My interest for coding was completely by accident. At the start of the pandemic, I was sent home suddenly and like the rest of the world, my life completely changed. I was forced to switch from in-person, high energy strength training of high school athletes to designing workouts remotely and gauging progress with virtual check ins. I needed something to challenge me and fill the down time.
A friend suggested I try free coding classes on Codecademy. As a small-town girl and coach, I laughed at the suggestion. I had never thought about the web much or the then foreign processes that make our technology-infused world what it is today. However, when I received a text message link to the website, I decided to give it a go.
After the first few concepts, I was hooked. I worked to complete lessons between Zoom calls during the day and spent my evenings learning as much as possible about programming basics. A problem that I didn’t quite understand the night before was the first thing I wanted to tackle in the morning. It was clear, coding was quickly becoming more than just a pandemic extracurricular activity.
I was ecstatic when I learned about ‘bootcamps’ and realized that I could actually make my budding interest into a career. If you’re anything like me, and deep in the bootcamp search, you might be feeling all of the emotions. It’s exciting to begin the journey and “take the leap,” but as a new programmer, how do you know which bootcamp is the best fit? Which one has the strongest curriculum? What languages are going to be the most transferable? What is going to make you the most competitive in the job market? Are you really going to be able to get a job? These are just a few of the questions that crossed my mind as I sifted through the myriad of bootcamp options.
After considering the curriculum, time, and financial cost of multiple programs, I landed at The Flatiron School. I graduated in March 2021 and am here to tell you about my experiences over the past year in the part-time online program. I am not going to dive deep into the structure of the program but want to provide advice and an honest evaluation.
2. The first two weeks of the program are known as the “First Mile.” During this time, you are required to complete a set number of lessons as well as a blog in order to continue in the cohort. The First Mile is designed to challenge you and give you an idea of the typical weekly workload. In my opinion, this period was much more intense than the rest of the program. If you are able to complete it, you likely have good time management skills and will do well throughout the rest of the program. You also have orientation, which is the first time you meet your Instructor, Educational Coach, and classmates. They do a wonderful job of quickly making you feel at home and part of the community.
3. I had the absolute BEST instructor. He challenged and supported me. One thing that stuck out was his passion for teaching and continued learning. He taught everyone in my cohort to be curious and never stop learning. He truly cared about every student and was crucial in my development. Between one-on-one calls, debugging over Slack, and answering questions during live lectures, he was always available and excited to help us learn.
4. Technical coaches are available to help debug and screen-share with you whenever you need help on lessons. I was so impressed by the teaching ability and patience of these coaches. I am now in a technical coach position and have an even greater appreciation for the work they do.
5. You are required to complete five major projects for each of the five phases of the program. They outline the requirements so students have the freedom to build something they are passionate about and that also solves a problem. There are definitely challenging and frustrating moments, but these projects provided some of my best learning moments and built my confidence as I saw projects from an idea to completion.
6. There is also a huge sense of community, more so than I ever imagined with an online program. I was able to participate in a variety of events and lectures, and as a result felt extremely supported and connected to my peers.
7. Flatiron has a post-graduation curriculum to continue your learning as well as an extensive career services process. The career prep goes over everything from sending a networking email to mock technical interviews to negotiating an offer. They even pair you with a coach who you work with throughout your entire job search.
1. Other than debugging with members of your cohort, there are no lessons that are required to be completed in teams or partners. I would have enjoyed more direct collaboration, as this is how it is in a real job setting.
2. I was enrolled in the online part-time program, which is described as 20–25 hours per week. However, I spent between 40–50 hours per week between lectures and coursework. If you currently have a full-time job, expect to spend more 20 hours per week, especially when working on a project.
With all this in mind, I would 100% recommend The Flatiron School. It was an incredible experience and one of the hardest things I’ve done, but I learned SO MUCH.
It is exciting and scary to take the leap into a new career, but I honestly have no regrets. If you have any questions or comments, please reach out and I would love to help in any way!