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Dev Bootcamp Epilogue
Categories: Tech

When I was attending DevBootcamp a couple of my fellow students asked me what I was going to write about DBC in my blog. My answer was always the same: “It depends on whether I get a job or not.” Because of this, I have not, until now, given my overall impressions of DBC, but since now a sufficient amount of time since graduation has passed (six months), I am ready to do so.

I only blogged my experience while at DBC for a short while, not only because I was too tired and busy working, but mainly because I was too jaded. I was so angry most of the time that if I had written a blog post then it would have been 90% vitriol, such as:

“God I hate this fucking place. All they do is hi five each other, drink beer, and yell catchphrases like ‘YOLO’ and ‘Light it Up’ to each other. It’s a total ‘brogrammer’ mindset. The lectures are so boring and you have to sit on the floor like you’re in fucking romper room and they’re often right after lunch so I comprehend about 1% because I’m falling asleep. Everything is pair programming which is basically social Darwinism. The faster of the pair gets all of the learning during each pairing session while the slower person has no idea what’s going on and has to do all of the material after hours in order to play catch up. Then they waste all of this time doing horrifying team building exercises in order to terrify the introverts in the group: Another example of social Darwinism. Sometimes it seems like the whole point of DBC is just to get alcoholic frat boys jobs who would, in another generation, have become investment bankers. Web whatever-this-is-point-0 seems to be like how the stock market in the 80’s was: a bunch of people getting paid way too much money to create more and more Facebook clones and mashups of mashups of mashups of API’s. At least the joke is on the VC instead of the average joe investing his hard earned savings into his retirement account.

But, no, I didn’t blog any of that. I also didn’t complain about the claim on the DBC web site that class sizes are 16-20 students when actually they are well above 20 students. Nor did I mention that while most instructors are amazing, others just tweet all day, hoping that a student won’t ask them a question. Nope, I restrained myself. I sure did.

DBC claims like 80-85% placement within three months after graduation. I was definitely not part of that majority in my group, but to be fair, I graduated at the worst possible time, the end of October. This meant I basically lost two months due to holidays and the fact that most companies had already spent their annual hiring budget. Nevertheless, many if not most of my fellow students landed jobs within those first three months. This made me crazy and desperate to blame something… anything but myself. At first, I thought it was an age thing, since being in my 40’s, I am significantly older than the average “boot.” But that didn’t hold water because everyone in my class who was in their forties and older got jobs right away. So, I tried to blame recruiting. I was upset because they didn’t actually set up interviews for us, but instead just set up a one time schmoozefest in which you have to aggressively market yourself to the 6-12 companies who showed up for our graduation. (This expectation was purely in my own head as there was no promise of anything more than introductions in the marketing literature. I guess I had just kind of assumed they would set up interviews for us since that’s how it was when I graduated IU business school.)

BUT… here’s the thing: All of this stuff that I didn’t blog about, I did directly address to DBC faculty and staff who very actively solicited feedback. They were very aggressive in improving the process not just for the next group of students, but they also used the feed back to help me, even after I had already graduated. One of the teachers, Kevin Solo, made an appointment with me personally just to get my feedback; my expectations vs what happened. Then, in early March, something amazing happened: I got an email from DBC Recruiter Jill Fleska (not her actual title), inviting me to come to “career week.” This, she explained was the revamped post-graduation process for DBC, having been revamped after all the feedback from 2013 cohorts. At first, I was reluctant to attend because I just figured it would be a bunch of boring bullshit, telling me to network and tweet and then go home, but it was way more useful than that. It was a totally new program which fully integrated all of my suggestions and those of many other people. It was a 7 day 10am-5pm program. Three days or so was very useful (and unique) job hunting help from Jill and Elliot. None of this training was the usual textbook crap. It was all information which was unique from their perspectives of knowing the nuances of the chicago (and general) tech community. For example, one of the common advice cliches is “network network network. Go to every meet up. Schmooze and booze. Blah blah blah,” all of which makes me cringe because I am happily introverted and not a bro.

Instead of getting that xeroxed advice, Elliot told us something refreshing: You can get a job and still be an introvert. You don’t have to run around introducing yourselves to everyone getting sweaty armpits and anxiety attacks. If you want, you can just go to a meet up and talk to ONE person you are interested in. You don’t have to meet everyone, and better still, you don’t even have to go to meet ups if you don’t want to. You can do it ALL through social networking and intelligent research… that’s what I ended up doing.

They also did something really cool, Jill gave us a list of at least ten great tech companies and promised to introduce each of us personally to any two of the companies on the list. I ended up getting a job with one of the companies on my short list. Not only that, but Jill advised me about which of the companies I should choose based on my personality and skills. Jill is amazing at understanding people and matching them up with employers. She has an amazing intuition for this and I’ve never met anyone like her.

Both Jill and Elliot were also very encouraging. Both of them had absolutely NO doubt that I would be able to find a job as a software developer. They had way more confidence in myself then I did. Jill told us about “Impostor Syndrome” and made me realize that I was not alone in my fears (terror might be a better word.)

So as I have already mentioned the story has a happy ending: I got a job for a great company and I feel like I’m going to be very happy there. DBC delivered what they didn’t literally promise but implied… that I would get a good job after completing the program. Their determination is impressive. The DBC philosophy is to not accept failure and keep making it better. Even if it’s 99% perfect, they are not happy if it’s not 100%. I get the feeling that this philosophy comes directly from the Chicago director, Dave Hoover, but it definitely is echoed in the faculty and staff.

Mostly, however, I owe 90% of my success directly to Jill Fleska. She is an amazing person with a gift for matchmaking. DBC is very lucky to have her around. I don’t know how it all went down, but I get the feeling she was instrumental in revamping the post-graduation program to make it so much better than it was in 2013.

So, that’s about it. DBC is definitely legit. If you’re a potential student reading this and want to make sure it’s not a scam, I can assure you that it is not. Torture, maybe, but definitely not a scam. They keep their promises.

tard hi five

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2 Comments to “Dev Bootcamp Epilogue”

  1. Shawn says:

    Congratulations on the new job! It’s great that you landed a good gig with a good company. It’s also nice to see that DevBootcamp reacted to your feedback and made some changes. It shows that the people who run the thing have some integrity and really do care about the program and its students.

    As an introvert myself, I can relate to some of the cringeworthy stuff you’ve experienced. I too am looking for work, and I’m just not the “power networking” type of person.

    I’ve also been somewhat amazed by the penetration of brodudes into the tech space. It’s obvious this is because there’s a lot of money in the space right now. But it seems to me like you have to have a certain mental aptitude to actually be good at technical things. If I’m wrong about this, then coding is actually easier than I thought, or the traditional brodude stereotype (high on testosterone/hi fives, low on intelligence) isn’t actually accurate.

  2. Linsey says:

    Thank you so much for your honesty & insights. As a potential Dev Bootcamp student, I’ve been researching for weeks now on different bootcamps and was able to meet someone from Dev to talk about their program. I was still skeptical and worried about post-graduation seeing as my life in my current city really depends on if I can land a job after this bootcamp ends.

    Granted this was a few years ago, I hope that the way they took your feedback they’ve been just going up from here on out. I really appreciate your honesty in the type of people & interactions you had during your time there as well!

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