The Firehose Project
The Firehose Project is an 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 4.62
The Firehose Project Reviews
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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.
Software engineering is tough and you have to learn a lot of things on the fly, and that's the approach that Firehose takes. Their curriculum starts off very easy then begins to ramp up quickly. Each application builds off the last application you built and by the end of the course you are working with JS, admin dashboards, and other more complex aspects of web development. Throughout the course, you will have challenges which will force you to look outside the coursework and search for answers like you are on the job, these increase in difficulty throughout the course and help you learn how to navigate stack overflow and other coding question boards.
One of the best aspects of Firehose is the 1-1 mentorship. You have 12 hours of 1 on 1 time with a senior level developer where you can pair program, ask questions, or work on something you're having trouble with. This aspect of the program is one of the things that makes Firehose so great. I used a lot of this time to work on my ruby coding knowledge, pair programming with my mentor, and learning how to solve the complex algorithm challenges you see in many job interviews.
If you ever are having problems or have any questions, everyone at Firehose, including the founders, are very accessible and are there to help you. There was never a time where I felt that I was in this endeavor alone.
Firehose gave me the foundation to get my first software engineering role. If you are willing to put the time and effort in, Firehose can help you make the jump into the software engineering world.
This was an excellent course. The content of the course was made easy to understand but it covered a lot of ground. The curriculum was focused on practicality -- getting projects up and running so you could see your results how well you actually learned things. Plus, the content was very up-to-date. I received a job offer mid-course and the course subject matter was as current, if not more so, than where I started working. In addition, the mentors were great and very responsive to any questions no matter how seemingly simple. Can't recommend it enough.
It’s been about seven months since I started the Firehose Project in April. When I started, I was a college student with virtually no coding skills and now I have a job working as a mobile engineer working at a startup and I’m loving it. In this Firehose Project review, I’ll tell you the all of the things I loved and a couple of the things I didn’t like about the Firehose Project.
Firehose Project Review
There are several metrics that any bootcamp should be measured by to determine if they’re worth the money: technology, staff, tuition, mentorship, community, projects, group projects, job preparation, convenience, and curriculum.
The Ruby language is where most of the emphasis is put when learning throughout the curriculum of the Firehose Project. Although, Ruby is not the most in-demand language, it is a beautiful language that is great for beginners and noobs to learn.
The syntax of Ruby is simple and almost English-like, which makes the learning curve that much easier for beginners and noobs to pick up important programming concepts (syntax, object-oriented design principles, etc.). Sometimes, language can be a hinderance on your ability to learn software development because software development isn’t only restricted to the language. Software development involves design principles, best practices, agile methodologies, and more.
Starting off with Ruby makes learning software development that much easier and I think for that reason, it’s a great choice for learning.
The only downfall to learning in Ruby is that even though there are an abundance of Ruby positions, there are more in other languages. However, if you can program well in Ruby, then you can probably transfer those skills over to any other programming language with relative ease.
I have never met a cluster of so many good-hearted people in one place. I love the staff at the Firehose Project; they’re great. They are genuinely supportive and they genuinely want you to succeed and grow.
This is important because there are lots of coding bootcamps out there that don’t give a rat’s ass about you and just want your money.
You won’t find that at the Firehose Project. Even though it’s a relatively small team, each staff member has a good heart and is honest. This is one of the biggest factors that led me to joining the Firehose Project seven months ago. After reading through their blog (great blog by the way), it was easy to tell that the Firehose Project was genuine and transparent.
Another factor that got me to join was that I couldn’t find one reasonably negative review. I searched online through and through and I couldn’t find anything. This stood out because many of the other coding bootcamps that I had researched had negative reviews so keep that in mind.
Rest assured, if you decide to join the Firehose Project, you’ll be in good and caring hands.
Most coding bootcamps are going to cost you four to five figures. Anything less than that and you should probably save your money. Hack Reactor, for example, is $19,780 for onsite and $17,780 for the remote online option.
Firehose Project, on the other hand, is more affordable and won’t set you back nearly as much. At the time when I signed up, tuition was $4,500, but ever since then, the Firehose Project has added more and the price has moved up to a $6,500 for a 24 week plan and $8,500 for a 44 week slow-pace plan.
With everything you’re getting, you really can’t beat the price. If you’re considering another coding bootcamp that is cheaper than that, do your research and make sure that it’s just as high quality.
One of the best parts about the Firehose Project that I took for granted at the time was the mentorship. At the beginning of the program, you’re connected to a mentor that mentors you once every week for one hour for the rest of the program.
I can’t speak on behalf of the other mentors, but my mentor was kind and supportive. The fact that you’re connected to a senior software engineer is a great way to set you down the right path.
Having a mentor with you is great because your mentor will help you establish good software development habits from the get-go. Also, if you have any bad practices, your mentor will let you know and set you right.
On top of that, your mentor will be there to support you when things get tough on your coding journey.
Having someone there to guide you is a huge help and will help guide you in the right direction from the beginning when your habits are beginning to form.
At the Firehose Project, the staff wants you to get a job and is proud of their student alumni. That’s the situation you want because the incentives are properly aligned in a way that works well for you.
After you finish the main curriculum, there’s a job track that has 36 lessons geared specifically towards getting a job. Each of the job lessons gave insight into important job preparation and interview concepts that any software developer should be aware of.
The lessons range from resume reviews to computer science principles that are brought up during interviews. Personally, I wish the computer science principles would have been taught throughout the course like with the algorithm challenges. Instead, you’re forced to cram all of the information at the end of the curriculum while you’re finishing your group project and you’re sending out resumes.
Another thing that I wish there would have been was a GitHub review. Not having a good-looking and well-fashioned GitHub portfolio can only hurt you.This small fix would have definitely helped but it didn’t stop me.
In addition, throughout the entirety of the main curriculum, there are also algorithm challenges which are also important for a lot of job interviews. I liked that the Firehose Project dispersed the algorithm challenges throughout the course instead of all at the end. This allows you, as a student, to gradually build up your algorithm skills as you grow your development skills.
Regardless of my gripes, I do think that overall, the Firehose Project gives you a blueprint for success (I’m living proof) that will help you land you a job any way. Alone, getting a job is tough, but with the Firehose Project, it’s a hell of a lot simpler.
One of the best parts of the Firehose Project has to be the community. When you sign up for the Firehose Project, you’re given access to the Firehose Project Google Plus channel along with access to the Firehose Project Slack channel.
Over the course of your journey, you get acquainted not only with great mentors but also great peers. Posting is encouraged on the Google Plus channel and students are always sharing great stories on their journey.
Also, the Slack channel is a great place to go to if you need help or if you’re stuck on a challenge. With several mentors always browsing the Slack channel, you’re almost guaranteed to get help on problems that you need help with.
I used to message Ken Mazaika, the CTO of the Firehose Project, about challenges I was stuck on all the time (thanks for all the help Ken) and he would graciously help me. Honestly, this made me love the Firehose Project even more because he took the time out of his busy day to give me a helpful and descriptive responses.
Also, students are always posting on the #general channel where a lot of good posts are shared all of the time.
The community is also a great place to make friends and connect with other Firehosers. I’ve met a couple of other Firehosers in real life and still keep in touch with them. Overall, the community is very receptive to you and you almost always have people that are there to support you.
The support at the Firehose Project is fantastic. Whenever you have a problem that you’re stuck on that’s giving you problems, you have a myriad of options at your disposal.
For instance, you have support from your mentors every week. If there’s a concept or problem that you need more help explaining, you can always take it to your mentor at the end of the week or you can reach your mentor via email.
You also can post any questions that you may have on the Firehose Project Slack channel that’s filled with other students that are working on the same curriculum as you are. On top of that, there are a handful of Firehose graduates that browse the Slack channel and offer help too.
One last form of support is reaching out to your mentors on Slack. Whenever I had a problem that I needed more explaining, most of the time I reached out to Ken Mazaika directly on Slack. Unfortunately, I don’t think this option is available anymore because Ken has a lot more on his plate but you always have the option of reaching out directly to your mentors.
Projects, projects, projects. This is where most of your growth of a developer will happen. This is the 80/20 of your software development skill set.
I’ve tried options like Lynda where they teach you in a lecture-like style and that doesn’t cut it when it comes to learning software development. You need a real-world application of developing software, not just theory and lecture slides.
At the Firehose Project, most of the curriculum is project-based. This means that for each track in the curriculum, you are working on a project that you build yourself with guided assistance from the Firehose Project.
Of course, I wish that the Firehose Project didn’t do so much hand-holding all the time but getting it right is a difficult balancing act. There are other online resources like Udacity that take the opposite approach and they have hardly any hand holding at all. The bad thing about this is that sometimes you find yourself trying to make leaps that you’re not prepared for.
There are a total of seven project-based tracks and each incrementally introduces more complexity so that you grow along with the curriculum. The additional benefit is that as you progress through each track and project, you add more projects to your portfolio so it’s a win-win.
This wouldn’t be a Firehose Project review if I didn’t cover the group project. The group project is, without a doubt, one of the best parts of the Firehose Project.
The group project happens towards the end of your online coding bootcamp journey and you’re paired with a group of other students that are at the same stage as you in your journey along with a group mentor. Usually the group mentors are software engineers that are already working at companies themselves.
Every week, there’s a standup where each of the group members of the project are assigned tasks in order to gradually build the grand finale chess app.
The chess app is fairly complex because you and your group mates are responsible for coding and designing all of the logic for the rules. This means you’re designing algorithms for the different chess pieces, the game rules, and more.
Working on the group project is also really fun too. Over the month period that you’re working on your chess app, you have the opportunity to make new friends and honestly I had a lot of fun working with my group mates.
Overall, the group project is meant to be a real-life simulation of what it’s like to be a software developer at a professional company. The group project teaches you about the importance of communication, pair-programming, code reviews, and using GitHub.
When you’re shopping around for bootcamps it always comes down to online vs onsite. Onsite almost always costs more because you most likely won’t be able to work a job (opportunity cost) and onsite bootcamps cost more because of more onsite expenses on the bootcamp’s part (leases, staff, etc.).
At the Firehose Project, you can keep your job while working on the curriculum. Now, don’t think that just because you can do an online coding bootcamp on the side means you should half-ass it. You can technically half-ass it but if you do, you’ll just be wasting your money. You get out what you put in.
The biggest advantage that an onsite coding bootcamp has over an online coding bootcamp is social pressure. When you’re in house at an onsite coding bootcamp, you’re in an environment that’s more geared for learning since you’re surrounded by your peers that socially pressure you to work. You’re more unlikely to slack off at an onsite coding bootcamp than you are at an online bootcamp.
If you decide to go down the online path, be wary. You must be disciplined because there most likely won’t be anyone there to motivate you to work except yourself. I worked at least three hours everyday on the curriculum and I’ve met people that did even more than that. If you don’t think you have what it takes to succeed at an online bootcamp, then you may want to evaluate your options.
However, if you’re up for the challenge, then an online coding bootcamp is the better way to go.
To find out my final consensus on the Firehose Project, read more at Redpillprogramming.com
During the program, you build 3 Rails applications with the help of the curriculum and your mentor. I believe now they have more applications since I graduated and I can continue to learn the new stuff since I have access to that as well(woo hoo!). The applications are great for understanding Rails' MVC architecture, learning how to handle errors, test driven development, and getting experience with Git, GitHub, Heroku, continuous integration/deployment. The mentor sessions are extremely valuable because you are held accountable for your progress by a professional developer who challenges you every single week. One hugely important part of the curriculum is learning algorithms and data structures as you build the applications. These are not only an important part of becoming a well-rounded developer, but most likely will come in handy when applying/interviewing for jobs. Another great part of the curriculum is the group project in which you build a chess game with other students using the Scrum method which again, comes in handy when applying/interviewing for jobs.
After the program, I landed a Software Engineering internship at a big tech company in San Diego. There, I applied everything I learned through the Firehose Project, especially using Git, GitHub, working in an Agile/Scrum environment, testing, and learning how to learn new technologies. I am now actively looking and interviewing for my first Software job & I am not kidding when I say I look over the Firehose Project's algorithm & data structure lessons/challenges to help me prepare.
I recommend the Firehose Project if you are looking for a strong base to start your career in software/web development! Everything is what you make of it, so don't just go through the curriculum thinking you'll find a job right after. Ken makes sure to highlight this in many of his blog posts: go to meetups, network, don't just learn all the things. Work hard & you will see results.
I loved my experience with the Firehose Project. The program delivers everything it boasts at a very affordable rate, but the community is what really makes it standout for me. The founders are very active and continously working with alumni and current students on improving the experience and expanding the curriculum. The mentors, in my experience, all have an avid interest in taking each student where they want to go academically. You'll have no trouble finding like-minded peers and helpful advice and troubleshooting, not to mention likely making some new friends in the process.
The teaching method was very practical for me. The lessons have a good balance of guided tutorials and self-guided challenges. Most importantly, the method focuses on teaching you how to solve problems yourself and encourages you to come up with other solutions and variations with the apps you create. The remote friendly and self-pacing aspects of the coursework provided a comfortable atmosphere.
Finally, I will conclude by summarizing my experience as 'worth every penny'. That said, you will get out what put into it. Don't expect to be handheld through everything and walk away with a shiny new job. All the resources you need are there, but meeting only the minimum requirements will get you minimum results. If you are willing to get engaged, ask questions, make mistakes, try new things, and push yourself then this course and the community will get you where you want to go.
Before joing The Firehose Project I was working as a software developer at a CAD/CAM manufacturing software company working mostly in C++. This was my first software job and it was a good starting experience. However, after working there for a couple years I decided I wanted to make a bit of a career change. I wanted to try my hand at web development.
I had a played around a little bit with web development in my sparetime through things like Codecademy and CodeSchoolI, never really fully investing in it but now I was commited. I started looking around at different coding bootcamps to see what could help me get the experience I needed. It was a little overwhelming since there seemed to be so many programs out there. After reading through a ton of reviews and looking at a bunch of course websites however, I felt that The Firehose Project, with its mentoring sessions, dedication to programming fundementals, strong community and online format was the right fit for me. So I decided to give the free 2 week intro course a try. Durring the intro course I was really impressed with not only the content of the courses but the personal interactions I had with the staff, including the founders Ken and Marco themselves, which really impressed me. After that I was sold and signed up for the full course.
After starting the full course I continued to be impressed by the The Firehose Project team and community. Right from the start you are welcomed right into the community, I got positive welcome messages from staff and fellow students and it really help things get off on the right foot. You never need to worry about being left out in the cold, whether it is using slack to communicate with the community, going to office hours with Ken and Marco or working one-on-one with your mentor you always feel like there is someone ready to help you out our just chat with when you need.
The course work itself was very thorough and really help build upon and exand my limited web development knowledge. It puts you right into the thick of things getting your hands dirty by building out fully functional apps. It is focused on learning by doing, which I feel, for me, is the best way to learn. Even when doing the first app, despite it be a smaller, simpler app, you get exposed to all that goes into creating a web app and it only gets better from there. Then on top of the hands on experience of building real apps they also introduce you to basic and advance coding practices through video lessons as well as algorithim challenges. All in all, there is a wealth of programming knowledge contained in the course work and the best part is that they are continuing to expand upon that and you will have access to all of it even after graduating.
Even with all those great resources to learn from, I dont' think it would have been nearly as effective if it weren't for the mentor sessions. Those were easily my favorite, and I feel the most benficial, part of the course. Each week you get to have a 1 hour 1-on-1 session with a senior web developer to work on pretty much whatever you want. It's amazing how much you can learn during these sessions. I remember spending a lot of time working on algorithms with my mentor and it really help accelerate my learning. I not only was able to complete all of the challenges but we even went beyond what was in the course and explored even more advance algorithms and get started on a personal project. I was also able to really improve my coding style durring these sessions by having Sean(my mentor) review my code. He help me understand how to better break down comlex problems into small clean pieces of code. I really owe a lot to Sean and all the help he gave me. Even after I had graduated I still kept in conntact with him and got help preparing my resume and getting job hunting advice. Again, I feel like the mentoring sessions are strongest part of this course.
The next best thing though had to be the group project. You essentially get to feel what it would be like to work on a web development team as a remote developer. You have weekly team meetings with your senior devloper/team lead where you and the other team members discuss what you've been working, issues you might be facing as well as making new assignments for the next week. You gain a ton of useful real world experience such as having good communication between teammates through things like slack, doing pair programming and working with GitHub, doing pull requests and code reviews. It was a great experience that really help me get the feel for how a real web developer job might be. I had a ton of fun and really felt like part of a team.
Alright so all those things are good and all but, it doesn't really mean much if you can't actually get a job. Luckily The Firehose Project has a lot resources for helping you out with that as well. They cover everything from resume, to technical interview questions to networking. There are also a number of article and videos from past students talking about their job hunting experiences that were super helpful. As mentioned before I also got some help from my mentor in preparing my resume and also worked with one of my former group project teammates to find possible job leads and to talk through technical interview questions with. Though they might not specifically go out and find jobs openings for you they do give you a lot of resources to work with and will be there to help with whatever questions or concerns you might have.
In addition to working at this new job I also continue to be part of The Firehose community by helping out as a volunteer student ambassador, helping students in the lesson forums when they run into problems. So if you end up joining and are ever run into a problem durring the course we might just bump into eachother.
In conclusion, I just want to say that I was and still am very impressed with what Ken and Marco are building at The Firehose Project. It is a great course that only continues to get better as new improvements to the UI and new additions to the curriculum are added. This, built on top of an incredible community of both friendly and super smart people really make The Firehose Project amazing. So if you are looking for a coding bootcamp to help you get into web development (or just software in general) I highly recommed you give The Firehose Project a try.
Cliche at this point, but I have to say I never thought I'd be a developer. It seemed impossible, nerdy(yes.) and incredibly complicated. I went through every online resource and even signed up and paid for Thinkful's Front End Program. While my mentor was very nice and professional, the course was dense and I felt like a guinea pig. I figured I'd give their career plan a shot but things came up and I had to postpone. After doing a little bit of research, I found The Firehose Project. What an interesting name! And they have a 2 week free intro? These guys must be confident in the outcome! I might as well give it a try.
You know that feeling you get when you finally find a book you like and can't put it down? That's how I felt with the intro. Immediately felt empowered and wanted to finish it. My plans after work were no longer "I can't wait to get home and find out what Kimmy Schmidt has been up to" or "Hey let's grab dinner and gossip about work!". Nope. I was looking forward to coming home to my loops.
To give you a good example. I give up a lot when things get hard. I get excited with a fake feeling of accomplishment when I talk about a plan, but then I feel like it's aleady accomplished. I look for excuses a lot and tell myself I learn that thing later. Now 1 Month has passed and I have already deployed 3 websites, learned a great deal about OOP, Aced 2 quizzes and about to Ace a 3rd one. On top of that, I'm currently working on a tool for my team at work. Hopefully I'll hit The Project's requirements for the Chess Game. From what I saw, it teaches and helps you hone the skills you need to shine in the real world.
Who do I have to thank? My mentor Dave. He's awesome. He's direct and tells me when I'm slacking off. He knows I have absolutely nothing to gain from him sugarcoating things. He never gives me the answer and makes me think. He, himself is an amazing thinker and programmer. I'm so thankful that they paired me up with him.
Sure I was crushing hard on The Project after Marco sent me a novel explaining how FHP works. But the cherry on top was coming accross this article: http://bostinno.streetwise.co/2016/03/18/how-this-boston-coding-bootcamp-plans-to-aid-europes-refugee-crisis/
The refugee situation has been so important to me and to know that I'm part of a community that cares with more than just words and tweets made me love FHP even more.
Anyway. I wrote a lot. I never even Yelp. If you're thinking about FHP, don't hesitate. You'll learn everything you need to know to get started. And even better, you'll learn with confidence.
Expect an update in about 2 months!
I joined the Firehose Project in December 2015 and recently graduated. The program itself is fantastic and has been a crucial part of my own transition into software engineering. I recently was able to get an offer for a full-time coding job and I owe that almost entirely to the Firehose program.
There are a lot of good bootcamp programs out there but what sets Firehose apart is the personal attention you get from the two founders - Ken and Marco. I lost count of the number of time I sent Ken an email/posted in the forums and got a reply directly within an hour. Seriously...if it was between 9-5 Mon-Fri...I would post a question or send an email and receive a reply within an hour almost every time. This happened consistently for the entire program. I got an unbelievable amount of personal attention.
There are some challenges to the program since the curriculum is entirely online, which means there's a lot of coding on your own and following written/video tutorials. However! there is a very active and supportive Slack community of fellow students and alumni who are always willing to help out with bug troubleshooting/pair programming, or to just shoot the breeze if you're feeling particularly lonesome.
There is also a detailed and helpful section on job preparation - the program presents many common interview coding challenges, and offers a lot of tips on how to apply and prepare for coding related jobs (algorithm problems, resume feedback, resources to find answers to common questions like XOR etc). As far as actually seeking out companies and applying to them...Firehose leaves that up to you as a student, as they do not have a final 'demo-day,' or direct relationships with any recruiters.
Overall, I have only good things to say about FP. It offers an incredible amount of value for the price and does an excellent job at walking you through computer science fundamentals as well as nitty-gritty app-building. To anyone who is considering a software bootcamp, I'd highly reccomend.
The Firehose Project played a significant part in helping me switch careers to land my first software job. They have top notch, dedicated, and passionate mentors that want you to succeed. Give it 100% while attending and work with your mentors to achieve your personal goals.
... I have taken the 'free course' for quite a few online programs. My biggest fear is paying a bunch of money, only to find out my learning style doesn't match up with their teaching style. So after some codecademy.com courses (great, but just a first step) and three 'free preliminary courses', the one that I keep comparing the others to is the firehose project. From day one, before you have given them a dime, they answer your questions and analyze your code. When ever I felt lost on 'ruby basics' problems, they would answer my questions and offer support- for free. If they are this involved before I have paid for or enrolled in the main course, I know I will be supported throughout. I also like how the curriculum thus far is very, very incremental- which is very important for noobs.
I graduated from the Firehose Project a couple of weeks ago and had a great experience! Ken and Marco do a fantastic job and are incredibly dedicated. Each lesson has a built-in Q&A which you can consult as you work. If your question hasn't been previously asked and answered, you can post one with a screenshot and description of the problem/link to your code on github and someone from the team will respond almost instantly-- it never takes them more than a couple of hours to get back to you, no matter the time of the day or day of the week.
That way, you're never stuck with a stubborn error message or broken code and can progress throughout the week outside of your mentor sessions and office hours. I also liked the way a good number of self-directed lessons are sprinkled throughout the tutorials to keep you on your toes and challenge you to learn faster.
The algorithm challenges also push you along in your journey to become a web developer. They understandly will take time to solve but with help from office hours and your mentor, you will get through them and be more prepared for the technical aspect of job interviews.
Another great feature is Ken and Marco's dedication to continually reviewing the course content for opportunities to improve. For instance, they have recently revamped the chapter on TDD in a way that vastly improves students' skills and practice with Test Driven Development. Since access to the course content remains after graduation, alumni were also notified of the change so we can now go back to work through the lessons and benefit from the change.
Finally, I'll say that with everything you get, the program is really reasonably priced and gives you great value for your money.
I highly recommend the Firehose Project!
12 weeks ago, I had no idea where I would end up. I had no idea what I was doing. The only thing I knew that it was going to be a start of something new and exciting.
12 weeks later, I find myself obsessed with coding. I code 5~10 hours a day and wake up everyday excited about learning more and creating more. I often times find myself not wanting to sleep because I want to code.
Learning how to code has changed my life in a great way that I never thought was possible. It has given me not only a useful skill, but also an identity.
My initial motivation to start coding was complicated.
I spent my sophomore year thinking that I wanted to be a business man, maybe a consultant of some sort, eventually create a business, and basically invest my time and energy for going that super “ideal” route. I declared as a Business and Economics double major and I thought I was going to be right on track.
Meanwhile I was interning at a small consulting firm and also doing some translation at the company as well. I saw a gap in the translation market, decided to test the idea out, and it worked. I started up a business and within 6 months I was making $3,000 a month in profit a month, which was pretty good for a college kid.
And within 6 months, I was exhausted. I realized having money was nice, but I wasn’t passionate about money. I liked translating because I was creating something and helping other people. I liked giving my friends jobs because it gave them money. But could I continue this for a lifetime? Did I wake up excited about my business?
The answer was no. You might say, “Well that’s the way it is. You barely even know business anyways, you’re still a college kid.” Which was probably true. But instinctively, I knew that even if I went out into the “real world” of business, I would still be more passionate about creating things.
I learned a lot about myself during these times. I learned that I love supporting people and helping people, but I suck when it comes to aiming for higher profit just for the sake of getting more money (if there is a mission I would be passionate about it), or anything along those lines. On the other hand, through translating, I learned that I really liked creating things for people.
I thought deeply about what kind of career would make me happy. I always thought that it would be awesome if I could code, but I thought it was too late to learn it.
In my freshman year, I tried CS50, the online Harvard introductory computer science course. It taught programming in C with pointers and memory allocation, and I was just confused out of my mind. It gave me the impression that coding was this super difficult skill to obtain.
But one day in July, I saw some kind of article talking about “coding bootcamps” that train you to become a coder in a span of 3 months.
At first, I was skeptical.
Coming from a slight economics background, I thought to myself, how could this be? If programmers are so high in demand and so short in supply, this must mean that programming is a highly specialized skill which is so hard to obtain that there is a supply in shortage. If it were that easy to learn coding, then the gap between the demand and supply should have closed by now, therefore it is probably a scam. Right?
Wrong. I first looked at the statistics and realized that there was still a HUGE gap. Then I looked at some of the blogs of graduates of these so-called bootcamps. Some of them were indeed getting jobs after graduation.
Gradually my trust towards bootcamps increased and I decided to take a look at the options.
There was hackreactor which looked promising, but then I looked at the tuition: $17,780. Intriguing, but impossible.
There was bloc which was also promising, but then again: $9,800. Still impossible.
Then there was The Firehose Project. I did a lot of research about them and didn’t see any negative reviews at all. I read the blogs of students and graduates, and they all seemed to be super satisfied. The price? $4,500. A lot, but possible.
This was the bootcamp I wanted to enroll in. I signed up for the 2 week prep course and finished it within days. I then had to persuade my parents which I wrote about in this blog post.
Since then, a lot of things happened in my life.
- Changed my major from Business/Economics to Business/Computer Science
- Got my first job as a web developer at a local start up (Week 7)
- Won 3 awards at my first hackathon (Week 9)
- Selected as a finalist for the Capital One Software Engineer Summit (Week 10)
The way I spent my time, the people who I hang out with, and the way I see things have completely changed.
I realized that with the power of coding you can do and create so many things. If you have an idea for a business, you can now create it. If your friend needs some help for a website, you can help him.
For a professional coder, this may seem like old news. But for me, it is still an amazing feeling to have the skills to create something cool.
The Firehose Project has been an amazing experience for me.
My mentor pushed me to learn things beyond the curriculum and I couldn’t have asked for anyone better. The curriculum went through the solid fundamentals of programming. The coding challenges involving advanced computer science algorithmic problems were extremely difficult, but through the office hours, I was able to receive amazing help and support that enabled me to solve them. I’m still on my team project (they allow you to continue on the team project even if you have graduated), but I know this will also be another learning experience as well.
Here are three things I loved about The Firehose Project
1. An active and welcoming community
The community at The Firehose Project is very active, with people constantly asking questions on the Slack channel and posting valuable information on the Google Plus group. Alumni still hang out in the community (many of them working as a web/software developer) and they help out in solving advanced problems. I've made a couple of buddies in this communities and we sometimes even work together on problems and pair program as well.
2. 1 on 1 Mentor Sessions
At The Firehose Project, each student will have a 1 hour mentor session every week. How you choose to spend your time with your mentor is completely up to the student. For me, I always listed questions I had during the course work, or other advanced topics that I couldn't figure out. I couldn't ask for a better mentor. He gave me extra meaningful work/exercises and really cared for giving me the insight to improve as a programmer. Even after the program is over, I want to keep in touch with my mentor because he was such a great educator.
3. Coding Challenges
The Firehose Project provides many coding challenges which students will go through. These challenges are common interview problems or computer science problems and are very difficult. As a computer science major, I know that just learning Ruby on Rails isn't enough to become a good developer. Logical thinking skills are essential. As I am developing a complex website for a local start up, I find myself being able to solve problems and obstacles faster than before because of the countless hours spent banging my head against the wall trying to solve these challenges.
The Firehose Project has given me the knowledge to learn coding on my own. It has given me a skill that I can turn into a profession. And mostly, it has given me a lifelong passion.
I have documented my entire time with The Firehose Project in my blog.
I highly recommend this bootcamp for anyone who wants to become a programmer and join a community of enthusiastic and friendly people.
Good courses, wouldn't recommend to people on the west coast though. They seem to be unable to accommodate people's schedules who are not in the same time zone. I am unable to participate in group meetings or office hours because everything is based in EST time zone. It's not like I work late, I'm off work by 3PM, but that seems to be when everything starts. They seem to think that 4/5 group members in a meeting is good enough, and that I have to work around it. I'm sorry but I didn't pay $4000 bucks to be at a disadvantage over other students. Overall it's a great program, I just wish they were cognizant of people not living on the East Coast
Choosing the Firehose Project was one of the best decisions that I’ve made. Before deciding to drink from the Firehose I was weighing a bunch of options (from free to paid, online and in person). Bloc was one of the original bootcamps I found that started me on the path to an online bootcamp a little over a year ago and I thought I would end up enrolling with them. With my professional experience being mostly in email marketing, their emails, cadence and content were pretty much on point ever step of the way, but even with those great tactics that I knew should be driving me to convert, I was never sure that I was going to get more from them than I could just by making myself sit down and review free resources and tutorials. I had come across the Firehose Project early on in my searches, but for some reason, I didn’t consider it. When I got serious and decided it was time to jump in I luckily checked them out again. I watched a recorded info session and immediately I knew I would get more from this than any of the other programs I was considering because of the foundation of fundamental programming skills (algorithms and data structures) and problem solving built into the curriculum.
Ken and Marco understand that it’s not about just being able to copy/paste code and follow instructions - it’s knowing how to break down problems and find solutions. This is something that isn’t just for Ruby or Ruby on Rails or even basic HTML and CSS. Understanding the fundamentals gives you the ability to work with any programming language out there as well as tackle other problems you may encounter that don’t necessarily involve writing code.
The group project at the end of the program gives you an opportunity to interact with a remote team of other developers and experience what working on a web application in the real world is like. You’re given some direction on what needs to be built, but ultimately the features are yours to build and it’s up to you to decide how to best implement them while applying those fundamentals you worked on building leading up to the project. In the past I’d worked alone on some of my own projects, which is great, but it doesn’t really compare to the considerations, challenges and achievements that you encounter while working with a team - something that I really had never considered up until that point (and something that is very important when switching careers).
The last thing I’ll mention about the Firehose Project is the community. It is an amazing group of current and former students that you have access to in addition to your mentor and Ken, Marco and team. From the discussions and knowledge sharing on Slack and Google Plus to the fantastic office hours, there is a wealth of information and tools available to ensure that you succeed.
I wholeheartedly recommend the Firehose Project to anyone considering a coding bootcamp.
Going to try and make this review as short as I can.
Before theFirehoseProject, I was a recent digital marketing graduate that was working in web analytics and as a digital marketing assistant for an educational web app. I had my hands in SEO, PPC, email marketing and I also helped create landing pages while revamping my company's website. So in a way, I already knew HTML/CSS/jQuery. However, that didn't matter as much since what I was going to learn there was way more in depth.
Why I Chose theFirehoseProject
The points of interest for me (and the ones that would eventually help my decide) were
- Mentor sessions once a week that are flexible
- A community that encourages learning and helping others (fellow Firehose students)
- A Capstone project where you will work in real-world conditions
- Price point was much better than most courses I found
1. Having a mentor in general is always great for learning. The one hour I had in mentor sessions a week was enough to cover any concepts I wasn't sure about in week of learning. Sometimes my mentor (Federico) would even go past the one hour just to make sure I understood what I was learning. And even if you don't get it by then, you can probably always email your mentor or ask in our dedicated community channel (which brings me to my next point).
2. The community of Firehose consists of people from all walks of life who all share the passion of learning to code. You can usually ask questions in our group chat and someone will answer (both the founders Ken and Marco can be found lurking there too along with the alumni). What's also great is that people will share useful resources or tips in the channel that will definitely help you as you go through the course. It's always better to feel like you're learning with others as opposed to going solo.
3. The capstone project was to build a chess game with Rails alongside 3 other students. This will definitely give you an idea of how to work with other developers and understand team workflow processes that professionals use. Getting to this point, you should have completed 90% of your course and are now ready to take on a real project.
4. I can't really say much about this other than that it was a 3rd of the cost of one of the other bootcamps I was looking at (Flatiron).
- Office-hours (6 PM EST) is a live video chat where you and other students can ask Ken and Marco questions in regards to either the courses or a general programming question. If you get in early, you'll probably hear Ken and Marco talking about random things (they're super nice and funny!).
- Practice your lightning talks with the community. This is where students can give short presentations on specific topics such as a framework or concept. (Made possible by fellow Firehoser Colin)
P.S. Presentations are suggested to have many puns and uses of gifs
- Access to all the materials even after graduation.
- Challenge problems in regards to learning algorithms and data structures (which I don't see being taught much by other bootcamps).
- An entire section dedicated to job preparation.
When I started theFirehoseProject, the one goal they really emphasized in their curriculum was getting to the point where you can learn to teach yourself new things. With the amount of languages, frameworks and concepts out there, it's hard to condense that into a lifetime of learning let alone a 15-week course period. This is exactly why they train you to become a self-sufficient developer.
When I finished the program, I was confident that I could teach myself anything. As a developer, you should always strive to be learning new things anyway. For that, I'm glad I picked theFirehoseProject and would definitely recommend over the bootcamps that claim to get you a high-paying job as soon as you graduate (seems unrealistic to me).
If you're still unsure about what bootcamp to go to, this post was helpful: The Definitive Guide to Choosing a Coding Bootcamp. This should say a lot about the company itself when they write a guide to help choosing the RIGHT bootcamp (even if it may not be their own).
I’ve had a few days now to come to terms with the fact that theFirehoseProject is all over. It’s been an amazing ride over the last 3 months and the skills I learned will leverage me into my next career pivot. I’ve met some really great people, experienced horrible frustrations, and felt amazing triumphs. I’ve went from slowly trudging through the Rails tutorial sea of mud to learning how to be a web developer. To have been able to accelerate my skill acquisition in this way would have been damn near impossible had I continued to do it on my own. It truly has been an amazing program to be a part of and it is easily one of the best decisions I have ever made. In a lot of ways the Firehose Project has brought me a significantly higher quality of life than I had prior to starting.
In addition to the coursework you will be assigned a mentor. Some how Marco and Ken knew exactly the right mentor for me. They paired me up with a seasoned veteran of the software development industry who spent a lot of time developing video games such as Bioshock Infinite, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2. We jumped into our first call and it was super easy talking to him about basically anything. Over the 3 month program my mentor and I got to know each other pretty well and it felt as much as a friendship as it was a mentorship. He helped me through my frustrations, gave me insights into the industry, gave me advice about jobs and the hiring process, pushed me to keep coding more and more difficult things, and taught me information that went beyond the Firehose Project and into the foundations of computer science so that I could fully understand the impact I would have on the systems I’d be interacting with in the real world. My experience with mentor was very much a highlight of the Firehose Project and I was super fortunate to draw the mentor that I did.
When you look at a bootcamp you look mostly at two things, the course work and the mentor. What you will often overlook and not even consider (myself included) is the community and the social interactions within that community. The Firehose Project community is a caring and supportive community encompassing founders, mentors, alumni and students. When you join Firehose you get access to the private G+ community and the Slack channels but on top of that you get office hours, the weekly meeting of students, founders, and mentors to go over things we may have struggled with throughout the week. Access to these social/community channels, if taken advantage of, will give you access, insight, support, friendship with the other Firehosers, and an ability to level up. My experience being a part of the community was a special one for me, many of the digital communities these days are toxic, hellish, and negative battlegrounds of vial opinions but not with the Firehose Project. You don’t see all the negative things that you would in the wild on the internet but what you do see is an overwhelming level of support and kindness to the other Firehosers, something truly special in today’s digital communities. Every one of my interactions in the community were positive and in kind I did my damnedest to return that kindness and support in magnitudes of order. I think communities are as strong as their weakest contributors, if you have a supportive and active community, then you have a strong community, the Firehose Project is a strong community. The community was already primed and welcoming for me to contribute before I began. To play my part I wanted to amp that community up and give my all to it, I want the new students to feel as welcomed as I was when I started. The TL:DR; the Firehose Project community f-ing rocks!
Interacting with the founders was also a great experience. Ken and Marco make everyone feel welcomed from day one, they’re supportive, and they’re completely open to feedback. I have never felt from either one of them that I was simply a dollar figure to them and have always felt, even from the first time I met Marco or Ken, that I am a welcomed and contributing member of the community and the program. To me that speaks volumes for the caliber and quality of character of the founders and honestly was one of, if not the primary, reasons why I joined the Firehose. If a founder or founders truly believe in their product and see their customers as parts of their family and not just dollar figures I know they have a solid product that I too can believe in. Of course they’re selling something, it is a business after all, but what happens is they undersell and over deliver in EVERY aspect of the Firehose Project. From even the pre-work course you get the feeling that they’re not in it to churn out as many students as possible so they can make the highest profits possible. Then when you start the program you realize for them it’s all about empowering people and sharing their passion and joy for programming, that excitement is infectious. I have zero disappointments in the experience and no regrets or hesitation saying that the Firehose Project is worth 10 times the cost of admission!
Continuing in the same vein of community and the founders I’ve got to say everyone is welcoming, open to trying new things and open about improving the community. When I suggested Firehose Project Lightning Talks to the community I thought I would get a “sure, that’s a good idea but it’s not something we can really do right now because we’ve got a lot of things up in the air already” instead I got “That’s a great idea, lets do it!” Everyone seemed excited about it and we had our first ever Firehose Lightning talks in less than 2 weeks after suggesting it, the feedback was positive and it had a great impact on the community. We’re about to hold our second ever community lightning talks this week. In addition to the talks we’ve also got a community Firehose Project blog where students can contribute as writers or developers on the open source environment that we have created for the students. That’s what I mean by the founders are open to ideas and improvements, I never thought I would’ve had the feedback that I had about the lightning talks nor did I ever see it happening that quickly but the founders saw it as a great way to increase the quality of the program and saw the impact it could have on students by getting them comfortable talking about technology, public speaking, and encouraging them to explore beyond the curriculum. That mentality says a lot about the character of the people running the show and how much they care about the community and ecosystem they created.
Those are basically just the highlights reel of my experience at the Firehose Project, if I wrote everything that I have experienced and felt about the Firehose Project I would have a short novel because it truly has been a wonderful experience (you could also just go back through my blog and read my week in review posts). There is a sense of bittersweet sadness accompanied by joy and accomplishment that I have with the Firehose Project and to me that is a sign that it is something truly special. I’ve done a lot of things in my life, I’ve accomplished just as much but very few things upon completion have been accompanied by a feeling of “I just don’t want it to end” most the time it’s “Hell yes, finally it’s over, now I can do this!” With just that mixed bag of emotions I can truly say that this was something special, that the Firehose Project is something truly unique and special, and it will be one of the greatest experiences that I have ever had the great fortunate to be a part of. When I look back on my time at the Firehose Project I can see the leaps and bounds I have taken in pursuit of my new career and passion, I can see the great relationships and friendships I have made and the promising future that is in front of me because of this experience. The best part of the Firehose Project though, I don’t have to leave, I can stick around and contribute, continue to help and improve the community, give my support and encouragement to the new students and do whatever I can to continue to help make it a great experience for everyone who joins. This ladies and gentlemen this is what makes the Firehose Project great, I still want more. More coding, more community, and more Firehose. A big CHEERS and THANK YOU to Ken, Marco, Kevin, Ben, and the whole damn Firehose community! You folks all made this one of the best damn experiences I’ve ever had.
I've tried 4 other onlince boot camps and was accepted into Dev Bootcamp in NYC. I'm beyond happy that I chose to learn from The Firehose Project. These guys truly care about your education and honestly want you to succeed. The owners are very successful programmers and not just entrepreneurs who jumped on the boot camp money train. They're also very active on a daily basis with students.
They offer a free 2 week course and after taking that, I couldn't sign up fast enough. The teaching is just incredible!
I started my first job as a developer right after the firehose bootcamp and was
lucky to observe a team of really experienced professionals at the new company.
Thinking about what makes a developer a good one I came to the conclusion that
firehose taught me just about everything a good developer needs to know.
Divide and conquer
The whole learning experience of firehose is based on projects with increasing
complexity. Each and every step in the development process is broken down so one
can easily follow through and understand the required steps. The knowledge gets acquired gradually and with the experience one’s confidence grows as well.
My daily tasks as a developer require this exact skill. Breaking down the problem into tiny and manageable pieces and learn new things on the way. Through trial and error you finally arrive at a suitable solution.
Be humble and work with people
Our knowledge as an individual is really finite. I think that our combined knowledge as group or company is near to infinite. There are times when you don’t know what the next step is or how to tackle an even simple problem. Here comes the magic of being humble and working with other people. By being humble I mean not being afraid to acknowledge that you don’t know something and ask others. So far every time it yielded a better and/or quicker solution and a sense of being part of something bigger than yourself.
This experience was a cornerstone of the firehose training as well. Weekly office hours were the highlight of each weeks’ learning process. While going through the material on your own every one encountered similar problems others did only 1-2 week prior. It is a valuable time to share one’s perspective on the assignments and learnings as well.
But this team experience got even stronger and more valuable when working on the group project. The group project is a perfect simulation of the future work environment. You are not restricted to the assignments everyone needs to get through anymore. You are on your own, but as a team. As a team you decide where the project will go (which by the way may or may not be the case on the real job - thats what the product manager may do for you) but more importantly you start to think about the implementation of the new unknown. Real questions start popping up and your team is the place to go to aks for a second opinion and feedback.
Have a mentor
I recently finished reading a very interesting book: “Self Leadership and The One Minute Manager” by Ken Blanchard. One of the ideas presented in the book was that on different stages we all need a different leadership style to help us grow. Basically there are four skill development stages and four corresponding leadership styles:
- Low Competence / High Comitement needs Directing
- Low-some Competence / Low commitment needs Coaching/Mentoring
- Moderate-high Compentece / Variable Commitment needs Supporting
- High Competence / HIgh Commitment needs Delegating
Without going too deep into the theory, here is how it translated for me in my firehose process.
Before beginning the course I certainly was on the first level. My commitment had no limits and the competence was pretty low. You dive into the learning process and celebrate your first results (the first app is done within a few days and it feels great). But then real problems kick in, self doubt comes up and works against you. Thats exactly the time when your mentor comes into the game and guides you (directing) through the learning process. On the next stage he gives you valuable feedback on how to learn better and what to focus on practicing.
Why is it important for a developer? Well, development is a skill and a craft in one. We have to learn form the best and study from the mistakes of others. A mentor is someone who has the needed perspective on where you are and is able to guide you through the learning process and point out the connections you just didn’t see before.
To sum it up - chunking the problems into small pieces, working as a team and asking questions and having a trusted mentor who will support you in your growth are in my opinion the things which help being a good developer. The firehose bootcamp certainly incorporated all of them for me and helped me continue those practices not only on my job but in other areas of my life as well.
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.
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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!
Welcome to the August 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 →