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From U-Verse Technician to Coding Temple Instructor: Meet Derek Hawkins

Derek Hawkins joined the Coding Temple team as an instructor earlier this year in January. However, coding didn’t become his passion until a few years ago.

As a freshman in college at Illinois State University, Derek didn’t have that one major that stuck out to him that he considered to be the perfect fit for him. He felt he didn’t really have a sense of direction and settled on Occupational Safety and Health Administration as his major. His first job out of college was working for AT&T as a U-Verse Technician. He enjoyed everything about the job except for having to climb us on telephone poles in the freezing, bitter cold. Summers were great for the job though!

Everything was going great for Derek until they had a change in managers. His old manager treated everyone with the utmost respect; however, the new manager threatened their jobs. Him and his co-workers would bring up legitimate safety concerns about their daily job and his new manager had the same response every time.

If you all want to complain, there’s somebody younger than you who’s willing to do the jobs.

Derek was concerned about the future of his job and decided to start looking up resources on how to learn to code. He was the technologically sound person in his family and always had a mild interest in coding ever since he was young. Without any prior education in Computer Science, it was a struggle for him to learn to code but he was determined to get out of his job.

I can’t count on 20 hands how many days I spent learning how to code.

After a lot of patience and many sleepless nights, one of Derek’s old high school friends who had just opened his own IT consulting business asked him if he was interested in a job. He decided to take the leap and this became his first official job where he was doing something he was passionate about. After gaining more experience, he eventually moved onto doing some contract work for 24Seven, Inc. One particular contract that he absolutely loved working was for the University of Chicago in the Alumni Relations Department. He had a great experience there and built many friendships, both were nothing short of amazing for him.

Eventually his contract at UofC ended, and Derek started doing some freelance work to generate extra income. One day, his long-term friend of over 15 years reached out to him to see if he was currently working. Coding Temple was searching for a Full Stack JavaScript instructor and Derek figured he would see what the company was all about.

I went in for an interview and was amazed by the laid-back environment and was sold almost immediately.

In January of this year, Derek accepted a full time position as an instructor at Coding Temple. Even though he has a strong grasp on coding, he soon found that there were many things he still had yet to learn. That’s the beauty of coding though because you get the ability to learn new things every once in awhile. This is exactly why he enjoys being an instructor because of the possibility to learn new things whether from his co-workers or his students. His students will often ask him extremely unique questions that he hasn’t necessarily done before, but figuring out how to work out the problem only helps to further him as a programmer and a instructor. He also enjoys the relaxed work environment where he can have fun with his co-workers and students on and off the clock.

Coding Temple is opening a new location in Washington, D.C and Derek will soon be heading there for 3 months to teach the very first Full Stack Python course in another city! Derek has never been to D.C. so he’s looking forward to the opportunity and experience.

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Is Coding Temple The Right Fit For Me?

Is Coding Temple The Right Fit For Me?

Entering a coding bootcamp is intensive which is why it’s important to ensure that the one you choose is the right fit for you. You’ve decided that you want to join a coding bootcamp because you want to learn to code or maybe you’re making a career change. Whatever the reason may be, the next step is finding which one is the best fit for you. How do you know which coding bootcamp to choose though? We recommend taking a tour of the campus and coming prepared with questions before finalizing. Unsure of what you should be asking? We’ve got you covered.


Here are some important questions you should ask:

What is the day-to-day work environment like?

Our students usually get in around 9am and will spend the majority of the morning in class learning the topic of the week. Around noon, they’ll go on break for lunch where they’ll spend about an hour grabbing food together, playing a game of ping pong, watching TV, or just relaxing. Afterwards, they’ll go back to class where the instructors will continue covering the lesson and answering questions. Our students are free to leave for the day once they feel that they’ve got the hang of things but most, if not all, of our students tend to stick around.

What is the class size like?

At Coding Temple we keep classes small for one main reason; our students. Our student’s individual needs are our #1 priority and we want to ensure that they are walking out each day having a clear understanding the topic of the day/week.  We have found that capping our classes at a 5:1 student to teacher ratio insures individualized attention. Everyone learns at a different pace and if you’re in a room full of 20+ of your peers it is easy to get lost in the chaos.  

All work and no play?

All work and no play?! Never. Completing a coding bootcamp in 10 weeks is rigorous and while it’s important that you’ve attained all the knowledge, it’s also important to give your brain a break. At Coding Temple our students often take breaks by grabbing a snack, playing a game of ping pong, watching TV, or relaxing on our gigantic bean bag!

Is it a traditional classroom setting?

It is similar to a traditional classroom setting but our students are free to step out of the classroom if they feel the need to take a break or clear their head.

Can I reach my instructor outside of class if I feel that I’m struggling?

We want to ensure that our students are comprehending the course material which is why classes are only Monday-Thursday and we host office hours on Fridays. Office hours are provided so that the students can come in to get individualized attention and help with any questions they may have from the lessons taught in the week prior.

Is the bootcamp full or part time and is it offline/online?

At Coding Temple, we offer full time and part time courses both during the day and the evening. Coding Temple remains an offline hands-on bootcamp. We believe this is the only way to achieve individualized attention, hands-on training and peer programming all while building an individualized portfolio.

What happens after I complete the bootcamp?

Students that complete the 10-week intensive program will walk away with a portfolio. The portfolio will contain multiple projects along with a capstone application which they will present to future employers.

What do I receive upon graduating?

Our main priority is our students and we want to see every single one of our students succeed in their career path.  Full career resources are provided for students until they have received a job position. We help students by providing job guidance, resume editing, mock interviews, and mentorship.  After we have helped place our students in their new roles, we maintain contact with our alumni to check in on how they’re doing and send along any new opportunities.


Hopefully you’re feeling a little more prepared to start your coding bootcamp journey, and we hope you have a better understanding of what we’re all about at Coding Temple. Interested in taking a tour of our campus? Feel free to email us at info@codingtemple.com or give us a call at (773) 328-8471. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have!

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DevBootcamp: A Tribute

DevBootcamp: A Tribute

First, we would like to acknowledge DevBootcamp for being one of the pioneers of web development bootcamps. They, along with a handful of others, have changed the education industry in the same way that Steve Jobs changed the mobile phone.

DBC is the reason code schools are called “bootcamps.” First cohort graduated in SF in 2012 – eons ago in internet time. End of an era. –@sarahmei

The Impact

From Stack Overflow Developer Survey conducted in 2015, 92% of the developers surveyed identified as men. DevBootcamp opened a path for anyone willing to learn, regardless of their professional background, and has helped to close the gap between men and women in the industry.

Core Belief

The core principles on which DevBootcamp was founded have informed Coding Temple’s vision of offering a program for students looking for an alternative to traditional education, as well as providing opportunities for students from diverse backgrounds. 

We would like to extend our deepest gratitude to DevBootcamp for lighting the way for Coding Temple. It has been our honor to push our students to realize their dreams of becoming a person who can say: “I built that”.

One graduate at a time, we’re working to produce great programmers, who will, in turn, build great companies.

The Future

The announcement of DevBootcamp’s closure shouldn’t raise concern over the validity of programming bootcamps as a whole.  We’ll continue to adapt, and find ways to provide value to students and employers.  Shereef Bishay (Learners Guild) and Jesse Farmer (CodeUnion), both are Co-Founders of DBC, have since launched separate startups in the educational space with vastly different approaches trying to solve the same problem in the industry.  The momentum is still there.  The desire for change grows.  The movement will continue on. 

Coding Temple Alumni Spotlight: Ryan Bacastow

Coding Temple Alumni Ryan Bacastow graduated college with a Political Science and Spanish Language degree and started working for the ECLAC but found that he wasn’t satisfied with this career path. He decided to enroll in Coding Temple’s 10-week Full Time Python bootcamp program and is now currently a Python data analyst at William Blair Global Investment Banking. Read on to learn about his experience at Coding Temple!


What were you up to before you went to Coding Temple?

By the time I graduated college with a degree in Political Science and Spanish Language I had already mapped out what my career would look like in public service: 5 years here, another 5 there, 10 years there, etc etc. With this vision in mind I began working a job at the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean(ECLAC) doing research and translation for their Environmental Statistics dept. in Santiago, Chile. I was busily applying for my next gig in international and US institutions(UN, World Bank, State Dept, Intelligence outfits, etc) when I had something of a crisis about the nature of the work that lay ahead in this career path. None of it really satisfied my desire to create or solve problems. There was never a sense of seeing something through to total completion or seeing the fruits of my labor. All the goals for these institutions were more nebulous and harder to define. Very soft skills oriented, and as such, extremely political. It just seemed like a stultifying way to spend the best and most productive years of my life, so I decided to retool my skillsets entirely. I needed something that could satisfy three key requirements:

  1. The skill couldn’t require going far into debt to spend time wasting away at an academic institution.
  2. It would have to be something that really challenged me the way I enjoyed the challenge of learning foreign languages and allow me to be creative, so as to be rewarding personally.
  3. And it had to be something I could use to market myself here in my hometown of Chicago, a traditional finance oriented town.

 

Did you look at other programming bootcamps before deciding on Coding Temple? How did you finalize on Coding Temple?

Yes, but I wouldn’t say I spent too long going through all the options. It’s important to do research but it felt like a good fit from the reviews and the discussions I had with management. It had the highest reviews on the site I navigated to so that’s what initially brought it to my attention. I think the thing that stuck out the most about Coding Temple was the amount of attention afforded to individuals. At other places it’s a very sink or swim kind of deal, you either get it and can keep up or you don’t and you fall so far behind the teacher might as well be teaching in Latin. I found that Coding Temple allayed some of those fears for this former Numerophobe (defined as ‘one who is afraid of numbers’) with their smaller class sizes and individualized attention. If I was going to be spending money, I wanted to know I would not be passed over as just another cog in a machine churning out ‘coders’. I was able to get up to speed by the time we passed through JavaScript despite not having worked with computers or even algebraic thinking in a long long time. Now I love it and I credit that to the patience and attention afforded by my small class and involved instructors.

What was the application process like?

It was serious which I felt good about. It felt like not just anyone could walk in the door and say ‘I’m a coder now’. Management was in contact with me and answered a lot of questions so that was helpful and ultimately the deciding factor in my opinion. All costs and questions like that were answered straightforwardly and without hesitation.

What stood out to you about the Python programming language?

Where to start? Open source, simple, elegant, powerful, and dare I say… sexy? Python is hot right now for a reason: it’s the most well curated and expansive open source programming language and you don’t need to understand difficult syntax to learn it. It’s a beginner’s dream. The drawbacks of Python are really part of the things that make it so appealing. By being elegant and having numerous powerful open source libraries to automate the boring parts of coding it’s sometimes harder to fully understand the programming process and appreciate the beauty of Pythons role in the programming landscape. The cure for that was of course walking across the hall to try my hand at C#, which was intimidatingly complex when I was starting out. In addition to that, python happens to be the lingua franca of the data-science and analysis world which was is where I wanted to end up. If you take a course in stats, programming for finance, or data analysis, chances are you will come across python as coursework these days. That’s a good sign for future job opportunities.

How was your in-class experience? How many people were in your cohort?

4 people and it was excellent. It was just the right amount of people that we could bounce ideas off each other, get feedback and support (I got so much help from my classmates), and even compete against one another in a productive and fun way. The instructor made sure it was a low pressure environment but wasn’t afraid to challenge us all individually and as a team whether that meant whiteboarding out problems from a tech interview handbook or simultaneously working to code a project together under a deadline.

What was a typical day like at Coding Temple?

Our cohort was full of commuters, like most I assume. It was a fairly regular schedule, where I would come in at 9:15, fill up a cup of coffee and a cup of water for the morning, plug in the laptop and go over the days homework/assignments as a class with everyone. Everyone was expected to contribute to the answers. Then it was lecture until lunchtime when we would usually all go down the block (River North is notorious for its boutique restaurants for the techies in the area) and grab a salad at Mixed Greens. It was a good way to get to know one another and the instructors and it was organic, we didn’t plan on that being a tradition or anything.

Who was your instructor? How was his teaching style?

Joel was approachable and easy to get along with. His programming chops were undeniable too, he’s like a walking encyclopedia of all the various libraries and little shortcuts python and JavaScript have to offer. Most of all Joel and Derek, our TA, were able to shine as debuggers of our earlier programs/angular websites. Bless their hearts for debugging all that code alongside us, I wouldn’t wish that task upon my worst enemy(fellow classmate Peter Yoon).

What did you end up building for your capstone project?

Ryan presenting his capstone project for Coding Temple Python Spring 2017 Cohort

All my work is available to the public at RyanBacastow.com and I encourage curious students to go through my digital portfolio to get an idea of the amount of work we squeezed into 10 weeks. My true pride and joy is my frontend project Glysemix.RyanBacastow.com which I spent the most time and attention on. It’s an AngularJS SPA (Single Page Application) that queries an API using AJAX calls in javascript and returns data to the user seamlessly.

I wanted to build an app about the sugar and carbohydrate content of food products because I think the average consumer has little idea of the amount of sugar in their everyday diet routines and the effects of sugar and refined carbohydrates on the human body (hint: they aren’t good) It was super empowering to be able to bring this idea to fruition as a fully functional tool for consumers and I hope to commercialize it at some point in the future.

Is there anything that you would like to see changed with the program?

I have made it known that I think Python is a better way to introduce students to programming than JavaScript. JavaScript is idiosyncratic and operates in different ways than normal non browser based languages and its simply more verbose and cluttered than Python. Python also has a wonderful array of tools through the Jupyter Notebooks (formerly IPython Notebooks) that allow students to essentially take notes and test their code at the same time. It’s a wonderful tool that is used in workplaces and classrooms alike for its teaching capabilities and I know management and Joel have been super open to these suggestions. I always felt like I could voice my disapproval or concerns about the course and curriculum at any time, I was happy that it wasn’t a confrontational experience at any point. The environment that some of my college professors teachers perpetuated would never have allowed for input like that.

How was learning at Coding Temple different from learning in college?

It’s more intense. There is no final exam, your life and career future is just around the corner and your final exam is how you present your work to recruiters and clients so everyone is aware that the stakes are high. The short period of time coupled with the recruiting process at the end of the course make it a good way to learn. Its real and it’s not like college, there won’t be another semester or another class or a summer vacation. It’s the big leagues.

What was the biggest challenge you faced during your bootcamp?

Ryan dominating at ping pong

Besides JavaScript? I think the biggest challenge was probably soaking in all the things there are to know about programming, computers, and coding without drowning in it and totally shutting off. Sometimes it felt like there just wasn’t enough time or space in my brain for me to ever cram all the relevant information into my mine and then memorize it. That’s why working on concrete projects is the most important aspect of any coding camp experience. It grounds your knowledge of the concepts in a real world example that you have to fine tune and really get to understand. I probably still couldn’t tell you exactly what a web API does, but I can build one for you and that has made all the difference at the end of the day. Whatever the case, my biggest challenge certainly wasn’t the Ping-Pong court as I thoroughly dominated the competition (Peter Yoon). I want to take this opportunity to invite any future students to coding temple to challenge me ( rmb2323@gmail.com ) in my long reign as king of the court.

 

Did you do a lot of projects throughout the course?

Yes, but the best experiences and the most learning and attention came from working on the projects that were my own creations as opposed to the cookie cutter builds that one has to do at the outset in order to grasp the material. Altogether I can recall three major projects that I created and another 5 or six that were walkthroughs as a group.

Do you have any advice for people who are thinking about doing a coding bootcamp?

This is from a LinkedIn response that I sent to an inquiring potential student. (People can always feel free to contact me (besides Peter Yoon) at rmb2323@gmail.com):

I hadn’t had much coding experience before this camp and I will tell you that the earlier you start the better. Start now. Once we crossed into JavaScript (week 2-5) I had to put in a lot of extra hours pouring over basic stuff and it was taxing. I think that you can’t go wrong with any code camp, learning this skill is a valuable asset and a great idea. That being said, you will essentially get out whatever level of effort you bring to it. Unlike a traditional education program at a university, it is less like a course where you need to get good grades, but more like an apprenticeship or mentorship where all your success and failure is dependent on your ability to accept some direction from the instructors while simultaneously immersing yourself in the subject and spending lots of your own time and energy working through problems and testing your limits. As far as coding camps go, I’m sure you get what you pay for essentially. A larger, more established and expensive camp would probably provide more intense experience than Coding Temple, but you’re also more likely to be just another random face passing through. I felt like everybody here is very close to the students and each other, and that they are committed to the company (management checks in on us and gets feedback both anonymously and verbally). It can seem like a more relaxed atmosphere and the instructors are laid back but they are industry veterans and know their shit. It’s all about feeling like you can access them personally. Go to the different camps and get a tour. The best one is going to be the one you feel the biggest personal connection to. And as to the value of the camp, I feel like coding temple will definitely get me placed so the saved money from here versus hack reactor or full-stack is nice. So to reiterate everything and add in a few caveats, choose carefully but know that no single camp can make you into a programmer. It’s all about how much of your own focused time and energy you spend punching away at the keyboard, it’s your own sweat and tears (many many tears) that allows you to breakthrough from abstract understanding to writing your own code. That being said, a coding camp can guide you and cut down the learning curve (which can be intimidating) significantly, and is well worth the investment if they have job placement and payment plans (so they have a financial interest in your success). Lastly, what environment are you looking to study in? That will determine which camp is best. If you need any more help just let me know I’m happy to share learning websites, techniques and other info I wish I had when I was starting out.

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Upcoming Workshop: Intro to HTML/CSS

Wednesday, June 28, 2017
5:30 PM to 7:00 PM

Coding Temple
222 W. Ontario Street, Suite 450, Chicago, IL

In this meetup, developers will introduce you to the foundations of web development: HTML and CSS. We will first explain what HTML and CSS are. Then we will show and help you build a basic, functional webpage using HTML and CSS.

HTML is a markup language that you use to put content on your website.
CSS dictates your website’s look and feel.

Please bring a laptop with Sublime text installed.

http://www.sublimetext.com/
Sublime Text is a sophisticated text editor for code, markup and prose. You’ll love the slick user interface, extraordinary features and amazing performance.

Follow us on Facebook!
https://www.facebook.com/codingtemple

RSVP HERE:

The Foundation of Building a Website: Intro to HTML/CSS

Wednesday, Jun 28, 2017, 5:30 PM

Coding Temple
222 W. Ontario Street, Suite 450 Chicago, IL

47 Programmers Went

Coding Temple Holiday Special Promotion will be offered at the HTML Basics and Introduction to CSS!In this meetup, developers will introduce you to the foundations of web development: HTML and CSS. We will first explain what HTML and CSS are. Then we will show and help you build a basic, functional webpage using HTML and CSS.HTML is a markup lang…

Check out this Meetup →

See you there!
– CT

Coding Bootcamp and You: A Love Story

For the first couple entries, I discussed my decision to make a pivot and switch careers from fitness to tech. But what is coding bootcamp like? Is it really possible to learn multiple languages over the course of 10–12 weeks and learn them to a level that can make you employable? Is it worth the 10–20,000 price tag?

The simple (yet painfully unfulfilling) answer: Results may vary.

As I believe I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m wrapping up week 8 out of 10 of a Full Stack Python Development curriculum. During these weeks, I’ve gotten my fingers (all 9 of them… more on that in a later post) typing away on Python, Django, SQL, JavaScript, AngularJS, JQuery, HTML/CSS, SCSS, Bootstrap and more. It’s been a hell of a ride. One that I feel that I was equipped for due to prior experience and also by setting a significant expectation on myself early on. Barring anything else, I was determined to be a success story coming out of bootcamp and to have a career immediately after program completion.

A lofty goal, to be sure, but there was no way I was going to enter this thing only to fail. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have reservations. On one hand it sounds like a platform for highway robbery while on the other it sounds too good to be true. Pay 10k and end up with a career paying anywhere from 60–100k after only 10 weeks? Psh, yeah right buddy. If you believe that, I got a bridge to sell ya!

Here’s the thing though: the most successful coding bootcamp applicant possesses a handful of important traits:

  • Perspective: They realize that this is an opportunity not to be taken lightly, either due to the short time frame or the price tag. Or some other reason unique to them.
  • Ambition: They are consistently looking for the next challenge. If they’ve completed a homework assignment with a given language, the set about finding more challenges.
  • Self-Promotion: You HAVE to be able to sell yourself. Put any qualms about seeming “cocky” or full of yourself to the side. Put your best qualities forward, talk about what you can and want to do. Believe that the company you’re interviewing with will be thankful that they’ve employed you as an asset. Then deliver.

Armed with those traits, I marched in and did everything I could to achieve success. It also lit a fire under my butt that I encountered plenty of naysayers. Nothing is more motivating than a handful of people to prove wrong, yknow?

So should you join a coding bootcamp? I would suggest doing your research and coming to your own conclusions. However, I can vouch for my experience. Coding Temple has been great. The instructors are great, the office manager and financial and marketing guys are great. The environment is laid back and incredibly enjoyable. I’ve got one likely job offer and a couple others in the pipeline, too. Mainly because I applied myself.

A final piece of advice: consider this an investment in your life and your future. Take it seriously and you’ll be set for life in a field that has innumerable twists and turns. If you haven’t gone to college and go to coding bootcamp, you’ve also saved yourself tens of thousands of dollars toiling away in a university model that is archaic at best. Work hard, seek new challenges in and out of class, and reap the benefits.

What Are Chicago’s Most Lucrative Programming Languages?

Our friends at Built In Chicago posted a really great infograph on Chicagos most lucrative programming languages.  Click on the image below for the full article

“The internet can provide a basic understanding of many individual programming languages,” said Ripal Patel of Coding Temple. “Bootcamps bridge the gap between e-learning and a traditional college experience, combining lecture, hands-on training, and a portfolio-based curriculum. This accelerated immersion transforms students into junior developers with promising careers.”

Chicago’s Most Lucrative Coding Languages

Introduction To JavaScript – 10/18/16

In this workshop you will learn about the basics of the JavaScript programming language. This course is designed for beginners with little to no experience in programming.

Why learn JavaScript?
Most popular websites out there run on JavaScript for their front-end. e.g. Facebook, Yahoo, Google, Instagram, Pinterest, Reddit, etc…

Most languages can be replaced with another language. For instance, you can replace Java to C++ and Python to Ruby, but it is near impossible to replace JavaScript. It is not only used on the client side (Angular.js or React.js), but it is also used on the server side (Node.js).

What you will learn:

  • Arithmetic Operations
  • Variables
  • Strings
  • Methods/Functions

Please have the following installed:

  • Web Browser (preferably Chrome or Firefox)

By end of the workshop, you should be well prepared for our intermediate level JavaScript workshop.

See you there!
– CT

To RSVP Click Here

Coding Temple Open House

Come join us and learn more about Coding Temple at our Open House on August 25th! Coding Temple offers both Part-Time Full-Stack JavaScript courses and Full-Time Full-Stack ASP.NET MVC courses. Our graduates range from 17 years old to 55 years old and have successfully landed in Jr. Level web development positions throughout the US. Attendees are welcome to come in anytime from 4:30pm-7:00pm to meet our team, tour our campus, and interact with Alumni. There will be food and drinks provided as well.

RSVP on our Meetup Page

We’ll talk about:

  • We will discuss the demand of JavaScript and .NET developers in the industry
  • Curriculum and Instruction
  • Financing and Scholarships
  • Day in the Life of a Student
  • Job Placement

Come to meet our instructors, former and current students!

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The skills and experience that students achieve at Coding Temple takes them a long way. We offer small classes, so students are able to have a more one on one interaction with our teachers. Our curriculum is designed to make students feel confident and be successful in the workforce once they have completed our course.

Campus Locations

Chicago

222 W Ontario, #450

Chicago, IL 60654

Boston

222 W Ontario, #450

68 Harrison Ave #600

Boston, MA 02111

Washington DC

80 M St SE

Washington, DC 20003

 

Contact Us

info@codingtemple.com

(773) 328-8471

Copyright 2015-2018 Coding Temple, Inc. ©  All Rights Reserved