New Software Engineers often think that there are only two ways to get into the Tech industry: traditional universities and coding bootcamps. But few know that there is a third option: Progressive Education. This style of education, which Holberton uses, emphasizes learning by doing via a project-based curriculum without lectures, formal instructors or traditional coursework. But before getting into Progressive Education let’s have a quick summary of the other two alternatives.
Coding Bootcamps are a good warm up to get basic programming skills with specific tools, but some students find that there is only so much that can be learned within three months. The other issue is that the tech industry is constantly evolving and tools are constantly changing. Students will need to learn new tools consistently in order to stay up-to-date, which might be challenging.
Universities are centuries-old institutions, originally created to train students to meet the needs of the industrial era. Today’s workers need to be creative problem solvers, able to evolve to take on new skills. Passive learning led by lecture-based teaching doesn't always help students develop skills that will make them great Software Engineers. Universities are also very expensive and require several years to complete a degree. Some colleges are doing a great job but unless you want to become a Computer Scientist or PhD student, there may be other options to becoming a software developer.
Holberton's education model utilizes what they call "knowledge facilitators" instead of formal teachers. They do not bring students knowledge on a silver platter, but instead assist them in developing their problem-solving skills to reach their goal. It is well-suited for people who like to learn by doing and dislike rote learning memorization techniques that are not stimulating.
On top of coding and problem-solving skills, students also develop an invaluable skill: the ability to learn for and by themselves. This will allow them to continue to learn new programming languages, concepts and tools needed to grow professionally on their own. Progressive education also puts a strong emphasis on social skills; students help each other with projects and share their experience and knowledge with public speaking and technical writing. They form a community that involves both helping others and getting helped so that every individual progresses.
This community is at the heart of the program: it consists of students, school staff, and experts from the tech industry who meet regularly and collaborate. Holberton students are team players, they work in groups, learn from senior peers, and coach junior ones. There is no such thing as a successful company where all the work is done by one individual. A company’s success relies on teamwork, and teams can only go as fast and as far as their weakest link. That’s why collaboration is crucial.
The program is intense, spread over two years. The first nine initial months are dedicated to bringing students from no programming knowledge to a Junior Software Engineer level that will allow them to get into an internship or Junior Software Engineer position. Students have landed opportunities at NASA, Docker, Dropbox, LinkedIn, Apple in which they work for a six month period with no project due to the school. The nine remaining months are dedicated to a specialization that can be done full time at the school or part time while working.
The program does not require any prior programming knowledge or any sort of specific professional or academic skill. The automated admission process is selection-based on motivation, talent and ability to collaborate. The non-discriminative and non-bias selection process has brought together a very diverse group of people: ages range from 18 to 58, 40% women, 40% POC and people from all walks of life: teacher, recruiter, fruit picker, cashier, musician, poker player. There isn’t a “Holberton student type”.
If you are looking for an ambitious career in the Software industry, consider Holberton School. The full-stack curriculum covers low-level programing and algorithms, and high-level programming with web application development. System administration will give you the foundation that any great Software Engineer needs, which will make you employable right off the bat. The “learn how to learn” approach will bring you the growth mindset that will guarantee you a successful career path: even after being out of Holberton, you continue to learn. Even better, there is no upfront tuition. Students only contribute back to the school when they find a high-paid job, with a percentage of their salary.