Zip Code Wilmington
Zip Code Wilmington offers a full-time, 12-week full-stack coding bootcamp focused on Java technologies in Wilmington, Delaware. At Zip Code, the motto is "learn here, work anywhere." Founded in 2015, Zip Code Wilmington is Delaware's first coding bootcamp. Students attend classes 5 days a week and put in between 80-100 hours a week.
Zip Code Wilmington instructors are elite programmers with decades of experience building real, scalable software. From banks to mature startups, Zip Code partners include brand-names like Bank of America, Barclays, Capital One, and JPMorgan. After completion of the program, Zip Code assists with placing qualified graduates into a full-time role or 26-week apprenticeship at a partner company. Through the apprenticeship, students receive additional education, access to workshops, access to a mentor, and on-the-job guidance.
Zip Code Wilmington looks for passionate self-starters with grit, tenacity and a fierce love of problem-solving. There's no need for applicants to have previous coding experience, but Zip Code recommends that applicants begin learning to prepare for their interview. The application process consists of an online application, phone interview, timed coding task and group interview. Zip Code offers financing options and full scholarships for individuals earning less than 200% of the poverty level. Students pay $3,000 upfront, and the remaining balance is paid by corporate partners if hired for an apprenticeship or direct-hire job, along with completing 26 work weeks of employment with the company.
Recent Zip Code Wilmington Reviews: Rating 4.98
Recent Zip Code Wilmington News
- Data Dive: How Much Can You Earn After Coding Bootcamp?
- October 2017 Coding Bootcamp News + Podcast
- Meet an Instructor: Tariq from Zip Code Wilmington
- Start Date
- May 20, 2019
- Class size
- Refund / Guarantee
- If the student finishes the course and completes a paid 6 months apprenticeship with one of our partner organizations, the parter organization will cover the remaining $10,000 cost of the students tuition.
- If you can prove your need, need-based scholarships are available for a select number of candidates.
- Minimum Skill Level
- Prep Work
- 80-150 hours
- Placement Test
More Start DatesMay 20, 2019 - WilmingtonApply by February 22, 2019October 15, 2019 - WilmingtonApply by July 1, 2019
Zip Code Wilmington Reviews
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A year ago, I had never even heard of Zip Code Wilmington. I had never taken a computer science course, had zero experience with coding aside from very basic HTML and CSS, and thought that it was too late for me to get into the field of software development.
So when I first learned about Zip Code, I was admittedly skeptical. It just seemed a little too good to be true.
But after the first week or two, I understood why the program has been so successful for so many people. Three months may seem like a short amount of time -- and, relatively speaking, it is -- but the intensity of the coursework will push you to learn at a breakneck pace. So you have to be 100% willing to keep up with that pace... and whenever possible, go beyond it.
Also, the instructors are very smart and very talented, but they are also very aware of the fact that you need to be able to handle problems on your own. A huge part of being a successful software developer is the ability to look at something you don't understand and figure out a way to understand it. The Zip Code instructors are there to guide you, but you need to be ready to dive into the code and resources on your own as well.
Maybe even more valuable than the actual learning, though, are the connections that you will make at Zip Code. If you are truly invested, you will definitely spend more time with your classmates than your family or roommate or pet or even self. You may not physically be in the same vicinity as your peers, but you will almost always be in contact via Slack, either discussing a lab or sharing resources or just helping each other stay sane.
Aside from teaching you about software development, Zip Code also teaches you how to succeed in a professional environment. They help you improve your resume, work on your interview skills, and make networking connections. Many might focus on just the technical part of the program, but the professional development aspect should not be taken lightly at all. Based on my experience, most interviewers already know that you are a hard worker and fast learner if you've completed the program, so you will most likely be able to pick up any technical skills with relative ease. But being professional, agreeable, and articulate will make them view you as someone they actually want to work alongside.
A year ago, I had never even heard of Zip Code Wilmington. Next week, I will be starting my new career as a software engineer.
TL;DR: Zip Code Wilmington worked for me and many, many others. If you put in the time and effort and have a little patience, it will work for you too.
What makes Zip Code Wilmington different? It's there for you, the student. My time at ZCW was the hardest and best experience of my life. It allowed me to push myself harder than I have before and turn a passion into a career. This program is not for those without fight! Put in the work, the staff/instructors will go toe to toe with you on the work you put in because they believe in you.
Each week, you'll have lectures, labs/assignments, projects that will continually test your skills. Time management is key to complete work on time. 12 weeks is not a long time, and my success at ZCW was largely in part to their open door policy to communicate freely and effectively with staff and fellow students. Always ask questions! Instructors slowly start to be more hands off as the course progresses, but are always avaiable to help!
I did not have a coding background aside from basic website CSS knowledge and computer hardware. Come with an appetite for learning because it doesn't stop and that appetite helped me succeed. From the foundations of coding to real world applications, you'll get to touch many parts of a software engineering path that only improves your skillset. Not only that, professional training to win over employers in the interview and secure a career down the path you want to take. They support you from day 1 to day infinity as long as you want to have them there.
This program will change your life if you put in what it asks from you. If you're passionate and driven about doing this over what ever else you might have been, you'll get very far. I had a clear idea of where I'd have liked to be but wasn't sure if I had the proficiency to get me there. That's where the program/instructors at ZCW came in. You're given an understanding of the fundementals for starting to develop software but the foundation and work ethic required is something you come to build on your on and is different from person to person I think. You're never gonna have a chance to put aside your life for 3 months to gain the kind of skills you get out of ZCW at the quality they provide. Sure they helped me learn to code and become a software developer like I've always wanted, however, the thing I'm most grateful for coming out of ZCW is how they enabled my self-actualization.
Pro-tip: Enjoy doing this stuff.
Throughout my life, I have been all over the place when it came to my career. I was in college then the military and back to school. I got to a point where I needed to focus on my passion, which was technology in general. I've always been tech savvy but I wanted to direct that passion towards a career I can be proud of as quickly as possible. After taking a few online coding classes, I started searching for coding boot camps and most of them are located in New York or in California. I eventually found Zip Code Wilmington and it changed my life for the better. Getting in was half the battle and the challenge of the program pushed me to heights I haven't reached in awhile intellectually. Not only did Zip Code make me a better programmer but a better professional as well. The staff is amazing and will help you thru the process but it's up to you to determine your own success. Oh and shout out to my bestie Nancy!!!!!!!
There’s a lot of bootcamps out there, but Zip Code Wilmington stands out among them all, because everyone there is laser-focused on getting you a job after you finish the program.
Zip Code is an amazing program that I would recommend to anyone looking to get into software development. This 3 month accelerated course will change your life. Before Zipcode i was a professional trampoline dunker & worked at a trampoline park. In 3 months zipcode changed my life forever. Its an amazing program and if you have the oppourtunity to apply... DO IT !
Coming into a program like this can be overwhelming and sometimes even discouraging without putting in the amount of time and work that is required in order to be successful. But the key is to break through and overcome your own barriers. Staying positive and committed not only to the program but to yourself in every endeavor you take on in life will be the drive you need for success. Not only will you learn the basics and core fundamentals of programming at ZCW, you will constantly battle with yourself to test your own ability to learn. For me, the greatest thing I can take away from Zip Code as a graduate is learning the best way for me to be an effective learner. If I could change one thing is would be the choice of IDE used for beginners. IntelliJ is awesome, but it’s coddles beginners to the point of being spoiled with so many useful and reliant features it has built into it. I believe this has been adjusted already and going forward BlueJ will be implemented which I think is a fantastic environment for beginners. Learn to work in teams and get familiar with the people around you. You will be together for over 100 hours a week so be mindful of your neighbors, these people are going to be your family over the next 3 months. Don’t come to this boot camp for the wrong reason. You should attend because coding and technology drives you and you’re passionate about understanding the nature of a computer language. Other than what I have stated already, write at least 50 lines of code a day, learn something new that you didn’t know the day before and just have fun. Don’t let the stress of completing the program hold you back from having fun or block the flow of your learning process. Just remember you’re already investing in yourself by attending such a prestigious school. That being said, stay positive and always ask for help. The instructors don’t know what you don’t know if you don’t make your voice heard.
Zip Code Wilmington students come from all walks of life, with varying levels of experience with technology/coding, a myriad of prior jobs/careers, and call many different places home, but they all have at least a few things in common; they are, for one reason or another, looking for a fresh start in an industry with almost limitless possibilities, one that has been and will continue to grow exponentially with a high demand for employment; they have a passion for technology and hunger for learning new things; they have confidence in their ability to learn rapidly, yet are humble and keen enough to know what they don’t know and to ask for help; and, lastly, they value the practicality of a short but intensive program with a curriculum laser-focused on exactly what is needed to enter the field, as opposed to the far longer, far more expensive blanket-approach of broader college degrees.
If the above resonates with you, I honestly urge you to look no further than Zip Code Wilmington. Zip Code Wilmington is the whole package; you’ll take part in a fine-tuned programming curriculum as well as professional development training to prepare you for employment in the field. This is all delivered by experts whom have a genuine, personal interest in your success, both during and after the course is completed. This isn’t ‘sugar-coating’ by any means. Yes, Zip Code Wilmington is a business – a non-profit business – but take it from a very skeptical person such as myself, these are authentic people with an honest interest in you and your future. If you come to Zip Code Wilmington ready to work hard, very possibly harder than you’ve ever worked before, the Zip Code Wilmington staff will work equally hard to help you achieve employment with companies that you’d have a very difficult time finding entry-level employment with, were you coming from a computer science bachelors background instead; the networks/connections that Zip Code Wilmington has are absolutely second-to-none. On technicality, Zip Code Wilmington staff can’t ‘guarantee’ employment but, suffice to say, you will get out of the course what you are willing to put into it. That said, assess yourself accordingly and look at the statistics for graduates employed in full technical roles mere weeks after graduating, then draw your own conclusion on what Zip Code Wilmington can do for you.
For me, it was nothing short of life-changing. You’ll see that word thrown around a lot in reviews about this program. As a hardcore skeptic I might not have bought it prior to attending Zip Code Wilmington but now, with the experience behind me, I can say it is a plain and simple fact; Zip Code Wilmington changes lives. I was a correctional officer and also therapeutic staff for local school students on the autism spectrum just prior to attending Zip Code Wilmington. I’ll truncate the explanation as to why I chose Zip Code Wilmington, why I chose the field, as such to say that I rarely felt challenged in the ways I wanted to be; nor fulfilled, nor satisfied, nor even like I fit in my roles that well. I started to feel like I was in the wrong place. After a couple years of introspection and contemplation on that feeling I knew it was time for a change and I eventually found myself at Zip Code Wilmington. I worked harder than I ever had before, made great new friends – forged in the fire of a seriously intense program, just like in real boot camp, which I would know something about too – and, now, here I am with a job that I enjoy and one that I can actually take pride in when I tell people what I do. It also pays twice as well, even at entry-level, as any job I’ve had before, that’s a big perk too.
As I said above: “life-changing” choice. If I have a chance to convince someone of making a choice that I firmly believe can be as life-changing for them as it was for me then I will push for it bluntly; if all of the above resonates with you and you believe you’d be a good fit for the course I think you know what to do next.
Best of luck!
There's plenty of other reviews here talking about the program itself, so I'm going to take a slightly different tack.
It's March 1, 2018 as I write this. I'm preparing to sleep so that I can wake up and go to work tomorrow. Like 150 million other Americans. It's really no big deal- unless it is. Two years ago I was starting a part-time job that paid pennies over minimum wage. No insurance, no hope of advancement, and no other opportunities. Yet, I was thankful because I was, in fact, working.
From October 2015 to March 2016 I had no job, and for that time period and the three months before I had no home.
I took a huge risk on Zip Code. I cannot stress that enough. I had managed to scrimp and save barely enough to pay for the gas I would need to drive from the farm I was staying on in Sussex county each week. To pay for the room I was renting in Wilmington during the work week. To pay for my wife's medical care (what the Medicaid wouldn't cover). I had to quit my job in order to attend. After being homeless for nine months and jobless for six, I was quitting my job. At the time, there was no assistance for low-income students aside from the tuition scholarships (without which I wouldn't have even been able to consider attending). I rationed food like I was back on the streets and ate it cold from the can.
I was granted the moniker, "Hobo" and I adopted it happily because I knew that when you stake everything on an all-or-nothing gamble you have to give it your all and you may still get nothing. It was an unwitting reminder of where I had come from and what potentially awaited me again if I failed.
I worked my ass off. People talk about 100 hours per week. I'm going to break that down into real numbers for you. I arrived at the classroom at 6:30am each day and stayed until 10:00pm each night, Monday through Friday. When I got back to the room I was renting I studied until 1:00am. I did this five days a week, returning to the farm on weekends to see my family and do what work I could to offset the cost of board there.
That's only 92.5 hours.
You have to more than want this- you have to be starving for it. You need to know that not only is failure not an option, but that it is completely unthinkable. You need to understand that you can give your all and still find yourself not working for weeks or potentially months after the program ends.
But if you stick with it...
If you stay the course, hold steady, and keep that hunger... if you are humble enough to internalize what the instructors, staff, and alumni say... if you are categorically unable to comprehend the meaning of quitting, of giving up...
When I filed my taxes for 2017 my gross income was roughly $6,000 for the year.
I'll have made more than that in my first MONTH working the job I've earned after going through the Zip Code program.
Reviews use the terms, "Life-Changing" and "Transformational". They're right, but those words are so inadequate. You will never forget your time with your cohort. You will make friends, and you may even make family. You become part of a group that all battled through the trenches with you. You develop your own internal jokes and behaviours that make no sense to those that didn't go through it. You have a sense of shared identity with people that you've never met. Having been raised in a military and police family, I can honestly say that it's very similar in a sense. Zip Coders, like servicemen and -women, have their own easy camaraderie.
So while I need to wake up early and drive to an office building where I'll sit at a desk for ten hours or so (which sounds like a long work day but feels like shameful slacking after the hours I pulled at Zip Code), I really can't complain. Rain is falling from the sky and winds are gusting upwards of 60mph but I'm inside, warm, and looking towards the future with an emotion that feels odd and alien.
I think it may be optimism mixed with satisfaction.
--"Hobo", aka "Fedora"
When they said this is a hard program and you will work 100 hours a week, they are not joking. It's very challenging but it's all worth it in the end. During this program, you will learn a lot of practical skills that you can apply on the job, which you might not even get that experience by going through a 4 year college. You will succeed if you spend effort to truly understand and learn more in depth of the class material on your own. Instructors are really helpful, also don't hesitate to get help from your classmates too. It's a learning experience for both party. Zip Code has a collaborative team environment, we do pair programming on most of the projects. Alumni often will stop by after work to help out the current cohort.
We are not only learning about programming languages and its frameworks, we also have industry experts to speak about different topics relate to software development twice a week. Not to mention, the staff at Zip Code work hard to help you with future employment, but you also have to work hard to earn it! It's a great program especially for those who need a little push and are not productive on learning on their own schedule, I learned more in a week at the program than on my own for a few months.
I found Zip Code Wilmington by accident. I have always had an interesting in computer programming, but felt that I wasn't smart enough or capable. When I found Zip Code, I thought it was too good to be true. A bootcamp that actually cares about your success and not your money. Zip Code makes it a point that you will learn programming tailored towards what the current job market wants as opposed to typical "book-learning." I met some amazing people through this bootcamp and have changed my life forever. This will be one of the hardest things you've ever done, but you will not regret it.
Zip Code was a hard and intense program, but for where I am now and the new friends I made, it was well worth it! The course is designed with corporate partners in mind, they are 100% career oreinted (they will not stop connecting you with job openings as long as you stay commited with them!) and the teachers are supportive, fun, and masters at what they do. If you are feeing intimidated, thats normal! It is a hard program, but its not impossible. From someone who almost say no to this experience for every xyz reason, I'm so happy I went through with it because now I have a wonderful career as a software developer and an awesome alumni network to find support in. When you join Zip Code Wilimington, you aren't joining another coding bootcamp your taking the first steps to living out your full potential! Take a chance on yourself and apply to Zip Code Wilmington! You will not be dissapointed!
As a graduate from the most recent Java Bootcamp cohort, I can absolutely say that Zip Code Wilmington helped change my career and life. Not only did the program help me find a job in software development, but it also gave me the confidence to succeed in it. Although I still have much to learn (over many years I hope!), Zip Code Wilmington gave me a great foundation.
ZCW teaches the fundamentals of programming clean, testable code in several technologies including Java and JS, with introduction and exposure to frameworks like Angular, and middle-tier development with Spring. Simply put, this was the only bootcamp I could find online that focused on Java and gave a solid foundation of Spring. Why is it important? Most employers are looking for experience in both! My only comment for improvement? More labs!
The instructors were phenomenal. They are there all the time, ready and willing to help. They put in incredible amounts of prep work. But they will not spoon feed you! It is up to you to work hard, and ask for help! I only remark here that some instructors may not be as used to teaching in a classroom setting as others. But when I came to ask for one-one-one help, not only did their incredible knowledge and experience shine, they very quickly resolved my issues and bettered my understanding of material. Tariq has done a fantastic job organizing a team of instructors and developing a curriculum that will help graduates succeed in their careers.
Melanie is awesome. Full-stop. Not only did she cover important and subtle details about applying for jobs and interviewing. She helped organize weekly speakers, provided MANY networking opportunities, and put in an incredible amount of work to help us. Again, she can't get a job for you, but she will provide you every opportunity!
One more note: Yes you will be working 85+ hrs/week, at least. Yes you will feel stupid at times. Yes you it is hard. But if you put in the work, you WILL succeed.
This course is hard. I enjoyed the community and the resources that were available to me while in the program. Being a visual learner, I would have liked to start with design patterns and then learn the technologies. The instructors do not hold your hand through this course so to be successful and truly retain all that you will learn over the 12 weeks you must be very vocal. Ask a lot of questions. If you clam up when you feel stumped then you'll get left behind quickly. This isn't for the light-hearted, this is a real boot camp. It will prepare you for the work force but it is meant to break you down and then build you back up. Some people don't recover from the break down. This will challenge you to the core of your being. You may question life itself. If you persist you will succeed. What are you waiting for?
If I had to pick one area that Zip Code has some room to improve, it would be the lectures. While they do provide tons of very practical and well-designed hands-on training, a few of the lectures were poorly delivered. In other words, although the instructors are highly qualified technically, and are wonderful to work with one-on-one, I sometimes had great difficulty paying attention during lecture. Don't let that detail deter you though. The overall experience was incredible.
I will admit when I first heard about Zip Code, I had a hard time believing the claims. I was told that in addition to the instruction, each student was paired with a developer already in the industry to receive tutoring and mentorship. I had spent months looking for jobs without any success, and I was desperately looking for somebody to help me and give me advice.
It turns out that the above claim was a bit off -- each student is actually given access to not one, but a great number of both school alumni and industry leaders. The team at Zip Code does an incredible job of maintaining contact with their alumni. I really feel like part of a family here.
It's all true. Zip Code not only teaches you how to code, but everything you need to know in order to join the workforce. This includes training on everything from how to shake hands to multiple full length mock interviews (both personal and technical). At the end, dozens of hiring managers came to Zip Code, eager to hire us. Isn't that crazy? Four weeks into my new job, I still have a hard time believing that it happened. I am so grateful for Zip Code, and recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone who is interested in becoming a software developer.
Zip Code provided me with the opportunity I needed to learn how to code at a professional level and jump start a career in application development. The program is very intense, and provides a greate learning experience. Most of all, you learn a lot about your own self.
Zip Code Wilimington was an amazing experience for me. The program gave me a chance to reinvent myself. I did not have any previous coding experience before the bootcamp, infact my background was in professional soccer and I was able to successfully land a job. The environemnt at Zip Code is very conducive for learning, you are able to be your true self and you become a family. The teachers, mentors and all of the students want you to do well and are willing to help you whenver you need it. I would recommend Zip Code to anyone who loves problem solving and has the willingness to learn regardless of your current career or background.
This was exactly what I was looking for. I wanted to go to a place that allowed me to jump right in and code all day every day. It was intense and stressfull at times, but worth every minute. Putting in the hard work pays off. You won't find another place that allows you to learn so much and have experience in such a short amount of time.
I am a parent of a ZIPCODE Wilmington student who is starting the final month of the 3 month program. Once a software engineer myself I can see the transformation my son is going through and the excitement he exudes on a daily basis. We talk extensively on his in-school experiences at length almost daily and there is no doubt in my mind that he will be successful after graduation. What zipcode is teaching them goes beyond what a normal four year curriculum would provide and in a shorter time frame, truly amazing. ZIPCODE Wilmington is a life altering experience and I am truly thankful for all those involved that makes this happen. Thanks and keep up the good work.
I have been working full time for the last 5 years. I was concerned that I would not be able to keep up with the quick pace of a bootcamp.
Every day has been engaging and challenging, but the instructors have always found a way to focus on the important concepts and give every student the attention they need to grasp those concepts.
I am very happy with my decision to join this bootcamp. I am not able to rate the job assistance aspect yet, but I will update this review later.
DISCLAIMER: this review will be updated in 2 months' time.
To the point: 8 weeks in and I've loved to hate every week. A large number of Zip code alumni live and work in Wilmington DE. From day one, students are aware that Zip code's placement statistics are not mythical. Each day at least 5 unique alumni are in the building mentoring current students. Each week, we get at leat 3 hourlong talks from senior devs at Zip code's hiring partners. One of the hiring partners actually conducts lessons each Friday where they teach us some interesting part their technology stack.
In the midst of applying to thousands of dead-end jobs, a friend of mine mentioned a nonprofit coding bootcamp. I wasn't thrilled about the idea (Programming? I'm no good at that!), but I was desperate for work. One month later my entire life was upside down and backwards. Zip Code was that push I always needed to get ahead. The teachers and staff are incredibly dedicated to helping us grow as students and employees, from resume building to cutting edge technology to the much needed emotional support. And the students are all equally dedicated to learning.
But perhaps the most impressive thing about the program is the networking opportunity. Hiring managers and executives from Fortune 500 companies come to Zip Code to give morning lectures, attend networking events, and even stay to help us with our projects. At the end of the program they conduct first round interviews in house, right inside our own classroom, and everyone gets a chance to shine.
Two weeks after I graduated I signed the paperwork for my first ever job in IT, earning more money than either of my parents at more than double my previous salary. I love the company and my team, and am finding opportunities each day to advance my career. In just three months I went from starving artist to valued computer scientist. For anyone who needs a direction, a change of pace or just that final push, I strongly encourage you to apply. These could become the most important three months of your life.
Zip Code Wilmington developed, and continually improves their curriculum by talking with companies throughout the area to find out what their exact needs are. What these companies need is someone who knows the fundamentals of object-oriented programming, can implement those fundamentals in a programming language (Zip Code teaches Java), understands clean coding principles, is eager to learn, excited about technology and is a problem solver. If you are eager to learn, excited about what technology can do and a problem solver, Zip Code gives you the rest of the pieces of the puzzle and helps you put the puzzle together enough to be able to figure out the rest and sends you on your way.
There is no substitute for hard work, and there is no such thing as an overnight success. What Zip Code does is find people that have the ability within themselves already but just need a little direction to unlock their potential and matches them up with employers that want to hire these exact type of people. Although, I should add..."a little direction" is an understatement. Zip Code arms you with the highest quality of software development knowledge to become the best possble developer you can be. Your future success from this point is a byproduct of your attitude and hard work. The 12 weeks of bootcamp is just the beginning of a long road. If this is the direction you know you want to go, Zip Code will put you on the correct path. As a former student I’m thankful everyday, because I certainly know I would not be able to find that path so quickly by myself, and feel the same confidence as I started my journey as a software developer.
I was a teacher for 14 years and ready for a new challenge, but intimidated by making a drastic career change and unsure where to start. Zip Code alleviates so many of these issues. If you enjoy coding and are willing to give up 3+ months to work as hard as you ever have, then you will be rewarded with amazing opportunities.
Not only does Zip Code give you a solid foundation in Java and Object Oriented Programming, even more importantly it prepares you to get a job through mock interviews, resume work, and many corporate partners. If you are willing to work, do what they ask of you, take advantage of every opportunity provided to you to practice and learn, then you will have a new career.
Our latest on Zip Code Wilmington
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Tariq Hook got his start in software development through an apprenticeship, so he can relate to his students at Zip Code Wilmington, who are drinking from the fire hose every day. Tariq is now Director of Education at the Delaware coding bootcamp, and loves working with future programmers at Zip Code because the bootcamp aligns with his passion for increasing diversity in the tech industry. We sat down with Tariq to find out about his teaching background, the Zip Code Wilmington curriculum, and why their unique tuition options boost diversity in their classroom!
I have been doing software and information sciences forever. I graduated college with a degree in Information Sciences, and I went directly into network engineering. I wanted to get more into software development, but as I interviewed, I kept hearing that I didn't have enough experience. Finally, I interviewed at a startup called Front Porch Video. I sat down with the CEO, who told me that while I didn’t have enough experience, I could do a three-month apprenticeship there and, if I did well over three months, then he'd hire me.
I interned at Front Porch for 90 days. It was like a crash course, a drink from a fire hose type scenario, where they would just throw some material at me for me to digest and give me assignment after assignment. It got to the point where I was like living there at one point because I just wanted to just work. They kept true to their promise after 90 days, gave me my first software development job working in C++. That's how I got my entry into software development.
So your software development training was very similar to a coding bootcamp!
At Zip Code, we take the same philosophy that I used to learn software development: you drink from the fire hose.
Did you have teaching experience in addition to your programming experience?
I started teaching when Temple University’s engineering department hired me on a diversity grant. My entire job was to get high school seniors and college freshman interested in programming. We didn’t have a very structured curriculum, but on Saturdays and weeknights, we would host an open night and ask students what they wanted to build. They would come in with an idea and we would help them build it. It became very popular over the years, and mentoring became a huge part of my life.
There are a lot of coding bootcamps now – what made you excited to work with Zip Code Wilmington in particular?
I believe that education should be as close to free as possible. This is not to shoot down for-profit bootcamps, because if you’re good at teaching, then you should be paid for that. However, you lose out on diversity when you charge $20,000 for a coding bootcamp. As an African-American man in software development, I’ve been attending conferences for 10 years, and would see the same four or five other African Americans at every conference. I could see that there was an issue, so mentorship has become a passion of mine. I want to see myself represented and see diversity in my field.
Zip Code is a nonprofit, and our primary objective is community workforce development. Our tuition is very low for the industry ($3,000). Plus, we offer unlimited scholarships to students whose households earn less than 200% of the national poverty level. We make our money to survive through partnerships with hiring companies. I think that our financial model helps us with diversity. One of the biggest barriers to getting into a coding bootcamp is the financial commitment.
Zip Code Wilmington was looking for a Director of Education, and saw that I had a mixture of experience working as a software engineer and teaching. I started two years ago.
What technologies do you cover in the Zip Code Wilmington curriculum?
What we’re really teaching is object-oriented development and object-oriented design. We're teaching you how to think like a software developer, and we're teaching you how to learn any programming language. My students often go directly into jobs that have nothing to do with Java except for the fact that they're object oriented. The reason why they can do that is because they went through this process.
Are you also teaching non-technical skills?
We also focus a lot on imposter syndrome. The only thing standing between somebody who is successful and somebody who's not successful at Zip Code is imposter syndrome. Our students have to give themselves permission to be successful. We see it time and time again: people have this misconception that software and computer programming is supposed to be hard, when in reality, it’s not. You look at a complex problem and deconstruct it into smaller parts. When you are looking at code you shouldn't be intimidated. Like Robert Martin said, "Good code should read like good prose." It should be what it is, explain what it is, and be what it says. Once students start to identify themselves as software developers, that’s when they start to excel.
How does Zip Code keep tuition so low for its students?
Zip Code’s total tuition costs $12,000. Only $3,000 of that tuition is due upfront (or paid by scholarships for those who meet the financial need requirement). The remaining $9,000 of the tuition cost is paid back by our corporate partners when they hire our graduates. Currently, 93% of our graduates are placed in paid roles within three months of graduating.
For a company, our placement fee is actually a little cheaper than a referral fee from a traditional staffing firm. And the quality of the investment is higher because we’ve vetted our students and our corporate partners have gotten to know our students during the course of the three-month program. There is also a higher probability of the company retaining that talent.
For a student, Zip Code is not easy. It's 12 weeks long and the average student is spending approximately somewhere between 80-100 hours a week studying and working hard. But when you start this process, you are potentially 1200 hours of quality work away from your next job.
After teaching for years, what makes the ideal Zip Code Wilmington student?
Passion! We're looking for students who will get hired into jobs. Employers want to hire developers who are naturally inclined to do what it is that you're paying them to do, and then give them a paycheck and get out of their way. We're looking for students who like solving problems, who like being challenged, and who fall in love with new technologies.
One of our interview questions is, “You’re left with a billion dollars and never have to work another day for the rest of your life. You also have all the talent and information needed to build something technical – what do you build?” If an applicant doesn’t know what they would build, that's a problem for us. And when they do have an answer, it's exciting to see what they’re passionate about, and how they would employ technology to help solve a problem. Those are the people that make the best students because the only thing standing in between them and their goals is experience.
Do most of your students have bachelor's degrees? Are they career changers or were they unemployed before Zip Code?
All of the above. We’ve had students from the ages of 18 to 53, with the average age being around 28. We teach students who are directly out of high school, people who have their PhDs, and people who have worked as doctors, truck drivers, chefs, and artists and want to transition into a new field. We have students who were underemployed, unemployed, or took years off because they wanted to raise their children. Zip Code accepts all scopes.
One of the appeals of a coding bootcamp is that you can adapt to the needs of students. Could you talk a little bit about how and when you iterate on your curriculum?
We take input from everybody: employers, alumni, coworkers of alumni, etc. We're always trying to identify the comprehension gap. So, we have a Steering Committee comprised of technology leaders from our partner companies and a student alumni advisory council of graduates from the program.
And at the end of every cohort, we take a hard look at what we delivered in that cohort. We look at all the labs that we gave in a cohort, all the lectures that we gave and then we adjust and refactor every single cohort so that our curriculum remains relevant. We also love hearing from students who are currently at their jobs who say they’re struggling with X, Y, and Z, and wish they had covered it.
How else do you see your alumni community staying involved with Zip Code?
Every evening there are at least 3-4 alumni at Zip Code tutoring and going through labs. Our alumni network is very tight because they spend a lot of time together, they work together, and they hang out together learning about new frameworks. All of that is a community that's built around our school and really helps with our student success. It's even gotten to the point where employed alumni are sent back to us to hire other graduates.
Every previous student has a responsibility to come back in the evening and tutor the current class, and that’s been a consistent commitment.
How do you assess student progress at Zip Code Wilmington? Are there tests? Can a student “fail out?”
We cover 3-4 units per week, and every two weeks we give a large assessment in order to keep the pressure on and keep our standards high. If a student fails two large assessments, we ask you to leave the program.
Here’s why: we're not in this just to give you an education. We're in this to get you a job. If you fail two assessments, then that means that you missed one-third of the material that we teach, and the probability of you getting a job (and being ready for it) is low.
At the same time, we also believe that the squeaky wheel gets the oil. So if you fail one assessment and are in the danger zone for being removed from the program, you get maximum attention. We sit you down, slow the pace down a little bit, and try to fill in all the gaps that we can. This extra attention makes a big difference - to date, only 8 students (4%) have failed two assessments.
If it takes you six months to get a job, then it takes six months to get a return on our investment. We can’t afford to keep people unemployed. When you're feeling that hunger, we're feeling the hunger right along with you, and that’s why our placement rates are so high.
That’s really important to know, and sounds fair as long as you’re being transparent with students that they need to pass those assessments.
The final step in our interview process is a conversation between me and the applicant. I'll look you in the eye and say, "Look, this is going to be a lot of work for three months. We're not going to be your friend; it's going to be hard." We're going to be supportive, but we're not going to spoon feed you. We're going to make you fish every day to get your meal. We're going to give you the tools, but you have to go out there and get that fish.
Is there an ideal student to teacher ratio at Zip Code Wilmington?
We aim for 1 instructor for every 8 to 10 students.
What do you think about Wilmington as a tech city? Are most of your students staying in the area after they graduate?
Wilmington is an interesting city because we have a number of financial institutions based here, and they have built out highly regulated, highly scalable, highly technical platforms that operate and function with efficiency and accuracy. There are hundreds of coders in each of those companies, including many of our graduates.
There are a lot of jobs in tech, and a lot of initiatives, especially for younger people, to keep young people in Wilmington. You could be making $80k in New York and living with five roommates and struggling to make ends meet, or you could be making like $70k in Wilmington and living very comfortably in a very nice apartment or a house with a nice car. It's about quality of life.
What do you suggest for an aspiring coding bootcamper and total beginner in Wilmington?
Pick a language and find a meetup for that language and start going to the meetup. But before you do that, let go of the fact that you're a beginner. Everybody is a beginner at something. Think about something that you want to build and don't let your current knowledge handicap your idea. Think about what you want to build and think about it as a technology agnostic. Really lay that out, and then figure out how technology could help you build it. You're not a developer until you just jump in.
If you really want to learn something, decide to build something and then let that dictate what you learn.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Zip Code is a community project. Once you’re accepted as a student, Zip Code is yours. All of its successes, all of its advancement, everybody has a part in it. I encourage you to choose a coding bootcamp that fits you, but if you're looking for a community that will be there for you, support you, and invest in you as an individual growing with technology, then Zip Code is a school that you should strongly consider.
Missed out on coding bootcamp news in April? Never fear, Course Report is here! We’ve collected everything in this handy blog post and podcast. This month, we read about why outcomes reporting is useful for students, how a number of schools are working to boost their diversity with scholarships, we heard about student experiences at bootcamp, plus we added a bunch of interesting new schools to the Course Report school directory! Read below or listen to our latest Coding Bootcamp News Roundup Podcast.Continue Reading →
How do you get a job after coding bootcamp if you have no relevant, real-world work experience? Only 1.4% of bootcampers have worked as developers in the past, but most career-changers have little – if any– client experience when they start looking for a developer job. Some bootcamps help students overcome this hurdle by offering opportunities to work for the bootcamp itself, or with real clients through projects, internships, and apprenticeships. These opportunities can give students substantial experience to add to their portfolios and resumes, and kickstart the job hunt.Continue Reading →
Welcome to the January 2017 Course Report monthly coding bootcamp news roundup! Each month, we look at all the happenings from the coding bootcamp world from new bootcamps to fundraising announcements, to interesting trends. This month we applaud initiatives that bring technology to underserved communities, we look at employment trends, and new coding schools and campuses. Plus, we hear a funny story about an honest taxi driver. Read below or listen to our latest Coding Bootcamp News Roundup Podcast.Continue Reading →
After studying theater and English, Devon worked in administration, customer service, and set painting; but never felt fulfilled. Online career quizzes kept telling her to try coding, and when she moved to Delaware, she heard about coding bootcamp Zip Code Wilmington. Devon thought the bootcamp’s payment plans seemed too good to be true, but after some research, she enrolled in the program. Devon tells us about the extensive Zip Code application process, how the program itself was far more intense than college, and how she got her job as a Software Developer with one of Zip Code’s corporate partners.
What was your education or career background before you decided to learn to code?
Zip Code says you don't need to know any code before going there, and I am the proof in the pudding. I was a theater and English major at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania. From there, I had about five different jobs in administration, accounting, bookkeeping, contracts, and paperwork. I always loved working with spreadsheets and figuring out problems. When a customer would call in, I would want to fix everything so the same customer wouldn’t call back with the same problem. I knew I wasn't destined to continue in admin and was looking for a career change.
My husband got a job at the University of Delaware, so we moved here. I started working at the local professional theater painting theater sets, but part-time painting is not very lucrative. I heard about Zip Code through a friend of a friend of a friend. Computer programming was something I'd always had in the back of my mind– mostly from doing a ton of online career quizzes, where computer programmer kept popping up. I thought it was weird because I was a theater and English major, but I realized I was looking for something that could encapsulate my love of problem solving and my love of working with people.
Did you try out coding before you applied to Zip Code Wilmington?
The only coding experience I had before Zip Code was the application process to get into Zip Code. Applicants must do some free online coursework after they first apply. By doing the application, I fell in love with coding. It was so fun, and I was addicted to it.
A few years earlier I did a Coursera course, but it was more about the philosophy of coding than actual coding. They used Scratch where you learn how to break down a problem and how to build up a program.
Why did you choose Zip Code in particular? Did you look at other coding bootcamps?
What really pushed Zip Code over the edge for me was that Zip Code has so many corporate partners, and the primary goal of Zip Code is to get you a job at the end. The curriculum has a lot of input from those corporate partners, so you know the skills you're learning will be applicable in the outside world.
I did a quick Google search to see what other learning options there were. Zip Code Wilmington seemed too good to be true because I wasn't in a financial position to pay $20,000 to go to bootcamp, or even to look into college courses. I'm 31, so I want to be in an established career. Zip Code required a small down payment, then the corporate partner you end up working for pays the rest of your tuition. Then they have tons of scholarships available. It's a win-win for everybody, so I wasn't really considering many other bootcamps.
That sounds like a great tuition payment system. Can you tell me a bit more about how that works with the corporate partners?
Zip Code is a family. It sounds cheesy, but they would do anything to help you make this possible. They're a nonprofit, so their goal is to help people. Zip Code helps students get a job because they are only successful if they place the student.
Zip Code is 12 weeks, and around week 10 they bring in the corporate partners. You go through an application and interview process like any other job applicant. Every student is guaranteed an interview. If I were to apply for the job on my own, I wouldn't necessarily be guaranteed an interview. Yet, it's up to the individual student to interview well. Zip Code makes it clear that at the end of the program, it's not guaranteed that you'll get a job.
I got a job at Chatham Financial, a corporate partner, and Chatham will be paying my tuition.
Congratulations on the job! Do you know what happens to people who pay the down payment and then weren't able to find a job with a corporate partner?
I have the skills to get a job anywhere. If I were to get a job with a corporation outside of the partnership, I would be responsible for paying back the tuition myself. If you don't find a job within six months, I think Zip Code decrease what you owe. They will work with you to come up with another payment plan because the process didn't work for you.
Note from Zip Code: Even if a grad doesn't receive a job with a corporate partner, we continue to provide significant job placement assistance. To date, not a single student has paid the full tuition amount. Students are not obligated to pay back their tuition while they're unemployed. If a student were to remain unemployed for six months, the outstanding tuition balance is decreased by 55%.
You mentioned the Zip Code application process was your first proper exposure to code. Can you tell me a bit more about what that involved?
After that, there's the professional interview with our Head of School which was like every other job interview I've ever had. Then there's the technical interview, which is whiteboarding and logic problems with our Director of Education to see how you problem solve, and to see if you are teachable. Twelve weeks is not much time to go from 0 to 60, so they need to make sure all applicants pick it up as soon as possible.
Note from Zip Code: For upcoming applicants, we are replacing the phone screening with an on-campus Ask Me Anything session with our staff and alumni, and we are changing the order of the steps of the application process.
Who were the other students in your cohort? Was it quite diverse in terms of gender, race, life, and career backgrounds?
Absolutely. It was one of the most diverse experiences I've ever had, which is really cool. I think there were seven females in my class of 30. We had warehouse workers, truck drivers, and social workers. I was a painter. We also had a mom who was a software engineer, but took seven years off to raise her kids and had trouble getting back into the industry. Then there were fresh computer science graduates finding it hard to get into the industry.
What was the learning experience and teaching style like at Zip Code Wilmington?
From 9am to 5pm, they'd usually give two lectures– a morning and an afternoon lecture. They gave us a lot of reading to do before the lectures to make sure we could ask questions. When the lectures finished at 5pm, they would give us labs and projects to do based on what we learned that day. Those would take four or five hours, and then we'd have reading to do for the next day. It was usually about 15 to 16 hours a day for the 12 weeks.
Two or three times a week, Zip Code would also bring in developers and engineers from the corporate partner companies to talk about their experiences and what they're working on. It was really cool to pick their brains and hear their stories. We often had previous Zip Code alumni come back in the evenings to mentor us as well as work through labs and projects with us. We had a lot of support.
What was your favorite project you worked on at Zip Code?
I have two favorites. One is a full console-based Casino with multiple games which we built as part of a group project. I was with seven other people, and each of us would take a game, work together on the framework, and put it all together. That was so fun– learning how to collaborate, plan, and work as a team.
When you were learning to code, were there parts of your background in theater or English that you found helpful in learning to code? Were there any overlaps in skills?
Absolutely. A lot of coding is the ability to recognize patterns, and as an artist, you're already programmed to do that. As an English major, when I was given a book to analyze, I'd always ask, "What is the problem the author was trying to address? What literary tools did they use to address that problem?" You learned to break everything down.
When you get a computer programming problem, it's the same thing. “What is the problem we're trying to address? What tools would best fit to address that problem?” So that analytical breakdown was 100% there. As soon as I recognized that syntax is just grammar for coding, I was like, "Got it." It’s just like learning a new language. I don't feel like I changed myself in becoming a coder, I just enhanced what I was already good at.
What kind of career training did Zip Code give you?
They would give us lectures on how to present ourselves during an interview and things to avoid that can be a problem to future employers. The career training was so great. Zip Code staff serve as the primary liaison between the students and corporate partners, and they went over each student’s resume five or six times to make sure it was really polished and represented us well. Zip Code also held a lot of networking events so that we could meet the corporate partners and ask questions.
We did mock interviews with alumni, and Zip Code brought in recruiters from the area to do mock interviews. The recruiters would give feedback about areas to improve upon. It was also a good introduction because if something didn't work out with the corporate partners, we would probably rely on those recruiters to help us find jobs.
Zip Code really helped prepare us and gave us a lot of tools to go into a professional interview. After you graduate, they work with you constantly to connect you to recruiters or other corporate partners. By graduation, about 77% of my class already had a job lined up and now we're up to 85% one month after graduating. The Zip Code team are our mentors for life.
What was your experience applying for the job with Chatham?
Zip Code plays matchmaker. Zip Code set me up with three corporate partners to interview with, and I decided I really liked Chatham and another Zip Code partner.
It was like speed dating where they brought in the corporate partner, then 10 of us would take turns meeting them. Chatham invited me for a second-round interview on site which was a lot more intense. I had four 40-minute interviews with different teams, which included whiteboarding and logic problems. Then they decided they liked me, and I liked them.
I also went to a second round interview with the other Zip Code Partner and received an offer from that company also. I felt like I had a lot of opportunities to make a decision about what would best fit me. Ultimately, I went with Chatham.
That's so exciting. What sort of company is Chatham?
They are a financial risk management company. It's a lot to do with hedge accounting, dividends, and the world economy. Chatham is also one of the few corporate partners with Zip Code that's across the border in Pennsylvania.
What's your role there? Do you know what sort of projects and teams you'll work on?
I am starting out on the testing team as a software developer. Their testing team is different from a quantitative standpoint because they actually do a lot of development for automated tests and testing integration and performance.
My direct team will be about seven developers locally, but company-wide I think they have around 100 developers. It’s a global company.
What technology stack will you use there? Will it be the same as what you learned at Zip Code?
No, actually they're more of a C# shop instead of a Java shop. So far, C# looks so similar to Java. Four months ago I didn't know Java, so I'm already experienced in how to learn a new language and get up to speed. The best part about Zip Code is more than teaching me a language, it taught me how to learn a language.
What is the tech scene like in Wilmington, Delaware? What kind of corporate partners did Zip Code have from the actual area?
I was really surprised because I'm new to the Delaware area, but Wilmington is a huge financial center. Bank of America, Capital One, Barclaycard, and several other financial institutions are all based in Wilmington, and they are thirsty for developers. Plus, Zip Code also has non-financial industry partners. That huge demand for developers is what inspired the Zip Code founders to start a coding bootcamp.
What kind of networking or meetup events are there in the area?
Zip Code did a good job of introducing us to those forums. There are a lot of meetups such as Girl Develop It, Open Bracket and Open Data Delaware.
How are you going to stay involved or in touch with Zip Code?
Zip Code always has an open door policy. Now that I am an alumna, I'll probably go back once or twice a week to help current students with projects. When you go through 100 hours a week with your fellow classmates, that bond is so indescribable. You've overcome something together and it makes you want to give back and continue going back. Knowing how much the alumni helped me, and were such mentors to me when I was a student, I want to be able to give back like they did.
Looking back over this very intense journey you've had over the last few months, what would you say is the biggest challenge or roadblock you've had?
The pace of everything. I graduated cum laude from a private college, and Zip Code was still definitely my toughest accomplishment. Zip Code is like doing a college course in a week with the amount of material you cover. Every time you think, "all right, I think I'm starting to get this," they'll give you something new that you have to master.
What would you say is the best thing about your experience?
Definitely the community. I feel like I have 30 new brothers and sisters. If I ever feel lost at my new job, I could reach out to anybody, even the Zip Code teachers. Everybody would drop anything in an instant to help.
What advice do you have for someone in a similar position looking for a career change and thinking about a coding bootcamp?
For me, it was worth the risk and the challenge. I discovered something I was very passionate about. You can't really replace the value of going to a job that you love and are excited about every day. My advice would be to take online courses to see if it's something that you love and are passionate about. Then make that jump. It's a skill set that will always be useful, and if you get to do something you love every day, it's worth every sacrifice and challenge you have to overcome to get there.
I just can't emphasize enough that it was such a life-changing experience for me. I thought I was destined to be a secretary for the rest of my life, and now I quadrupled my salary and have this whole new exciting career coming my way.
Welcome to the August 2016 Course Report monthly coding bootcamp news roundup! Each month, we look at all the happenings from the coding bootcamp world from new bootcamps to big fundraising announcements, to interesting trends. This month the biggest news is the Department of Education's EQUIP pilot program to provide federal financial aid to some bootcamp students. Other trends include job placement outcomes, the gender imbalance in tech, acquisitions and investments, and paying for bootcamp. Read below or listen to our latest Coding Bootcamp News Roundup Podcast!Continue Reading →
We’ve picked five cities which are up-and-coming in the tech scene and have a great range of coding bootcamp options. When you think of coding bootcamps you might first think of cities like San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Seattle and Austin. But those aren’t your only options. There are now bootcamps in almost 100 cities across the U.S.
Course Report has some exciting things rolling out in 2016, but for now, here's what you may have missed in November! Remember to email me with noteworthy news to include in next month's roundup.Continue Reading →
Welcome to the September News Roundup, your monthly news digest full of the most interesting articles and announcements in the bootcamp space. Do you want something considered for the next News Roundup? Submit announcements of new courses, scholarships, or open jobs at your school!
This Week on Course Report:
- Should you learn web or mobile development first? We dive into this question with advice from Atlanta's DigitalCrafts code school!
- Have you tried Thinkful's Workshops? Grae, the Head of Education at Thinkful, gives us the scoop on their newest offering for bootcamp grads and working engineers.
- Mechanical-Engineer-turned-Web-Developer Kacy Ebel talks about her career change and her experience at We Can Code It's women-only bootcamp.
Aquisitions, Fundraises & Regulation
- General Assembly announced their $70MM Series D. This reporter thinks about what the fundraise could mean for their London campus.
- Hack Reactor acquired Chicago-based Mobile Makers Academy, adding iOS to their offerings. They also announced "Hack Reactor Core," the umbrella under which each school will operate autonomously.
- Inside Higher Ed reported on General Assembly's journey through regulation and expansion. Education Dive provides a nice, brief summary of the article.
- The Huffington Post reported on a letter from Jeremy Shaki and Khurram Virani (Founders of Lighthouse Labs) to parliament on code literacy, outcome-based education, and Canadian innovation through technology.
New Campuses + Courses:
- Dev Bootcamp announced they will open doors in San Diego this November.
- Montana Code School's first cohort started class September 28. (Listen to Montana Public Radio's story on the bootcamp).
- ThoughtKite will teach their first Toronto iOS bootcamp in October.
- Code Fellows has overhauled and reorganized their courses (bye bye Dev Accelerators, hello Code 401!)
- Applications for Code Platoon, a Chicago bootcamp geared towards veterans, are now open.
- Global News Canada writes about Toronto's Bitmaker Labs.
- Fortune Magazine explores women in Coding Bootcamps.
- FCW finds that coding bootcamps are 'Very empowering, very transformational.'
- A LinkedIn researcher blogged about the types of jobs reported by bootcampers on the networking site.
- Delaware Online looks back on ZipCode Wilmington's first bootcamp cohort.
- Built in Chicago: How Designation is bringing the bootcamp model to design.
- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Milwaukee computer coding school expands as employers show interest.
- The Street: Future Code Monkeys May Skip College and Head to Boot Camp
Have a great October!
Welcome to the May 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 →