Going into the boot camp I had no knowledge of software development. I have a degree in business. I have always enjoyed technology – mostly on the hardware side. I've been building computers, taking apart Xboxs, etc. but never could commit to learning to code.
The first few (3 or 4) weeks of the boot camp I was second guessing myself and my decision to pursue this career path. If I had written this review in those early times it would have been a VERY negative experience. This was basically due to the fact that I signed up for the .Net cohort of a web developer boot camp and I didn’t even know what .Net was. I didn't know what C# was. I basically didn't know sh*t.
Somewhere along the line things just started to click. I realized that this IS the career path for me. I realized that Eric Wise, the .Net instructor, does a fantastic job of teaching. Sometimes I felt that we moved along too fast, but we had so much ground to cover I do not think we would have made it through all the material had we slowed down. Eric was extremely supportive throughout the 12 weeks in the boot camp. If any of us (8 in my cohort) got lost or stuck he would circle back around.
Long story short – I am a very solid programmer at this point. I am extremely comfortable with C#, and have started teaching myself Java. Everywhere I go people are floored that I have only been coding 12 weeks. I've had multiple job offers. I am so eager to learn more. Everything that is listed on the SWCguild site is presented in an easy to follow manner. I am now a professional software developer and had my tuition paid for in full.
For those thinking of signing up – do yourself a favor and learn the basics of OOP(very basics). It will make your first few weeks much less stressful. At the very least learn some of the key terms so that you don’t feel like you are in a different country speaking a different language. Also, you have to be comfortable not knowing what is going on.
I participated in the January 2014 Java cohort. This decision has changed my life beyond my expectations. As a former arts instructor, writer, business owner, and stay-at-home mom, I wanted to make web development my career and learn everything I could, but was frustrated with my attempts to learn on my own. When I discovered SWC Guild, I was attracted by the idea of a practical, immersive learning experience and decided to give it my all. Although it was one of the newer bootcamps out there, I was impressed with the backgrounds and experiences of Eric Wise and Eric Ward. I knew I could learn a lot from them. While their teaching styles are very different, both are effective, excellent communicators. They are both extremely accessible and will do whatever they can to help their students master a concept and ultimately, to succeed.
After the cohort ends, I had plans to return to my home of Columbus, Ohio. Knowing this, Eric Wise was up front about the fact that their hiring network is strong in Cleveland, but I would be a little more on my own searching in Columbus. While this has proven to be true, Eric Ward does have contacts in Columbus and has made every effort to utilize those on behalf of myself and one other participant who is also focusing his job search in Columbus. It turns out, I didn't need help as I have had many interviews and just received my first job offer in week 11. Based on my recruiter's feedback from another recent interview, there's a strong possibility I will receive a second offer before the end of this week.
Throughout the job-search process, interviewers have been highly impressed with my technical knowledge--and I knew virtually nothing about programming eleven weeks ago. One recruiter just told me today: "I don't know how much it cost to go through that program, but it's worth 10 times whatever you paid." I strongly agree.
While nearly all of the other bootcamps out there focus on Ruby, a quick internet search showed me that in Columbus, there are around 400 Java jobs available and another 390 C#/.NET jobs. There are only around 65 Ruby jobs. There is a tremendous shortage of talented Java and .NET developers in the industry and while Ruby may be the sexiest new thing, it's not the most in demand.
While most of my review has focused on the employability of SWC Guild graduates, I want to stress that this program is not to be taken lightly. It is grueling. There is an aptitude test required to get in. The description "like drinking from a fire hose" is very accurate. You must be comfortable with feeling overwhelmed and overworked. It is not a quick ticket to a better, higher-paying job. You must have a passion for learning and for the subject matter. Of the participants in the two winter cohorts, several had left careers with six-figure incomes to learn software development because they love doing this.
In closing, I had two additional concerns: ageism and sexism in the software development industry. I am in my forties and I am female. While the general consensus of women in IT is that ageism exists, it has not affected me at all. If anything, employers see my experience as a strongly positive factor in their hiring decision. I haven't seen even a hint of sexism.
These twelve weeks have changed my life. It was extremely difficult to leave my husband and family to live in another city for twelve weeks, only coming home on the weekends, and always working through the weekends even though I was physically at home. There was stress and sacrifice. It's definitely not sustainable in the long term. Still, it's only twelve weeks. Was it worth it? Definitely.
Excellent training program and community! Coming in, I had some prior background in development, having studied Java, C++, and VB.NET back in high school, but that was almost a decade ago. Yesterday, eleven and a half weeks later, a few days before the completion of the program, I just received and accepted an offer from my top pick at the top end of what I was looking for!
I'm 27 years old, have Bachelors in International Studies, and wasn't having much luck in my previous career path. I decided to go the development route because of having enjoyed in high school, and because the problem solving aspect really appealed to me. Initially, I was planning to go for a bachelors in Software Engineering--I was already signed up for classes and ready to start in the fall when I heard about the guild--but the thought of spending another four plus years in school before being able to launch my career was more than a little depressing, not to mention the amount of debt I'd accumulate in so doing. The prospect of being able to launch my career after only three months really appealed to me, as did the hands on approach and focus on real life skills. Man did they deliver! Within my six person team, four of us have accepted offers within the passed two weeks! I haven't kept up as well with the .NET side, but I understand that nearly all have received multiple offers.
The Guild offers programs in .NET and Java--I went the Java route--covering the fundamentals of object oriented programming, common design patterns, the software development life cycle, development best practices, and a wealth of related tools and technologies. Everything has been very hands on, with a focus on practical job skills. In my time here, we've done a wealth of group projects to help develop the teamwork and project management skills employers are looking for, culminating in a four week long capstone project--we're very close to finishing it, and man is it awesome.
The instructors are always happy to answer questions, including after hours. Eric Ward who teaches the Java course adjusted the pace based on how swiftly people were able to catch on to topics being covered. Both have had long and varied careers in the field before teaching.
The Guild put a lot of work into helping us find good jobs. About two thirds of the way through the course, the Guild held an open house and invited representative from companies seeking junior developers to come in and meet with students who were interested, allowing both parties to get a feel for the other before pursuing things further. I made some valuable connections that way. Being able to make that initial contact definitely made things easier. Guild also made coaching available to help improve interviewing and resume preparation skills.
It's a challenging program. I put in a lot hours outside of class, including a lot of long weekends. It was definitely a full-time endeavor at the least. Don't plan on working a job while you're doing it. But the rewards—skills I know will serve me throughout my career, the discovery of new strengths, and a good paying job with a company I'm really excited about--are well worth the investment. It's been a great experience. If you're smart, enjoy a challenge, and are willing to put in the effort, I absolutely recommend it.
I was an apprentice in the Software Craftsmanship Guild's Fall 2013 Java Cohort. The Software Craftsmanship Guild was an excellent experience, and I highly recommend it.
I believe that I am the first of our cohort to review, so I'll share some stats. 7 started, 6 finished. Job seekers who weren't already affiliated with staffing firms all received jobs. 2 received full tuition reimbursement.
Like many of the apprentices who left reviews, I had no background in software development. I had been teaching in a private school in Beachwood, OH for five years and I was looking for a change. I had really wanted to enter the software space, but was having difficulty figuring out how to do it.
I tried to take advantage of online coursework, both free and paid, but they were all lacking. All of those courses could teach me the concepts, but they couldn't provide me with enough exercises to truly reach mastery. These courses could provide experienced and thoughtful instructors who could lecture, but that was about it. I wanted someone who I could interact with, ask questions to, review my work, and coach me. In the online courses, I was all by myself. Forget about instructors, I had no camaraderie. At the guild, I would be working with every member of the cohort as we tried to learn and use this new information. Lastly, the online courses are interested in providing you with information. I wanted to be mentored by experienced developers. I wanted to create a network with other (future) developers.
The Guild provided me with all of those things and more.
Eric Ward, our instructor was, and continues to be, a tremendous teacher and friend. He is at the cutting edge of his discipline and can still make any and all of these concepts accessible to the neophyte. He was supportive but pushed us to get better. He taught us concepts, best practices, and helped us get a feel for the new industry and what employers were looking for.
Eric Wise, although not with our cohort day to day, brought headhunters, career advisors, and other meaningful speakers to help navigate the job search and enrich our experience.
The other apprentices were absolutely fantastic. I am happy to say that over 12 short weeks I have made new friends, coworkers, and network contacts. I hope to stay in touch with them for a long time.
As fantastic as the program is, your success rests in your own hands. It is a lot of work. It can be overwhelming and intimidating at times. However, you can do it, and everyone there will do everything in their power to help you. But you have control your own destiny. You have to put in the time both during hours and after hours. You have to practice and repeat. You can't be bashful about asking for help. I know that I was shameless about doing so.
One last piece of advice: I used something called the "Two Week Rule." I realized that whenever we were learning something new that I would only completely understand it or feel completely comfortable with it after two weeks. By doing this I was able to limit the anxiety and overwhelming confusion of new concepts. If you can convince yourself that this is the case (and you do the requisite work) your life will be much easier (especially in the first four weeks).
Take this course. Be great!
I am writing this review in the final days as our cohort has come to an end.
I had an interest in programming for a long time. I had taken classes in high school and then continued on with some additional courses in college. I was independant and was working to help pay for my tuition. However, I continued to get promoted at my job at the Geek Squad and found myself falling away from school. Years later I found myself managing over 20 Geek Squad agents. During a reorganization I was given the opportunity to work for another promotion or to take severance. After taking the time to reflect, I had decided to take the opportunity to return to the path that I had originally wanted to take and my hunt for the right path to take me to my goal began.
I initially started learning on my own through various books and internet resources. It didn't take me to long to realize that a guided approach based on the actual demands of the industry would be far more effective. I started googling various bootcamps as the financial burden and time commitment for college had already proven itself as a huge handicap to my goal. I plan to go back to college at some point for my own edification, but it was not necessary or more effective at my pursuit of a career in software development.
There are lots of bootcamps. New ones spring up all the time and make it difficult to parse through what one can truly expect. In part, that is why I am spending my time now writing this review. One of the first things I noticed was that almost every boot camp was teaching Ruby and focused almost entirely on the front end. I will allow you to Google Ruby usage statistics on your own. IMHO unless you are in silicon valley or aiming for some other startup Ruby is not the way to go. If you are pursuing an actual career in software development, you will find that the companies are mainly looking for Java and .Net developers. This fact alone narrowed down my search considerably.
I found the Software Craftsmanship Guild, and there were some reviews I found which showed a genuine respect for the experience. I sent in my application. In order to attend the Guild, there is a requirement of an aptitude test and interview. The desire by the Guild to ensure the quality of their applicants was another sign of their quality relative to other bootcamps. I had decided to forgo the interview on Skype, and instead drive almost 500 miles in order to see the Guild and meet Eric Wise in person. Upon my discussion with Eric, and seeing a cohort in action, I knew that I would not be wasting my time and money by attending.
My Experience with the Guild:
When I originally came to the Guild, I fully expected that I would be returning back to Milwaukee once I was done. I didn't have any connections with people or employers around Akron/Cleveland. Over the first couple of weeks I got settled into my new reality with my guildmates. We arrived in the morning and we would have a lecture on a topic (often writing code as part of the lecture). We would then adjourn for lunch. Then we would return to spend the rest of the afternoon coding a project that would utilize and expand upon what we learned in the lecture. The "expand upon" here was key, as we would need to learn to better lookup and utilize online documentation and other resources like stack overflow in order to adapt our code to work under the new requirements. We then would have a slew of aditional optional labs and assignments or simply add-ons to the project we had just finished. This optional work allowed us to have a focused task that would allow us to pursue and interest in a specific framework, concept, etc that we may have touched on in class but was not something that would be expected knowledge to an employer.
I fell in love with some of these optional labs. It allowed me to fully explore the aspects of programming that I was drawn to. I found myself often spend 15-30 additional hours a week outside of our normal full-time class load working on them. My favorite was battleship. The premise was simple. It was a one-sided battleship game. Simply an array with ships and the ability to shoot and display whether or not you hit/miss. It allowed us to work on the programming basics and structure. I took battleship and decided to make the full game complete with AI. That first weekend I must have emailed Eric Wise (my instructer and founder of the guild) at least 20 times with various questions. It wasn't until monday that I realized and came to appreciate the time, care and attentiveness that Eric shows to each of his students. I was not the only one with questions over the weekend. He was there to help and work with us all, outside of class or not.
We spent the first half of the cohort working on C#. The last week of the half we were split into teams for our first mastery project. This project was the culmination of everything that we had learned to date from project structure to dependancy injection. This was building an entire program like one we would see in use in the real world. We had to work as a team, master our source control, present our progress through agile stand ups, etc. Upon completion we then received a code review to track our progress and learn what our gaps were for improvement. Throughout this time we would also sporadically have optional speakers. These would vary on topics such as the differences between in house development and consultation development, linked-in profile management, and general information about employers in the area.
For the second half we worked on web development and MVC. The pace of learning had increased as did the frequency of employer visits. The strength of the employer network had made me realize that I really wanted to stay. I had met several employers that I would be really happy to work for given the opportunity. Around week 9 we had "speed dating" with over 20 employers. We got to sign up in order to talk to those employers we were interested in. I had conversations with several whom I had met before or researched and wanted to learn more about. Shortly thereafter I started receiving requests for technical interviews. I was astounded.
Around week 10 we had then started our final mastery project. Again, this was a culmination of everything C# to MVC. We had new teams and the addition of project management in order to help us break down our massive program into manageable parts. Occassionally I would leave my work on the mastery project in order to attend one of my interviews. Our mastery project continued to come along and my confidence in my abilities were solidified. That brings me to where I am now. The program has not ended. I received multiple job offers allowing me the freedom to choose my first employer before I have even finished with the course.
I cannot express my gratitude enough to the Guild for what it has meant for me. It is a huge risk, a huge step to take time away from everything and pay money in order for the prospect of a better career. In the end I have received one of the most rewarding experiences in my life. These past three months I have gained precious knowledge and made close friends and colleagues. If you are contemplating attending the Guild, DO IT! I will likely meet you there attending game night with a few other alumnus.
The Software Craftsmanship has impressed me, far exceeding all expectations I had coming in (which were already rather lofty!). If you have an interest in programming and are looking to refresh your knowledge or change careers, you should go to the SCG.
I came into the guild with very basic C# concepts and understanding. I left the guild able to build a fully functional, data base driven web application. Net result, a TON of knowledge. My teacher, Eric Wise, had this magical ability to take concepts and simplify them in terms that anyone can understand. And if it didn’t click the first time he explained it, he found others way to explain it until it did. While the course is very much set up for independent learning, and working closely with your class peers…Eric is always there with a thought provoking question to guide you toward getting to an answer. I watched my peers who had 0 programming experience coming into the class really push themselves and turned into pretty good developers.
If you are a logical thinker, if you love technology, love to learn, if you are always thinking “man, I wish I could build something to do something” – the program will push you, motivate you, and educate you to where you need to be to enter the wonderful world of development. This was well worth my investment in myself.
-Eric knows how to simply things to a level anyone can understand, even some more advanced concepts.
-The program is very heavily designed to give you what you put into it. There are a ton of practice exercises to keep you busy and learning. You have peers who will push you to succeed. But at the end of the day, if you want to work, you want to learn, the tools are put in front of you and you just need to embrace them. During the first 8 weeks I was putting in 20-30 hour outside of class learning and the results showed. During the final 4 weeks I put almost no time in outside of class learning, and the results likewise showed in the opposite direction. At the end, you choose to win and learn, or you choose to not.
-There is a good deal of employers that have taken interest in the guild and will come in to meet you. It’s nice to have that instant network available to you following the program, given you choose to embrace it. My biggest regret (and again this was all my fault) was believing so strongly I was going to get in at a company that I failed to take advantage of this network…and when in the end they were not interested in me I was left behind. Again, as the theme with the entire guild, the doors are opened for you if you just walk thru them.
-Peer Programming. Getting a chance to talk with someone on the same level as you about a problem. Talk out a solution, really helps solidify concepts.
-3 months of programming experience walking out. You spend plenty of time in the workshop programming, plenty of time outside as well. This isn’t a 2 hour a day twice a week college course, this is an internship.
-The Family known as the Guild. I met 7 students and 1 professor I genuinely like…people I’d call up on any given day to hang out with. Everyone is supportive, encouraging, and wanting to see everyone else succeed. I know I will have these people in my network long beyond the end of the guild, and I am thankful to have met them.
-Companies outside of the guild network are very new to the concept of the boot camps and the guild. I found myself during interview situations fighting an uphill battle to prove I had enough knowledge to equal what they believe a person comes out of college with. Until this becomes more widely accepted, it could be considered a con. However, I do know some of my classmates found employment in places outside of the guild network without a problem, so this could be an isolated situation.
-You spend about 4 weeks on core C# which is great and you get plenty of practice. You spend about 2 weeks on SQL Database which is great and you get plenty of practice. You go thru a ton of content for 2 weeks on Web and are given a final mastery project set to give you the practice. I wish we would have had more in class time to practice these concepts – but again – this happened about the time I started to stop putting in my effort outside of class so I could have done some self-learning here to combat this.
Be it a novice like I was, or someone who has never seen a line of code in their life I believe can learn to program with the tools provided, resources available, and the teaching style Eric provides IF one wants to put the time required to learn. There are no grades, there is no pass/fail, you are investing in yourself by being a part of this course and you decide for yourself if you pass or if you struggle. I realize the things that didn’t go “to plan” were of my fault – and even though I made some…poor decisions…Eric has remained a wonderful mentor and friend continuing to push me to succeed.
I was a member of the January 2014 .NET/C# cohort at the Software Craftsmanship Guild. What follows is my review of my time there.
I finished up my twelve week endeavor and I have to say it has been a wonderful experience. You hit the ground running from the first day and it doesn't let up, which is a good thing. I came into this program having no technical background. The most I'd done was build a computer, but I knew nothing about programming; I was a math teacher before coming here.
While I was able to learn a little bit of HTML and CSS before coming in to the program (pre-work assigned by the instructor, Eric Wise) I still had close to no idea what I was doing. Sure online learning can help with getting a small idea of what to do, but to really learn what you need an instructor is necessary. And that's exactly what you get. Eric is a great instructor and can help out if you're having issues. All you need to do is ask!
Employers began coming in around week six and pretty soon I had two offers on the table. I accepted a position downtown and I'm currently preparing to start that job in a couple weeks. I would absolutely recommend this as a place to learn programming. It was worth every dollar spent.