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
- Alumni Spotlight: Noah Finberg of The Firehose Project
- December 2016 Coding Bootcamp News Roundup
- These 10 Founders All Started at Coding Bootcamps
Recent The Firehose Project Reviews: Rating 4.84
Accelerated Software Engineering & Web Development Track
Free Bootcamp Prep
The Firehose Project Reviews
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I have just finished going through the prepwork at The Firehose Project. I would like to say how impressed I am with the amount of support I received while working through the prepwork, even though it was completely free. I have worked through another bootcamps(which i won't mention) prepwork and although the work itself was great and informative I did not have any support through it and therefore was unsure if the code I wrote was good, bad or ugly.
I am looking forward to getting stuck into the full program at The Firehose Project and will come back here to write a full review!! Coming soon... to a web browser near you!
I'm grateful for the opportunity to learn with such friendly and intelligent people! Joining the Firehose Project is one of the best decisions I've ever made. I have yet to begin their career prep section, but I know for a fact that I have learned a huge amount in just the past 6 weeks!
So I am one of those folks who are totally new to programming and decided that it would be a good plan to find a structured course with a mentor. The learning curve has been tough thus far but I have found that if I keep reviewing the info they provide and just keep plugging away, I do start to figure things out eventually. I think no matter what course you might sign up for there is a lot of vocabulary and new concepts to learn, so be prepared for your brain to hurt at times.
I have really appreciated that help is always there and is really quick to respond to one of those moments where I have exhausted trying to figure it out on my own. I also really love having a mentor who I can ask all of my "stupid" questions to.
The Firehose project. Where do I start? I'm 1 month into the six month intensive. Let me begin with an unpleasant prior experiences at a different school.
FreeCodeCamp. This is a safe place to start. Or choose from the several other FREE online introductory programs. It's free and the beginning of the course is a great way to introduce you to some of the most basic concepts. Although it's great at introducing you to the basic concepts of programming, it doesn't explain in an intelligible way the more complex concepts. Start with the easy stuff, and once you get to the point where you are about to pull your hair out, move on to something a little bit more polished and user friendly.
Udemy. This is another great place for beginners to start. The courses are about $10 and they are extremely well done. Again, once you get to the more complex concepts, you need to move on to a place that will slowly spoon feed you information in a clear and intelligible way.
That brings me to The Firehose Project. After you have gotten your feet wet, and you have taken the free beginner's course at Firehose, you are ready to get serious. I am enrolled in a 6 month intensive that covers topics ranging from CSS to complex algorithms. I was hesitant to give a review so early into the curriculum, but I think it's safe to say that this is a great online school. The curriculum is written in a way that is easy to understand. I already built a couple of sites, and I'll start on my third one soon. There is a forum at the bottom of every lesson where you can ask questions. Ken, one of the mentors, usually gets back to me within 5 minutes, even if it's late at night. That guy is the man. I will be updating this review once I finish with the program. For now, I give it 5/5 stars. Save your money and go with Firehose. Forget about the in person schools. Most of them are a nightmare anyway. Firehose has helped me understand many key concepts that have already allowed me to add some cool features to my sites. This is an excellent choice for those of you who are really serious about becoming a software engineer.
This is a great bootcamp. Be prepared for a full 40 hrs/week and sometimes more (for the accelerated bootcamp).
I'm grateful for the access to great learning tools and the aptitude to enjoy them so much. I'm grateful I can afford them after being unemployed for almost two years now. I'm switching from Engineering back to coding after about an 11 year span in engineering work. I want more creativity, challenge and self-direction than is available in my previous work. The substantial pay cut is painful - zero pay now and surely low for my first junior coding roles - but I want the creativity vs. just "doing" and it will be worth the trade. The income will improve one day, but the enjoyment starts right away. I'm very grateful and excited about the change and the new opportunities.
The prep course is amazing!
There is forum support for each lesson within the prep course and the response times to the questions are so quick and helpful! The prep course teaches the fundamentals of programming in well thought out lessons with learn by example challenges. These challenges also have a submission process in which they are reviewed and you are given feedback on parts to improve upon. The cherry on top is it is completely free!
I am currently wrapping up my agile group project with Firehose. It has been an amazing experience, and this was a huge reason why I chose this program. I am on the job hunt, and many job ads mention that they prefer someone with experience in an Agile group project. This also means that you have experience using Slack, Trello, and collaborating with Git, which is also mentioned in many job ads. With all the many things out there in tech world that I still don't have experience with, every one I can "check off" is a win for me. We covered a lot lot of skills in the program, including algorithms and complicated math stuff. I am not a natural in this arena, so Firehose's mentor project sold me here. I was paired with a mentor, which has been seriously valuable. He is very skilled with alogrithms and teaching math stuff to me, and he breaks it up into understandable chunks. He gives me advice as I enter the job hunt, and I am so sad to be finished with him and with the program. Highly recommended! I did work full time and I completed the part time. If you can, I say do the full time accelerated because being in it 24/7 is hard, but also makes it stick.
I spent a lot of time researching bootcamps, and I almost started at an in-person bootcamp. I liked the Firehose Project's honesty in their blog: The Definitive Guide to Choosing a Bootcamp, the 2 week bootcamp prep content, and how responsive Marco (one of the founders) was when I had questions. Doing an online bootcamp required more discipline and a lot more effort in networking, but for me it was worth it. Now I'm a software engineer!
What The Firehose Project did well:
- Weekly mentor meetings: Having these scheduled with someone there personally for me was useful in motivating me to keep going even when things were challenging, and of course I had someone to ask all my questions.
- Algorithms & data structures: This really differentiated this bootcamp from others I had researched. I'm glad they made me struggle through these because it was absolutely helpful in learning the core of programming by thinking in a way to break things down and problem solve better. Ultimately I use this in my daily work as a software engineer.
- Career Prep: There's a TON of content on preparing your resume, social media presence, networking which I found to be pretty important. Also I liked that during the career prep track you're also supposed to continue working on technical problems to keep your coding/problem solving skills sharp.
- Interesting Web Development Projects: I liked the variety of technologies and tools used to build the applications throughout the bootcamp. It was nice having them build up incrementally in difficulty and amount of tools needed to learn as you gained more experience. Compared to other bootcamp students I talked to, some of the Firehose Project's applications were more challenging.
- Cost: At the time I paid $6500 for almost 6 months, which was way cheaper than courses I saw of the same caliber.
What could have improved:
- More Concrete Resources during Mentorship: My mentor was really smart and kind, but I wish that I could have had more direction in what we did during our meetings. I appreciated that he left a lot of it up to me but I had a hard time knowing what I didn't know and what to focus on.
- Emphasis on Networking only toward the end: At least when I was at the Firehose Project, they encouraged going to networking events during the career prep section at the end. I started going to tech meetups from the beginning of the 6 months and this was incredibly beneficial for me, even though I had no idea what anyone was talking about most of the time. It was key to talk to people, make connections, and learn new things in tech.
Overall, I had a good experience with the Firehose Project. If I would do it over again I would make the same choice.
I'm about 3 months in at the Firehose Project and it has been great so far. The lessons are explained well and it's great to be able to go at your own pace. I can't speak to job prospects yet but I'm hopefully I'll be able to transition to a software engineer once I finish.
I started looking into coding as a possible career change roughly 10 months ago. I have a son and a full time job, so doing a full time immersive bootcamp wasn't an option. After finishing most of the courses on Codecademy and completing Watch and Code I decided to apply to Hack Reactor. I finished most of their prep course and structured study program, but ultimately didn't find much actual teaching and didn't feel comfortable with what I was doing.
Several times in the prep course you are required to submit your solutions to different problems using Ruby, and those solutions are checked by their staff (sometimes by the co-founder - Ken Mazaika), where they review your code and offer you hints on how to make it more concise if needed. You also build an entire working portfolio / website before you even start the bootcamp. Initially, I thought that I would need to be in an actual classroom to learn anything, but this course has felt way more personal than anything that I've tried so far.
I'm really excited to be starting the bootcamp this coming Monday.
After learning on my own through websites and YouTube videos, I even tried another bootcamp, I have learned so much more in the first 6 weeks I have been through this program then I ever did on my own or with the other bootcamp I tried and decided to quit. Extremely happy with the cirriculum and mentor. Mentor really pushes me to think like a developer instead of just going through the motions.
The ciriculum is easy to read and follow, showing exactly what to code and what to expect to happen from your code. And if any errors develop and you get stuck, current and former students discussions are right there to help you out. I have never felt alone in this program and am very pleased with the support in the Firehose community.
I have done weeks and weeks of research on which bootcamp would be best for me. And with Firehose going sticking on mainly one MVC rather than a little of everything approach, focusing on algorithims, and Agile you really cannot go wrong with what they off for the price.
i will head this review off by saying that this was written as part of a competition to win a prize by ekaving feedback. There that is off my chest, now onto the review.
I have not yet completed the on boarding but I have been bow,ed over by the whole positivity and encouragement as I attempt to muddle my way through the Ruby on Rails set of lessons.
Articles for each lesson are descriptive and easy to read, I found that some of the code excerpts could be a little misleading at times, but if you reread it then everything should make sense. If not you can always ask a question in the forum.
One of the best parts of the whole experience. The team are ultra responsive and helpful, they always reply within a few hours to upto 48 hours and with full descriptive answer to your code related queries. Top notch!
I cannot reinstate it enough, the onboarding is so worth doing!
I started by taking the free 2 week course, thinking it would be boring like other free courses. I was surprised to learn it was fun and well structured. I created ruby programs and the first part of my portfolio during the free portion.
What impressed me the most during the free period was the ability to get help. If i had a problem, i would post it to the discussion board and I usually got a response within 1 hour or 2 at the most. Unless it was after 9 pm at night.
The lessons are well structured with a variety of challenges, quizz's, and videos to do throughout the entire course on top of the lessons. The timeline can be a bit confusing as you are going through it. I found myself rushing at times because I am part of the accelerated program. I learned to slow down to better absorb the material. They are always improving the courses so I have seen better information on my dashboard in regards to timelines. Your mentor can also tell you if you are on track or not.
My computer wouldnt work with vagrant so I ended up using cloud9 for my dev environment. This made it challenging sometimes to initially setup the applications. I saved the initial instructions so I could easily do it myself.
I ended up going through 2 mentors until I found one I really clicked with. This was important because they help you with the challenges. Mentors can assign additional work. I was overwhelmed with the addiitional work from my first mentor and wanted to quit. I contacted customer service and they quickly helped me find a new mentor who didnt really mesh with me at all. Finally, I was matched up with Rose, who is a fabulous mentor! I also found a local ruby on rails meetup, i highly reccommend going to meetups for additional help and learning.
The office hours are good. The topics vary. Both Marco and Ken (founders of the firehose project) host these. It was very cool to see them interacting with everyone (they use Zoom).
I am currently starting the group project which is to build a chess game app. I was a bit overwhemled by my first task which was to chose and integrate a CI. I went with Travis CI. I was able to get it done and now I have another skill I can add to my resume.
I signed up for this bootcamp because of the ability to get help, mentoring, algorythims, and the group project at the end.
I can't answer anything about job prep because iam not on that section yet.
Firehose project's free bootcamp prep course has been an awesome experience.
It is exceptionally well structured, with a great UI and user experience. The content is top notch and project based so you'll get you into building mode quickly. While building a Portfolio website from the ground up to deploy, you are introduced to fundamental concepts in HTML and CSS and then an to Ruby with some challenges/ algorithms to brainstorm over.
The outstanding feature in this prep course is the code review and feedback. I am not talking test suite and clever errors logs. Even at that stage you are assigned a mentor that will provide timely and constructive feedback on your code submission. How to name variable, refactor your code, alternative way of resolving an algorithm...the real deal.
Thanks a lot for providing the free bootcamp prep and getting me started, I shall join you on the full software Engineering and web development track. Let's drink from the firehose :)
Having a job coding hadn’t always been a dream of mine. I wasn’t really aware of all the possibilities or paths you could take and never really knew anyone that had much knowledge about it. Once graduating high school I found out that my cousin had become a programmer. After talking to him for a bit I decided that is what I was going to go to college for, programming. After getting an Associates’ in Computer Science I attempted to find jobs where I could develop my skills and expand. Sadly, I was unable to find a job, internship, or anything and this discouraged me so I stopped school and went on a different career path.
Five years later, now having a wife, 10 week old child, and a job working upwards to 16 hours a day multiple times a week, it was time for a change. Going back to the cousin I talked to previously, I asked him what I can do. His reply, “Anything in web development. Seriously, it is booming and where the world is moving. There are a bunch of coding bootcamps out there that teach people how to code for the fraction of schooling costs.” I had not even heard of the term bootcamp before, so I started my research. I was quickly flooded with bootcamps and apprenticeships and training schools and started getting excited.
I talked it over with my wife, weighed the books to make sure we could afford the risk, and decided we would use our tax returns to invest in a better future. Before making a rash decision I told myself I would wait a minimum of two weeks before making a decision. Being stuck between two options at the end of the two weeks, I decided to reach out to them and try to have a 1-on-1 discussion with them on “why I should choose them.” The first option I received what seem to be a populated generic response with a tiny bit of customization added to it. This put me off quite a bit… So, onto the second option, Firehose. I received a very prompt response pertaining specifically to the questions I asked along with an offer to jump on a call and talk about my concerns. My decision was made right there, I was seen as a person and not a number. After the call my decision was solidified and I signed up for their prep course.
After completing the prep and being accepted to Firehose Project, I started in the middle of March. I honestly don’t know where to start when pointing out the amazing things they have to offer. I think the best part for me was that it was 100% virtual. With my crazy schedule and time constraints, there was no possible way for me to attend an in-person training program.
Alongside the course being entirely online, there are weekly 1-on-1 mentor sessions with senior web developers, algorithms and coding challenges to build up your skills on programming logic, multiple applications that you build and publish to the web, and forums at the end of each lesson to ask questions when you get stuck. On top of that, their amazing Team Project gives you the skills of working on an agile development team. Did I mention the job preparation resources you get access to, and having lifetime access to the materials in the course?
Fast-forward through the course and I don’t have a single negative about the course. Yes it was hard-work and yes I had quite a few nights with little sleep, but this didn’t have to do with the course, it had to deal with my crazy schedule and life. The Firehose has since developed options for different paces since I graduated to account for students like myself. I am now employed by Firehose as a Web Developer. Looking back now at what I thought was a risk is really one of the easiest and smartest decision I’ve ever made.
I was 2 months in the bootcamp and due to personal issues I had to leave, but looking foraward to come back. The program was amazing, for someone that had no experience in coding like me was really great to start getting all the knowledge from scratch. I was able to learn the basics of MVC, how to browser communicates with the server, ruby language, and many other stuff. The lessons are well explained - very detailed - and if you have any question you can ask your mentor and he kindly will help you. I did the first two projects, Splurty and Nomster and both were really great to learn the basics until something more complex.
The management team was always in contact with you for any particular issue you have, they are really supporting and giving you any advice on how to take the best advantage of the program.
My mentor has great experience in rails framework and he was always giving some advice on how to have good practices and teaching new stuff that was not in the program.
Overall, the experience was really great and I will recommend it to anyone that want to get into the programming world. I didn´t take the job prep so I can not comment about it.
First off, I honestly think Firehose is one of the better options for Bootcamps and if any of my friends where thinking about it I would definitely recommend it to them. 11/10. That being said, I kind of do think that I got as much as I did out of it because I was lucky enough to be living with relatives during my time of study and didn't have to worry about expenses or housing. I'm not sure I would have been able to get as much as I did if I was working full-time or even a part-time job.
The group project was also an amazing experience. When I started it I really felt like I was using what I had learned in a "real" programming setting. The evolving code base was something really cool to experience. I would maybe put a little more guidance in the tasks. I felt as though we were really just free balling it and at some points no one really knew if they were doing things correctly. But maybe that's the point and figuring out how to work together is important. I however sort of wished we could get our code reviewed by the mentor who was leading the project, as most of us didn't have any coding experience and thus most of the time weren't able to give that good feedback and eventually devolved to just everyone saying "looks good to me". Honestly though as I started working at my company we basically do the same things we did in the group project (daily standups, weekly retrospectives, code reviews) so nothing really felt foriegn and I was able to get the ball rolling on day one.
Lastly, I'm not sure if this belongs in the program but having a little guidance on how to read code would have been nice. Before ending the program I was trying to contribute to some open source projects online only to find myself really overwhelmed by what was happening. Even as I started work the code base was huge and there were many coding patterns (decorator objects, form objects) that I didn't understand and had to take time to learn. But again that might just be something that you learn on the job so I'm not entirely sure it belongs in the curriculum.
Overall, I got exactly what I wanted out of the program and enjoyed it thoroughly. I don't really understand why people online say bootcamps are a waste of time because I learned so much through firehose. It might be possible that people who give bad reviews didn't put any effort in because it does take some work but it is really worth it if you want to pursue this field as a career.
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.
Our latest on The Firehose Project
As a college sophomore, Noah came up with a great idea for a tech startup. But when he wasn’t learning enough practical skills in his Computer Science degree to build his idea into a product, Noah enrolled in The Firehose Project, an online coding bootcamp. Noah tells us about the differences between CS classes and a bootcamp, how he customized the bootcamp to fit his needs, and how he learned to collaborate with other developers online. Three years later, using his tech skills and ongoing mentorship from The Firehose Project, Noah launched his startup, Considdr!
What is your pre-bootcamp story? Why study computer science and then go to a bootcamp?
At college I studied government and economics before switching to computer science. When I was a sophomore, my experience in college inspired the idea for my startup, Considdr. I wanted a place to store the information I was consuming so that I would be able to reference it later, and share it with other people. The reason I switched to computer science was because I wanted to pursue this startup idea.
I learned a lot in college about computer science theory, but applying it in a practical sense was something that I felt was missing. I wasn't able to see how the theory translated into building products or web applications. To fill that gap, in the summer before my senior year and with one year of computer science under my belt, I attended The Firehose Project.
Why did you choose The Firehose Project over other online coding bootcamps?
I chose the Firehose Project because I was looking for something practical and applicable in a very hands-on, real-world sense. The Firehose Project really spoke to me because they teach you everything you need to know to build your own applications. More than that, they give you the tools to find the resources to continue with that learning.
I read reviews, and looked at Thinkful and Bloc as well. What stood out to me about The Firehose Project were Ken Mazaika and Marco Morawec, the two co-founders. They held video introductions with me, they were really friendly, and seemed to really care about their students. That was a big deal for me – I wanted open communication with the people who ran the program.
The other big benefit was how customizable the program was at The Firehose Project. When I did the bootcamp, they had two paths: an entrepreneurial path and a job preparation path. I chose the entrepreneurial path and customized my learning along with my mentor. I knew that I really wanted a flexible bootcamp; The Firehose Project gives you a really good foundation, a mentor, all sorts of support, and flexibility.
How rigorous was The Firehose Project admission process? Was it hard to get in?
In the admissions process, they really want to know that you're serious about your learning, and that was the metric they used to judge applicants. The Firehose Project provided a free pre-bootcamp course to dip your toes in and understand if the course will work for you.
The team then asks you to complete some assignments to show that you're genuinely interested in and committed to learning. If the bootcamp is giving you their time, they want you to take it seriously.
The process worked well for me, and it didn't feel like a harsh interview or a huge application. You have to demonstrate that you're serious about it.
What was the time commitment for learning at The Firehose Project? Did you learn full-time or part-time?
You can go at your own pace. There are different units that walk you through building out different apps and it gets increasingly complex over time. I was doing the course mostly full-time, but I know that some of the other students that I worked with were doing it part-time and at night. I think it can work really well in both situations because it's so flexible. I graduated from The Firehose Project in 16 weeks. I was really obsessed and I liked going through it so I went through modules back-to-back – they're actually fun!
How did you actually learn throughout The Firehose Project? Were you paired with a mentor?
Students get one mentor session each week, and mentors are very generous with their time. I finished the modules really quickly and then was able to still learn more with the additional learning resources available.
Mentors help you work through your own projects and you can make them as complex as you want. That flexibility was huge for me. They give you a ton of course material, and if you end up being obsessed with it like I was, you still have a number of weeks left to continue your learning with a mentor.
What's an example of an application you built during the course?
When comparing your four-year college computer science experience to learning at a bootcamp, what stood out to you?
There's extreme value in both approaches, but they're different.
One big advantage of the bootcamp is it’s really project-focused, super individualized. In college, we learned a lot and covered a lot, but it was mostly lecture-based. There are some projects, but you're in a class with a lot of students.
In college, you don't have a one-on-one mentor to help you. I had amazing professors in college who did great work and helped me learn a lot. But in the bootcamp model, my mentor, Matt, spent so much time with me when I had issues, and answered all of my questions. He has a lot of industry experience so he helped me think about how to scale up my product. It was helpful to work with someone who's doing this every day in a real-world setting. Firehose Project mentors have a lot of practical knowledge – I felt like that really changed the game for me.
Did you communicate or work with other Firehose Project students in the course?
I was actually placed on a team project because I finished the module quickly. Working in a team setting with my peers was really cool. I met three or four other students and we worked on a collaborative project creating a chess game app. We learned about Git, how to resolve issues with other developers when we're coding the same files, and how to coordinate with a team, which was really valuable.
Ken, The Firehose Project CTO, was in pretty much all of our group courses. It was amazing how much time he put in working with the students. We all had our own mentors, but he was really involved.
How did The Firehose Project prepare students for the workforce or help you become entrepreneurs?
The program has grown a lot since I left, but Firehose makes career prep a priority. It was a very practical course, but they made sure that students had the computer science fundamentals that they would need if they were to apply for a job. Firehose gave good advice on the technical interviews – they have really cool segments on data structures and algorithms, and I would’ve been well-prepared had I interviewed for web development positions at other companies.
Tell us about your company! What is Considdr?
Considdr is a crowdsourced research and reasoning platform. It gives people the tools to take notes on what they're reading, save those notes, and then use those notes to form opinions on different topics. You can also use other people's notes, so it's really collaborative research.
Did you work on Considdr, while at The Firehose Project?
No, I wasn't working on Considdr at The Firehose Project. I was thinking about it, and how I might apply the projects at Firehose when I did want to start writing the code for Considdr. I was nervous about sharing my idea with people at that stage, so I did it in secret until I was ready to build it. I actually didn’t start writing the code for Considdr until about a month after The Firehose Project.
What technologies did you learn from The Firehose Project that helped you build Considdr?
It's really been a team effort, but what I took away from Firehose was pivotal. Considdr is built on Rails and we use JQuery – both of which I learned at Firehose. Our front end is different – we don't use Twitter Bootstrap, but we use another framework called Semantic-UI.
My company wouldn't exist if I hadn't done Firehose Project, because I wouldn't have learned what I needed to build the prototype, which is how I recruited my team. If I wasn’t working on Considdr, I don't know what I would be doing honestly. The Firehose Project changed my life in a lot of ways.
When I first recruited my team, none of them actually knew web development (they were CS grads I had gone to college with), so I used what I learned from The Firehose Project to teach them Rails and other tools. The way the material was presented in the program was so clear that it made it easy to teach to others.
Did you ever reach out to your mentor at The Firehose Project for help with Considdr?
I did! I reached back out to my mentor Matt, and Ken, the CTO, and asked for advice. Matt actually got on the phone with me for more than an hour to discuss the prototype. It was just awesome that the program was over, but they clearly still cared about me and cared about what I was doing. The fact that my mentor wasn't getting paid to talk to me, a year after the program ended, is amazing.
To this day, I'm still in contact with Matt and Ken. I'll email them and ask for advice like, "we're trying to set up a development procedure in pipelines so that we can test our code effectively; what have you done and what's your advice?" And both of them email back on the same day, answering my questions. This kind of support makes me feel like I made good choice, because beyond the program, Firehose is willing to help you with your next endeavors. The team has built a unique culture.
Are you still coding day-to-day?
I'm coding for a third of my time. I was coding a lot more in the beginning, but our product is in a pretty stable place, so now I'm focused more on growth and raising another round of funding. We're lucky to have a team, so I don't have to do all the coding.
What has been your biggest challenge or roadblock in your journey to learn to code?
At first, learning to code was pretty daunting and intimidating because it felt like I was trying to do something really big, but I had the sense that I didn’t really know what I was doing. And I still feel that sometimes. I think the hardest part was that it took a while to realize there's nothing magical about coding.
At first, coding feels like totally foreign language and you think, “How can people build these really cool, really crazy web applications?" But as you get through a course and get over that psychological block, you realize that learning to code gives you the fundamentals, and then you continue to learn as you go.
Have you kept in touch with any of the other alumni or current Firehose Project students?
Not yet, but they have a Slack channel where alumni and current students communicate. I just joined that because I would really like to get more involved with the fellows. I'd be happy to answer questions from students about the experience and I'm curious to hear how things are going.
What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs who are thinking about attending coding bootcamp and launching their own startup?
A bootcamp can make a really big difference in getting those practical coding skills. At a coding bootcamp, they really teach what you need to accomplish a set task. You don’t get that from a lot of other places.
If you want to start a company, you need to break down the development process into a lot of really small pieces. At Firehose, they taught us that you can learn everything, just a little bit at a time, and over time, you create a valuable knowledge base.
The hardest thing is just going for it and really committing yourself to learn. Commit yourself wholly, and recognize that anyone can do a bootcamp and learn how to code.
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. Should you go to a coding bootcamp to start a company? Many bootcamp alumni are enjoying the fruits of their intensive bootcamp labor by choosing the path of entrepreneurship and launching their own app or website. In fact, Course Report’s latest outcomes and demographics study found that 4.3% of bootcampers attend to learn the skills necessary to start their own company. Our team loves an inspiring success story, so we’re highlighting those bootcampers who took the road less traveled, and managed to strike it big.Continue Reading →
It can be stressful to switch careers into tech after doing something completely different for a long time. In my case, it was being in the military for 12 years.Continue Reading →
Ilya studied computer science and went into product management before deciding to make the switch to become a professional web developer. He recently completed theFirehoseProject - a mentor driven online coding bootcamp. Shortly after completing theFirehoseProject, Ilya received multiple job offers from Startups and Tech Companies, and ultimately decided to join EnerNOC, a global energy intelligence company, as a Ruby on Rails Developer. We talked to Ilya about his CS background, his experience at theFirehoseProject, and his reasons for changing tracks in his career.
Tell us what you were up to before you started at Firehose. Were you working or doing any kind of programming?
I actually studied Computer Science but I’d never programmed or touched any code before theFirehoseProject. People from the U.S. who studied computer science might be surprised by the idea that you can go through a whole specialized program in Computer Science without writing more than 20 lines of code. But that’s what happened to me.
I actually hear similar things from Computer Science grads in the US!
Exactly. You learn things about the software development process and theory, but you don’t actually learn how to code in a project and build real products.
During my studies, I wasn’t that interested in coding. I was working with young people in the community doing everything but my studies. Nevertheless I graduated and felt the need to get back into tech. I started out as a Product Manager and joined a startup here in Munich where you can book doctors’ appointments, tables at a restaurant, hairdressers; anything. They went to become the goto tool for small businesses in Germany and Europe.
Were you still working in that startup as a product manager when you were doing Firehose project?
During my two years at the startup I was working very closely with Ruby developers, but never touching any code. I got the itch and wanted to become a professional web developer as well. So I saved up a little bit of money, talked to theFirehoseProject team and quit at the end of July so I could start to drink-from-the-firehose in the last week of July.
Was your motivation for doing Firehose to get a job as a Ruby developer once you were finished or was it to create your own product?
I was pretty open-minded about what would happen. I was sure that I needed these kinds of skills no matter what I might do in the future. I imagined two paths: to continue working as a product manager but in a more technical capacity or to find work as a developer. I wasn’t sure which path I would choose until the end of the program when I started my job search.
Did you figure out what you wanted to do by the end of Firehose?
Absolutely, yes! I wrote so much code and built multiple web applications that the decision was very easy: land a job as a developer!
Why did you decide to do an online program instead of an in-person one?
Mostly because there aren’t as many great coding bootcamps in Europe, in Germany especially. Also the opportunity cost of moving to a new city and paying rent, on top of three times the tuition costs, made the decision to go with an online coding bootcamp relatively easy. In-person courses are really expensive from what I found. Hack Reactor is close to $20,000! Of course, coding in the same room with other people 6 days a week for 12 hours would have been amazing, but that was a bit outside my scope.
Did you look at any other online bootcamps other than Firehose? Why did you choose Firehose?
I was considering Bloc pretty seriously and looked into them closely. Ultimately I was convinced by the personal connection and mentor quality at theFirehoseProject. Bloc has a great outreach and marketing team; they sent these beautifully-designed newsletters and hosted webinars etc., but I was really missing the personal touch in their curriculum.
With Firehose, I just registered and Marco invited me to a Google Hangout and explained how their program works and what is expected of me - it was very, very personal and I liked it.
What was the application process like for you?
They want to hear about your goals to make sure they can help you reach them. They also require you to submit some code before you’re accepted into the program. They have a coding bootcamp preparation course that people without good coding samples have to complete. From their and my own perspective it makes a lot of sense to prepare for a coding bootcamp so you can maximize your learning while having access to your coding mentors.
How much did it cost?
So once you registered, did they match you with a mentor?
Yes, since my goal was to find a job as a technical product manager or web developer, I was matched with my mentor Ken, who hired dozens of people to his own technical team before. They Firehose team is really selective about who can mentor their students, and the new mentors that they recently brought on are all senior web developers at PayPal and TechStars companies, or held senior developer positions at Flickr and bit.ly.
Were there time zone issues since your mentor was in the U.S?
Not really. Ken is based in Boston. You have to think about it and consider it, but it worked really good for us. We did our meetings during my evenings and his afternoons. I didn’t have any time constraints because I was going through Firehose fulltime.
Some of their other students worked full-time jobs while going through theFirehoseProject and they had to make sure they fit all their coursework into their schedule. But obviously that worked for those students as well, since one of them landed a new tech job during the Firehose program.
How did you and Ken communicate?
Q&A forum, email and Google Hangouts for mentor sessions and office hours.
Was there a set curriculum that you were going through on your own and then asking Ken questions? How did it work logistically?
The program consists of three web applications that increase in complexity. Each web application included new technologies that you need to learn so you can ship them live.
You also learn how to write really good Ruby code by solving real world coding challenges that you can expect to be asked during any technical interview for a developer job.
During the last four weeks I worked on a group project to get the real world experience of how great software is build by teams in a collaborative coding process.
The whole program is very flexible and self-paced, while working together with your personal coding mentor. We also had weekly office hours and group project meetings.
Were those weekly office hours done with other students?
Yes, their weekly office hours is a time where all the students come together and everyone can see their code, what troubles their running into and how the mentors troubleshoot any issues. The office hours are really helpful and I really enjoyed them.
Did you feel Firehose was personalized to what you needed or wanted to learn?
For sure. Every question I had was personalized. I wanted to dig deeper into test driven development, and my mentor was really flexible and taught me a lot of additional skills outside of the core curriculum.
For example, during the last month we focused on job interview preparation; Ken helped me design my resume and optimize it for development jobs. We went through a few mock interviews where he’d ask me questions so I could really prepare for the real interviews.
I also had to complete six coding challenges that are very likely to get asked during a web developer job interview. My mentor helped me go through the code and we practiced the solutions together.
You mentioned that you did three projects throughout. Were those assigned projects or were they projects that you came up with?
It’s a part of their core curriculum every student completes three web applications that increase in complexity and get pretty challenging.
During the last four weeks of the program I was also part of a group project. It’s 3-4 students and one of the code mentors is the technical lead. The group project is designed to make you learn how software is built in the real world: you have somebody telling your team what to build, maybe give you some wireframes and then the group has to break apart all the features into technical steps and start implementing them.
This was a different experience than simply coding by myself. We had to use GitHub like it is used in the real world when teams work together, fix code conflicts and always make sure that nobody is blocking somebody else on the team. Besides our personal code mentor, we also had one code mentor guiding us through the whole group project.
The project I built with my team is a platform where new developers can prepare themselves for technical interviews.
How did that logistically work, to work with a group?
It’s just like in the real world. We had weekly check-ins and we discussed next steps and things we need to do. We delegated tasks to be done by the next meeting.
That’s nice because it’s kind of like learning how to do remote work.
This taught us how to work remotely and also, to work as a team, which is really important as a developer. Teamwork is so different from working alone. You have to be in-tune with the work that your team members are doing so that you don’t destroy someone else’s work or stand in the way.
How many hours were you spending on Firehose each week?
Probably 30 hours a week. I wanted to finish the program strong and learn web development, but I also enjoyed a few weeks where I was going at a slower pace.
What did your mentor do in that last month to help with job preparation?
We revised my resume; it was a good “project management resume” but a pretty bad “developer resume.” My mentor really coached me on what and how to talk about my experience in the interview.
What are you up to now? Did you get a new job?
Yeah. I received multiple job offers after the program and actually started my new job last Monday. I’m a Ruby Developer for EnerNOC, a global energy intelligence company. Currently I’m developing a tool for analysts and operators who manage the switching and bidding on the energy market.
Are you working in Germany?
Yes, I work out of their office in Munich. There was a startup here in Munich doing something similar and EnerNOC acquired them this February.
How large is the dev team that you work with?
There are two other developers who hand over the work to me, before they leave at the end of December. We currently looking for another developer to work together with me.
Do you feel like you are at that level? Do you feel comfortable with that?
It’s pretty challenging. I think that it’s the best way to learn. f you’re new, then you often don’t know what you don’t know, but I love the challenge.
Is there anything else you wanted to add about Firehose or your experience?
I would totally recommend theFirehoseProject to everyone considering and online web development bootcamp.
Ken and Marco are running a top-notch program that attracts amazing mentors, while keeping a very personal touch. I’m sure they will continue to grow and go out of their way to help you have a great experience.
Welcome to the September News Roundup, your monthly news digest full of the most interesting articles and announcements in the bootcamp space. Want your bootcamp's news to be included in the next News Roundup? Submit announcements of new courses, scholarships, or open jobs at your school!Continue Reading →
The Firehose Project is an immersive online apprenticeship that teaches students of varying backgrounds to be web developers or launch their own products. While the curriculum is based in Ruby on Rails, mentors identify their mentees needs immediately and customize a learning plan for each student. We chat with Marco Morawec, founder of The Firehose Project, about their team of mentors, how they're supporting students in their journey to code, and the commitment required by students of the program.
What does the team at Firehose Project look like?
We’re 2 founders and about half a dozen code mentors that are helping us. Everyone on our team can code and we’re hand-picking every single mentor to make sure they have the relevant combination of technical and teaching skills.
Tell us about your background and how you got involved with the Firehose project?
My background is in web development and UX product manager. Before teaching people how to code I consulted Fortune 500 companies like P&G and John Deere and won Boston's biggest Hackathon (Angelhack). Most recently I led the user experience for peerTransfer, building a 1 Billion dollar a year international tuition payment platform. Before all that, I was carrying nothing more than a backpack and travelled around the world on $25/day for an entire year.
theFirehoseProject really started after I teamed up with my good friend Ken Mazaika, who was a tech lead at Where.com before it got acquired by PayPal, and we taught hundreds of students at places like Harvard, Carnegie Mellon, Brown and the University of Hawaii how to code and use the same tools as the best startups in the country. After seeing how our different approach to teaching allowed so many students achieve amazing results in a short period of time it made sense to bring our “firehose” approach to teaching tech online, so we can reach more students.
When did the first cohort of the Firehose Project online course start?
The first students started using our online guides to build real-world web applications in August 2013 and the first 12 week cohort of theFirehoseProject started early in 2014.
The classes start every Monday, right? Do you organize people into cohorts? Are they interacting with each other online or are they only interacting with their mentor?
New students start every Monday and during the first few weeks they focus on building two fully functional web applications with the help of their mentor.
After the first few weeks of the apprenticeship, we start to custom-tailor our curriculum so students will be able to achieve their individual goals. For example, students with the goal of finding a job as a web developer, are paired with other students to collaborate and launch a real web application that solves an actual problem or need. Just like in the real world of being a web developer, students get specific wireframes and product specifications and write and review code in a team environment, guided by their individual mentor and team leader.
We found that students who can point to their collaborative coding project and understand how to thrive in a team based environment, using the same code collaboration tools as real startups, have a huge advantage in landing a job, over students who only code by themselves or together with their mentor.
So our students are treated like junior web developers very early on in our program and don’t have to wait until they hold that job title to experience what it is like as a junior web developer.
Does everybody who applies get accepted? Is there an interview process at all?
Me or another code mentor talk to every single student before they’re accepted into the program. We’re looking for motivation to learn in our students and make sure they’re a great fit to work on team projects.
After teaching hundreds of students with no prior coding experience how to build and launch web applications, we know we can teach anyone. But we really want to make sure that you’re motivated to learn and have a concrete goal that you want to achieve, be it landing a job as a web developer or launching your own startup idea.
What types of students have you seen do really well in Firehose and what kind of students don’t necessarily excel in that environment?
We've found all of our students are able to excel in our program. Mostly, that has to do with the fact that we’re looking for students who have a particular goal that they want to achieve - like launching their own startup or getting a job as a web developer - and then custom tailor our curriculum around each student’s goal.
How is the curriculum designed? Do you have unique content for your curriculum or do you pick and choose curated lessons from the web?
We developed 100% of our curriculum in house. In fact, our curriculum is constantly updated and improved. By updating our curriculum on an almost daily basis, we can make sure we consistently offer a better learning experience and keep up with the latest technology.
One place that enabled us to create the perfect core curriculum was our Q&A forum that helps students get unstuck within the hour. In the early days, our entire team was basically “why did 3 students ask the same question on lesson 31 about 5 minutes ago? Let’s fix that”. After hundreds of improvements and countless hours of work we finally nailed down the perfect curriculum for our students.
Are you focusing on a particular technology?
Who are your mentors? What are you looking for in a mentor and what’s the process to become a mentor?
To be a mentor at theFirehoseProject you need to have teaching experience and be able to explain a complex web development concept to a classroom full of beginners. Then you also need to be a great developer, know your coding game inside out and actively help people in the Q&A forum and consistently improve theFirehoseProject curriculum.
We have a big coding event at Harvard coming up soon, so we definitely taking a group of our mentors into the classroom again.
Has anyone who’s gotten a job after doing Firehose or actually launched their own product?
Yes, we have multiple students who’ve gotten a job after they graduated, in fact one student just received a job offer half-way through our program, accepted the job and now continues to code together with the other students on his Firehose team project in the evenings.
Another student built an on-demand marijuana delivery platform, pretty much like Uber for marijuana. He’s launching this fall in several cities and is working on his delivery startup full-time.
Have you had students who are being sponsored by their companies?
Absolutely. We’ve had that happen before, especially for students who go through our program while holding a full-time job.
How many hours a week do you estimate that it takes students?
The minimum amount time that we require students to dedicate to coding is 15 hours per week. With 15 hours per week you’ll be able to progress at a good speed and finish strong.
That said, we have many students who are putting in 40-50 hours per week into the program and obviously those students are taking more knowledge and skills out of it.
Whether you put in 15 or 50 hours, we always keep your learning curve steep and make sure we adjust our curriculum to your personal goals and what you want to get out of the program.
Is there anything else you want to add that we didn’t touch on about Firehose?
One of the most common reason why people come to us, is because we’re the very opposite of all the other “cookie cutter” curriculums out there.
At theFirehoseProject all of our students are part of the team and are treated like junior web developers while they go through their customized curriculum together with our mentors.
Want to learn more about The Firehose Project? Check out their School Page on Course Report or their website here!
Welcome to the August News Roundup, your monthly news digest full of the most interesting articles and announcements in the bootcamp space. Want your bootcamp's news to be included in the next News Roundup? Submit announcements of new courses, scholarships, or open jobs at your school!Continue Reading →