Q:Eric, I'm going into DBC Chicago in late June, and I saw that your hiring day was lackluster. Was it like that for previous cohorts? How are those guys doing on getting jobs? Are you worried about not finding something? Thanks, Mark
Thanks for asking! Since there’s a hiring day every 3 weeks, and only 12-18 people or so looking for jobs on hiring day, there’s not as much incentive for employers to come as there was when it was only every 3+ months, and there were 40 or 50 people looking for jobs.
The expectation coming to Dev Bootcamp, at least as it is now, should be that you’re going to be getting a great education, meet a lot of great people, have amazing resources in terms of teachers and mentors. And that you’ll be taking your skills to the world to convince a company that you would be a good hire, because they’re probably not going to come running to you.
That being said, I’ve had a much better response with companies so far as a junior developer than I ever had looking for other jobs. Lots of interviews, and there are plenty of opportunities out there. It seems like most everyone looking from previous cohorts are finding jobs, it’s just a process that takes time. I’m not really worried; it just takes time to find the right fit.
I present to you, AwesomeB.us - or - Final projects, hiring day, and the next step
We finished up our final projects yesterday and practiced our presentations in preparation for this morning, 9:30am, when we present in front of all students, staff, and a couple potential employers. It’s http://awesomeb.us, and it’s by far the best thing I’ve built while here at Dev Bootcamp. Julianne, Hannah, Julie, and I spent a full week, sacrificing sleep to get the project to what you see now. It’s nowhere near “launch” ready, but it’s something like a minimum viable product.
Hiring day was a bit lackluster, and I knew from the outset that I was almost certainly not going to get hired from today. It seems like it’s more for employers to get a sense of DBC as a program rather than a place for boots to actually get jobs.
I’m definitely doing phase 4, so my DBC experience isn’t quite over yet, but now I’m full into job-hunting mode. My phase 4 plan is to find a job, build a backbone.js app, finish up my personal site, and learn as much as possible from my amazing phase 4 instructors, Keith and Jessie.
The rest of today, as far as I know, and based on previous graduation days, is a bunch of waiting around for our graduation party that starts at 5:00.
That’s all for today, folks. If anyone knows a company that’s interested in hiring a junior developer, I know a great one, so get in touch.
In the midst of the final project
I’ve spend the past four days working on my final project, and there are just three and a half days left before presenting it in whatever form that takes.
Our project is Awesome Bus. Imagine Google transit directions, but with live GPS location prediction data instead of just the bus/train schedules. If you live in San Francisco and take a route that includes a lot of walking, infrequent buses, or multiple connections, then you’ve probably had the experience of switching between Google Maps and a bus prediction service to figure out when you actually need to leave to get to your destination, because Google says you’ll get there 5 minutes early if you take the bus that’s in 30 minutes, but the bus is actually coming in either 15 minutes or 45 minutes.
It’s definitely an ambitious project, but we’re coming into this week strong, and will push the best product we can by Thursday afternoon, when we show our work to all the DBC students and staff.
The stretch run.
It seems like all eyes are on the final project in my cohort with just two more days of drills before moving on to our 7 day long final project run. The water cooler talk is a lot about “do you have an idea to pitch?” For me, I don’t yet, but I feel that I might come up with something before Thursday morning… maybe.
Thursday morning is when we do our pitches, and everyone in all cohorts votes on the ideas they most want to see implemented. The top four ideas each get a team of 3 or 4 to work on it. It’s an exciting process, and the past two times I’ve gone through it, it was awesome to watch the phase 3 students make rapid progress on their idea and come through with a fairly polished product after just one short week.
The time is near, and when my project and team is chosen I’ll lay out here what our idea and projected scope of the project is, so that there will be a record of how (potentially over-)ambitious we were.
Is Phase 3 going to be the shortest phase?
It already seems like this is going to be the shortest of the required three phases. We were told today that this is the structure of Dev Bootcamp…
Get acquainted with the environment.
Learn the basics of Object Oriented programming, Ruby blocks, and begin to understand ActiveRecord.
- Plug in Matrix-style to a ton of new technologies, and try to absorb a enough about all of them to make a full-stack web app, top to bottom.
Learn what Rails makes easy, that we had to do manually in Sinatra during Phase 2.
Learn testing, and begin to understand Test Driven Development.
Learn how to work on a team, as an “employee” rather than as a student (the teacher interaction will be primarily pairing, rather than lectures).
Overall, I’m excited to be working on projects, but this week we will learn Testing tomorrow, do a couple of projects, and then by Thursday morning next week already be working on our final projects! That just seems so incredibly soon, even though we just jumped into the first bit of Rails this afternoon. That’s why I think it’s going to be the shortest.
Oh yeah. I realized that I forgot to mention what my second biggest takeaway from Dev Bootcamp has been in my last post (I said I had two, and only mentioned one). The second is the people. I’ve met a lot of incredible people here over the past 6 weeks, and part of the reason that I want to stay for Phase 4 is to develop these friendships further. I love hanging around this group of incredibly smart and motivated people, and this environment seems pretty unique; I don’t think I’ll find a similar learning/working environment so easily.
Onward to phase 3!
Today the Banana Slugs graduated, which signified for us, the Golden Bears, that we are now the senior figures in the building. Almost all of the Banana Slugs are sticking around for Phase 4, an optional additional 3 weeks of learning, but students while they’re in phase 4 are looked at less as students, and more as something like domain experts that just happen to be studying alongside us who are still struggling through the first 9 weeks.
I’m looking forward to the third phase a lot; it means spending all my time building projects with all the friends I’ve made over the past 3 weeks, and then spending the last week and a half pitching a final product idea, and assembling a team to work with on building out something completely new and useful (hopefully) to the world, rather than making clones of other websites (which is really useful, but not as fulfilling).
I haven’t decided myself whether or not I’m going to go onto phase 4, so I don’t know if I’m 3 weeks or 6 weeks from being out of here. I’m leaning towards doing it, because I know I’m part of something really great and I’m not sure if I’ll have another chance to be part of such an amazing learning environment again.
Someone currently not affiliated with Dev Bootcamp asked me today what my biggest takeaways have been so far. There are really two, and I think they’re equally important. The first is that I’ve learned that I’m much more capable of learning and building things than I knew. Being at Dev Bootcamp has developed this skill of being able to take on something that I don’t understand at all, and just digging in and figuring it out. The support here is great, but I’m confident that when I’m out of here I’ll be able to carry this skill with me wherever I go from here.
Week 5 was a blur. I forget where week 4 ended and where week 5 started. Now that we’ve moved from distinct topics every week in phase one (ruby fundamentals, then object oriented ruby, then database interaction) to building incrementally more complex web applications on a daily basis, there isn’t a clear break between weeks. Weeks 4-6 still have names (web fundamentals, front end, and web apps), but really they all overlap.
Thursday is also our assessment, where we’ll get judged as to whether we’re ready to move to phase 3, or if we need to repeat phase 2 again. This past Thursday we had a “mock” assessment, where we are graded on a scale of 1 to 4, where 1 is “drowning”, 2 is “treading water”, 3 is “swimming”, and 4 is “lapping”. The impression I got was that “drowning” means that the assessor thinks that there is a significant chance of the assessed person needing to repeat, “treading water” means there’s a slight chance, and “swimming” or “lapping” means that the assessed is on a great pace. I was told that I am “swimming” (very few people got “lapping”, I think just two), and so I’m not worried about this Thursday, but I know that the assessment is hanging over the head of a lot of my fellow cohort-mates.
This should be a fun week! I look forward to seeing what I can build.
Another week down. Approaching the half way mark.
Week 4 and one day into Dev Bootcamp. We just spent the last week learning Sinatra on a small, concise application skeleton that was custom made for DBC by Jesse Farmer. It’s really easy to get a handle on, and really powerful.
Last week we were thrown into the deep end on Monday with Sinatra, jQuery, HTML, CSS, AJAX, ActiveRecord, and a few other details that we had never, or had hardly ever seen. While this was certainly a little frustrating at first, I’ve soon realized the genius of it. It gave us a good overview of where we stood as a group, and add individuals with our skill sets, and gave us time to attack our weaknesses.
Now I’m fairly comfortable with everything but the Ajax, jQuery, and JS. Fortunately for me, this week, starting today, is a deep dive into the front end. I was fortunate enough to work with Chris Malin today, and we built an app that I’m fairly proud of called Nyan Cat Racer. It’s a two player typing game that can be found at http://nyan-cat-racer.herokuapp.com
Is pretty fun if I do say so myself. Click the characters to change their skin, then race by pressing the corresponding button with your player position.
If yeah, in the midst of all of this, I turned 24 just over an hour ago… Time seems to not flow steadily at DBC.
Q:I just got accepted into DBC. Is the 20% needing to repeat a phase thing pretty common? I'm trying to figure out how many months to budget for when I move to California and I'm curious what the likely-hood of my needing to repeat a phase would be.
Sorry for being late getting back to you. It’s honestly all about preparation. If you prepare well enough and come in with a good fundamental understanding of the basics of Ruby, and spend a little time touching html, css, object oriented programming principles, etc you shouldn’t worry about it.
Are you going to be looking for a job in SF? If so, make sure to budget some time for the job search. If you want more advice about your specific situation, send me an email at email@example.com
Best of luck with your preparation, and get ready to have an awesome experience at DBC!