Nov. 8, 2021

TrueCoders Review (Software Engineering and Web Development)


In this web development podcast episode, I invited on 3 graduates from TrueCoders. We got past any marketing fluff that you could simply find on their website and dove into all 3 of their authentic experiences with the program. We went over both the software engineering and web development programs. If you are considering TrueCoders, be sure to watch this first. Enjoy!

Host and Guests:
Don Hansen - https://www.linkedin.com/in/donthedeveloper
Ben Sands - https://www.linkedin.com/in/ben-sands-4b965719b
Andrew Townsley - https://www.linkedin.com/in/andrew-townsley-63a2851ba
Janisha Marcus - https://www.linkedin.com/in/janishamarcus

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Transcript
Don Hansen:

Welcome back to another podcast episode where we help aspiring developers get jobs and junior developers grow. We are going to be going over true coders today. Like the rest of my episodes, I like to bring on authentic graduates that give authentic stories. We get past the marketing fluff and we get down to the what the real pros and cons are. And at the end of this episode, hopefully it'll help you figure out if this program is right for you. so let's go ahead and jump into our intros, like normal Ben. Um, welcome. And I have a couple questions for you. What do you, you, okay, so what program did you complete and when did you graduate and are you still looking for a position? I did

Ben Sands:

the software development course. I graduated this past March. uh, and I currently hold a position as a software application engineer.

Don Hansen:

Congrats, by the way. That's pretty cool. Thank you. Um, where, what was your old industry? What were you doing before?

Ben Sands:

I was a line cook prep, cook and professional chef.

Don Hansen:

Okay. Very cool. All right, Andrew, how about you?

Andrew Townsley:

I completed the web development program. I graduated in July and I am still, I do not yet have a.

Don Hansen:

Okay. Cool. So still pretty recent. Um, where did you come from? What was your industry?

Andrew Townsley:

I've done a various various things right now. I'm a welder. And in the, actually before this, I did what Ben did. I was, uh, a

Don Hansen:

chef as well. Okay. Very cool. How about you? Janeisha? Um, I

Janisha Marcus:

did the software development and I graduated, um, March of this year as

Don Hansen:

well. Okay. And are you still looking for a job, right?

Janisha Marcus:

I'm currently in the field. So I'm a, uh, quality QA tester. Uh, so I'm manual tester. You have two, you have automated, then you have manuals. So I do more of the manual side of things. Uh, but before that I was doing, I was working at Verizon. I worked there for four years. Okay. And then always been into the tech side of things. So that's why I moved over and got my hands in the

Don Hansen:

software side of things. Okay, cool. Um, and so is your kind of long term goal to move more into coding? Yes. Okay. That's the goal. All right, well, let's jump into it. So, um, this is an organized, um, if you're looking for this professional organized podcast, that's not what this is. We just have a raw conversation and I wing it and it's fun. Um, so we're gonna start with the original question. Kind of just open things up. We're gonna talk over each other. That's okay. We'll get comfortable with it. But what did you think of the program? Let's even start with like the curriculum and just think about your day to day. What was it?

Janisha Marcus:

Um, are we on in order? We're not going no, I think for me, um, I, I guess it just depends. I did the nine week. Um, of course, so it was pretty fast paced. Uh, so it was every day you're learning something. Um, so that was a big thing for me. It was just, it kind, it was kind of overwhelming at first. Uh, you gotta kind of pace yourself and figure out like what's going on and, and what works for you. Um, so I would say for me, it was, it was a bit overwhelming at first. Once you look at the curriculum and you see all this stuff, we're gonna be learning in nine

Don Hansen:

weeks. man, nine weeks. Isn't that long. No,

Janisha Marcus:

it's not long, but we, we go all. Mm-hmm so it it's kind of like sitting in class all day,

Don Hansen:

so. Okay. All right. Cool. What about you guys? Uh, sorry. I went

Ben Sands:

through the I'm sorry. Uh, I went through the six month course, um, and I definitely was able to learn a good bit, but it definitely felt like the whole. curriculum was meant for the nine week course. And we felt like, I always felt like we were getting the drugs. Um, our teacher changed three times, uh, throughout the course, uh, and they had to like figure out where the last one left off. Um, so that was a, a little bit irritating. Um, but overall it was, I wouldn't say it was bad or good. Okay. In my, from my.

Don Hansen:

Well, I mean, the instructors really make or break a program. I've always said that. I truly think that, and that could be frustrating. It almost feels unprofessional. Um, which it's kind of like a instructor does have to catch up one leaves, one gets hired again. Like they gotta play catch up. It's unfortunate, but it does feel unprofessional if they're like you've paid a good chunk of money and they're just kind of catching up and that maybe that week lags behind or something like that, or. Um, it could also just feel out of sync. Every instructor does things a certain way. So I, I think that's reasonable. What about you, Andrew?

Andrew Townsley:

I did the, uh, six month program as well, and I did feel like it was a lot, but I, I came into it with basic basic knowledge, basic HTML CSS, and just, just the beginnings of, uh, JavaScript. So I felt pretty comfortable for about the first third of the class.

Don Hansen:

Okay, first start. So what's their screening process in bringing in students? Do you feel like they have a heavy interview process with technical challenges or?

Andrew Townsley:

I think all I got is a few questions from the

Don Hansen:

person.

Janisha Marcus:

Yeah. I think it's more of like, why do you wanna join? Or like, what is your background, of course, like what do you do now? Like why do you wanna join two voters? is that what you got?

Andrew Townsley:

Andrew? Yeah. Yeah. I just got a few questions from the, uh, the salesman. I didn't, there wasn't any coding or challenges or anything really? Yeah. Same

Ben Sands:

from, yeah, I agree.

Don Hansen:

Thank you.

Andrew Townsley:

There were a lot of people that had essentially starting from where one on the first class,

Don Hansen:

do you feel like they had a pretty rough time?

Andrew Townsley:

I think they did struggle for a while to keep up and well, rarely for the whole class. A lot of 'em did, but. Just starting from, from absolute zero. . Don Hansen: Yeah. Um, well, and I, I think that's an important aspect of, of coding bootcamps. It's like, you can make programs accessible for everyone, but you can also create pre-work right. Free pre-work to like, this is what you should study before you actually go into our program. Right. And so a coding bootcamp that has a good plan can now, you know, gate, keep the students, they come in to make sure that they're capable of being successful in the program because they're up to skill. Everyone's the same skill level, at least. Right. So. I really wish they would. Well did have

Janisha Marcus:

Preco

Ben Sands:

before. Yeah. I, I was gonna say they did give us a, a prework package. Uh, yeah. People in my class, most of the people in my class didn't actually do it before the class started.

Don Hansen:

Yeah. That's the

Ben Sands:

problem. Yeah. That's, that's not really on the, on them. It's on that, on the

Don Hansen:

students. So I would disagree. I think it's on the coding bootcamp, right? Because what, what happens? Here's why though, um, Y like the students that are coming in that are struggling. You, you guys correct me if I'm wrong. If the students that are coming in that are struggling, it's possible for them to hold back the rest of the class, because the instructor has to spend extra time to catch them up. Either that or the instructor just doesn't care and lets them fall behind. And then it's just like a horrible graduation rate. So do you feel like, I guess, do you feel like a, a tougher screening in making sure they did complete that program? Would. The class go a little bit more smoothly with everybody on sync. Um,

Janisha Marcus:

I would say for me, um, as far as like holding the class, um, they, it was structured to where they set you up for success. So like they did have the, um,

Don Hansen:

the, I can't they

Janisha Marcus:

two weeks before they'll give. Like an outline of what you would be doing and they'll work with you on it. So if you didn't do it, you could also had the opportunity to after class to ask the, um, your instructor for help, or if you did stop the class or so at least my instructor would, you know, answer your question or, Hey, we'll get to that in just a second. Let. Continue with this. And then we'll come back to your question and he was good at going back, Hey, John, you asked about this, but this is why, so I wouldn't say it held up the class and if somebody did hold up the class, sometimes it, it was kind of like, okay, we'll get with you on break. If you wanna stay on break and then we can, you know, work with you on that. So, okay. It was more of an independence,

Don Hansen:

but, you know, okay. Cool. Do you think, um, Andrew and Ben are, were your experiences the same?

Andrew Townsley:

I'd say so. Yeah, I, yeah, mine being the, uh, the evening class and part-time, I think it was even maybe a little more geared towards people sort of working on their own and at their own pace. Cause they, I don't, I assume they did it for the day class as well, but they recorded all the classes and you can go back and even now I can still access all the, the videos from the classes and all the, uh, the CU.

Don Hansen:

okay. I gotcha. Um, how big were your cohorts?

Andrew Townsley:

I think mine, when I started, it was probably high twenties, maybe 30 by the end. It was, it was under 10

Ben Sands:

for me. My class started at like 65 and wow. Six of us, seven of us graduated.

Don Hansen:

Whoa. Yeah, wait

Ben Sands:

65. What? 65 students. Wow. In my, in my initial class.

Don Hansen:

Wow. How many instructors did you have at one time? Um,

Ben Sands:

we had one had instructor for our class and two or three TAs. Um, and I think, I think he's now the president of true coders, but he was also sitting in on our class pretty. Wow. I think we only had

Janisha Marcus:

maybe 30. We started off around 30, but of course it'll drop off to maybe 20th and that was for the nine week.

Don Hansen:

Okay. okay. So I guess I have a couple thoughts. Uh, Ben, holy crap. that's a lot of students. Yeah. Um, that's a big course. That's ridiculous. I don't know what the hell happened, but that was complete screw up on their part. And if they intentionally did that, like that's really bad, but yeah, go ahead. You were gonna say something.

Ben Sands:

Yeah. Uh, more than half the class ended up, uh, stopped showing up to. uh, the classes after the first week or two. So I think we were left at like 20, for the whole year. And then right in the last month, it dropped down to about, uh, somewhere between like six and eight.

Don Hansen:

Well, okay. So I gave you two options, right? The class is gonna get held back or people are gonna drop out. And it sounds like a lot of people dropped out of each cohort, like more than like the average coding bootcamp, big time. So, okay. That's an option, I guess they kept going. And if you kept going and you were prepared, you were fine. Right. As it seems almost like a sink or swim situation. Um, so man, yeah, like I, 30 was high to hear like 65. That's ridiculous. I don't. Yeah, I don't know. Uh, so you mentioned that the, uh, current head instructor has become the president. No,

Ben Sands:

he was, I don't remember his position at the time. I know he was more on like the director side and admin than he was a teacher. Uh, we had our head instructor for the class and then we had a bunch of TAs and then he would just come in and say hi every now and then make sure things were going.

Don Hansen:

Okay. Well, he sounds friendly. Um, he definitely sounds friendly, but, um, yeah, that, that feels like a prioritization of profit over quality of education. Um, and like making sure everyone had the support they needed. Um, okay. Well, I'm glad you shared that. Uh, I guess I, I wanna hear about the instructors, right? It sounds like did everyone have one instructor for their class? One. Yeah. Okay. I had

Janisha Marcus:

one instructor

Don Hansen:

with one TA. Oh, okay. Only one TA. Well, how were your instructors? What do you think of them?

Ben Sands:

Um, well, my first instructor, uh, because they switched it up on us a bunch of times. Um, I felt that he was pretty competent and was good at explaining and kind of getting the class to get on the. track. Uh, but halfway through, he got a job somewhere else and moved on. Uh, so we had two or three TAs kind of juggling the, that spot cuz they were the ones, you know, in the class with us. Um, and then we had a couple other people show up for like a week or two to do the course. Um, but we mainly have just the, the, the two main TAs, uh, were switching back and forth until we graduated for the last three months. um, and that was shaky cuz neither of them had actually done, uh, had a job as an instructor. They kind of graduated from true coders, worked somewhere else for a year, then got a true code, uh, job as a TA of true coders.

Don Hansen:

You had a weird experience. Yeah,

Janisha Marcus:

I would say for mine, um, my instructor was really good. He was, he was plaing and he explained things. So like, like you said, for like that interrupting part, it, he would answer your question, but then also make it to where he's not interrupting the whole class. So I'm not waiting for Ben to get his question out where we talked about that 10 minutes ago. Right. So he, he was good at making sure he watched everybody else's time and made sure that everybody still felt included. which I liked about it. And also I'm big on asking questions myself. So when I did ask questions, he was able to answer and, you know, make sure I understood or if I needed to, um, go after class or so, Hey, can I meet with you after class? And he was always open to it. Okay. That's why I'm, I'm like me and Ben had two different

Don Hansen:

experiences. It really sounds like it. Yeah. How about you?

Andrew Townsley:

I, I think my, uh, instructor did a good job. He was, uh, definitely very knowledgeable, knowledgeable had worked before, certainly as a developer and instructor, uh, definitely moved at a quick, at a quick pace, but was more than willing to engage with you. Outside of class. We have a, there was a, a discord channel for the class and he was very active on there. If you had questions and a few times, even on, uh, on the weekends, Was just doing side projects and, uh, posted on there. And we, and I think it was just one other person sort of, uh, not really bear program, which sort of just followed along with him as he was just going up a side project of, of his own. Hmm. So he did a, a very good job.

Don Hansen:

Okay. Would you say there were any, um, notable things about the TAs or were they just pretty. like any bad notable or like really good notable things to mention.

Janisha Marcus:

I had a few hiccups with my TA. It was, it was just, I think it was more of me not knowing how to do something. And if I go to them, they don't know either. So it's kind of like, uh, like how they would, how my course would work is if, for example, in this comes. Uh, watching time. So if I'm stuck somewhere and I can't move along with the class, my instructor would send me with the TA to catch me up. So sometimes the TA I have, um, Mac and he didn't. So some stuff he could work with and he couldn't do it on that. So that kind of got frustrating for me, like, okay, I'm trying to catch up. And we.

Don Hansen:

You don't know how to do this. So what happens when that TA doesn't know, what does that TA do?

Janisha Marcus:

Um, he would either go back and ask my instructor

Don Hansen:

okay. And just

Janisha Marcus:

let go. Hey, I don't know how to do this. So it would still put me back and that's where I would get frustrated is when, okay. I need your help. And I'm. You know, a little behind. Um, but if he didn't know, yeah, he'll definitely go ask the instructor or let him know. Okay. I dunno,

Don Hansen:

do this. Okay. Well, you know, at least he just didn't say I can't help you. That would be really good. Just

Janisha Marcus:

go around. Sometimes I did feel like he was kind of like going around in circles until , you know, uh, he didn't say it directly. Like, I don't

Ben Sands:

know.

Don Hansen:

Okay. All right. How about you guys?

Andrew Townsley:

I have any TAs, just the one instructor.

Ben Sands:

Uh, my experience with TAs. Um, I didn't have a lot of ex experience with them just cuz uh, um, I self taught myself, uh, JavaScript and CSS beforehand. um, mostly wanted to go to the course for the, uh, job placement, uh, talks. Um, cuz I, I I'm pretty good at self-study. Uh, so, and I didn't really ask too many questions of the TAs. Uh, and every time I did, they couldn't answer my question because I was asking above their pay grade, uh, a little, um, yeah, cause we use, uh, code wars for our like daily coding, challenging practice. Uh, if you've heard of that, Yep. Um, and I think both of my TAs actually had a, a lower rank than I did, um, by the end of class, so

Don Hansen:

well, so were they able to answer questions that were re related to you completing the material or completing any code challenges? Yeah,

Ben Sands:

they were, they were for the most part able to answer any questions in class, but. The only times I ever like scheduled an appointment to ask them questions was for extracurricular stuff for myself.

Don Hansen:

Gotcha. Yeah. I mean, that's a big difference between an, an instructor with a lot of experience and a TA, and that's why, you know, TAs they'll help. They'll be very helpful in helping you complete the program. See, I had good TAs with my coding bootcamp that we're almost as knowledgeable as the instructors, which is incredible and it was fortunate and that's a. Difference a very different experience. So, I mean, truthfully, this is completely understaffed, in my opinion, this feels like, I don't know if they're scaling. I haven't looked if they're taking in additional investments or how they're trying to scale or grow. But I mean, Ben, you're, you're just an exception I'm talking about like Andrew and janeisha um, yeah. One instructor to 30 students, especially if the TAs are kind of struggling to be able to help to give the students the help they need and don't have the expertise, um, we could dig into that and there are reasons why that can happen, but I think that's less relevant. I feel like, like a ideal ratio is like one instructor to 10 students. And it's, it's hard to scale a program with that. Um, I think you coding bootcamps can figure out how to put a higher price on their program and they, they can scale it, but like coding bootcamp, industry scaling is very interesting, but. I think the coding bootcamp, as far as staffing, as far as providing the proper instruction and support for students, this coding bootcamp feels on the lower end, much more on the lower end than other programs that I've reviewed. Um, so people should be skeptical. They should ask how many students am I gonna be with, you know, how much support am I really gonna get? It's like, they can even give a scenario when they're talking with a salesperson. Right. Uh, give a scenario of like, um, you know, if, if I like, what, what happens if like two people are stuck in a class and the instructor just went over some material and, um, you know, like, Like how much time does the instructor actually spend in the lectures? Do they give themselves a buffer, like 30 minutes after to answer questions or like, get a feel for like, if the instructors are just rushed, you know, like complete the material they're rushed. I gotta go do something else. Or like the TAs are just trying to, um, you just, TAs are barely able to answer questions. Um, I'm sure there are questions you could think of. I'm not really doing a good job of thinking any of any on the spot, but these are questions people should. And I'm, I'm glad you shared some of this, um, as far as like the curriculum, right? Um, so.net. Uh Hmm. How do I wanna ask these questions? What do I wanna dive into? Okay. You wanna, let me ask a couple of questions and then we're gonna dig a little bit deeper, um, into how confident you feel with the program. Right? So what was the real time commitment? For you, did they give you an accurate estimation of how long it would take?

Andrew Townsley:

Are you talking about out of class time to work on

Don Hansen:

projects or so whatever time is required to complete the program, they're telling you to build projects are telling you to learn the curriculum any time that they feel is required to do be successful in their program.

Andrew Townsley:

I don't remember hearing any specific number like that. Okay. Yeah. Me, other than just that it was important that we studied and worked on our own outside of class to,

Ben Sands:

to build our knowledge.

Don Hansen:

How much time was

Ben Sands:

told? Go ahead. I was told, uh, to one and

Don Hansen:

a half to two hours every day. Okay. Is, is that what you spent?

Ben Sands:

Uh, yes and no. Sometimes I would spend only 30 minutes other times I might spend five hours.

Don Hansen:

Okay. So it's kind of

Janisha Marcus:

very based on your background. Like if I'm coming in and I don't have any experience, like I've never worked on this before. All this is foreign to me, I might take those five hours every day. cause I'm lost. Yeah. But you're like Ben or me and Andrew, like where we had a little bit. And we know a little bit it's, it might take us one or two hours. So I think that comes into those questions. Like you mentioned, um, Don in the interview part, like before. Okay. What experience do you have with coding? Do you have any experience? And then, you know, they lay it out because if you are telling me, okay, it should take you an hour or two after each class. And I have no experience. Right. It that's not gonna work for me. versus somebody that has experience has a few projects that they've worked on, but just wants that extra help. Right. I think that's different for everybody. That's where you get that, those questions out.

Ben Sands:

Um, and I can actually use an example of one of my classmates, um, towards the end of the course, they told me that, uh, this was actually their second time through the. Uh, they were in the part-time with me and they had went through the first three months and couldn't keep up and so went to a different class and started from the beginning again. So in reality, it took them, uh, nine months. Uh, okay.

Janisha Marcus:

And I think they just set. I think they can set the expectations better that I do think at the beginning, it shouldn't be the same for everybody. That's where you find out backgrounds.

Don Hansen:

yeah, it's tough to do it when you don't screen students. it is. I mean, and this could make it easier on them. It really could, um, to be able to screen students a little bit more. Um, what did, okay. I guess I have a couple questions. Did you guys work with each other? Did you do pair programming or work on projects together?

Andrew Townsley:

I didn't, at least, you know, we. We'd all kind of just verbally contribute to things during class, but not outside of class or during class. Was there any,

Janisha Marcus:

yeah, like a yes and no, there, there were stuff you, they would tell us to work on together. I know from our class and it would be like, we'll pair you with this team and break us up. But it got to the point where nobody really knew what was going on. so it was like, do you know where to start? Do you know where to start? And nobody. So it's kind of like, we'll just wait until the instructor comes back and tells us how to do

Don Hansen:

this. Okay. How about you, Ben?

Ben Sands:

Uh, yeah, we were told that it would be required for a couple projects to work together. Um, and then just didn't just, and yeah, like they, they give us all the same. Like project to work on or a template to work from to kind of practice and say to work on it together. Um, but when we get into our breakout rooms to start working together, everyone would just do it on their own. The teacher would come in and people would ask questions. Um, it, it wasn't, they said it was required, but it wasn.

Don Hansen:

Okay. It sounds like they didn't stay on top of making sure that people were working together and making sure like really, um, not soliciting. What's the word I'm thinking of? Um, I don't know. It sounds like they really didn't prioritize. Maybe they didn't seem value in it. They're like, you can't do it, you should do it, but we're not gonna check on you. You know, you do what you want. That's what it feels like as long as you get the project done. So it sounds like they didn't value. They didn't truly value group work. Um, and. You know that there are, there are parts in your journey where I think it can be very beneficial and where it can also hinder you as well. Like pair programing can, can be very beneficial and it can also, uh, you know, sometimes people have a tendency to like one person will dominate it, they'll drive entirely. And the other person kind of just leans back and the other person takes control and you have to like work through that dynamic. Right. You have to learn to work through cuz you know, in, in full-time software engineering roles. Gonna be working with senior engineers, they're gonna show you how to do stuff or like get some more experience and you might show a junior engineer how to do things. And you know, you don't wanna drive the whole time. You want to do the minimum possible to like empower them, to be able to solve the problem. And you have to learn how to do that. How do you, how do you do that when not when you don't have like pair programming experience. So it just might be a little bit more difficult. Um, so I guess what I'm trying to say is pair programming can be very beneficial. I wish that they en like, kind of stayed on students to do it a little bit more. But I think like the real question is group projects. You mentioned that there were group projects and I'm thinking like portfolio projects, right? Yeah. Um, so were there group projects where you did work in a group to build those projects? Did not have any of

Andrew Townsley:

those?

Don Hansen:

No.

Ben Sands:

Uh, the final for my class. Had a couple, or we were told to work in groups. Um, but only there was only one group of people that did work in a group. Okay. One trio. So out, out of the graduating class of, I I'm pretty sure it was eight. Uh, we were told to work in either pairs or trios, uh, and there was one trio and then everyone else did

Don Hansen:

their own thing.

Janisha Marcus:

So, Ben, uh, I guess I have a question, um, To work in a group for your final project, your personal final project

Ben Sands:

work in a group. Yeah, we were allowed to have one, so each of us had to build a portfolio webpage and then build a personal project. Uh, gotcha. So the portfolio was the personal one and the personal project could be done in a group. So you could have one like an API based website, uh, that is made by. gotcha.

Don Hansen:

Okay. Do you, I mean, at least from the program, did you feel comfortable with source control? Interacting

Ben Sands:

was good. Um, yeah. Uh, if you follow the follow the course, at least from my perspective, if you were following the course, then they definitely have you practice with it a lot. Mm.

Andrew Townsley:

Say I was comfortable just using it for my own projects, but I never, I still don't have any experience really interacting with a group project on it.

Janisha Marcus:

Yeah. Same here. Not with the group. Not with my own. Yeah.

Don Hansen:

But group, do you think that would've been valuable to forking their

Andrew Townsley:

projects off their, the boot camps? GitHub.

Don Hansen:

Okay. Do you think that would've been just the daily instruction, do you think that would've been valuable? For, uh, experience with get working with other people. So. Okay. Yeah. Certainly seems like in the

Andrew Townsley:

professional world, it's an everyday occurrence. Something you need to know.

Don Hansen:

I would agree. Um, okay. So. I guess I I'm just solidifying some thoughts. Um, a lot of people will go to a coding bootcamp. Doesn't mean people choose this program for this, but most people, uh, that I talk to really love the idea of working with other developers and building a complex project and figuring out how to work with other developers. Right. Um, a lot of self-taught developers when you're starting out, you're working alone, you're building stuff on your own. Um, and that can be fun. Uh, but I think a lot of. Self-taught developers get pretty lonely and they want the experience of kind of just seeing what other developers are doing. Look at their code, review my code. I want feedback. I'd love to see how your, your implementation goes and everything, and I'd love to review it. And, um, I think a lot of developers really value. Those group projects. That's why they joined coding. Boot camps is one of the reasons. And I mean, like, even just like I'll, I'll share, you know, with my group, with my last full stack academy group, um, I thought like they were gonna be the perfect group mates to work with, but there was one person, it was just a personality clash. And I had to figure out how to like work with them and finally get this project out. And it was really interesting. It was challenging. Um, but you know, that's what you're gonna experience with teams, right? Not a sometimes personalities clash, you gotta figure out. Like how to like come together on that objective and not step on each other's toes and separate features. And like, you know, in the beginning of the day, just say, you know, I'm gonna work on this, you work on this, you work on this, be able to separate that out and just keep delivering features to build a product. I mean, that's what you do as a software engineer. And so I think that's really valuable experience with a coding bootcamp. I wish they did that, honestly.

Janisha Marcus:

I'm not really. Staying on group projects.

Don Hansen:

Honestly, you're not,

Janisha Marcus:

not, not when I'm learning. I would say, especially like with our class, everybody's learning at the same time. So it's kind of like, okay, we need somebody that knows what they're doing here. cause like I said, we did do group, um, projects, but it was where every. was a loss. So how do we start if everybody's kind of lost and don't, doesn't know where to start. So I do like group projects. I'll, I'll say that, but when you're everybody's new and fresh and, you know, just learning something, it's kind of hard, honestly, in my, in my.

Don Hansen:

That's fair. I've um, reviewed a coding bootcamp where, um, people were so sick of their group members, not putting in the same amount of effort throughout the entire program. They're just like, let me do it. Let me take over. And the group project that they just wanted nothing to do with it. They felt like it was holding them back. Um, okay. Do you, I guess, how confident do you feel like you were, how well prepared do you feel like you were for an actual developer position when you graduat.

Ben Sands:

Oh, I'm not a developer. So I feel pretty confident.

Don Hansen:

Wait, what? Say that again.

Ben Sands:

I'm not a developer. I, I don't actually write code on the day to day.

Don Hansen:

Oh, wait, remind me again, what your current position is. software application

Ben Sands:

engineering. Oh, so I'm applying code written by the developers to hardware. Uh, I work for a company called every, we do casino machines and like loyalty, kiosks and such. I work in the kiosk division. Uh, so I do server maintenance. I do bug fixes, live bug, live bug fixes, um, and like hardware application. as well as, uh, release planning for new versions and

Don Hansen:

upgrades. Were you originally trying to aim for a coding position?

Ben Sands:

I wasn't sure entirely. I was kind of aiming for anything in the field, um, with the hope that it would be something hardware related, uh, cuz my dad is it for the government. Um, so I grew up around computers, uh, kind of like my whole. Uh, so I just kind of wanted to learn a little bit of coding and then get a job in the field and see where it took

Don Hansen:

me. Okay. I gotcha. But you too. Oh yeah. The,

Andrew Townsley:

I would say that I didn't feel fully prepared to just go straight into applying for jobs. I'd say I had at least touched everything, all the basics that I would need to know, but I still. To develop those skills a lot more before I felt comfortable. Okay. I feel like I'm getting fairly close to that point by doing a lot of work on my own and building projects. Yep.

Janisha Marcus:

Same for me. I felt like I needed a few more projects, uh, a little more experience. Um, but if I was offered and, and that company was able to, um, I understand that, no, I'm not an expert at this, but we're, we're willing to work with you. I would, that's kind of what I was hoping and looking for. Um, which is hard, but that's what I was looking

Don Hansen:

for, so okay. Coming of the, okay. Okay. So what could they improve?

Janisha Marcus:

One, as we talked before the screening, I think that would take, um, the students a long way and give them something a better expectation on what to expect. Um, I think that's where it starts. Like you said, I didn't think of it that way. Um, when they're telling you, yeah, you it'll only take the hour or two after class to study when it really, it just depends on the.

Don Hansen:

I agree. So that's

Andrew Townsley:

yeah, just have the basics down. At least when you came into the class would probably help things move a lot more smoothly. Mm-hmm

Janisha Marcus:

cause people get frustrated and like Ben said, his class started at what, 60 and dropped when, if they just let you know, have a little bit of the basics

Don Hansen:

and you should be fine. Okay. I think that's good advice.

Andrew Townsley:

I did offer that. I think they, before they started, they recommended you. I think solo learn was one of the apps and free code camp as well. They recommended you start, but there was, as far as I know, there was no accountability, accountability towards what you completed on that, so,

Don Hansen:

okay. Yeah. That accountability makes a huge difference. It feels like. I don't know, it kind of, it, it feels a little bit more, it's not just like a checkbox saying, okay. We tried, I, I think like they probably like free co camp's pretty good. I like free co camp. I reviewed them. Um, and there are other cheaper programs you can go to. But I think accountability what's that?

Janisha Marcus:

I said, I love free Coke camp.

Don Hansen:

That was my favorite. Yeah. Yeah. And I've, I talked with the founder. He's a really nice guy. I like him. Nice. Um, what else could they improve?

Ben Sands:

Uh, instructor to student ratio. Okay. So a little too, too.

Don Hansen:

Okay. So would it, would it be fair to say, um, instructor to student ratio, uh, and basically like solved the problem of like students not feeling supported? Well enough? I mean, like that's a big man, eight students. I expect you to say like 30 or son. I didn't expect you to say eight that that's, I've never heard of that from any coding bootcamp before. Um,

Ben Sands:

and, uh, on top of. In the final project, it also didn't feel like there was accountability to present a finished product. Uh, cuz two of the students actually presented unfinished products, uh, as their final, same with

Don Hansen:

me, same with likeness. Okay.

Andrew Townsley:

I think part of that was just like, I think they knew a lot of people were struggling and may not have been really ready to complete a project. Okay. And of course that would come back to the screening that would help

Don Hansen:

with that. Yeah. So I'm gonna do a quick summary, um, correct me if I'm wrong, but it, I, I think I, what I wanna focus on is like, what do I wanna focus on? Okay. So what I gathered from this is that the inst, um, It sounds like the instructors are pretty knowledgeable. Um, TAs can be slacking. There might be good TAs, but there might be some, uh, TAs that really need some more support and being able to, um, maybe even like if the instructor is just overwhelmed, maybe that means hiring TAs that have a little bit more. Professional experience and that have that context to be able to, you know, answer these off questions, Ben. Right. Like I had those questions. I had like questions that weren't part of the curriculum. And that is part of like getting to talk to a real engineer and asking these quirky questions. It's that is part of the bootcamp experience. Um, but it overall, it like. It just sounds like a huge ratio problem, um, which is ti like, uh, it's just con contaminated with the screening, not even being a thing, really just like more of like a, a, um, a soft skill screening. It's kind of what it feels like. Um, so if they added that screen, provided more accountability, especially for the prep work, um, and lowered that ratio, which lowering that ratio is a big decision. It's a big money decision and they, in my opinion, need to focus a little bit more on the students and the profit. I maybe they're struggling right now. I don't know their financial situation. I don't know their strategy. Like I said, I don't know what investments they've taken, if any. Um, but that a hundred percent feels like the students aren't the priority. the money from the students is that's and that's just reviewing many coding. Boot camps is peer speculation, but that's what it feels like from the executive team. Um,

Andrew Townsley:

I will say just from my, this is just my own experience, that just the attitude from everyone who worked there was very positive and they were willing to do anything to help you out. Provide anything for you that you needed? Well, that sounds like it doesn't sound like a different experience than especially from Ben put

Janisha Marcus:

the other two real quick. Yeah. I would back off of Andrew as well. Um, it wasn't, I wouldn't say it was a bad experience. And, and you talk about the ratio to instructor. Yeah. If you look at it that way, um, like for example, mines was 30 to. So it's really, it, it depends on that person too, because I'm a person. I don't mind asking questions if I don't understand something, if I don't understand something, I'm like, Hey, well, why is this? Or I'm not afraid to ask. So it really depends. And, and again, I think it comes back into that screening where mm-hmm you just have to let them know, Hey, it's gonna be 30 people in this class. It, you can ask questions. We have this afterwards and you, it just depends. Really depends on student. I think, um, for me 30 wouldn't have scared me cause I'm a person. If I have a question I'll ask and if you know, you can't answer it, I'm willing to, you know, wait after class or break or anything like that. So it really just depends, um, on that. And, and like Andrew said, the, the instructors are patient and they, and they very knowledgeable. Um, so those were all good things to me. Um, the 30 to one didn't it wouldn't have stop me from, you know,

Don Hansen:

joining and it, but you were also one of the more successful ones, right? Think about all the people that struggled and dropped. Right. And those people didn't get the support they needed. There might be people, individual situations where like, they really weren't ready for the program. They really weren't committed to it. And that's where the screening can help by screening. Yeah. Yep. It, it really can. Um, yeah. Um, so I, I, but the fact that there is no screening, what I like to look at is for example, I had a director. at, um, full stack academy and she's really nice, really nice woman. And, um, she cared about all the students, she cared about the instructors. Um, and then, you know, there was some conflicts with the instructors and her, and she eventually quit. Not necessarily because of that. Uh, but. She was really nice about it. And then I noticed the, um, the cohort started increasing in size and a director switched. And he's a really nice guy. I know him, he's a personal friend of mine, but also then more students started coming into that curriculum and more and more and more just because he's nice, just because he steps out and sees the people are right. Does not mean that he's making. Decisions ex executive decisions on the business that has the student's best interest in mind. You can be nice. You can appear nice and try to look supportive, and you might even think you're supportive, but your business decisions and how you manage that campus can also tell a lot about you. And tell a lot about your motivations as well. And so this is me being skeptical, just reviewing tons of programs. It doesn't mean you guys didn't feel supported or you didn't feel welcome, but I also like to speak for the students that didn't get the support they needed, you know, the 50 something that dropped out, right. I like to speak up for, for people like that. And that's where I, you know, my skepticism comes in, but I appreciate you, you guys kind of pushing back saying, you know what, our, our exp our experiences weren't that. Right. They were pretty good. Instructors were nice and stuff like that. So I'm, I'm glad you did say that. Whew. All right. I think,

Ben Sands:

okay. I, I kind of just forgot. Uh, but I think part of the reason why my cohort was so big was because I think I was like the second or third cohort that was online. Uh, so we had a lot of students across the country and they were still kind of figuring their stuff.

Don Hansen:

Yeah. That's I mean, that could be a, a good reason. It's not good, but that, that's a reason why, like a lot of coding, boot camps struggled to switch that online, especially if they weren't, they didn't prioritize it before. That's a hard thing. A lot of programs had to figure out. so I'm glad you mentioned that. All right. Um, I feel like I got a good feel for this program and I feel like the student that's gonna be the most successful is one that doesn't depend. I almost feel like they don't really depend on the coding bootcamp for accountability. They depend on it for structure, but more so where like, It, I, I could see like a self-taught developer that's spent, you know, a few months learning on their own and, and getting prepared, learning the fundamentals and, uh, or going through the courses that they recommend and then trusting those technical skills, like just trusting you to hold yourself accountable. Then joining the program, doing all the work, asking those questions. I feel like that student's gonna be really successful in this program. And maybe that's the message, right. Is to tell people, just make sure you're a little bit ex prepared and this program can deliver and potentially prepare you for a fulltime software engineering position. Does that feel reasonable? Does that sound? Yeah. Okay. Cool. All right. Um, that's pretty much it. I think we went through most of it. Uh, I just wanna ask you one more question. So if you had to give aspiring developers one piece of advice and not necessarily related to the coding boot camp, maybe just advice when you're like, you got really excited about coding. You're like, I wanna do this, you know, where do I start or what should I do? Um, what would that final piece of advice be?

Ben Sands:

Uh, be confidence and, uh, apply for jobs that you don't think are qualified for.

Don Hansen:

Okay.

Ben Sands:

Cause who knows you might be qualified for it and pass

Janisha Marcus:

the interview. What was your question again,

Don Hansen:

Don? What would be one final piece of advice you would give for aspiring developers?

Janisha Marcus:

I would say that, like Ben said, just don't give up, keep going. Um, keep working. Don't stop. uh, I found myself kind of, you know, slowing down and, you know, not working as hard as I was at first. Um, but just keep going, um, and keep, keep working from cuz coding is always changing. That's the thing I like about it. It is always something new it is. Um, so just keep going at.

Don Hansen:

okay. Momentum. I like it. I'd say

Andrew Townsley:

for me, uh, one thing that helped me was getting away from tutorials and starting to build just projects from scratch on your own was really tough. At first, when you kind of don't know what you're doing, but even if you just, or super basic website, which just HTML and CSS or something, just starting to build things on your own. Trying to figure out all little problems on your own was a big, a big leap forward for me

Janisha Marcus:

in free code camp. I mentioned this before that that really helped me from the beginning. Uh, cause I didn't know anything, but I started with free code camping. I loved it. So if anybody wants to know where to start or somewhere to start, try free code.

Don Hansen:

okay. I like it. Um, alright, so just to summarize, has Ben basically like, and this, this is advice I always say is treat those, uh, requirements as the perfect candidate, right? You're not gonna hit all those requirements apply. Anyways. Now there're positions like senior positions when you're just graduating coding, bootcamps. You're probably wasting your time and their time, but there are positions that we're like, you're not gonna, I don't think I've met all the requirements for any position I've applied for. So, and. So, um, and then momentum really important, especially when you graduate too, you don't just lose momentum in the program. Sometimes you lose it afterwards. That's where so many people drop off. They're like so exhausted. I learned so much, I just wanna be done. I'm gonna take a week, break a week break. Isn't gonna be much. And then they all of a sudden have a hard time getting back that momentum. Right. Um, and then, um, Andrew project work, don't get stuck in tutorial. work on your projects. It'll reinforce what you're learning. Um, I love it. All right, that's it. Uh, so let's go ahead and do our outros. If people wanted to reach out to you, where could they reach you? We'll start with you, Ben.

Ben Sands:

Well, you can reach me on LinkedIn, always down to grow my network a little more. Uh, it's just Ben sand. Um, I have a YouTube channel that doesn't have much. Uh, but I plan on uploading my silly projects that I do at home. Uh, eventually, uh, so you can find that as a Ben is pie it's P I, um, one word so I can be

Don Hansen:

there. Cool. Thank you. How about you? Andrew?

Andrew Townsley:

LinkedIn is fine. Uh, or email? My, my email is on my LinkedIn, so just Andrew Townsley on LinkedIn is fine.

Don Hansen:

Okay. How about you? Janeisha.

Janisha Marcus:

And I'm the same. You can reach me on LinkedIn under Janisha Marcus. So,

Don Hansen:

yep. All right, cool. Well, um, yeah, hopefully you liked it. Um, if you're considering this program, I'd be curious. Feel free to leave it in the comments below if you're on YouTube, but, um, Let me know why, let me know if you still have questions, like what questions you feel like could be, see, this is what I love. Like hard questions you feel like would be good for advisors or salespeople of the coding bootcamp. What should, like, what should students know before they sign up for this program? Um, but yeah, if you have any questions or opinions about what we talked about, Uh, let me know when the comments below, but Ben, Andrew janeisha thanks so much for coming on. Can see

Ben Sands:

you just see everything we believe.

Don Hansen:

We just

Janisha Marcus:

see.