On bootcamps and new jobs: My review of the Firehose Project

It’s almost been a year since I’ve graduated from the firehose project.

An entire year has offered me a lot of prospective to gauge my bootcamp choice and measure it against other possibilities. I’ve met students and those that have interacted with students from other bootcamps. My company’s office just recently moved out of 1871, a tech hub filled with bootcamp students of all varieties. I’ve seen their code, their portfolios and job applications and I can confidently say that if I was to do it all over again, I’d choose the firehose project without hesitation.

For me, it comes down to a combination of quality coursework, great value, and amazing people.

I think the root cause of all three factors comes down to the fact that the firehose project is run like a startup.

It’s small and nimble. Unlike some of the larger bootcamps out there with 20 different courses(some taught by other bootcamp graduates without any professional experience), there’s only one course at firehose. This means there is a lot of attention into improving the student experience on this one course. The founders created and teach it and their passion directly cascades to the rest of the firehose students and alumni. Besides the founders, I know there is a huge effort put into finding other amazing mentors with actual experience and their portfolios are all listed on firehose’s site. For a large bootcamp program operating nationally with huge cohorts, there’s just not way to maintain the level of quality as a small program run by the founders.

With that being said, I believe the greatest predictor of a boot camper’s success is their passion for coding, and their willingness to continue learning after they graduate. I took the extreme approach and treated every coding project post-graduation as an opportunity to push the boundary of my knowledge. In other words, how can I challenge myself and optimize for growth? How can I take on freelance projects and/or job responsibilities that best positions myself for the future?

If the proof of the pudding is in the tasting, how has the firehose project impacted me?

Before I enrolled in the firehose project, I was a non-technical entrepreneur. I also had dabbled for a month in html and css through online resources but that was the extent of my coding experience. Full disclosure though, I did graduate a year before that with a hybrid engineering/business degree (non computer science related though).

Over the last year, I’ve built two apps that have been published on the iOS and Android app stores. I’ve taken on over half a dozen freelance projects and I’m currently working full time for an amazing startup(foodjunky) as a hybrid front-end developer and UI/UX designer.

foodjunky’s yelp integration

At foodjunky, I have the responsibility for designing our company’s product and implementing the code to support it. It’s really rewarding to be able to take an idea or feature from design to launch and have it be used by thousands of people. That’s really cool to me. Since our company has partnered with yelp, I’ve had the opportunity to design and ship a food ordering integration for yelp’s desktop and mobile apps. Over the next months, we’ll be rolling out version 2.0 of our main site. I’m really excited to be given the responsibility of designing the foodjunky experience and to participate in building the actual business.

For new developers out there, I have one advice for landing your dream job: be ridiculously over-prepared.

Some job-seekers like to take a mass spam approach. I did the opposite. I was very selective about which companies I wanted to work for. I was looking for good opportunities that let me punch above my weight.

After that, I would invest a lot of time into understanding the market and their product. I’d come up with a list of business suggestions and use that as a launching pad to ask insightful questions about their business model. You have to “get” what they are trying to do beyond an intellectual level. It’s really important to be able to empathize with the pain points the company is trying to do. I came into job interviews or job applications with fully prepped redesigned home pages and user interfaces.

I think it’s silly not to do this. This is maybe a 10 hour process. By investing 10 hours, you put yourself way above the rest of the crowd. If you aren’t willing to invest 10 hours into your dream job, you don’t really want it bad enough. Plus, demonstrating this passion always comes in handy in the salary negotiation phase *wink wink*.