Dev Bootcamps Are NOT a Scam. A Hacker's Perspective

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This is my response to this horrible article arguing against the validity of hacker schools. And I am a huge supporter, because without the Flatiron School, I literally couldn’t even tell you what I’d be doing with my life. I wrote a really long response to his article in the comments on that post, and it got removed somehow…so I decided to re-write it and put it on my blog. So here goes…

My name is Victoria Friedman and I am a graduate of the second semester of students from the Flatiron School. Prior to my semester I had absolutely ZERO technical background. I graduated from a liberal arts college and was an English Literature major and a French Literature minor. I love to read and write and play sports and do other creative work (like bake and do crafts projects). I wanted to work in the world of publishing, but editorial work is nearly impossible to get involved with. So I spent two months learning some basic HTML and CSS so that I could apply to online magazines and do more than be able to just write content. And that’s when I learned about the Flatiron School. I had never been in terminal until this past January. I didn’t know my elbow from my foot, my left from right. Java? That’s short for Javascript right? Seriously. That’s what I thought.

I pretty much dropped everything the two weeks leading up to the start of the semester and spent around 10 hours a day at school doing the prework, all with the support of Avi and the graduates from the first class. And then the semester started. I should also point out that I was given a scholarship to attend the Flatiron School. I paid NOTHING for three months of learning. which I believe goes against your point of 90k tuitions. Also the Flatiron School’s tuition is nowhere near there to begin with.

And then the semester started. I kissed my social life goodbye and buckled down. I struggled immensely with some basic programming concepts. You can read my blog post about understanding iterations and the each method hereand all my other blog posts that document my learning during the Flatiron School since I’ve graduated. Two of which have been included in issues of Ruby Weekly.

As far as only having the ability to produce shitty web apps at the end, I built Starboard with three other students in three weeks. And none of us knew Rails prior. Also, here are some other amazing projects that have come out of the school. Actually, just check out Built which is a CMS for all Flatiron student projects THAT WAS ALSO BUILT BY FLATIRON STUDENTS.

At the end of my interview process, I had more than one job offer. I spent six weeks interviewing and was faced with up to four rounds of interviews with companies, all of which involved technical questions. I was asked to explain the internet, write the reverse method for a string without using .reverse on a whiteboard, construct a multiplayer chess game with thousands of users and describe the caching involved, what a Ruby singleton was, and how inheritence works in javascript. If those are bullshit interview questions, please give me examples of real ones. And I’m really not sure you can fake answering those questions. I just don’t think it’s posssible.

I am now a developer at Time Inc on their Internet Application Development Team. If you want to see some of my work since I’ve graduated, please go buy an ecbookbook on I built that. I don’t think you can call the 806th most popular website in the world a shitty web app, and my bosses seem to think I’m qualified enough to lead development for the site. I single handedly run our rails production deployments, manage project timelines and workflow, attend meetings with the sites stakeholders, all while working in collaboration with a team of 20+ people. Yes I make mistakes. But I also learn from them and never make the same mistake twice. Yes things are hard for me sometimes. But I also know I have an abundance of resources (both inside and outside my company) and a brain to figure it all out. Please show me a programmer who knows everything about every programming language. You can’t. It’s impossible. That’s the beauty of the tech industry, there is always something new to learn.

I’ve always told people that my biggest takeaway from my time at the Flatiron School was the ability to learn the things I don’t know. Because no one will ever know it all.

So please do let me know if you would like to speak with any of my bosses. I can easily put you in touch.