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 4.8
Part-Time Software Engineering & Web Development Track
Accelerated Software Engineering & Web Development Track
The Firehose Project Reviews
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*Note* (This is a modern take on my 2015 review from Quora. I am a 2014 alumni from The Firehose Project camp)
The year is 2017, and navigating between the plethora of coding bootcamps can feel as nerve-racking as settling on a programming language. Some prestigious camps promise a virtually guaranteed job and an alluring 6 figure salary upon graduation, but these programs often cost the tuition of a full year of a state college and require complete devotion and relocation for a period of 3-5 months. For those that can not afford this luxury, the online bootcamp serves as a comparable experience as an intensive period focused on learning and growing your programming skills. After much research and investigation, I settled upon the fantastic Firehose Project online bootcamp, and shortly upon graduating in 2014 (3 months) I secured a job in a field that not only challenges me but brings excitement to work.
Now as a more seasoned developer I have been interviews for final round positions from top tier tech giants like Amazon, Apple, and Alphabet (basically Google + partners). Make no mistake, the journey only begins as a graduate of a coding bootcamp, and I put in lots of personal hours and a few full time positions to get where I am today.
Dedication is truly the most important factor to excelling in the programming world and in a bootcamp too, and programming requires so little prerequisite knowledge basically anyone can join the industry, even those without college degrees or anyone looking for a career change that pays handsomely over time.
The Firehose Project was the best investment I’ve made in my life, and I am in debt to the people and community that make it so special. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone on the fence, and please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions.
I've been a student with theFirehoseProject and I highly recommend them. Marco and Ken are the founders but are also among the most dedicated and enthusiastic teachers I have ever had (in any subject at any type of school).
Their method of teaching programming is the only one that has worked for me. I've tried stuff like Treehouse, Codeacademy, and even in-person classes at Startup Institute, and I would always hit a "wall" where it seemed like the difficulty of coding all of the sudden just ramped up exponentially.
However, learning with theFirehoseProject made everything flow naturally and seamlessly - and anything I didn't get, they took as long as needed to make sure I understood it. You can tell they really care about what they're doing, and the students that they teach.
- Reasonable pacing (often a problem with bootcamps)
- Flexibility to pause and explore outside resources at any point due to online, self-study format
- Great mentors!
- Reasonable price
- Written content often skipped over more nuanced/complex aspects of the coursework
Overall Assessment: There's a LOT of programming content online, so if you're fine with doing some of your own research to supplement the content in the course, this is a great program. And to be honest, you should be fine with this prospect because it's a key part of being a programmer that will never go away if you want to become and remain really skilled.
I came into the program overthinking that I wasn't good enough, but I have had the best experience bypushing myself and trusting my beginner abilities. I was able to ask questions and get help without feeling incompetent, and the guidance has been wonderful. I applaud those at Firehose for helping this beginner and hopefully I will be a seasoned programmer. Thank you everyone at Firehose!
I have tried various coding courses, but The Firehose Project's course material is unparalleled. I learned so much just in the intro course, alone! The Firehose Project explains concepts in a much clearer manner than any courses I have tried in the past, so I am very glad I decided to join the full program.
Something I really appreciate about the Firehose Project is that you do not have to jump though hoops and spend weeks trying to craft the perfect application to get accepted into the program. All you need to do is complete their free two-week intro course, which they believe is proof enough that you are ready to join the program. The Firehose Project will take you as you are and help you learn :)
Learning to code can sometimes be super difficult and isolating, but The Firehose team creates a very warm and welcoming environment (which was apparent to me even before I signed up for the full course--Marco was so kind and patient when I asked him a ton of questions before I signed up, haha), that is very conducive to learning, so you never feel alone/stuck. There is a strong sense of community here and it is very apparent to me that the Firehose team really cares about each of their students and their progress.
I just graduated from the Firehose Project and through building projects, completing coding challenges and quizzes, one-on-one mentor sessions, and attending office hours led by Marco and Ken, I still can't believe how much I have learned in just a few months. I had very minimal coding experience before I started the course, but now I have built 5 functioning apps, solved very challenging algorithms problems, AND I worked on a remote team to build a chess game application.
I highly recommend The Firehose Project to anyone considering learning how to code! :)
I started looking into bootcamps in 2015 while living in San Francisco. I went to a few locations like Hack Reactor, App Academy, and a few others I can't think of right now. Anyway, I could not figure out how to make a decision until I read somewhere in Quora that the best bootcamp will be the one where you can stay the longest because 2 months just isn't enough. I had ZERO coding experience other than doodling with HTML. So I knew that I needed to find something longer than 2 months and I could not find it. So I went with freecodecamp.com which was awesome but felt a bit unprepared as I didn't really have any support and had not built something that I could actually explain to someone else but it did give me the confidence in myself to know that I had the discipline. So, then I considered Viking code school and Firehose. After some careful reading, it was really tough, but what sold me on Firehose was the mentorship. The mentorship part of the program is AMAZING! You'll get to talk to someone for 1 hour about your code challenges and your projects. Really amazing to get all those questions answered; get back on track if you get lost; keep you motivated, all that good jazz, for the 6-month course. I've not heard of any other bootcamp like this. Very awesome experience so far; I am in the middle of the course and working very hard every day.
Attending Tie Firhose Bootcamp was a wonderful experience. Their focus is on teaching you how to gain the skills to continue to develop as a programmer and engineer, while developing a specific set of skills in full stack development.
I came into the Firehose Project with very little development experience, and I am now, several months later, a full stack devloper at a development shop who works on diverse projects in a variety of lanugages and environments.
The Firehose Project is an amazing online bootcamp that treats each student with respect. It doesn't matter if you have a ton of experience or none, Firehose lets you learn at your own pace. At the beginning of the course they assign a mentor to each student who is able and willing to help you, allowing you to customize your learning style. The Firehose Project is a great bootcamp for those who want to learn, and for those who want to increase their knowledge of web programming. I can't wait to continue my course, and when I finish I'll be able to look back with fond memories.
i just finished The Firehose Project's online bootcamp. It was pretty close to a perfect experience! Because of my location outside the U.S., an online course seemed like the best option. Firehose mixed solid lessons with weekly mentor support and a challenging international group project. The focus went beyond Rails basics into algorithms and data structures, and my mentor was particularly helpful for introducing me to real-world topics and best practices outside of the course material. I was consistently challenged and it truly changed the way I think. Highly recommended!
The Firehose Project is a phenomenal investment. I had come into the program with a CS background, but its curriculum is certaintly flexibily enough for beginners as well. Because of this flexibility, and my fantastic mentor, Matt, I was able to not only get a very thorough background in web development, but was also able to tailor more advanced learning to my specific needs and interests.
The lessons are concise and powerful. To this day, I still frequently go back to old lessons (for fun) and to brush up on aspects on Rails that I haven't seen in awhile. This resource carries with it tremendous value beyond just the designated weeks of learning: you get access to an amazing network of passionate new (and experienced) programmers as well as to great new learning materials as they update the program.
Above all, I think The Firehose Project is worth your time if you're passionate about being able to build something meaningful. It gives you the tools to control your own destiny. Because of The Firehose Project, I've been able to go out and pursue my dreams every single day and I couldn't be happier that I chose this appreticeship program.
(I enrolled and graduated back in 2015.)
I had gone through several interviews with other bootcamps before finally choosing the Firehose Project. While some of the bootcamps that I interviewed with gave me the impression that they only cared about my tuition payment, Marco and Ken (the cofounders) were different: they really seemed to care about my interest and success in programming. Their passion in teaching was really evident upon talking to them, which ultimately led to my decision in choosing the Firehose Project.
Students of this program will build several web apps using Ruby on Rails through tutorials which they can work through on their own pace. Marco and Ken might challenge you to add on additional features to the web apps should you complete them too fast. Students will be given a deep understanding of how code works while also learning important topics including OOP, DRY, TDD, etc, by building the web apps and working through several tough coding challenges.
Should you run into problems, any questions you ask will likely be answered promptly by the Firehose Project community. (Ask as many questions as you can!) There are also weekly office hours where students can attend whether or not they have questions. In my opinion, it's best to attend them even if you don't have questions because you will likely pick up something you didn't know about from other students' questions.
For the final project, I worked in a team with 3-4 other students, and together we built an online chess app. Ken, along with another experienced developer acting as the project manager, assigned us tasks to complete each week and guided us along. This part of the program is simply fantastic because not only will you get to work in a team with others like in the real world setting, it is also a time where you can make mistakes, learn from them, and learn how to fix them. It truly was a tough but very rewarding project.
One of the highlights of the Firehose Project is the weekly mentoring sessions with a senior developer. I was paired with an incredibly friendly and knowledgable developer, and the time I had with him was truly invaluable. He not only answered every question I had, but he also taught me how to write better code. I have used and still use to this very day the knowledge he imparted to me.
Although my focus is no longer Rails specific (currently working with iOS and Unity), the knowledge I've gained through the Firehose Project has made the transition into other programming languages/fields so much smoother. I am truly glad that I went with the Firehose Project over other programs, and I would never trade my experience with them for anything else.
I had virtually no coding experience prior to this bootcamp, apart from some free courses that I had dabbled in online on Codecademy and edX. I also did the free 2-week prep work offered by FHP before deciding to enroll in the bootcamp.
Lessons / Video instruction:
You are going to build some pretty cool stuff just by following the lessons online. A Yelp clone, a quotes generator, and an online marketplace that integrates payments are among the prescribed FHP projects. The lessons themselves are very detailed. There are also video lessons on topics like object-oriented programming, class inheritance, and asynchronous programming. If you have no idea what these topics are about, don't worry, neither did I. You will learn all about them by following the video content and asking your mentor or Ken (the bootcamp's founder) at office hours.
Data structures / Algorithms:
On top of building cool web projects, you will also be asked to solve a series of algorithms throughout the course. Some of these are classic computer science problems that I imagine every CS undergrad would solve. The algorithms will be challenging but will leave you with a better understanding of data structures. Unless you have a prior background, you will probably bang your head against the wall a couple of times, but it's okay, it will be very rewarding once you get to a solution. Don't be afraid to ask your mentor, Ken, or even peruse the office hour recordings to help you solve through these challenges.
Go to them. Even if you don't have a question, you can sit in. Ken and Marco are awesome, super encouraging and very patient.
My mentor was extremely experienced, helpful and encouraging. He even made himself available to answer any questions outside of our weekly one-hour session via email. You can work on anything during your sessions. If we were not working on algorithm challenges, we worked on building out specific features for whichever app I was working on at the time. We even did a whole session on using the command line in the Mac terminal.
The FHP community is unlike any other. You can chat with other students (and mentors) in the Slack channel and post any questions you have. There are quite a few active members in the Slack group (some are former students who are now devs) and they will try to help you out. There was a ton of communication with my chess group when we were working on our project, via Slack and sometimes also Google Hangouts.
You will not become an advanced web developer by the end of this program, but assuming you come in with little to no prior coding experience, the bootcamp will give you a very solid foundation in programming. You can then apply this knowledge to advance your skills in Rails or pick up other programming languages and frameworks (it will be easier to pick up other languages once you have a basic understanding). After the bootcamp, I wanted to learn more about mobile development (which is not covered by the program) so I set out to learn Swift. If I had not gone through the FHP bootcamp, it would have been much harder for me. Additionally, I am using Rails (taught in the bootcamp) to build out apps on my own that I am using in real life.
The best part of the bootcamp is the community, who is there to guide and encourage you. Learning to code on your own is hard work and the drop-off rate can be high. FHP gives you a super excellent foundation to excel in whichever coding endeavor that you choose.
I wrote a blog about how I chose the Firehose Project:
Full disclosure: I took advantage of the Firehose Project when it was a 15 week program for $3500.
That being said, I am very grateful I decided to drink from the firehose. I was clueless about the world of software development at the beginning of 2016. I had been working at Trader Joe's for several years after graduating from university in 2010 with a bachelor's degree in Biology. I got a taste of coding taking a handful of city college computer science classes, but there was no context on how these coding skills applied to building real-world applications. My motivation for jumping aboard the Firehose Project is I wanted to get the technical training required to land my first tech job.
The first half of the program (at the time) was dedicated to learning the programming language Ruby and building Ruby on Rails web applications. These are skills offered by many bootcamps/online resources. What drew me to the Firehose Project was the emphasis on algorithms and data structures, which is something that I needed to be exposed to if I expected to make it through a technical interview. This is where the Firehose Project shines - they matched me with an experienced professional programmer to help me understand how these algorithms and data structures work.
This is a blog post I wrote to help me understand a data structure, the linked list:
As I mentioned in my blog post above, I had taken a time out during the middle of the program to move from northern to southern California. I appreciate that the FHP was very flexible and made it easy for me to take a break from the program. I wanted to make sure I would be able to dedicate myself 100% to the chess web application project.
A lot of other programming resources teach you how to make basic CRUD (create read update destroy) web applications. This is nice, but is rarely that simple in the wild. Hence why building a chess web application with an agile development team is such an amazing part of the program. It gives you a taste on how projects are actually built in "the real world."
Here is a very extensive post I wrote about the group project:
To wrap up, what makes the Firehose Project unique is the group project and the quality of mentorship. I am incredibly grateful for the mentor I was connected with. He pushed me to learn how to use tools beyond the scope of the FHP coursework that allowed me to stand out as a job applicant. He also was willing to act as a job reference, which was incredibly helpful. I also was able to use my chess project mentor as a reference as well. These two professional developers were both patient, supportive, and yet pushed me far outside my comfort zone.
I will also say that a bootcamp cannot just hand you a job at the end of your program. One thing I learned early on that helped me feel comfortable with engaging with an online bootcamp is you need to network for yourself in order to get a job in tech. I hustled for months, going to as many meetup groups as I could, in order to land my job today. I had worked as a QA Engineer for several months after the Firehose Project. In the meantime, I taught myself another programming language (Python) and data analysis. I now work as a Big Data Engineer for a startup. I am incredibly grateful I decided to push myself to learn how to code and get a job in tech. And I am very grateful the Firehose Project helped me in the process.
- fantastic mentors
- great community, very easy to get help and feedback from peers
- clear timeline and projects
- good curriculum
- fun and relevant projects to work on
- group project
- price, although it is not outrageous given the quality of the mentors
- for our group, the group project did not really live up to its full potential
- the algorithm and computer science part covers the basics, but will leave students with a stronger comp sci background wanting more. To be honest, I haven't needed any of the comp sci stuff in my job.
- job assistance is somewhat limited. I did not mind, but some people might
I have programing experience from self-learn for my work but always feel I lack a good approach to programming. So I took this course for the purpose of learning software engineering skill and get to know industrial experience from course mentor. The course was not too expensive as other online courses and flexible (I can freeze my program whenever my day job gets too busy).
I think The FireHose Project has its own unique ways to explain new concepts and break them down into small steps. I learn not only Ruby and Rails but also some basic algorithms commonly used.
One of special things about the course is that it has office hours where students can ask questions directly to Ken and Marco. Unfortunately I rarely attend such meetings as they are during my working hours.
I get opportunities to talk with my mentors throughout the program and facilitator for final group project. The mentors was chosen to match my background. All of these are valuable learning opportunities. I wish I have more time to explore deeper some concepts and make better use of my time with my mentors.
Main drawback I think is that the old FireHose platform used to have search capability. Unfortunately the newer platform removes this search capability, making it difficult to search for relevant topics when I want to review them.
For new students, FireHose program is a good starting point to enter web development career. However there are lots of others things to learn and pratice to become a capable developer. It is crucial to work hard through the course and learn more than just what the course provides.
The Firehose Project was amazing; from the intro building a cool splash page in HTML, to the algorithmic challenges in Ruby, to the all out grind of building a chess game in Ruby on Rails in 5 weeks. :) In all of my other endeavors learning how to code, I always felt that the projects were too small. However, building that chess application was such an incredible learning process as it was the first big project I was working on, and it forced me to work with a team. That's what I loved the most. Before The Firehose Project, I understood HTML/CSS/JS syntax and how to use it, but my websites all looked like Word documents. I wanted more out of my development skills and that's precisely what I got. With The Firehose Projects 24-week program you will get exclusive weekly mentor sessions from a fun, intelligent person that genuinely wants to see you succeed as a developer; experience using the latest tools and resources used in Web Development today(git, GitHub, Heroku, Rspec, Trello, and more!); tons of Job Preparation resources and guides to your first job; the necessary skillls to breakdown a large complex problem into smaller, managable pieces; weekly office hours with The Firehose Staff; endless help from Firehose Ambassadors, Community Slack channel, and Ken (the ultimate programming ninja the slices through bugs like butter); and at the end of it you will have a great resume, personal website, and the skills necessary to contribute to the wealth of knowledge and information on the web. I love The Firehose Project and you will too, because everyone in our community is there to help with every problem and make you feel included.
You can go to The Firehose Project right now and sign up for the free 2-week intro to see if you like the way it works, I'm fairly confident you will.
The Firehose Project was a great option for me. There prep course is awesome and challenging. I really like how the course is structured. They teach you, then challange you in every lesson. Everyone in the team is really helpful, and respond QUICKLY, which is great when you get stuck. My brother finished the course and couldnt be happier. Definitly recommend :)
I'm only on the third week with The Firehose Project bootcamp and so far, I love it. I've had a few hiccups along the way because I'm completely new to coding and I've made A LOT of typing errors, not knowing excactly what each character represented or meant in the programing language. However, the staff, mentors, and fellow students were with me the entire time helping me to figure out what I did wrong and kept encouraging me to push forward and grow. Everyone I've been in contact with at that bootcamp was so helpful and supportive.
I have enjoyed my time learning how to code on The Firehose Project. The best part of the program is the fast feedback that I got on the coding challenges. This helped to reinforce what I was thought in the classes and also gave me the opportunity to think about alternate approaches to solving the same problem. The Fire Hose Project is an awesome coding boot camp.
I'm truly enjoying The Firehose Project prep course. The learning environment is easy to follow, interactive and filled with great coding challenges you submit for feedback. Coding is not easy, but The Firehose Project makes learning to code interesting and engaging.
Changing careers or picking up new skills? The firehose project takes self learning to a whole new level, not only will they teach you how to code from scratch they will also help you understand it. The support that you'll receive is same day or someone will respond to your question within 24-hours. Weekly office hour sessions where you can ask any question you may have and one of the founders will explain it in detail until you understand. Weekly 1 hour mentor session, which you can go over any content you would like or have the mentor assign you a new task to complete to help with your lessons. The lessons you read for the classes are simple to follow, but the challenges and projects that needed to be completed require more in depth thinking. Sometimes the challenges are difficult but with the support in this bootcamp, it is simple to understand.
I'm taking this bootcamp because I'm switching careers and before I signed up to the firehose project, I have done some research into different bootcamps. This one has many others beat because the cost is really low and affordable, they offer career support, the forums are great and people will help out, and if that still doesn't convince you, I can guarantee that if you have any other questions that a student advisor can't answer for you the co-founder Ken will reach out to you and answer any other questions you may have. He reached out to me and answered my questions with no hesistation, which showed me that he genuinely cared about what problems I could think of that the student advisor wasn't able to. It felt like I wasn't a dollar value to him but more of someone he wants to teach what he works on.
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!
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