Back in May of 2012 I was very curious about programming schools. I asked this question on quora, and then did a bunch more research and got into gSchool for the January 2013 cohort. Now I’m a fulltime developer.
TL;DR: JumpstartLab created a great school and i wouldn’t be here without them. Everyone worked their ass off, we stayed up late, we read a lot of books, and most importantly we learned about the importance of community in-and-around open-source software.
When I was doing research, all I needed to see were a couple blog posts from DevBootCampers mentioning they didn’t get jobs immediately out of school. A similar pattern happened with StarterLeague. It didn’t matter that they were touting cool hiring partners. It was obvious that if any number of people weren’t confident after 9-12 weeks then that wasn’t enough training to become good and confident for an actual beginner. These shorter courses definitely have a place in the community, they should be geared for people that have programmed before. For example if you’ve written PHP or c++ then a shorter class is perfect.
Personally, I wanted to be confident. I wanted to get a real job at a cool company. I didn’t want to go from school to an internship or minimum wage apprenticeship if i didn’t have to.
So my decision to apply for gSchool came down to the fact that it was ran by JumpstartLab, and they’re known for just being programming badasses and amazing teachers. Shereef Bishay sounds like an amazing mentor for a someone ready to build a startup, but nothing comes up about ruby or programming when I google his name. with JumpstartLab, go ahead and google Katrina Owen, or Jeff Casimir, or Franklin Webber.
Thankfully I was accepted and started going through the open source materials on their website(http://tutorials.jumpstartlab.com/). It says something about a program that open sources their material. There is no secret sauce to learning. You learn at a different pace than anyone else. Good teachers understand that and figure out how to help you grow. any course you’re looking at should be willing to share their course material with you before you apply. Would love to see this list change to what are the best OpenSource programming training courses.
A month after starting gSchool I realized that it was right for me. Other developer training programs strive to build ‘world-class-beginners’ but i didn’t want that. I wanted to be a professional developer. I wanted to be able to make anything… Fast forward to graduation and i’m 100% confident. I am confident building web-apps, I am confident building APIs, I am confident building RubyGems. Most importantly i’m confident with Agile TDD, and I have a great job as an engineer doing Agile development. Without a doubt I would make the same decision again if I had the choice. I’m currently employed, and all of the students in my cohort are employed as well. The school transformed us and created lifelong friendships with each other and mentors. I will visit my classmates on vacations.
Beyond learning, we have been surrounded by an amazing culture which literally cannot be found at other developer training courses. Throughout the 6-month session we heard from:
- Dave Thomas(the guy that brought ruby to america)
- Aaron Patterson(@tenderlove, the glue between ruby and rails)
- @DHH(The Guy that Created Rails)
- Jason Fried(the guy that started 37 signals)
- Jose Valim(Rails contributor and creator of Elixir)
- Ben Orenstein(@r00k from Thoughtbot. Giver of Conf Talks.)
- Chad Fowler(Writer of Passionate Programmer and CTO of Wunderlist)
- Chris Kelly(New Relic Happiness Engineer!! coolest job ever)
- Sandi Metz(the Godmother of the Ruby Community, basically the greatest resource ever)
- Clay Johnson(fixing politics with software. marrid to Roz)
- Roz Lemieux(Dev turned Entrepreneur, doing lots of things, marrid to CJoh)
- Jason Carolan(CTO of ViaWest, Very SMART Guy solving giant problems)
- John Athayde(Front-End Genuis, writer of The Rails View)
Most important to our success was an amazing group of mentors and our badass teaching staff. Jeff Casimir leads the show with a huge amount of teaching experience. Katrina Owen is famous in the community because of the talks she gives at conferences and her contributions to open-source and being part of a popular programming podcast. She’s been like an older sister to our group, the type of older sister that makes sure you know your shit. We love her. Steve Klabnik is a rails contributor and web genius. I enjoy nothing more than hearing about open web and metaprogramming. Franklin is the closest to our group, he spends the most time in our class and out of class.
In all the bootcamps, you will get people that are more prepared or more motivated that yourself, as well less prepared or less motivated than yourself. You will also find people with largely differing learning habits. The goal is to find the people that are hungry to learn.
The group of students in my cohort was mixed from complete beginners to people that were comfortable & experienced with CS. Most people had no computer science in their background at all, and most people had non-technical jobs. A few people were in sales, some were team managers and project managers and business consultants. Everyone wanted to change their lives through getting into a new career and learning a new skill. I made some lifelong friends.
Now that I look back, i’d say the most appealing part of gSchool is the instructors and the network they build for you. First of all, the building is filled with VC’s, and CEO’s. If you’re trying to start a company then you’ll have an endless amount of resources. Jeff, Katrina, Steve, and Franklin combined have the largest network of developers/friends/followers than all the other programming courses combined. I would bet that Jeff has more teaching experience than anyone running a programming bootcamp, and it showed during our group conversations.
The most memorable part was the huge amount of community thought-leaders and authors that we got interact with.