I did the self-paced boot camp. I was initially required to complete it within 15 months, but Flatiron School offered a three-month extension due to COVID-19. I would've dropped out otherwise because I found a full-time job that consumed most of my time... Read More
The structure of the program is articles consisting of paragraphs explaining concepts. Those articles frequently have code samples and videos. It is written in the style of a blog, with many memes. (This boot camp is why I installed a meme blocker extension.) There are also many metaphors that explain difficult concepts. Overall, it's very accessible.
Outside of written lessons, there are code-alongs (coding exercises that supply the answers) and labs (coding exercises that don't supply the answers). Labs generally supply tests that must be made to pass, but the code-alongs might not.
Along with completing these, a student must schedule time to explain their code to an instructor. First, they must explain what it is and why they made it. Then, the student explains how the project meets all requirements, and then do some live coding.
There were really good options available for getting help. They included participating in chat or viewing a lab's repository. My experience of chatting to get help was that the person who responded (an instructor, I think) gave me hints about how to structure a method. I still didn't understand, so the instructor eventually gave me the answer.
I preferred not to have to start a chat to get help, so I dug around a little. I found that Flatiron School's repositories often had multiple branches. The Solution branch of repositories associated with labs offered me quick help that didn't require reaching out. And, obviously, being able to read code is a very different experience than someone telling me to incorporate a certain data structure. I think it would be good if Flatiron School advertised that solutions are available in their repositories, but I can see why they might not want to.
These help options aren't available for the final projects.
After formally graduating, I found that there is actually more content for studying. There is a section that discusses launching final projects live on the web, and there are explainers on data structures and algorithms. Finally, there is a list of algorithm problems to help a new graduate get used to solving new and unusual problems. My critique would've been that devops/live environment setup, algorithms, and performance were completely neglected, but the post-work section makes a good save on that front.
I found the self-paced program to be flexible. There is an unenforced expectation that students complete the material in order. For example, each final project is situated after material a student would've just learned. Instead of doing them in order, as full-time students are required to do to keep up with their group, I saved them all for the end. I also completed some final projects out of order. I even waited months to schedule an instructor review after indicating that I completed one of the projects. I also found a lab that could be done in a group. I was going to do it in a group, but after not visiting that page for a long time, I was somehow switched over to doing it on my own, so I just completed it alone.
I started looking for a job before completing the boot camp. That wasn't necessary because Flatiron School brings very promising prospects to graduates. Relying on Flatiron School's career services was the difference between recruiters constantly telling me they wanted experience and recruiters sending code challenges to see what I could do (often before a phone screen). It was also the difference between having to figure out where are jobs in industries I wanted to work in, versus jobs I was really interested in reaching out to me after deciding I'm a good candidate.
My career coach helped me create the job search I wanted. Historically, I've found work via cold calls on job posting sites, so I expected to go that route. She had ideas that were very different from what I wanted to do, but she was willing to help me stay within certain requirements to qualify for Flatiron School's career services. I'm not a fan of LinkedIn or showing pictures of myself online as a way of pursuing a job, so I was glad the only change we settled on was me adding my last job. Ultimately, outside of relying on Flatiron School's pool of prospective employees, I did find a job without relying on any networking lead-generation practices.
I also found Flatiron School's tools for finding a job to be very different from what I had used before. Although it was basically a spreadsheet and a word document, it allowed me to organize in a way that I didn't know the value of.