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
- October 2017 Coding Bootcamp News + Podcast
- Meet an Instructor: Tariq from Zip Code Wilmington
- Episode 13: April 2017 Coding Bootcamp News Roundup + Podcast
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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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.
Zip Code Wilmington has set me on a path in my career that I have been trying to achieve for years! After learning from friends about this new coding school in town, one fateful day in April, I decided to make the phone call that would change my life. Getting admission to the course was the first big challenge I faced. There were four levels of interviews and technical challenges that we had to clear before getting admission to the course. Having prior coding experience would be helpful, but is not a must. What they are looking for is a passion to learn programming, and logical thinking and problem solving abilities.
You will get to meet the big wigs of the banking industry based in Wilmington, who are eager to hire from Zip Code. There are many opportunities to meet and network with hiring managers and senior executives from most of the major companies in Wilmington. There are talks every week by speakers from companies like JP Morgan, Bank of America, Amazon etc. that give you an insight into their hiring process and work culture.
And last but not least is the amazing group of people at Zip Code that make this boot camp possible—This is a group of people solely dedicated to helping you ascend the career ladder as a software engineer! Tariq, Froilan and David are exemplary teachers and will push you to do your best, even beyond your wildest expectations! And, the heart and soul of Zip Code is Melanie, the Head of School, who will move heaven and earth to make sure you are gainfully placed in a job/apprenticeship after the boot camp. She went the extra mile to get me interviews with companies that I was keen on joining, and ultimately, getting placed with Bank of America, made my dream come true! I would highly recommend this boot camp to anyone with the passion, drive and perseverance to work towards your goal of becoming a software engineer in 3 months!
A challenging program that puts it on you to dictate your success. No one is here to spoon feed you. However, what do you get it is an envirnonment that is the breeding ground of underdogs. If you can push yourself through the fatigue, and keep yourself motivated, you will see your efforts bear fruit.
The program curriculum is rock solid. It teaches you the skills that employers want. Then, you can get placed in a job that will make sure you do what you learned. All you have to do is just listen to the teachers and do what they say.
This bootcamp is a tough three month commitment but the results will be worth it and more. Not only does Zip Code Wilmington help you find employment but it provides you with unparalleled networking opportunities and a support network of like minded individuals.
Zip Code Wilmington was not only one of the most life-changing courses of study I've ever been through, it also taught me all the skills I needed to become a full time Java Developer.
The other big benefit of Zip Code Wilmington's course design is the emphasis on testing. By designing accurate tests for your functions before writing them, you set explicit criteria of what you're trying to accompish with that function, which clarifies what you're trying to do so effectively that it's almost always obvious how it should be accomplished from there.
Zip Code Wilmington is a difficult course to survive. When I applied, more than 250 other applicants applied for the same cohort. Of those 250, the top 30 were selected to participate in the class. Of those 30, 26 made it to graduation. This kind of intensive program takes a lot of grit to survive, but once you're through it, you have the confidence to take on just about any project, because the pacing is almost guaranteed to never be as intense as Zip Code's breakneck grind.
But if you have the grit to make it through, you'll find yourself in a new career path with a decently large (and very active) network of fellow Zip-Coders to ask for help and career advice. The school offers an excellent apprenticeship program that pays well and puts you on the road to success as a Java Developer.
Zip Code has my highest recommendation to anyone with the grit and smarts to handle it.
The first thing you should know is this is a NON PROFIT school. They are not here to make money, they are here to help you. That being said, entrance is competitive. You have to put in the work to get in, and put in 3x the work to stay in. Sleepless nights, no free time, lots of stress and doubt. In the end it is only 3 months and totally worth it.
Not only do they teach programming, they teach professional development. They make your resume shine! They teach you how to network. They force you to go to networking events to enforce said skills.
In 12 weeks we went from barely being able to do coding challenges to being able to craft an application, from database to front end. The company sponsers are involved and see this, and want you because of it!
The only way you wont get a job at the end is if you dont put in the effort (which if thats the case you wont make it through) or if you dont want one. When you get a job you will not be in debt to the school as the sponsers pay the rest of your tuition.
Best decision of my life.
Thank you Zip Code Wilmington!
There is a bit of magic that goes on at Zip Code Wilmington. The magicians are those who Wayne mentioned in his review, plus the head magician and Head of the School, Anthony Pisapia, who makes sure all the most important people in Delaware are watching and supporting the bootcamp.
A continuous promotion of ZCW is being done daily by all the main actors, and that unrest makes the classroom what it I like to call a glass showcase for employers. The students are on display for the entire course of the 3-month program. Involvement beyond the daily classwork is made known and encouraged by Anthony and the instructors who are on the look out for relevant applications of the work being done in class. Those who volunteer themself for the additional events and projects only help themselves to shine brighter on display among a tireless group of aspiring developers. Meanwhile, more and more local employers sign up to become partners liking the drive they see.
It seems like every day, a new representative of one of the partners and future partners are stopping in to see the magic that is happening each day in the classroom. Because of this, students are getting many opportunities to get to know the employers and the employers are scouting out the individuals they want to give a job to at the end of the course. ZCW gives you what other schools don't--3 months to show a future employer that you are worth their investment. That is what is truly magical about Zip Code Wilmington.
Articles that include things I got to be a part of while at ZCW:
A must read: http://technical.ly/delaware/2015/10/29/zip-code-wilmington-boot-camp-is-no-joke/
Also the course costs $2000 up front or can be waived based on income. The additional $10000 is payed through from the employer upon student acceptance into an Apprenticeship.
Zip Code Wilmington is a tough, no-holds-barred bootcamp for aspiring Java Developers. We didn't spend ninety days figuring out HTML and CSS—we worked with real, cold, hard Java.
The experience was fantastic and Zip Code fully supports its graduates in finding gainful employment. The entire inaugural class, including myself, was placed in local paid apprenticeships. Zip Code not only provided us with the technical skills we needed to get software jobs, but also the career coaching and interview skills needed to complement employers' interest.
Melanie Augustin, the Director of Corporate Partnerships at Zip Code, did an absolutely fantastic job at coordinating apprenticeships with the employing partner companies, but also coached us rigorously on our interview skills and made sure our resumes were in tip-top shape before we sent them out to be reviewed by potential employers. This career coaching without a doubt significantly contributed to the success of the first cohort.
Zip Code Wilmington is a great start if you are looking to jump into software development. It has been an entirely worthwhile experience where I not only had a lot of fun and made a lot of cool developer-friends to network with, but I also got a job that is satisfying and rewarding. If you're thinking of taking through the program, apply. It just might change your life.
From a stay at home mom with a science background , to a software engineer in 3 months ....... sounds almost impossible! But that's my story !
This was my dream , I was not sure how I would achieve it , given the big gap in my career , but Zip Code Wilmington made that almost impossible dream, come true.
Zip Code Wilmington is not for the weak and faint hearted ! It is an intense 12 week bootcamp which challenges you daily and will push you to the limits , you never knew you could survive . But they don't just push, they help you and guide you and encourage you in every possible way. They have a wonderful set of extremely talented faculty and staff members who are always available 7 days a week /24 hours a day with advice, training, any help , even a hug ! Another very valuable asset of Zip Code is the ever helpful Alumni. Their help, advice and encouragement is so valuable. They help us any time we need help with assignment or any learning . They grill us and prepare us with countless rounds of mock interviews . Their advice helped us during Zip Code and even after that ! Today at my work place our Alumni are still our mentors, always available for advice and help.
I am thankful to all the faculty and staff for believing in me, encouraging me and supporting me in every possible way .
Zip Code Wilmington made me realize that, if we have the desire to achieve a goal and are willing to work hard, nothing is Impossible. My motto during the whole 12 weeks was "Failure is not an Option". Zip Code Wilmington challenged us daily and taught us skills that helped us excel at interviews and get multiple job offers !
I don't have adequate words to express my gratitude to this wonderful group of educators and staff who work tirelessly to help us achieve our dreams !
Joining ZipCode was absolutely the best decision that I have ever made !
I entered Zip Code having worked in general construction and labor, and 4 months later I am fully employed as a software engineer.
It was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. The community of alumni and students is amazing, the support system that is in place at Zip Code is one of the only reasons I was able to make it through such a gruely course.
I feel that what really separates Zip Code from any other Coding Camp is the way they prepare you for jobs - Interview training, resume reviews, talks with industry specialists and job recruiters. The support from the staff from day one to prepare us for what it takes to get a job in this industry was amazing.
5 days a week in the class room, 10-12 hours per day, including Saturday and Sunday at home...it was intense, but worth every minute. You will be worked hard, instructors will not hold your hand and spoon feed you information, but with determination and hard work - you will change your life in a few months.
To this day, I feel very blessed to have been given the opportunity to participate in this amazing program. First off, we were selected from among 250 applicants to give a cohort of around 25 students so it is very competitive. Secondly, the instruction and support we received throughout the program was unmatched, the faculty and staff really do care about your success and will go above and beyond to ensure that you get the very most out of the program. Finally, while the support and structure is there to almost guarantee placement in a job opportunity, it's not a given. Based on my experience you must be 100% sure that you are willing to commit and invest in yourself to see the program through and level up as much as you possibly can prior to interviews which come during the final weeks of the program. As of now, 22/25 of my classmates got placed with really good jobs after 3 months. You can't argue with those results!
There are 3 things that you will get by investing yourself into this program:
1. You will get cutting edge skills to begin a journey as a software developer
2. You will get constant exposure to employers, building a network and "putting a face with a name", and in most cases these are top leaders and hiring managers for those companies
3. You will grow as person, a major theme for success in software development is having the right attitude and the staff "meet you right where you are" and help you to make any adjustments that you will need to be successful in a corporate setting.
Zip Code is the full package, hands down!! It's a special place that anyone given the opportunity to participate in will remember for the rest of their lives. Also, all your fellow students and colleagues will be great people!! Wishing you the very best and hope you apply.
My background before:
Worked as a Chemist in academia, Zip Code Wilmington helped me to make a transition into my current role as an application developer at J.P. Morgan.
Our latest on Zip Code Wilmington
October 2017 was a busy month for the coding bootcamp industry with news about growing pains in bootcamp outcomes, mergers, acquisitions, investments, a trend towards bootcamp B2B training, and diversity initiatives. To help you out, we’ve collected all the most important news in this blog post and podcast. Plus, we added 12 new schools from around the world to the Course Report school directory! Read below or listen to our latest Coding Bootcamp News Roundup Podcast.Continue Reading →
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 →