Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Q&A Web Development Bootcamp [COMMENT TO ASK A QUESTION]

Dilys Sun

Got a question about web development dev bootcamps? Ask them here or @i_stanford Your question shall be answered by myself, others with experiences from dev bootcamps or #quora research. Peace :)

VIDEO Advice links to my other blogpost, a youtube video about factors to consider when choosing a web development bootcamp. That includes: financial factor, time, emotional commitment, technology, learning curriculum etc.

Video Review of Hack Reactor Part One and Part Two

If you are interested in learning more and learning fast: use my personal paid service

Free Resources:
Words of Caution Before You Enter a Bootcamp
Looking for information specifically on Coding Dojo?  CodeDiv's Coding Dojo Profile Page with Q&A and resources to learn more. 

Contributor profiles:
Dilys Sun : blog host, currently a candidate at Coding Dojo, ex-tech-consultant, Stanford '10, the Codecademy girl
Victor: youngest student in the Coding Dojo pilot class, left high school to start coding early
Ben: dojo classmate, previously majored in game mechanics and design

More answers will be posted

Starting with Introspection

[updated may 22 2013]
As I mentioned in the video, the moment important deciding factors are who are you and what you are trying to learn. Knowing why you are trying to learn code, your learning style and your language of focus can pretty rule out the majority of bootcamps that won't work for you.

If you are in San Francisco, as of today, Coding Dojo does a mix of language, Dev Bootcamp is famous for being a Rails house, and Hack Reactor a Javascript powerhouse, not sure about App Academy. Hackbright is mixed and gives a diverse set of experience.

Other questions:

[updated may 22 2013] Question from user comment: how is the job placement afterwards.
The job placement is weak from the first class of Coding Dojo, but people see an increase in short term gigs and contracts. The strongest employer of the first class turned up to be Coding Dojo itself. Read more here

[updated may 22 2013] Question from Ryan

Coding Dojo claims to teach Rails , how many students do projects in rails? 
Most students do at least one Rails project. I personally did 2 Rails project and one codeigniter. I would say TDD teaching isn't strong in Coding Dojo. But TDD knowledge also depends on your knowledge of rails. 

I knew Rails before and thought learning the fundamentals including CodeIgniter MVC framework helped me understand Rails better, and I saw an improvement in my Rails work.

But the TDD part is lacking, I reiterate.

[updated may 22 2013] Question from Ryan

Are people employable after the bootcamp?
 That's a tough question to answer. Employment depends on many factors, especially a person's existing experience, network and ability to learn. The employment results vary. One guy who just started with Rails got a Rails job, while some others that are really good have yet to pursue or obtain a job.  Many get temporary gigs.

I would say in all bootcamps the stats are bluffs, especially the ones that actually kick students off. The stats scream inaccuracy to me. 

How we do in the job market is pending many factors just like any job search. I will not think many bootcamp is a magical pill. However, some bootcamps are more famous and hence more credible and well-connected.

[end of update from may 22 2013]

Why Coding Dojo over others?

Author: Dilys

  • The biggest is timing. I left my job to code. Can't wait for too long.
  • Pricing matters.Coding Dojo initial class was an affordable $5000, affordable compared to Hack Reactor (formerly Catalyst) for example which is $10,000+
          [Updates May 7 2013] - looking back Hack Reactor is still the priciest and single language            
          (really all about Javascript), retro reflect, Javascript full stack is a good single language to learn.
          Potentially better than the  Ruby and Rails combo. It also makes sense now why Codecademy
          was also focused on js first. 
  • Coding Dojo emphasizes fundamentals more than sexy techs like Ruby on Rails. Rather than spending the majority of time learning frameworks, the emphasis is on fundamentals, then MVC frameworks come more naturally
  • Diversity of technlogy: this boot camp has a good blend of old and new techs, e.g. PHP, SQL, Ruby on Rails, Django, CodeIgnitor

Why Coding Dojo over Hackbright?

Author: Dilys

    That was a hard decision indeed. Hackbright has great lady coders, many of whom I met in person and have received great impressions. Quite a few of whom found junior or entry developer jobs right after the camp. Good combo of pricing, network! (possibly stronger than Coding Dojo for now, and great opportunity for girls of course), sexy technology, and even some scholarship. The only problem for me timing. It was less frequent.
    Now that I am in the middle of Coding Dojo, I am starting to think it was also good to be in a co-ed environment. Has its rough patches, but definitely will emulate the working environment.

    Author: Ben (dojo classmate) and Victor (youngest dojo classmate only 16 and left high school)

    Well we weren't really allowed at Hackright. Lol :D

    How do you like the structure of Dojo? (off shore teachers, the LMS, etc.)

    Having offshore teachers was my main concern. After I talked to Michael and realized that he has a strong good philosophy that I accept, and that he's very smart, I decided to join, still having that concern. Now I am relieved. I worked with offshore workforce before, and it was challenging. But Michael's team is well trained, they are available from 4-8PM for any questions, code reviews, homework help, brainstorming etc... it was helpful for people like me who can't think of questions very fast, so if i missed out in the day time, and in the late afternoons, evenings during reflection it comes up, I almost have 24/7 help. They also create video feedback, which is brilliant in learning coding (I can explain more later).
    Also Michael and Charles are here for way more than 4 hrs a day.
    There are multiple helpers onsite, so I actually ran into the situation that I ran out of questions to ask, so I just listen to what my classmates have to say. There are multiple lectures throughout the day, video tutorials, office hours etc. More materials than I can get my hands on.
    Some of my classmates don't even interact with the offshore TAs too much, that's just their style. And they do well too.

    Would you reccomend dojo to someone with prior programming experience?

    YES! In fact multiple people have prior experience: e.g. 1 year PHP, school work in Java, prior Java/C, solid front end design pixel perfect photographer, javascript by heart... as long as you don't know web development by heart, there are a lot of things to learn. Also we are touching on old and new tech, you may know PHP, but you may not know Ruby on Rails, Django, or Hadoop, or SASS... you know what i mean?

    What do you like the least/best about Dojo?

    It's intense and it's intense.
    I am learning a lot and I am stressed out about learning a lot. Also that Coding Dojo has the philosophy of starting with the fundamentals: meaning you will have to learn the front end design HTML CSS, as well as if/else, loops in PHP, before you move on †o Ruby on Rails, Node Js.... what have you, and eventually 3 projects. I was very surprised at how useful CSS is, when I already a bit of Ruby on Rails. Going through the fundamentals completely changed my understanding of Ruby on Rails. It blew my mind. That's what I mean by learning the sexier technology later. Also the fundamentals are the hardest to learn, and takes the longest to learn outside class, when learning on your own.
    One big philosophy Michael has is to focus on the fundamentals then extrapolate the new tech, and also the boot camp having the point of helping you saving lots of time. You have to struggle to learn, but it will rocket you through your learning trajectory - when learning on your own.

    I'm not sure if you can speak to this yet but I'm particularly curious about job placement and competitiveness once a graduate from a bootcamp like Coding Dojo. Assuming limited engineering experience going in, how competitive are graduates in the marketplace to get junior development positions? Specifically, how many/what percentage of students in your (or prior) cohort landed a position by or within a few months of graduation?

    So many factors are in play. I would say those who are connected in the Startup world will always get jobs faster! Do you know what i mean? It is really about inter-personal connections. I think as a girl you may have the highest placement in Hackbright.

    At Coding Dojo, as we are the first class I cannot tell you the numbers. However, quite a few employers have shown up to recruit, so it looks promising. As I said it really depends on the person. From skill point of view, you will be very ready after Coding Dojo. But the prep work for algorithm interviews still take time for sure (dojo mates and I plan to take time after the first camp to prep).

     I have the suspicion that some bootcamps are very quickly pumping out a lot of students in a short amount of time, so popular camps are not necessarily better. That's why I didn't have a problem to be the FIRST class of Coding Dojo ;-) if you know what i mean?

     You are right, this is a good question to think about. coding is a lot of time and energy commitment. I would highly advise you to try it out in meetups, codecademy and other coding opportunities first see if you truly like it. It's like becoming a med student for the money of being a doctor, it is often the wrong reason, and students drop off like flies in med schools (just personal experiences with a lot of med school friends). I am not saying that you are or it is wrong to think money is important. Just that it get tough and draining, knowing exactly why and when is very important.

    What distinguishes Coding Dojo from other bootcamps? 

    • Skillset, fundamental focused
    • Unique instructors, self-made examples, flexible learning
    • Higher availability with more affordable price
    • Good environment in South Bay, though far if commuting from San Francisco
    • Proximity to high-way, downtown Mountain View (speakers and startups, accelerators)
    • Proximity to Hacker Dojo, a vibrant venue for hacking in the local scene
    • Great speaker series, beyond expectation considering lack of prestige
    • Strong hacker, self-made, entrepreneurial culture
    • Less emphasis on career building: networking, interview
    • Lack of infrastructure on job placement and the prestige to attract employment
    • Developers are entrepreneurial, probably less of fit to Silicon Valley modern web programmer scene
    • Less fit and susceptible to Silicon Valley hip coding culture 
    It is both good and bad that Coding Dojo has heavy emphasis on skill set building. Of course any time you spend on that less time on networking, interview prep etc... This is a good place if you know that you really want to learn hardcore development skills and get the ground running fast (the 2nd part is the nature of any bootcamp). In terms of job placement, Coding Dojo has had many speaker events, and some prominent speakers like Mark of Twitter Bootstrap, but because the dojo just started, the network is not as top notch as Hackbright and Dev Bootcamp, both of which have special places in the history of bay area bootcamps.

    Personally, I am fine with skill based camps, because I have had prior employments which I did well, and I am mostly here to learn web development. While jobs are important considerations, at the end of the day, I will be fine if the Dojo does not help me find one. However, I'd also much prefer that it does help!

    More answers will be posted


    1. is there a reason why you didn't choose to go to hackbright?

      1. : ) thank you for being the first to ask! ask more questions if you feel like it :D

    2. I recently got accepted to Coding Dojo and just have a few questions.
      Why did you choose dojo over other camps?
      How do you like the structure of Dojo? (off shore teachers, the LMS, etc.)
      Would you reccomend dojo to someone with prior programming experience?
      What do you like the least/best about Dojo?


      1. Really good questions! I will answer it in a few updates stay tuned. This is a growing document. As you can imagine the bootcamp is pretty intense ;-) so I can't write all at once. CONGRATULATIONS!! We have multiple developers here who have had previous experiences. I will explain more

    3. Great comments! I look forward to the rest. Tell the other guys thank you as well.

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    6. Can you provide any update now that the program is over? How has everything gone and where are you now?

      1. I posted some answers here to extend this blog post. Right now people are getting more shortterm gigs and quite a few people saw an improvement in their contracts. Overall placement is still weak. See details here.

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    9. Hi Dilys, why do you say that Javascript full stack is a good singel language to learn, and potentially better than Ruby on Rails?

      I was recently accepted to CodingDojo, another bootcamp that is JS-focused (NodeJS in particular) and potentially a RoR bootcamp, so I am trying to decide which to attend.


      1. That is a really good question! I would like to dedicate a blog post regarding that. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, if you want you can subscribe to my newsletter

      2. That's great, I'll be waiting then! I checked out your codediv site and listened to the video on choosing a bootcamp too.


      3. Here you go : ) glad that you watched the video. Give it a thumbs up if you like it. Thanks for checking out

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