The Beginner's Guide to Top Programming Languages

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The Beginner's Guide to Top Programming Languages

When you’re new to the programming world, it’s normal to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of programming languages. After all, there are hundreds of languages out there. There’s Ruby, Java, PHP, C#, and that’s only a few of them!

Don’t stress out. Take a deep breath. We’re here to help. Here’s are two easy steps you can take to begin understanding the differences in some of the most common languages!

First, remember Java is different than JavaScript. Don’t worry if you get them confused at first. Everybody does.

Second, keep reading this blog post. It’s a handy introduction to the top languages.


A quick guide to the top programming languages

  • Ruby: Ruby is a beginner-friendly and dynamic language. It powers Ruby on Rails, which is a framework used to quickly develop sites and applications. Ruby is used on sites like Twitter and Shopify. In fact, our own Learn How to Program site, where our Epicodus curriculum is hosted, is built using Ruby and Rails!

  • Java: Java is a static programming language used in Android and desktop apps, video games, and general back-end development. It’s widely considered to be one of the most stable and secure languages around.

  • JavaScript: JavaScript is a super common programming language. It’s mostly used for client-side front-end development. JavaScript is actually used in over 90% of all web pages!

  • C#: C# is popular with larger businesses and is backed by Microsoft. Microsoft has made C# open source, so it can run on other operating systems like Mac and Linux.

  • PHP: PHP is a server-side language useful for web development, especially for content-heavy sites. Content management systems like WordPress and Drupal are written in PHP.

  • SQL: SQL (Structured Query Language) is used to communicate with databases. While it’s not a programming language like the others listed above (you couldn't build a website or app solely in SQL, for instance), SQL is used to build and manage the databases apps and websites use.

 

What’s the best coding language to learn right now?

It depends. We know, we know. That’s a cop-out answer—but it’s true. The best coding language to learn depends on whether you want to focus on front-end or back-end development. For more information on that decision, check out this post on what programming languages to learn.

If we’re talking about the best coding language for to learn first, we recommend JavaScript. Simple JavaScript is beginner-friendly and easy to run in any basic browser. That's why our Intro to Programming course (the very first course in each track we offer) introduces the fundamentals in JavaScript.

If we’re talking about the most popular programming languages, that’s a different story. According to the 2016 Stack Overflow Developer Survey, JavaScript, Java, and C# were among the most-used technologies. Out of 56,000 developers, 55.4% use JavaScript, 36.3% use Java. 30.9% use C#. That's why, in addition to the JavaScript our students learn in their Intro to Programming course, every track also includes a 5-week JavaScript course.

However, if we’re talking about the best coding language of all time, then we don’t have an answer for you. Each language has its own pros, cons, and recommended uses. The industry is also constantly evolving - new languages are being developed constantly, every day. At Epicodus, we prepare for this change by equipping our students with strong programming fundamentals that are relevant to any type of technology. Our alumni have gone on to work in other languages and with other tools thanks to the solid foundation they acquired during their time in the courses.

 

Ready to learn?

Now that you’ve gotten the scoop on the top programming languages, are you ready to start learning?

If you’re interested in expanding your coding language skill set, learn more about what a typical week at Epicodus looks like.

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New React Course!

We're really excited to continue expanding Epicodus's course offerings with our newest addition, React!

React is one of the most popular frameworks for writing web application user interfaces in JavaScript. Facebook created and maintains React, and it's used by sites like Airbnb, the New York Times, Yahoo Mail, and many, many others. React pioneered an architecture using web components and one-way data flow that has since been adopted by just about every major JavaScript user interface library, including Angular and Ember.js.

In Epicodus's React course, you'll build games, messaging apps, and e-commerce sites. Once you've completed the program, we'll help you find a job as a junior developer.

Our first track including React starts May 22 in Portland with this schedule:

  • May 22 - Introduction to Programming
  • June 26 - PHP
  • July 31 - JavaScript
  • September 5 - React
  • October 10 - Internship

If you're as excited about React as we are, put in an application!

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Epicodus Values Transparency

Today marks a big step forward for both Epicodus, and code schools throughout the nation!

Epicodus has always been transparent about our student outcomes. In fact, we feel so passionately about honesty and transparency that we actually helped found the Council on Integrity in Results Reporting (CIRR) to standardize transparency in outcomes reporting in all code schools.

Today, we're very excited to share our first batch of outcomes data using the new standardized CIRR methodologies and format. This information reports the outcomes of all students who entered our program in the first half of 2016.

Since Epicodus's very first course, prospective students have asked what percentage of our graduates find jobs. And we've always done our best to track and share that information. However, early on we came to realize that a single "job placement rate" statistic unintentionally hid a lot of important details, like how to count students who don't actually seek work, or how to report students who start their own business. So we stopped reporting a single percentage and began reporting the outcomes of all students who attended Epicodus, broken down into several different categories.

We're very excited that CIRR has adopted our approach, with a few tweaks based on the input of all the members. CIRR offers a simple rubric to report the wide variety of different outcomes our graduates have. This includes full-time, part-time and contract employment, entrepreneurship, and more. CIRR has also created a set of standards for reporting our graduates' salary outcomes that we're very excited about.

As of today, we're reporting our outcomes using the new CIRR format, along with 15 other schools. So, as a prospective student, you can easily compare any CIRR schools you're interested in using the same metrics. Additionally, another 25 schools have already asked to join since CIRR's first public announcement last month! If you're considering attending a school that isn't a CIRR member, we encourage you to ask them to join so you can compare their student outcomes, too.

To the best of our knowledge, CIRR is the first time any group of schools has ever come together to establish a transparent, comparable set of outcomes reporting standards.* And, while no universities currently employ this same CIRR format, we can still roughly compare our outcomes to those of more traditional two- and four-year institutions as a whole. In those institutions 55% of first-time students graduate within 6 years; 35.7% of returning college attendees ever finish; and 27.3% of graduates work in a field related to their major. We're hopeful that CIRR standards pave the way for all higher education institutions to report outcomes data in a transparent, comparable format--not just code schools.

 

* The American Bar Association's employment summary reports for law schools is the closest standard to CIRR, but it does not include the length of time graduates take to find employment, and does not include salary data. The US Department of Education College Scorecard reports only on data from federal financial aid recipients, only 10 years after starting school, and only median salary. Some schools report outcomes based on their own definitions, but not in a comparable way. We're not aware of any other sets of comparable outcomes data.

 

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Epicodus Champions Transparency for Students in Bootcamp Reporting

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Epicodus Champions Transparency for Students in Bootcamp Reporting

Here at Epicodus, we value transparency. Especially when it comes to student success. That's why our student outcomes have always been publicly visible right on our website.

As reported this morning by Tech Crunch, we're very proud to announce that we are a founding member of the Council on Integrity in Results Reporting, or CIRR. Composed of top coding schools in the nation including Hack Reactor, Full Stack Academy, Code Fellows, and more, this council aims to standardize reporting of coding school graduate outcomes to provide prospective students reliable, vetted data.

Beginning March 29th, 2017 each CIRR school will publicly report student outcomes using the exact same metrics. This uniformity in reporting will allow prospective students to easily compare schools, and choose the program that best fits their needs.

Outcomes data for 100% of each school's graduates will be available in a single, clear report on their website, including information such as:

  • How many students graduated on time?
  • How many accepted a full-time job in the field for which they trained within six months?
  • How many secured part-time jobs?
  • Did the school itself hire any graduates?
  • How many students jobs are in fields outside of what they studied for?
  • What are the salaries of grads who started jobs in their field of study?

CIRR members will also publish updated reports semi-annually. Beginning with the release of 2017 graduate outcomes, each school's data will also be reviewed and verified by an independent third party.

We're so excited to help establish standards of transparency and accountability in coding schools. We know deciding to attend code school is a big leap, and want to insure students have access to transparent, standardized information to make informed decisions about their education. And we encourage other code schools to do the same. In the words of our CEO Rebecca Gardner, "This is our commitment to providing students with an objective, transparent way to choose a program that's right for them."

You can find more information about the Council on Integrity in Results Reporting, including a full list of participants, reporting standards and metrics on the CIRR website.

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Explaining our 2017 Tuition Changes

Explaining our 2017 Tuition Changes

At Epicodus, our mission is to help people learn the skills they need to get great jobs as web developers. We've always worked hard to keep our tuition as affordable as possible while covering our costs. After reviewing our finances from last year, it's clear that we need to make a modest increase in our tuition to continue fulfilling our mission. Beginning on May 22, 2017, our full-time tuition will go up to $5900 if you pay within one week of being accepted, or $7500 if you choose to pay in four installments. Both payment plans cover our 27-week program, which includes a 5-week internship. Here’s how it will work:

20% Up-front discount: $5900

Pay for your entire track within a week of being accepted and pay $1475 per course. Upon completing all four courses in your track, you will be eligible to participate in our internship program and receive job preparation assistance for one year at no additional cost.

Standard tuition: $7500

Pay $100 upon enrolling. Your first payment is due on the first day of class and will be $1775. Your remaining three payments will be $1875, due every five weeks on the first day of class. Upon completing all four courses in your track, you will be eligible to participate in our internship program and receive job preparation assistance for one year at no additional cost.

We still believe you’ll find Epicodus to be the best value for your educational experience, bar none. Even at our new rates we are thousands less than the next comparable school, at 27 weeks our program is significantly longer than others, and our pedagogy and career services achieve strong results.

Recap of SUPER: Women in Tech Live Storytelling

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Recap of SUPER: Women in Tech Live Storytelling

By Perry Eising

Now, I’m not unfamiliar with the Portland Tech Scene, in fact, it’s not completely unusual for me to be in the crowd or even on the stage of a tech event, doing ignite talks or presenting workshops at awesome events such as ACT-W and Lesbians Who Tech. (Say hi next time!)

But I hadn’t heard of SUPER: WOMEN IN TECH Live Storytelling, presented by VOX SIREN pdx and backfence pdx at Revolution Hall, and hosted by a two irrepressible and hilarious hosts, B. Frayn Masters and Mindy Nettifee, until about a week before the event. My exposure to live storytelling has been pretty limited, and I wasn’t sure what to expect  when my partner surprised me with two tickets.

But girl, am I glad I went, as this was a fantastic introduction to the genre. SUPER: WOMEN IN TECH Live Storytelling was a completely inspiring smorgasboard of woman tech talent, with people telling their stories that ranged from being unexpectedly successful in tech to being unexpectedly unsuccessful at math (hello learning disability!) and much, much more. In fact, surprise, along with being inspired by unusual circumstances and obscured truths, was a theme that linked much of the evening’s entertainment.

Revolution Hall’s 850 capacity event hall was packed when we arrived at right around 8pm, with free seats looking sparse on the main floor - and with a strong male presence, which I really appreciated. I love seeing women create well attended women’s events, but I also loving seeing men in attendance, especially men who came ready to connect with diverse women’s authentic stories, and we definitely got a strong dose of authenticity right from the get go.

The first presenter was Maria Webster, who took to the stage with such clear presence and such a well crafted, compelling story that I was blown away - taking us through her journey from tech n00b to tech supervisor to tech layoff and back again, all the while weaving this tale through that of her own life & love story with this city. It was super refreshing to hear a perspective that in some ways mirrored my own, and hear her poignant comments about lesbian life and associated cliche’s that made me laugh out loud.

Told at a different pace, but nonetheless equally affecting, was Leah Siddall’s story of (nearly) ending her career before it began, and figuring out she had a little known learning disability called dyscalculia along the way. As a result, she made her way in the world as a programmer for Elemental Technologies instead. As someone who works in tech and struggles disproportionately with numbers, I identify with you! I was once told at face value by a university official that I would never be able to study informatics (and now I reach app and web development @Epicodus instead, so consider yourself proven wrong, unnamed uni). Your story rang so true that I couldn’t help but feel proud of both myself and you, for the obvious struggles we have been through in order to succeed.

Saira Weigel

Saira Weigel

The next story came from Saira Weigel, whose identity as a “straddler” is also one I identify with. Born in India and schooled in Kuwait, Saira’s story clearly ticks more unusual boxes than my background: I was born in England and raised in Germany, and moved to the US in 2005. But that notwithstanding, her perspective on growing up and coming of age in between cultures was meaningful to me. It is true that as immigrants in cross-cultural relationships we never really belong, at least for me. Saira’s story could have been a little shorter and wavered between well-rehearsed and off the cuff, but was nevertheless affecting and meaningful, bringing some much needed international perspective to the show.

The trajectory of having a clear connection to my own life continued with the fourth presenter, Melinda Campbell, currently working at Puppet Labs. Melinda told the story of how her eccentric father became an unlikely role model, and, eventually some-time boss who helped her become successful in her own right. Melinda’s odd, ham radio toting dad who was an insular basement dweller touched a nerve with my partner, while I found familiar ground with Melinda myself: I, too played Leisure Suit Larry, a morally extremely dubious text-adventure from the 80’s; I too, had it supplied to me by an unwitting parent who I couldn’t imagine myself growing up to mirror (and then of course, I did). Leisure Suit Larry was a terrible game, complete with rampant racism, sexism, homophobia, and otherwise sickenly contemporary themes - and not something I’ve thought about over the last 20 years. Incredible to see that one pulled out of the brain vault, and I am so very glad that Melinda dusted that one off for me. Fantastic delivery here, humorous and unique yet oddly universal, this story shone as one of the brightest I heard that night.

Second to last, I was excited to witness my excellent friend Brook Shelley’s presentation on coming into her own, as a trans woman in tech in Texas, nonetheless. And with that experience comes her witnessing of casual and ubiquitous sexism before, during and after her transition. I always appreciate the pure fearlessness and authenticity that Brook brings to all of her public speaking, and this talk was no exception. Her main point, namely that we cannot become like those who oppress us in order to no longer be oppressed, and that we need to come up with an entirely new way of doing things instead is not an easy thing to digest, but an incredibly important perspective. In my opinion, it is one that needs to be championed and presented. I am grateful and proud to be the friend of someone who continues to be authentically herself and do this work - again and again, in many shapes and forms.

Dominique DeGuzman

Dominique DeGuzman

By the time we got to experience the last presentation, by Dominique DeGuzman of LWT San Francisco and Twilio, the crowd had clearly all experienced a rollercoaster of emotions, and was ready to really give Dom the space she needed and the attention she deserved to really bring the show home. While her story of repeated questioning and harassment around her job title (Engineer!) in a technically dense area of the tech field isn’t new, the excruciating detail that Dom spelled out was likely unfamiliar to many in the audience, especially white cisgendered men. The questioning, the embarrassment, the harassment, and clearly stalky tendencies of the perpetrator  - all these made crystal clear not just how these moments of erasure and being challenge  to minority employees in tech fields. But Dom’s story didn’t stop there, in fact, it did something far more important: It made it clear how it feels.

It’s not enough to know that women, gender minorities and racial/ethnic minorities are discriminated against in their fields of employment - most people know that by that, I think. But when we can have a moment, as a straight person, as a white person, as a man, as an able bodied person... when we are able to feel the palpable injustice of discrimination, that has the potential to be a moment of change. And it’s Dom, like Brook, like Melinda, like Leah, like Maria, and sometimes, I hope, like me, who do this work for this very reason - we work to feel ourselves feel. We do the painful work of preserving these moments of harassment and alienation, and rejecting them every time we tell our stories, so you can learn how it feels. We work to bring the us out in you.

I’m so very grateful to all of the presenters on stage last Friday for their work and their vulnerability, for their passion and willingness to show us some parts of themselves. A broad and breathless set of stories, but clearly also just a beginning! I can’t wait for more. 


Perry Eising is tech teacher at Epicodus - specifically for the Android / Mobile Development track. I love dogs, coffee, and speaking truth to power. Find me online @perrysetgo or on linkedin.

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Why PHP & Drupal are Cool

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Why PHP & Drupal are Cool

When I wrote the PHP / Drupal curriculum and taught the first class, I was surprised by how many students asked me about why there was so much gossip online from people making fun of Drupal, and talking about how much they hate PHP. But for me there’s a lot to love. Every language has its quirks, and that definitely includes PHP and Drupal, but they also have strengths that you can learn to use to your advantage. Creating a finished website or app with a strong foundation that is easy to maintain and grow does not come from the language it’s written in, it has to come from the people who know how to wield the language. A truly good guitar player will make even the oldest pawn shop guitar sing with a soul. And an unskilled guitar player will still sound awkward even if they are playing a perfect $6000 Gibson Les Paul. 

People like to argue that PHP is old and clunky, that it encourages bad practices and it’s insecure. But I believe that these are symptoms of it being misused. It’s true that PHP began its life humbly, back in 1994 it was created by Rasmus Lerdorf to simply track people who were looking at his online resume. However, for over 20 years it has evolved and matured. Nowadays if you look at the usage statistics, PHP is incredibly popular and a very desirable skill in the job market, used by high profile sites like Facebook and Twitter. 

Don’t get me wrong, if you really want to you can still certainly write very messy, insecure, overly complex code in PHP, but you can do that in any language. PHP also has all the tools you need to write elegant code if you learn the right techniques.

People like to complain about Drupal too, and that makes me sad because it can be so useful and so much fun. Then again, people like to complain about things because it’s fun to have opinions. And regardless of whether or not it’s one person’s favorite tool, it is used all over the place by high profile organizations such as the EconomistWeather.com,  HarvardStanford, even the White House, and many more. People say that Drupal has a steep learning curve, and that is true. It’s not like MVC frameworks, it has its own terminology and database system. But if you open your mind and learn about this new way of thinking there is a big payoff. 

Drupal is not just a boring way to organize lots of pages, it truly is very flexible. My favorite thing about Drupal is that it does a lot of standard things immediately out of the box, butit allows you to customize anything. You can get as deep as you want - as long as you understand the system and the tools it was built with - mostly our hero PHP, but you will also encounter JavaScript and of course HTML and CSS. For example, pretty much any website or app needs a way for users to log in and store their account data securely. You also need a way to block off certain parts of your website to certain users if they aren’t logged in, or if they don’t have a special Admin account. This can be quite time consuming and difficult in other languages, but in Drupal, you can do this easily without even touching code. 

That doesn’t mean you never have to code in Drupal - it just means that you get to skip right to the interesting parts. 

People say that Drupal is unwieldy and slow, and it can be if you let it, but if you learn how to use it correctly Drupal can be a powerful weapon in your arsenal of developer tools. It is well suited to whipping up small personal blogs in a single day, but is built to scale up to large corporate websites with interactivity and thousands of pages of content. Having both of those capabilities in one system is very difficult to achieve. If you truly learn how it works, Drupal is not something that you are going to hit a brick wall with and find out something is impossible. You may find yourself banging your head against a wall from time to time, but that is usually because you just need to take a step back and see that there is a door built in right next to you. And if there isn’t a door, you can learn the tools to build one yourself. 

That is the most powerful thing about learning with hands on practice building projects every day the way we do at Epicodus. Learning how to learn is language independent. Many graduates of Epicodus go on to work in languages that they didn’t learn about at school. But that is because they learned learned how to build with a strong foundation regardless of which tools are at their disposal. 


Diane Douglas can be found in Philadelphia nowadays. Check out her own projects in Drupal, Angular and music technology at www.melodiccode.com or say hi on LinkedIn.

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Epicodus Wins Industry Awards and Badges!

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Epicodus Wins Industry Awards and Badges!

Epicodus is proud to be a recipient of the SwitchUp Best Bootcamp Award, and to be included on Value College’s list of ‘Top 25 University-Affiliated Coding Bootcamps’ as well Training Industry’s ‘Top Coding Bootcamp Companies List’!

SwitchUp is a coding bootcamp directory that uses its resources to help aspiring programmers find the right coding school for their needs. Epicodus was awarded the SwitchUp 2016 Best Bootcamp Award based on 2016 alumni reviews, ratings, and course data. With a rating of 4.9 stars from 93 reviews, Epicodus is one of SwitchUp’s Top Bootcamps. Glowing tributes to our institution such as the following have been displayed on SwitchUp:

“I took courses at Epicodus a while back, and am now working full-time as a developer. The classes offered a personal and effective education and provided a good network and valuable work experience. I got portfolio pieces, an understanding of the industry, and the tools to find a job all for a much more affordable price than other leading competitors. The staff are beyond friendly and helpful, and they make being successful possible and enjoyable.”


Epicodus’s reputation as a coding school that provides excellent value for money has been augmented by its inclusion in Value College’s Top 25 University-Affiliated Coding Bootcamps. Particular mention was given to the “flipped” classroom structure of Epicodus, where students are responsible for their learning and progress through the practice of ‘pair-programming’. This is the hallmark of learning how to code at Epicodus and has always been a major area of focus in ensuring that our students become successful programmers.


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Continuing the theme of recognition by industry leaders and students alike, Epicodus is extremely honored to announce its inclusion in Training Industry’s Top Coding Bootcamp Companies List. Training Industry recognizes the importance of the crucial role that coding bootcamps play in closing the skills gap for talented coders across companies of all size and industries. Companies selected as part of the inaugural 2016 list stand out as some of the best training companies in the IT field, bringing in a new and innovative approach to upskilling employees and prospective coders. Epicodus was evaluated on the following categories and was judged to be a major player in the coding bootcamp industry:

  • Leadership and innovation in coding-related 
  • Company size and growth potential
  • Quality and number of clients/users
  • Geographic reach
  • Awards, recognition and competitive differentiation

As a recognized pioneer in the coding bootcamp and coding school industry, Epicodus is honored and humbled to be the recipient of these three revered awards. Such accolades will spur us on to continue to provide exemplary educational services while encouraging aspiring coders today to become successful programmers tomorrow.

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Finding a Junior Dev Job: Negotiating Your Salary

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Finding a Junior Dev Job: Negotiating Your Salary

Helping our students find great jobs is a huge part of what we do at Epicodus. In fact, it’s our mission. Over the years, we’ve accrued quite a bit of job-hunting knowledge to help set our students apart. Over the past few weeks, we’ve shared our best tips and tricks for junior developers who are looking for their first jobs. You can find all of the posts in this series here.

So you made it through your interview, and your prospective employer has brought up what your salary will be. Congratulations! Negotiating a salary can be a bit terrifying, though, so here are some tips to help you out.

Do your research in the city where you'll be working. Different cities can have drastically different average starting salaries for junior devs. Learn the salary range for the city you're in, and weigh where you think you would fall in that spectrum. If your technical skills are on the weaker side, you're interviewing for a job with tools or languages you haven't used before, and/or you don't have much professional experience, you'll probably make on the lower end of the spectrum; if you are very strong technically and have at least a few years of professional experience, you'll probably make on the higher end.  Use the numbers as a starting point, and even share them with prospective employers when appropriate.

In the long run, though, your first salary really isn't that important. Within a year or two of working as a developer, you'll almost certainly make at least $20k more than wherever you start. The most important thing is to get a job, and if you have options, to take a job where you're more excited about the work you'll be doing.

Though your first salary might not be that important,  it's worth your time to learn how to get a higher offer. In negotiation, you need to know who has more to lose. If you're charming and technically very strong, you have little to lose - you can walk away and probably get another offer somewhere else. If your interview skills aren't great and your technical skills are weaker, the employer has the upper hand.

When the employer has the upper hand, try to get more information from them. If they ask you for your desired salary, tell them "I haven't worked in this field before, so I'm not completely sure what to expect. What have you paid people in this position before?" Work that angle hard before putting any numbers out of your own. Then, feel free to share the salary ranges above.

If you have the upper hand, you might consider opening with a high salary requirement to set the expectation high. For example, you might say "I made $65k in my last job, so I'm looking for something in that range," and expect to settle somewhere around $60k. If you let them open the negotiation with an offer of $50k, you might have a hard time getting it above $55k. But make sure your expectations are realistic - you are coming in as an entry-level developer, and you will likely be an investment for anybody who hires you. If you have a lot of career experience, you very well may start out making less until you get at least a few months of experience working.

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