Software Engineering Bootcamps

Discussion in 'Business, Careers & Education' started by ipractice, Oct 16, 2013.

  1. otc

    otc Senior member

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    I think there is supposed to be a decent programming course on Coursera (and I am sure there are some on Udacity/edX/etc).

    You might want to try one of those.

    The thing about "doing some programming projects for fun" is that it is often kind of hard to find one. Programs need to do something, and you won't want to write one unless you have some task that needs to be automated. When I took some jewelry classes, it wasn't unreasonable for the semester's curriculum (after the intro series) to be "make 6 projects"...kind of hard to do this with programming and learn anything useful. Beyond the most basic "hello world" type programs, you often need something to force you into it.

    I'd say, find some random university intro course syllabus and do the projects. I remember my intro course (which was based on scheme)...the projects were a bit more fun (since it was easy to make graphical things)...stuff like:
    -snake game
    -tic tac toe AI
    -maze generator
    -sudoku board generator and solver.

    These at least let you create something you can play with for a few minutes. Later classes had projects that were focused on implementing abstract data types in C, writing algorithms to solve network problems, or using sockets to implement a basic webserver....i.e. not fun stuff that you can play with (sure you can use your implementation of stacks and queues to play solitaire, but it's not going to be fun to watch the computer beat itself at text-based solitaire).
     


  2. sinnedk

    sinnedk Senior member

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    i have data types and abstractions course right now in java and it is a snooze
     


  3. Urthwhyte

    Urthwhyte Senior member

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    If you're sufficiently self-motivated, I would advise reading through How to Design Programs and doing the old Scheme-based 6.001 on OCW (w. SICP) en lieu of the CC courses. If you can grok writing your own interpreter, the basics of logic programming, and the wonders of homoiconicity, you'll be more than prepared for a bootcamp or further self-study.

    I would also second otc's recommendation to steer clear of PHP. If you intend to go and work for a startup and would prefer to be on the backend, Ruby is probably your best. JS is great and all, but a poor enough example of PL design (or lack thereof) that I'd be wary of learning it as your first language.

    sinnedk: Knowing theory AND engineering practices is vital. The basics are (relatively) easily learned and will make you a far, far more capable developer.
     


  4. sinnedk

    sinnedk Senior member

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    Thanks for the idea. But OP and myself have mentioned that we need a bit more structure. Having said that, I still think that your advice is a bit of a fools errand. Apologies I don't mean to sound rude. But, writing an interpreter that has no useful real world function seems wasteful. Had you suggested a ruby website with a db connection then I'd be a bit more open minded. But the suggestion is so out there that I beg to ask why do something like that?

    Side note: app academy doesn't charge tuition if you don't get hired. OP I might stop by and chat with them in person.
     


  5. mg1005

    mg1005 Member

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    i'm very interested in exploring this decision myself. in my first job now after majoring in business and am realizing its not what i want to do. been trying codeacademy and some courses on udacity for a little and these camps seem like the next logical step. the salaries after that short of a learning period seem too good to be true. i've always had a major interest in creating website and app ideas, and its been frustrating not being able to create them myself. that freedom + the salary increase would be awesome.
     


  6. dah328

    dah328 Senior member

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    The code academy or bootcamp route prepares you to be an individual contributor on a project where the higher-level architecture and frameworks are already defined or built out by a developer with a deeper understanding of those kinds of things. I think the advice above is useful if you aspire to be that higher-level guy at some point in the future because bootcamps won't get you there. Plenty of people make good livings doing the former, though, and oddly enough, being able to do the latter does not always pay a whole lot more.
     


  7. aravenel

    aravenel Senior member

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    The salary for an entry-level web dev in just about all parts of the country that are not San Francisco/the Valley or New York are much lower than the eye popping numbers you see bandied about.

    Even in those locations, those salaries are generally going to top candidates who have shown a long history of building things before.

    This is not to say that you can't make good money, but don't expect to take a couple of online classes and suddenly have an $80,000/year job dropped in your lap.
     


  8. Urthwhyte

    Urthwhyte Senior member

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    Because it helps you to grok the fundamentals of how a modern interpreted language (such as Ruby) functions at the lowest level, gets you comfortable with metaprogramming – something the Rails ecosystem indulges in with wild abandon – and will teach you a bunch of other useful skills that look better on a resume than "Can follow instructions from railstutorial.org to build a Twitter clone". You don't have to go through all of Write Yourself a Scheme (God knows I've not bothered), but sitting down and doing your best to understand Norvig's (How to Write a (Lisp) Interpreter (in Python)) will pay off.
    This is a pretty fair analysis, though it depends on the bootcamp/academy as well. E.g. Hack Reactor seems fairly heavy on theory relative while AppAcademy appears rather vocational.
     


  9. sinnedk

    sinnedk Senior member

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    @Urthwhyte fair enough, i've taken enough classes where i don't feel i need to write an interpreter but i also am open minded and will look into it.

    RE: bootcamps, my thoughts are i will try to find work first as a junior level engineer and if that doesn't work then bootcamp time. Anyone have tips on junior level positions such as what to prepare for, resume, etc.

    Many thanks friends...
     


  10. sinnedk

    sinnedk Senior member

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    Its bad "style" for you to solicit styleforum. Also i think you should be more upfront about the fact that you work for Go Live in the marketing/sales department. Quick google search found this - http://www.linkedin.com/in/gouravkochhar.

    Please take your solicitation elsewhere.
     


  11. otc

    otc Senior member

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    Honestly, these things are probably pretty garbage on average if you have zero ability. Both because they just cant teach it that fast and because if you already have zero ability in something that is so easy to start futzing with on your own (heck, tons of people started programming on their graphing calculators out of boredom)...then you probably aren't interested enough in programming for this to be a good idea.

    For someone like me...I could see them being valuable if I wanted to start working in the kind of development shops these guys send people to (which I don't). I know how to program, I know the theory, and I know the application of the theory in a couple of languages. What I don't know are the details:
    -I don't know the hot web frameworks
    -I know a fair amount about how the web works but I am sketchy on the actual implementation
    -I've never worked on a huge codebase with a ton of modules and many developers,
    -I use version control (sometimes), but again, I'm not used to something that might have 50 feature branches and 100 commits a day.
    -I've never really worked to a spec or had to provide a spec to others (that is, all of my programming is in self contained projects where I can refactor things as I please).

    Some time spent learning and working in the new languages/frameworks combined with instruction on "how to be a good worker bee" at a software company would be helpful. I am picturing something where as part of the course, they already have some mock Rails or Django application and you will spend some time maintaining it--fixing bugs they left behind, adding features, etc. Ditto for a course specializing in phone Apps having some mock iOS or Android apps/games. Something to take the course beyond "here's how to develop a simple tetris game from start to finish" type of learning you might get in a college programmign class and extend it to "here's how to be a real programmer".

    I'd probably still prefer to find a job and learn this in a trial-by-fire manner, but I can see how a several week crash course would be beneficial.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2014


  12. sinnedk

    sinnedk Senior member

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    I will reply with some thoughts on all of this in detail when I have a chance.
     


  13. ipractice

    ipractice Senior member

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    Most of these bootcamps now admit that these are not programs for complete beginners. Hackreactor's exact words are: "This is not a "0–60" course, this is a "20–120" course."

    I've been keeping an eye on how these bootcamps are progressing to meet the recent surge in interest, and the bootcamps have become extremely selective over the past couple months. I know that a year ago, you could get away with learning coding on your own for a few months and get accepted if you had the money. Hackreactor's requirements are at the point where you need a github portfolio and actual experience to be considered. Nowadays, they're reporting rates as low as 5-10% admission, so I can definitely agree with you that these are not for people with zero ability. People with zero ability wouldn't even be able to get in. There's a lot on the line in terms of credibility for these schools, since that's basically what they're selling. They can't offer you a degree or a promise that making it out will land you a job. They can only do their best to find the brightest students with the highest chance of maintaining their statistics.

    At least from the testimonials, it seems that a majority of the students going through these programs are ones that already have a foot in the industry, just not exactly in programming. Either that or the extremely dedicated.

    Oh and as a update, I've been studying for a couple months now. I have a solid beginning foundation in HTML/CSS, Js, node,js, and starting on angular, setting my sights on applying to HackReactor this summer so that I can make it into the September cohort. I will definitely be posting some insight on the entire process, but right now I'm still prepping.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2014


  14. sinnedk

    sinnedk Senior member

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    I now have some time to reply regarding bootcamps and software in general.

    Re: angularJS - I just started looking into it as well and its super fun. Going to do some tutorials to get a better understanding.

    Thoughts on cost of bootcamp:
    Now to the bootcamps. At the end of April my wife and I did an opportunity cost analysis of me attending the bootcamp. Here is what we came up with:
    For the bootcamp to be worthwhile financially, I would have to have not been able to find a job until the end of November 2014 (roughly 6 months). I am only counting June - end of Nov for the analysis.

    The way we figured this out is the cost of the bootcamp is about 15k (this is the rough average), on top of the 15k you are spending 3 months in the bootcamp not earning anything. Hence, you leave the bootcamp net negative and are spending the first 3 months of work making up the 15k. All the while you could of been working and while maybe not earning the salary that HR or Dev bootcamp claim you can get, you would still come out on top.

    Basically it came down to the question of how confident was I in finding a job between April and Nov/Dec. And I was fairly certain i'd find something over a 6 month period.

    Job Search

    I took fall 2013 off from the job search and focused on learning to code.
    My search started at end of Jan 2014 and I found a job within about 1.5 weeks which I started in Feb. Unfortunately, the job did not turn out to be something I wanted to do so I left in mid march. However, this time i came out confident knowing that if I can land something that quickly that I can land something i'll like with a little more time. My search started again in mid-March. I figured out the keywords to input that match the jobs I like. I tweaked my resume a bit and surely enough I started getting phone calls here and there. I made a daily routine of looking for work from the time I woke up to about mid-day (there are only so many junior positions). I also looked for jobs when I was bored watching TV in evening. Funny enough, just as I figured out a good method to get my resume at the top of the list and ensure at least a call back -- I got a job.

    This time the job that came calling was 10x better, better pay, with a team that really makes me feel welcome and the technologies i want to work with (JS/JAVA/SQL and several other things, basically a Full Stack engineer).

    My bootcamp research overview

    I applied to 3 out of 4 of the main bootcamps and here are my findings.
    -App Academy - This place was pure BS. They had me spend a long time learning ruby then had me do exercises and a Skype interview with one of their interns. I did not solve the problem they gave me during the interview but I explained what i would have done given more than 20 mins to work on it. (Time pressure for a junior guy like myself makes everything a lot harder, given ample time I can solve very complex problems and I have in the past) After the interview, I was accepted and asked to do an absurd amount of hours of preparation (don't remember exactly how much, can check if needed) before the start of the school. Since I was accepted, id elided to ask to see the facilities and talk to some of the instructors. App Academt was unwilling to talk to me on the phone or let me see the class room environment. If I am paying 18% of my starting yearly salary for something I should be able to see what they are all about.

    -Coding Dojo - Super nice and friendly but no stats on jobs and seems like they accept everyone. I thought atmosphere was cool and kinda wanted to go. But after contacting a few former students and reading blogs I found the bootcamp to be too junior for me.

    -Hack reactor - This place seemed like the real deal. They have a tough entry problem that takes a lot of time. You have to really want to go and have the 17k to pay them. Had i not realized that I can find a job without a bootcamp, I think i'd go with these guys because they are transparent about their hiring numbers and very diligent in making sure you learn.

    Final thoughts

    My background may be different from others but I have a lot of years of CS classes under my belt. I have a good idea of what goes into developing apps and websites. Hence, I chose to believe in my skills and sell myself best i could to employers. I did not lie about a thing, I was very upfront if I didn't know something and I set the correct expectations. If a place didn't want me then most likely it wasn't a good fit for me. I was looking for a place that would be patient, hone my skills and be a home for next few years. Currently, I think I found that and after I get really comfortable with the job I think I may post a blog chronicling my career switch. There are a lot of future developers in the same shoes.

    Apologies if something didn't make sense, ask me to clarify it was a long day and my brain is a bit fried.
     


  15. otc

    otc Senior member

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    Cool, good for you.
     


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