Why Java?

A few applicants have asked about our upcoming Java/JavaScript/Android class, wondering about job prospects after the class. First of all, we're strong believers in teaching students multiple languages (all of our classes cover at least two), so that graduates can feel comfortable picking up new languages on the job. In fact, many of our alumni work in different languages than the ones they studied at Epicodus.

That said, it does make things easier if you know the language of your job, and Java developers are in very high demand right now. Many Epicodus graduates already work at companies that use Java heavily, like Intel, Nike, and New Relic, and many more companies around Portland have told us they'd be eager to hire graduates trained in Java.

On top of the high demand for Java skills, the market for Android development has been exploding in recent years, and Android apps are written in Java. Since one of our classes focuses on web applications (with Rails) and one on content-heavy web sites (with Drupal), adding a mobile-focused class with Android fits in nicely with our current offerings. 

This year marks Java's 20th birthday, and it is still one of the most popular programming languages. We're excited to join the Java community and help fill its need for more developers!

From Football to Ruby: An Epicodus Alum Shares His Road to Programming

Photo courtesy of Mike Harris

Photo courtesy of Mike Harris

Before applying to Epicodus, Mike Harris was working as an intern for the Washington Redskins in their Football Operations Department and helping out his parents with their laundromat business. Always interested in how websites were made, Mike decided to try Codecademy courses on the side before making the switch to full-time learning at Epicodus.

Mike enrolled in the Ruby/JavaScript/Rails course, where he quickly discovered just how much time goes into making simple apps such as Scrabble-like games and to-do lists.

"The environment Epicodus has is like nothing you'll ever experience. The teachers are helpful, charismatic, and energetic, which positively affects us as students."

For anyone considering code school in the future, Mike advises recording "ah-ha" moments. Writing down new techniques and tricks helps work through how you get to learning breakthroughs. "Writing down how you solved errors is very helpful in the long run," he says.

Since graduating in May, Mike has plans to land a job as a junior developer and continue to grow his programming skill set.

Life After Epicodus: My First Year On The Job at DevelopmentNow

By Kathryn Brown

I remember the first moment I wanted to learn to code. I was in a client meeting at a local Portland startup, working with a team of developers to implement a difficult solution on our company’s fledgling SaaS marketing platform. We would have to pull an all nighter together to make it happen. I was the project manager. There was nothing that I could do to help my teammates. All I could do was wait. My portion of the work on the project was done, but I hated the feeling of not being able to pitch in during that crucial time.

Photo courtesy of Kathryn Brown

Photo courtesy of Kathryn Brown

That night, I kept my team company on gchat while I fiddled around on a few “learn to code” interactive web programs. By the next morning I had forgotten all of the intro lessons. I started asking around the office, “how did YOU learn how to code?”  The answers varied from, “I dunno, I just learned,” to “I wrote programs for my TI-83 calculator in math class because I was bored”. Each developer did however, give me the same piece of critical advice: if you want to learn to code, you have to do it all day, everyday.

So that’s what I did. I decided to leave my job to attend Epicodus full-time. It was the best decision I’ve made in my professional career. In addition to learning about the basics of http requests, relational databases, and CRUD, I also learned valuable real world skills that I would not be able to practice if I was at home learning how to code by myself.

Two of my classmates and I scored an internship at DevelopmentNow, a local digital product solutions agency, soon after my class ended.  The three of us were hired out of our internship, and we have continued to work closely on everything from startup MVPs to enterprise projects at scale together.

Photo courtesy of Kathryn Brown

Photo courtesy of Kathryn Brown

Now that I am coming upon my first year anniversary at DevelopmentNow, I decided to take a look back at the role Epicodus played in my success on the job.

Here are the notable ways that my classroom experience helped me during my first year at DevelopmentNow:

Real World Skills

I learned how to make decisions about API design, and how to evaluate tradeoffs between an app that functions according to scope and an app that looks great, but doesn’t function as well. After all, we only had a limited amount of class time to finish a project before we moved onto the next assignment. I also learned how to work on a project’s code base with multiple developers checking in code to github each day.  I’ll admit, I’ve still had to rebase a few times at work, but working with git is no longer a mysterious, scary concept that has me worrying that I will blow up the project.

Michael Kaiser-Nyman, the founder of Epicodus, always used to tell our class that the number one skill that sets successful developers apart has nothing to do with coding ability. Instead, it’s the ability to google effectively! After working on a handful of projects, I realized that he was right.  As a developer, I’ve found myself spending more time searching for a solution to a problem than actually implementing that solution. The more efficient you can search, the faster you can move onto the next challenge.

Internship

I was introduced to DevelopmentNow’s CEO Ben Strackany through Epicodus’s internship program. After Ben received my resume via Epicodus, I met him at his office and talked about my experience and my desire to work on an upcoming project: a backbone.js app with a rails backend. The first day of my internship, I joined two of my classmates on the couch at DevelopmentNow. We were each handed a shiny new MacBook Air, and given the task of setting up our development environment. In a few hours, we were ready to start working on our first feature for a client.

Photo courtesy of Kathryn Brown

Photo courtesy of Kathryn Brown

Together, we completed two sprints during our internship. We built a search feature, a social follower feature, and fixed existing bugs that required a deep dive into the app’s already existing social API functionality.

The internship period helped me get a feel for what it’s like to work on a real client project on behalf of DevelopmentNow. It also gave Ben a sneak peek into my skill set and thought process as a new developer before we both committed to working together in an employee / employer capacity.

Pair Programming

The most recent project that I worked on was an MVP for a local startup. One of my Epicodus classmates built the API, and I built the front-end website. Because of our experience pair programming in class, we easily slipped into pair mode when one of us became stuck on an issue. Instead of grinding on a bug all day, we would simply get together at a desk, and talk through the problem. Whether the issue was caused by a typo or a logic error, we overcame our roadblocks faster together, and as a result, we were less stressed when our development deadline grew near.

I’m really excited to extend a hand back to Epicodus on behalf of DevelopmentNow, to help other women transition from their former careers into development. Ben has generously offered to sponsor a female student to go through the groundbreaking all female Break the Code Android programming class this fall, and I’m working with the team at Epicodus to help facilitate this relationship. If you are interested in applying, check out the Break the Code page, where you can learn more about the program.

Thank you Epicodus and DevelopmentNow for making the last year of my career really rewarding!  

Portland Companies Lead the Charge to Change the Ratio of Women in Tech

Three Local Companies Providing Scholarships for Women to Attend Epicodus Code School

PORTLAND, OR: Epicodus, a Portland-based code school, announced today that three Portland-area companies DevelopmentNowGlobeSherpa, and Intel will be providing scholarships for women to attend Epicodus’s first-ever, all-women class for Java, JavaScript, and Android development.

"We’re very excited to be working with DevelopmentNow, and GlobeSherpa to support women choosing programming as a career," said Epicodus president Michael Kaiser-Nyman. "This is a great time to be a programmer, and we're proud to be part of a movement making the industry more accessible and friendly to women."

The all-women class, starting August 10, is part of a larger collaborative initiative called Break the Code, which Epicodus launched in May. Women are estimated to make up less than 30 percent of the tech workforce. In an effort to improve this statistic, Epicodus launched Break the Code in May, in partnership with a dozen Portland-area tech companies and nonprofits, to empower more women to join the tech industry and start a productive dialogue about changing the ratio of women in tech.

“The development of world-class talent in technology and engineering is critical to Oregon’s economic growth and GlobeSherpa is proud to support the Break the Code scholarship program,” said Nat Parker, GlobeSherpa CEO.  “Providing equal opportunities to women in technology is an important part of creating diversity in an organization and makes the organization and the region stronger as a result.”

All students who apply to the Java/JavaScript/Android class by July 10 will be eligible for the scholarship. Seven total scholarships are available: two partial ($875) and five full ($3,400). Once accepted, students will have the opportunity to apply for the funds. Recipients will be chosen by the three companies providing the scholarships in partnership with Epicodus and will be announced by July 30.

To learn more about Epicodus or to apply, visit www.epicodus.com.

About Epicodus

Founded in early 2013, Epicodus’s mission is to help people learn the skills they need to get great jobs. Epicodus provides four month, forty-hour per week, in-person classes on web programming including courses in Ruby/JavaScript/Rails, PHP/JavaScript/Drupal, and Java/JavaScript/Android. Epicodus’s first class started with just eight students and one teacher, and has since grown to a dozen staff and hundreds of students and alumni.

Media Contact:

Emily Priebe | Epicodus

emily@epicodus.com

Announcing the Break the Code Tech Crawl on July 9

We're excited to announce that on Thursday, July 9 we're leading a tech crawl for women. Five of our Break the Code partners are opening their doors and will be providing light refreshments, offering tours of their office spaces, and talking about some of the great career opportunities available for women in tech. 

We'll kick things off at GlobeSherpa and start making our way along the crawl to the other participating companies. Men are welcome to join as long as they bring a woman with them.

5:30 - 6:00 GlobeSherpa1000 SW Broadway #1800
6:00 - 6:30 Thetus, 317 SW 6th Ave
6:30 - 7:00 Epicodus 208 SW 5th Ave #105
7:00 - 7:30 CrowdCompass, 308 SW 2nd Ave #200
7:30 - 8:00 Puppet Labs, 308 SW 2nd Ave, Fifth Floor
8:00 - 8:30 Jive, 915 SW Stark St #400

We've been thrilled by the support we've received from our community on our Break the Code initiative. This is a great opportunity to check out the tech scene in Portland and learn more about companies that are taking a stand to support women and diversity in tech. We hope to see you there on Thursday, July 9!

How to Start a Coding School

I regularly hear from people who are interested in starting a coding school and want to learn more about my experience starting Epicodus, so I thought I'd jot down a bit about our history, what's worked well (and not), and advice I have for other people.

Before the first Epicodus class, I did a lot of networking to find out what companies were looking for in junior developers. I made sure that there was actually a market for the students I was going to teach, and learned about what companies value in junior developers. What I heard more than anything else was that specific languages and technologies were less important than a hunger to keep learning and an attitude of humility. And while there were many companies who weren't sure that graduates of a program like Epicodus would be a good fit for them, there were just as many who were very excited about hiring junior developers.

Next, I turned to the student side of things. I volunteered at local meetups and events for beginner programmers to see how other people were teaching beginners. I also went through many books, videos, and tutorials myself. At the in-person events, I watched the students learn to see which lessons and approaches were effective, and which didn't work as well. After getting some experience, I assembled my own lessons and put on several free evening workshops to get more experience teaching and running classes, and saw how I could make my lessons better. I asked for a lot of feedback from the workshop participants.

At that point, I felt ready to run my first Epicodus class. I spent a couple months getting the curriculum ready and promoting the class: I announced at local meetups, emailed local tech mailing lists, posted on online forums, and listed our classes on several websites for coding schools. I rented a room in a local co-working space, and bought computers and furniture. 

I knew that teaching staff would be my biggest cost and potentially very hard to hire, so I decided to try an unusual approach to structuring Epicodus's classroom. Instead of giving lectures in class, I completely embraced the flipped-classroom model and put all of the lessons online for my students. In class, students would just work on coding projects all day. I figured that way, I wouldn't need to hire experts to teach my classes: instead, I could just hire strong graduates to help out the next batch of students, and the lessons, which need more experience and expertise to make, would already be ready to go. Additionally, I had all of the students pair-program in class, as I had seen that two people working together learn from each other and need less help from teachers, and that would help keep the number of teachers we needed down.

I learned an awful lot of the first class. The first thing I realized was that I was totally off-base on my student to teacher ratio. With the way I had structured the classroom, I had nothing to do most of the time! Another important lesson I learned was that after the class was over, many of the graduates had a hard time structuring their job search. Finally, I discovered that there was a lot of demand for other languages than the one I taught initially - it turned out that the choice of language was more important than I had though. So for the next class, I tripled the number of students to 24, incorporated job search prep into the curriculum, followed up with all of the graduates regularly until they found jobs, and expanded our curriculum to cover two languages.

For the third class, I hired two teachers and increased the class size to 60. That 1 teacher to 30 student ratio turned out to be a good sweet spot. It also let me focus on the employment side of things, which I wanted to continue improving. We created an internship program with local companies to help our students get real-world experience before graduating, and instituted a more formal resume and cover letter review and mock interview process. We also started working on adding classes in other languages.

Since then, we've continued to grow, add staff, and improve. Every day, we challenge ourselves to make our classes and career services better, and we constantly ask our students for feedback so we know how we're doing. 

For people thinking about starting a school like Epicodus, here are a few things I'd suggest:

  • If possible, start the school with two people. Have one person focus on the classroom, and one focus on everything else (admissions, career services, administration, etc).
  • Talk to local employers and learn what languages are in high demand. 
  • Utilize the flipped classroom structure by building out all of the lessons as evening/weekend homework, and use the class time just for coding. Feel free to use Epicodus's materials at learnhowtoprogram.com
  • Provide a lot of structure and support for job-seeking, starting before students graduate.
  • Ask your students for lots and lots of feedback.
  • Little things: incorporate your company, get a business bank account, buy standing tables from MultiTable with Ikea tops, use 27" iMacs (no reason to skimp on computers - it's way easier for pairing and for teachers to help out, and over the course of the computers' lives the difference in cost is negligible), and take advantage of all of the operations and software tools Epicodus has open-sourced.

If you find this helpful in opening a school, drop us a line and let us know!

Student Profile: David Garber, Ruby/JavaScript/Rails Student

David Garber’s interest in coding was first sparked while working on President Obama’s reelection campaign in 2012. He was researching programming classes when he got a job working for Verizon. Trying online classes first, David soon discovered that working 45 to 50 hours per week while trying to learn a new language was not working. He decided to quit his job and join Epicodus’s spring 2015 Ruby/JavaScript/Rails class. 

While sharing a keyboard for eight hours a day was initially daunting, David said that pair programming has turned out to be a huge learning opportunity.

His biggest piece of advice for anyone considering attending code school? Just go. “I haven’t doubted my decision once,” he said. 

Course Report Survey Reveals 138% Projected Growth Rate for Code Schools

Earlier today, Course Report  released the data from their 2015 Coding Bootcamp Survey. The survey results represent responses from a total of 63 US/Canada-based coding schools (including Epicodus), and revealed some interesting data points.

Market Growth Rate

Course Report estimates that the code school market will grow by 2.4x, to an estimated 16,056 graduates in 2015, up from 6,740 in 2014.

Course Report, 2015

Course Report, 2015

Tuition Range

The average tuition of the courses that qualified for the survey is $11,063, with an average program length of 10.8 weeks. For comparison, Epicodus classes are $3,400 and run about 20 weeks long, including a five week internship.

Course Report, 2015

Course Report, 2015

Teaching Languages

Ruby is the most commonly taught language and is used in 39% of courses. Course Report estimates that code schools will graduate 9,748 Ruby developers in 2015. JavaScript also gained momentum and now accounts for 23% of courses.

Course Report, 2015

Course Report, 2015

Check out the full report for all the findings. You can also view reviews for Epicodus on our Course Report profile. 

Women Who Broke the Code: Anita Borg

Before there even was such a concept, Anita Borg started a global network of women in computer science by founding the Systers online community in 1987. Anita mastered the ability to mix her technical expertise with her capacity for motivating and empowering women to join and stay in the technology industry.

Born in 1949, Anita discovered computers in her mid-20s. In 1981 she received her Ph.D. in computer science from the Courant Institute at New York University and started her career in research for many of the industry giants.

In addition to founding the Systers online community, in 1994, Anita co-founded the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing to honor the legacy of Navy Rear Admiral Grace Hopper. She also founded the Institute for Women and Technology in 1997 with the goal of creating programs and partnerships to propel women into all aspects of technology.

She was honored many times over for her work and tireless activism on behalf of women in technology. In 1999, President Clinton appointed Anita to the Commission on the Advancement of Women and Minorities in Science, Engineering, and Technology. 

Anita passed away in 2003, but her legacy lives on through the Anita Borg Institute and the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing that continues to grow and thrive. 

Women Who Broke the Code: Grace Hopper

Grace Hopper is revered in technology for a number of reasons. Hopper defied the expectations placed on women of her time again and again, succeeding in two male-dominated institutions: the Navy and the computing industry.

Born in 1906, Hopper studied mathematics and physics at Vassar, graduating in 1928. She went on to Yale, eventually earning her Ph.D. in mathematics in 1934. She was one of the first women to earn such a degree. In December 1943, she felt compelled to join the U.S. Naval Reserve where, given her mathematical background, she was assigned to the Bureau of Ordnance Computation Project. While there she learned to program a Mark I computer.

Continuing to work in computing after the war, Hopper moved into private industry in 1949, where eventually she oversaw programming for the UNIVAC computer. In 1952, she led the team that created the first computer language compiler, which led to the popular COBOL language. 

Though she retired from the Naval Reserve in 1966, she was called to duty again and again, finally retiring at the age of 79 as a rear admiral and the oldest serving officer in the service. But she wasn’t done with the computing industry. She remained working for several more years, and was awarded the National Medal of Technology in 1991, becoming the first female individual recipient of the honor. 

Hopper passed away in 1992, at the age of 85. Her legacy lives on and continues to inspire young women to learn programming. Created in her honor, the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference is a technical conference that empowers women to become a part of the computing industry.

Another part of Hopper’s legacy? She is often given credit for the term ‘computer bug.’ While she was a research fellow at Harvard working on the Mark II computer, she found a moth in one of the relays that had apparently shorted out the Mark II. That story is now often associated with the origin of ‘debugging.'