Learn To Code Resources: Part Three

This is part of the Learn To Code Resources series.

During the last six months it feels like at every Seattle.rb meeting we have someone who is brand new and asks “How do I learn to code?” or “How do I learn Ruby?”. After answering this question a 6+ times I figured I should write everything down so I wouldn’t forget things. I’ve broken this up into a series of blog posts, each with recommendations for different audiences.

Part 3a: Seattle Coding Bootcamps

Seattle has two well known coding bootcamps, Code Fellows and Ada Developers Academy. I have some in person experience with participants in each but I’ve never attended either bootcamp so I don’t have first hand experience. YMMV.

Code Fellows

I currently work with a Code Fellows grad and Code Fellows students come to Seattle.rb pretty often. I’ve seen some of the assignments and I’ve been impressed with what I’ve seen. The assignments reflect practical and real world skills that a professional developer needs.

The biggest impression I have of Code Fellows is that you get out what you put into it. The folks I know who’ve learned the most are incredibly driven and spend 12+ hours a day learning and studying while in the program and at least a few hours a day after graduating.

Ada Developers Academy

Ada is still pretty new. The first class is currently doing their internships and I’m excited to see where they’ll be working once interships are over. I saw some interesting and well executed projects from the first cohort and I expect that future cohorts will be just as awesome.

General Thoughts On Coding Bootcamps

After being initially skeptical of Dev Bootcamps I’ve come to appreciate the work they do and believe they have a place in the landscape of “ways people learn to be developers”. Still I usually tell folks thinking about a dev bootcamp to consider a couple things:

  1. Not all dev bootcamps are the same. Some are targeted at beginners. Some are focused on folks switching technologies or roles. Some have a money back guarantee. Some do not. Do your research. Make sure that the program you are looking at is a good match for your current skills and your career goals.

  2. I’ve yet to see a dev bootcamp that has a 100% placement rate. I’m sure one exists but I’m not aware of it. Before commiting find out how the graduates of the program are doing. How many are employed within 6 months? How many are still in tech a year later? Completing a dev bootcamp does not guarantee a good job. Some companies are still skeptical of non-traditional education. Personally, I know more bootcamp grads that are unemployed or not employed in tech than I do ones who’ve found tech jobs (there is some sample bias here).

  3. Be sure you have the time to invest in a bootcamp. 8-12 hours a day seems common from the successful folks I know. Additionally many bootcamps want their applicants to learn the basics of coding before they apply. I don’t think any of this is bad but it something folks should know.

Part 3b: Other In Person Resources

In addition to dev bootcamps there are other ways to learn and meet other people interested in code in your area. Here are a couple resources for Seattle (all of which have similar groups in other cities).

Seattle.rb

Seattle.rb aspires to be welcoming to new developers, visitors, and regulars a like. I think we do a good job but a room of nerds can be intimidating to some folks. If you are going to visit Seattle.rb bring a laptop and a project, problem, or question. Find someone who looks like they’re coding and say “I’m new can you help me?” or “Are you here for the Ruby Meetup?” If they can’t help you they will probably direct you to someone who can.

Not in Seattle? There’s most likely a Ruby user group near you. Some will be less beginner friendly than others but give it a shot and ask for their tips about local resources.

RailsBridge

RailsBridge workshops are a one day intensive that gives you a taste of programming in Ruby using Rails. You’ll probably leave the workshop with a basic website on the internet. This can be a good way to get a taste of Ruby if you’ve worked in another language (or if you’ve written code long ago). Keep in mind this is a tasting. You probably won’t leave the workshop a Ruby expert but folks at the workshop should be able to direct you to “what next?” resources. RailsBridge is in many cities across the globe. Rails Girls is a similar event with a different curriculum if RailsBridge is not in your area.

Girl Develop It

Girl Develop It teaches a variety of classes in several cities. I don’t have any personal experience with their program (yet!) but several folks I know and respect have been involved with Girl Develop It for years. This is a great way to check out a bunch of different things in a friendly, supportive environment.