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. 

Breaking the Mold: My Journey To Become A Software Developer

By Ryan Smith, Codeup Alumnus

Whenever I tell someone that I’m a software developer, I generally get the surprised “You? You’re a software developer?”.

I, like many others that have graduated from Codeup, don’t fit the mold most people think of when they think of people in tech.

To be honest, I can barely believe that I am one as well. Throughout 12 years in school, I was a straight C or D student when it came to math or science and wasn’t super excited about college. When I graduated, instead of going to college, I became a missionary in Colombia for two years. Colombia was an intense, immersive experience and I figured that when I got back to the States I would try out college. The results? I lasted a semester in college and did horrible in my science class. My first week in college and I called a Marine Corps recruiter to let him know that I would be joining as soon as possible. College just wasn’t for me. A week after my first semester and I was in boot camp. I spent the next 5 years in The Marine Corps mostly as a military working dog handler, trainer and instructor. It was honestly the best job I ever had.

Unfortunately, the military had other plans for me that didn’t involve working with dogs, so I got out and worked as a private security dog handler at the Baghdad embassy for a short time. I figured this was the next logical step. I came to find out that the job sounded good on paper, but sitting at a guard shack for 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, left me feeling unfulfilled and wanting more out of my life. A week before going back to Baghdad for the last time, I was toying with the idea of coding and came across Codeup. I was accepted into the program a couple of days later and left for Baghdad and started once I returned. Compared to all my life experiences, Codeup was mentally one of the hardest things I’ve accomplished. But if I can do it, so can you. What would have taken me years and years to accomplish, took me about 5 months. Less than two weeks after I graduated Codeup I was offered a job as a software developer at a well-known company where I’ll start in about a week.

The decision to go to Codeup, give it my all and come out the other side a software developer- will affect my life in every way and also that of my future family. I’m grateful for all the staff and instructors there and thankful that I don’t just have a graduation certificate, but the actual skills I need to succeed for the rest of my life.

Are Coding Schools Regulated In Texas? It Depends.

by Paul Flahive, Tech Reporter at TPR

In December a post on LinkedIn celebrated the forthcoming launch of a coding program called Codebound, a partnership between San Antonio’s University of the Incarnate Word and local software studio Appddiction.

Then a competitor questioned the legitimacy of the training program.

“It looks like Codebound hasn’t been licensed by the state of Texas,” said Dimitri Antoniou in the post’s comments section. “In which case any and all advertising for their programs would be illegal and entitle students to a full tuition refund.”

Click here to read full story by Texas Public Radio.

How I Became a Software Developer with Codeup

We spoke with one of our talented Alumni, Alex Ahrens, who just recently graduated with our Ceres web development cohort. Alex shed some light on his Codeup and coding experience, and we’re sharing his story in hopes that it helps others take one step closer to landing the career of their dreams. 

Let’s start with you introducing yourself; where are you from, and what was your background before Codeup?

“My name is Alex, I’m not from San Antonio but have lived here on and off for most of my life. I have had a lot of random odd jobs before going to Codeup, everything from customer service, to logging, to a cruise ship deckhand, to bartender.”

What made you interested in coding? And what made you decide to pull the trigger and look for ways to make it your career?

“I was in Military Intelligence in the Army, and when I transitioned out, I decided to stay in intel and went to UTSA to get a CS degree to be in Cyber Security.”

How did you end up coming to Codeup?

“I was bottlenecked in my degree plan (required to take a few prerequisite classes before I could proceed with my degree) at UTSA and decided that I didn’t want to spend another three semesters trying to get passed those classes. Codeup cut that time significantly for a very similar outcome at a cheaper price, so that’s what I chose.”

What has your experience been like here?

“Very challenging, but rewarding as well. My classmates were always there for each other when we needed help and generally went out of our way to help. That along with the enormous amount of knowledge made it a difficult but enjoyable experience.”

What would you tell people considering a career in software development?

“Practice. Without consistent practice, it is beyond difficult to learn and just as hard to retain. Keep programming even when you don’t need to. Learning doesn’t stop when class is over or when you’re graduated. You have to constantly stick with it.” 

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  Alex Ahrens is a software developer in San Antonio, TX. 

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Are you ready to explore the world of tech and the possibilities of a new career? Then make sure to sign up for some of our free events in our events tab, and get hands-on experience with us! 

 

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.

Learn to Code Workshop

learrn to code workshop photo | Coding Tech Bootcamp San Antonio

HTML & CSS (Intro to Web Development)

Date and Time:

Sat, March 2

9:00 AM – 12:00 PM CDT

RSVP here!

Location:

Codeup

600 Navarro St. #600

San Antonio, TX 78205

Are you interested in technology and want to learn the basics of web development? Come out and join us for our FREE Learn to Code Workshop! This Learn to Code workshop will cover the basics of HTML and CSS.

This event previously sold out in record time and tickets are VERY limited! RSVP today!

Materials to bring:

1. Laptop (does not matter what kind)

2. Your smiling face!

AGE REQUIREMENT: 17+

Please e-mail us at info@codeup.com if you have additional questions! See you guys there!

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Coding Resolutions for the New Year

Codeup Veterans Scholarship | Code Tech Bootcamp

Codeup Veterans Scholarship | Code Tech Bootcamp

By Joyce Ling

For many people, January is a time for new beginnings. People commit to losing weight, learning new things, establishing new budgets – it’s a time of action and hope. In this article, I’d like to share a few ways that have helped me improve my coding and might give you some ideas to implement for 2019!

1. Kickstart with a 30-day challenge.

“Good seasons start with good beginnings.” – Sparky Anderson

Why do a 30-day challenge?

Although the process of learning coding is a marathon and not a sprint, there’s something to be said for short bursts of productivity like a 30-day challenge. For one, it may be an effective way to just get started on something you have been meaning to do for awhile, and as Mark Twain noted, “Half of getting ahead is getting started.”

On top of that, it gets rid of any excuses about “not having enough time”. Because it’s a short sprint, most people will begin prioritizing it differently. As different items on your daily to-do list begin to demand your time, you begin to prioritize the things that matter. Especially if you are a goal-oriented person, the satisfaction of completing a challenge like this may force you to prioritize it over other things. This may be the impetus you need to create lasting habits, ideally even after the challenge is over. However, over-enthusiastic participants may have to be wary of burnout or of a short-term “high”. Make sure to use that momentum and keep on keeping on!

3 Challenges to Try

If you Google “coding 30-day challenge”, a multitude of options pop up. These challenges hypothetically can be done at any time, but doing it in January can be a powerful experience as you make a commitment to investing in yourself in 2019. Some popular coding challenges include the #Javascript30 by developer Wes Bos, the 30 day challenge at TechGig, and the 30 Days of Code by HackerRank. The first challenge is specific to Javascript, but the latter two challenges allow you to choose from a variety of languages to complete the challenges, so choose your best language and get coding!

2. Commit to coding every single day.

Success isn’t always about greatness. It’s about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come. Dwayne Johnson

Slow and Steady

For those of you that are over the 30-day challenge hype, simply commit to coding every single day of 2019. If you’re like me and have a bunch of grandiose life goals for yourself such as “Speak French fluently” and “Be able to program any full stack application”, you may also have to be reminded that these grandiose goals can only be reached by consistently chipping away at it on a daily basis. It requires you to embrace mundanity and discipline.

Set Yourself Up For Success

A neat life hack for making this goal a reality is finding a habit tracker such as HabitBull or Habitica. Both of these apps allow you to customize habits that you would like to form and track how often you complete those habits. Habitbull generates statistics and graphs for the frequency of completing certain habits, while Habitica promises to “gamify your life”. Although this option may no longer be available for purchase, take a look at Simone Giertz’s Kickstarter for a 365 calendar here. This is a visual example of what completing a full year’s worth of coding can look like.

If you dedicate yourself to coding every single day, you may be surprised at how much progress you’ve made by the end of the year. Even extremely successful individuals such as Josh Bosquez, the Senior Vice President of Engineering at my company, Armor, has shared that he still commits to coding every single day even if it’s only one line. No matter what your coding experience level is, making it a priority to code every single day can only benefit your growth as a programmer.

3. Learn a new technology.

No matter what, you’ve got to always follow your passion in life and always keep learning. Harold Hamm

Technology is developing rapidly, and developers are constantly enhancing and creating frameworks and programming languages. For example, if you’re even slightly involved in the coding community, you would probably know that for front-end frameworks, React and Vue have recently exploded in popularity. In order to stay relevant and continue to develop marketable skills, make an effort to stay up to date about news and trends in the programming world and keeping your skills sharp.

What To Learn Next

If you’re just starting out with programming and feel that you have reached a plateau, many more experienced developers will recommend learning a second programming language to reiterate what you know and simultaneously enhance your understanding of programming on a deeper level.

However, learning a new technology includes more than just learning a new programming language or framework. Explore what’s interesting to you. Have you always wanted to look into artificial intelligence and machine learning? Or are you interested in the cloud and learning AWS? Or maybe you’ve always wanted to learn more about developing mobile applications.

Commit to an actionable goal by either taking a course for a specific technology you want to learn or by studying and passing a certification. If you work for a company, it may be worth it to see if your manager agrees to help pay for additional learning or certifications.

4. Build a project from scratch.

The best way to learn is by doing. The only way to build a strong work ethic is getting your hands dirty. Alex Spanos

If you’ve decided you want to learn a new technology, the above quote by Alex Spanos is the perfect way to gain that proficiency. This can be done on your own or with a group of friends for accountability. One specific resource I always like to recommend is Chingu. This international group of developers goes through “Voyages”, a process which encompasses project planning, developing, testing, and launching an application, specifically with the end goal of learning or practicing a new technology. Many of the participants are full-time software developers, but the collection of individuals is usually diverse. This organization is mostly focused on front-end technologies but they also have data science/design tracks in development. Check out their website for examples of previous projects teams have built and details on how to apply.

5. Pass on what you know.

You’re never too young or too old to be a mentor. Reshma Saujani

Even if you are just starting out, there are usually local organizations that need volunteers to mentor/facilitate learning for youth. In San Antonio I was hired part-time by Youth Code Jam, a non-profit that organizes and plans pop-up events and hosts summer camps in order to educate youth in topics related to technology. Currently, in Dallas, I volunteer with Bold Idea, a local organization that teaches kids to code, as well as facilitate a Girls Who Code group at a local library.

Benefits of Mentoring

Although I don’t consider myself yet to be a very experienced developer, seeking these leadership roles is more than just a resume builder. Because I have participated in these opportunities, I’ve been able to expose myself to a wider variety of technologies such as block-level coding in Scratch, or creating Minecraft mods in Python. Additionally, it’s a great way to network and meet people who are also interested in or work in the the technology field. Most large cities have similar local nonprofits or a chapter of a national organization such as Girls Who Code. If none exist, start one!

6. Find a community.

Every successful individual knows that his or her achievement depends on a community of persons working together. Paul Ryan

Although flying solo works for some, I have always found that having a tight knit community of motivated developers to consistently code with has always helped me grow. When I was participating in Codeup, some of us would form study groups or code together on projects after class at the local co-working space, Geekdom.

Where to Look

Although the community that is available at a bootcamp is not available to everyone, I would recommend searching Meetup.com for technology networking groups or programming specific get-togethers. Alternatively, make sure to check for a local chapter of FreeCodeCamp in your city. Other places to look include maker spaces and co-working spaces, both of which are communities that developers are typically drawn towards.

If both of those options come up empty, then start a group! Create a space for people to get together and work on their projects – invariably, you will draw like-minded people towards you.

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Which Program is Right for Me?

Data Science and Web Developer Venn Diagram | Code Tech Bootcamp

To Web Develop or to Data Science?
That is the question.

With our recent program launch, Codeup now offers two technical career tracks: “Full Stack Web Development – Java” and “Data Science.” If you’re a prospective student, you might be wondering which program is right for you! First, we recommend understanding what data science is and what full stack web development is. Second, ask yourself the following three questions:

PAST: WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND?

One key difference between our programs is the prerequisite background knowledge. Our web development program doesn’t have any required skills! Some students enter with no tech experience, and others enter with a lot. Having programming experience is always a plus, but not a must. However, Data Science relies on experience in math, statistics, and basic programming for all incoming students. You’ll need concepts like working with matrices, writing Python functions, and solving systems of equations. That means that you either need coursework in those subjects, self-teaching experience, or on the job training.

Your answer to this question isn’t a simple yes/no, but it should help you determine the ramp up period to one of our programs and which one fits you better now. If you don’t have any math or programming background, web development may be a better fit. If you have a Math or CS degree, data science may be.

PRESENT: WHAT GETS YOU EXCITED? (WHERE ARE YOU NOW?)

Do numbers get you hyped up? Do you love or hate excel? Do you really like programming? Do massive data sets feel intimidating or exciting? Do you enjoy statistics and math? Do you like being visually creative? Do you want to build web applications? Do you want to focus just on technical work or mix technical and business work?

This list isn’t exhaustive, but it should kickstart your thinking to explore your intrinsic interest in the content of our programs. Try to understand what each profession does day to day, and then ask yourself: which gets me more excited? And make sure your answer is brutally honest! Our programs have the same structures, and both career paths are in demand with great opportunity. You’re in great shape either way, but you’ll be much happier with the content that makes you happy.

FUTURE: WHAT JOBS AND OPPORTUNITIES DO YOU WANT DOWN THE LINE?

When you graduate from Codeup, we’ll help you land your first job. From the Web Development program, that likely means a job as a software developer, web developer, or programmer. From the Data Science program, that likely means a job as a data scientist, data engineer, or machine learning engineer. But that’s just the first job! As you move through your tech career, you’ll discover new interests and opportunities, like the following.

Web Development: web developer (alternative titles: web designer, UI/UX designer, front-end developer, front-end engineer, full stack developer, software developer), programming, quality assurance technician, technical sales, product/project manager, etc.

Data Science: data scientist, analysts of all kinds (data, business, risk, fraud, marketing, web, competitive), customer intelligence, business intelligence, data engineer, dashboard/data visualization developer, machine learning engineer, etc.

NOW WHAT?

You now know what data science and full stack web development are. You have compared your background skills with our program prerequisites. You have thought about what content gets you more excited! And lastly, you’ve considered what future opportunities you’ll want to open for yourself.

Did you decide which program is a better fit? Awesome, congrats! Apply now at tribucodeup.wpengine.com/apply.

Still not sure? Let us help! Codeup’s mission is to help you launch your career, and or staff is dedicated to helping you find your fit. Email us at info@codeup.comor call us at (210) 802-7289 today!

Can a Simple Algebra Test Predict Programming Aptitude?

Codeup classroom Dallas

Can a Simple Algebra Test Predict Programming Aptitude?

Every year since the establishment of Computer Science in the 1960s, 30-60% of CS college majors have failed their Introduction to Computer Science course because they simply could not learn to program. Despite hours of studying and tutoring, most of these underperforming students struggle with, and many ultimately give up on, programming as a career. So here is the ultimate question- Can a simple algebra test predict programming aptitude?

What sets apart these computer programming can and can-nots?

Education researchers have been looking for the answer to that question for well over five decades. In that time, they’ve looked at dozens of possible predictors of programming aptitude, including:

Most of these studies have found little to no predictive power in the variables they looked at. Or worse, when they do find something that’s predictive of programming aptitude, the techniques appeared to be so complicated that other researchers are unable to replicate their results at another university. Our impression is that research in this field has slowed. At this point, there seems to be no silver bullet for predicting one’s aptitude for early programming success.

A simpler approach to predicting aptitude

We’ve been running a hands-on coding Bootcamp that jump-starts students’ careers as computer programmers specifically for web application development. We accept less than 1/3rd of applicants. As part of the screening, we have prospective students take a basic algebra test.

We also gauge student progress throughout the course and take note of individual progress using an internal normalized stack ranking. A student is given a 4.0 if they’re at the top of their class, and a 1.0 if they’re struggling to apply concepts learned in class. These stack rankings serve two purposes: first, they reveal who should be receiving 1-on-1 help and tutoring during the Bootcamp and, second, they stand as a useful measure of each student’s early programming prowess.

Now that we’ve had over 60 students through our Codeup Bootcamp program, we decided to plot the two variables — performance on the algebra test and programming aptitude — against each other. Below, each dot represents a graduate.

 

Shown above, our students’ performance on the algebra test predicts their future performance on programming tasks. As with all studies involving human subjects, there’s a fair amount of variance and outliers (e.g. the highly-rated student who scored only a 52% on the algebra test). But we can still confidently say that a student who scores a 75% or higher on the test will most likely be an above-average programmer, whereas a student who scores 60% or below will most likely be a below-average programmer.

It’s important to note that students graduating from our Bootcamp program are entry-level web developers; they can write a complete MVC web application using PHP/HTML/CSS/JavaScript from scratch, but they won’t immediately be leading the software design team for the next Twitter or Facebook.

What do these findings mean?

It’s fairly common for incoming Computer Science majors to ask the question, “Why do I have to learn all this math if I just want to learn to program?” The correlation above suggests a possible answer: The ability to understand basic mathematics is likely correlated with the ability to “think algorithmically,” which is well-known to be a foundational skill for expert programmers. Computer Science was founded in mathematics, after all.

On a more practical level, we’ve possibly found a simple method for sorting out the ninja programmers from the less capable programmers. So, if you’re a college student considering a major in Computer Science, take a look back at your algebra scores from high school to get a sense of your algebraic aptitude. And if you’re a recruiter for a growing tech company, try adding a basic algebra test to the interview process when hiring new programmers. In both cases, a 1-hour math test could save you thousands of dollars.

Methods

At the beginning of the Codeup Bootcamp program, students are given between 35 and 55 minutes (depending on the test version) to complete a basic algebra test. The test contains 25-40 questions, such as:

Adriana’s age is 1/3rd of her dad’s age. If her dad is 36 years old, how old is Adriana?

and

There are 3 consecutive integers with a sum of 69. What are they?

No partial credit is given.

To determine a student’s overall stack ranking, we have our instructors periodically rank each student according to how well they have been performing in the current programming module. Students are assigned a 4.0 if they’re at the top of their class, and a 1.0 if they’re struggling to understand and apply coding concepts. The majority of the students receive rankings of 2.0 and 3.0 such that the stack rankings for the entire class form a normal distribution. A student’s overall stack ranking is simply the average of their stack rankings over the entire Bootcamp.

The chart above shows the linear regression over the performance data of all 62 students who have graduated from Codeup Bootcamp. These 62 students come from 3 separate cohorts who took 3 distinct algebra tests. Scroll to the graphs at the bottom of this post to see that, when applied to the data from individual cohorts, all linear regressions show the same positive correlation between test score and programming aptitude with p < 0.01. This finding has therefore been replicated twice with three distinct cohorts of students.

In summary, these math tests – along with stack rankings – have been a handy diagnostic tool for us, and we’d like to share our findings with the world in an effort to both shed light on our own experience and hear plenty of feedback from others. In this new and growing industry, there is so much to learn, and we hope that this study provides food for thought and space for conversation.

Feel free to send lots of comments, questions, and suggestions our way!

 

(See discussion about this post on Hacker News: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8741868).

Interested in learning more about our program and admissions process? Contact us here and we would be happy to chat!

Advice for Programmers

Codeup programming class

Advice for Programmers

As our most recent cohort flies the coop, they leave us with a plethora of wise words for aspiring and experienced programmers alike:

“Work together as much as possible.”

“When you’re stuck on something, don’t be afraid to walk away, take a break, and come back.”

“Read the documentation.”

“Everything builds on the foundation.”

“Ask questions! Don’t be afraid to ask questions.”

“Ask questions even if you think you’ve got it!”

“Take advantage of all the resources available to you.”

“This is all about cooperative and collaborative learning.”

“Accept the confusion. It’s all part of the process.”

“Break everything! Break your code! It’s a great way to learn how things work and how to fix stuff. Don’t be afraid to break things.”

“Leave good comments in your code. You’ll thank yourself later.”

“Working together starts with getting to know each other.”

What are some words of wisdom you’ve gathered from the workplace? Share by commenting below.