How to Succeed in a Coding Bootcamp

Codeup Instructors Douglas Hirsh and Fernando Mendoza share their tips for how to succeed in a coding bootcamp

We held a virtual event called “How to Succeed in a Coding Bootcamp” featuring our Dallas-based Full-Stack Web Development instructors, Douglas Hirsh and Fernando Mendoza. To start our incoming students off on the right foot, we wanted to hear what advice they have to optimize a coding bootcamp experience. Check out their top tips below!

Practice

“Practical information and practical skills are going to be acquired by practicing every single day.” – Fernando

Practice is an essential part of learning something new. You could watch people bake all day long, and still not be any better of a baker yourself. That’s why our students spend more time actually writing code than listening to lectures. You’ll practice alone, with your cohort, and with instructor guidance. Through this practice, you will change the way you think and approach problems. The instructors agreed that practicing on your own through fun side projects, like creating a program to organize your baking recipes, sets the most successful students apart from the rest.

 

Consistency

“The reason Codeup is every weekday from 9-5 is because we need you to be fully invested. If you only coded on weekends or in your free time, you would forget everything you saw last time and wouldn’t be able to build upon what you know.” – Fernando

Don’t just practice. Practice consistently. Many of our students have tried the self-taught route and eventually ended up at Codeup. Why? Practicing every now and then doesn’t cut it when it comes to something as complex as programming, the same way practicing every now and then isn’t how you learn a language or an instrument. The way to succeed at something is by practicing it frequently and consistently. Codeup is fully immersive for that very purpose.

 

Prepare yourself

“The best thing you can do is the prework that we assign.” – Douglas

Help your future self by doing the prework assigned before the first day of class.. This isn’t just busy work. It’s for you and only you. We won’t take a grade on it, it’s really, entirely, to set yourself up for success. We will move incredibly fast and it will feel like drinking from a firehose, even if you did do the prework. Do future you a big favor by getting used to what drinking from a firehose feels like!

 

Problem solve

“Replace frustration with curiosity, then experimentation.” – Fernando

As you consistently practice the prework, you will come across errors. Instead of getting frustrated, let the errors trigger your curiosity of “why isn’t that working?” and “how do I get it to work?” You can google the keywords in the error message and figure out what to do. This gives you practice problem solving on your own instead of immediately asking someone else for help. While we love helping our students, we will expect you to have already tried to figure things out because we believe in your ability to problem solve. When you do need help, this process helps you frame your questions. We won’t give you answers, but we will happily point to a different way of thinking about an error. It will make getting it right that much more satisfying.

 

Active learning

“We want you to be in the mindset of understanding and not discovery. The prework is what takes you there.”- Fernando

Problem solving your way through the prework allows you to be an active participant in your own learning. You’re giving yourself exposure to a topic before class so that during the lecture, you’re not discovering something new, but trying to understand it. You might not get it the first time you see it, but now you know what to look out for in the lecture.

 

Failure is temporary

“Think about where you were 5 weeks ago. Use evidence over time that things have gotten better rather than dwelling on failure in the moment. Failure is learning. Failure is good.” – Douglas

As you progress through the program, you will face obstacles and failures, and you will doubt yourself as a programmer. When you feel like you can’t do something, compare yourself to who you were and what you could do 5 weeks ago, instead of comparing yourself to “real programmers.” After reminding yourself of your progress, think about what obstacles are keeping you from moving forward and how to overcome them, instead of defaulting to “I can’t.” Kevin Kelley once said, “Pros are just amateurs who know how to gracefully recover from their mistakes.”

Learn to communicate

“We have you do group projects and paired programming projects and you get a lot of really good experience working with people remotely. It’s a really good skill to have.” – Douglas

Programmers are not in a room alone all day with 10 screens in front of them. They are frequently communicating with their team, with different teams, and with different clients. You’ll need to know how to storytell and how to present your work and yourself. Throughout the course, you will frequently be working with others and presenting to others. Now that we’ve gone remote, our students are learning to work together from far apart.

 

How successful you are in a coding bootcamp starts with you and how much you’re willing to put in. If you’re ready to continue putting in time and effort, check out our events. Our workshops will give you exposure to code, and our panels will let you hear the perspectives of people who made the same career change you’re hoping for. You got this! Together, we’ll help you succeed not only at our coding bootcamp, but in your career.

The Remote Codeup Student Experience

Codeup Remote Classroom Experience

Communities across Texas have now lived in a remote environment for weeks. While we hoped for good news early on, Governor Abbott’s recent announcement to close schools for the remainder of the school year has confirmed that the new normal amid COVID-19 is remote. A lot of prospective students are left asking: what now? Our answer is simple: little has changed! While we are now conducting class digitally, the rest of the Codeup experience looks the same. Here’s how!

Codeup differs from traditional degrees and online programs because we offer live, full-time, and immersive instruction. Even now, our classes are taught by a team of passionate instructors whose backgrounds range from 20+ years of industry experience to Master Degrees in Adult Education. Each class is led by 2-3 expert instructors and supported by a Teaching Assistant. They deliver live lectures, respond to you in real-time, provide 1:1 support, and individualize your learning to set you up for success. Comparing us to an online boot camp is like comparing a virtual reality experience to a regular TV show. We’re still giving live instruction, we’re just teaching from behind a laptop instead of a podium.

In addition to live instruction, our students enjoy live co-learning. You’re not in this alone! In fact, our cohorts of 20-25 students provide a built-in structure of camaraderie, networking, and technical support. Some of the best learning you can do is by teaching to and learning from other students, a benefit that is lost in attending a part-time or self-paced program.

The combination of live instruction and peer-peer connectivity produces a third benefit: accountability. In this remote world where your couch is your desk, it can be challenging to stay focused and motivated. Our immersive program builds accountability through a daily course schedule, project-based learning, social support, and a helping hand. [Editor’s note: if this weren’t important and learning to code on your own were easy, I’d be writing Java right now instead of a blog post!]

Lastly, the reason Codeup offers a 100% tuition refund guarantee is that we teach directly to the needs of employer partners. Right now, more than ever before, employers need employees who are adaptable and able to work remotely! The remote Codeup experience prepares you to communicate, collaborate, and code remotely, a skill that was already valuable in the tech industry. If anything, you’re getting a little extra bang for your buck by learning a skillset most developers have to earn the hard way.

Although we wish we were on campus high-fiving, writing code, and re-enacting Star Wars lightsabers battles, we’ve realized that’s not really what the Codeup experience is about. The true Codeup experience is about learning to code from experienced professionals alongside passionate students in a live, hands-on environment that offers a 100% tuition refund guarantee. That’s what you can always expect from Codeup, whether we’re remote or not.

If you’ve been affected by COVID-19 in any way (layoffs, health, family, etc.), check out our recently announced COVID-19 Relief Scholarship.

Codeup’s COVID-19 Relief Scholarship

covid-19 relief scholarship

Codeup’s mission is to empower life change, and we do that by living four core values: Be Helpful, Cultivate Inclusive Growth, Deliver Excellence, and Act with Integrity. We also operate according to one of San Antonio’s unofficial credos: “Rising tides lift all ships.” With the goal of helping more individuals navigate a career change during this difficult time, Codeup is excited to announce a $2,500 COVID-19 Relief Scholarship for those who have been affected by COVID-19. 

From Day 1, Codeup has placed a value on who we serve. After starting with a Women in Tech Scholarship, we expanded our offerings to include financial support for people of color, LGBTQIA+ individuals, military veterans, and first responders. Now, as many of our friends, family, and neighbors face furloughs or layoffs and our favorite establishments close, we’d like to continue to help.

If you or someone you know is looking for a career change and has been impacted by COVID-19, please check out more information on utilizing our $2,500 COVID-19 Relief scholarship by clicking here.

We’re wishing the best for our fellow San Antonio and Dallas communities. Remember, we’re all in this together. Stay safe and let us know how we can help.

How To Have A Second Career Start With Codeup

Grow your technical skills for a second career start with Codeup

 

     A lot of students enter Codeup from a previous career. We encounter diverse professionals from teaching, military service, the service industry, music, and more. From those prospective students thinking about a change, we often hear concerns like: “I don’t have any technical skills or background,” “I’m just a teacher,” “I’m only a barista,” “I’m only a hobby computer person”…”I could never be a software developer.”

 

     The good news is YOU, the people with a wide variety of non-software development backgrounds, are our specialty. At Codeup, you’ll leverage the qualities that make you good at what you already do, to excel in a new field.

 

     If you’re thinking about switching careers, you’ve probably already followed a plan: you listened to advice from a guidance counselor, went to college, developed a skill set, landed a job, and grew in your role. But maybe you found the day-to-day wasn’t what you expected, that what you’re good at isn’t good for you, or even that you want to learn and grow more. Maybe you need a second start?

 

     With over 574 alumni, we’ve heard that story a lot. We’ve also seen some surprising trends in common careers before entering Codeup. If you want a change but worry about the leap, check out some of the wide-ranging jobs Codeup grads come from and how their skills made them successful in the tech industry:

 

Teacher/Educator

  • Deep understanding of how to learn and study
  • The ability to understand someone else’s point of view
  • Experience structuring your time, managing a massive workload, and maximize output.
  • How to move yourself and others past learning barriers

 

Server/Barista

  • A work ethic focused on the need of your customers
  • The ability to think outside the box to find a solution
  • Experience working on a team to accomplish something special

 

Musician/Creative

  • Experience learning, reading, and becoming fluent in different non-verbal languages
  • The ability to build something new based on a set of parameters (a key signature, genre, and instrumentation is a lot like a programming language, functionality, and customer)
  • The skill of using your base knowledge to improvise a tune on the fly

 

     One of the biggest misconceptions we hear from prospective students is that they are at a disadvantage coming from a non-technical background. In fact, your background, whatever it is, is an ADVANTAGE in learning a new skill and entering the tech workforce. There are plenty of CS graduates, but there are very few Marine-veteran-musician-digital marketers turned software developers.

     Want to see for yourself? Hear from our students as they share their career stories, and see how far they’ve gone as developers! 

     If you’re looking for a second start and see yourself in any of the above careers or skills, we’d love to help you find your passion. Connect with our Admissions team to learn more.

 

2019: A Codeup Year In Review

Codeup in 2019

It’s official – 2019 has come and gone and we’ve hit 2020 fast! At the start of this new year, we like to reflect on 2019, giving gratitude to everyone who supported us and celebrating our many shared victories. It was a year of life changes, ground-breaking firsts, and growth.

After such a big year for our community and students, we wanted to share some of our reflection highlights with you! Here’s what happened in 2019:

2019 Firsts

  1. Launched San Antonio’s FIRST and ONLY Data Science career accelerator
  2. Graduated San Antonio’s first class of Data Scientists
  3. Expanded our program to Dallas, TX
  4. Named San Antonio #2 Best Place to Work

By the numbers

  • 129 # of individuals who changed their careers at Codeup
  • 574 total # of Codeup alumni network
  • 16 # of alumni placed in Dallas
  • 25% military veteran students
  • 27% female students
  • 52% racial and ethnic minority students
  • $189,053.81 amount of scholarship funds given by Codeup to its students
  • 49 # of partner companies who hired from us
  • $6,327,295.40 salaries earned by Codeup grads in their first jobs as Software Devs and Data Scientists

Our mission is to empower life change. If 2019 wasn’t your year, maybe 2020 will be 🙂 Reach out to us – we’d love to help you create your future!

How To Pick A Coding Bootcamp Curriculum

How to Pick A Coding Bootcamp Curriculum

If you’re thinking about entering a career as a software developer, you’ve probably researched a few different bootcamps. During your research, you’ve probably seen a few different curricula. Without already BEING a software developer, it’s hard to know what’s what. In this post, we want to explore how to think about a bootcamp curriculum and recommend strategies about how to consider the best fit.

Let’s start with some terminology. Full-stack web development integrates work on both the front-end and the back-end. The front-end is the user-facing side that you interact within a web browser. The back-end is the server-side that involves the sending and receiving of data. Consider a restaurant website. A front-end only website would show a restaurant menu with prices, dishes, and ordering information. A full-stack web application would allow you to not only view the menu but place an order and process payment information for that order, interacting with a database and back-end functionality.

Within that understanding, there are a few groupings of technologies:

  • Object-Oriented Programming and back-end tech: This list includes programming languages like PHP, Java, C#, Ruby, and Node.js. These allow you to build functionalities into a web application. 
  • Database tools: Tools like MySQL, MongoDB, PostgreSQL, SQL Server, and Oracle let you store, send, and receive information.
  • Front-end technologies: Languages and frameworks like JavaScript, Angular, React, HTML, and CSS let you design a front-end interface.
  • Web frameworks: Spring Boot and Laravel are examples of web frameworks that help you stand up web applications more efficiently. 
  • Testing tools: In production, many companies leverage a methodology called Test Driven Development. This is when developers write tests first, and code second, letting them compare their code against a standard of approval. Common technologies include JUnit, PHPUnit, NUnit, MSTest, Jasmine.

With so many technologies out there, it can be hard to pick what’s best to learn. But here’s the secret: the specific technologies do not matter. The most important thing you’ll learn during a coding bootcamp is how to use these different categories of technologies. Whether you learn PHP or Java, MySQL, or  SQL Server, the important takeaways are the fundamental concepts learned. Many Codeup alumni graduate from our Full-Stack Java program and go on to work in PHP, Python, Ruby, Groovy, and other languages. Ultimately, a loop is a loop and an array is an array. Languages differ, but once you’ve learned an OOP language, the differences become syntactical instead of conceptual. 

This leads us to an important point: the more technologies, the worse! The quality of a curriculum, and thus the value of it, is not defined by the number of technologies covered. In fact, it’s the opposite. Let’s give some examples.

Columbia University is one of the premier academic institutions in the world. They are an Ivy League university with a strong reputation. They recently expanded into the bootcamp space and launched a web development program that covers the following technologies: HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, jQuery, Bootstrap, Express.js, React.js, Node.js, Database Theory, MongoDB, MySQL, Command Line, Git, and more. All of that in 12 weeks. Let’s decode that for you with the terms we’ve already used. This curriculum promises to teach you:

  • Object-Oriented Programming and back-end tech: Node.js
  • Database tools: Database Theory, MongoDB, MySQL
  • Front-end technologies: HTML, CSS, jQuery, Bootstrap, Express.js, React.js

Now let’s look at Codeup. We teach: HTML, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, Java, Spring, MySQL. All of that, in 20 weeks. In the terms we’ve discussed, that’s: 

  • Object-Oriented Programming and back-end tech: Java, Spring
  • Database tools: MySQL
  • Front-end technologies: HTML, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery

The common initial thought is: why spend 20 weeks learning seven technologies when you could spend 12 weeks learning 10? And there lies the misconception. Many bootcamp curricula promise to teach you the latest and greatest technologies: React.js, Angular.js, Express.js, MongoDB, Node.js, etc. etc. etc. That may sound like a better bang for your buck, but it’s all a question of priority. Here is the reality of your choices:

  • Columbia bootcamp, broad and shallow: gain exposure to a wide variety of technologies in a short amount of time
  • Codeup, narrow and deep: gain expertise in software development fundamentals in a narrow scope of technologies

There is no inherently right answer here – it’s all about your priorities. That being said, here’s what we believe: Learning how to learn, learning how to think like a developer, and learning to program is far more important than gaining exposure to the latest web frameworks. When you understand programming fundamentals, you prepare yourself to learn whatever you want. It’s like learning how to work with a car: it’s great to know how to drive an Audi, but it’s pretty different from understanding how an Audi engine works and how it differs from a Honda. 

At Codeup, we focus on crafting you into a software developer. We focus on programming fundamentals, core web technologies, and applied practices. When you graduate, you’ve landed a job and have the skills to learn any technology. If that sounds like what you’re looking for, connect with our Admissions Team and we can tell you more! 

Click here to hear our Codeup Alumnus, Po Lin’s, story about his journey graduating with a Computer Science degree and how he supplemented Codeup’s curriculum to launch a career into software development!

Your Investment Towards Your Future With Codeup

Your Investment Towards Your Future With Codeup

Codeup has trained over 500 software developers over 6 years in San Antonio. But we’re new to town here in Dallas, so we’re getting a lot of questions. Top of that list is, “Why are y’all so much more expensive than the other bootcamps in town?” In case you haven’t noticed, our Full-Stack Web Development program tuition is an investment of $27,500. But the secret is, we don’t cost that much – we’re worth that much. Codeup isn’t a bootcamp – it’s a career accelerator. Tuition is an investment in your future, and the ROI pays off. Let’s dive into why!

First of all, the upfront investment to enroll at Codeup is only $1,000 – a down payment to secure your seat. The entirety of the rest of your tuition can be arranged with a combination of scholarships, grants, and loans to support the remaining investment. Our dedicated Financial Aid and Enrollment Manager helps you navigate all the intricacies of tuition planning (if you want to get a head start, read our blog about bootcamp funding, explained).

Codeup focuses on quality. While other bootcamps leveraged venture-funding and corporate capital to expand quickly, opening 10+ campuses at a time, Codeup opened one campus. While other programs focused on volume, we focused on quality. We spent five years refining our program before expanding. Here’s the result that you now get to enjoy:

  • A custom-built, high-quality curriculum: other bootcamps have made their instructors build curriculum while they taught it…(Link blog post about our curriculum)
  • Top-knotch instruction: Your instructors have a combined 30 years of software development experience and 10 years of formal teaching experience. Local bootcamps hire 1 experienced instructor for every 5 alumni TAs. 
  • Job outcomes: over the last 18 months, we’ve placed 99% of our alumni in-field within an average of 2 weeks from graduation. Even while operating in San Antonio, we placed 18 students here in Dallas for an average starting salary of $85,000. The Codeup promise is simple: get a job or 100% of your money back.
  • Private ownership: Codeup launched in 2014 with 3 co-founders. After the first class, the company had re-paid initial investment and was cash-flow positive. Since then, our growth has been entirely organic. We’ve never taken outside investment, split equity, leveraged debt capital, or lost control of the business in any way. Our 3 co-founders are our 3 owners. Other bootcamps have been bought, sold, traded, closed…they change hands as assets in a venture capital investment game. What does that mean for you? We focus on your outcome, they focus on their bottom line. Anybody been following WeWork lately? The valuation bubble is bursting, and our students won’t get caught on the wrong side. PS, WeWork owns the Flatiron bootcamp…

If you’re considering a bootcamp education, you’re really considering an investment in yourself. Let’s be really clear – this is NOT school. This isn’t a high school diploma, an Associate’s or a BS in CS. This is a pathway to a career, the salary that will earn, and the meaning it will bring. Put on your investment hat: the upfront $$ isn’t as important as the Return On Investment. Our Dallas graduates have had an average starting salary of $85,000. At 5 months long, you still have more than 6 months to work in that year. So what is your ROI? In the same year you are trained, you earn back your money. Within 12 months, you 3x your money.

You might ask, why not use that same math on a cheaper program? The answer is simple: other bootcamps don’t view it the same way. They are giving you an education, you are giving them a return on THEIR investment. Let’s take a more specific look:

Have more questions about your investment? Give us a call – we’d love the opportunity to chat with you about your possible future career in software development!

Hey Dallas, Meet Your Software Development Mentors!

Meet Your Dallas Mentors!

We may be new to town here in Dallas, but Codeup has a long history of training software developers. After launching our first class in February 2014, we’ve now successfully trained 574 alumni. So while the streets might look different around 75202, the code looks the same. To anyone nervous about trusting us ‘newbies’ with your careers, meet the incredible team of software development mentors you’ll get to learn from. 

Professionally, Douglas Hirsh and Fernando Mendoza have over 30 years of industry experience between them. They’ve worked at household names like CitiBank and bring a wide range of diverse industry experience across gaming, oil, and SAAS. Combined, they also bring nearly 10 years of formal teaching experience. Fernando worked as an instructor over the weekends while he was going through University for four years, and is also one of our most tenured instructors with almost 4 years of Codeup experience under his belt. PS, that’s over 20 cohorts and 400 students! Douglas is a life long mentor, but also taught at another coding bootcamp earlier in his career before joining Codeup.

Technically, the pair is experienced in a wide range of languages and technologies, including: 

  • OOP and back-end tech: PHP, Java, C#, Ruby, Node.js, Visual Basic, VB.NET, Andriod Development
  • Database tools: MySQL, MongoDB, PostgreSQL, SQL Server, Oracle
  • Front-end technologies: JavaScript, Angular, React, HTML, CSS, JQuery, Ajax, PWA apps
  • Web frameworks: Spring Boot, Laravel, CodeIgniter, ASP.NET Web Forms/MVC/Web API
  • Testing tools: JUnit, PHPUnit, NUnit, MSTest, Jasmine

But what’s our favorite part of this dynamic duo? They come from opposite ends of the development world. 

Douglas is a self-taught programmer. He started self-teaching at the age of 12 with a C++ book, and by the time he was 19 he was being paid to write code. Over the next 18 years, Douglas worked his way up to a Senior Developer and even a Chief Technology Officer. So although he wasn’t formally trained, Douglas knows not only the ins and outs of software development, but he also knows first-hand what it’s like to self-teach, learn on the job, and follow a non-traditional career path.

Fernando has also been programming since he was 15. He then received his BS in Computer Systems Engineering from the Institute of Technology in Uruapan, Mexico. Over the next 12 years, he progressed from a Jr. Developer to a Senior Web Developer. He even has his own freelance web development agency. With his formal background, Fernando brings deep expertise in software architecture, database design and administration, and CS theory.

When you join Codeup Dallas, you first and foremost join a classroom to learn alongside Senior Developers with 30+ years of practical experience and 10+ years of teaching experience. Contact us today to learn about kickstarting your career in software development in the quickly growing Dallas market!

Join us for our next learn to code workshop, where you will get to meet and learn from your Dallas software developer mentors! Click here to find workshops and more at our Codeup Dallas campus. 

Why I Chose to Teach at Codeup

Hi, my name is Douglas Hirsh, and I’m a Web Development Instructor at Codeup Dallas! I’m passionate about technology, software, human behavior, and teaching. As we prepare to launch our first cohort in Dallas, I want to share why I decided to teach at Codeup.

 

Quick about me: I’m a self-taught developer! I have enjoyed an 18 year career in tech, during which I’ve worked at companies ranging from small startups to Fortune 50 and made my way up through the ranks to Senior Developer. I’ve also worked as an instructor at another coding bootcamp and a CTO of a local startup. 

 

How did I hear about Codeup? I saw them post on Slack! I was excited about the idea of returning to teaching, and reached out. We began talking, and I spent over a dozen hours getting to know their team, from management to instruction. During our conversations, I made up my mind: I wanted to work for Codeup. Here’s why!

 

#1: Codeup has a well-thought-out and high-quality curriculum. Not only that, but it teaches programming fundamentals. Some bootcamps teach programs that cover a dozen different technologies: React, Angular, Node, Ruby, Rails, Mongo DB, MySQL, Python, etc. As a developer, I can tell you: that’s crazy. Instead of a list of keywords, I discovered Codeup teaches a narrow scope of technologies with a focus on teaching students how to learn software development, giving them the power to go learn whatever technologies they want.

 

#2: Codeup promises, and follows through, to refund 100% of a student’s tuition if they don’t find a job after graduation. A lot of places say, ‘Hey come on over, we’ll help!’ I knew Codeup was for real and not just a money grab when they told me: “if a student does everything they’re supposed to and doesn’t find a job, that’s on us, not them.”

 

#3: Codeup has an impressive network of employer partners. They place graduates at companies like USAA, Accenture, Oracle, SWBC, and other large companies with a reputation. Having worked at a bootcamp, I know exactly how hard it is to get a company like USAA to consider bootcamp grads. That upped their cred in my book WAY high.

 

#4: Codeup accepts the GI Bill. In my eyes, the government legitimized them with their stamp of approval.

 

Lastly, and most importantly, Codeup helped me realize my passion for helping bring other people into this amazing field. I’m so excited that I get to teach at Codeup, and help so many find a career they love. If you want to learn to code or start a new career, reach out to us – we’d love for you to decide to learn at Codeup.

Codeup Talks Expanding Its Coding School To All Of Texas

Photo Taken In Chon Buri, ThailandBy   – Reporter, San Antonio Business Journal

Seven years ago, Joseph Villafranca walked into the 10th floor of the Weston Centre for an interview to enroll in a new coding school. As he entered an empty office room and helped Michael Girdley, one of the three co-founders of Codeup LLC, take down chairs for the one-on-one interview, Villafranca wondered whether the school was a scam.

“As someone that wanted to own my own business, I felt I needed something else — a hard skill to my skillset — and coding was it,” Villafranca said.

Graduating with a bachelor of science in business administration from Texas A&M University – College Station, the South Side native wasn’t satisfied working as a manager of a local Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt location.