Thanks for doing this Q&A with us, Jim! First things first: What motivated you to start a bootcamp?
I have been teaching at CodeMentor since 2013, and I have helped probably a hundred students of various bootcamps. In that time I have seen a lot of poor habits and large gaps in knowledge. I have also absorbed the students' frustrations and exaltations to know which bootcamps are doing it right and which are leaving the students lacking.
A large gap I saw over and over was people who have graduated but have not found a job. One of the biggest focuses of Online Dev School is our "Enrollment to Hire" policy. We have a network of non-profit organizations and for-profit companies that we work with to not only place our students at when they are ready, but also to give them real world experience before they even graduate.
What challenges have you faced so far with starting your coding bootcamp?
I suppose having time to wear all the hats I need to wear. I find myself wanting to immerse myself in the students' experiences and I don't leave enough time for advertising and planning. But the core of the business is, in my opinion, the students, so I feel this is an acceptable flaw.
What successes have you had with your first few cohorts?
Getting the first couple of graduates hired at non-profits was pretty awesome! Aside from that I would have to say that pair programming with them makes a big difference. Showing someone how to fish is way more efficient than trying to tell someone how to fish!
What plans or dreams do you have for your bootcamp over the next 5 years?
I would love to open a on-site, in-person bootcamp in a tropical location where the US dollar can go a lot further. Choosing between the high cost of New York or San Fransisco and say, Cancun or Puerto Vallarta, I would have to go with the option with cheaper tacos and rent and warmer waters!
Any advice for students looking to join a bootcamp?
Make sure you know what is expected of you, and what you can expect from your Instructor. Time is precious and there is nothing like a 1-on-1 education with an expert!
Any advice for people who want to start a bootcamp and/or start teaching code?
Just do it. Get on CodeMentor, AirPair, or HackHands and build a large client list. I was more or less pushed into starting this bootcamp from all the people I have helped and taught.
Do you see bootcamps replacing college for parts of the population?
I have long wondered why there are not many apprenticeships. The world used to work on a system where people learned from those with greater skill in a structured manner. College is great for teaching a wide variety of topic, slowly. It is not great for creating programmers from my experience. I think long-term, colleges just can't keep up with specialty schools.
What is the job market like where your bootcamp is based?
We are online, and there are a lot of jobs online! ;)
I started web programming using HTML back in the mid 90s, creating terrible, ugly, "web pages" on GeoCities back when Hootie and The Blowfish where all the rage and guys my age spent 90% of their time huddled around Warcraft 2 games at Internet cafes.
These days I am the Principle Instructor and Founder of Online Dev School where I teach aspiring young web developers not just how to code, but how to solve problems, and how to get work. I use a strong focus on peer programming and test driven development to build awesome software.
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