We had the chance to sit down with Skylab Coders founder David Monreal. After finding a hole in the Barcelona training market, he founded a bootcamp that turns everyday people into top-notch programmers. In this Q & A, David offers insight on the training that prepares students for lifelong programming careers.
You have said in some interviews that the idea of Skylab Coders started over a meal. Would you explain the story of how you founded this school?
Right! It all started over a meal in Girona. I worked for more than a decade for the largest job board in Spain. Helping people find jobs drives me. Spain’s 50% unemployment rate plus its global developer scarcity were igniters for this conversation. “What if someone could train good junior developers in our city?” A known recruitment agency told us, “You struck oil in Barcelona!”
We are surrounded by a growing industry without enough skilled people to fill the positions in our country. The traditional education industry leaves people far from what the industry needs. We can’t solve the whole problem… but we can help a bit.
What is Skylab Coders’ mission?
We want to help passionate people to find a web development job and be able to keep on learning by themselves after the course.
You say on your site that you do not teach people how to program, you make them programmers. What do you mean by this and how do you feel your school is different from other programming bootcamps?
You had said your grandmother feels students need to tell their stories. That their own words are more important than promotional materials. How does this impact the way Skylab Coders tells its story or utilizes sites like SwitchUp?
My grandmother is 97 and was raised in a tiny town’s hardware store. She understands the importance of referrals. She gave me wise advice when I created Skylab Coders Academy. She said, “David, you have to make your students talk for you.”
We want our students’ professional success and level to be our school’s brand. We encourage students to explain what Skylab is about, and how they land a job in a very short time even when they had no previous programming experience. The latest SwitchUp report was made with reviews from more that 50% of our graduates.
As we said before, there are lots of different approaches to what a Coding Bootcamp is. Sites like SwitchUp are a great place for prospective students to find real outcomes and better understand what attending Skylab Coders Academy means, beyond the sales pitches.
Where are your graduates today? Where are they working?
Some of the most relevant online companies in Barcelona have hired our students, including students without previous experience in programming. Some of these companies include: eDreams, Fotocasa, coches.net, Social Point, Marfeel and Red Hat. We are proud to prepare our students for these high caliber companies.
Does Skylab Coders help students to get jobs after graduation? Do you work with any hiring partners?
Professional IT headhunters mentor students one-on-one during the last weeks of the course. Their point of view comes from what the industry is requiring and expecting from a junior developer. We help them explain how Skylab Coders fits their careers and how to fine-tune their new professional profiles: cv, LinkedIn, github, etc. Interview preparation is the final thing our students learn.
We shed light on industry differences including startups vs. mid-size or large scale companies, recruitment vs. IT agencies or final clients, and help them understand the many different companies in the sector. We also define a salary range for each of them, based on market and alumni benchmarks.
Some companies in our city have hired two, three and even four students from different cohorts. Our large alumni network in Barcelona connects our students to the industry around the school. We have a very dynamic community, always in touch! On the other hand, with more than a decade of experience in the online recruitment industry, we’ve been able to bring a vast network of recruiters to our campus.
Do you think students need a specific background to be a student at Skylab Coders?
Experience shows there is no alignment between previous programming experience and finding a better job after the course. We have had musicians, software engineers, philosophers, designers, nurses, architects and 18-year-old students. The only things in common between them are passion, fast learning and a strong work ethic.
Note: There is a demand in the industry for designers who want to learn to code. The industry is desperately looking for people with both design and coding skills.
For individuals who have never done programming, how do you recommend they prepare to study at Skylab?
There are many ways to enter the web development industry. A coding bootcamp is not a traditional course but a fast paced and stuffed one. We carefully choose students by their potential and motivation, not their previous coding knowledge. We have a mandatory self-paced preparatory course in order to have a compact cohort.
Working (very) hard during that pre-course and the Bootcamp is the best recipe for a successful outcome.
What does a typical day look like at Skylab? What is a course breakdown?
There’s no typical day at Skylab. Each group is different, each student is different and some subjects are tougher than others. The goal is not just to explain each subject, but ensure every student learns along the way.
Where do you see the programming industries heading in the next five years?
It’s hard to foresee. Change is the only constant in this sector, so we have to prepare our students to find a job and be able to develop their skills on their own after the bootcamp. We don’t want them just to find a job, but to have a long-term career.
Skylab Coders offers an 11 week intensive in web development to prepare the next generation of programmers in Barcelona. Want to hear what their students have to say? Read alumni reviews on the Skylab Coders page.