Coding isn’t just for nerds anymore.
Many people who came from a liberal arts background, or just want to change careers, have decided to attend coding bootcamps in order to get into the more lucrative world of software development. In fact, a CourseReport analysis showed that coding bootcamp graduates experience a 64 percent lift in salary after graduating from a bootcamp… not too shabby when you consider the rising cost of living in Austin.
Being a center for tech means Austin has plenty of coding bootcamps where students can learn to code and take the next step in their web development career. They all have different styles, but one thing is the same — for those who want a new career in computer science, coding bootcamps are a full-time job.
One of two coding bootcamps to open in 2016, Galvanize also functions as a coworking space, creating what Galvanize General Manager Bill Blackstone calls a “learning community for technology.”
The Galvanize coding bootcamp is a full-time, 24-week immersive program that costs $21,000, one of the longer coding bootcamps comparatively. Blackstone says that from Galvanize’s experience, to really understand the nature of being a full stack developer, “you need six months to garnish the skills you need to take advantage of web development jobs out there.”
Blackstone points out that Galvanize has always tried to stay current on the latest tech trends — the full-time instructors are working with Continuum Analytics to teach the company’s anaconda platform to their students.
While the length of the program may be a deterrent to some, for alum Erika Angarita, it was just the right length for her to feel confident about leaving her legal career. There was something else that she was concerned about.
“English isn’t my mother tongue, so I had to learn to differentiate what was web developer language and what was English,” she said.
Angarita said classes usually ran from 9 to 5, with instructor training in the morning, and exercises in the afternoon. She liked the sense of a larger community at Galvanize, and the fact that Galvanize owned the space, which enabled her to work on weekends. By the end of her time at Galvanize, she had procured employment at Atlassian.
Companies have benefitted from Galvanize graduates as well. Sandbox Commerce founder Sterling Smith likes that Galvanize doesn’t charge him anything to recruit engineers, and he used some of the Galvanize engineers to help develop an app for his company last semester.
In some cases, coding bootcamps can replace college for their participants. Zach Gaines, a developer at Cylance felt he wasn’t getting the education he wanted after three semesters at Michigan Tech. When he told his friend he wanted to be able to create, his friend mentioned General Assembly as an option. He looked at a couple of other bootcamps, but settled on General Assembly in May of 2016.
Halfway through the course I was able to make an interactive website with databases.
Gaines went on a similar schedule to Angarita, coming in at nine and working on instructor-led exercises. He also had 1-2 hours of homework a night.
While managing his final project, Gaines also worked on his own personal project. His interviews started during the tenth week of the course and had close to 20 interviews.
“General Assembly did a great job of making my resume look great, and they are up-to-date with the material they teach,” he said. “Most of all, I loved the community at GA.”
The 12-week course cost $13,950. General Assembly grads have gone on to places in Austin like Bazaarvoice, IBM, UT Austin, HomeAway and Razorfish. Director of Communications Marissa Arnold says that 99 percent of General Assembly graduates receive job offers within 180 days.
Another new-to-Austin bootcamp, Dev Bootcamp has locations elsewhere in San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Seattle and San Diego. The 18-week course differs from its competitors in that the first nine weeks of the course are online part-time, while the last nine weeks are at Dev Bootcamp’s location at 17th and Guadalupe.
The program costs $12,700, and attracts a whole host of people, including Sean Witt, who got his start in coding after touring with Pete Townsend of The Who.
“After the project came to an end, I was looking at what to do with my life,” he said. “My mother is a VP at a tech company in Colorado and convinced me to look at coding.”
Witt did not want to be out of work for very long, and the part-time nature of the first part of Dev Bootcamp, which for Witt took 15-25 hours a week, enabled him to continue his job working at Guitar Center in Austin. While focused on coding languages like Ruby, and SQL, Witt noted another key feature about Dev Bootcamp that he liked.
“Dev Bootcamp focuses on engineering empathy,” he said. “You’re not only learning practical coding knowledge, but you’re getting the whole self-approach to being a coder.”
“The empathy part gets you to be open to a more diverse crowd.”
Witt, who now works as a Software Engineer for Umbel, says Dev Bootcamp’s model is very much “figure it out”, noting that a part of being a good developer is having “great Google skills”. However, instructors were never more than five feet away during days that lasted as long at 12 hours and ran six days a week.
“We got there at nine, and by ten we were left to code all day,” he said. “Instructions were left for us- one day the instructions might be “make a computer model that solves sudoku.”
Tom Ho, a developer at TenFold, was drawn to Dev Bootcamp as a way to get back into engineering after doing more quality assurance work. His highlight was the one-week career intensive week Dev Bootcamp had at the end of the program.
“We were taught how to best model our LinkedIn profiles, resume prep, how to do cold introductions, and other things that would help us find a job quickly after we graduated from the program,” he said.
Dev Bootcamp is starting 2017 off on a strong foot.
Campus Director Whitney O’Banner said the company recently launched a partnership with Adobe, building on a 2016 which saw the company provide partial-tuition scholarships to 40 LGBT students thanks to a partnership with Lesbians Who Tech, and to grant 20 full-tuition scholarships to underrepresented communities in coordination with Facebook.
Additionally, the company partnered with Austin-based Skills Fund to offer low-interest loans for qualified Dev Bootcamp applicants. Graduated students have gone on to companies like Salesforce, Box, Buzzfeed and Apple among others.
Formerly Makersquare, the company founded by UT alum Ravi Parikh has recently rebranded as Hack Reactor Austin after being acquired by the Hack Reactor company in 2015. That acquisition and rebrand has only led to more opportunities to provide quality programming for its programming students, and some wrinkles that other coding schools do not offer, says Employee Partnerships Manager Sean Duffy.
“One thing that we’ve been focused on that differentiates us from other schools is the fact that we have a corporate strategies and work to match companies up with student interests,” he said. “These corporate strategies partnerships helps us align students with jobs right out of the gate.”
After students pass the interview test for HackReactor, which features a readiness test (Duffy recommends students do pre-course work beforehand) students start the first of two phases of the Hack Reactor program. The junior phase involves learning a skill, with the culmination being a greenfield project, which requires students to build a functioning code phase. What’s interesting about this is that the project gets turned over to the next group to work on- it never ends.
“In a real-life situation a developer will have to deal with legacy code,” Duffy says. “They’ll have to figure out if the previous person documented the code correctly, and how they can improve upon it- it’s the day-to-day task of any working developer. The senior phase portion of the program involves learning inudstry best practice, app design and development, as well job search and interview skills.
Hack Reactor also focus on teaching students what whiteboarding sessions look like in a job interview. For $17,780, Duffy says students get more skills than just learning how to be full-stack developers.
Each day, Hack Reactor students have a set time for activities. Some days have an extended lunch so participants can go to the gym or take their time with a leisurely lunch. One interesting aspect of the day comes at night when students participate in individual lectures.
“These lectures can be everything from intro to beekeeping to how-to’s, designed to improve a student’s presentation and communications skills,” Duffy said.
Hack Reactor boasts a 91 percent hiring rate, with companies like Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Paypal hiring Hack Reactor graduates.
Other Coding Schools In Austin
With a ratio of four jobs available to one qualified candidate for each position, the desire for coding professionals is in high demand. Other schools in Austin like Austin Coding Academy, Batch Academy, and the Iron Yard also offer ways for students to learn complex coding language and began their careers in web and software development.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the duration of Dev Bootcamp’s program.