I would start by saying that attending Makers (September 2014 - December 2015) is by far one of the best experiences of my life from so many different perspectives. The learning curve is insane, the people on my cohort and the staff are inspirational and I had the time of my life.
I chose Makers for a couple of reasons, one of the biggest reasons was simply the feeling I got after having interviewed at a number colleges. The Makers process for entry is a lot more selective, giving me confidence in the marketing message and the course content they would eventually deliver. The atmosphere was collaborative, positive and I felt at 'home'.
Having now completed the course and started on my journey as an active member of the London developer community, I can also say that Makers take teaching best practices seriously and are actually pretty unique for this approach in the education sphere. At the core of the syllabus is a test driven (TDD) approach, something which not only makes your resulting code more maintainable and adaptable but also makes you a hot commodity in the job space.
The best part of the course is the intense learning experience, you do get pushed to the limit! I was at college from 8.30am to 9pm every day for three months and also coding on weekends, so expect to get addicted!
At this point I need to give a big shout out to their Chief Joy Officer, Dana, who is absolutely crucial (at least from my personal perspective) to your experience on the course. She offers regular meditation and yoga and is there to talk you through any difficulties you are having, both course related and personal. She was a huge support to me throughout the course and is now one of my close friends.
The only downside I can honestly say is that Makers live and breathe agile (a well used industry practice), what this means is that they are constantly iterating and so every cohorts experience on the course is quite different and course materials that are perhaps not always polished. It does however mean that they are keeping up with what your eventual employers would like to see on your CV and gives you the opportunity to truly learn like a developer.
The support on the course and post-course, while looking for a job, is one of the big reasons I am still a familiar face at Makers Academy. It has become a hub for my development, and the placements team at Makers are my first port of call for any career related questions I have.
I was on the course from September to December 2014. I had three of the most fun, intellectually stimulating months in recent memory when I was on the course. I loved my cohort, the teaching style under Enrique's leadership was well-suited to my learning style, and Makers provided a focused, work-like environment without which I never would have learned to code. The CEO, Evgeny, is very receptive to criticism and promotes a culture of openness within the company, among both the staff and the students.
I also cannot say enough good things about the placements team. Samantha, Ruben, and Will really, really go to bat for you. Makers has only been around for two years, but when a group of us went to Silicon Milkroundabout earlier in the year, we attracted a lot of interest because employers could pick out that we're Makers students. I think it says a lot that so far (and it's a tremendous reflection on the placements team) Makers has done a reasonably good job of churning out grads of consistently high caliber.
I've been reading about a bubbling backlash against bootcamps like Makers Academy in recent months, and I think a lot of it is caused by misplaced expectations on the part of students. It's not a magic pill that will turn you into a great coder in 12 (or 16, now, with the precourse work) weeks. That's impossible. The Makers system works really well for people who are reasonably smart, but much more importantly, hard-working, self-aware, and willing to help those around them. You don't need to be a genius to succeed in a coding boot camp. It's precisely because these are the qualities that are found again and again in good developers. If you walk in the door on Day One with the mindset, "I've paid £8000 to be here, I expect these people to make me a developer in three months," you are probably not going to do too well.
You're probably wondering, what is Makers' distinguishing point from General Assembly, or any of the numerous boot camps in North America? I don't know enough about Dev Bootcamp or Hack Reactor, but Makers is much more discerning than GA, particulary when it comes to Test-Driven Development (TDD). Do some research on what TDD and Behavior-Driven Development means before you make your decision. Learning to write automated tests alongside your code is a painful process the first few times, but it is incredibly valuable -- it is often the difference between building something maintainable and extensible versus just hacking together 200 lines of spaghetti code that somebody else has to spend a week untangling later down the line. When you have junior devs who have been coding for 8 weeks already thinking about technical debt before they've written a single line of production code... I think that's pretty awesome.
But, since this is a review, I'm gonna be honest about where Makers still needs improvement. I feel extremely fortunate to have been on the course when I was, in large part because of Enrique's teaching. However, as of November 2014, Enrique is no longer with the company. Neither is Alex Peattie, who left in September 2014. There is currently a lack of experienced senior developers with industry experience on the permanent teaching staff.
I think Makers also need to better define its target audience. There are generally two categories of people who sign up for Makers: those who want to become developers and those who want to become entrepreneurs of tech startups. Makers is successful at meeting the needs of the first category, but is currently not well-suited to the second category, particularly with the introduction of an entire week dedicated to finding a job placement at the end of the course. If you are just looking to prototype a web app, I would say that Makers is probably overkill.
Overall, I had a great experience at Makers and would recommend it to anyone who wants to make a career change and is willing to put in the effort and time.
Really couldn't be better. Provide a very good grounding of the industry and tech. They don't hide anything from students and make it very clear that learning to code isn't as simple as a 12 week course, and instead focuses on lifelong learning.
There isn't much handholding, which is exactly the right thing. The emphasis is on the individual learning how to learn, which is extremely important given the constantly changing landscape of the industry.
Staff extremely helpful, respond to feedback instantly. Students held in high regard. Very good employment prospects in the London tech scene following graduation and a lot of care taken to make the experience fun and enjoyable, as well as tough and challenging.
£8k is a lot of money for a course, but given a good plan, it pays off extremely quickly.
A word of warning: this won't cure your mid/quarter-life crisis; it'll just delay it by 3 months!
Great for those seriously looking for a career change at any stage - graduate to experienced, those looking to understand the strange and unique world of programmers or just as a supplementary skill.