Ask a Bootcamp Leader: Lawrence Reaves of Coder Foundry
Lawrence, can you run us through a typical day running your coding bootcamp?
Coder Foundry has two programs: a daytime and a nighttime. The daytime program meets at 9:00 am to 6 pm. and meets Monday – Friday. It is 12 weeks and is the full time immersion class. The 12 weeks is very structured and rigorous for the student. Basically, we cover MVC and Angular during that 12 weeks and they produce several projects using those technologies. On Mondays we work on technology presentations to the business unit, it is a time when students review their projects with the business unit much like they will in their job as a developer. Fridays are lab days. In between we have a combination of lectures and material presentation sessions followed by coding sessions. There is a lot of learning by doing. The night time class runs from 6-9 pm. It covers the same curriculum, but is stretched over 24 weeks. At the midpoint mark in both classes, we engage our job placement services team. At this point the student has a portfolio of work that they can demonstrate to the prospective employer. We begin to line up job interviews based on the background of the student.
The coding bootcamp/immersive program is a recent trend, and new courses continue to pop up every day. Is there a unique feature to Coder Foundry?
We have a curriculum dedicated to full stack .Net development because our focus is for full-time corporate job placement for our students. Ultimately we are the program for the guy that is looking for a full-time corporate job developing software. Someone that is looking for the salary, benefits, paid vacation, 401k. I.e. the full corporate job package. The career in software development. We are working with hiring companies that rely on .Net to drive their business and that is why we chose the .Net curriculum. These companies chose .Net because it is mature, scalable, well-supported and proven. If the companies we were working with were demanding Ruby developers then that is what our curriculum would revolve around. So it is not a religion war with us, we are just responding to the market demand for coders as we see it. So we want to do more than teach you to code, we want to put you in a job where you use what you learned.
I also have to add our staff makes a difference as well. We have a professional lead instructor that has been teaching CS at the university level for years. He knows how to code, but more importantly he knows how to teach and has a passion for it. We also have a job placement arm that is staffed full time, working with our students and employers.
What backgrounds do you find your applicants usually coming from? Is there a particular kind of student or learning style that excels in your programs?
Our typical student has relevant background in coding, technology and/or education. The typical student has an undergraduate degree or about 5 years professional work experience in technology on average. Some have advanced degrees. All students coming into our program have a basic understanding of coding with a level of proficiency. That profile is what we what we tend to look for because those seem to be the most successful with the program. We also find that recent CS or IT undergrads excel as well, they are able to leverage a solid broad conceptual background with the hard coding skills we teach. We tend to look for the students that will excel in our program and most importantly graduate with the ability to add value to a corporate development team from day 1 on the job.
What are some of the biggest challenges facing your coding bootcamp and the industry today?
Some people are not familiar with the concept of a coding bootcamp. So, general education about bootcamps and how they work is still an issue in some areas.
Since your first cohorts, how has the direction of your coding bootcamp changed over time, if at all?
We constantly tweak what we are doing from QA processes, student and hiring company feedback and technology changes.
What kind of roles, jobs, and/or companies do your programs ready your students for?
Our students are placed into jobs as software developers by Coder Foundry. They are junior to senior developer positions based on the background of the student. The companies are across industries and small to large companies. The common thread is the technology of choice is .Net. Our students are able to go into these interviews with a portfolio of relevant projects and discuss the technologies they use and demonstrate that they are proficient and able to add value to the hiring company from the first day.
What's the best advice for students who want to attend your coding bootcamp?
Let's have a conversation. It is a big commitment, it is a ton of work. But it pays off for our graduates. We want to make sure it is a good fit for the student and Coder Foundry. We want every student to be successful and realize their goals when they come here. Generally, it just starts with a conversation about the student's goals and background.
What's the best advice for people who want to start a bootcamp?
You really need to have something you can leverage to help make your bootcamp successful. And by successful, we measure that by students that are in the industry coding. We have an extensive background in software. The owners of Coder Foundry are veterans of the software industry and have started software companies and custom software development shops. We really see this as a natural extension of what we have been doing in the industry for the past 20 years.
How do you see the learn to code movement and the bootcamp industry changing over the next one to five years? Where do you see these programs fitting into the larger picture of education?
The demand for coders is real and is forecasted to grow at double digit rates. There is no institution that is generating coders. The university level fails as a result of the accreditation process that hamstrings their ability to keep pace with faster technology changes. Therefore the bootcamp movement has sprung up to produce these individuals that companies need to drive business. We see are seeing the IT professional that need to renew their skills, we are seeing the college grad that need this "capstone course" to get the career and we are seeing the accomplished amateur coder that wants to "go pro". I think we will see that this is the predominant way that people learn to code in the future.
Lawrence Reaves is the cofounder and president of Coder Foundry. He has worked with companies building and deploying software solutions across business verticals for the past 15 years. With a background that includes taking software ideas to the market and start-ups to profitability, Lawrence has a knack for software biz models, marketing tech, and consuming large amounts of coffee. He holds an MBA from University of Greensboro. You can check out their updates on twitter @CoderFoundry. Read more reviews of Coder Foundry on switchup!