6 Reasons Why YOU should be a Code Fellow!

code-fellows-logoLast month, I was one of twenty eager technology professionals looking to upgrade our skill set by participating in Code Fellows‘ first Ruby on Rails bootcamp. It’s a four-week, all-day bootcamp where you learn Ruby on Rails from the ground up in a classroom setting. It’s been a few weeks now and the Code Fellows crew are already well underway accepting the next batch of hackers, so for those of you still debating whether to apply or to accept an offer to join, allow me to tell you why you should take the plunge.

1. You get a job!

Code Fellows’ mantra is “Learn to Code. Get a job. Guaranteed.” and, spoiler warning, it works. Three of us had accepted offers before the bootcamp was even over. Personally, in the weeks after the program I had interviewed with three companies and received three offers and I know there are other classmates in a similar boat. Throughout the program you’re exposed to a multitude of local companies that are hiring and all of them are interested in interviewing students. Initially I was concerned that companies would be leery of such green Rails rookies but since most of us had complementary skills such as front end development, UX designer, or database administration, I think companies were excited to talk to us for hybrid roles.

2. Learn Rails the Fun Way

The two instructors, Brook Riggio and Ivan Storck, were awesome. These are two guys that know their shit. You don’t learn Ruby or Rails from a “here’s every single nuance of the language and framework, 80% of which you’ll never see again” but instead from a perspective of how Rails development works in the real world. Brook and Ivan are active members of the Rails community and presented us with up-to-date information. They’re not like a college professor that learned how to program decades ago and still uses the same textbook from his college days (Actually, the book we used isn’t even released to print yet), but instead they’re two guys that still do consulting work, contribute to active open-source projects, and vigorously keep current with trends in the community.

My one piece of advice is if you do get into Code Fellows, leverage your wisely time with Brook and Ivan. They make themselves wholly accessible and it is so helpful to be able to wheel over to an expert and ask a question, no matter how simple. Ask as much as you can while you can!

3. Quality Mentoring

Part of the Code Fellows experience is getting paired up with a mentor to help you grow into your new role as a Rails developer. You’ll schedule time with your mentor for one-on-one conversations and the directions of these meetings is up to you. My mentor was Jeff Reinecke, senior engineer at WhitePages. He has years of Rails experience, is involved in the hiring of new engineers at his company, and just an overall nice guy. He offered invaluable advice on how to prepare for interviews for Rails positions, the engineering qualities that’d be most valued by a company, and even offered to review the code of my team’s project. I never heard anyone complain about their mentor; in fact, we would start recommending our mentors to other classmates that we thought could help each other. By the end of the program, I definitely had more than the one mentor I was assigned.

4. Weekly talks from Seattle techies

Every Friday the Code Fellows team will bring in a pair of speakers to talk to us about a variety of helpful topics surrounding the life of a Seattle engineer. We had CEOs come in to talk to us about what value most in a developer, COOs coaching us on how to negotiate a salary, senior engineers detailing how to stay current and active in the Rails community, lead designers describing optimal user experiences, startup founders on how to bootstrap a company, and just so many other great speakers. They really covered the gamut.

5. Your network will explode

Code Fellows is held within the offices of Founders Co-op which is operated by arguably Seattle’s two leading seed investors Andy Sack and Chris Devore. Within these walls are some of the coolest early-stage startups in the Seattle area and every one of them are eager to talk with and mentor the Code Fellows students. This is the epicenter of Seattle’s startup scene and it’s an invigorating hive of activity, especially with the current crop teams of Microsoft Azure TechStars joining in.

6. You’ll make sustaining connections with your classmates

Last day of Code FellowsSince Code Fellows is an invitation-only kind of program, the managing team spends time finding truly qualified and quality people to take part of the program. In a typical classroom setting, you expect for there to always to be one or two people that will slow down the pace of the class or just be a constant annoyance, but I was amazed at how well we all got along and how friendly and helpful we were to each other. Even though Code Fellows ended over two weeks ago, I’m still hanging out with some classmates every day. Just think, you’re all here and were chosen to be there for the same reason: you’re a motivated person that loves to sling code, so it’s real easy to identify and click with these other people.

I feel like I’ve written a novel yet I’ve barely scratched the surface of my Code Fellows experience. I think you can gather by now that I felt it was an entirely worthwhile experience and I’m sure it’ll be just as good for you. Hopefully our class worked out all of the kinks and trust me when I say we’re all jealous you’ll get to spend an additional two more weeks in the program. If you’re on the fence about applying, jump down and just do it. It costs nothing to apply and everyone involved is kind, helpful and eager to help create a new generation of Seattle software engineers. You won’t regret it.

So now that I’ve completed the course, what’s next for me? As I mentioned earlier I had three truly awesome offers right out of the gate and if I needed to take steady employment right this minute, I could easily do so. However, I’ve always had that startup itch and after being in this inspiring environment for over a month now, I feel like it’s time for me to take the plunge. Code Fellows helped round out my development skill set and transition into a full-stack engineer. It has given me the confidence to programmatically tackle the idea I’ve been kicking around in my head and I haven’t been this excited to be working on something in a long time.

I hope this has been helpful and in the spirit of the program, I’d be glad to help anyone who has further questions.

16 thoughts on “6 Reasons Why YOU should be a Code Fellow!

  1. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Preet

    June 13, 2013 at 10:02pm

    Hi Alec!

    I stumbled upon your site through my research on Ruby and specifically Code Fellows’ Ruby bootcamp. I am a 35 year old former restaurateur who is looking to change careers and get into web dev. I do not have any programming experience but am definitely very passionate to learn. I recently started Codecademy to gain some basic knowledge, and am enrolled for the June 24th course at Thinkful. I think their 3 month course will give me a good foundation to then apply for Code Fellows and become proficient with Ruby on Rails.

    Do you think that this is a decent plan for a beginner?
    Any advice or tips on getting accepting into Code Fellows? You obviously have a very impressive resume with the amazing past development work you have done.
    Anything else that you could advise me on?

    I would really, really appreciate any sort of help you could provide. This is something I really want to do and I would be so happy to gain knowledge from someone who is already where I want to be.

    Thank you so much!

    • Permalink  ⋅ Reply

      alecmatias

      June 14, 2013 at 7:30am

      Hello, Preet! It sounds like you’re taking some really great first steps. I’m a big fan of Codecademy and think that’s an excellent way to start. I would suggest doing the following tracks in this order: Web Fundamentals > jQuery > JavaScript > Projects > Ruby. APIs would be good extra credit.

      As for Thinkful, I hadn’t heard of it before but if Peter Thiel is an investor I imagine they have to be doing something right. Please let me know how it goes.

      If you can survive those tracks on Codecademy and get through Thinkful, I think you’d be a very appealing candidate to Code Fellows. It would show you have not only the passion but the drive to become a programmer. Execution is what matters, so don’t skip a day to practice coding.

      I hope that helped. I can’t wait to see you at Founder’s Co-op one day!

    • Permalink  ⋅ Reply

      Rose E

      September 9, 2013 at 5:09pm

      Hey Preet,

      I graduated from Thinkful in August, and am currently at the interview stage for Code Fellows. Thinkful gave me a good portfolio of HTML5, CSS3, and jQuery on Github for Code Fellows to look through. Trust me, Thinkful’s program won’t hurt your chances a bit :0)

      If you’re looking to do Rails, and have no prior experience, here are my humble study suggestions in order:
      1. Code Academy’s Ruby track
      2. RubyMonk.com beginner and ascender levels
      3. David A. Black’s The Well Grounded Rubyist 2.0. (The MEAP version is available on Manning.com now at 50% off until 9/12. The code is: wgrlaunch50)

      I list these three suggestions because (obviously) Rails is built in Ruby. Understanding blocks, custom and baked in classes, custom and baked in modules, methods, self, and inheritance can’t hurt going in. Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter! My handle is @roseemmons. I talk with many former and current Thinkful students on Twitter all the time. I’d love to speak with you too!

      All my best,

      Rose

      Don’t sweat the age stuff darling! I’m a 35 year old *single mom* who’s coming from systems administration looking to make a change too. We’re all in this together. Did you apply for Code Fellows? If so, connect with me on Twitter. My handle is @roseemmons.

      • Permalink  ⋅ Reply

        Rose E

        September 9, 2013 at 5:10pm

        Darn it, meant to put a PS at the end. Sorry!

    • Permalink  ⋅ Reply

      Brett

      October 29, 2013 at 10:14am

      Hey Preet,
      I am in the process of joining the Thinkful course. I am nervous about joining, since I want to be sure I will be prepared enough to find a job when I am finished. What was your experience like?
      Were you able to find a job once you completed the course with your portfolio?
      Thanks very much!

      Brett

  2. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Olga

    July 10, 2013 at 6:13am

    Hi Alec! So are they offering evening bootcamp classes? I live in Tacoma and have a full time job which I cannot quit of course…

  3. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Tyler

    July 10, 2013 at 3:11pm

    Hey Alec! Loved reading this entry!

    I just applied to codefellows, and have an interview lined up. I’m super excited/nervous. If you don’t mind, what was the interview like? Should I expect to write some code, or is it more getting to know you talks, etc…

    Also, if I do happen to make it through, what things should I do to prepare myself? I have some “minor” programming background, but am nervous I’ll be that one chump slowing the class down, and that terrifies me!

    Honestly I’ve got so many questions, as this is a huge first step towards an awesome future, and I want to make sure I’m prepared, and get the most out of it. I’d love to pick your brain, feel free to email me and hopefully we can chat!

    - Tyler

    • Permalink  ⋅ Reply

      alecmatias

      July 10, 2013 at 4:41pm

      Thanks, Tyler!

      The application process has been refined tremendously since I applied. I would definitely anticipate writing code, but don’t fret too much; it’s not as strenuous as interviewing for Amazon.

      If you’re applying to the Rails course, I recommend boning up on the Ruby language. Complete courses on sites like Try Ruby or Codecademy. You’re going to jump into Rails hot-n-heavy, so best to be familiar with Ruby beforehand.

      What’s great about Code Fellows is that it’s a tolerant, no-jerk environment. Everyone is there to learn and you’ll definitely connect with a few classmates who will help pick you up when you’re down because you’re going to do the same for them later on. I was actually amazed at the camaraderie we developed and I still talk and hang out with multiple classmates daily. Yes, DAILY!

      Feel free to contact me with more questions either here or by email. It’s my name at gmail dot com.

      • Permalink  ⋅ Reply

        Tyler

        July 12, 2013 at 2:31pm

        Thanks so much for the reply and advice. I really appreciate it!
        It’s so cool to hear that your friends with some of the class now. Some friends and collaborators are one of the major things I look forward to getting out of this class. Right now I’m just a lone-coder not having any of my buddies interested in programming. So when I make it in to codefellows I’m going to hit you up!

        Take care, and thanks again man.

    • Permalink  ⋅ Reply

      Andre

      July 18, 2013 at 3:24pm

      Hey Tyler, how did the application process go prior to receiving an in person interview? I recently applied myself and got a response saying I need to post a video explaining something and show some example work on github. What comes next? Best of in your interview!

  4. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Andre

    July 18, 2013 at 3:28pm

    best of luck* phone posts can get tricky :p

    • Permalink  ⋅ Reply

      Tyler

      July 18, 2013 at 3:48pm

      Hey Andre. Interview went great thanks! As far as what to expect after submitting your 60 sec vid they scheduled a quick interview. About 10 min. In the interview it’s super laid back, they’re awesome, they asked a few abstract computer science questions, why you’d be a good fit, future plans, etc… Nothing to bad. Pretty much just getting to know you and see where your at. Then the next step is a coding challenge which you should do fine with some practice from code school etc… Hope it goes well!

      • Permalink  ⋅ Reply

        Andre

        July 18, 2013 at 5:04pm

        Thanks, I have a couple more questions if you don’t mind me asking but I think it’d be more appropriate for us to connect via f6s, after all we could be future classmates! http://www.f6s.com/andrebautista

      • Permalink  ⋅ Reply

        Lee

        August 6, 2013 at 10:27pm

        Hi, Tyler did you get accepted after your interview? did you go in person or was it via Skype? also when did you do the coding challenge during or after?

  5. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

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