The Firehose Project
The Firehose Project is a full-time, 22-week and part-time, 42-week online coding bootcamp that combines expert one-on-one training with a customized, robust curriculum and a worldwide student support community. Students start coding on day one and are paired with a senior software engineer mentor to build their coding skills. Students also have access to a proprietary Q&A forum and technical office hours. Graduates will develop algorithms, design complex data structures, and learn fundamental computer science principles while building a portfolio of advanced web applications that work with APIs, user authentication, advanced database relationships, video streaming, and more.
Firehose has also launched a new job track designed to prepare students with everything they need to optimize their job search as a new developer and make their transition from bootcamp graduate to employed developer as smooth and swift as possible. Firehose worked with technical recruiters, alumni, senior developers, and partnered with BrandYourself, the leader in online reputation management as seen on Shark Tank, to engineer a track that provides students with optimal job preparation resources.
Recent The Firehose Project News
- December 2016 Coding Bootcamp News Roundup
- These 10 Founders All Started at Coding Bootcamps
- How I Navigated my Post-Bootcamp Interviews and Landed My First Software Job
Recent The Firehose Project Reviews: Rating 4.71
Part-Time Software Engineering & Web Development Track
Accelerated Software Engineering & Web Development Track
The Firehose Project Reviews
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I decided to sign for TFP after doing a lot of research looking for the right online part time coding bootcamp for me, and decided for them after taking their free pre-course. I liked this preview a lot (and I took it before they improved it a few months ago), specially the friendly feeling and how active and close their founders Ken and Marco seemed. That gave me a lot of confindence.
Overall, I’m really happy with my choice and most likely I would do the same choice today, but of course not everything is perfect, or at least lets say that there is room for improvement in some aspects.
The program focus on three different main points:
- Learning to craft webapps mostly via Rails.
- Learning to solve algorithms and learn about typical CS concept or data structures, mostly using Ruby.
- Software Engineering related topics: Agile, SCRUM, TDD etc. You get exposed to them via the final team Project.
To support this, you have one weekly session of an hour with a mentor (I was very happy with mine, by the way, a truly profesional software engineer with a lot of experience in industry and deep knowledge of a lot of technologies including some of the cutting-edge ones). There are also weekly sessions of office hours, and you can always ask Ken or the other guys in the staff who are always glad (and quick) to help-
You are tought how to create webapps via written lessons where you follow a walkthrough to create several apps each one more complex than the previous one, getting exposed both to Rails itself, specially how you can get things done more than how it works, and also to the gems and tools used by developers on a daily basis. You also get exposed to tools like the CLI or Github from minute one. In my opinión, this part of the curriculum is very well executed and the lessons are well designed in progressive complexity.
Regarding algorithms, there are assignments where you have to solve problems or work with data structures. This is helpful specially for people looking for a career switch, since you learn about things you are going to probably be asked in a interview. You would typically try to solve the problem, and then whether you are able to do it on your own or not, you should check with your mentor to look for ways to refactor or improve. This is the part where you are supposed also to actually learn Ruby.
What I didn’t liked about how this part is planned is that you have to look for ways to improve your knowledge of the language outside the program, cause of the lack of an organized intermediate-advanced course in Ruby. It could be argued that being able to google for stuff and learn on your own is another needed skill, and this is true, but I feel like once you pay for a program, having to go outside to look for somehow basic and expected content about the language or the tools is dissapointing.
Lastly you get exposed to software engineering topics such as Agile methodologies in the Final Project. This experience is unvaluable, and something you can only have in a place like this, Granted, you can learn to code and craft apps for free if you are disciplined enough given the huge amount of free content there are outside nowadays, but you can’t have an experience like the Agile Team Project for sure for free. Along 7-8 weeks, you work with your team using Agile methodologies and being guided by a mentor that acts not as a teacher but as a team manager, assigning tasks and defining goals and timings while you make a complex app using all the knowledge you have by this momento, close to the end of the program, and using new tools and workflows where you could actually have a feeling of how it would be to work in a team of developers.
They also have a job assistance curriculum which I still didn't take since I'm not looking for a career change today, but recently they totally re-worked it adding a lot more content.
To summarize, what I liked:
- The healthy and friendly environment, staff deserves a 10/10 and community is also friendly.
- The walkthoughs where you actually build apps.
- The mentorship program.
- The value you get for your money (usually these programs with 1 on 1 mentorship are way more expensive)
- How fast and accurately the staff provides feedback or help.
- How they periodically improve the content.
- The Agile Team final Project.
What I didn’t like:
- If you want to understand and work the technologies, patterns or languages involved or actually learn in an intermediate-advanced level about them, you have to look for content outside. There is a lack of written content apart from the walkthoughs. The video series are not enough in my honest opinion, by far.
Overall though, as I said I'm glad with my experience.
I am about 10 weeks into the Firehose Project curriculum, and it's going great so far. The pacing of the lessons and the regular challenges and exercises are so helpful in solidifying the course materials. I particularly like the written lessons. It's much easier to re-read a sentence or explanation rather than rewinding a video. Finally, the combination of having a personal mentor as well as the important insistence on learning algorithms & computer science fundamentals is what makes Firehose superior to many other bootcamps that I investigated.
Having a mentor allows you to keep moving through course materials by jotting down something that trips you up during a particular lesson and discussing deeper in a one on one meeting each week. This allows you to keep a steady pace in the lessons and using the mentor sessions to gain clarity on anything you might be confused about. Getting a solid foundation of CS topics are crucial as well. It's one thing to master some syntax, but without understanding how the individual pieces ladder up to efficient, consistent solutions to challenging problems, I imagine you'd have a really tough time landing a job after the program.
So far, I'm really satisfied with my decision to choose Firehose over the other camps on the market.
Note - I haven't gotten to the job assistance portion of the curriculum yet, so I'm not able to rate that at the moment. However, I know they recently revamped that piece and have created a full learning track dedicated to that process, so I'm looking forward to diving into that when the time comes.
I finished The Firehose Project bootcamp 2 years ago and I must say I would highly recommend this course, especially if you are looking for a flexible online course to fit your schedule.
The Experience: the mentor and the course
I had a great experience in the learning environment that was set up by the course. My mentor was not only very knowledgable but also a great teacher. He knows the subject matter very well and was able explain complex things to beginners.
On top of the 1-to-1 mentoring, the Firehose project also built a very supportive community through different forums (weekly office hours, online discussion groups, slack chats, team project, etc.) Students and alumini regularly interact and support each other in these forums. Much of it is down to the students, but the team at the Firehose Project has definitely been instrumental in intentially facilitating that supportive vibe. The different interactive opportunities have also grown substantially since I finished the course and the large network of alumni and students is really inspiring to see.
It is not until I started working and building projects for clients that I appreciated how much breadth and depth the curriculum covered. The deceptively simple apps that you get to build throughout the course covered a big range of complex technical requirements. The curriculum was also well structured into technical components that you need to learn. When I started building projects from scratch for myself or for clients, I was able to apply what I learned to build things with different requirements.
I like written contents because I can then progress at my own pace without being restricted by the "pace" of videos. Firehose's mix of written content, graphic illustrations, and video contents are well balanced. The style of the written content was very conversational-like, making it really easy to follow and understand.
The Firehose Project also continuously improve, update, and add to the curriculum, so as an alumni, regularly go back to the course content and learn about new topics.
Throughout the course, you are given good amount of job searching preparation. For me, this mainly focused on the coding challenges that you might encounter during an interview and the team project to give you the experience of working collaboratively.
You are being given quite a lot of flexibility of how you want to progress in the course. You can either take an "employment" route or a "start your own thing" route, or even both if you are willing to put in the work. Although there is a suggested pace, if you finish the course content sooner, it just means that you can embark on different challenges you and your mentor set for yourself.
I subsequently took a different bootcamp on Data Science with a similar model (self-pace content and mentor). By comparison, I think that The Firehose Project is outstanding. Not only the content is great, you really get a sense that The Firehose Project team cares about the students and always tries to make the learning and the experience better. Well done!
Excellent value for the money. Firehose offers a superb course for much cheaper than the other coding camps I looked at. The course begins with some basic coding and by the end you are building complex apps. I found everything easy to follow and when I got stuck there was plenty of support, from the slack channel to a ticket response system that is surprisingly fast, and also a weekly live video meeting hosted by Ken and Marco where students can ask questions and get help with what they are stuck on.
The mentor system is another high point of TFP. For one hour a week my mentor and I would discuss new concepts and go over things I was having trouble with via webcam. I found this extremely helpful and it adds a whole different layer to the learning experience.
The final project is the agile team project, where 4-5 students work together to build a complex web app under the guidance of a mentor team leader. This simulates what it is like to work on a team in the real world and brings new challenges, and it was a lot of fun. I found the experience valuable and it gave me a taste of what to expect in the workplace as a programmer.
Overall, I would highly recommend the Firehose Project. If you want to take a deep dive in ruby on rails and learn how to code, this is the place. There is a strong focus on learning how to code the right way, and this will help no matter what language you end up using.
Looking through my experiences I have had in The Firehose Project, I know the journey is just beginning for me. I'd known for awhile that coding was in my mindset, but for a long time felt lost and stalled by all the seemingly endless routes to take.
That all changed with this coding bootcamp.
This gives you real, hands on experience of what it is like to fully deploy working, quality web apps alongside great people that do so on a professional basis. It's given me a can-do attitude for a field that piques my interest to keep myself going, with quality communication being highly valued.
I've since landed a comfortable, variable-by-day position that uses many aspects that came to life going through the course, applied now in working extensively with databases both physically, and on the computer interface.
The mentors are personalized specifically to your case, so that check-ins with them are especially productive times. Every step taken feels meaningful.
There are also several community group channels to partake in with fellow Firehosers taking on the same work as you, along with weekly Office Hours for true live discussion. Exceptional work is going on behind the scenes here to make this all happen, and I am very happy to have joined The Firehose Project. They are there for you every step of the way and beyond.
The curriculum is project-based, so you jump right into building a functioning Ruby on Rails web application, and continue with more web app projects that build on what you just learned. With algorithm challenges throughout the program and a focus on learning object-oriented programming, I felt like I received a great foundation in programming concepts. Getting an introduction to agile methodologies in the final group project turned out to be very valuable in the job search process — being able to talk about that experience played a large part in my landing an Associate Software Engineer position after finishing the course.
I wrote a blog about how I chose the Firehose Project:
Full disclosure: I took advantage of the Firehose Project when it was a 15 week program for $3500.
That being said, I am very grateful I decided to drink from the firehose. I was clueless about the world of software development at the beginning of 2016. I had been working at Trader Joe's for several years after graduating from university in 2010 with a bachelor's degree in Biology. I got a taste of coding taking a handful of city college computer science classes, but there was no context on how these coding skills applied to building real-world applications. My motivation for jumping aboard the Firehose Project is I wanted to get the technical training required to land my first tech job.
The first half of the program (at the time) was dedicated to learning the programming language Ruby and building Ruby on Rails web applications. These are skills offered by many bootcamps/online resources. What drew me to the Firehose Project was the emphasis on algorithms and data structures, which is something that I needed to be exposed to if I expected to make it through a technical interview. This is where the Firehose Project shines - they matched me with an experienced professional programmer to help me understand how these algorithms and data structures work.
This is a blog post I wrote to help me understand a data structure, the linked list:
As I mentioned in my blog post above, I had taken a time out during the middle of the program to move from northern to southern California. I appreciate that the FHP was very flexible and made it easy for me to take a break from the program. I wanted to make sure I would be able to dedicate myself 100% to the chess web application project.
A lot of other programming resources teach you how to make basic CRUD (create read update destroy) web applications. This is nice, but is rarely that simple in the wild. Hence why building a chess web application with an agile development team is such an amazing part of the program. It gives you a taste on how projects are actually built in "the real world."
Here is a very extensive post I wrote about the group project:
To wrap up, what makes the Firehose Project unique is the group project and the quality of mentorship. I am incredibly grateful for the mentor I was connected with. He pushed me to learn how to use tools beyond the scope of the FHP coursework that allowed me to stand out as a job applicant. He also was willing to act as a job reference, which was incredibly helpful. I also was able to use my chess project mentor as a reference as well. These two professional developers were both patient, supportive, and yet pushed me far outside my comfort zone.
I will also say that a bootcamp cannot just hand you a job at the end of your program. One thing I learned early on that helped me feel comfortable with engaging with an online bootcamp is you need to network for yourself in order to get a job in tech. I hustled for months, going to as many meetup groups as I could, in order to land my job today. I had worked as a QA Engineer for several months after the Firehose Project. In the meantime, I taught myself another programming language (Python) and data analysis. I now work as a Big Data Engineer for a startup. I am incredibly grateful I decided to push myself to learn how to code and get a job in tech. And I am very grateful the Firehose Project helped me in the process.
- fantastic mentors
- great community, very easy to get help and feedback from peers
- clear timeline and projects
- good curriculum
- fun and relevant projects to work on
- group project
- price, although it is not outrageous given the quality of the mentors
- for our group, the group project did not really live up to its full potential
- the algorithm and computer science part covers the basics, but will leave students with a stronger comp sci background wanting more. To be honest, I haven't needed any of the comp sci stuff in my job.
- job assistance is somewhat limited. I did not mind, but some people might
I have programing experience from self-learn for my work but always feel I lack a good approach to programming. So I took this course for the purpose of learning software engineering skill and get to know industrial experience from course mentor. The course was not too expensive as other online courses and flexible (I can freeze my program whenever my day job gets too busy).
I think The FireHose Project has its own unique ways to explain new concepts and break them down into small steps. I learn not only Ruby and Rails but also some basic algorithms commonly used.
One of special things about the course is that it has office hours where students can ask questions directly to Ken and Marco. Unfortunately I rarely attend such meetings as they are during my working hours.
I get opportunities to talk with my mentors throughout the program and facilitator for final group project. The mentors was chosen to match my background. All of these are valuable learning opportunities. I wish I have more time to explore deeper some concepts and make better use of my time with my mentors.
Main drawback I think is that the old FireHose platform used to have search capability. Unfortunately the newer platform removes this search capability, making it difficult to search for relevant topics when I want to review them.
For new students, FireHose program is a good starting point to enter web development career. However there are lots of others things to learn and pratice to become a capable developer. It is crucial to work hard through the course and learn more than just what the course provides.
The Firehose Project was amazing; from the intro building a cool splash page in HTML, to the algorithmic challenges in Ruby, to the all out grind of building a chess game in Ruby on Rails in 5 weeks. :) In all of my other endeavors learning how to code, I always felt that the projects were too small. However, building that chess application was such an incredible learning process as it was the first big project I was working on, and it forced me to work with a team. That's what I loved the most. Before The Firehose Project, I understood HTML/CSS/JS syntax and how to use it, but my websites all looked like Word documents. I wanted more out of my development skills and that's precisely what I got. With The Firehose Projects 24-week program you will get exclusive weekly mentor sessions from a fun, intelligent person that genuinely wants to see you succeed as a developer; experience using the latest tools and resources used in Web Development today(git, GitHub, Heroku, Rspec, Trello, and more!); tons of Job Preparation resources and guides to your first job; the necessary skillls to breakdown a large complex problem into smaller, managable pieces; weekly office hours with The Firehose Staff; endless help from Firehose Ambassadors, Community Slack channel, and Ken (the ultimate programming ninja the slices through bugs like butter); and at the end of it you will have a great resume, personal website, and the skills necessary to contribute to the wealth of knowledge and information on the web. I love The Firehose Project and you will too, because everyone in our community is there to help with every problem and make you feel included.
You can go to The Firehose Project right now and sign up for the free 2-week intro to see if you like the way it works, I'm fairly confident you will.
The Firehose Project was a great option for me. There prep course is awesome and challenging. I really like how the course is structured. They teach you, then challange you in every lesson. Everyone in the team is really helpful, and respond QUICKLY, which is great when you get stuck. My brother finished the course and couldnt be happier. Definitly recommend :)
I'm only on the third week with The Firehose Project bootcamp and so far, I love it. I've had a few hiccups along the way because I'm completely new to coding and I've made A LOT of typing errors, not knowing excactly what each character represented or meant in the programing language. However, the staff, mentors, and fellow students were with me the entire time helping me to figure out what I did wrong and kept encouraging me to push forward and grow. Everyone I've been in contact with at that bootcamp was so helpful and supportive.
I have enjoyed my time learning how to code on The Firehose Project. The best part of the program is the fast feedback that I got on the coding challenges. This helped to reinforce what I was thought in the classes and also gave me the opportunity to think about alternate approaches to solving the same problem. The Fire Hose Project is an awesome coding boot camp.
I'm truly enjoying The Firehose Project prep course. The learning environment is easy to follow, interactive and filled with great coding challenges you submit for feedback. Coding is not easy, but The Firehose Project makes learning to code interesting and engaging.
Changing careers or picking up new skills? The firehose project takes self learning to a whole new level, not only will they teach you how to code from scratch they will also help you understand it. The support that you'll receive is same day or someone will respond to your question within 24-hours. Weekly office hour sessions where you can ask any question you may have and one of the founders will explain it in detail until you understand. Weekly 1 hour mentor session, which you can go over any content you would like or have the mentor assign you a new task to complete to help with your lessons. The lessons you read for the classes are simple to follow, but the challenges and projects that needed to be completed require more in depth thinking. Sometimes the challenges are difficult but with the support in this bootcamp, it is simple to understand.
I'm taking this bootcamp because I'm switching careers and before I signed up to the firehose project, I have done some research into different bootcamps. This one has many others beat because the cost is really low and affordable, they offer career support, the forums are great and people will help out, and if that still doesn't convince you, I can guarantee that if you have any other questions that a student advisor can't answer for you the co-founder Ken will reach out to you and answer any other questions you may have. He reached out to me and answered my questions with no hesistation, which showed me that he genuinely cared about what problems I could think of that the student advisor wasn't able to. It felt like I wasn't a dollar value to him but more of someone he wants to teach what he works on.
Beginning the journey
I was a stay at home mom with a love of learning. I had my degree in applied math but never pursued a career due to family obligations. However, after choosing to homeschool my kids, I decided to start learning right alongside them. I wanted to get into something that would continually challenge me and then stumbled into coding. I did some independent learning using online tutorials, Codecademy, and The Odin Project. After working through those and still desiring a deeper understanding and a little more guidance, I signed up for a beginners course in web development. I came out of that with being able to implement the basics and even more of a curiosity for the workings of it all. So I began searching for a more in depth training option. I read through reviews on CourseReport and similar sites. I narrowed it down to two options - The Viking Code School and the Firehose Project. After emailing back and forth with Marco from the FirehoseProject and getting my questions answered very honestly by him, I chose to go with them for two main reasons. First, Marco was honest about where I could/would be at the end of the apprenticeship. He admitted that although they have a solid program, it was up to me how much or little I got out of the program. Secondly, the setup of the program allowed me to continue to work from home, homeschool my kids, and dedicate as much time as I could to coding.
As I read through the other reviews, many of the others hit on some key takeaways from the Firehose Project. Algorithms, practice coding and pushing live Ruby/Rails apps, mentor/pair programming, community...these are all some very important aspects of what Firehose is all about. However, the main takeaway for me was how to apply learning to any programming language that I chose. Yes, I went in wanting to learn Ruby/Rails and become a Rails developer. However, by the time I finished, I felt capable of learning any language put in front of me. I was eager to jump into Python, being an applied math major that felt like the next step. So I decided to jump in and learn other languages and the more in depth concepts of Ruby/Rails. Where I would have felt intimidated in another language, I now knew how to learn, how to work through the difficult ideas, and where to look for help when I just couldn't figure it out.
So after all that hard work and countless pre 5am coding sessions, just to get coding time without kids tugging at me, where exactly am I? Well, I finished up my apprenticeship the end of August. I had numerous rejection letters, numerous single interviews, and an interview process that lasted several weeks with my "dream" company that ended in a rejection. Then I went into my last interview interviewing for a Rails developer position and was asked if I'd be willing to train in iOS development. Since that was what I took away from the Firehose project, the ability to learn and be confident in my abilities, of course I was willing. So they assigned me a week long challenge to develop an iOS app as they specified. It was difficult but I got through it and I made it fully functional as they had requested. I submitted it on a Thursday and by the following Tuesday I had an offer! It was really an amazing experience and I am extremely excited to be starting this new journey!
My advice to you
I highly recommend the Firehose Project. They have great mentors, a great community, a great curriculum... but most of all, they have a way of teaching/mentoring that just throws you in the thick of it all. They force you to take responsibility for your own learning and how far you can take the program. They are there to help you through it all BUT you have to push yourself to the limits! It really is a great program that took one who was an extreme introvert that lacked confidence and helped me learn to be a capable, outgoing developer!
In a sea of bootcamp options, drinking from the firehose is the only sure way to become a dev and get started with a new career. There's too much to know to do anything differently.
The firehose project's methodology, mentorship, and instruction team get it.
Working hard under direction and in groups, I learned core concepts and was given the knowledge I need to succeed.
I chose The Firehose Project over the others for a multitude of reasons. I would have to say, however, that I was most impressed by three aspects.
First, the dedication and involvement of the founders is stellar. Marco and Ken are not 'take the money and run' kind of business people. They have a real passion for coding and helping others to learn their craft. I had email exchanges with both throughout my time in the program and theiy attended every weekly office hours I was part of the program, even over the holiday period.
Second, the program included not only basic html/css/ruby syntax to create a series of web apps but also added in the principles of algorithms, getting students to deeply understand how code works.
Third, the formation of a pseudo-startup as the last stage to create a sophisticated chess app, including all the rules etc. teaches the principles of agile work and SCRUM methods. This is a risk though, you get out what you put in and if the other members of the team aren't 100% on board you can end up disappointed with the outcome. However, the experience with working as a remote developer did prepare me for what was to come.
Overall, I recommend The Firehose Project fully. They gave me the advice, the material, the tools and the attitude that I needed to build the foundation of my career change over the few months I was enrolled. To this day, I still regularly visit the site to get refreshers on how to do things properly and chat with other alumni and students about issues that arise. While they won't guarantee you a job at the end, anyone who does is selling you a pipe dream. Only you can decide how much effort you will put in and what you will take away when you're done. They will, however, do everything they can to make your time in the program a success.
Who will have a 5 star experience with this program?
- People who can just stick to doing what Ken and Marco recommend without trying to "improve" the program. After being employed for more than 6 months, you will find that you litterally knew nothing about how to best prepare for a career in software engineering when you were considering a bootcamp or other educational routes. Trust the people who do. Their living depends on it. They know more than you do. Spend your time following their advice and curriculum and resting. Don't waste time searching for tweaks, optimizations, or worrying about "what-ifs" and other paths once you have made your choice. It is an exercise in futility and will only waste your time and emotional energy (I know from painful experience haha).
- People who are certain they want to become a professional web developers or launch a web-based entrepreneurial project.
- People who have the courage to ask questions, even when it makes them feel like they might "look stupid" or make someone uncomfortable.
- People who are self-motivated. You are not in a classroom, so there is no one who can see you 8-14 hours per day and tell you to pick it up or to notice that you are frustrated or upset. You need to be able to keep yourself on schedule and seek out help, guidance, and intellectual or emotional encouragement when you need it.
- People who can handle dealing with problems they don't know the answer to. If you have never been humbled by software engineering, you haven't been working on tough problems. Everyone gets in deep water at some point. You have to be able to learn how to break problems down, do research, and ask for help when needed without letting your ego get in the way.
- People who are willing to help out fellow students, contribute to the community, and be kind. If you get easily frustrated with people who are less knowledgable or less intelligent than you are, you won't have a very pleasant experiencing while pair-programming or working on group projects.
What are the weaknesses of the program?
- This is not a classroom or virtual classroom program - This should be obvious but it is still worth mentioning. If you can't get motivated to code without having a team right there with you or watching you, you won't be able to work in any program with this format. That doesn't make you a bad person, it just means a classroom or virtual classroom program is a better choice for you.
- Remote admissions and admissions standards - This is not a program designed to exclusively cater to the wealthy and unencumbered by life responsibilities or to people already skilled in web development or a related field. The admissions standards are based around passion, having a good attitude, and showing that you can learn some basic HTML, CSS, design, Ruby, and how to deploy a website. By definition, the audience will be broader and people who are not fully committed to the program could certainly fake their way in. Every bootcamp has to make a trade off of some sort on admissions and there is really no perfect solution.
- Time coordination - Even though this is a convenient, online program, I would highly recommended you insure that you can make the Office Hours, which were held on Wednesdays at 6PM EST, US while I was attending the program in 2016. If you are interested in joining an agile group project team, I would also recommend you make yourself as available as possible during evenings EST US time on weekdays and daytime on weekends. Since admissions is rolling, if you apply to and are accepted to join the agile group project, you may have to start 1-2 weeks before or after your anticipated start time. You will still get all the mentor sessions but it may cause inconvenience in your schedule.
- You have to be self motivated - I know I've mentioned this, but unless you ask questions, tell people when are you feeling a lack of confidence, or when something isn't working out, they will never know. If something isn't working out with a mentor or you have been stuck on a tough coding challenge for a long time and grinding, you have to speak up. I would also highly recommend completing at least one additional solo project during the course to test yourself and have more to show prospective employers than just your capstone project.
- There is a lot of material to cover to become a proficient web developer - I studied full-time and logged just shy of 800 hours during the program without running out of material. There are definitely a lot of students who work during the program and have success. I would just caution you to be really certain you will spend a minimum of 25 hours per week on the program unless you already have an education or experience in a related field. NOTE: The program length has been updated and this may no longer be applicable.
- Don't expect to be a software engineering ninja by the end of the program - This should go without saying for any web development bootcamp. A web development bootcamp can take someone who is truly brilliant or has prior, related training to the level of mid-level developer at best. Most people will graduate any web development bootcamp at the level of a junior developer. After the program, you will have to seek out information outside of the curriculum to keep growing and round out your weaknesses (they will be happy to tell you where to look and continue answering questions). People who worked throughout the program and only spent 15 hours per week may need an additional month or two of self-study to get there. You will get out of this program what you put in. Have honest expectations and consider a different field if you are only in it for the money. There are plenty of easier and smarter ways to get rich than solving tough engineering problems all day.
- No Hiring Network, etc. - I know some bootcamps have hiring networks of recruiters, demo days, etc. This one does not.
What comes with the program and what are it's strengths?
- 1 hour long mentor session per week with a personal mentor and 1 hour (often longer) group mentor session per week with the founders, that they call Office Hours.
- An additional mentor session per week during the apprenticeship portion of the program from weeks 8 to completion. During this period you will either join an agile group project, join an open-source group project, or do an entrepreneurial solo project.
- Computer Science Basics - You will work on well-known algorithms and data structures, lots of tough coding challenges, and learn core concepts like OOP, how the internet works, and web application designs concepts.
- Project-based Learning - You will work through tutorials and documentation to build web applications with less and less information laid out as you go through the program. You will also have quizzes on basic, practical web application tasks in which you will build small applications or pieces of them.
- Community - You have a forum for questions, a Slack channel full of awesome students, alumni, mentors, and staff who want to get to know you and help you, and Google+ community. I never had to wait long for help. I would usually ask a question when I was about to take a break to make a cup of coffee. While there is no officially guaranteed answer time for questions, I don't ever recall not at least receiving a response by the time I returned to my computer.
- Basic Job Prep - Resume review, an overview and challenge problems for technical interviews, a number of articles on how to approach job search, how to speak to humans, etc.
- Lifetime access to the website content, Slack channel, and Google+ community.
- Responsive staff that acts on feedback. During the time I was in the program there was a pair-programming room added to the Slack channel, and multiple updates to the curriculum based on student feedback.
- Learn the Ruby on Rails stack, Git, best practices like TDD, web development tools, etc.
- Ken Mazaika is a beast. He answers about 8 bajillion questions per day, must work over 80 hours per week, is nice to people, and seems to really enjoy it.
The firehose project is a very well organized, well structured, and rewarding learning experience. The bootcamp includes self paced tutorials, weekly office hours (video chatroom), mentorship sessions, and 24-7 forum where to ask questions. In addition there are coding challenges to solve and a group project towards the end of the project. The team at the Firehose Project includes very talented developers all of whom also serve as mentors to students. For me, the mentorship sessions were the highlight of the week. I also really enjoyed the atmosphere during the office hours every week, it was always very laid back yet productive. Ultimately, the office hours and mentorship sessions always left me uplifted and ready to tackle whatever challenge came next. To anyone looking to learn to code and build web applications, I highly recommend The Firehose Project.
First, Some Background
I graduated from college about a year and a half ago with a BS in Civil Engineering. I started to work in construction engineering after graduation with the intention of eventually becoming a design engineer. Over the course of my short-lived career, I realized it wasn’t the field for me, and I began exploring coding. I have some previous coding experience – did some Java programming in high school, dabbled in Python, etc. – but by no means did I have a CS background. Anyways, I began taking some free courses online to brush up on my coding skills – Codecademy, random blogs, etc. The great thing about these resources is they give you a foundation of how to write code, but if you’re like me, the real problem is figuring out how to put it all together and actually use your coding knowledge to MAKE something.
That’s where Firehose came in. After some extensive research, I gave their two-week free trial a shot. I loved the structure and tutorials, and based on some previous reviews and my experience so far, I decided to go with them.
I went through most of the course on nights and weekends, while still working my job. It’s a flexible course structure, but the more you put in, the more you’ll get out of it. I’d say plan on spending at least 15 hours a week if you’re still working your day job. The course was so enjoyable for me it didn’t really feel like extra work anyways!
Over the course of 15 weeks (including the free 2 week ramp up period), you’ll build 3 Rails projects – a simple quote generator that will familiarize yourself with Rails (this one will be quick), a Yelp clone, and a site similar to Udemy – an online video teaching platform that will build on your experience from the last app and add a few more cool new things.
In addition to this, you’ll go through common coding algorithms that are likely to show up in interviews, learn about object-oriented programming, the importance of Test Driven Development (TDD) and much more. You’ll also video conference with a mentor once a week for one hour, and they will go over whatever you want. Do take advantage of this. My mentor, Phil, was great at answering any questions I had, working through coding challenges with me, and suggesting things to study for next week.
The Final Project, AKA The Big Kahuna
In the last 6 weeks, you’ll build a much bigger project with a team of 3-4 people, and an experienced mentor who will assign tasks and guide you along. You will video conference once a week for an hour with them to discuss tasks, issues, etc. Our mentor, Jeff, was incredibly helpful in this regard. This project is really a culmination of your learning – the first 3 projects are more tutorial based (though they do get more challenging and less handhold-ey as you go). But this project is very much something you are building and figuring out as you go – you’re assigned tasks, and you have to figure out how to implement them. This project is probably the most important aspect of the course as it will emulate the real-life workplace of an Agile web development team.
I can’t stress enough how great the Firehose community is, either. Don’t skimp out on this. Do join the Slack channel at the beginning of the program. Ask questions, struggle along with others taking the course, and goof around and have fun. This is probably the aspect of the course I didn’t take advantage of enough. Ken and Marco are almost always available on Slack or via email, and have been so incredibly helpful to me. Near the end of my course, I started to consider quitting my job to focus more on the course and job hunting. I had a Skype chat with Ken, who took a look at how I was doing, my personal situation, and really encouraged me to go for it. So I did, and over the course of the next two months, I job hunted vigorously. I live in the SF Bay Area, so there are a lot of developer jobs here. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to get one. You have to hustle, put in the work. But Ken guided me along, encouraged me, gave me things to study and even code reviewed some code challenges I was sent. Keep in mind, this was AFTER my 15 weeks were technically up. These guys really care, and they want you to succeed. Well, after two months I did, and I landed a job as a Rails developer just a few weeks ago, working for an awesome company.
Firehose was an incredible experience, and I really had no idea I could make such a massive career change in a matter of months with a program like this. If you’re exploring bootcamps, do take the time to consider your options and what is the best fit for you. But coming out of Firehose I can say with confidence that your best bet might be right here.
It was hour number 8 of looking at the same computer screen and scrolling through the text to see if I had missed an important detail. I had not. I was stuck. I had admitted I was stuck hours before then began redrawing the same numbers and diagrams on the white board I had erased three times before. Frustrated was an understatement. I then looked at my dog who was hungrily eyeing the almonds on my desk and began to explain to him (for the fifth time) what I was trying to accomplish. He was rewarded for his patience but his kind ear did nothing to help my predicament.
The above anecdote underscores (to me at least) the challenge and purpose of learning a new skill. I would eventually solve the algorithm and move onto a new problem but I always remember the struggle of being stuck, the steps I took to make progress and the ‘ah-ha’ moment when all the pieces came together.
I am not a programmer by trade nor do I have what many would consider a classical technical background, e.g. engineering, mathematics or computer science. Rather, I am just a man who grew tired of relying on flakey developers to ‘make the magic happen’ and wanted more than to be on the outside looking in. Thus, I vowed to learn the trade.
My search for the right development program started with in-person “bootcamps” that ran 3-6 months in major metropolitan locations and cost nearly $30,000 irrespective of room, board and the lost wages of being in school. Being a high risk gamble, those options proved cost prohibitive and I moved on to online apprenticeships which offered similar curriculum but with the added advantage of being remote, done at my leisure and far more cost effective.
After prospecting six different programs, I narrowed my choice down to two: Bloc.io and theFirehoseProject. Each presented different advantages and disadvantages and the cost was (nearly) similar enough to warrant a full examination. I initially chose Bloc.io due to their customizable length of programs, higher amount of mentor meetings and what appeared to be denser curriculum. It took nearly three months of disappointment and frustration before I finally threw up my hands and transferred to theFirehoseProject to finish my coding education. In order to explain the sequence of events that led to both choices, I feel it is incumbent upon me to contextualize the differences in each respective program.
the Firehose Project
Bloc has a similar focus with some key differences. Mainly, Bloc uses step-by-step tutorials and questions to walk one through the fundamentals of beginning to code. Depending on the speed at which you learn, this can be a good way to ramp up your knowledge before diving into full-on application development. If, however, you find applied knowledge more useful than regimented modules, you might find this aspect both frustrating and regressive.(Most of the skills I gleaned from these sections could be found on a site like codewars.com or rubymonk.com. This is not to say it was not helpful to learn!) Bloc then takes a similar approach to Firehose and offers a series of CRUD apps that teach very specific pieces of knowledge. These apps provide a lot of useful features (API knowledge, rake tasks, Stripe API integration) but are somewhat lacking in terms of Test Driven Development and expanded knowledge, like algorithms or advanced usage of GitHub.
This was a particular sticking point for me, as I tend to rely heavily on lecture material and in-class demonstrations to help clarify new information. But, as I learned the hard way, it is not the number of mentor sessions provided, but the quality and investment of the mentor.
the Firehose Project
Given the fixed length of the program, Firehose allots 12 mentor sessions or one per week starting on the second week of your program after you have already constructed and launched your first web application. I bristled at first as Bloc promises nearly triple the number of mentor sessions during your apprenticeship. However, while this might seem like an impediment, it actually forces a student to find solutions through diagramming, Googling or trial and error. Since this type of self-guided discovery comprises 90% of computer programming, absence of oversight turned out to be a blessing as opposed to a curse. Further, the quality of the Firehose mentor sessions proved far superior to Bloc. I lucked out and had Ken Mazaika (one of the co-founders) as my mentor and he was an incredible resource. As opposed to ‘driving’ while I watched, he constantly challenged me to think about what I was trying to do and why I was doing it rather than just showing me how do it. As a former attorney in training with an overly analytical mind, I needed to see the reasoning behind the code and this proved to be the impetus for me learning the methods. Finally, though we would constantly run over on the allotted time for our mentor session, Ken would make sure I had all of my questions answered and would point me in the direction of places where I could expand my study of a particular concept we covered that day.
As much as I enjoyed the dynamic with my mentor, the quality of sessions did not match what I was expecting. We would meet twice a week to discuss my questions, but often times I was left watching as he produced the code. Given my inexperience in the world of computer programming, this approach did very little to help my growth. I would leave the sessions without having resolved the questions I initially presented to my mentor, as I would need clarification on a lot of the concepts we covered during that call. Furthermore, if I would ask about a particular piece of information I had uncovered during my self-guided coding, I was told to disregard the question if my mentor did not find it valuable. I will admit that some of my questions may have been elementary but only through understanding outdated information does one realize why the question is inferior. The timing aspect also proved to be frustrating as my mentor would frequently arrive tardy to our scheduled session due to a previous call and had to jump off early to attend to another student. I would sometimes feel like a burden when asking questions via e-mail and eventually resorted to leveraging other developers in lieu of reaching out to my mentor.
the Firehose Project
TheFirehoseProject is either $4,000 up-front for a full stack development apprenticeship or $4,500 with several payment plans available.
Bloc is $5,000 regardless of your payment plan. You can, however, qualify for a ‘scholarship’ if they deem you to be eligible.
* It is worth mentioning that Bloc charges a $500 cancellation fee if you cancel your membership after a month into the program. I learned this the hard way. TheFirehoseProject did not charge such a fee.
the Firehose Project
TheFirehoseProject has two main areas which are of use for people looking to enter a career as a web developer. There are weekly ‘office hours’ that bring all students into a community video chat with Ken, Marco and other guest mentors to discuss issues students have encountered. This allows an open forum for both general inquiries and specific technical questions. It also provides students an opportunity to interact with one another which is nice given that most of your coding will take place in isolation.
The final 4 weeks of the program are dedicated to a mentor-lead group project which involved a lot of advanced coding skills (“how do I write code to validate check-mate?”), heavy use of Test Driven Development and a lot of technical pair programming with other students on your team. The group project has been incredibly helpful for understanding the real world web application development process for a novice like myself.
Bloc, at least while I was enrolled, had pseudo-office hours where one mentor would answer questions from students in a chat room. Often times, the mentor would not be in attendance as I was informed that Bloc was no longer using this feature. Since there was no group project, I never used pair programming until I transferred schools.
These four main points of comparison are what I used to rank the programs before enrolling. As mentioned, initially Bloc seemed like the better option given its higher rate of mentor interaction and the somewhat nominal difference in cost.
However, the difference in Curriculum and Mentor Quality, Real World Pair-Programming and Cost made my transfer to theFirehoseProject easy.
Sometimes the appearance of the school is just that: only an appearance. I suggest fully vetting both programs (if you are prospecting online schools) and talk to alumni from both to answer any questions you might have.
In sum, I am very happy with my choice of switching over to theFirehoseProject, despite the financial impact of transferring schools. But most importantly I now have the skills that I need and feel ready to work as a junior web developer.
What can I say about the Firehose Project? Well if you are looking for pros and cons of the program, this review is probably not the one you are looking for. Try as I might, I am hard pressed to find a single thing I didn’t like about the program.
I was searching for an immersive apprenticeship sort of program, to really push me into learning something new, something challenging and something rewarding. What I got was so much more than that. All the things you are searching for in a coding boot camp are present with the Firehose project so I won’t go into great detail about that. Their website does a great job of laying that out for you. What they didn’t tell me, and what I was most surprised by, was the community that comes with the program. An entire community of coders and hackers all working together to learn a new skill, to share their knowledge and to lift each other up, I’ve never seen anything like it. I have a couple degrees from a couple universities and I’ve never felt more of a sense of academic community than I did at the Firehose Project.
One of the great benefits of this program was being paired with a mentor. I was able to Skype an hour a week with my own personal mentor, who is in place to help you work on coding challenges and give you someone to bounce questions and ideas off of. Your mentor is also available to help you bring your ideas to life and to give you industry advice. Going into this program, I really thought my mentor was going to be the only personal connection I would have, but I was mistaken. Ken and Marco are really great facilitators. I was not expecting how involved and accessible they would be. If I had a coding problem or a question they were always quick to respond and talk me through whatever challenge I was having, or answer my questions. They explained things in a way that made sense to me, and really pushed my level of learning beyond what I thought possible in 15 short weeks.
This program is hard, it challenged me in ways I never dreamed possible, but it rewarded me in more ways than I could have imagined. I am more than happy with my entire experience with the Firehose Project and I feel like I got way more than I bargained for in the process. I drank from the firehose, and not only did I survive, but I thrived.
before beginning firehose's program, i did an enormous amount of research in order to decide whether a) they were a reputable/capable program, b) whether a remote program as opposed to an in-person intensive bootcamp was a wise decision, and c) whether students/former students of firehose who came from radically different backgrounds (namely, the humanities) felt as though they were fully grasping the material as taught by firehose and enjoying it at the same time.
given this criteria, i landed on firehose after speaking with admissions officers at numerous programs, including firehose. i live in NYC, so there's plenty of programs offered in-person, and i'll admit i initially took it for granted that i would be going to a bootcamp because i didn't even realize that there was another option. the more i thought about this, though, and read former students' reviews of their experiences, the more i came to conclude that a learning environment that defaults on an 80+ hour/week model for 3 months was a surefire way to burn me out on the material. i'm quick to learn concepts, but by that same token, i am coming at all of this from a field of study that isn't predominately in the maths/computer sciences and i frankly don't believe that my learning style (or anyone's learning style for that matter) is best served by such a relentless onslaught of information. it only seemed reasonable to then infer that this enormous stress of time in combination with a cohort of small peers could further compound the problem by adding in an inadvertent element of competition since so many gravitate towards this industry in hopes of entering a high-paying jobs market. this is not to knock in-person programs wholesale, i've heard many have great experiences - but i found in my research that the good/bad experiences were just-so: there wasn't much room for grey area. and i found it rather troubling that so many of the courses weren't instructed by those working in the industry per-se, but recent graduates of that very program.
so, i branched out my search into remote programs. i initially looked at bloc, but given teh scope of that program many sentiments seemed to echo a lack of personal attention and the self-study was perhaps working as more of a disadvantage. it was sort of by happenstance that i stumbled upon firehose, and the more i read about it and the student/graduate reviews i read, the more i became confident that their program was not just the most individually attentive, but that their course *material* was most in-line with present industry standards and their emphasis on data structures and algorithmic coursework was a big draw that spoke to the program not simply being another 'code factory' where people leave and know how to execute functions they've memorized, but not have a fundamental grasp on why they're doing it in the first place.
if i was going to dedicate 6 months of my life to learning how to program, i wanted to be ready to enter a job and not feel like i was still going to have to re-learn everything in the context of a specific application all over again. firehose actively structures their program so that as you learn you're building up a portfolio that you can show employers, and that the program is over a 6 month duration, you can exhibit this portfolio with that time spent clearly illustrated. it's not something hastily thrown together at the end of a three month spree.
the one on one mentoring with an industry professional was what made me pull the trigger, though, and i'm happy to report that after 1.5 months of being in the program my experience mirrors and often exceeds my hopes for it. i have a fantastic mentor i meet with once a week who walks me through questions i have and instructs on everything from fundamental concepts to highly specific niche issues. this is more helpful to me than a lecture environment where only certain concerns are aired. i was a bit worried that meeting only once a week wouldn't be enough, but it's actually just right - the videos for instruction, the slack integration with others in the program, and the projects you're tasted with are a pretty full-time endeavor. and as you work, it's great to be able to note the things you want to discuss with your mentor to go over.
i've already gotten so much out of this program, and i'm very much indebted to what, in my honest view, comes across as a genuine concern and enthusiasm for coding and firehose students' success.
i encourage anyone who is interested and believes a remote program is the right fit for them to give firehose a chance.
Our latest on The Firehose Project
Welcome to our last monthly coding bootcamp news roundup of 2016! Each month, we look at all the happenings from the coding bootcamp world from new bootcamps to fundraising announcements, to interesting trends we’re talking about in the office. This December, we heard about a bootcamp scholarship from Uber, employers who are happily hiring bootcamp grads, investments from New York State and a Tokyo-based staffing firm, diversity in tech, and as usual, new coding schools, courses, and campuses!Continue Reading →
There are many reasons to attend a bootcamp- maybe you’re ready to take the plunge into a coding career or you want to update your current programming skills. Or maybe you’re part of a rising generation of aspiring technical founders and you’re ready to launch your own startup…you just need tech skills. Many bootcamp alumni are enjoying the fruits of their intensive bootcamp labor by choosing the path of entrepreneurship, and launching their own app or website. In fact, Course Report’s latest outcomes and demographics study found that 4.3% of bootcampers attend to learn the skills necessary to start their own company. Our team loves an inspiring success story, so we’re highlighting those bootcampers who took the road less traveled, and managed to strike it big.Continue Reading →
It can be stressful to switch careers into tech after doing something completely different for a long time. In my case, it was being in the military for 12 years.Continue Reading →
Ilya studied computer science and went into product management before deciding to make the switch to become a professional web developer. He recently completed theFirehoseProject - a mentor driven online coding bootcamp. Shortly after completing theFirehoseProject, Ilya received multiple job offers from Startups and Tech Companies, and ultimately decided to join EnerNOC, a global energy intelligence company, as a Ruby on Rails Developer. We talked to Ilya about his CS background, his experience at theFirehoseProject, and his reasons for changing tracks in his career.
Tell us what you were up to before you started at Firehose. Were you working or doing any kind of programming?
I actually studied Computer Science but I’d never programmed or touched any code before theFirehoseProject. People from the U.S. who studied computer science might be surprised by the idea that you can go through a whole specialized program in Computer Science without writing more than 20 lines of code. But that’s what happened to me.
I actually hear similar things from Computer Science grads in the US!
Exactly. You learn things about the software development process and theory, but you don’t actually learn how to code in a project and build real products.
During my studies, I wasn’t that interested in coding. I was working with young people in the community doing everything but my studies. Nevertheless I graduated and felt the need to get back into tech. I started out as a Product Manager and joined a startup here in Munich where you can book doctors’ appointments, tables at a restaurant, hairdressers; anything. They went to become the goto tool for small businesses in Germany and Europe.
Were you still working in that startup as a product manager when you were doing Firehose project?
During my two years at the startup I was working very closely with Ruby developers, but never touching any code. I got the itch and wanted to become a professional web developer as well. So I saved up a little bit of money, talked to theFirehoseProject team and quit at the end of July so I could start to drink-from-the-firehose in the last week of July.
Was your motivation for doing Firehose to get a job as a Ruby developer once you were finished or was it to create your own product?
I was pretty open-minded about what would happen. I was sure that I needed these kinds of skills no matter what I might do in the future. I imagined two paths: to continue working as a product manager but in a more technical capacity or to find work as a developer. I wasn’t sure which path I would choose until the end of the program when I started my job search.
Did you figure out what you wanted to do by the end of Firehose?
Absolutely, yes! I wrote so much code and built multiple web applications that the decision was very easy: land a job as a developer!
Why did you decide to do an online program instead of an in-person one?
Mostly because there aren’t as many great coding bootcamps in Europe, in Germany especially. Also the opportunity cost of moving to a new city and paying rent, on top of three times the tuition costs, made the decision to go with an online coding bootcamp relatively easy. In-person courses are really expensive from what I found. Hack Reactor is close to $20,000! Of course, coding in the same room with other people 6 days a week for 12 hours would have been amazing, but that was a bit outside my scope.
Did you look at any other online bootcamps other than Firehose? Why did you choose Firehose?
I was considering Bloc pretty seriously and looked into them closely. Ultimately I was convinced by the personal connection and mentor quality at theFirehoseProject. Bloc has a great outreach and marketing team; they sent these beautifully-designed newsletters and hosted webinars etc., but I was really missing the personal touch in their curriculum.
With Firehose, I just registered and Marco invited me to a Google Hangout and explained how their program works and what is expected of me - it was very, very personal and I liked it.
What was the application process like for you?
They want to hear about your goals to make sure they can help you reach them. They also require you to submit some code before you’re accepted into the program. They have a coding bootcamp preparation course that people without good coding samples have to complete. From their and my own perspective it makes a lot of sense to prepare for a coding bootcamp so you can maximize your learning while having access to your coding mentors.
How much did it cost?
So once you registered, did they match you with a mentor?
Yes, since my goal was to find a job as a technical product manager or web developer, I was matched with my mentor Ken, who hired dozens of people to his own technical team before. They Firehose team is really selective about who can mentor their students, and the new mentors that they recently brought on are all senior web developers at PayPal and TechStars companies, or held senior developer positions at Flickr and bit.ly.
Were there time zone issues since your mentor was in the U.S?
Not really. Ken is based in Boston. You have to think about it and consider it, but it worked really good for us. We did our meetings during my evenings and his afternoons. I didn’t have any time constraints because I was going through Firehose fulltime.
Some of their other students worked full-time jobs while going through theFirehoseProject and they had to make sure they fit all their coursework into their schedule. But obviously that worked for those students as well, since one of them landed a new tech job during the Firehose program.
How did you and Ken communicate?
Q&A forum, email and Google Hangouts for mentor sessions and office hours.
Was there a set curriculum that you were going through on your own and then asking Ken questions? How did it work logistically?
The program consists of three web applications that increase in complexity. Each web application included new technologies that you need to learn so you can ship them live.
You also learn how to write really good Ruby code by solving real world coding challenges that you can expect to be asked during any technical interview for a developer job.
During the last four weeks I worked on a group project to get the real world experience of how great software is build by teams in a collaborative coding process.
The whole program is very flexible and self-paced, while working together with your personal coding mentor. We also had weekly office hours and group project meetings.
Were those weekly office hours done with other students?
Yes, their weekly office hours is a time where all the students come together and everyone can see their code, what troubles their running into and how the mentors troubleshoot any issues. The office hours are really helpful and I really enjoyed them.
Did you feel Firehose was personalized to what you needed or wanted to learn?
For sure. Every question I had was personalized. I wanted to dig deeper into test driven development, and my mentor was really flexible and taught me a lot of additional skills outside of the core curriculum.
For example, during the last month we focused on job interview preparation; Ken helped me design my resume and optimize it for development jobs. We went through a few mock interviews where he’d ask me questions so I could really prepare for the real interviews.
I also had to complete six coding challenges that are very likely to get asked during a web developer job interview. My mentor helped me go through the code and we practiced the solutions together.
You mentioned that you did three projects throughout. Were those assigned projects or were they projects that you came up with?
It’s a part of their core curriculum every student completes three web applications that increase in complexity and get pretty challenging.
During the last four weeks of the program I was also part of a group project. It’s 3-4 students and one of the code mentors is the technical lead. The group project is designed to make you learn how software is built in the real world: you have somebody telling your team what to build, maybe give you some wireframes and then the group has to break apart all the features into technical steps and start implementing them.
This was a different experience than simply coding by myself. We had to use GitHub like it is used in the real world when teams work together, fix code conflicts and always make sure that nobody is blocking somebody else on the team. Besides our personal code mentor, we also had one code mentor guiding us through the whole group project.
The project I built with my team is a platform where new developers can prepare themselves for technical interviews.
How did that logistically work, to work with a group?
It’s just like in the real world. We had weekly check-ins and we discussed next steps and things we need to do. We delegated tasks to be done by the next meeting.
That’s nice because it’s kind of like learning how to do remote work.
This taught us how to work remotely and also, to work as a team, which is really important as a developer. Teamwork is so different from working alone. You have to be in-tune with the work that your team members are doing so that you don’t destroy someone else’s work or stand in the way.
How many hours were you spending on Firehose each week?
Probably 30 hours a week. I wanted to finish the program strong and learn web development, but I also enjoyed a few weeks where I was going at a slower pace.
What did your mentor do in that last month to help with job preparation?
We revised my resume; it was a good “project management resume” but a pretty bad “developer resume.” My mentor really coached me on what and how to talk about my experience in the interview.
What are you up to now? Did you get a new job?
Yeah. I received multiple job offers after the program and actually started my new job last Monday. I’m a Ruby Developer for EnerNOC, a global energy intelligence company. Currently I’m developing a tool for analysts and operators who manage the switching and bidding on the energy market.
Are you working in Germany?
Yes, I work out of their office in Munich. There was a startup here in Munich doing something similar and EnerNOC acquired them this February.
How large is the dev team that you work with?
There are two other developers who hand over the work to me, before they leave at the end of December. We currently looking for another developer to work together with me.
Do you feel like you are at that level? Do you feel comfortable with that?
It’s pretty challenging. I think that it’s the best way to learn. f you’re new, then you often don’t know what you don’t know, but I love the challenge.
Is there anything else you wanted to add about Firehose or your experience?
I would totally recommend theFirehoseProject to everyone considering and online web development bootcamp.
Ken and Marco are running a top-notch program that attracts amazing mentors, while keeping a very personal touch. I’m sure they will continue to grow and go out of their way to help you have a great experience.
Welcome to the September News Roundup, your monthly news digest full of the most interesting articles and announcements in the 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 →
The Firehose Project is an immersive online apprenticeship that teaches students of varying backgrounds to be web developers or launch their own products. While the curriculum is based in Ruby on Rails, mentors identify their mentees needs immediately and customize a learning plan for each student. We chat with Marco Morawec, founder of The Firehose Project, about their team of mentors, how they're supporting students in their journey to code, and the commitment required by students of the program.
What does the team at Firehose Project look like?
We’re 2 founders and about half a dozen code mentors that are helping us. Everyone on our team can code and we’re hand-picking every single mentor to make sure they have the relevant combination of technical and teaching skills.
Tell us about your background and how you got involved with the Firehose project?
My background is in web development and UX product manager. Before teaching people how to code I consulted Fortune 500 companies like P&G and John Deere and won Boston's biggest Hackathon (Angelhack). Most recently I led the user experience for peerTransfer, building a 1 Billion dollar a year international tuition payment platform. Before all that, I was carrying nothing more than a backpack and travelled around the world on $25/day for an entire year.
theFirehoseProject really started after I teamed up with my good friend Ken Mazaika, who was a tech lead at Where.com before it got acquired by PayPal, and we taught hundreds of students at places like Harvard, Carnegie Mellon, Brown and the University of Hawaii how to code and use the same tools as the best startups in the country. After seeing how our different approach to teaching allowed so many students achieve amazing results in a short period of time it made sense to bring our “firehose” approach to teaching tech online, so we can reach more students.
When did the first cohort of the Firehose Project online course start?
The first students started using our online guides to build real-world web applications in August 2013 and the first 12 week cohort of theFirehoseProject started early in 2014.
The classes start every Monday, right? Do you organize people into cohorts? Are they interacting with each other online or are they only interacting with their mentor?
New students start every Monday and during the first few weeks they focus on building two fully functional web applications with the help of their mentor.
After the first few weeks of the apprenticeship, we start to custom-tailor our curriculum so students will be able to achieve their individual goals. For example, students with the goal of finding a job as a web developer, are paired with other students to collaborate and launch a real web application that solves an actual problem or need. Just like in the real world of being a web developer, students get specific wireframes and product specifications and write and review code in a team environment, guided by their individual mentor and team leader.
We found that students who can point to their collaborative coding project and understand how to thrive in a team based environment, using the same code collaboration tools as real startups, have a huge advantage in landing a job, over students who only code by themselves or together with their mentor.
So our students are treated like junior web developers very early on in our program and don’t have to wait until they hold that job title to experience what it is like as a junior web developer.
Does everybody who applies get accepted? Is there an interview process at all?
Me or another code mentor talk to every single student before they’re accepted into the program. We’re looking for motivation to learn in our students and make sure they’re a great fit to work on team projects.
After teaching hundreds of students with no prior coding experience how to build and launch web applications, we know we can teach anyone. But we really want to make sure that you’re motivated to learn and have a concrete goal that you want to achieve, be it landing a job as a web developer or launching your own startup idea.
What types of students have you seen do really well in Firehose and what kind of students don’t necessarily excel in that environment?
We've found all of our students are able to excel in our program. Mostly, that has to do with the fact that we’re looking for students who have a particular goal that they want to achieve - like launching their own startup or getting a job as a web developer - and then custom tailor our curriculum around each student’s goal.
How is the curriculum designed? Do you have unique content for your curriculum or do you pick and choose curated lessons from the web?
We developed 100% of our curriculum in house. In fact, our curriculum is constantly updated and improved. By updating our curriculum on an almost daily basis, we can make sure we consistently offer a better learning experience and keep up with the latest technology.
One place that enabled us to create the perfect core curriculum was our Q&A forum that helps students get unstuck within the hour. In the early days, our entire team was basically “why did 3 students ask the same question on lesson 31 about 5 minutes ago? Let’s fix that”. After hundreds of improvements and countless hours of work we finally nailed down the perfect curriculum for our students.
Are you focusing on a particular technology?
Who are your mentors? What are you looking for in a mentor and what’s the process to become a mentor?
To be a mentor at theFirehoseProject you need to have teaching experience and be able to explain a complex web development concept to a classroom full of beginners. Then you also need to be a great developer, know your coding game inside out and actively help people in the Q&A forum and consistently improve theFirehoseProject curriculum.
We have a big coding event at Harvard coming up soon, so we definitely taking a group of our mentors into the classroom again.
Has anyone who’s gotten a job after doing Firehose or actually launched their own product?
Yes, we have multiple students who’ve gotten a job after they graduated, in fact one student just received a job offer half-way through our program, accepted the job and now continues to code together with the other students on his Firehose team project in the evenings.
Another student built an on-demand marijuana delivery platform, pretty much like Uber for marijuana. He’s launching this fall in several cities and is working on his delivery startup full-time.
Have you had students who are being sponsored by their companies?
Absolutely. We’ve had that happen before, especially for students who go through our program while holding a full-time job.
How many hours a week do you estimate that it takes students?
The minimum amount time that we require students to dedicate to coding is 15 hours per week. With 15 hours per week you’ll be able to progress at a good speed and finish strong.
That said, we have many students who are putting in 40-50 hours per week into the program and obviously those students are taking more knowledge and skills out of it.
Whether you put in 15 or 50 hours, we always keep your learning curve steep and make sure we adjust our curriculum to your personal goals and what you want to get out of the program.
Is there anything else you want to add that we didn’t touch on about Firehose?
One of the most common reason why people come to us, is because we’re the very opposite of all the other “cookie cutter” curriculums out there.
At theFirehoseProject all of our students are part of the team and are treated like junior web developers while they go through their customized curriculum together with our mentors.
Want to learn more about The Firehose Project? Check out their School Page on Course Report or their website here!
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