Skillcrush offers 12-week online courses in web design or web development. Wanting to teach students digital skills to kickstart their career, Skillcrush provides their "Blueprint," which is a step-by-step guide preparing students for the career they desire. Students engage in learning concrete technical skills while also creating a portfolio of real projects. These 3-month blueprints are online, but offer blocks of office hours, and access to classmates, instructors, and career coaches to create a structured learning environment.
Recent Skillcrush News
- Webinar: How to Choose an Online Bootcamp (and get hired)
- Webinar: How To Write The Perfect Developer Resume
- 8 Tips for Moms Learning to Code
Recent Skillcrush Reviews: Rating 4.78
Break Into Tech Blueprint
Did you look through our Blueprints and think “I want to learn it ALL”? The Break Into Tech Blueprint gives you exactly that. This course covers ALL of the lessons from our signature Blueprints and you’ll work with a career counselor to design a custom learning program to prepare you for an amazing and rewarding career. This one-of-a-kind digital skill training program will teach you all the core skills every aspiring technologist needs to know and make sure you’re set up for success in the flexible, creative, and lucrative career of your dreams.
- Payment Plan
- Make 12 monthly payments of $149 or one payment of $1499
Freelance Business Building Blueprint
Whether you’re looking to supplement your current income, gain the kind of flexibility that only comes from being your own boss, or scale your existing freelance business, this is the program for you. YOU decide your hours, what you work on, and how much you make...but when you’ve only ever worked for someone else, getting started can feel overwhelming. Anxious? Don’t be: You just need to learn from people who’ve done it before! In this Blueprint you will learn how to find your first client (and then some), market and sell your services, handle legal logistics, and grow your freelance business to $50,000–100,000 in revenue per year or more.
- Payment Plan
- Make 3 monthly payments of $199 or one payment of $499
Freelance Wordpress Developer Blueprint
WordPress developers have the most versatile skill set in the world: Approximately 60 million websites run on WordPress! This course will teach you the tools to build beautiful, functional, and totally unique websites—and start making serious money.
- Payment Plan
- Make 3 monthly payments of $199 or one payment of $499
- Minimum Skill Level
- A solid understanding of HTML & CSS is required for this course.
Front End Developer Blueprint
Are you ready to tap into one of the fastest growing, highest paying, and most in-demand careers in tech? Are you tired of making less than everyone else at your company when you know you’re just as smart? Get the most lucrative and versatile digital skills out there in the Front End Developer Blueprint. You’ll learn how to build gorgeous, interactive websites that work perfectly on every device and mobile phone you can think of. With an explosive job market, killer salary, and tons of growth opportunities, front end development is one of the hottest jobs in tech!
- Payment Plan
- 3 monthly payments of $199 or one payment of $499
Visual Designer Blueprint
Visual designers are the graphic designers of the digital world we live in, and they play a crucial role in designing the online experiences we interact with every day. If you’re an imaginative, creative, visual person and love sketching, drawing, pairing colors, illustrating, and calligraphy (or you just have a history with coloring books and macaroni necklaces), you’re going to love working in visual design. This course will prepare you for a career designing sites, apps, or ANYTHING you see online—and give you the tools to communicate with the development teams who will bring your designs to life.
- Payment Plan
- Make 3 monthly payments of $199 or one payment of $499
- Minimum Skill Level
- Comfort with HTML & CSS is required for this course.
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I already do website maintenance (html/css) in my career, but I wanted to step it up and add to my skills so I could branch out. I thought the Web Development blueprint would be an easy and affordable way to advance. I liked that it was flexible and I could do the lessons as I pleased. I was wrong. While the lessons are laid out nicely, clean, and seem short, they are not completely useful. They contain very short video lessons--I'm talking 3 minutes or less--and simple diagrams to teach. It seems logical in theory, but it doesn't work in practice. While there are a lot of basic resources and cheat sheets to refer to, it isn't enough. You really can find that information for free online, plus more!
There is no way someone who is a complete novice could successfully begin a career in web development after finishing these courses. That claim is such a joke. Employers would scoff at this resume if you brought this lack of skill to them. Even though Skillcrush claims you will have a polished, impressive portfolio at the end of Part 1....yea right! You get basic HTML & CSS to make a one page site with a few paragraphs and pictures. That's not acceptable in the modern web anymore and honestly is something you should expect from 1998. I got completely frustrated with how much the lessons leave you sitting in the dark that I haven't even finished the blueprint. I suspect the third and final portion, Ruby, Git & Sinatra, will be the same way.
There is a support system of other peers which can be nice, but I found the Mighty Bell platform to be very confusing. There were layers and layers of pages and half the time I didnt know where I was or if I was in the right group to post a question. Most of the time the students questions would go unanswered by the instructors and we were left trying to answer each others questions without any confirmation. They post daily tasks for each lesson in Mighty Bell as well, but my instructor was constantly late posting or posted the wrong week and took far too long to correct the mistake. That made learning even more confusing. The office hours were always at odd times...always during the weekend. I couldn't make any of them. It would be more useful if the office hours were during the week in the evenings.
I really wanted to like Skillcrush. The course seemed like it would teach a lot of things for the money, and I liked their spirit of female empowerment. Unfortunately it was mostly just a lot of hype, and hardly taught enough to make it worthwhile. Here is a breakdown of what they advertise, versus what you actually get:
“Practical Training That Fits Your Schedule”: The classes can be completed at your own pace. It can certainly be done in less than an hour each day, as advertised. A daily email is sent out with directions on which lessons to complete, articles to read, and any class announcements. Each lesson is comprised of a few minutes worth of video lectures, followed by a coding exercise. Rather than showing how to code, as most coding tutorials do, the videos are of Adda speaking at her desk, with a few screenshots spliced in. It was not very helpful, and I didn't like her unprofessional manner (saying things like “Amazeballs!” or making cheesy jokes). I had to do a lot of searching the web for answers before I was able to complete most of the coding exercises. I'm also not sure what the point of submitting the coding exercise was, because there was no feedback on any of them.
“A Community of Impressive Fellow Students”: There were approximately 150 people in my class, and Skillcrush uses a platform called Mightybell to connect everyone. Students can post in their “circle” and others can comment on their post. New comments would drive a post to the top of the feed, as were “trending posts” that had a lot of comments. This made it really hard to find posts pertaining to a specific topic. It didn't matter much though, because only a handful of students were active on Mightybell. There is also a group chat area on Mightybell, but it was usually dead for days at a time.
“Expert Support and Mentorship From Super-Friendly Instructors”: Only one teaching assistant was active on Mightybell, and she didn't always answer students' questions. I never saw any of the instructors post or comment there. Throughout the 3 month course, there were only 8 live office hour sessions. They were almost always on a Saturday or Sunday at 2pm EST, and I never got to attend any of them because that time doesn't work for me. Submitting homework assignments was meaningless, because there was never any feedback on it. Overall, the level of support and mentorship was a huge disappointment.
“Tons of Downloads, Code Samples, and Cheat Sheets”: They did give us samples of code, although they were quite basic and nothing you couldn't find for free on the web. The cheat sheets were full of Skillcrush graphics and used large fonts, so there wasn't much material on each page. To me that defeats the purpose of a cheat sheet; you should be able to glance at a page and find what you're looking for, not thumb through 7-8 pages to find it.
“Master Classes with Top Industry Experts”: There were 3 master classes during the 3 month period. They were each an hour long and gave a brief overview of one topic.
“Personal Letter of Recommendation”: I did receive a letter of recommendation with my name on it, touting what a “great” web developer I've become. Given the lack of feedback throughout the course, this letter is obviously meaningless, and probably serves more to promote their graduates, and thus their company, more than anything.
“A Professional-Looking Portfolio”: I was able to design a few basic sites that looked and functioned like they were made in the 90's. I was hoping to come out of this with something to be proud of, but it's not even close.
“Certificate of Completion”: I did receive a certificate indicating I completed the program.
Throughout the course, I was constantly frustrated by the lack of information in each lesson, and was frequently searching the web for answers just to complete the homework. In all that searching, I found that everything taught at Skillcrush, plus much much more, is available for free. I realize they can only cram so much material into one class, but I can't believe how many important topics they didn't teach. With a poor curriculum and lack of support, I can solidly say it's not worth paying for. Ironically, the best parts of Skillcrush are free. Their blog and free webinars are packed full of great career advice, with the exception of recommending their Blueprints to learn to code.
Skillcrush was my first introduction to coding and I loved how it was designed for women and encouraged a community of females coders, but I didn't find the material to be thorough enough for an absolute beginner. I ended up taking forever to get through the Skillcrush stuff because the video lessons were brief and didn't make much sense to me. All in all, I thought it was a waste of money because I ended up taking other non-Skillcrush courses to help me get through Skillcrush.
I love the career resources and I'm thankful that Skillcrush left me feeling empowered as a female coder, but I really don't think it was worth the expense. There are many other beginner friendly coding courses for far less money.
In retrospect, had I not read the HTML book, I'd have been equally confused on the HTML unit. Skillcrush's 2 minute videos and infographics just don't work. They really just present a superficial understanding of the material. Reading the books, I've gotten such a deep understanding of the material. I'd never reccomend Skillcrush to anyone, especially people new to coding. Also, I'm always suspicious of a company who doesn't post a phone number or address.
Just do CodeAcademy. It's free and you can now get support for $20 a month.
This course started out okay for me but if you need techinical help, like with your account it takes DAYS for anyone to back to you. The actual interface that they use for you to do challenges in all parts of the course are messy and confusing.
They also spent way too much time on fluffy stuff like how to use photoshop which, sorry but that's not what I signed up for. They spend a whole week on design and typography, which I do think is important but not as important as learning CODING which is what the course is supposed to be for. They even go over color theory before they freaking teach you how to code!
I mean sure, teach design, but at least wait until your students can actually make a website first! This is also super irritating for me because I actually have a bachelors in fine art and have taken typography, color theory and design classes already. Such a waste of my time and $!
It reminds me of a photoshop professor I had who would always say, " I am just here to teach you how this program works, I cannot give you creative talent, I cannot make you an artist".
They needed to focus more time on the coding. They should teach design separately. It's true that everyone can learn to code but not everyone is going to be good at design! They make you think that anyone can be a great designer after taking a three month course.
Can you learn to code in three months? Yeah. Does that automatically mean you will be a talented web DESIGNER? Hell No! Sorry, I worked really hard to put myself through a fine art school so that really gets my goat.
They push a lot of their favorite products, without mentioning that you don't have to actually use those products.
Also, I signed up for the mobile web design course by accident and made it a few weeks into the course before realizing I needed to know HTML and CSS first. They did switch me but it did take at least a week for anyone to respond to my questions.
I learned how to use GIT during that time which is cool and was easy enough to understand. But during that course they definitely favor Mac over PC. And that sucks because when you are using Command-line interface to program,Mac and Pc don't work in the same way. All of the examples and videos show someone working on a Mac and they don't show examples of what it looks like on PC. For some of the excercises they mention how the two differ, but most of the time they are just like " this is different when you do it on a PC, sorry!".
All of the paid programs that they suggest that you use have a million other alternatives.
I like the community part of it where you can interact with other users but that's pretty much it.
I am currently in my second month of the Web Designer Blue print through Skillcrush and am thoroughly enjoying it.
I see a lot of reviews about it not being enough to really do anything and that you can get the content online for free. Yes, this is true and nothing in this blueprint is new or earth shattering, but this is not the point . I think the point of the blueprint is for you to get your feet wet and learn the very basics in an online class setting. I needed structure and the daily lessons and postings on the class forum (mightybell) did that for me. When I was using Codecademy I felt it was not progressing toward anything and I felt I was just "playing" and not really learning since I was just recreating what I was told. Skillcrush does this as well, but at the end of the HTML/CSS portion you start to create your own website so you can really let your creative juices flow instead of just regurgitating instructions and matching the example site that is given. During the daily lessons you also can create little bits of code on your own, using the theory and coding you've learned and I think this cements what you've learned a lot more than just "follow these code instructions and make your code look like the example." Using your own examples makes you really think about what you're doing vs a "cut and paste" mentality.
I've also seen complaints on mightybell. In my opinion, mightybell is one of the best things about the courses because it allows you to talk with instructors and other classmates so you can post your work and get feedback. My class is very active on mightybell so I am thankful for that, however, Skillcrush isn't at fault if you happen to have classmates that are not very active on mightybell so I would not dock Skillcrush for that if that is what you have experienced.
I also had issues with not receiving emails at the beginning of class. I did receive responses from my instructor and the help staff promptly. Yes it was frustrating and it took a few days but they did get it all fixed for me and I had no further issues. I am happy with the response time of the stuff and instructor so far.
Another thing I've seen that I wanted to address is the issue of having to Google things in order to solve an issue or get a grasp on a concept. I have had to do this too since it's been a while since I've used Codecademy. I do not think that is a complaint about the class to have to use Google to solve issues because doing that is preparing you for the real working world as a freelance or junior web designer. There will not always been someone to ask or to help you so learning now how to search for answers and learn on your own is an extremely critical skill to have when working in tech. It is better to be in a course like Skillcrush and learn to find answers on your own as well as bounce ideas off colleagues (classmates) now rather than be in your first position in web design or have your fist client and be lost.
Over all, would I take another Skillcrush course? YES I would and I plan to do just that. I have enjoyed the whole experience of having a class type structure along with classmates to give feedback to and get feedback from and I have learned things that I did not know before. Skillcrush won't teach you everything you need to know and the creator, Adda, has said this. I haven't learned a ton that I did not know about HTML/CSS, but I've gained value from the UI/UX lessons that I haven't experienced before and having the master class videos with tips and how-tos on how to get started in web design have been valuable.
Will this Web Designer Blueprint get you a job? Ahhh, on its own, no I don't think so. I think you need to take your skills that you've gained and practice more and gain exp on creating web pages and sites from scratch. This blueprint is supposed to let you leave it with a portfolio but I'm not sure if it will be substantial enough to get hired somewhere. The pages you will be making after you've went though the HTML/CSS portion are going to be very basic so don't expect to make flashy sites right off the bat. I would just tell everyone thinking of it and reading reviews to know what you are getting. Do not expect to be able to create fancy websites with interactive portions and drop down menus because that is way to advanced. This class is truly for the beginner and if you really have not experience any type of HTML/CSS or coding before it may require some Googling to wrap your head around it at first and I think that is ok. Use this blueprint to guide you through the learning, not as a be all end all...it's a stepping stone. I am hoping I will be able to get at least some freelance work with what I've gained and learned from the last class that I will take. I'm hoping it will give me confidence to start small and to remember that no one knows everything and everyone has to start somewhere. :)
Skillcrush teaches you how to learn. So if you want to be force fed tech skills, you can't expect to do so for an hour-a-day. You can't expect to become a developer without going above and beyond and practicing everything you learn in the tutorial a ton. If you want to spend 3 months in a class and become a full-fledged developer do these (1) quit your job, (2) spend $12,000-15,000+ on an immersive course + housing, and (3) devote 60 hours+ week coding. Skillcrush is for DIY learners looking for a little more structure.
You get the basics and learn how to level-up yourself. And you get great instructors helping you do that and a-mazing master classes introducing you to more amazing concepts. I've done so much since finishing my course in March-and I was encouraged/empowered to do so by Skillcrush. Imposter syndrome is a real thing for people changing careers/women entering a male-dominated space. Learning web dev is not just about learning technical skills, it's about learning the soft skills that help you feel they belong.
In all of the tech events I have felt empowered to attend (meetups, in person classes, Django Girls workshop) so many developers say 50% of their job is searching things on Google. And you pick up some mad Google skills with Skillcrush. And some amazing resources to keep you going even after the course is completed. It's Web Design and/or Web Development you learn by doing and Skillcrush is a great place to start (and continue) doing!
As far as job resources...they rolled out a career section after I completed the course (and I still get action-lifetime membership baby) and the master classes are great (i.e. multiple webinars with the Power to Fly CEO) It has been really helpful with putting myself together and getting me on the right path. A 5 would of course be assistance with job placement; a girl can dream!
Prior to signing up for Skillcrush's Web Development Blueprint, I'd taken a few courses on Codecademy and Code School, along with knowing basic coding needed for customizing Tumblr/Myspace/ Livejournal back in the day. I already had a pretty good hang of HTML/CSS and breezed through a month's worth of lessons in a week or two. When it came time to actually learn something new, I found Skillcrush's videos and lessons lacking in information, definitely not enough to make me a skilled web coder. While I appreciated the TA's and other women in the community, asking the TA a question only to be presented with a bunch of Google links without any proper answer just made me angry. Thanks, but I don't need to pay $400 to Google coding questions, I'm paying these people at Skillcrush (whom are supposed to be knowledgeable of the topics) to help me!
As others have said, the Mighty Bell platform they use for communications is horribly organized and hard to follow. Often times recent postings or important postings would be lost on the page. I was so happy to be done with it.
Needless to say, I ended up getting a refund. You're better off using free resources.
I signed up for the Ruby on Rails blueprint eager to learn. Adda has a great personality and I enjoy her short videos.
However, my overall experience has been frustrating. It can take more than 48 hours to receive a response to a question (if at all). Daily lessons are emailed and students are encouraged to communicate and post their work in Mightybell. For the past several classes I am the only student posting to Mightybell. There is rarely any feedback and I've spent most of my time supplementing with outside videos and tutorials.
After a couple days of not being able to proceed, I sent an email requesting a refund unless someone could respond to my questions. In this case I received a friendly response from a TA.
If you get stuck in a class and are not able to proceed you can expect to remain stuck unless you ask for a refund.
Skillcrush has the potential to be great but unfortunatley they fall short on offering basic support.
It is pretty much a $400 roadmap to follow on your own.
Skillcrush’s WordPress Blueprint gave me the professional skills I needed to launch my new career. I chose Skillcrush over other free online resources chiefly because it offered an organized curriculum with real support. I was pleasantly surprised with the fun way in which the lessons were presented, with lots of beautiful supportive material - so that even if the course covered a lot of ground, it never felt overwhelming (or painfully dry!!). I came to appreciate the professional development aspect of the course as I developed a clearer vision of what freelance work consists of. The blueprint left me with a toolkit full of code I could use in real-world projects, as well as new pieces for my portfolio!
I was really impressed with the support I received during the course. I also collaborated with many fellow students, some of whom became regular study-buddies and then lasting friends. I was able to build a network of contacts, and feel confident and empowered as a woman who codes. Thanks in part to some great carreer tools and advice, I was able to promptly secure contracts towards the end of the blueprint and have been working as a freelancer ever since.
When the opportunity presented itself, I started working as a T.A., and now I can carry on promoting the peer-to-peer empowering culture that Skillcrush fosters. I continue to learn and grow my skillset in providing some of the support I had so appreciated when taking the class. I recommend Skillcrush to anyone looking for a foundation to transition towards a new code related career.
Okay, so I am not completely done with my first Skillcrush Web Design Blueprint but I this is my last week and I have to say, I am absolutely impressed with how easy it was to learn everything in such a way that was far from boring, hard or expensive.
This course is not only cost efficient but in the last month of the blueprint, it begins to pay itself off with your first job. Did I mention this first job you take is done as a part of the last course and all while you have your classmates and instructor walking you through it, in case you have questions, concerns or need the confidence of having someone available in case the need arises.
Additionally, I am so impressed with the courses that I am signing up for the next blueprint and plan on taking them all. The classes are so fun, user friendly and easy to learn that I am seriously debating taking 2 blueprints simultaneously! This is really not bad for someone that has ADHD and has had serious trouble completing projects.
I love the programs so much that I have recommended many friends and even asked them about a referral fee (they don't do this)! This is a great opportunity for full time employees that need additional ways to make ends meet, just want extra cash or simply need to get out of their current daily grind.
I was in an accident last year and had to go on disability and decided to take the course while I sat at home but will use this as a method of paying back all the credit card debt I incurred while on disability but I am not worried because I already have my first client and have a few more lined up waiting for me to get to them. Yes, a waiting list before I finished the first blueprint!!!
You can work from home anytime of the day, get a part time job, better paying full time job, freelance opportunities via one time jobs -- you would be surprised how much people pay hourly or for one time projects.
I recommend this opportunity to everyone but especially the following:
1. Single parents
4. High school students and graduates
5. Stay at home parents
6. Anyone living paycheck to paycheck
7. Anyone that has a lot of debt
When I began the Skillcrush Web Design Blueprint (Sept. 2014), I had no prior experience in web design or development. I had been looking for a course that was geared toward women - for the design style and also communication. I enjoyed the teaching style, 1:1 weekly office hours, community and support so much that I signed up for my 2nd Skillcrush Blueprint, Freelance WordPress Developer, Jan 2015.
To get the most out of your Skillcrush Blueprints, I'd recommend: 1) Be as involved as you can on the Mightybell groups. The more involved you are with asking questions and answering fellow classmates' questions - the more you will learn. 2) Show up to every possible 1:1 or group office hours, and participate. 3) Do your best to keep up with lessons. Even though this is self-paced and you can take all the time you need to complete your lessons, you will find more support from peers if you are current than if you are a few months behind. The instructors are great at answering when you do get to the lessons, but you will find the most help by staying as close to the schedule as you can. If you do get far behind, I have known a couple classmates to request to be put into the next start date's Mightybell group so that they can get on track with the new group's schedule, and it benefitted them. 4) If you see that there are peers with common interests or learning styles, consider asking if any of them would like to be "study buddies" (as recommended in one of the webinars), with the idea that you could message each other with any questions about the course, and encourage each other as you go. I did that with a few peers and it has been among the best parts of the experience. I'm a few months beyond my blueprint and still keep in touch with one of my "study buddies."
I would HIGHLY recommend Skillcrush. My favorite pieces aside from the content, were the interaction with instructors and peers on Google Hangouts and Mightybell. As I processed the coursework with them, I learned so much more. I really do feel the value is more than the cost of the course, and you will most likley make the cost up in your first client or two. As other reviewers have said, you won't learn everything there is to know (probably in any course) - but I loved that the instructors often encouraged us that there is always more to learn, and that's exciting! And that your website can and will continue to evolve as you/your business does (takes pressure off the perfectionists! ;))
The courses are code heavy, so if you are more interested in the design side, you may want to consider other programs. I thoroughly enjoyed Skillcrush and what I learned through the program, instructors, and peers! And would highly recommend their blueprints. Right now, I am looking to learn more about design to add to what I've learned through Skillcrush. If/when Skillcrush creates a Graphic Design or Logos/Branding Blueprint - I'd be one of the first to sign up! :)
WOW! I am just finishing the WordPress Developer Blueprint and I learned so much!! (I also took the Web Designer Blueprint which was awesome as a total beginner!) The instructors are AMAZING and always there to help! I'm not sure I could have finished the course without the help of my crazy awesome TA who promptly answered my never ending questions!
I've landed my first client and I'm starting work on the project soon. (Yikes!) It's a little scary but I do feel as though Skillcrush prepared me well and I'm super grateful to have ongoing access to all the class materials just in case I need to go back and look something up. Thanks Skillcrush!
I am about 2 weeks in to the Front End Developer Blueprint and I would highly recommend this Blueprint or investing in Skillcrush. I've gone through programs such as Udacity, Udemy, and Codeacademy, but what I like about Skillcrush's curriculum is that it takes a slow and steady approach to learning concepts for new beginners. I am very much a beginner and the curriculum has helped me to follow along and help me retain the information. Other programs seem like they take a giant leap in their curriculum and it's hard to keep up. Plus, Skillcrush seems to be geared for visual learners.
The only critique (which is very minor) would be the "Mark as complete" option when we get to practice coding. Sometimes I think it would be helpful to show me my errors in the text editor before I move on to the next section. I think I have been able to move on to the next sections by completing the exercises, but I'm not 100% sure if they are correct.
All in all, I have really enjoyed this experience and I would definitely recommend this program not just to a female demographic, but a male demographic too. I like the push for women in tech and I think Skillcrush does a great job to empower women and learners in general. Thank you Skillcrush and I hope to become an outstanding Alumni and seek a full-time web developer job!
If you want to get into the tech industry, learn and have fun, Skillcrush is for you. I was looking for something new and stumbled upon Skillcrush. It piqued my interest and I took a free boot camp course they offered. It took me a couple of weeks to take the leap in signing up for an actual blueprint. During that time they reached out to me with very encouraging emails. They really connected with me. I feel like Adda is one of my best friends even though we have never spoken to each other.
Anyway, the best thing about this course is the structure and interaction. It is a manageable pace, just a class a day that takes about 1 hour depending on how much you practice. With each step or new concept, you are lead through some practice exercises which really cement the concepts and codes in your mind. The Office Hours are great. You connect online with a teacher and other classmates. It is a place to ask questions and get real answers that help. There is laughter and it is a very accepting and comfortable place to engage. Skillcrush has worked out all the bugs of how to offer an online course and they know their stuff about the body of knowledge for HTML and CSS.
I never dreamed this class would be so fun and engaging. This class really is going to offer me opportunities I would never have had. When opportunity knocks, you need to open the door to see what's on the other side. I am glad Skillcrush presented the door to me and I opened it! No regrets!
I just finished the first in the series of course within the blueprint program, and I am really digging it. They do a good job of taking an absolute beginner and showing them how to code in a clear and straightforward way. If you were already pretty knowledgeable, it might be too beginner, but they have other programs for more advanced students.
I had looked at lot of other bootcamps and courses, but this one was recommended by a friend. I like that it is affordable but was a little worried that it might not be as thorough or in-depth as pricier options. However, I feel like I am learning a LOT. Have no idea how it compares to other programs since I haven't taken others, but Skillcrush seems like the real deal.
I was also concerned that an online course could be another one of those situations where you sign up and then it's hard to stay motivated and work through the modules or whatever. But the way they have it set up really works for me. They give you chunks of info and challenges to complete each days. And they are manageable chunks. You CAN go at your own pace, but I find that having it all laid out on a weekly and daily basis keeps me focused and consistent.
Also, you get to interact with other students and instructors through Mightybell. It helps immensely that you can get help on trouble spots this way. Additionally, Skillcrush offers a lot of office hours/hangouts where you can ask questions or get help or whatever. Then they also have lots of extras they send...webinars and links to information that's useful and help on how to get a job etc.
Their customer service is outstanding as well. The couple times I've had to email someone, they've responded promptly and been super helpful and easy to work with. For instance, initially I goofed and signed up for the wrong class. It was a painless process for them to un-enroll me and then get me in the right program.
Anyway...it's a great program as far as I can tell. I haven't yet made use of the job help stuff but plan to. I've just been focused on learning the material so far. But, it seems like they are always sending info about job skills and finding work. I just didn't rate them on job assistance because I don't know much about that part of the program yet.
I am very happy to have discovered Skillcrush a few weeks ago. Having graduated with a fairly impractical degree in a down economy, I've spent most of my adult life taking unfulfilling jobs with minimal room for advancement just to make ends meet, and have had to store away dreams of any sort of robust career.
Now, I'm not saying Skillcrush will magically and instantly fix my life for me. What I am saying is that its beautifully structured course outlines, supportive instructors and high-quality learning content make me confident that I've made a good decision in choosing the site to gain marketable skills to help leverage my chances of finding satisfying and rewarding work.
I could have chosen to go the autodidactic route and taught myself web development using free resources (and actually am, adjacent to this Wordpress course). However, culling through all of the resources the internet has to offer to find clearly explained material that's worth my time is an arduous task for someone with my schedule right now. Instead, I've opted to invest a comparably small amount of money into this course to motivate myself to follow through on this career choice, and am learning so much through easily digestible lessons in the meantime.
I could not recommend this course more highly. I was on the fence for quite awhile, wondering if it would be worth it. Having now started the Wordpress Developer Blueprint, I'm confident that I'll have the skills and knowledge of best practices to maximize my potential in the field. What made my mind up to take the plunge was Skillcrush's wealth of highly informative articles and tech-related resources that are available for free, for everyone. It's clear that the company is dedicated to its students' success, whether they're enrolled or simply prospective.
I love Skillcrush. I have taken the Web Developer blueprint and Wordpress blueprint, and I am now working full-time as a full stack web developer at a startup! Adda does a great job making complex subjects simple and easy to understand (seriously!). I was a complete beginner with absolutely no background in programming when I took the web dev blueprint, so it was a great introduction that made me feel more confident about tackling this career.
Also, the resources Skillcrush provides for you (cheat sheets, access to the lessons forever, charts, diagrams, etc.) is awesome. I'm a visual learner, so I found them really helpful.
I did do additional schooling elsewhere to really enhance my knowledge, so I do recommend this class just for beginners - although it would be awesome if Skillcrush introduced higher-level classes for students curious about more advanced topics.
My only suggestions are to use a different chat application. I never really got into using Mightybell, but something like Slack would have been great. Also, since I was working full-time during the course, it was harder to keep up, so I never took advantage of instructor help. It would be cool if they did a half-way checkin with each student to help personalize the experience.
Programming is a huge skill to have, so get started with Skillcrush! I recommend these blueprints to all of my friends.
Our latest on Skillcrush
There are so many options when it comes to learning to code online (we have 35 online schools just on Course Report)! From bootcamps to self-guided resources to mentor-driven courses, it can be tough to navigate. So we were excited to join Randle from Skillcrush for a webinar to talk all about choosing the right online coding bootcamp and then being really successful once you're in. And now we're sharing everything we learned!Continue Reading →
If you're a recent coding bootcamp graduate (or you're learning to code), you're probably already thinking about how to land your first developer job. A killer resume and LinkedIn will be crucial to getting interviews. But what should you be including (and what should you absolutely leave off)? Do you emphasize your bootcamp projects or your past work experience? And what goes into a great LinkedIn Summary?? We sat down with Randle Browning of Skillcrush to cover all of this and more. Watch the recorded webinar below!Continue Reading →
Let’s face it, coding isn’t for everyone. There is a certain breed that thrives from the challenges associated with programming and web development. Before you initiate the hunt for the perfect daycare find the time to take an online course or experiment with online tutorials and different software. Prepare yourself for the experience. Research front end development, web design and full-stack development. Test the waters and see if any of these spark a passion within.Continue Reading →
Christine Oskison had a degree in counseling psychology before taking on the role of stay-at-home mom to raise her children outside of Philadelphia. She became interested in web design and development as a creative pursuit, and Christine found Skillcrush when she searched for coding programs tailored to women. Now having completed the Skillcrush Web Development Blueprint, and in the middle of the Wordpress Developer Blueprint, Christine tells us about the benefits of using MightyBell to form a community with other students, Skillcrush’s unique online model, and her goals for using her newfound developer skills.
What were you up to before you started the Skillcrush Blueprints?
My education background is in counseling psychology; I earned an MA in counseling about 16 years ago. I held some administrative and counseling jobs, then for the last 10 years I’ve been a stay-at-home mom, raising my children.
Now that my kids are a little bit older, I wanted to figure out what I wanted to do with my career and I became interested in web design.
What prompted you to look into web design and web development?
I wanted a career that was creative and that fit my logical skillset- web design offers a lot of that. I had always been interested in product packaging and understanding why a consumer wants to buy one product over another. I started getting more interested how that interest translated to websites; why somebody would want to hire a business that had a more attractive, user-friendly website than another and how I could get involved in creating more attractive websites.
Last year, I volunteered with my church in a technical arts committee and designed slides and keynotes for them and I really loved that. I got to play in design and be creative and actually created a pretty cool finished product.
Did you start learning web design and development with Skillcrush or did you use other resources before?
When I Googled “web design program tailored to women” I found Codecademy and Dash. Those were really good simple tutorials, but I was looking for something more interactive. I’ll probably use their tutorials to practice and brush up on my skills once I finished the Blueprints, but they didn’t have the same level of interactivity that Skillcrush offers with the videos and the interaction with the instructors and the classmates on MightyBell. The whole program with Skillcrush is a complete package – it’s fantastic.
Which Blueprints have you taken on Skillcrush?
I started in September with the Web Design Blueprint and I completed it at the end of November. Now I’m in the Wordpress Developer Blueprint and I’m in the last month of that.
What was the motivation for doing an online web bootcamp instead of an in-person bootcamp or even a part-time in-person bootcamp?
I could have gone back to school to get another degree but that would taken a lot more time and I would need childcare. The fact that Skillcrush is online really fit the flexibility of being able to do the lessons whenever you can.
Cost is a big factor as well. Some intensive, in-person bootcamps are thousands of dollars. So when you’re not earning money yet, cost is a factor.
Did you look at any other online bootcamps like Bloc, Tealeaf, Thinkful?
I did look at another online program, Girls Guide to Web Design, but they were only working with the Thesis framework. When I researched Skillcrush, I saw we would build our own site from scratch and and I wouldn’t have to have a certain framework to work with.
I was definitely looking for a program oriented to women. I also wanted something that was attractively presented, which I found in Skillcrush. To learn how to design engaging websites, I want to learn from somebody who can design an engaging website- some of the other coding tutorials aren’t interesting or engaging. They might be more geared toward men; women and men have different personality styles, and I guess I wanted a more personal touch and more attractive quality.
Were there requirements to be accepted into the Blueprints?
There is no application process for Skillcrush - but some of the blueprints have requirements. For the WordPress Developer Blueprint, you need to have had experience with HTML and CSS. Either Web Design or Web Developer Blueprints lend themselves well to moving on to WordPress Developer Blueprint afterward.
So you started with the Web Designer Blueprint in September.
Right. But before that, what really hooked me was Skillcrush’s 10-day bootcamp. That’s free and I would definitely recommend that you try that first because you can get a feel for the style, the teaching videos, and the course content. Skillcrush has a very interactive, engaging writing style. The 10-day bootcamp gives you guides and gazillions of cheat sheets so you can always refer to those when you’re working on your own.
Did you feel like you were part of a community? Did you interact with other students?
A hundred percent! Skillcrush sends you daily emails with your assignments and at the end of every email, they prompt us to post questions on MightyBell, or if you’re stuck, to email directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. The instructors are open to hearing your questions and helping, whether it be career questions or an issue you’re having with the content.
MightyBell itself is a fantastic community. You take your daily lessons, which consist of videos, activities and coding work, but a lot of your time is spent on MightyBell. I enjoyed helping others troubleshoot because it helped them and I learned a lot in the process. Each Blueprint class has about 100 students, but I'd say there are closer to 15-20 who are frequently active on our Mightybell group for our Blueprint.
When you had something you needed to troubleshoot logistically on MightyBell, could you upload code and have someone review it?
Which technologies did you earn in the Web Design and Wordpress Blueprints?
In the Wordpress Developer class, in addition to brushing up on our HTML CSS, we’re learning some PHP, command line and Git.
It’s very comprehensive. I think it’s really given me a great foundation.
How much time did you spend on the Blueprints each week?
I really put my all into it. It’s been more like a part-time job. I spend 20+ hours on these Blueprints each week.
Did you feel there’s enough content in the Blueprints to spend 20 hours a week?
Skillcrush says to budget about one hour per day so they expect 7 hours a week. For me, I do my lessons but I’m also thinking about my own website and what I want it to look like. It’s a lot of creative thinking and time and processing, in addition to coding it. I’m a full time mom and I can manage a part-time course experience but for people who are working full time, you may be able to work on Skillcrush on nights or weekends.
For people working full-time or who have a part-time job out of the home, my advice is not to feel bad about getting behind because there’s no time limit on this class. That’s another benefit of working with Skillcrush: it’s self-paced. Once you pay, you have access to these courses for your lifetime.
On MightyBell, the instructors will constantly give us resources; if you’re interested in learning more about a concept, they recommend links, books and videos.
Do you have access to MightyBell for longer than three months?
You do and you can always be a part of your group. For example, I’m in the “Web Designer January 15” group on MightyBell, so I can always talk to that group. There is also a Skillcrush alumni group and a Skillcrush community group on MightyBell. Thankfully, we always have access to this community, which is great.
While it’s fine to be self-paced, I’ve appreciated staying current is that I could always follow along with everybody’s discussion on MightyBell. I think it can be harder sometimes for people who are going at a different pace to come back after a discussion 10 or 15 days ago and it’s not as fresh in our minds.
What kinds of projects you were able to build with the Web Designer and Wordpress blueprint?
In the web design blueprint, you’re not using a content management system. You’re coding a portfolio site from scratch, using your own CSS and HTML. The idea is that you are walking away with a page where you can showcase any future projects. The portfolio site looks really different for different people, depending on what colors you like, what fonts you like, whether you want a fun, serious, or minimalist style.
One thing the instructors always encouraged us about was that our websites will constantly evolve and change - that helped those of us who were concerned about our site being perfect right away (very reassuring!). They explained that the field of web design and development is constantly evolving and we'll always be learning - which I find very exciting!
What is your goal once you’ve finished this Wordpress Blueprint?
After this Blueprint is over, I’d like to brush up on some of my skills then market my services as a freelance web designer and Wordpress developer.
Skillcrush is fantastic with encouraging us to take our first freelancing jobs. I think the Wordpress developer blueprint is particularly good at preparing us for the post-bootcamp life. As part of the class, we have a fake client whose website we develop in Wordpress. Skillcrush instructors walk alongside us as we do each and every step needed for this client. Following that, we’re going to have an apprenticeship where we do take on our first real client. Skillcrush teaches how to price your work, how to market your services, and those practical career-oriented skills. With regard to the career content in the Wordpress developer blueprint, they have guides and videos on resume writing and interviewing.
One idea for an apprenticeship is to work with someone you know well to start off with and have a comfortable, safe experience first, then get your bearings and branch out. Maybe that friend who’s a fitness coach needs a blog site? Skillcrush will really help you get a jump start on working with real clients. The more involved you are, I think the more you benefit from each course.
Are there specific instructors for each class?
For this class, our instructors are Adda Birnir and Rachel. In my other class it was Dee and Sara. There are a few key people managing these classes. I believe there are approximately 100 people per blueprint, so they’re managing a lot of people.
It’s neat for an online bootcamp to still organize students into cohorts, so you always feel like you’re part of a class.
It’s really fantastic and a lot of times, students are helping each other on MightyBell. Skillcrush also offers webinars and Master Classes. In one of the webinars, the instructor had given me the advice to reach out and find a code buddy within our class. And I’ve done that in both my Web Designer and Wordpress Developer Blueprints. It’s just a matter of reaching out and saying, “Hey, do you want to be able to troubleshoot problems together?” I’ve developed a code buddy relationship and friendships that way.
Does Skillcrush recommend that you go to meetups?
They do recommend that we get involved with meetups. Logistically, I haven’t been able to make it to one in Philadelphia, but I did actually consider hosting a few people online and have an online meetup instead of an in-person.
Skillcrush does have office hours which have been great. Every week they’ve been meeting with us online, usually two instructors to troubleshoot. Anybody who wants to come can hop on this Google hangout and troubleshoot issues.
Do you have any advice to other stay-at-home moms learning to code?
You can do your coursework during nap-time or school, or when the kids go to bed at night and the house is finally quiet! Or sometimes even just read an article for 5 minutes, or watch a 10 minute video when you can. I found my children were very interested and supportive of what I was doing. They would sometimes want to code or create moodboards with me!
Would you recommend Skillcrush Blueprints to a friend or someone learning web development?
Absolutely, 100% hands-down, no questions, I would highly recommend Skillcrush to anybody who’s interested. I don’t currently have any friends looking to pursue web design or coding but I would 100% recommend it to women who want to learn to code and who are interested in pursuing a career in web design and development. I think the value is incredible. I don’t think there’s anything like it that’s offered this much value for this price!
Jamie Raymond was using her degree in Graphic Design at a startup job in New York City, but realized that working with front-end web development was the most thrilling part of her job. Jamie chose to do an online course and was impressed by Skillcrush’s commitment to teaching women. She had a successful 10-day trial with Skillcrush and took both the Web Developer Blueprint and the Web Designer Blueprint. We talk to Jamie about using Mightybell to collaborate with other Skillcrush students, the freelance work she’s getting with her new skills, and the extensive advice and support that she still receives from the team at Skillcrush.
Tell us what you were up to before you decided to do Skillcrush, your career as a graphic designer and all that.
I have a degree in graphic design- mainly print-based. I took a couple of Intro to HTML and CSS courses in college, but I didn’t use it extensively. You have to keep up-to-date with industry standards and things definitely changed since I was in college.
I was working in New York at an e-commerce startup as the Graphic and Web Designer, although the startup had a separate development team. Occasionally, I did front-end development, but not as much as I wanted. I wanted to get more experience in the tech side of things.
Had you done Codecademy or any other online self-guided learning?
What were your motivations for doing a Skillcrush Blueprint?
I did the Blueprint to further my career path as a whole. I actually ended up leaving my last position because I wanted to focus more on learning and on the roles available to me. At the time, I just knew I needed more tech skills and that I was interested in web, but I didn’t know exactly what. I have a much better idea now.
When did you do the Skillcrush Blueprint?
In October 2014.
Did you ever consider doing an in-person, immersive bootcamp?
I did look into them. I actually applied to General Assembly in New York because I saw a scholarship they had for women. They had a scholarship for women and I went and applied. Unfortunately I wasn’t accepted, but Skillcrush was a great alternative.
Did it influence your decision that it was geared towards women?
Yeah, it did. It was attractive to me. I attended a few meetups too with Girl Develop It - and then the fact that men can join if they want but I like that it’s geared towards women.
Are you still in New York?
Presently, I am not working in NYC; I live in New Jersey. While pursuing opportunities in Web Design and Development, I am working on a freelance basis mostly from home.
Which Blueprint did you take?
First, I did the Web Developer Blueprint. I was really happy with that so I signed up for the Web Designer course. Even though I was doing web design, I had such a great experience with the Web Development Blueprint, I figured I’d take another.
Were there requirements to be accepted to the Skillcrush Blueprint?
The only requirement was wanting to learn more tech skills. As a designer, I was impressed with how the site looked. It was easy to navigate, and it wasn’t a huge price point. Skillcrush also puts out a lot of informative materials, and they let me do the 10-day trial. So I tried it for free, thought it was awesome and then I signed up.
What did you learn in that first week?
We learned HTML and possibly CSS. The way the course was laid out was very easy. I was working in New York at the time, and living in New Jersey, so I was busy from 7am-7pm. In my trial week, I was still able to complete the tasks each day, so I was confident that I could do it.
Were you working with other students in the course or going through the material on your own? How much interaction did you have with other students?
Actually, you do feel like you have a lot of interaction because there’s so much communication through Mightybell. It’s almost like an online classroom. Everyone in the Mightybell chatroom with you is in the Blueprint, so you all talk about what’s going on that week. You get daily emails from Skillcrush with your goals for the day, which makes it easy to keep up. But it’s also self-paced, so if you miss four days, it doesn’t matter; likewise, you can jump ahead and still talk about it in the chatroom.
How does Mightybell work for communicating and sharing code?
Mightybell is like Facebook, in that you’re posting on a feed that others can see. There’s also a chat section so if you see someone is online you might want to message them and get an answer immediately, or you can just post your question and wait a little while for someone to post back.
There are a couple of ways to share code on Mightybell, but I think most often I would just take a screenshot. You could also put a link or just copy and paste the code.
There was always someone on Mightybell, even though sometimes it was just another student; they may still have a different perspective and be able to help you out.
Other than working with other students, did you work with a mentor or instructor?
There was a main instructor who you would communicate with mainly through Mightybell.
What’s in those daily emails?
The daily emails were just great; you got your goals for each day and the material you needed to cover.
How many weeks long is the Skillcrush Blueprint?
Did Skillcrush assign projects in each of those modules?
We had mini projects as we went through the materials and then at the end, we had a bigger project that we had one week to complete.
I picked up a few new Photoshop tricks even though I had already been working a lot in Photoshop. I learned how to work better with developers and how to create designs that work better for developers. You might be able to design something that looks like a website but when it gets to the developer, you realize it’s not really going to work as a website. In the blueprint you learn what’s actually going to work and not work. Even as a designer, I need to know what the browser is actually capable of.
How long were you spending on Skillcrush each week?
First of all, it depends on the student; you could just cover the basics and get it done within a half hour or an hour and you would still learn something. But I think with coding you always have to teach yourself things. If you want to spend more time and take it to the next level, no one will stop you! I’m interested in web design and development so I would want to spend more time.
Did you find that Skillcrush had enough content in the curriculum? If you wanted to look more in-depth at a certain topic, could you?
They provided links to other resources as well – which is good because when you Google, you don’t know if it’s really a reliable source.
How do you plan to use your new skill set?
I’ve recently evaluated my career goals, and I have narrowed down where I want to go in my career. I am very interested in UI/UX design. These positions usually require a good understanding of technology and development, so I’m on my way.
Were you motivated by Skillcrush to start freelancing? How did they support you getting into freelancing?
Before my last full time position, I was doing freelance work. Skillcrush has a HUGE amount of information on freelancing and the best sites to get started.
How did you get your first freelance job?
Flexjobs.com. Flexjobs is a site like Indeed but for remote jobs. My first freelance job was for front-end development work with no design involved, using the terminal and GIT to push and pull code.
How did you decide how much to charge for your first freelancing job?
I had an hourly rate in my mind. My client told me what the project was and I estimated based on the amount of time I thought it would take me, multiplied by the hourly rate that I wanted to charge. Skillcrush actually put out a PDF on how to calculate your hourly rate.
What is the alumni support like? Are you able to still ask questions?
Yeah, it’s great. Skillcrush probably got so many emails from me because I was always emailing them questions when I was stuck. They try to answer the best they can. If you have a job interview and need to know what kind of projects you should put in your portfolio, they’re really good at responding that way.
Once the course is done, you still have access to the content if you want to go through it again. The webinars are also great; I’ve learned a lot through those.
Would you recommend a Skillcrush Blueprint to a friend?
I would say that the Blueprints are good for all levels. You could have no experience or some experience like I did. Even though I had some technical experience, I still got a lot out of it.
Skillcrush is honest- they tell you that you’re not going to learn everything but you’re going to have a really solid place to start, and it’s completely true. They don’t go super deep into every topic but you have the skills to go branch out and start your career.
Maybe you chose an online program to learn to code because you work full-time and need a flexible schedule. Or maybe you were looking for a lower-cost option. Or you didn’t want to re-locate but still wanted the chance to work with classmates and instructors from around the world. Whatever the reason, now that you’ve made your choice, you want to make sure you get the most out of your online course. These 10 not-to-miss tips will help you have an amazing online learning experience from start to finish. You’ll find out both why each is critical for your studying success and how to use the ideas right away so that you get the most of every part of your course starting today!Continue Reading →
Skillcrush wants to teach you digital skills to kickstart your career. Choose from their "Blueprints," 12-week online courses in Web Design or Web Development; while the Skillcrush blueprints are online, they offer blocks of office hours and access to classmates and instructors to create a structured learning environment. We're happy to offer an exclusive Skillcrush discount to the Course Report community: use code CourseReport for $50 off your next blueprint
Online, mentored coding bootcamps offer convenience and structure without forcing you to quit your job or move to a new city. But not all online programs were created equally, so which one is right for you? We'll learn from alumni at each online coding bootcamp, ready to answer your questions about their experience during class, how they found mentorship and community online, and how their careers have skyrocketed afterwards.Continue Reading →
In 2008, Adda Birnir found herself laid off with some light technical skills- she knew this was the time to learn to code and become an indespensable asset. After a few freelancing jobs and a position at MTV.com, Adda was ready to bridge the gender gap in tech and teach women (and men!) to code. She founded Skillcrush, an online community complete with courses in Web Design and Web Development, and it continues to grow. We spoke with Adda about her experience teaching herself to code, her inspiration for Skillcrush, and how students are learning with their unique Blueprint courses.
Can you give an introduction from when you were laid off to where you are now at Skillcrush?
I started at an online magazine called Flavorpill, one of the first email newsletters. Although I came on as a photo editor, I experienced this thing while I was there that powered all the work we did and I was fascinated: I wanted to see how this “technology thing” really worked. I started sitting in on production meetings and learning how software developers work. In my experience, they were happy to have me sitting in on all their meetings if there was any chance that I could help with the workload. Soon, they actually let me start editing copy in the HTML.
In 2008, everything just fell apart -- it was like the apocalypse -- in New York. I survived the layoffs at Flavorpill (I was actually spared because I had dug my heels into the technology side and I was considered “technical staff”). But I was worried that working there was not stable, so I decided to get another job. I hadn’t pursued a job in the technical division. I was there for 7 weeks when they laid off ⅓ of their company. And this time, I found myself on the other side of that divide where I was a non-technical employee. This was a company of well over 30 employees and they laid off 12 of us: only one was a developer.
When you’re working in a company where the internet is the bread and butter of what they do and you are not a technical person, you’re expendable.
After getting laid off, I had the fortune of a lot of time on my hands and nothing to do. Somebody had told me that when you’re unemployed, spend only an hour a day sending out resumes and the rest of the time working to make yourself more marketable by learning something. So I learned how to code.
How did you manage that learning? Did you use books or online resources?
I mostly used really dry, boring books! It’s unbelievable how much the resources have changed in the time since I learned to code and even since the time that we started Skillcrush. I bought some books at my bookstore and got to work. I was very lucky because I had some people who I could ask to point me in the right direction from my job at Flavorpill. They would sit down with me for an hour and show me the right stuff to focus on and learn. That personal touch in the learning process was priceless.
How long did it take you to learn to code on your own?
It’s hard to answer that question but within a couple months I was building websites for people for money. Then, the next job I landed was working as a technical producer where I was working with developers all day. I’d ask them questions about coding, and they would help me, look at my work and give me advice. I’ve been really blessed in having a lot of people who were willing to help me through my learning process.
I think having mentors and real people helping you is why the bootcamp style of class works so well. It is also why you’re seeing more and more companies like Bloc and Thinkful and Skillcrush try to bring that experience to people online!
What inspired you to actually start Skillcrush?
I got hired by MTV to work as a technical producer for their integrated marketing team. The team was very good at sales and coming up with great ideas, but didn’t necessarily know how to use digital tools, nor understand the production time and costs of the things they were pitching. What was interesting to me was that it was very gendered: all the women were on the marketing side and all the guys were on the technical side. It just felt like there was this huge divide, so they hired me to bridge that gap.
I had just gone through the process myself of moving from non-technical to technical and had found it to be nowhere near as scary or difficult as I had thought it would be. For me, understanding more about the technical side of things was empowering and it opened up a new world of creativity that I hadn’t associated with technical skills before. I felt like these women on the marketing team were very intimidated by coding, didn’t understand it, and didn’t see the value in taking the time to try and understand it. That was really where I got the inspiration for Skillcrush.
So did you do the dev work for Skillcrush, the site?
Yes! I have had a little help from my developer, Emily, and the two of us have built the entire Skillcrush site on our own. Running a startup is so hard, but the site, our classes, and our processes have been getting better and better.
Skillcrush is a resource and a community- what sort of audience are you catering to? Has it changed over the years?
It’s grown, thank God. There’s this whole question about whether we’re made for women, and the answer is that we’re not exclusively for women. One of the things you have to do when you start a company is be really targeted about who you’re speaking to. Otherwise, you’re just making decisions in a crazy black hole. Our initial target market was professional women, 25 to 45 who were working in companies where technology was a big part of the business.
It’s been really interesting to see the reality of our audience. The people who were most likely to get started on Skillcrush are women who are either graphic designers or web designers. 10 years ago, you could be a web designer and not code, and that really doesn’t work anymore. So we get a lot of designers who need to up their game.
After that, the next big group is people who work in media: bloggers, writers, editors. The third demographic is women who are underemployed, unemployed or in positions where there is really no upward career trajectory: women who work in customer service, assistant positions, and even secretaries. I’m truly excited about reaching them because that’s the group that we have the biggest opportunity to help change their careers.
After completing one of the Skillcrush Blueprints, have you seen people actually get new jobs in technical roles?
This is the first time we’ve run a Blueprint, so I can’t say anything specific about that just yet. I can say that we’ve seen our students get work and even entry-level technical jobs after taking individual classes, which is amazing. Our goal is to create a program where you can start as a total beginner and become hireable in a junior position. A big part of being hired in that type of position is your confidence in interviews and your willingness to learn on the job -- we are incredibly proud to cultivate these characteristics in our students as a byproduct of our community and unique class approach, as well. I can’t promise that you’ll get a job after taking a Skillcrush class, but we have built our program with that goal in mind if that’s the outcome you desire.
How did you develop the curriculum for the two Blueprints?
It is very much based on what I’ve seen in practice, in terms of what skills I needed in order to do dev work and also talking to people in the industry and seeing what the minimum is. And then of course, we have to decide what’s reasonable to teach people. We are looking at a beginner population that generally doesn’t self-select into Computer Science: we don’t want to throw them into the deep end without a flotation device.
The classes are three weeks each and you do three of them in succession for a Career Blueprint. What’s realistic for you to learn in three weeks? How far can we get you? A big part of what we’re trying to do is to open a lot of doors for you and then you’re going to have to walk through them.
There are specific start dates for these classes, right?
Yes, classes and Blueprints start on a monthly or bi-monthly cycle. We have been running online classes for over a year, and we think that the structure of a schedule is crucial to the learning process.
Do the students get some sense of a cohort or a community? How do cohorts communicate with each other?
We use Mightybell, which is an online social networking platform. When you enroll in a Blueprint, you get invited to a Mightybell circle, where you can post questions or to get to know the other people taking the class with you.
Our Skillcrush instructors monitor the groups and respond to questions as they come in all day. Mightybell is very personable and is a really beautiful product. It is designed for multimedia sharing, which includes the ability to share code. They actually have a feature where they format your code so that you can share code samples. It’s awesome!
The community in Mightybell is definitely one of the most important parts of the class.
How many students are in the cohort now?
There are 116 in our Web Developer Blueprint. The Web Designer Blueprint has 75 enrolled. We’ve had over 1,500 students go through all of our programs.
How do you compare your Skillcrush Blueprints to Thinkful or Bloc programs (two other online programs)?
I think what differentiates us is our focus on beginners. Our environment is really friendly for pure beginners. We spend a lot of time thinking about what turns people off to technology and how can we make a radically different experience of it. Our tone is super friendly, warm and inviting, and encouraging.
The second important thing we’ve found is that you have to make the projects and exercises as interesting as possible, and still educationally valuable. For example, we do a Web Font challenge, where students recreate the Holstee Manifesto. This exercise gets our students excited about practicing with colors and web fonts, because it’s relatable, beautiful, and fun. They get really into it! Several students have written their own manifestos and we have built an amazing collection for students to look at each other’s work. Exercises like this make sene and really work.
Your whole leadership team is women, right?
Yes. And what’s really cool is that we’ve graduated over 80% women.
So even though men are obviously welcome, you clearly have an overarching commitment to helping women learn coding skills. What’s been your experience as a female CEO?
It’s been very mixed. I don’t know what it’s like to raise money as a man, but I think I have a million things going against me: I’m a woman, I’m young, blond, I talk like a Valley girl. I run this company for women to learn to code. I’m every investor’s worst nightmare.
I’m horribly put off by a lot of the tech scene. However, I’ve been the recipient of an unbelievable amount of kindness and mentorship from men and women alike in the industry.
I think the women who have it the hardest are the women in technical roles on big technical teams in big corporations. It definitely feels like the “insider” tech community doesn’t take women developers as seriously. This lack of diversity means that they are very myopic and insular in the way that they do things, the solutions they come up with and the companies that they start. Think of how much opportunity that creates to do things differently!!
Any plans to take Skillcrush offline and do some in-person courses?
That’s a good question. I think in the short term it’ll be more along the lines of meetups, but we’ve toyed with the idea!