Hey! So I was a student in the Summer 2013 Cohort of Launch Academy. I had absolutely ZERO experience going into the program, and was a bartender up until I moved to Boston to start the bootcamp.
I've always been a fast learner so I kind of thought that it wouldn't be as hard as it sounded. I was soooo wrong. It was super hard, probably THE HARDEST THING I'VE EVER DONE IN MY LIFE, and intense, and totally immersive - I was eating, breathing, sleeping code..literally, I dreamed about writing programs. I probably cried close to everyday (not to sound like a baby). I learned SO much and going to Launch Academy changed my life. I went from being a bartender not knowing a single thing about programming, to being a full time developer at a super cool web and mobile apps development company in Raleigh, NC..IN TEN WEEKS.
The instructors and everyone involved are amazing and so invested in helping you learn and have the best experience possible. I am living my dream life right now and it is due in large part to Launch Academy.
Launch Academy: The Review
by Lorry Rocha
Juuust my thoughts on my experiences as a Launcher
I’ve been meaning to write a comprehensive review/overview of my experiences at Launch Academy. Now, I’m going to try to be as impartial and unbiased as I possibly can, and know that this is just the experience of one person, so take it with a grain of salt.
I graduated from the Winter Cohort, and because of the various national holidays that punctuated our time at the camp, we were actually given 11 weeks of schooling instead of 10. And honestly, I can’t imagine not having those minor breaks in between lessons. It’s a LOT to absorb, and parse, and digest. Some of the concepts that are heavily covered (OOP, TDD) needs time to really settle before you start ‘getting’ it. And at times, I felt there really wasn’t enough time and it was altogether overwhelming.
And yes. It IS overwhelming. You’re learning so much, and spending so much time in front of the computer, coding, testing out these new concepts, working through this individual problems that it becomes mentally exhausting. By week 6-7, I noticed a sharp decrease in productivity as I started lazing/slacking off in an attempt to mentally recharge myself for the home stretch so to speak, and I am a person who not only picks things up quickly, but thrives in high pressure. So, if you don’t respond well to intensive sprints, this probably is not the experience for you. If you’re not willing to stay after class until 10pm some nights, and code 16 hours straight, and spend entire afternoons on stackoverflow trying to figure out exactly why your method returns nil, it’s not the experience for you. If you’re not willing to sacrifice your social life in favor of your education for 3 months, it’s not the experience for you. You have to invest yourself entirely in the experience, in terms of your dedication, your time, and your finances, for the pay off at the end.
The flip side of this is that I have never before had a more productive period in my life. Every day I was there, I felt as though I was learning something new and honing my skills in - and this is important - a PRACTICAL way. I could see how everything I was learning had a very practical use for what would be my future career in web development. There was very little in the curriculum - virtually nothing, in fact - that led me to think “Okay, but why do I have to know this? What’s the point?” and that is new to me.
The format involved a lot of independent reading of coursework/ at night, then we would go to Mission Control in the morning and either watch a quick, 30 minute lecture that would reinforce the reading or delve directly into a challenge that was directly related to the reading. We we encourage to follow common good practices (TDD, skinny controllers fat models, AGILE development) and encouraged/required to pair program. They made a concerted effort to stress that the actual learning to code is only one part of the process- learning how to communicate effectively as a developer is the real key.
So, let me summarize here.
It IS very expensive. Unless you’re the type of person to fully commit and who happens to be quick to learn, the experience will not really benefit you. You need to be really on top of yourself and responsible for your own education - no one is going to require that you pass in your homework, no one is going to enforce attendance. So if you’re not self-motivated enough to make sure you’re going to work on your own, it’s not going to work for you.
However, if you’re really dedicated to changing your life and you know you love to code, I can think of no better experience. I’ve never learned so much in my life. The material was top notch, the flipped classroom approach (where you actually coded for 6 out of 8 hours in the day) did wonders, and the experience engineer team was brilliant and knowledgeable. Back in the summer I didn’t know how to code. Now, I have over 600 hours of coding under my belt and the confidence to call myself a fairly top-notch Junior Web Developer.
So would I recommend it? Absolutely!
-originally posted on Tumblr at CyberSect