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 News
- Meet an Instructor: Tariq from Zip Code Wilmington
- Episode 13: April 2017 Coding Bootcamp News Roundup + Podcast
- How to Get Work Experience Before You Graduate from Coding Bootcamp
Recent Zip Code Wilmington Reviews: Rating 5.0
- 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.
- Prep Work
- 80-150 hours
Zip Code Wilmington Reviews
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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.
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.
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.
Like the other students attending Zip Code Wilmington, I decided to make a change to my career. Once I realized that I was interested in coding and problem solving through software development, I chose Zip Code for a few reasons - its company sponsor support and the success of its alumni.
Say goodbye to your family and friends for three months. They are not kidding when they say that you will be doing 100 hour weeks here! The course is pretty rigorous and fast-paced and there is always some new challenging lab or assignment for you to do. The curriculum closely follows what companies are looking for you to do on the job. We spanned the full stack with the topics and labs we were given.
During the program, developers from various companies came in twice a week to present some topic or aspect of technology they were working on. It's amazing having the companies come to you to network. Some of these same speakers participate during interview week. The Zip Code Wilmington staff did an excellent job of lining up and bringing in the presenters.
The alumni are another great part of Zip Code Wilmington. They come by after work and on weekends to help get you through your projects. I saw alumni representing all the cohorts, not just the one before mine. There is a real sense of community at Zip Code.
After the course ended we had a week of intense technical interviews. Having the companies come to you for interviews is fantastic! In my opinion this reduces the risk of getting people interested in even looking at your resume after 3 months of coding.
Overall, the experience was intense and there was great camaraderie within the cohort as we all worked hard to get each other over the finish line. I would recommend Zip Code Wilmington to anyone who's willing to put in the time commitment and is looking to change their career and give themselves a chance of being seen and interviewed by companies in the area.
Zip Code Wilmington has given me a chance to do what I always have wanted to do in my life which is be a programmer. It has given me the tools that I need to accelerate my career and be able to make a difference in the programming community. Not only technology tools but also the professional skills as well. I remember coming into the program thinking how hard could this possibly be, I've coded before, I shouldn't have to sweat it. But, actually being immersed in the code and the different techniques I found it to be challenging but very enjoyable and up-to-date. Zip Code isn't for the faint of heart but if you get the chance to be apart of this amazing program, don't hesitate and take the leap.
Completed the three-month bootcamp from January to March 2017. Following graduation, successfully secured job as Java application developer with partner company. This course provided instruction in the areas of core Java, relevant frameworks including Spring, as well as front end development using the Angular 2/ Ionic 2 frameworks. The level of instruction and immersion has proven to successfully prepare graduates to land a job in the industry, and continue to grow and excel in their careers.
After years of failed attempts at learning programming on my own I decided to go back to school for my second bachelors in computer science. As I prepared to enter a CS program, a friend of mine who has a CS degree told me about Zip Code Wilmington.
With tuition costs at a fraction of a bachelors degree, and an impecable reputation I decided to go for it. Applying to Zip Code Wilmington proved to be a total game changer for me. Zip Code Wilmington prepares its students to take on real-world challenges by refining students critical thinking skills, in-depth coverage of in-demand languages, strict enforcement of industry standards, as well as projects designed to challenge students while building their skillset. They also take job-placement seriously with plenty of networking events and opportunities, resume assistance, elevator pitch assistance, and mock interviews.
Not only does Zip Code Wilmington have an exceptional professorial staff, curriculum and employment opportunities for students, but they are also deeply involved in the tech-community. Zip Code students don't just join an educational institution, they merge into a culture and community of innovators determined to thrive and empower each other.
What an amazing program! Everything about this place is great, from the faculty to the administration to the facilities. I've learned so much in such a short time. From java & spring, to Angular and Ionic2, job placement / training, all the education I've received here has been top notch. The small cohort size allows us to really get to know the other students and learn from each other as well. As a non-profit, I really feel that Zip Code cares about me and my success, not just lining their pockets. You can tell the alumni feel the same, because many of them come back in their free time to help the current students with whatever they are working on, from assignments to personal projects. Many of the alumni are still working at the jobs they found out of the program, so the job placement is not just a temporary internship but a true start to your career.
If you are thinking of attending a coding bootcamp, there's no reason to go anywhere else.
When I started Zip Code I had high hopes for a promising career in Software Development. I was hoping for a bit terrible place to work, a better paycheck than anything I e ever had before, and a job that could tolerate going to each day. Well, I've been at my job for over half a year now, the company I work for is actually pretty great, I'm making more than I ever did or think I would, and everyday I arrive to my job and leave my job happy & satisfied. Even the really tough days are actually enjoyable. Not only do I do what I enjoy but I've met some of the greatest people through ZC, and I'm not talking about foreign dignitaries or senators, I'm talking about the people that went through Zip Code with me, the people that went before me, the new students coming in, and especially the staff.
Challenging and intense but an extremely rewarding program. One of the hardest things I have done. Incredibly fast-paced, averaged over 100 hours a week. They do an amazing job at preparing you for interviews and teaching you the core skills you need to prepare you for a career as a software developer. The teachers care about your success and work with you to help you learn and are often there on weekends / nights. Very thankful for the opportunities and experience I got by going through ZCW, would definitely recommend.
Honestly one of the most challenging programs I have ever taken part of, and I am very greatful that I stuck with it. Apart from the many coding schools out there, Zipcode is a non-profit.. There objective is not to take your money and push you through, but to make sure that you have what it takes to make it through the program and obtain job placement. Let's be honest this is not the ideal means of learning for everyone. This three month bootcamp covers a lot of material in a small amount of time, and not everyone is capable of learning at that speed. Doesn't mean you can't become a great developer, just means this might not be the right learning enviroment for you. With that being said, the program offers a plethora of resources and assistance, and the knowledge and confidence you will obtain in such a short amount of time is beyond any monetary value. If this is something you are extremely passionate about...GO FOR IT!
Zip Code Wilmington is the ultimate place from which to launch a career in software development. It's intense and rewarding. I would have never imagined I could learn so much in 3 months! I would whole-heartly recommend Zip Code to anyone serious about starting a career in software development.
I was in the business world for years and then most recently working as an artist. I had no previous coding experience before starting Zip Code. And through the amazing instructions and mentorship of the Zip Code team, I am going to embark on a new and exciting career that I love. It was a LOT of hard work and long hours, but they gave me the tools to perservere.
As a student straight out of high school I knew what I wanted to do when it was time to start my career, so I did a year at college but it just wasn't enough! I felt as though I wasn't learning the things I needed and at the pace I wanted to. So I took it into my own hands and began looking for a better solution and I came across an ad for Zip code Wilmington through a friends facebook. It was a video explaining Zip code was this affordable, fast track, challenging boot camp(too good to be true I thought to myself) so I decided to reach out to my friend and he said it was true so I took it upon myself and applied and out of the 31 that got in out of 300 or so applicants I was accepted. I've learned so much over these past three months it's almost unbelievable. Zip code will give you that foundation to do whatever you want as a programmer so I highly recommend it myself as of completing it.
I was in the September cohort and it ended in December. I had to leave school due to financial reasons before I found Zip Code. I thought Zip Code was too god to be true, but I applied anyway because it was free to apply. It was the best decision of my life. I am now a full time software engineer at JPMorgan Chase. I went to being a server making 2.25 an hour to a developer making 20x's that. If you are interested in Zip Code do it!
This is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I taught myself some languages and had 10 years of experience using them personally. But after taking this course, I've learned 5x as much about programming as I had in the past 10 years. I landed an amazing job paying 3x what I was getting before this course. I have recommended it to many friends who are looking to get into this field.
Zip Code Wilmington is the pinnacle of what every coding boot camp should be. It promises the world, and it delivers in every possible way. This school has changed my life and brought me from a minimum-wage retail associate to a professional software developer in twelve weeks. Twelve weeks of Zip Code gave me everything I needed to get a job that most people would say was only possible after four years of college.
I simply cannot say it enough. Zip Code Wilmington has been the greatest educational experience of my life. It has challenged my mind, pushed my limits, and built a confidence and trust in myself that never existed before. If you have any desire toward technology and the grit to match, do not hesitate to apply as soon as possible. You will never regret it.
Our latest on Zip Code Wilmington
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 →