Billy Shih

Writing in English and Code

Code Fellows: Ruby on Rails Bootcamp Review

It’s hard to believe I didn’t know any Rails just a month before. While I have a lot to learn, Rails is truly incredible for how much it can do so quickly. A lot of credit is owed to the creators of Ruby and Rails, but also to Code Fellows, which has taught me everything I know about Rails in the past month.

When I was considering joining there wasn’t much information on Code Fellows, so now that I’m halfway through the program, here are my thoughts about it to help anyone considering joining Code Fellows.

Note: Code Fellows is a start-up and changes as they see opportunities to improve. My experience will likely be representative but not entirely accurate of the structure of the class in the future.

Code Fellows is a two month Ruby on Rails intensive bootcamp. More than just teaching Rails, they guarantee a job with at least a $60k salary.

The bootcamp is structured in two parts, Silver and Gold, one month each. People with some Rails experience can jump right into Gold, but I started and just finished Silver. All my classmates who started in Silver have had some experience coding, building web pages (HTML/CSS) and/or know about some area relevant to web development, like QA, project management or working with databases. I came in with iOS development, HTML/CSS and a little JavaScript experience, all self taught.

Each day we discuss what we worked on the previous day from 9:00AM to 12:00PM and then from 1:00PM to 4:00PM work on a chapter in Rails in Action 4, along with other assignments. This works out well since the concepts and amount of work is pretty extensive so having a large block of time to just code and go through the book is important. The morning discussions give space to review, answer questions and solidfy concepts.

We also have many App-a-day assignments, creating small Rails apps that review a given topic like ActiveRecord::Associations, popular gems (Devise and Cancan) and nested resources. Other homework includes going through Code School tutorials (e.g. Chrome Dev Tools, HTML5/CSS3, jQuery and Ruby), Railscasts and read articles about Rails and web development.

Lastly, we are given a group project, which we presented at the end of Silver and will again at the end of gold. My group is building out a Rails app that allows people to apply for Code Fellows and then be rated by Code Fellows staff (source on GitHub). This project is my favorite so far since it’s more free form and I work with others, giving me good practice in pair programming and git.

One huge benefit is the location at TechStars/Founder’s Co-op. We work alongside all the start-ups here and so it’s a good environment to be focused and code with others, while also not having to leave early since it’s an office. I usually stay until 5:30PM and then finish up at home. While there are some days I’d finish earlier, I can’t imagine working part- or full-time while in Code Fellows.

I spent 10 days in Chicago during the second week and it was really hard to get all my work done. Although I participated remotely via Google Hangout, it was sub-optimal.

Our instructors, Brook Riggio and Ivan Storck, are awesome too, teaching us all of the above and always open to helping out. You can really tell they want us to succeed and are doing their best to make that happen.

Code Fellows acknowledges that getting a job as a software developer requires more than technical skills and so include many non-technical activities. There are two speakers every Friday, which has been one of my favorite parts of the class, and recommend networking events to attend. They also have us build out our LinkedIn profiles and personal websites/blogs. (I had this blog up already but switched it to Octopress because of my new knowledge!)

They also hook you up with a mentor but unfortunately my mentor is going to be on vacation, so I’m trying to set something up with him or may get a new one.

Overall, I’m really happy with the bootcamp. I can leverage git and the command line, whip up a basic Rails app easily and learn web development topics on my own at a decent pace now. The only things I would improve about the course are overall organization and more opportunities to network with my classmates and start-ups. Hopefully I’ll see more of that this month.

If you’re thinking of applying for Code Fellows, I recommend you do! Once Gold finishes, I’ll wrap up with some final thoughts about Code Fellows but hopefully this is helpful to anyone considering applying now.