Coding Bootcamps, Teaching and Learning January 27, 2016 jess 10 comments

Two Year Retrospective on Dev Bootcamp

Today, January 27th 2016, marks my two year anniversary of starting Dev Bootcamp. In DBC time, I’m officially ancient. They turn out new graduates every three weeks, so the program has seen many iterations since I graduated. The program, the staff, and the culture have shifted significantly since I attended.

Dev Bootcamp was one of the most valuable (if stressful) experiences of my life. I wanted to take some time today to reflect on that experience and check in with how DBC has changed.

What went well?

Friendships and Professional Networks

I don’t talk to most of the people I graduated with, but the people I do talk to are good friends. If your friendship can survive 100 hours a week together for a couple months, it can survive anything.

DBC also has a strong alumni network. It was small when I graduated, but DBC turns out new grads so often that we’re everywhere now. There is an alumni presence in most major US cities. A thriving Slack community helps connect grads by city or the language we work in. The network’s culture focuses on providing support and professional development opportunities. Keeping up with the connections that I made while at DBC led me to become involved with Chicago PyLadies.

This network is one of the most valuable things about DBC as opposed to self-teaching. You can, of course, build a network over time by going to user groups and participating in open source projects. But DBC fast-tracks that process in a way that’s like a college alumni network. The network itself is young, so it’s hard to measure its impact. So far, it’s been an amazing resource.

My Dev Bootcamp final project group. I'm the short, unhappy looking one.
My Dev Bootcamp final project group.

Learning in a bootcamp vs learning on the job

The whole idea of DBC is to take you from zero (or close to it) to junior-level job ready in 9 weeks. It’s a lofty goal, but they’ve been pretty successful. The pace of material and the hands-off-but-open-to-questions pedagogical style translates well to a junior level job.

The catch is you have to find a team that understands that you’re starting out at a very beginner level. They need to be willing to work with you on that. I got lucky in the team I ended up with, and it’s been great. I also know DBC grads who took jobs with teams that were unwilling to work on building essential skills. That didn’t work out so well for them. Overall I think DBC does a good job of getting you ready for apprenticeships or beginner level jobs. They give you the tools to teach yourself so that you can get past the apprenticeship stage quickly.

Mandatory Yoga

I wish my current job had some sort of wellness program. I miss mandatory yoga. It’s so easy to let physical health fall by the wayside when you sit for 8 hours a day at least. Physical activity and mindfulness as part of the curriculum is one of the best things about DBC. It’s something that more tech spaces should strive for.

Dev Bootcamp is not school

DBC is more of an apprenticeship than an academic program. There aren’t many lectures. If you don’t understand something, you can’t talk yourself into a higher grade. There are no grades. Just like in life, you will not receive help or support if you don’t ask for it. Because students are accountable only to themselves, I think student buy-in tends to be higher than at a college.

This approach worked well for me. I was a total slacker in school. I waged a one woman war against homework for 15 years. In school I never felt like I had ownership over my learning process. As a consequence, I didn’t try as hard. I was more motivated to succeed by DBC’s structure than I ever was by traditional education.

Pair programming

Pair programming is an integral part of the DBC curriculum and culture. This is a great way to work when you’re just starting out. I think it helped me build confidence, focus, and communication skills early on. Pair programming is a great way to accelerate early learning.

However, I’m glad I don’t do this in my day-to-day work. It worked wonders helping create an intense, collaborative atmosphere in the program. I think that working so closely in tandem with others on a long term basis would be unsustainable for me.

What didn’t go so well?

Emotional Toll

I hesitate to call this “bad,” but DBC was one of the most emotionally draining things I’ve ever done.

First, you spend 10-12 hours a day, 6-7 days a week with a pack of complete strangers for 10 weeks. It’s exhausting. By the end of it, you even hate the people you consider friends. Most office settings and social gatherings favor extroverts. Like everything else, DBC turns the intensity on this up to 11. I would say that DBC punishes introverted behavior. As an introvert in the program you either get good at mimicking outgoing behavior or you have a bad time.

Second, DBC prides itself on a series of lectures on Engineering Empathy(EE). These lectures cover a wide array of topics including sexism, tech’s prevalence of mental health issues, impostor syndrome, giving and receiving feedback, and emotional vulnerability in the workplace. I thought these lectures were valuable. They helped my cohort connect in ways that we otherwise wouldn’t have. But the toll these lectures took ranged from uncomfortable to harrowing. EE was a particularly difficult part of an already socially and emotionally stressful program.


DBC lacks the infrastructure to deal with interpersonal conflict. This became an issue for me and some friends when there was no way to deal with sexist behavior from other students. DBC doesn’t offer grades, certificates, or compensation. There’s no way to create disincentives the way that a school or company would. Here are some examples of unsolvable problems that actually happened in my cohort:

  • Male students refusing to listen to code reviews and advice from female staff.
  • The token woman in a group project only being allowed to work on the CSS, even if that’s not her specialty.
  • A group ripping out a woman’s code contributions and replacing it with something almost identical.
  • Men in a group project refusing to tell the project leader what they’re working on if the leader is a woman.
  • When addressing any of the above problems, men saying they’re not going to “play Doctor Phil with you.”
  • Men sitting women down and explaining, at length, that they didn’t apply to the same jobs as the women just to hurt their feelings.

The only thing that DBC can offer in any of these situations is a shrug, a sympathetic smile, and a therapist. The staff cares about these problems, but, due to the nature of the program, there is no solid way to combat them.

DBC also lacks the infrastructure to deal with students who aren’t neurotypical. My cohort had someone on the spectrum and the program was ill equipped to deal with this student’s learning needs. This student would sometimes decide in the middle of the day that it was time for a nap in the closet. Or that talking out loud was too much and that they would only communicate by HipChat for the remainder of the day. Students and staff alike were at a loss for how to deal with this. As a student it was difficult to find the balance between being accommodating and feeling that this behavior harmed my own learning. I’m sure the staff felt the same.

What’s changed?


This is a silly quibble, but the logo was way cooler back in the day. The boot logo was retired because parts of the organization thought it was too severe and would deter applicants. I don’t quite understand that. It’s supposed to be a bootcamp; it’s not supposed to be easy.

The old logo was badass. It had personality. It reminds me of my favorite pair of Doc Martens.

The new logo looks like an intro-to-design student was listening to Hoobastank the night before and came up with an ‘awesome’ yet familiar looking idea that they can’t quite figure out where they’ve seen before.

dbcnew  hoobastanklogo

Emotional Toll

There are now more EE sessions. They cover a broader range of topics. I appreciate this expansion. However, they’re not soul-crushing anymore. I have mixed feelings about this. EE changed because the intensity of those lectures was reportedly doing real damage to students. I sometimes wonder, though, if students are confusing feeling uncomfortable with real harm.

DBC was a draining experience. It makes sense that the organization is adjusting based on feedback to that effect. I don’t know if I like the result. Having my mettle tested by the program helped me build coping skills and made me learn when to ask for help. I think that DBC softening its stance might be taking away a learning opportunity here.

It’s also possible that I’m just a curmudgeon who thinks that all students should have to suffer in the same ways I did. Who’s to say?

Unit tests

Unit testing wasn’t covered until the last 3 weeks of the program when I was there. Before they introduced us to proper unit tests, we wrote print statements to test the code. Now they teach unit tests from day one. Hooray!

Javascript Frameworks

They now cover Backbone in the last 3 weeks of the program. I’m glad to see they started doing this. The program deemphasized front end work when I went through. I only learned basic vanilla JavaScript. It’s good to see more attention paid to modern front end development.

On the other hand, it seems like a lot to cram in to Phase 3. Phase 2, the middle three weeks of the program, are devoted to creating Sinatra apps. The program introduces Rails in Phase 3. The actual learning time in Phase 3 is only about a week and a half long. The second half of the phase is devoted to final projects. I wonder if it’s worth it to introduce Backbone if they’re not able to spend more than 1-1.5 days on it. I would love to hear from some recent graduates whether the new material paid off for them.

Individual advisors

Until recently DBC used to assign one mentor/advisor to each cohort of 15-23 people. This worked out for the students, but it spread the advisors thin. Now staff members are responsible for mentoring 9-10 students across different cohorts. This is an amazing change for faculty work/life balance and retention. I’m so glad to see DBC taking care of its staff.

Less drinking

There was a lot of drinking when I was at DBC. We didn’t actually drink in the space, but students and staff partied often. Dangerously often. Looking back, I’m uncomfortable with how much I drank and how I relied on alcohol to do the heavy lifting of overcoming my social anxiety.

Some social activities still include alcohol and take place at bars (this is Chicago). However, DBC seems to be working to include non-drinkers in social and networking activities. While I and most of my DBC connections aren’t teetotalers, I recognize that it’s important to be inclusive to non-drinkers. I applaud the effort DBC has made in this area.

Uncategorized Final Thoughts

On learning Ruby then working in Python

When I first got an interview at a Python shop I was pretty intimidated. I’d just finished DBC and was only starting to feel like I had a handle on working in Ruby. The instructors insisted that the DBC process is about learning to learn, not about Ruby specifics, but it felt like a big step.

Taking a job in Python was not a big deal at all. The learning pace that DBC set helped me adjust to learning on the job. Finding a team that would invest in me was much more important than the language. When I first started I mostly wrote unit tests and asked questions. Working with a team that gave me the space to do that was the most important part of finding the right first job.

Market saturation?

I’m glad I went through the program two years ago when there weren’t as many grads. The alumni network wasn’t as developed, but it was a better market for bootcamp students. I wonder how long they can churn out grads before the Chicago market can’t take any more DBC caliber juniors.

I don’t have any data to back this worry up. But I’ve heard anecdotally from the alumni network and staff that recent grads seem to be taking longer to find jobs. When I graduated the expectation was that you could find a job in three months. The new expectation seems to be that you will find a job in six months. There are still jobs for bootcamp grads, and hiring comes and goes in waves. But market saturation of bootcamp students is something I wonder about. DBC is going to have to address this sooner or later.

Who should apply to Dev Bootcamp?

I’ve seen a few people go straight from either high school or college into DBC. I would not recommend this. If you’ve just graduated and you think a coding bootcamp is for you, get a job first. Any job. Try McDonalds. Do this for at least six months while you teach yourself some coding basics on the side. There are a few reasons for this.

  1. Traditional education does not teach you to feel real ownership over your work. After you get a grade you’re free to wash your hands of what you just learned. Grades and transcripts provide an external pressure and validation that doesn’t exist at DBC. I can’t stress enough that Dev Bootcamp is not school. You’re not setting yourself up for success if you jump in without real world experience first.
  2. You need to do some self-learning before hand to make sure coding is something you even like. Otherwise you might just be taking on debt for the privilege of doing something you dislike.
  3. If you can’t learn some basics on your own, you’re going to have a bad time during the program.
  4. If you don’t make the time to learn to code while you’re working on other things, you don’t want it enough.
  5. Most of us make software for people out in the wild, not just other developers. Having experience that doesn’t revolve around software and academia makes you a better developer.

Another thing you should think about before applying is your general learning style. I think of learners in two categories: curious learners and completionist learners. Curious learners figure out exactly how much they need to know to execute on an idea and fill in gaps as they go. Completionist learners feel they need to know everything before testing out their ideas. DBC works well for curious learners. Completionist learners either learn to let go or struggle through the entire program.

If you’re thinking of applying to a coding bootcamp here’s what I recommend.

  • Figure out your learning style
  • Think about your previous work and school experience
  • Read multiple write-ups about the bootcamp you’re applying to
  • Examine whether what you read about that bootcamp sounds like a productive experience. This style of learning is not for everyone.
  • Be able to solve FizzBuzz in under 10 minutes before you apply
  • Know how to save and run a Ruby or Python file locally before you apply
  • Know how to open a REPL locally and play around in it before you apply
  • Try to figure out how to install external packages through Ruby gems or pip installs before you apply

If you still think you might want to attend a bootcamp after completing these steps then you should go for it!

Email me or let me know in the comments if you still have questions or if your bootcamp experience differed from mine. I’m always excited to hear from other grads!

10 thoughts on “Two Year Retrospective on Dev Bootcamp

  1. Great read. I didn’t know about the new stuff like unit test from day 1 and adding backbone to the curriculum.

  2. Great post! Wow, this brings back memories, some of them glorious, some of them awful.

    Yeah, remember that time the instructors told us that they didn’t want us to have an all-female group project because we needed to learn how to deal with the over abundance of men and the ratio in the real world? That one was a fun one. I didn’t feel like they were making me the token girl at all.

    DBC was all of those things you mention. Terrible and great by turns. I want to second your observation on how emotionally draining it was. Because I struggled so much, I was actually attending DBC for 22 total weeks, not just 9. 26 if you count the prep period. I learned that you can’t put a person under that sort of prolonged emotional pressure without causing severe side effects. You know how draining the final project week is…remember how Jill had just started the career week program, the extra week nobody planned on but came right after the do-or-die final project? So, exhausted, I climbed onto my kick-scooter and crashed it. I think I scared the heck out of Mike when I made it to DBC and told him I had hit my head really hard and my face was numb. Due to the traumatic brain injury, I lost my ability to think for a month. This made my preexisting mental illness worse, and the short version is I’m alive because I had really good insurance. Without it, I have no doubt that DBC would have killed me.

    Between that, the sexism, the actual outright sexual harassment, and having to fight every inch of the way for all of the special accommodation I needed, I pretty much decided to kiss a tech career goodbye. DBC was the most accommodating environment I had met, and they still set in motion a chain of events that nearly killed me. I no longer have to get any nearer than a mile to a computer if I don’t want to, and am perfectly happy with that state of affairs. Which is a loss for tech, because tech needs women like me shouting for change, and I took my toys and went home.

    I’m glad you’re still in the trenches, fighting the good fight.

    1. I’m sorry to hear that you’ve decided not to stay in tech. Do you think the experience was still valuable? Do you have any advice for women looking to break into the field to help avoid some of the hardships that you experienced? What are you doing now?

      1. DBC was valuable. I do not think it was worth $80,000 and a full year-and-a-half of my life, which is what the program and the resulting hospital bills ultimately cost my family. It also cost me my love of computers and most of my desire to use them to ‘make beautiful and meaninful things.’ Working with computers is physically, mentally, and emotionally painful for me. I can’t look at a screen without getting a migrane. I can’t type without my hands hurting. I can’t stay civil in debates about women in tech. Where I once felt excited and could spend hours tweaking code, drawing fractals, and making art, I now feel dread and a desire to reach for a hammer and smash my computer. I went into the DBC space the other day, and was very proud that I spoke calmly, smiled and people, and didn’t have a panic attack.

        I learned a lot from DBC, and what I mostly learned was that DBC is the absolute best at that particular form of education. Getting people ‘up to speed’ fast, putting them in a pressure cooker, and some people come out diamonds. Some people just come out crushed flat.

        That being said, DBC was objectively _better_ than my experience at University in pretty much every way. There was less sexism. There was integrated therapy and moral support instead of hiding the therapy in a forgotten building barely on campus. There was acknowledgement that the teachers weren’t perfect and were doing their best. The sexual harrassment complaint I lodged was addressed immediately and with deadly seriousness. I was treated far better and given far more accommodation at DBC than any other institution I had ever experienced, and I damned well knew it, which is why I grimly hung on long after I should have quit.

        It still nearly killed me. DBC was a valuable lesson in what people like me need, which is pretty much NOT DBC. I don’t think a school exists yet that i could survive without being doped up on so many high-powered tranquilizers that I’d basically be a zombie.

        The best advice I can give to someone like me is that there is absolutely no shame in looking at the utterly poisonous stew of mental-illness and disability-shaming that exists on the tech scene and saying, “Oh no, I’m not sticking my hand in that meat-grinder.” I felt it was my duty to stand up for women, and like I was letting down my gender if I quit “when the going got tough.” People told me to “tough it out” and “stick with it”, and what I got for my trouble “you’re not trying hard enough,” when I was struggling so hard my hands were literally frozen with pain. I think what I’m most bitter about is that I have a deep and hatred for the very technology I once loved.

        If I had to go back and tell Tara what to do before walking through those doors, I’d tell her this: “There’s this concept called ‘flow.’ It’s when the act of doing something is it’s own reward. It’s where you are not only working toward a goal, but when the process of working toward that goal is pleasurable in it’s own right. It’s like when you are chopping vegetables, and the delicious sound of the ‘crunch’ as the knife slices through a carrot gives you that little shiver down your spine and makes you happy to just be there, existing, slicing the carrot. At the end, the stew you made and ate is almost nothing compared to the meditative joy of the making. Work is not always fun, but it can be meditative and it should NEVER be actively painful unless the building you are in is on fire and you are running for your life. Anybody that tells you to ‘tough it out’ and ‘no pain, no gain,’ smile politely, leave, and NEVER look back.” That is the most valuable lesson I learned from DBC.

  3. Wow, this is a great write up and there is lots here, some of it I agree with, some of it I’m not so sure about. I didn’t know most of the Foxs, including the author, but I did go through the Chicago program soon after so a lot of this rings true.

    For starters, my post DBC experience hasn’t matched what you hear in the commercials. I haven’t started some awesome career as a developer, the best I’ve found was a QA job where I spent most of my time running manual tests. I wrote hardly any code there, didn’t get any kind of training or even a clear idea as to what my performance expectations were. I’m no longer with that company and I haven’t gotten any interest from (the many) companies I’ve applied to over the last several months. I hear a lot of people talking about getting out of DBC and juggling a half dozen job offers, or of having recruiters coming after them, but that isn’t my reality. I’m also not finding that the alumni network is all that great, but honestly, I’m terrible at keeping in touch with people so that’s likely my fault. Also, I don’t live in Chicago, or another big city, which makes networking and face to face events a rare and difficult prospect.

    As far as the sexism goes, I’m male so I can’t claim to have the same experience as a female student would. That said, DBC is an extremely progressive organization. There is a very definite slant towards the left there, with talks about discrimination and prejudice, and a philosophy of getting more underrepresented demographics into tech. I’m rather left wing myself, but there were times that even I thought it was a wee bit ridiculous. Now again, I’m male so I can’t speak to the experience of a female participant but I would say two things. One, DBC is making an enormous amount of effort to be welcoming of all regardless of race, gender, orientation, etc., an effort which I’ve never seen anywhere else in my life. Two, I would hope that none of my female classmates felt that I was discriminating against them in any way, especially since I think pretty much all of them were better students than I was.

    I’d also like to speak to the way DBC approaches students who have mental health issues. This is another area where I think the author is comparing reality with perfection. DBC might not have a staff which are all fully trained to deal with mental disorders. What it did have was an outstanding social worker on the premises, teachers who are the most part amazingly empathetic and lets not forget that Dave Hoover, the founder, got his start as a mental health professional. I’ve dealt with mental issues for longer than some DBC student’s have been alive. By the time I was in stage three I was having a meltdown on nearly a daily basis, the pressure and disappointment with my own performance was crippling. I can honestly say that if it wasn’t for Dave and the other people there I would have drowned at DBC and not made it through.

    As far as the changes to the program, some of what you list I’ve heard of, some I’d not. DBC moved unit testing to phase one soon after I graduated, and I’m envious of those who get it earlier. Testing and TDD are complex subjects that take a ton of practice, shoehorning it into phase three was just a bad idea. When I graduated I didn’t have testing down at all. I’m encouraged to hear that there is more of a focus on JavaScript. JavaScript is the future and it’s only going to get bigger. What I’m less excited to hear is that they are teaching Backbone. Backbone was on it’s way out two years ago, things like Angular and Ember were taking over, and those are now being supplanted by React. JavaScript is evolving incredibly quickly, if you’re going to teach a framework, teach the one which is the current hottest. I’m also glad to hear they’ve upped the student to teacher ratio. As a student there were often times when you couldn’t get help when you needed it and that made things difficult.

    Lastly, I really worry about saturation. The one sector of the economy which didn’t nose dive in the last ten years was tech. Everybody wants to be in this field now, the pay is good, the work life balance can be awesome and there is great demand. But DBC just opened it’s sixth school and there are a hundred other boot camps which have opened since DBC launched five years ago. We’re starting to see a gold rush mentality but there is no such thing as unlimited opportunity. Tech is a great field to be in because the skills are rare and valuable, if the skills become more common then employers will have less motivation to offer the great pay and perks. Using the gold rush metaphor, if you read your history you’ll see that the people who got rich during the gold rush were the ones selling picks and shovels, not the ones out panning in the rivers. This is a boom time for boot camps, booms lead to bubbles and eventually bubbles burst.

    So, what would I change about DBC? Here are some thoughts.

    * Get out of the “hacker mentality” and the idea that students should be pressed to learn things which are outside the program. I went there trying to learn the basics, the fundamentals and I don’t really feel that I got that. Fundamentals are what matter, you have to have a strong foundation or what you build on it will be weak. Get rid of the final project, spend those last two valuable weeks making sure students really understand what they have learned. I think the final project is nothing but a waste of time.

    * Get more teacher support. The teachers are there Monday through Friday, 8 to 5. If you’re going to expect students to be there thirteen hours a day, seven days a week (like I was) you need to have support the whole time. Often I would get hung up on something at seven at night, frequently a technical issue, and there would be no one there to help fix the problem. Other students could help somewhat, but when you’re investing in expert assistance you should get it when you need it. Make teachers and TA’s available later in the day, and on Saturday at least, if not seven days a week.

    * Create a better post DBC program to keep the momentum going. This doesn’t need to be anything overly formal but there needs to be something. DBC is exhausting, many people come out of it worn down and it’s hard to keep the motivation. Something which suggests further projects to students would be great, especially if it helps group people up who are from different cohorts and even different schools. There is a phase zero for this kind of thing, a phase four along the same lines would be great. This would help strengthen the network, give students more to show off to employers, cement the skills learned and expand them.

    * Teach the web in pieces, not all at once. Start by having students build static websites built on frameworks so they can see how the controller works with the view, then once that’s down introduce the model and database components. It doesn’t have to be an all at once proposition.

    Next, who do I think should go to DBC? I’ll instead list some red flags of those who shouldn’t.

    * Are you over thirty? If you are breaking into the industry will be harder, that’s a fact of life. Tech has lots of discrimination issues, but the one they don’t even try to hide is ageism. You’ve got Twitter getting sued for it, you’ve got Zuckerburg coming right out and saying he only wants young people. It’s taken for granted in Silicon Valley and while the rest of the country is not as bad, it’s known that tech has a culture that skews young, cool and male. It’s not impossible to break in if you’re in midlife, but it will be harder and you need to be aware of that.

    * Do you live in a place that has a good tech scene? If you don’t I wouldn’t recommend a boot camp. There are thousands of boot camp grads out there and every passing Friday adds to the count. All of them are looking for jobs and on top of that you’re competing with people with CS degrees and established track records. Right out of boot camp you need to do anything and everything to set yourself apart and you won’t get there by applying to openings. You need to get out and physically meet people, you need to make a real connection to get behind the screens. If you can’t do that you won’t get into this industry.

    * Are you someone who learns quickly? If not then boot camp isn’t the place for you. If you fall even a day behind, if you don’t fully understand something that is taught as it comes then you are screwed. For example, when I went through DBC I didn’t get Activerecord down when it was taught. Because of how phase two was taught, this deficiency made everything else harder if not impossible. If it weren’t for a TA pretty much taking me by the hand (love you Lauren) I wouldn’t have gotten it and would have crashed. You need to learn fast and learn it when it’s taught because every piece is essential, if you can’t do that a boot camp isn’t going to work for you.

    * Are you mentally healthy, and can you remain so? DBC is a killer, it pushes your mind to it’s limits. Sometimes people crack, I did and I know others who did. And while there are a great many people there who will help you up when you stumble, they can only do so much. So if you have mental health issues, as so many of us do, be sure you talk to your counselor and doctors. Make sure they think you can handle this and that you have everything you need, be it pills, people to call on or any other tools to help you cope with the strain. DBC can be a great place, but like anything worth doing, it has a high cost.

    Well, that went on for a while. For those still with me, thanks for reading. To sum up, my experience with Dev Bootcamp is a mixed bag. Some days I’m very glad I went, others I honestly think I would be better off if I had gotten a certification from a welding school. I do know that I’m not where I want to be in life, and I’m far from sure that I’ll ever get there.

    When I was at DBC I gave a lightning talk where I mentioned the issue of faith. I told my fellow students that they needed to have faith to succeed, faith in the program and faith in themselves. It’s a remarkable place, and I’ve never seen one like it. It’s a place where everyone who enters wants those who come here to be the absolute best versions of themselves that they can be. I had faith in DBC then and I have it now, and even almost two years out they are still helping me. What I didn’t leave with was faith in myself. To the contrary I left feeling even more unsure of myself then I was when I went in. That was my experience, take it for what you will, keep trying and go be fucking awesome.

    1. Thank you so much for your thoughtful reply. I definitely understand that my experience isn’t going to match everyone’s, but I wanted to clarify a couple of things.

      – I think the staff and organization is very liberal, but my cohort tended to be more bro-y, competitive, and conservative than most. I feel like that the clash of people present brought up more issues than you might see in a typical cohort.
      – With the mental health issue, I think they do a good job of managing students who have depression, anxiety, and some bipolar issues. My cohort had a member who had moderate learning disabilities related to being on the spectrum. Dev Bootcamp staff isn’t even remotely equipped to administer something like an IEP to help offset different learning abilities. Dev Bootcamp isn’t even the right fit for many people who don’t have learning disabilities. I’m not sure how this should have been handled, but it was definitely suboptimal and affected the cohort.

      I’m very sorry to hear that you’ve struggled with finding a job outside of QA. I completely agree that working outside a major metropolitan area is less than ideal for graduates. And I definitely think that DBC could do more to manage applicant expectations of what the job search will look like.

      I don’t work on the front end so I didn’t know that Backbone is considered out of date. Even though it might not be cutting edge any longer, there are still probably shops that use Backbone, and I’m glad that they’re teaching FE frameworks at all. I feel like that’s a part of web development that I did not get enough exposure to during my time at DBC.

      I disagree that DBC should abandon the final projects. Final projects feel much more like what you do in your day-to-day than the projects that precede it. Prior projects are pretty well spelled out for you. Both you and the instructors have a general idea of what’s involved in the project, which gems will be useful, and the criteria for success. None of that is set during your final project. It’s important to define your own goals and successes, as well as research the package ecosystem and learn to discern good gems/apis/resources/documentation from bad. Additionally, the final project acts as a portfolio piece/code sample that you can take into a job interview. I can’t speak for other companies, but my company always asks for a code sample before agreeing to interview a candidate. If you don’t have a portfolio project at the end of DBC you’re just putting off the need to create one after you graduate in order to become hirable.

    2. Wow! Thank you for all this great information about your experience! It must have taken you hours to write this response: have you considered making it a blog post? Your experience mirrors mine in almost every detail, from the mental health issues to the exhaustion after DBC to the Dave Hoover’s counseling being vital to saving my sanity and my life. I’m glad you got to skip the overt and covert sexism: as you know, being mentally ill is difficult enough without adding sexual harrassment on top of it.

      Speaking of the after-DBC job search, are you interested in comparing scars and war stories? I had the same issue of not keeping in touch with the alumni network, and I’d be deeply interested in commiserating with someone who understands what it’s like to have your brain go all fuzzy and exhausted when you contemplate certain parts of the job hunt. (Also, hearing voices doesn’t help much, and having people freak out when you tell them you hear voices doesn’t help much either.)

      Dave is pretty awesome, isn’t he? This thread inspired me to write a post on how he and DBC as an institution handled my sexual harrassment case.

      Anyway, thanks so much for this reply! It makes me feel like less of a lone exception to know that someone else had pretty much the same experience.

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