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 4.82
Part-Time Software Engineering & Web Development Track
Accelerated Software Engineering & Web Development Track
The Firehose Project Reviews
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It's very easy for me to write emails about and send letters to places that have done something that I haven't liked or to someone who I have feel has wronged someone in my family, but it's much more difficult to write a review for something that totally changes one's life for the better as The Firehose Project has done for me. This is actually not my first career, or even my second, but it's my last and best. I have a BS in Mathematics and an MBA with a Finance specialization, but I finally found my calling when I found The Firehose Project. I now own a small business and do one off projects for others, from home, doing something that I love and you know the saying...when you do something you love you NEVER work a day in your life! I honestly don't even know how I stumbled across their website http://www.thefirehoseproject.com/, but I am so thankful that I did.
I actually started writing this over a week ago...and I've written and deleted more times than I can count...but if you ask Ken Mazaika and Marco Morawec, the guys who started The Firehose Project, that's nothing new. It was a pattern that I had when I first started to code...I was trying for perfection, so I would write my code and then instead of just reworking the code I already had, I started all over again. So, I will actually start and finish this today.
I'm not sure if you get to interact with the founders of every other bootcamp out there, but with The Firehose Project Bootcamp, you DO have interaction with Ken and Marco. And that interaction is specific and meaningful. I understand that their time is very valuable, but not one time did I ever feel that I was rushed while talking to them. Every Wednesday night during virtual office hours, Ken would schedule one hour to answer any questions, but he would not hesitate to spend more time on the call with everyone, if necessary, or to work with you one on one after the call if it wasn't an issue that others might also be having. I wasn't new to coding, or so I thought since I had been working with HTML and CSS, but I had no experience with Ruby or Rails and The Firehose Project encourages, well, forces you to jump head first into the deep end and begin coding. No, I didn't have a clue what I was doing or why, but I was watching the videos, reading everything I could, going through the lessons, meeting with my mentor, attending the weekly discussions and asking questions and after a few weeks I realized that I could actually quickly spin up a Ruby on Rails webpage, throw some bootstrap and some pictures onto the page and get my MVP (minimum viable product) up and running. So, not only was I learning, I was hooked.
The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn. I've actually gone through the updated lessons a number of times, I still watch the slack pages for the new projects, I think I'm still on the hook for part 2 of a Docker lightning talk and if they'd let me, I would still attend the Wednesday night discussions.
Marco and Ken have not only managed to build a wonderful product that teaches you Ruby and Rails through a series of projects, videos and a personal mentor, but they cultivate a comraderie with the people that you go through the program with...even though you start at different times and are in different places in the project and it's all done ONLINE. I don't know how they do it, but they do...and it's wonderful. Firehosers, as we are all affectionately called, become your family. You find yourself reaching out to them in the middle of the night for help with some code you know you should get, but you don't want Ken to know you're stuck on. Your fellow Firehosers are the ones in the chat room cheering you on as you tackle your first lightning talk, where you're sure that you're talking too fast and you KNOW that no one on the video call is remotely interested, but they're telling you what a wonderful job you're doing...and Ken and Marco are also telling you how great you did! Again, I don't know if you get this from other boot camps, but I've talked to people who've gone through other courses and I haven't heard them talk about their experience with the same passion that I have when I talk about The Firehose Project.
Along with the curriculum, that includes different course tracks, you do have access to mentoring sessions, weekly discussions and cheat sheets that include information on Git, Heroku, Ruby and Vagrant. If you'd like, you have the opportunity, as previously discussed, to give a lightning talk and showcase your budding tech skills. You're building your resume as you move through the course...and yet they still give you more and more and more help with your job search!
Yes, I could go on and on and on....I could probably write a book on how wonderful The Firehose Project is, so if you have any doubts, go to the website http://www.thefirehoseproject.com/?home=true and you can see for yourself that you want to be a Firehoser!
I believe it's been almost 18 months since I've graduated from the program and if I had the chance to do it all over again, I would choose The Firehose Project.
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.
FHP has proven right for me due to really involved instructors, coding and algorithmic challenges that hammer home computer science principles, and most importantly the way you hit the ground running from day one on coding projects. Really excited to see how the course continues to develop and where it takes me in my career!
I'm a recent graduate of the Firehose Project. I took the full-time course and graduated on time. I feel that the course was worth every penny, the quality of the instructional materials and the ability to get help in a timely manner made the course well worth it. You don't have to deal with outdated or old materials that the cadre have failed to make relevant or reflect the latest changes in code. If you're stuck there's a forum and slack channel to ask questions in and I don't believe that I had a single question that it took longer than an hour to get help with and none of the responses failed to fix the issues that I was dealing with.
I'm also enrolled in a traditional college CS course and I can say without a doubt the things that I've learned more in the 22 weeks of the project than I've learned in almost 3 years of school. I can't stress enough how fast you get up and running building applications and understanding concepts with this course.
Mentor sessions are another great feature of the course, once a week you're able to meet with a mentor who's a professional in the software industry and ask questions about the course material, employment, pretty much anything. My mentor and I had a great working relationship and we plan to maintain contact now that I'm through with the course.
The Firehose Project provides a ton of job placement advice and materials. While I personally am not actively hunting for a job in the software industry at the moment. I've known a number of graduates who've gone on to gain employment shortly after the course. That being said, these were incredibly motivated individuals who took the hustle to heart and started out griding applications as soon as they were able.
To sum up, the Firehose Project was a great experience and I've experienced nothing but exceptional support throughout the entire program.
Last year, when I was looking for a program that would work well for me, I had some specific requirements: a remotely accessible curriculum, good reviews of mentorship, and a price I could afford. Firehose met those requirements and the two-week trial gave me a feel for what I would be getting myself into.
The greatest value I derived from the program was my weekly interaction with my mentor and the final 8-week team project. I used my mentor sessions to asks questions related to the curriculum, but also to delve into topics that were specifically interesting to me. It was enlightening to get a professional perspective from an experienced developer; I found his insight to be useful in determining what additional topics to study on my own. The team project was an eye-opening introduction into team dynamics, working towards a common goal, distributing workloads, and facing real challenges as they relate to software development.
I attended weekly office hours at the start and found the exposure to advanced questions a nice glance of what was to come. Each lesson module allows a student to post questions specific to that module and the Firehose staff are quick with responses.
Ultimately, Firehose gets you started on a path with great potential, but you will have to do the legwork. Even in my current role as a beginning developer, there is so much I'm still continuing to learn. Firehose was a great start to that.
This is my first experience with any online study course and i must say i am plesantly surprised how well it is going. Ken is extremely good at explaining the concepts and simplifies everything for a novice like me. The support team is equally encouraging and keeps track of your progress and prompt at answering questions. I am really pleased to have joined this online course and aim to register for the full course soon!
I am doing quite a few prep courses! Firehose has been the best so far. Nice intro to HTML + CSS and some ruby code. There was a lot of flexibility in completing the prep so that was great because I work full-time in support at a start up.
- The feedback is quick and easy to digest and apply.
- The price point cannot be beat.
- Flexible plans to pay for it if you do not want to front the $$$$
- Full stack
- Other courses available to expand on
I am not sure if they offer job assistance but I already work in the tech space so I do not really need that.
I've recently decided on a career change and have tried out multiple free online resources. Firehouse has been 100x better than any of those and really solidified my understanding of the languages I'm studying. The staff is helpful and supportive and has even helped with my decision on which IT route to take.
Signing up with Firehose Project program was the best decision I could have ever made regarding a step into a new career. Why The Firehose Project?
- A structured online platform. Website is clear and easy to follow.
- Dive in method. Didn't spend a whole two weeks on explaining syntax, arrays, Boolean. Instead jumped right in and started coding with explanations along the way.
- Mentor. Held my hand when needed and also pushed me forward with challenges. The mentor part of program was priceless. I'm a shy person but I really bonded with Mike. Meetings with mentor via videochat are weekly for an hour along with email communication in between whenever needed.
- Office Hours. Weekly the two owners have a video chat with students and help by explaining concepts in further detail. Its was also a chance for a quiet student, as me, to hear other students struggle (like myself) and listen to them provide assistance, explanations and pointing us to other resources. Such a hands on approach by the owners demonstrates that you acquiring the knowledge and skills is important to them.
- Team Project. Wow I learned a lot about how to really use github and interact with others on a project.
- Affordability compared to other online bootcamp schools, The Firehose Project was very affordable AND the mentor sessions alone were priceless !
I have a degree in biomedical engineering and as such have had some programing experience in c, c++ and MATLAB.
This program is filling in some much needed gaps in my computer programing knowledge. The code critiques/mentor sessions are invaluable and offer something that I didn't get in my coding classes at the University which were only concerned with the end result of the programs and offered no feedback on how to improve my code.
The weekly office hours are also very beneficial even if you don’t have a question yourself. Ken and Marco are extremely knowledgeable and I often gain additional insight into topics I am already comfortable with or get answers to questions I didn’t know I had until they were asked by someone else.
Overall I am very satisfied with my experience.
While on Facebook one day I stumbled across a Fire Hose Project ad that I could not resist clicking on and checking out to see what all the hype was about. With previous knowledge and attempts at jumping into the software development world using other online tactics, I had a notion that this Ad would seemingly be taking me through a similar route. Boy was I wrong! The Fire Hose Project is a very unique and advantageous website for teaching yourself about coding online and being introduced to the software engineering world. They are the very best website for all beginner and novice computer programmers. There is just not another website that compares to the practicality that they are offering. I can literally see my future outcome, goal, and career from the beginning of The Fire Hose Project and its sources. The creators behind this website are absolutely Genius! Since joining Ben and The Fire Hose Project team only 1 day ago, I have already created my first mock website portfolio! This will be the beginning of my software development career without a doubt! http://joshuasilva.getforge.io/
Easy to understand and enjoyable through the style of teaching. Creating a project from scratch and building a profile webpage while learning was extremely helpful and inspiring. The instructors are very knowledgable/experienced with humble attitudes creating a fun, relaxed and productive learing envirnonment. I will continue to progress because of this :).
The way concepts are introduced and explained on the site made it very easy to learn general programming concepts that could be used to learn other programming languages.
The mentors always provided support when it was required and also left room for me to discover and learn on my own. This has helped me to always push myself to grow but also realize that I need help from others.
I didnt know what the "coding" link was on facebook but clicked any to do some exploring, and after following incredibly simple steps I found that I was half way through desiging an online portfolio.
I didnt relise how simple it could be and how much I actually enjoyed this which has created a new interest and new possabilities for me. Unfortunatly it is a hobby for me and I cannot afford to join the Firehose Project however I would highly recomend anyone who is looking to do a career in this field to join these guys.
The online support in incredible and not over bearing where they are annoying you. They are just there, friendly and ready to help.
I have been organizer and volunteer for the Refugees On Rails project in Munich, a coding school for refugees. Thanks to a partnership we have used solely the content in the Firehose project to teach our students Ruby and Ruby On Rails. We have been impressed by the quality of the different tracks and lessons and it has given us a lot of ideas to suggest extra exercises to our students. Moreover, we have been able to set a structured course to teach software development and provide the students with the right content at each step of the learning path.
I would strongly suggest the Firehose project to anybody willing to start the Web Development career path :)
I attended The Firehose Project from September 2016 up and until February 2017. I actually had to cut the course short because I got a job offer at a financial technology start-up almost two months before the course finished.
The training was great, and the reason I know that is because I was able to handle the programming challenge I was given by my eventual employer without too much difficulty. I had to create a small application in about three days, and TFHP was able to training me well enough that I could do it. I'm thrilled with the results.
As far as any downsides, I don't see any obvious ones. TFHP may be one of the few bootcamps that actually has an advanced track (Angular, React, SQL, APIs, to name a few) that helps you continue learning on your own.
I highly recommend the Firehose Project.
Our latest on The Firehose Project
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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!
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