site also allows companies to deliver coursework to their employees, and for security guards to take certification classes.
The gentleman who designed the site was a veteran, and had found the security guard industry to be really transient in nature with lots of short-term jobs. He saw a need for a system specifically tailored to that industry.
That's what made the Sabio program extra valuable compared to some of the other schools I looked into– we were actually working on a real world project. We got the experience of working in a team environment, we learned how to check each other's code, troubleshoot problems, and how to handle multiple people working on the same database or on the same page. There were so many different technologies integrated into the site– file upload, image cropping, texting, sending emails, automatic email responses, and automatic text responses. It was a great experience.
How was your background as a veteran useful when you were at Sabio?
Being a veteran was helpful because there are times in the Army when you're put in situations you just don't think you can handle, but you still manage to get through. Similarly to Sabio, you come through the other end, and you can't believe you actually were put in that kind of a pressure cooker. But certainly, that wouldn't prevent anybody else from being able to handle the work at Sabio.
How was your background in foreign languages useful in learning to code?
Having a second language certainly makes you more aware of how languages work. You think of languages in a different way when it’s not your native language. So that definitely helps with coding. But it’s not a requirement to get into coding; I've met plenty of people who had no language background at all and are able to plow through coding and understand the concepts.
How did Sabio prepare you for job hunting? What kind of career advice did you get?
They have an excellent system for preparing us for interviews. First, they help us prepare our own web-based application that we can use for demonstration purposes. The instructors do reviews of all the code we've done throughout the program, and really drill down into the details and the fundamental concepts that any experienced coder should know.
Sabio also had a professional photographer come in and take photos of us. We did mock interviews and whiteboarding practice. Throughout the whole program, we were constantly encouraged to talk professionally about the code we were writing. Being able to write out your code on a whiteboard and speak about it using professional jargon means you're well prepared for any interview.
When did you graduate from Sabio and what have you been doing since then?
I finished Sabio on December 22nd. I'm still a student at Antioch College so I’m continuing with my bachelor's degree there. It's a leadership, entrepreneurship, and technology bachelor's degree. It covers entrepreneurship and ways you can use socially conscious ideas to generate income and try to help out a good cause at the same time. I'm also in the lucky position of my website being built by the current Sabio cohort.
Wow, that's so cool! What is the website and how’s it going so far?
It's a website which covers the entire real estate home buying process from the client's and the agent's point of view and merges them together. It covers all the searches that anyone would do on Zillow or Redfin when looking for a home. We're trying to integrate a lot of different functionality into one area.
It allows the agent to take the client's search information and auto-generate a lot of information. For example, it could auto-generate the entire viewing route for when an agent takes a client out, and build a map on Google Maps. We also want to integrate the transaction process, keep track of documents that have been signed, and issue reminders about what's next on the list of tasks. There's also an expense section and an open house section.
What are your plans for the future?
I have a new baby, so I may have to step back and just make sure everything's taken care of on the home front. I'm looking to get employment after this quarter and continue my degree part-time. I'm actively interviewing now for jobs that will hopefully begin at the end of March or beginning of April. If anything happens with this app, it'll be interesting to play with that and get some people testing it and see how well the real estate community responds to it.
Since you graduated from Sabio, how are you staying involved with Sabio? I know they're building your website, but have you kept in touch with other alumni who were in your cohort?
Yeah. We mainly use a Slack channel for communication. Gregorio and Liliana have set up multiple Slack channels for Sabio graduates, so for 24 hours a day, you can reach out if you need help with a particular tech problem, or you can post job opportunities you know about.
There's a growing network of Sabio graduates who keep in touch with each other. Plus there are different meetup groups they're involved with that we can all attend. When you finish the Sabio program, you have not left. You're always a Sabio graduate.
What advice do you have for other veterans who are thinking of getting into tech by going through a coding bootcamp?
Obviously finding one that accepts the GI Bill is going to be huge. It's going to save you tons of money. With Sabio, if you're in the LA area, it's a no-brainer to go to the Sabio program. Besides learning to code and working on a real project, they prep you for interviews in the their strong network post graduation. If you don't have that option where you live, I would say, try to find a coding bootcamp that works on a real-world project, has a good job placement rate, and strong postgraduate support.
You’re probably familiar with the term “hacking,” but do you really understand the importance of cyber security? Did you know that by 2019, it’s projected that globally we’ll need 6 million security professionals, but we’ll be short by 1.5 million? Cyber security is comprised of technologies and practices to protect networks, computers, software programs, and data from attack, damage, or unauthorized access. The need for technical security talent is increasing and Security Bootcamps are launching to fill this void. If you’re deciding on which coding bootcamp route to take, and you’re interested in learning cyber security, there are a few things to consider (and we’ve listed where you can learn these skills!) Check out our Ultimate Guide to Cyber Security Bootcamps.Continue Reading →
In our Cracking the Bootcamp Application series, we’re diving into the admissions process at coding bootcamps around the world. Los Angeles bootcamp Sabio has a unique two-track admissions process where candidates can either take an advanced level assessment straight away, or participate in a paid, four-week pre-work course. We sat down with Sabio founder Gregorio Rojas to find out just what goes into that assessment, how the pre-work is different from other bootcamp prep programs, and why attitude and personality really matter in the Sabio vetting process.
- There are two paths to getting into Sabio: an assessment or a 4-week pre-work course.
- The point of Sabio’s pre-work application is to remove intimidation from the tough material.
- It’s not just about technical skills- Sabio is looking for nice people who will contribute to the Sabio community.
- The Sabio pre-work application process is not a bootcamp prep program.
What can a student expect when they apply to Sabio- give us the quick and dirty overview.
When a prospective candidate approaches Sabio, there are two paths to reserve a seat. The first track is a very clean application process that you would expect from most other coding bootcamps. That consists of a three-hour assessment. If you can pass that, and you really are committed to coding at Sabio, then we will allow you to reserve a seat. There are no surprises and there is no interview during that process.
If a student can’t pass the assessment or is a complete beginner, then they can come to the campus and do our pre-work course. Orientation for that course starts on the first Monday of every month, and students work with an instructor for four weeks (two nights a week and all day Saturday) to learn the material. During those four weeks, we are actually vetting you, observing your coding skills, and seeing how seriously you’re taking this.
That pre-work is $495 a month for every month you are working on it.
How difficult is that assessment? Is it for somebody who has done Codecademy courses or is that for somebody who can actually already code?
The last two people that I gave the assessment to, they came through one of those prep programs and could not do it. After that experience, I now ask new candidates to try to take a five- to 10-minute quiz first. And if they pass that quiz, I'll let them do the three-hour assessment. But most people do not pass that 5 to 10-minute quiz.
Is that Pre-work Course almost like a bootcamp prep program?
I wouldn't compare it to a bootcamp prep program because every bootcamp prep program out there doesn't do what we do. For us, this pre-work has one intent – to prepare you for success in our bootcamp: Sabio. If you take this pre-work and you pass the assessment, that signals that you're going to be successful at Sabio. And what does that mean? It means that you're going to get a job within six weeks after graduating from the program.
Can applicants start the pre-work as complete beginners or do they need some experience in programming?
When you hear the words “function,” “variable,” and “loop” in the pre-work course, I don't want that to be the first time you’ve heard those words. Online modules like Codecademy serve a really good purpose in giving students a vocabulary so that they aren't completely lost when we start the pre-work.
I love to use those online modules as a warmup before the pre-work, but as soon as you get into the pre-work, and especially when you get to the bootcamp, I push people away from continuing to use things like Codecademy because they don't reflect the real-world industry experience. There is too much hand-holding. In our program you need to focus on materials that we present to you and do this the way we're trying to get you to do it.
Once students have taken those four weeks of pre-work, do they still have to pass that three-hour assessment to get in?
Yes, absolutely. At the end of the pre-work, you take the assessment. If you pass, then we allow you to reserve a seat. Between the date that you pass the assessment and your start date, we'll actually deliver more content to you with more time in front of an instructor. We want to make sure you keep your skills fresh, keep learning, and try to solidify and add to that foundation that we just laid in pre-work.
What percentage of people who have done the pre-work actually pass that assessment?
About 80% to 85% of the people who have gone through the pre-work pass the assessment the first time. There's a segment of people who don't pass the first time, and then there are some people who stretch our four-week curriculum into eight weeks. That might be due to their own personal work schedule, so perhaps they can only attend on Saturdays.
You said you're vetting students throughout the pre-work. What are you looking for?
We're extremely confident in our ability to teach someone to code. You can start today after completing some lessons on Codecademy, and we know that if you show up motivated, focused, and coachable, you're going to go far and this is going to work out. Once you have the foundation of engineering, I can pile all sorts of stuff on top of that, and you're going to be successful. We know that to be a fact.
The other thing we're looking for is, “are you a nice person?” We make a long-term commitment to our fellows. We know that we're going to see you regularly, we want to see you, and we want you engaged in the community. We don't care what kind of music you like, or what your politics are. But if you’re just not a nice person, and don't talk to people nicely, we will actually have to dismiss those people.
If it was just a 12-week engagement, then personality wouldn’t matter so much. But we make a five-year commitment to our Sabio Fellows. When we do hackathons and monthly meetups, we don't want people to dread working with you. We filter out any budding brogrammers. We won’t tolerate an attitude like that.
Regardless which track you take, if you make it into the 12-week bootcamp and you're disruptive or messing with the dynamics of the group, we'll kick you out. That long-term commitment is something that you have to earn. You have to represent yourself well and be respectful of others if you're going to continue being part of the community.
From the students that I've talked with from Sabio, it sounds like most students do stay really involved in the community.
That's a long-term benefit. Now there are a good number of people who have graduated over the years. Why wouldn't you want a helpful resource like that alumni network?
Why have you taken the time to develop an application process that's longer and more high touch? Why not just give a hard coding challenge and only accept students who can pass it?
The subject material at Sabio is very intimidating, and that’s one reason why there aren't enough developers. Why make it more intimidating? It doesn't make sense.
This intimidation is actually part of the culture in tech, and it’s not good. The imposter syndrome attitude says, "You're not good enough to do this, that this was not meant for you, this is not the type of work that you should do, you're too old, you are a woman." There are all these things that say you shouldn't do this, and all of that is just not true.
Are there students who would not have been able to get into Sabio using a traditional application?
I can tell you that most of the people who successfully do the pre-work would not have been able to pass Sabio’s assessment before that. And even folks who have come to us from other bootcamp prep programs are not ready to pass the assessments. They might be able to solve a specific algorithm or problems they’ve seen in a book, but that’s it.
How is the Sabio pre-work different from a bootcamp prep program?
Sabio has a partnership with Antioch University- does this admissions process apply to that course as well?
For the Antioch program, instead of having a four-week pre-work, it's actually a 12-week, full-time engagement. You actually get a lot more material, and a lot more instruction time, and the same vetting process happens. In academic terms, the pre-work is considered a prerequisite class that you have to finish before going to the main bootcamp.
And another reason students choose the Antioch program is that you get access to federal loans and grants through the university, and depending on your situation you might be able to get college credit out of it as well.
That's really cool. Who are the instructors teaching the pre-work session?
Our pre-work instructors are professional, seasoned developers who have been doing software development for years. As we have developed a larger need for pre-work instructors, we have started getting our experienced past fellows to teach as well. For example, we have one Fellow who's helping us out a lot in Orange County with the pre-work course after working in the industry for about a year and a half. We love having him teach the pre-work, but we would not have Fellows teaching at the actual bootcamp. Those instructors will always be people who are working professionally as a true senior level developer, not someone who's just graduated from our program. I don't think that's appropriate.
That sounds like a great way to let those alumni stay involved.
Yeah. Fellows appreciate the rewarding aspect of it, and for us it's nice to have that energy in the classroom. But we do our best to make sure that long term instructors have a lot of experience, so that if a student came up with some random question, they could actually answer it without going back to look at the curriculum.
How else is Sabio’s admissions process different from other coding bootcamps?
The other thing I want to stress is that being accepted into other bootcamps seems to be a significant achievement and some type of goal. Getting accepted is not an achievement. That's nothing to brag about it. Can you get a job? That's what we're about. When you graduate and get a job, that's fantastic. We do the hard work and then we celebrate. And we promote those job outcomes like crazy.
If you want to get tons of coding experience in 24 hours (or you just want your resume to stand out), then you should already be thinking about hackathons! These are 24-48 hour events where programmers meet to create new products that usually answer a problem. And coding bootcamp graduates know a thing or two about participating in (and winning) hackathons. So we asked two bootcamp grads from California bootcamp Sabio to share their tips on crushing their first hackathons and how they even helped the alums land interesting jobs. Gema and Ken share their experiences, give us advice on preparing for a successful hackathon, and explain the importance of hackathons for growth as a developer.Continue Reading →
Should I do a coding bootcamp? This is a question we hear all the time, and for good reason. As more coding bootcamps launch (not to mention the rising media coverage), you’re probably wondering, “should I jump on the bandwagon and learn to code?” A recent TechCrunch article implored you not to learn to code unless you’re ready to put in the work to be great, whereas President Obama wants every student to learn computer science in high school. So what types of people are opting for coding bootcamps? And should you be one of them?Continue Reading →
Welcome to the September 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. Of course, we cover our 2016 Outcomes and Demographics Report (we spent a ton of time on this one and hope everyone gets a chance to read it)! Other trends include growth of the industry, increasing diversity in tech through bootcamps, plus news about successful bootcamp alumni, and new schools and campuses. Read below or listen to our latest Coding Bootcamp News Roundup Podcast!Continue Reading →
Tessa had a background in communications, but felt she wasn’t using her skills to the fullest in her retail job. So instead of taking a higher level management position in retail, she took a leap and learned how to code at Sabio’s full-time web development bootcamp in Los Angeles. As Sabio’s 100th Fellow, learn why Tessa chose Sabio over other bootcamps, what it’s like being a woman in tech, and how she worked hard to land herself a full stack web dev role at 1iota!
What was your educational and career background before you decided to go to Sabio?
I went to college and got a bachelor's degree in communications. After that, I got a job with Abercrombie and worked there for about three years. I worked my way up to getting offered the position of a general manager, but turned it down because I didn't want to be in retail. I moved to Arizona with my parents and tried to figure out what I wanted to do. I decided I needed to go back to school because my career choice wasn't doing anything for me.
I was thinking of becoming a lawyer, but I thought about the amount of time it would take to go to school, and how much money it would cost. Then I thought about how I wouldn't even be making enough money afterwards to pay off all of my debt. It just wouldn't be worth it. My aunt sent me an article about people around my age who were doing bootcamps to become software programmers instead of going back to school. So I looked into it more. I even went to Course Report to look at schools – if it wasn't on Course Report I thought that it probably wasn’t a good school.
That's good to hear that you used Course Report to research schools.
Course Report is something I read about in that first article about bootcamps. I was looking at a school in San Francisco because I didn't know there were any in LA. I was in Arizona at that time, but I had a place in LA. Then I came across Sabio in LA. I came out to LA for the orientation to see if I liked it, and I loved the people. The people who run Sabio, Lilliana, and Gregorio, they had such a great feel and vibe to them. I got to sit in on one of the classes, and they were just really interested in me so from that point forward I had made the decision to go.
Did you apply to any other bootcamps when you were applying to Sabio?
I applied to one in San Francisco called Galvanize. I had a phone interview with them, and was also supposed to take a test. But at the same time as the phone interview, I had my orientation with Sabio. I decided to go with Sabio. It was less expensive, and the cost of living in San Francisco was insane. So it was a better choice for me go to Sabio in LA.
Did you try to learn to code on your own before you decided to make a decision to enroll in Sabio?
I did use Codeacademy because Sabio suggested that you try it out for three months. Honestly, I didn’t really know where to start. I didn't know all of the different types of languages. I absolutely had no knowledge of anything code related prior to joining or even having a conversation with Sabio. I really did most of my learning at Sabio.
Were there any other important factors for you when you decided that Sabio made the most sense for you?
Ratings on the quality of learning. I guess I wanted to see how they taught. I'm a visual person and I don't learn by people just telling me things. So I needed to see how they taught or how they could teach at least. I could see that they cared about their students enough to adjust to the learning style for each student. That is really hard for an instructor to do.
It’s also great that they keep their classes to 10 people or less. That was huge for me because it meant there would be a lot more one-on-one time with the instructors and more course time. I wanted an accelerated learning process that would allow me to get done quicker than another two to four years of school, but I also didn't want to be in a situation where it was moving so fast and I wouldn't be able to grasp the info. So I read a lot of people’s opinions about what they thought about the accelerated learning. Going to Sabio and listening to them talk about their past experiences and successes with students. I think they have higher than 90% job placement rate, that was huge to me. I wanted to know that I had job security once I left.
Did you ever consider going back to school and getting a four-year computer science degree?
No. Honestly I know this sounds silly, but I am too old for that. I didn't want to do anything like that, so an accelerated learning program was exactly what I was looking for. But I knew it had to be something that was in demand. The amount of brainpower that I use on a daily basis is so much fun. I love it! I’ve never had a job where you actually have to think so much. I wanted a learning experience that people would value and not see it like, "Oh, you did a little bit of training. How does that work for me?" I wanted to know that my training was going to be valuable to somebody else.
What was the interview process like for you when you were talking to Sabio? Do you have any tips?
Listen to instructors because they definitely know what they're talking about and they will prep you. They have more than 10 years of experience in that field, and they'll prepare you for what to expect. Honestly, nothing can really prepare you for that intense of a class. You just have to mentally get yourself there. So I think the best way to prepare and be ready for that test is to code.
You do about two or three months of pre-work. You should not only be coding those two or three hours a night, you should be doing it all the time, as much as possible. As much as your work schedule allows you to, you should be learning. I think a big problem some people might have had was that when they started the pre-work, they were supposed to have already done some Codecademy material. If they didn't do that, then they might struggle. Follow the syllabus. Follow everything they tell you to do and you won't fail.
How would you describe the demographics of your cohort?
There were 10 people in my group. For some reason, I was the only girl in my class. There have been about three girls in each other cohort that I've noticed. The highest age range was probably fifty something, and then the youngest was 21. I was the only black person in the class, but there were Indian, Asian, Caucasian and Mexican students. That was a little bit more diverse than gender.
Did you feel like being the only woman in your cohort had an effect on your learning?
No. Actually, I felt like it helped. I kind of have a unique situation. I always end up being the only girl doing the stuff that I do. For instance, I play golf, and that's a male dominated sport. Everything I've done has been male dominated. I think it prepared me for my future. Now that I have my job, I'm the only girl on the development team, and there's five or six of us. It actually helped at Sabio. Some of my classmates already had experience in coding, so they helped push the class to move quicker than expected because we all wanted to keep up with them.
I know I was not the best in the class, but that didn't matter to me. What mattered was that I was there on my choice. I’d already made the decision that “nobody is going to stop me, so I'm going to do whatever it takes.” I think a lot of people hold themselves back, and they don't realize what they're capable of because they're too scared, or they're afraid people are going to say they're not good enough.
Did Sabio have any curriculum around preparing you as a woman in the tech industry?
There were definitely conversations. They set us up to go to a lot of women’s meetups, so we could meet women in the tech field and network. I know that there is bias and I know that there is a stigma put on women, but I don't allow myself to be put in that box. I think the worst thing I could do is put limitations on myself. All I can do is work harder, and eventually, I'm going to prove myself.
A lot of the female Sabio graduates made themselves available to talk with me. I also reached out to some of the women from past cohorts to ask their advice on what they did and said during interviews, but it wasn't anything different from normal job prep.The interview questions to get to know you more are similar to other job interviews. The coding tests and questions about the languages you know are what make the interviews difficult.
Congrats on being Sabio’s 100th fellow! Tell us about your learning experience and a typical day at Sabio.
You try to get there a bit earlier than when classes actually start. The day starts around 8am or 9am, and class ends at 6pm, but you generally stay until 8pm or 9pm. The goal is to put in 70 hours a week. Sometimes that's a little unfeasible, but the more hours you put in, the more you get out of it. You get there, start working on whatever it is you left off the day before or whatever is on the chatroom board for you to work on.
Then the instructor would come in and we'd have a stand-up. They try to run it as if it were an actual startup company, which is a great mentality because when you go into work, you're doing the same exact thing. It's an easy transition. I can't speak for everybody else, but my transition was pretty similar to what we were learning. We then might have some lecture before spending time one-on-one with the instructor to go over any problems you've come across. It moved rather quickly.
Did the teaching style at Sabio enhance your learning? How does it contrast with teaching styles you experienced in college?
The amount of time I spent learning code in total was probably way more than the four to five years I spent learning in college. The teaching styles were great because our instructors made themselves available all the time. Even Sabio cofounder Gregorio, made himself available. We also had our Slack chatroom where we could ask anybody from the past cohorts if they could help. That teaching and learning style was very helpful.
As for the instructors specifically, I believe with coding you can teach as much as you want, but here it's a little bit more self-taught. You learn while doing. They could show you step-by-step how to do a code, but the next time you do it, they're not going to sit there and hold your hand. It's repetition, and they were there to answer questions. Instructors weren't going to give you the answer and tell you to go away. It was more like, "What do you think you need to do?” It was a lot of probing, which is a great teaching style.
What were the main programming languages and technologies taught at Sabio?
What was the biggest challenge for you while learning to code?
If I could describe learning coding, it's honestly like if all you speak is English and then somebody wants you to learn Spanish, Italian, French, Chinese, and different dialects of Chinese. You're like, "Aaah, what?" because it takes so many different languages. If you wrap your mind around the fact that it's a different language, it starts to make more sense. It's so hard at first because you're learning so many different techniques all at once, and this one doesn't coincide with this one. This is what makes this happen, but now you have to go to a different layer while using another language to do that. That was difficult at first, but then you accept that you're not going to know everything all at once, and you take the opportunities to learn what you can. Once you keep repeating it so that it does become a part of your vocabulary, you're speaking French in no time.
Was there an open feedback loop at Sabio for students and instructors?
That's definitely a huge part of Sabio. They ask for feedback at the end so that they can give it to the instructor. Ultimately, the instructors want to be there and they really enjoy teaching people what they know. They're open to learning how to teach better, and that's huge. If you say you don’t understand, they don't get frustrated with you. They say, "Okay, let's take it a step back further and let's really break it down." You could interact with instructors and never feel like you couldn't say something, which is great.
What was your favorite project that you worked on while at Sabio?
We only worked on one project, which was a huge one for a doctor. It was a website like ZocDoc, like a Yelp for doctors. Learning Angular to create the site was one of my favorite parts. Being able to see what you created happen quickly on a screen was fun for me. Without getting too detailed with it, you could click something, and it appears on the right side. and then you could delete it from the database. And this is all happening on your page at one moment, which is pretty cool.
What was your overall goal when you said, "Yes, I'm going to Sabio. I'm about to take this leap to change my career" - did you have a specific job role, in a specific industry in mind?
Obviously, most people want to find a job. I got very lucky with my job! But I had no industry in mind. I had no idea about software programming or web development. I didn't even know the right title for it. I just took a leap, and knew it was something I wanted to do. Even the basics of playing around with Codecademy, I liked it, but didn't know much else. It was like, "Okay, I'm just going to trust them and go with it." I just asked more questions to see what kind of jobs I should be looking for afterwards.
The best part about Sabio is they really do keep people focused while in the program. While you're in the program, they keep you so focused on learning the languages and not worrying about what job you're going to get afterwards. Sabio gives you at least two or three weeks of prepping for job interviews, and getting you ready so that you don't feel lost. They really break it down to you on what kind of jobs are out there. We learned how it could be out into the real world.
What are you doing now? Tell us about the interview process and your current role.
I finished Sabio about four weeks ago and got a job immediately after graduation. I’m at the production company, 1iota. My job title is Junior Full Stack web developer. I had two interviews; one where they just wanted to meet me, and the second was a test. Personally, I'm not a good interviewer, so I got lucky that my first interview ended up getting me a job. They saw the skills that I do have and they were willing to work on me to make me better.
The interview process is really hard, I'm not going to sugarcoat it. If you put in the time, and you study, there's no reason why you wouldn't ace an interview. Go to multiple interviews, practice, and whatever it is that you get asked in an interview, take it back with you, and study. You could ask your Sabio instructors, "Hey, I don't know what they meant when they asked this." Then they break it down for you.
Are you using the skills that you learned at Sabio?
I am one hundred percent using my skills. The learning is a continuation of Sabio, but I'm getting paid, and I'm learning way more intense things. I love the people I'm working with. I haven't been working here very long, but what I expressed to them was how eager I am to learn, and they're extremely eager to teach me. It's exciting!
What is a typical day for you in your new role as a Full Stack web developer?
I'm working on the corporate site. It was a project that they started me on in my first couple of weeks at 1iota. I'm using Angular. While I learned a lot of Angular at Sabio, I no longer have my instructor to answer my questions. I can ask people around me but I'm more so using my experiences of having to teach myself, like at Sabio. I'm able to Google what I need, and I'm able to find what I need. My day today was writing a page and having it go up.
Do you have any advice or last thoughts for people who are thinking about making that jump into a coding bootcamp?
Literally, it was probably the best decision I ever made. If you asked me, a year ago today, if I would do it, I would say absolutely not. But six months ago I did, and now I have a job. It's just that fast. I have a job that I love. I went from working as a server to being a full stack web developer.
Welcome to the August 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 news is the Department of Education's EQUIP pilot program to provide federal financial aid to some bootcamp students. Other trends include job placement outcomes, the gender imbalance in tech, acquisitions and investments, and paying for bootcamp. Read below or listen to our latest Coding Bootcamp News Roundup Podcast!Continue Reading →
Julia Wells took a leap of faith 3 years ago to enroll at Sabio, a new Coding Bootcamp in LA. Since then, Sabio has expanded to new campuses and refined their curriculum. Julia is on her third dev job since graduating, making over $100K/year. Find out more about Julia’s impressive career and her advice about salary negotiating and mansplaining for women graduating from coding bootcamps.
What is your pre-Sabio story?
I got my degree in Ethnomusicology from UCLA in 2006, but there isn’t a huge market for ethnomusicologists, so I worked in arts non-profits and fundraising, planning special events from large galas to charity golf tournaments.
Why did you transition out of non-profits and start coding?
I had a friend on the East Coast who went to a coding bootcamp and successfully became a computer programmer. Knowing that I’m a nerd, he naturally thought I would like it. I had taken some computer science classes at UCLA and straight up failed them! I had the idea that I wasn’t cut out for a career in programming, until I found Sabio on a crowdfunding site, and everything clicked.
You were the first Sabio fellow, right? What stood out about Sabio and made you trust them?
When I met Sabio, they were crowdfunding for their school and were really adamant about teaching women to code. They didn’t care if you had a laptop or any coding experience. I sent Liliana and Gregorio an email, and the rest is history.
Did you try Codecademy or other online resources before you started Sabio?
I jumped straight into Sabio; I didn’t even know about those things!
Who else was in that first cohort?
Kevin, who became the first Sabio fellow to break a 6-figure salary. Barbara, who is living in the Bay Area as an entrepreneur. And Chris, who is employed as a senior engineer (despite only having our three years of Sabio training).
What was the difference between Sabio and those CS classes you failed in college?
In the first class, 90% of the class had programming backgrounds, while it was my first intro to programming course. I understood the theoretical foundation, but had a lot of trouble with the applied aspect of the class. There were also 3 women in that class of 30.
In the second class I took, C++ at UCLA, there weren’t even computers in class. We spent 45 minutes in class talking about how a compiler works without ever looking at a compiler. That was the only class I’ve ever failed. At Sabio, they required a laptop, which meant that they at least expected us to have a computer to code.
Did you like Gregorio’s teaching style?
He’s incredible. Gregorio had never taught before Sabio, but he’s awesome. In the first part of the class, there’s a bit more hand-holding. Then halfway through the course, Gregorio slowly starts weaning you off asking questions and encourages you to find the answers. He’s no-nonsense, which means he wants you to pay attention in class (and will call you out on that), and doesn’t want to hear you arguing or giving excuses. There are people with kids, risking a lot, to go to Sabio, so he wants you to be focused. You know exactly where you stand with Gregorio.
Have you stayed involved with Sabio as an alumni?
I’ve been going to graduations, mentoring students, and helping with hackathons. I’ve especially loved being a part of those hackathon teams. I’m always asking Liliana, “Where do you find these awesome people??” and she says, “They just find us.” They put out a positive energy about wanting to teach women and people of color, and because they reach out to different channels, they find a really fun, neat community.
What’s the biggest change you’ve seen over the past 2 years at Sabio?
Exponential growth! Sabio has expanded to the OC; they’re graduating 30 developers every three months. It’s incredible to see how much Sabio has grown.
When I took Sabio, we were the first cohort. Now, they’re accredited, on a college campus, with awesome instructors; it’s been really fun to watch the evolution.
As Sabio has grown, have you noticed the quality of students rise or fall?
Oh, they’re so much better. Part of that is that Sabio has finally nailed the curriculum down to a science. They’ve settled on a winning formula.
Last month, I went to a hackathon in Vegas with three, brand new graduates. We won the hackathon and they blew me away. They know so much, and they’re learning languages like Angular that I don’t even know! I was shocked.
Tell us about your career after you graduated from Sabio!
My first job was at IBIS World, which is a company that does online sales and reports. I left after one year, and they hired 3 other Sabio alumni. I was making $62,000 per year as a Junior Developer (which was a $5K increase from my job in non-profits).
Recruiters started buzzing, and I told them not to talk to me unless they could get me a job making $90,000. I thought this would get them to leave me alone, but someone offered me a job in Burbank at Health Data Vision for $90,000 in March 2015!
Woah- how did you land that job?
The reason I got that job was that they had everyone take a test in C# before interviewing. They only looked at my resume once I got there, and I tested so well that everyone thought I had ten years of experience! So, Sabio must have taught me something!
I’m now on my third post-Sabio job. Currently, I’m an Applications Developer at a gigantic publicly traded fashion company in downtown LA, making $96,000. Actually, two weeks ago, they offered me a raise to $102,000. I’m now the co-founder of a startup as well! My boyfriend and I started a software design/development firm this year, through which we have a couple of clients already, and we’re in the alpha testing stages of an app, BassFace, which filters nearby musical events by genre. We hope to have this ready for beta testing in the fall.
Wow- $102,000! There’s a conception that LA salaries are inherently lower than SF and NYC salaries. Is that bogus?
I don’t really know how to answer that, because I’ve been in LA for my entire life. And Irvine especially seems like it’s exploding with tech jobs! It seems like 1 out of 2 grads are going to jobs in Irvine, so based on my personal experience, LA jobs are just fine.
What does an Applications Developer at your company do? Don’t most of your customers find your clothes in malls?
Brick and mortar stores are losing out to online retailers, so my company knows that they need to beef up their e-commerce department. E-commerce is up 1086%, and after they hired me, I’ve been making it rain with Sabio resumes, and they have hired one other Sabio grad (and are interviewing more next week).
I maintain the company’s 5 brands’ sites worldwide, as well as work on internal tools used by the merchandising and inventory teams.
How many people are on your dev team with you?
There are five other engineers in LA, but there are also developers in Milan, St. Petersburg,and Shanghai.
I love that you set a salary standard of $90K and went for it. Did Sabio help you with salary negotiation in those jobs?
One thing that definitely helped was winning hackathons, because being able to call myself an “award-winning” developer gave me a boost of confidence. Plus, if you have Hackathon wins on your resume, companies want to give you an interview. And more than anything, Sabio pushes you to go to hackathons. They’ll put you on a team, give you a t-shirt, whatever you need.
Also frankly, I think that right now, companies want to employ women, which has helped me.
While I was looking for jobs, I could go to Gregorio at Sabio to ask him questions about offers. I was offered a position using SharePoint, and he told me not to take it. Then when I went to my current employer and they were offering me a salary just shy of $100K, Gregorio gave me a lot of really great advice. He’s never been wrong so far- he told me “Look, this is a team of five developers, working directly under the CTO. He’s going to notice you and pick you out of the bunch to give you cool things to do.” Then six months later, they offered me a 7% raise, so he hasn’t been wrong yet.
You went into Sabio with zero practical coding experience. Do you like what you’re doing as a developer now?
Even on days when I spend all day fixing a bug that turns out to be a comma, I’m so happy. I like being able to wear what I want and do what I want, as long as I get my work done.
As a woman, everywhere you go in life, you’re judged by how you look. In this role, none of that matters. I get to be judged by what I do and how I present my work. That’s an enormous gift that I wish I could give everyone else. I’m judged on 1’s and 0’s, not on my hair.
What has been your experience as a woman in your developer roles?
It’s been a mixed bag. Overall, it’s been positive, but some men understand this more than others.
In my first job, my boss was a man, and there were literally zero other women in the IT department at the company. He told me that before I arrived, everyone thought I was hired as an assistant. My boss took it upon himself to send out a memo saying, “This woman is not my assistant. She is an engineer, and you better treat her like one.” So my first experience as a developer was actually great, but maybe only because he advocated for me before I started.
It sucks that your boss needed to say something, but lucky that he did!
Yeah, my second job, meanwhile, had a couple of brogrammers. For the first three months, I spent a lot of time proving myself, with my coworkers treating me like I didn’t know what I was talking about, constantly explaining “programming” to me. I’ve read that this is pretty common. So, yes, I’ve experienced that, but nothing that made me want to quit programming.
In the Sabio Slack channel for women, what kind of advice do you give other women graduating from a coding bootcamp and going into the real world?
This is a two-fold problem. The first is that we all complain about mansplaining, but a lot of women internalize that and start to question themselves, and think that they do suck at programming. I think that women are more likely than men to internalize that feedback and question their skills.
The second issue is that as a woman, if you’re the only female developer in your office, there’s a lot of pressure to be the best, because otherwise people will say, “Ugh, lady programmers-- amirite?”. I tell women who graduate from Sabio that all you have to do is be your own #1 cheerleader. Even the most amazing female developers will have days that they suck, and that’s fine. Be in your own corner, support yourself, and know that you are a good programmer at the end of the day. That way, when someone is an asshole at work, you know that it’s not your fault.
Do you have any final words for our readers?
I’m just grateful that you’ll listen, because I stop people on the street to tell them how much I love Sabio.
After learning R to streamline her job in digital marketing, Tammi was ready to take the plunge and make a career change. With a background in for-profit education, Tammi knew that transparency was imperative when choosing a coding bootcamp, so she chose Sabio's Orange County campus after reading reviews and speaking personally to founders Gregorio and Liliana. Now a software developer at insurance SaSS company XDimensional Technologies, Tammi tells us about her time at Sabio and her new career in tech!
Tell us about your pre-Sabio story. What's your educational background and your last career path?
What made you decide to change tracks and pursue a more technical career?
Part of the motivation was that the company I worked for wasn't doing so well. I noticed our in-house developers were the first ones to get jobs elsewhere so I saw that engineering was a valuable field. Plus, I'd always been curious, so I started exploring Codecademy and taking some classes. And in my job, I found myself working with larger datasets, doing more work in Excel, and realizing that I needed to learn the programming language R.
I started taking online data science courses using R through Johns Hopkins University on Coursera. After a few classes on Coursera, I started using R in my work too.
How did R help you be better at your job?
Instead of pulling data from multiple sources and merging it manually in Excel, I would write R scripts to merge those datasets together in a meaningful way and then summarize them. I could spend more time actually analyzing data rather than manually wrangling tasks. That's really where I began to see how powerful programming was and knew that this is something that I would love to do day-to-day.
Why did you feel you needed to attend a coding bootcamp rather than just continue to teach yourself through Coursera and Codecademy?
Codecademy was great, but I wasn't at a point where I could build a website or an application on my own. I needed more practical skills in terms of debugging and troubleshooting, scaling a project, etc.
At the same time, I found out that my job was moving to Minnesota, which prompted me to really make a change. The timing was finally right and it was a great opportunity to make a change.
Did you research a number of coding bootcamps or did you only apply to Sabio?
I looked at several, but Sabio was the only bootcamp that I actually met with in-person in Orange County. I found that most bootcamp websites had very minimal information, and coming from the for-profit education industry, I was looking for transparency. I read reviews on Course Report, and it seemed like Sabio was the way to go, especially as they were starting a cohort in Newport Beach.
After meeting with Gregorio and Liliana, I learned what really sets them apart from their competition: you're really working in a group on an actual project that a client is going to use. Working on mini portfolio projects is great, but there’s nothing like building real, viable products.
I like that Sabio caps their class sizes at 10 students, and I was fortunate enough to have just 7 students in my cohort. It was good size group, and I felt like I had the support and help that I needed when I needed it.
Also, I got a small scholarship to Sabio for being a woman in tech.
Were you looking for a coding bootcamp that specifically taught the .NET/Microsoft stack?
Not specifically, but they explained that Sabio teaches the Microsoft stack because it’s in-demand. I did my own research on Indeed and LinkedIn and I saw a lot of the developer positions were in LA and San Diego were in .NET.
We just talked with Aaron from Sabio about the OC campus- he must have been your instructor, right?
What was the interview and application process like at Sabio? Was there a coding challenge?
I filled out an application, then met with Gregorio and Liliana, who asked me questions about my background and my goals. I did a coding challenge with Aaron towards the end of the pre-work session to make sure I was at the right level to succeed in the full stack immersive program.
That’s a really interesting application process. It’s almost like a self-selecting screening period as opposed to an application.
Right; I think we started with 15-17 students at the beginning of the pre-work sessions, and we ended up with 7 in our cohort. The pre-work is like a step before taking the big plunge into going into the full stack immersive to make sure it's a good fit.
Was your cohort diverse in terms of gender, race, and background?
Yeah, we were a pretty diverse group. There were two other women, and we were pretty racially diverse. Everyone had different backgrounds; one gentleman was an engineer from South America, and another woman was from the Philippines. Another guy had a mathematics background. It's cool getting to work with people from different professional and cultural backgrounds.
Can you tell us about a typical day at Sabio?
We got in between 9am and 10am, and did a daily standup meeting where we’d talk about the feature that we're working on, anything that we're stuck on, and what our plan is for the day. Aaron was our teacher and our project lead. We had occasional lectures, but were mostly building features. Aaron was always available if we ran into roadblocks, and there was a lot of encouragement to try things on our own. We also had meetings every so often with the actual client that we were building our project for.
Can you tell us about the project you worked on at Sabio?
We built a new administrative UI for a small company called Beauty Streams, which is a Parisian company that forecasts trends in the cosmetics industry. Their team documents the patterns, color schemes and trends they’re seeing at runway shows, then creates content for their subscribers.
Their existing UI wasn't really user-friendly, and it was about seven or eight years old, so it was time for a refresh. We decided not to edit the old codebase, but rather to start from scratch. The main feature that I worked on was a drag-and-drop content editor.
How did you learn everything you needed to know as you built those features?
We started with the database side since we'd had a bit of a foundation in terms of learning how to setup a table. Aaron gave us guidance on best practices for database design. Then we went into the C# layers so that our data actually spoke to the middle tier to be presented on the front end.
How did Sabio help prepare you and your classmates for finding jobs as developers?
We spent a lot of time learning computer science fundamentals, which really prepares you for technical interviews. We did a lot of interview prep and some mock interviews in the last three to four weeks. Recruiters gave us basic interview tips and told us what to expect in tech interviews, good habits and how to prepare yourself for the interview, how to phrase your experience and background. We also had guidance in building out our resume.
So what are you up to now? Did you land a job as a software developer?
I'm now a software developer for a SaSS company called XDimensional Technologies, based in Brea, California. Our product is used by insurance companies to manage their agencies & branches, invoicing, and policy management. It's a big, robust product.
I've been in my role for almost two months now. When clients have an issue with data, my job is to go in the backend and resolve the issue for that client. More recently, I've been starting to work on actual app fixes in the codebase that will ultimately help the product perform better for clients. Actually, I have three or four fixes coming out in the new release that will go out to our clients next weekend. That's pretty exciting.
Congratulations! How did you find the job?
I found this job through Dice. I had my profile on Dice, Indeed, LinkedIn, and I spoke to a lot of third party recruiters. I had a couple of really promising meetings from those sites. When XDimensional Technologies reached out, I had a phone interview- which threw me off a little because it was pretty technical! I made it past that round, then met with several of the employees in-person.
What made you excited about the offer from XDimensional?
I accepted their offer because I liked the idea of working for a relatively small company. They had an established development team, and they're actually working on a software product. I felt like it was a great first step after graduating from Sabio.
What's a typical day like for you now as a software developer?
Typically, we have a priority list of dated bugs that come in from our support team. Our first priority is to get those taken care of. Then I move to working on app fixes. Those are improvements that are impacting all of our clients. I’ll investigate through the code and through the stack procedures and SQL server to find the issue. There are six developers on our team; a few senior developers, a couple of mid-level developers and then myself.
You learned the Microsoft stack at Sabio- have you had to learn new technologies in your new job?
I am using the Microsoft stack. I have had to learn some of the older technologies like VB and ASP.NET Web Forms because our codebase has been around for a while so there’s some old legacy code that still works. But it wasn't too much of a reach after being familiar with the Microsoft stack already.
We also use the SQL server, which I was already familiar with, but it's really cool getting to see some really robust, intense SQL procedures because the ones I've been accustomed to were more straightforward. They have hundreds of different tables in any given database and it's architected in a way that is optimal for their product, but you have to get your hands dirty in exploring some of these 800-line stored procedures and SQL servers. It was a bit of an experience, but I'm getting more and more used to it.
What’s the biggest challenge you've faced so far in your new career?
My biggest challenge is getting used to working with a product that's so vast and so multi-faceted. I’m getting used to finding the tools and the resources I need to do my job well. It's been a challenge, but in the past few weeks, it's been getting a bit easier to get a handle on.
I love that you got to work on a real project with Beauty Streams during Sabio- do you think that helped you get your first job and transition into being a real software developer?
Yeah. I think that was really helpful because a lot of applicants with CS degrees or other bootcamp grads may have a lot of small projects to show, but I was able to show an actual product for a company, which set me apart. I thought that was a big help.
Have you stayed involved with Sabio after graduating?
Sabio hosts professional development sessions for alumni each month in Culver City. Those cover topics that are helpful to new developers, like React.JS, computational theory, and Computer Science fundamentals.
Also, Sabio encourages their fellows to get involved in hackathons. I haven't had the opportunity to do one in-person yet, but I dabbled with one of my cohort members on a virtual hackathon for Angular2.0. We had a lot of technical issues, but it was a good experience! I look forward to having that opportunity to go compete in a hackathon in the near future. Our alumni also have a pretty active online community and a Slack channel where we keep up with each other.
What advice would you give to someone considering a coding bootcamp?
First, make sure that you have a good support system in place. You should be able to allocate a lot of time, because a coding bootcamp is going to take a lot of time and focus. In my case, I had to make sure that my boyfriend was prepared for Sabio as well! He knew that I was going to be in class for 10 to 12 hours a day and then after dinner, I'd be working on code again. He was really helpful and supportive, which was important! Similarly, you have to prepare your friends and family so that their feelings aren’t hurt when you have to prioritize a deadline or a project.
Would you recommend Sabio to future bootcampers?
I really enjoyed my experience at Sabio. I love that we have an active alumni community even after we graduated from the full stack program. And I like the idea that Sabio is there to support us for five years after we've completed your program. I like the fact that their professional development sessions carry on after you graduate, because with all of the other bootcamps that I looked at, you finish your program, and that's it.
Sabio’s Orange County campus opened in January 2016, and so far they have graduated 7 new developers and 100% have found jobs. We spoke to Sabio VP of Engineering, and lead OC instructor, Aaron Gibson about how he first got involved with Sabio LA, the new Orange County campus, the real-world startup projects that students work on, and the huge demand for developers in Orange County.
What was your background and experience in programming before you joined Sabio?
I first started programming for fun before high school. My high school had a special track called Technical Prep where I learned basic programming. I started freelancing through college to help support myself.
I majored in New Media Interactive Development at Rochester Institute of Technology in upstate New York. The degree was a BS, but it consisted of programming and design. I minored in psychology because it was interesting, and as a teacher, that background has been very useful. I’ve been a professional web developer since graduating in 2005.
I moved to LA in 2007, and my last job was at a company in Venice Beach called CodeParticle, where I worked for about five and a half years. I worked with Sabio co-founder Gregorio Rojas at CodeParticle for about a year and a half before he left to start Sabio. In December 2014, he talked to me into joining Sabio, and the rest is history.
What about Sabio convinced you to join the coding bootcamp movement?
I didn't know about coding bootcamps before Gregorio. Learning about Sabio opened my eyes to a number of things which are very important to me today. Sabio stands for the under-represented groups in the industry, and before working with Sabio, I didn't realize there was such a disparity.
What's your role at Sabio?
My official title is Vice President of Engineering, but in December, I opened Sabio’s newest campus in Orange County. I do a bit of everything, but my primary responsibility is training and teaching the cohorts. Right now I'm teaching a cohort of eight people for 40 plus hours a week.
Sabio is unique in that we work on real projects for real entrepreneurs. Each cohort is matched with an entrepreneur, whose project we work on. Part of my job is to track these entrepreneurs down and broker those deals so that the cohorts have cool projects to work on.
Did you have any teaching experience before you started at Sabio?
At my previous job I actually mentored three junior developers and spent time doing code review. All of those things did help prepare me, but running the cohort at Sabio is like that... multiplied by a thousand!
I used to be that stereotypical programmer who didn’t like to talk while working, so it's been a learning experience for me. I've had a lot to learn and expand on, and I’ve spent a lot of time outside of my comfort zone. That’s where my psychology minor has helped me out. Thankfully, I've been told by my students that I'm a good teacher!
Why do you think Gregorio thought that you would make a good teacher?
I don't know if he felt I would be a good teacher but he knew he could trust and rely on me because we sat right next to each other at CodeParticle. I saw he was a dependable and reliable person who could get things done and he saw that about me too. At Sabio, the way we recruit teachers is to take very experienced developers and turn them into teachers.
Sabio has been training developers in LA for a few years. Why do you think that Sabio decided to expand to Orange County?
The demand in Orange County has been astronomical. We've heard from hiring managers, recruiters, and prospective students. We got emails asking “when are you coming to Orange County?” or “could you send students here to interview at our company in OC?" Students from our LA campus were traveling down to Orange County and getting jobs here. The demand is clearly there and Gregorio and Liliana had wanted to expand here for a long time.
I had been working in the Sabio LA campus for a little over a year before moving to OC to start this campus. The first OC cohort started on January 4th, 2016. It was an experiment – we didn't know how it was going to go. The LA campus is running pretty well at this point, but we had never done anything like this. So far, all those people who were asking for Sabio to open in OC have shown up.Our growth is very exciting.
What is the tech scene like in Orange County? What kind of companies hire developers there?
In 2015 there was about $1 billion of venture capitalist money invested in Orange County. All that money is going to various companies- a lot of established startups, real estate companies, medical technology companies, etc. Many of them are companies that wouldn't traditionally be hiring programmers but now they are because every industry needs programmers.
What’s your campus like in Orange County? Tell us about the classroom!
We rent a room in a co-working space in Newport Beach, across the street from a big mall called Fashion Island. Our classroom can accommodate 10 to 12 people, but we keep all of our cohorts under 10 people. The walls are covered in whiteboard paint so we have all kinds of diagrams and scratch code written on the walls. It's an amazing office, it's dog-friendly, and they also have a lounge area where we have happy hours.
Orange County a relaxed campus. I like it because it's more of a business-style office as opposed to LA, where they are on a college campus. And we're in this co-working space surrounded by other companies and real programmers too. We have a lot of people to talk shop with.
How is your campus the same or different compared to the LA campus?
First, it’s smaller because LA has two full-time cohorts in the classroom. The curriculum we teach is the same. It's a set of skills that every single student who comes to us needs to have in order to be effective as a developer in the field. Since we work on different projects for every cohort, the path we take to get there is different every single time. In that respect, no two cohorts are exactly the same whether they're in LA or Orange County.
Our differences aren’t as much in the location as it is just the styles of the instructors. All the instructors have their own styles, but everyone that trains with us- whether it's Culver City or Orange County- will be equipped with the same skill set when they graduate.
Expansion can be tough for coding bootcamps- how are you ensuring that OC students get the same quality education as the LA students?
What we do is when we partner up with entrepreneurs whose projects we build, we spend about a week before the projects start, doing pre-production work. We break down their project into dozens of small tasks. One task might be to implement the login screen, for example, then we have all these tasks set up in our management software for the students to take. We approach it as if they're in a job, and they're responsible for building these features. Even though the features are different in each cohort, the skills they need to build those features are the same. On the client side, we use Angular, HTML, and Bootstrap in these certain libraries. On the middle tier we use Microsoft, C# platform and on the database end we use Microsoft SQL servers.
Can you tell me a bit more about how Sabio’s relationship with the entrepreneurs works?
We build their prototype for equity, then they're able to take that prototype and use it to raise money. That whole pipeline is unique in the area as far as I know. My goal is to turn this Orange County campus into a real consulting shop. So even though students are learning, I want to get the word out to entrepreneurs that they should see us as a legitimate development option.
How do you as an instructor contribute to iterations on the Sabio curriculum?
We have our own internal Wiki to gather information students need when they're starting out. When I first came to Sabio I noticed a lot of the wiki material needed to be revised and expanded, so I took it upon myself to make everything easier for the students to understand.
I've also worked on a starter template that we use for all of our projects. Using the experience and knowledge I gained as a programmer, I've been able to refine a lot of the materials we use to teach, and improved how we present them.
Right now I’m teaching my seventh cohort, so I've gone through this process many times. I've come up with a set of lectures where I present the material in a way that I've seen people in the past understand it quickly, so I know it’s effective. Every time I teach a cohort, I learn something new, then apply that to the next one. I'm constantly learning from my students and I try to bring all that to bear so every cohort I teach is better than the last one.
Our other instructors iterate on the curriculum and teaching methods too.
Can you tell me a bit more about your personal teaching style?
I strive to be very patient. I've heard people say there are two philosophies that you can follow when you're teaching people. One philosophy is to tear people down until they start to learn, then build them back up. The second philosophy is to build people up from the beginning. That second one is what I try to follow. I lead by example, I don't get angry at people, I don't try to force people to do anything. I reason with them, and position myself as someone they can trust.
I like to inspire students. My style works best with people who are highly motivated and willing to work with me. Sabio is a place for highly motivated individuals. It’s about helping them with their confidence, reinforcing that what they're doing is good, and just trying to build them up into stronger people, and stronger programmers than they were before. Sometimes that can get frustrating because I have to be very patient but I’ve found over the long run that this pays off.
My approach is based on what I’ve learned in martial art classes, because that's how my coach teaches people who really don't have any martial arts experience.
You mentioned you had taken on a few more assistant instructors at your campus. How many teachers do you have there now?
We're actually in the process of scaling up our Orange County presence right now. For the first two months or so I was the only teacher. Thankfully in the last month or so I've been able to hire a couple of people to help me out with teaching and other things. There are now four total employees, some working on the pre-work basic phase one training that prepares people for the bootcamp training. I'm still the head instructor for the main course in Orange County.
How many hours a week do you see your students committing to Sabio?
We require 70+ hours per week. 40 or more those hours are with me in the classroom, and if they're not putting in those extra 20-30 hours on top of that, it's very evident to me. So far, I haven't had that problem with anyone in Orange County.
You were saying all of your graduates from the last cohort already got jobs. How do you help them with that job seeking process?
We help them get jobs in a number of ways. The curriculum in the last two weeks of our 12-week program is focused on the job search. We do mock interviews, and we go through about 200 slides of interview questions people have been asked in the past.
A lot of people get hired out of Sabio through recruiters. So we'll bring in recruiters to talk to the cohort while they're still in training to get a head start. Sometimes we do hiring events where we'll get a bunch of recruiters and hiring managers together who want to hire people. Then we just maintain a network. I go to meetups and talk to recruiters a lot.
Sabio is not just about coding. Coding is just one of the things that we teach, but our goal is to produce web developers, people who are able to go out and get a job and hold this job down moving forward. We're committed to fellows for five years, with our goal to get fellows in jobs with at least a $100,000 salary within five years of graduating.
What types of jobs have you seen students getting in the area so far?
It’s all over the board. Lately, we've been on a really good run with universities. Both here in Orange County and in LA, we've had people get jobs at UCLA, Pepperdine University, UCI down here in Orange County, University of California Sacramento. One of my recent graduates is at a medical technology company called Synermed in OC.
A lot of graduates are going to startups, but the majority of them are going to other types of established companies like real estate, law practices, medical companies. A lot of them use the Microsoft stack that we teach, which is actually a very popular stack around here. We're in a good position because none of the other bootcamps in this area teach the Microsoft stack. The combinations of those factors work well for us. Our last few cohorts were 100% hired in Orange County.
What are your favorite meetups or resources you recommend for people thinking about doing a bootcamp in Orange County or who want to find out more about coding?
In 2013, Gregorio Rojas and Liliana Monge started Sabio, a full stack coding bootcamp in L.A., with the goal of helping more Angelenos get access to programming skills. Now the bootcamp is well established with a new campus in Orange County, and dozens of successful alumni working as developers. Gregorio is head instructor/CTO and spoke to us about launching their new iOS program, finding the best instructors, and the importance of maintaining relationships with alumni for five years after they’ve graduated.
On Sabio’s Beginnings...
Tell us about your background and what brought you to found Sabio.
I actually don’t have a degree in computer science; I have a Bachelor of Science in sports medicine from Boston University. I’ve been doing software for more than 15 years so I’m in the same position as most of the people who come to Sabio, which is that they have a degree but it’s not in CS. So I’m intimately aware of the path it takes, the work it takes, the focus one should take in getting from zero and into a job because I did it myself – and I did it wrong.
How did you learn software development?
I did it mostly on my own. I took some night classes at Northeastern University, but they were not that awesome. It wasn’t really software development, but I had to do it because it was part of the course. We were supposed to do two chapters in this programming book. But I did the whole book. I was at home struggling by myself. But in the end I did really well at it. I put a lot of time into it and after the program, I was the only one in my class who got a job.
My first job was supposed to be a junior developer position. It turned out to be a QA (quality assurance) position. I was there three months.
When did you and Liliana start Sabio?
It was about three years ago. It took us about 10 months until we actually started training. We were trying to get support to do a Monday through Friday program, do a full-blown campus/co-working space, all sorts of stuff. And that was just too much to start with. So we ended up starting with a weekend program. We ran two cohorts over 20 weekends. I ran the cohorts on Saturday and Sunday – while still working at my job Mondays through Fridays – then met up with the students Wednesday night. We did that for two cohorts, which was basically a year before we transitioned to what we have today as the Monday through Friday programs.
We no longer offer part time classes. We’d love to but it’s just really hard to find developers who want to work every weekend for 20 weeks.
On the Sabio Teaching Approach:
You were a developer working in the field for 15 years or so. What have you found is your personal teaching style?
Most of our lecturing happens at the very beginning and the very end of the 12 weeks. At the beginning, we get you warmed up, and make sure everyone is moving forward at a good pace. At the end, we prepare you for the job market with interview prep, resume prep, and send you on interviews.
In the middle eight weeks, it’s a lot of one-on-one. sometimes we’ll stop and do some lectures if people are having a similar problem. But usually I come in each morning and start fielding questions, one after the other. If you’re working faster, I’ll give you more work. If you’re going through work slower, I spend more time making sure you’re learning what you need to know. We focus a lot on actual code delivery. So if students don’t have questions, I go around the room and pull them out and say, “Show me your code, show me what you’ve been doing.”
We do a lot of computer science theory towards the end. It’s theory that could be necessary for you to get a job, and to accurately describe what you’ve been doing for the past 10 weeks. You need to be able to communicate with a computer scientist in a manner they can appreciate.
How many cohorts do you have going at once? Do you teach them all?
We have three cohorts going at once, each with maximum 10 students. Hopefully soon we’ll have four or five running at the same time. It just depends on instructors. I’m responsible for teaching one class in L.A., and I oversee all three of them, including the one in Orange County. Liliana makes trips back and forth to Orange County. The short-term goal is to get me bouncing from room to room; whether that be two campuses then I’ll do that. Right now, we are aggressively looking for other instructors.
Tell us about the Sabio instructors? Who are they?
The other instructor here in L.A. with me has been programming a really long time. He’s had tremendous experience and used to teach at one of the local colleges, a UCLA extension. The instructor in Orange County was with us in L.A. for an entire year and is someone who I’ve worked with before. We always bring in top quality people to train our students.
We train them thoroughly on how to teach, how to present the materials, how to field questions, the tone, the direction, or the amount of information, and when to present it. An instructor comes in and they shadow me for 12 weeks. We pick people who have a lot of experience in mentoring and speaking to other developers. People who can get in front of a room and explain things about code in a knowledgeable and clear way.
I have regular meetings with the instructors whom I’m not teaching with to see what’s going on.
Do you hire Sabio graduates as instructors or TAs?
No, we do not hire them to teach our full time course. It doesn’t make sense for me to hire someone I just trained. That’s one of my biggest questions marks – I don’t know how that is a value proposition for anyone. Our oldest fellows have been out in the industry about 22 months and I'd love to hire them in another three or four years, let them get all of that experience. There isn’t a very detailed curriculum playbook that we distribute, so what I need at the front of the room is someone who can teach whatever comes up.
When you started the fulltime program, the curriculum was .NET, right? What are you teaching now?
Some of our fellows have found jobs doing Node and PHP, and we have people working in Python. When they graduate, they leave here with the toolset to do what they want. We have two fellows who have deployed their app to the Apple store. They’ve got a little startup running and they’re touring the country competing in and winning hackathons to fund their startup.
We like to have a very open curriculum, we don’t like to be limited in what we’re going to do.
How is the job market for .NET in L.A and Orange County?
Because we’re in California, we’re always the afterthought to Silicon Valley. But we do really well. I’ve been here 15 years and I never had a problem getting work; plenty of work choices and great pay.
We actually started in Orange County because of the demand we saw from the hiring managers there, and the fact our fellows in L.A. would keep going to Orange County to interview. So this year, we made the effort and we were able to expand to Orange County.
What are your job placement rates like?
We’re at 90% with great placement rates, great salaries coming out of the program. The outcomes inform what we do. It’s twelve weeks of study, and then in seven weeks on average, you have a full time job. We have plenty of people getting a job right out of the program as well.
What does the pre-work look like?
Anyone who applies to Sabio can start the pre-work. It starts with a simple onboarding process. Day one of pre-work is the first Monday of every month here in L.A. You start pre-work with me, then you get two weeks for free, to see if this is going to make sense for you – not at home by yourself because that could be so frustrating. From our third cohort on, we’ve had an instructor there to lead this pre-work and prep students in person. You have actual interaction, and the instructor can give you a lot of context before you start the program.
And if it makes sense and you like us, you go through the registration process and sometime in the future, depending on scheduling and logistics, we’ll get you into a full time training program.
Tell us about your new iOS program.
It’s an intro program for people who are new to programming. A lot of trying to learn to code is getting past this hurdle, getting oriented, overcoming a lot of fears. This program is intended for someone with no programming background, and one of the big takeaways from the course is you will publish an app to the app store – that is the goal. We’re going to take you through building a simple iOS application and actually take you through the steps of deploying it. We will be teaching both Objective-C and Swift.
On Partnering with Antioch University
What does the partnership with Antioch University look like?
The easiest way to describe it is you can now essentially enroll to be an Antioch student and take what they’re calling their CS 101 and CS 303, but those two courses are run by Sabio instructors.
The CS 101 is a little bit more formal and structured than what we normally do in our bootcamp, but we had to make it work with the academic system. The CS 303 is the same full stack intense training that we do in the bootcamp. It isn’t a modified one we’re cutting up across four semesters and breaking up. It’s being taught by our instructors under my supervision. The difference that would make you go through Antioch instead of directly through Sabio, is you can transfer to Antioch with college credits and finish your degree with them. And you can get university-standard financial aid, including GI bill. You can pay the bills and grow your career while finishing your degree.
Becoming a Sabio Fellow
Who would you say is the ideal student to study at Sabio?
Come to us with zero. Our job is to get you to learn to code. If you know how to code, we’re not going to turn you away. But so far no one's ever come to our program who has a CS degree.
What do we look for in a person? They have to be motivated, have a good attitude as far as dealing with frustration, and be very positive. That’s something we try to coach them on throughout their engagement with us.
But really, the most important thing is how coachable they are. You’ve got to be able to ask for advice, take advice, consume it and do something with it. I’m bringing 15 years of professional experience in programming, and how to get from point A to point Z in an efficient manner. If you come here and think your opinion might carry more weight than us, that’s not going to fly. What I tell folks is, we have a plan. We’ve been training, making contact with this plan for close to a hundred people. We modify it all the time to try to make it better.
How do you mentor fellows once they graduate from Sabio?
After we teach you those skills and get you into a job, we have a five-year commitment to get you more CS material and share it with you over that time period, because trying to squeeze this into 12 weeks is really hard.
We also do monthly meetups. That could be an intro to a new topic, it could be a deep dive in an old topic. We also do professional development, talking to folks about how to deal with their managers, peers, entrepreneurship, the tech environment in general. I get a lot of phone calls from fellows about negotiating a new contract or an offer. The value of the mentorship aspect of professional development is well established.
We really try to build a big sense of community so we have really good relationships with some of the folks who have come through our program over the last two years. They tell me they’re doing really well at their jobs.
How do fellows interact with current students? What is the alumni network like?
They come back to help out our younger ones or people who are about to graduate when we do our hackathons. We encourage everyone to come, and we mix up the teams so in each team, we have someone who’s been out in the industry two years, someone who’s been working 6 months, and maybe someone who’s still training. So there’s a tremendous amount of networking that goes on, as well as learning.
The Evolution of Sabio
What has been your greatest lesson as a coding bootcamp founder? Tell us about something you’ve changed about Sabio over the last 2 years.
I’ll tell you about the most impactful change we made. Week one and week two used to be really intensely stressful, because it was such a huge learning curve. Now week one is a fun time, because we have updated and continue to update our pre-work formula to make it less stressful, get them more knowledge and get them better prepared for that intense period. We changed it to be more comprehensive, more focused, and project based.
Our past fellows actually changed my opinion in regards to our pre-work – the amount, the quality, and the delivery. As we collected more and more similar feedback, we changed our pre-work to be consistent with what the fellows asked for.
I know Sabio has always made a huge commitment to opening up the applicant pool to untapped talent, getting underrepresented minorities into the doors. Do you look back at the last two years and think you’ve been successful in that goal?
The short answer is yes. This comes from the fact Liliana and I are both immigrants and Latino. So when we talk about focusing on specific groups, why wouldn’t we focus on ourselves, right?
The biggest way we do that is, we just invite anyone. Everyone who wants to learn, you can come to us but you’re going to have to pass our process. We need to make sure you’re the right kind of person because we’re going to have a five-year relationship with you. When you come out, you’re going to be a great developer; that’s what we’re focused on.
We don’t reject anybody. We let you figure that out. When you go through our pre-work and it’s not something that’s sticking, then you’ve made that decision. Or when you are confident that you can learn at Sabio, then we’ll take you there.
We love talking to coding bootcamp grads who have landed their first jobs as developers; but what are alumni up to one year after they graduate? In January 2015, Nicki Klein was starting her first job as a developer after graduating from Sabio. Now, she’s teamed up with fellow Sabio alum Melissa Hargis, scaled back her dev job to part-time, and the Sabio duo are focusing on Shortkey, their app development business. Find out how these Sabio ladies are creatively fundraising on a “Hackathon Tour” and how Sabio helped build the technical skills and confidence they needed to launch their own company.
Nicki, what has changed in your career since we last spoke in 2015?
I’m still working at 1iota, but I just went part-time to focus some energy on Shortkey, which is Melissa’s and my business. Since we last spoke, I’ve also learned Swift and mobile development, and won a few hackathons!
We know that Nicki transitioned from finance to web development at Sabio. Melissa, what brought you to Sabio?
I was a Spanish professor for eight years at Cal State San Marcos. I was hired by the university to create their online Spanish curriculum, so I used their tech tools to create an online experience that mimicked an in-person class. That was an awakening period for me, because I was able to use my creativity and problem-solving skills. I realized that I needed to have a career I was obsessed with and could be creative in.
I spent my first two years in college as a Computer Science major. The problem there was that I was taking just one CS class per semester, along with a ton of other classes. I got more out of my first two weeks at Sabio than I did in two years as a CS major. That showed me that I really liked coding. Software development is a lucrative, in-demand career, so that was big in my decision-making process.
My big question was – how do I avoid taking my 7-month old baby to San Francisco for the summer to do a coding bootcamp? The only coding bootcamp I found in southern California was Sabio.
Did you meet each other at Sabio?
Nicki: Yes, we were the only women! There were only five of us in that first cohort, so it was a really tight group. Melissa and I definitely became friends during Sabio, but when it ended, we didn’t know if we would see each other again. About one month later, we both participated in a Hackathon together, and that was the beginning of our company.
Melissa: They always have women in their cohorts, but we were in Cohort 2. It was a really new startup at the time, so we were taking a risk.
Nicki, you got a job at 1iota after graduating from Sabio. Melissa, did you have a job after you graduated?
Melissa: I landed a full-time software engineering job at an accounting services company called TAG, three weeks before I graduated from Sabio. In the Sabio curriculum, we worked on our resumes, and once my resume was ready, I sent it out and got so many interviews! I got the very first job I interviewed for (my technique is confidence). TAG had a small software division focused on NetSuite. That wasn’t the stack that we learned at Sabio, but I was fine with it.
I just recently quit my job to work full-time on Shortkey.
So tell us about the first Hackathon you participated in!
Melissa: Sabio really encouraged us to get involved in Hackathons. It’s a great way to create a project that you can add to your resume/portfolio in one weekend. It also looks awesome to have done well in a hackathon. This was the TechweekLA Hackathon; we formed a team of five Sabio female developers and we took 2nd place!
This team was made up of women from different cohorts at Sabio?
Melissa: There was a woman from Cohort 1, Nicki and I from Cohort 2, and two women from Cohort 3.
Nicki: That hackathon was monumental, because after we took second place, the judges approached us and said we needed to turn our idea into a mobile application. The project was a multi-destination routing application. Say you need to get beer, tampons, and chocolate in one trip; Chorbit makes that happen.
Tell us about the evolution into your app development company, Shortkey.
Melissa: Nicki and I decided that night that we would learn mobile development. At the time, we were C# and .NET developers, but we spent the last year teaching ourselves mobile development.
How did you teach yourselves this new mobile technology stack after you graduated?
Nicki: Originally, we used Xamarin, which is a software that allows you to build a mobile app in C# and .NET.
Once we started to learn iOS, we learned by reading tons of documentation, Google and trying and testing (and failing!) together. We eventually taught ourselves Swift.
Sabio definitely gave us the tools to learn any language after graduating. That experience also simulates a real-world environment; we gained confidence that we could jump into a new language or new role or new business and come out on top.
You were living and working in different cities (San Diego and LA) – how did you keep the momentum going as you learned Mobile Development and developed your company?
Melissa: We live and breath on Trello – it’s like another organ to us! We create our projects in Trello and text each other at least 100 times a day. We’re really good at working remotely together.
Nicki: Basically, we’re in a relationship and we have a child and her name is Shortkey.
Tell us about Shortkey!
Melissa: Shortkey is the umbrella company that we’ll build all of our apps under. Chorbit is our first app, and we’re about to release our second app in March, which we’re really excited about.
Do you think that your first job after graduating from a bootcamp was important, or can someone graduate from a bootcamp and start their own business?
Nicki: I’ve learned so much at one 1iota and so many new technologies that I may not have learned otherwise. I’ve picked up a lot of tools that we can use in the apps we’re building.
Melissa: I didn’t necessarily have the goal to start my own company before Sabio. I thought I would work my way up at a company. It wasn’t until I started working that I realized that I had ideas that I thought were very important; now I have a major ego about those ideas, and I have to build my own things.
Have you stayed involved with Sabio now that you graduated?
Nicki: I’m really involved because I live in LA. They’re really supportive of our startup and are always emailing us – we’re always communicating. At Sabio we have five years of continuous support after graduating, so if you have a problem at work, you can always call Liliana or Gregorio. But besides coding help, they’re helping us with initial startup problems – that’s how they’ve been most supportive. We’re all on Slack, so everyone is still posting problems they’re having at work and asking questions.
That five-year commitment manifests differently for us than it does for other students.
Melissa: I’m still in San Diego, but I communicate on a weekly email basis with Liliana and Gregorio.
Have you fundraised for Shortkey?
Initially, we decided to go down the fundraising path after we launched our app in October. We’ve had lots of meetings, but we’ve decided we’re not going to pursue traditional fundraising. We thought we would need a lot of fundraising to meet product roadmap deadlines. But we’ve found that we don’t need a ton of money for Chorbit. For the next app, we will need more money for marketing and product. But we’re not hugely excited about spending time on raising money.
Instead, we’re doing a rockstar hackathon tour to raise our seed round. It’s an interesting approach to take control of our own seed funding through winning competitions.
We did just get accepted as a finalist in a NYC accelerator – we got that news today!
What’s your advice to someone considering doing a hackathon?
Melissa: Have fun with it and find a way to not be intimidated. We dress up for every Hackathon. At our very first hackathon, we dressed up in adult onesies. It helps to create excitement and keeps us from getting intimidated. We just won $5000 at the AT&T Developer Hackathon. There were hundreds of teams, and I hand-sewed us matching Chorbit cheerleader costumes! Hackathons are a great way to drum up attention around your skills and your app.
We have a lot of momentum going right now; we’re also being featured in a documentary about mobile app developers, and they filmed that AT&T Hackathon.
Do you think Sabio can work for every type of student?
Melissa: I have people contact me from LinkedIn about Sabio all the time and I’ve recommended a lot of people go through the Sabio program. That being said, not every person is a fit.
Nicki: It also depends on the type of learner you are. If you need someone to walk you through every step of a problem, you won’t be in the right learning environment at Sabio. You probably won’t be a great developer either, because you need to be able to jump into a fire and get yourself out.
When coding bootcamps started gaining popularity, we wondered if tension would arise between traditional universities and these alternative education providers. On the contrary, a trend arose and universities have now been partnering with coding bootcamps for a few years now. When the Department of Education announced the EQUIP Initiative in October 2015, these collaborations were formalized by the US government; but EQUIP is just one example amongst the myriad of strategic and independent partnerships between universities and coding bootcamps.
Updated April 2018Continue Reading →
When coding bootcamps started gaining popularity, we wondered if tension would arise between traditional universities and these alternative education providers. On the contrary, a trend arose and universities have now been partnering with coding bootcamps for a few years now. When the Department of Education announced the EQUIP Initiative in October 2015, these collaborations were formalized by the US government; but EQUIP is just one example amongst the myriad of strategic and independent partnerships between universities and coding bootcamps.
Updated April 2018Continue Reading →
Course Report has some exciting things rolling out in 2016, but for now, here's what you may have missed in November! Remember to email me with noteworthy news to include in next month's roundup.Continue Reading →
Because Course Report is part of this growing coding bootcamp industry, we are very interested in who is attending bootcamps and what that means for the larger tech industry. The growing interest in diversity in tech has led to an ongoing conversation that has even reached the White House. Here are the facts:Continue Reading →
Move over tinsel town and make some space in the greater Los Angeles area for some of the finest coding programs in the country. While LA once paled in comparison to San Francisco when it came to the sheer quantity of bootcamps, we've seen a surge in LA coding bootcamps this year. There is a wide choice of code schools with campuses in LA's "Silicon Beach" that all bring a unique take on web development training.Continue Reading →
The July News Roundup is your monthly news digest full of the most interesting articles and announcements in the coding bootcamp space. Want your bootcamp's news to be included in the next News Roundup? Submit announcements of new courses, scholarships, or open jobs at your school!Continue Reading →
African-Americans make up only 4% of people in software development jobs, and Latino/as make up only 5% of these jobs in the US (source). Coding bootcamps will graduate over 16,000 students this year and place them into jobs as developers at startups and enterprise companies. 63% of those coding bootcamp graduates are white. In this webinar, we're joined by code schools Turing, Sabio.la, Startup Institute, and Telegraph Academy to talk about racial diversity in bootcamps, why we should change these statistics, and how bootcamps can support students from underrepresented backgrounds.Continue Reading →
Sara Ines Calderon noticed in her startup job that technical skills made employees an "invaluable asset wherever you go," and Sara "wanted to be indispensable." So she drew on her networking connections and met Lilliana and Gregorio, the "mom & pop" founders of Sabio in Los Angeles, California. She is now a student at Sabio and talked to Course Report about Sabio's .NET curriculum, the school's commitment to diversity, and how she's already used her new skills to win hackathons!
What were you doing before you started at Sabio?
At the beginning of the year I was working at a startup- a YouTube network and a business built on the YouTube platform. I moved to Austin where I was freelancing, doing different kinds of marketing and digital media consulting.
I was literally about to start applying to marketing jobs when Lilliana and Gregorio -- who I had met previously through networking in tech in LA -- suggested I consider doing Sabio.
Do you have a technical background at all?
I really don’t have a technical background. In the startup scene, you end up adapting to the current needs of the company so at my last position I did start to acquire more technical skills but certainly not enough to be an expert in any one technology. This is a total 180 in that sense.
Had you thought about applying to bootcamps before meeting Gregorio and Liliana?
I really hadn’t, but I think I’ve been evolving towards this step. As I mentioned, at my previous job I really recognized that if you have technical skills then you become this invaluable asset wherever you go, and I wanted to be indispensable. I wanted to have those skills that would give me authority or deference in a workplace.
I’d actually started to learn how to code on Codecademy and I looked for weekend programs when I was in Texas. Unfortunately, the weekend programs seemed to be geared a bit more towards people who already had skills and wanted to augment those skills rather than starting from zero.
Did you do a technical interview with Gregorio and Lilliana or was it more like a culture interview?
The application process in my particular case was a little bit different because I already knew Gregorio and Liliana and we had casual conversations about everything we would have covered in the interview – like where I went to school, what I studied and what my goals were.
As far as the application process, it was pretty fast.
Gregorio is the main instructor; what is his teaching style like?
His approach to teaching is very much like a practicum. In the beginning, he gives you just the right amount of hand-holding.
Now that we’re halfway through the class, I think he’s kind of backing off a little bit and trying to force us to figure stuff out on our own – which is extremely frustrating when you have no idea what you’re doing but at the same time, it is actually helping us learn to figure things out by ourselves. I’m getting much better at debugging my own code because I have no choice.
Gregorio is really great practical instructor because he gives us real world examples from his 15 years of experience. A lot of this new knowledge is very abstract, so he contextualizes it in terms of being a professional developer so it makes a lot more sense. Having worked in a startup, it’s just as close working in a startup as you could get in this particular context.
Does Gregorio do lectures or is it mainly project-based learning?
It’s definitely project-based learning and that’s one thing I really like about Sabio. We just submitted our project which is called Electa. We made a white label app for organizations and candidates in government to engage specifically with Latino voters.
We submitted it to the Voto Latino Innovators Challenge and we’re semi-finalists! If we win, they’re going to give us money to finish building the app. There’s always a conversation at Sabio about ideas. They invite different folks to come and pitch us their app ideas, then we as a cohort discuss it.
What’s your cohort like? Is there diversity in your class?
There are 8 people in my class and nobody has dropped out. I think that the whole course is very well-rounded and contributes to what I would call a “mature learning environment.” I think the youngest person is 23 and then there are three of us that are in our 30’s, a few folks in their 40s and a lady in her 50s. That’s a good age range. There’s a couple of white gentlemen and then a black woman and the rest of us are Latino. I think for me in particular, I think it’s nice to be in tech and not stick out so much.
In talking to Lilliana, it seems like there’s a big emphasis on diversity, specifically with getting Latino/a people into tech. Do you feel that that emphasis at Sabio?
When we were talking about building the app, it was within a context we had a conversation around translating it to Spanish. We also wanted to include voter verification which obviously affects more people of color and more Latinos.
As far as the diversity in Sabio’s mission, it’s not like diversity is built into the curriculum, but I get the impression that it was more on the recruiting side and the admission side.
Are there specific technologies that you’re taught at Sabio?
We’ve had actual conversations about this amongst ourselves. We’re learning .Net, which in the Silicon Valley/startup culture, is not necessarily hot on the tech scene. But the bulk of the programming jobs are still .Net (or Java or something else). I actually went to a Ruby on Rails workshop here in L.A. and it was a lot easier than .Net.
Two months ago, I was making my living putting together newsletters and doing corporate blogs and social media management – which I think is important work and is going to augment my skill set, but it’s exciting to be building that technology.
The template has already been set up for mobile. A lot of the startups or a lot of the technologies are mobile-centric so just learning about how to manipulate front end stuff so that the mobile iteration is also good.
Will you be working on an individual project as well?
I think at other bootcamps there are individual projects, but Sabio is structured around one group project. Some of us have our own little side projects going on and I personally have a few projects I want to build so I’m hoping to do that. We actually won a hackathon! Sabio had a total of two teams win 2nd and 3rd place. My all-woman, all-Sabio Fellow team won 2nd place!
Of course you’re only half-way through Sabio, but have you noticed that there’s an emphasis on job placement at all?
Absolutely. From the start Gregorio focused on soft skills- we have a peer code review, we’re working in a team environment, and we’re doing daily standup meetings. He’s always encouraging us to use the developer vernacular; especially in the first few weeks there’s a lot of emphasis on talking and Googling like a developer. All throughout the program there’s a huge emphasis on soft skills in all those different ways.
As far as job placement, we were lucky enough to see the last cohort, half of them got jobs right out the gate and the other half were still looking for work by the time our cohort started. We were able to see people coming in with multiple job offers and encouragement.
That goes back to the aspect of the Sabio community that I really enjoy. It’s cool to see other people go through it and be like well, if they did it I can do it.
Do you have an idea of the type of company that you want to work at?
To be perfectly honest, right now I’m just concentrating on doing this program. I really want to work at company that’s supportive of women because I’ve worked at tech companies that don’t try to create a comfortable environment. I feel like I should be treated well wherever I work.
Ultimately, I’m excited about living in Texas. My dream job would be to work at some sort of renewable energy company. In Texas the startup scene really is growing- I would love to do something with wind or solar. In the short term, ultimately I want to work in a place that’s supportive and allows me to grow as a developer and technologist. I’m really excited about trying to foment or support more Latinos, Latinas and women getting into tech.
Austin has a She Hacks group so I definitely want to get involved. And I think maybe start volunteering to help people learn to code.
Is there anything you’d like to add about Sabio?
I just want to reiterate that Sabio has been great. This is the ideal learning environment for me in terms of it being interactive and immersive. I’m a former newspaper reporter and that’s how I learned. Another metaphor is in martial arts. I started out in a more structured environment like Karate, but as I got more advanced, I started working on techniques and doing more sparring. Getting hit in the face is a really good way to learn how not to get hit in the face.
That’s my favorite thing about Sabio, to be sitting at a computer and be forced to figure out why things aren’t working and how to make it successful. I think that it’s that attitude and that frame of mind that will make you a better professional.
Sabio sees an imbalance in the current tech landscape, and their mission is to strategically train underrepresented and underemployed individuals to diversify the technology workforce. For a limited time, the Course Report community is eligible for a $500 scholarship to Sabio.la!Continue Reading →
Nicole Klein was bored in her job and searching for something she loved. When she found coding was similar to her childhood interests (puzzles and Legos!), she knew she had to pursue it. Luckily, she found Sabio.la in Los Angeles and was able to keep working while she trained to change careers. We talk with Nicole about her experience at Sabio and how she landed a job as a web developer immediately!
What were you doing before you started at Sabio?
I went to UCLA and majored in psychology and linguistics. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do from there. I was still working at the Apple store at the time that I graduated. I left the Apple store for a small office manager job and them from there I took a position in financing at J.P. Morgan where I worked on a team of people managing private client wealth.
Did you have any technical background before you applied?
The most technical background I had was being a genius at the apple store.
What made you start researching bootcamps and look into Sabio?
I’ve always had a passion for technology- I’d been reading tech blogs since I was little. I guess I just didn't consider it as a career for whatever reason. But around January, I started to be really bored with my job and I was trying to think about things that would entertain me for 8 hours. So I thought about all the things that entertained me when I was a little kid, and they were puzzles and Legos. So I said okay, if I can find a job that involves solving puzzles and building things then I would never be bored.
So I started Googling and I found coding- I was actually considering moving up north and just quitting my job and going to a boot camp up there. But then I found Sabio so I decided to stay.
Did you apply to any of the other boot camps?
At that point it was January of this last year and I was just looking. I was looking at some of them but when I found one in L.A., I stopped even looking or applying to go up north. At the time that I looked, General Assembly hadn’t made its way to L.A. yet; it was still in New York. So I didn’t even know about it until three weeks before I started Sabio.
But it didn’t matter because my heart was already sold on Sabio after meeting with Gregorio several times. I already knew that I was in good hands.
Did you do the part-time course or the fulltime course?
I did the part-time course. I worked 80 hours a week- I did 20 hours of coding on the weekends, 20 hours during the week plus my fulltime job at J.P. Morgan
That’s a lot of hours!
It was worth it, though.
Can you tell us about the application process? Did you do a technical interview or a culture fit interview?
I contacted Sabio in January and I met Gregorio and Lilliana at a coffee shop and they interviewed me. Gregorio basically explained to me that there is a lot of course work online. I did a lot of Code Academy and sent him the badges I received when I completed lessons.
So I did course work while I was sitting at my desk at J.P. Morgan because I had nothing to do. I would send him badges all day long and by the end of February, Lilliana sent me an email saying I was accepted because I literally did all my course work super-fast.
What were your intentions going into Sabio? Did you want to quit your job at the end of the program or stay at your current company and get a different role?
I would say my plan was always to leave my company but I knew I would have this job as a backup. So I had full intention to leave J.P Morgan and to leave the corporate world in general; I wanted to enter more of a startup environment. There was really no room for growth at J.P. Morgan; there was no room for the role above me; there was nothing. Also, transitioning to do dev work for J.P. Morgan would require me to move to New York. The only solution I saw was to leave.
What was the structure of that part-time course?
In the second week of class, a startup came and pitched their idea to us and we built their website for them from the ground up, all while learning how to build that at the same time.
It was cool because the stockholders would come in and tell us things that they wanted to see or things they liked that we did.
Gregorio would make the backlog and we would have a sprint backlog and the main backlog . Every week when we broke for class on Sundays, we would have until the following Saturday to finish the sprint backlog.
How many people were in your class?
We started with 5, lost one, ended with 4.
So everyone was working together on these tasks?
Yes. On Saturdays and Sundays it was definitely more real-world than during the week but we still did standups. During the week we did standups on Trello. So instead of doing them in person we just posted ‘this is what I’m working on, this is what I’m stuck on, this is what I’m going to do tomorrow.’
Were there ever lectures at all or was it mainly learning through doing?
He lectured as needed. Sometimes there was a concept like a major computer science concept that we needed to understand. He didn’t lecture for the whole day; I just don’t feel that’s generally effective with people anyways. Most people just fall asleep and they can’t pay attention. So I feel like throwing us in the fire was probably the best way of teaching.
And then he would come around and individually help us and we had the internet as well.
What was the company that you were working with?
It was called Capital Magnet. It’s Gregorio’s wife’s startup that she runs with one of her colleagues. It’s a really easy way to find capital if you’re a nonprofit or just a company looking for capital.
The site makes it really easy to filter and search all of the government sites because our site pulls from the government sites where all the bonds and stuff are posted – the grants, too. So it’s really like a one stop shop to find capital.
Which technologies did you learn throughout Sabio?
I learned the .Net stack. So we learned MVC.Net and every updated version of every language and Bootstrap as well.
What are you up to today? Are you still at J.P. Morgan?
No, I left J.P. Morgan! I currently work for 1iota, which is an audience casting company in L.A. and kind of like a ticketing solution for events and filling the audience in a TV show like Jimmy Kimmel and also performances. I currently develop their internal software for all their employees and also for affiliate users like ABC and also their client facing website, 1iota.com
What is your job title?
I’m actually not sure to be really honest. I’m a software developer. Our internal application is a web app but it looks more like software than an actual website.
Do you work on a team? What is your responsibility like?
I work on a team of four people. There is a lead developer and then there are two senior devs. I’m the most junior person on the team.
Does the job that you’re doing now use the .Net stack or have you had to learn new technologies?
They use a .Net stack and I am learning Entity Framework. And I know they organize their code a little differently; understanding the way they organize their code and their framework. But they do use some of the same technologies I learned to use, like Knockout
Did you feel Sabio prepared you well to transition into that job in the real world?
Yeah; during the interview I had a clear understanding that I was prepared for that interview. There were a lot of interviews that were a little bit more difficult but they weren’t real world settings, I would say.
Some people think that knowing stone cold facts and being able to do stuff on a whiteboard is coding, but that’s just not a real world skill. In a real world setting you have access to the internet, you have intellisense. It’s not a real test of your skills, I don’t think. This company actually tested me on a computer with visual studio and access to the internet and they watched me program my test.
Do you find in your job now that there’s mentorship or support for you as a more junior developer?
Absolutely. My team is super supportive. That was actually why I wanted to work here. I actually got two job offers in the same day. Before I even knew they were going to pay me less, because they were super supportive and the lead dev was like, “I just wanna take you under my wing” and I was like, “I just wanna be under your wing.”
How did you get that job? Was it through Sabio or did you do your own networking?
Finding a job was the easiest part ever. The interviews were difficult but it’s not like the kind of job search for where you drop your resume in like a thousand boxes and never get one phone call. I probably dropped my resume in a couple hundred boxes and then the phone calls started and they never really stopped.
I used Sabio as a resource, where I talked to Gregorio a lot about preparation for interviews and after interviews and feedback and that kind of thing. But I didn’t need connections at all; I just put my name out there and people called. There’s such a huge demand and a small supply of developers so it’s really easy. I got three emails this morning. People are still after me!
Did Sabio put an emphasis on job placement with mock interviews, resume building etc?
Yes, definitely. It was pretty much understood from the time that you started that you were going to take a job after. So even though I hadn’t really made up my mind, from the beginning I knew this is where I was headed. They definitely helped us edit our resumes and we did interview preps for at least three weekends. We had mock interviews and then he gave us a bunch of interview questions. So every time I walked into an interview, I had kind of a study guide in my hand.
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Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org!Continue Reading →