Sunday, January 25, 2015

Free Code Camp

Wow! I forgot how crazy it is when you start a new job and have to learn a million new things :-)

I feel like I am in a much better place now with stress levels and the new job.  I have so much to share and I have really missed writing on this blog.  My new goal is to write a blog post once per week.

It's amazing how learning to code options have changed in less then 3 years.  I remember people saying that I couldn't get hired without a degree back then, now there are so many stories online of people who have done just that.

Today I can't even keep up with all of the free or paid high quality bootcamps that teach you how to code.  On that note I wanted to share with you what I believe to be the best coding bootcamp option for people who are new to learning how to code:


I still get emails every week asking if they should spend $15K+ to go to a coding bootcamp.  To help answer that question, I think we need to make a new distinction between 2 different types of people who are learning how to code:

GROUP 1 = "Amateur Coders"

The first group of people I will call "amateur coders" meaning they have played around with code since they were teens.  They may even already have a job in the IT field but are not full blown developers.  They probably grew up loving to solve logic puzzles and their middle name could be math :-)

GROUP 2 = "Blue Collar Coders"

The second group of people I will call "blue collar coders".  I originally fell into this category as well. This group may have never been exposed to computers much at all.  Emailing and texting is about as computer savvy as they get.  For some unknown reason they finally decided that their chosen profession:

( construction, painting, retail, horseshoeing <you name it> )

is no longer what they want to do anymore.  They have decided to learn to code and are striking out on the path no matter what!

Here's the deal, if you are in Group 1, you really just need a little more "spit and polish" to get hired.  Make a sample coding portfolio, brush up your resume, shake some hands at a local coding meetup group.  Presto! you are hired.  This group of people is highly technically savvy but may not think they are good enough to actually get paid to write code for a living.  If you are in Group 1 you could possibly benefit from going to an expensive coding bootcamp.  Places like Hack Reactor or other similar coding bootcamps.  The upfront costs may be worth it because you will come out being better polished and commanding a higher salary.

Group 2 on the other hand who is still struggling with how to open the terminal and wondering what a terminal is.  You have a much longer road to go on.  Group 2 probably has have never seen an "if statement" before.  Remember this is the group that I started from.  The good news is that you can learn to code and get hired at a company, it will just take longer.  Don't believe the hype that if you pay the $15K to a bootcamp then you will magically become a developer in 3 months.  If you've never written any code before in your life, it will take a long time to actually become a software developer. One of the problems I had early on was telling people that I was a beginner at coding.  People started thinking I was better then I really was.  I wasn't lying, I didn't realize there were 2 groups.  The painful truth was I was actually a group 1 which is not even listed on the coding abilities chart :-)

Group 1 you are free to go to bootcamps if you want to and can afford too.

Group 2 don't waste your money!!!  I receive email after email of people who still can't code, and can't get hired after paying thousands to attend a bootcamp.  The good news is there's really no need to pay for a bootcamp anymore.  Free Code Camp is a self paced online coding bootcamp that teaches you how to become a front end Javascript developer.  Work at your own pace, no need to code 16 hours a day like at paid bootcamps.  There is a chat room filled with lots of like minded helpful people trying to do the same thing as you.

I love Ruby and think it's easier to learn than Javascript as a beginner.  One of the problems people have when applying for a Ruby on Rails job is companies assume they already know Javascript.  I honestly think Ruby on Rails is awesome, but I think it is probably easier to land a front end development job first.  After a year or two work your way into a Ruby on Rails role.  If I had to learn to code today and try to get hired 5 - 8 months later, I would personally do the Free Code Camp.

Yes, there are many other options with learning how to code too many in fact!  I've mentioned Epicodus before and I still like their program.  I do think for people in the Group 1 catagroey, Epicodus ramps up the coding logic requirements too fast to do on your own.  Free Code Camp seems to make a smoother transition from beginner to professional.  I have not taken Free Code Camp, but I would love to and still may in the future.

Right now everything is changing so fast in the learn to code arena.  People are getting frozen by analysis paralysis, stuck because of having too many choices.  I say avoid the paid bootcamp bubble and learn on your own at your own pace.  You can get a job 4 months from now or 2 years from now, it's up to you.

The bottom line though is that we all have many more options than ever.  This is great, but don't allow all of these amazing options to confuse you or slow you down.  One of the reasons I plan on blogging weekly is to help you navigate the learning to code scence.  I think I can really help people learning how to code more than ever :-)

Keep coding peeps!

NOTE:  I have an update review on Free Code Camp which can be found here: Updated Free Code Camp Review