Getting Apps Done

Education is Social!

June 20, 2019

1x

Episode

30

Joshua is joined by Bekah Hawrot Weigel as guest co-host! Both are joined by Avi Flombaum, founder and Dean of Flatiron School to talk about the power of community in education and how NOT to pronounce NGINX!
Be sure to check out our new Slack community to meet others who are facing the same things you are and share your journeys!

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  • 00:01 Joshua

    Welcome to Getting Apps Done, a mostly non technical podcast with the goal of helping you deliver software with your hosts, Joshua Graham and Kel Piffner.

  • 00:13 Joshua

    Today we've got Bekah with us again. She's back, this time to help us host the podcast and she has brought a special guest with us and I will let him introduce himself.

  • 00:14 Avi

    Hi, I'm Avi Flombaum. I'm one of the cofounders of Flatiron School, I've been a programmer basically my entire life. That's like 24 years. And I'm really excited to be here. Thanks for having me Bekah and Joshua.

  • 0:25 Joshua

    Absolutely. Thank you for joining us and thank you Bekah for joining us as a cohost today and for finding him for us.

  • 0:25 Bekah

    Thank you. I'm so excited to be here.

  • 0:25 Joshua

    So, the first obvious question I can think of that I'd really love to learn a little bit about: You said you've been developing software for a long time. What was it that led you to decide to actually start to teach people about developing software?

  • 0:25 Avi

    So what led me to teaching people was pretty random. Around eight years ago, I was leaving, my first startup and, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do next, but I knew I was gonna I wanted to take some time off. So I planned this surfing trip in South America for like six months. And before I left to Nicaragua to start that trip, a friend of mine, Mike started a company called Skillshare, which at that point, was kind of a marketplace for in person classes. And, he called me and said that, he needed someone to teach programming classes in New York because they'd be really popular and, you know, he was like, you're not doing anything. Can you help me kind of bootstrap this marketplace by being our programming teacher in the beginning. And I kind of like, you know, never really thought about it.

  • 1:25 Avi

    I didn't think anyone would come into my classes, but I said, sure. And, uh, I started teaching these classes on Skillshare. Basically just like renting conference rooms at night and having, you know, 20 students. At a time kind of go through these like four or five week courses. And in my first class there was this one student that was just taking it super seriously, like way more seriously than I had imagined anyone would take kind of these sort of courses and he could really code. And, I started mentoring him and then recommended him for a job and emailed me to tell me he got the job. I was... at that point, I had already gone down in Nicaragua and I was there for like three weeks and my email and he sent me this email telling me that changed his life. And I came back to New York I think three days later and then I started teaching as much as I could and mentoring people and getting them jobs.

  • 2:25 Joshua

    And why did you decide on a bootcamp in particular for that?

  • 2:25 Avi

    I was teaching people and what I was always looking for my classes were these students that were trying to really change careers, not necessarily people that were... you know... Had a great idea and couldn't find a technical cofounder, but rather people that really love the craft.

  • 2:25 Avi

    And you know, at that point I kind of had this realization that there are really only two ways to learn how to code. You can do what I did, which is basically bang your head against the wall for like 10 years or you can get a CS degree. And you know, both those paths have problems, and really, sort of leave a lot of people out.

  • 2:25 Joshua

    Yeah.

  • 2:25 Avi

    And it never occurred to me that not everyone can do what I did and that's okay. It doesn't make them better or worse than me. You know, there's only a certain amount of people that are autodidacts.

  • 2:25 Avi

    And I always wanted the tech industry to be more diverse. I wanted it to feel different and that I kind of had this realization that as long as the only two ways to become a programmer or to gain these skills are through a CS degree or through banging your head against the wall, the industry wasn't going to change. And I wanted to create a new path for people to get these skills. So I kind of practiced teaching and mentoring and getting people jobs for like seven months and then connected with Jeff Casimir, who was running Hungry Academy at the time, which was kind of a bootcamp within LivingSocial. And I connected with him and Shereef Bishay from Dev Bootcamp and we had this one weekend together and sort of all talked about this idea of what then became known as a bootcamp and Dev Bootcamp started by Shereef of sort of foregoing the casualness of these nights and weekends classes or the incubation of a bootcamp within a company as like a training program. Trying to craft these like high intensity, quickest route to a job sort of programs.

  • 4:25 Joshua

    Okay. So, it was largely about making software development more accessible, because you're absolutely right, it's very difficult to get into it either just spending a lot of money getting into a university of some kind to get a degree or as you say, hopefully not everybody's bashing their head against the wall. But there is a lot of frustration inself teaching.

  • 4:25 Bekah

    Right. I can say from experience, you know, I love that this movement towards bootcamps and bringing accessible education to people, I can see how important it is in my own life because after teaching,college part time for 10 years, there's no way I would want to go sit in a classroom and be a student for 4 years to get a CS degree. So having that option of a bootcamp and to be able to do it and work at my own pace made it accessible for me, allowed me to do that. So I kind of want to follow up that question with, you know, how do you kind of find that diversity? Because I heard about Flatiron school, I think through another organization. I was a part of. But is it something that, you're very intentional about looking for as you develop your programs?

  • 5:25 Avi

    Yeah, that's a great question. I guess you touched on I think two really interesting things that we've thought a lot about at the school. )ne is access and what that means. Then the second one is demographics. I think after our third semester we started having diversity goals in our classes so that it wasn't enough for us to, you know, have really good job placement or graduation rates. But we started goaling, ourselves on, you know, in the beginning it was gender. And then we partnered with New York City, to create the web fellowship for low income New Yorkers. So from the beginning it was really important to us to make sure that our programs spoke to different demographics, and worked for, people of different backgrounds and we wanted to make sure that our classes were composed of that diversity.

  • 6:25 Avi

    Especially, you know, in the beginning we were, I mean, we were a very New York centric school. And I think that the diversity of New York City is an incredible asset and we wanted our courses and we wanted the school to represent that diversity. And then in terms of, you know, finding people or reaching those demographics, I think organizations like Girls Who Code, Girl Develop It, you know, All Star Code, Black Girls Code. Like there are so many unbelievable organizations that are really trying to not necessarily help people change careers, but discover a career path. So I think working with them, giving scholarships, working with, you know, we even, I mean we with the New York City web fellowship, you know, we work a lot of, religious centers and, you know, talking to pastors and priests and rabbis about their constituents and their demographics and, you know, really trying to go out into the communities that we were looking for to find students.

  • 7:25 Avi

    And then the next part I think was, really thinking about how to make sure our program was actually going to work for people. You know, I think, I think everyone can and should learn how to program. I do not think everyone should do that in a 12 week in person, full time program.

  • 7:25 Avi

    For a few reasons: One is it's pretty hard to learn that much in that short amount of time. And then also, you know, if you're a parent, if you have to have a job, if you have to support parents, it's just you can't commit to something that's 9:00 to 6:00 every day for 12 weeks. That's just not feasible.

  • 7:25 Joshua

    Yeah.

  • 7:25 Avi

    So between the pacing of the course to give people more time to learn the content and the curriculum and the format, you know, thinking about part time online. And not just making it like this is the only way to do it. You have to come in person was something that we always wanted to do in the beginning. So it took us around a year and a half to start developing our online programs and experiments with other programs like other formats like self paced, structured online part time, full time online. Cause you know, that's what access really meant to us was making sure that not only could our program be affordable through scholarships, things like that. But also that we would work for people.

  • 8:25 Joshua

    Absolutely. That's really great because certainly from my end of the spectrum where I'm trying to hire developers, we're absolutely looking for variety and diversity because that feeds into our company persona. It feeds into the products that we're building. But at the level we're at, it's very hard to encourage people who, as you say, didn't have the access to that in the first place. So we're at a completely different level. We need people like you to get people to the level that we can actually hire them and bring them in and benefit from what they bring to the table and having a group like yours doing exactly that is absolutely fantastic.

  • 9:25 Avi

    Well, yeah, thanks. We appreciate it. It was definitely hard at first sort of, you know, proving that these students were competent. You know, people had a lot of kind of biases towards, well, if you didn't learn the way I learned or you don't have the CV have, you know, you can't work here. But you know, at this point I think, you know, between us and just the bootcamp industry in general, I think that stigma of a bootcamp Grad has gone, but, it's still, you know, it's still not, it's still not like a super easy I think.

  • 9:25 Avi

    But I think that's true about any kind of entry level, career entry level job, just takes time. And it's, it's sort of a struggle in the sense that, you know, your first job, whether it's in marketing or in writing or in programming or in design, you're going to get, you know, 30 nos before you get a yes. And every single time you get to no, you feel like, this isn't the career for me and this isn't going to work. But the truth is you only need one yes.

  • 10:25 Avi

    And then after that, you know, once you've got a year of experience in this, you know, the second job, the third job, those become way easier. You trigger, you start getting recruited and things like that.

  • 10:25 Joshua

    Yeah.

  • 10:25 Avi

    So I think it's really about kind of getting over that first hurdle and realizing that it's totally normal to get rejected 30, 40 times that first time around

  • 10:25 Joshua

    Getting through those gatekeepers, yeah.

  • 10:25 Bekah

    I feel a little bit more nervous. I think hearing 30 or 40 nos that feels really...

  • 10:25 Bekah

    So I just graduated from Flatiron last week and I am about to jump into that job search portion of, of my coding journey. And so one of the things that I've been thinking about is I do still hear some people talk about, hesitancy to hire bootcamp grads over CS grads or you see job advertisements, that, that specifically ask for a CS degree. So I was interested in what you would say to someone in my position, as they're going forward, how do, how should I and other people address that hesitancy?

  • 11:25 Avi

    Yeah. Well, first of all, congratulations again for graduating. It's been unbelievable watching your journey. You've been such a, just unbelievably positive and supportive and amazing part of our community.

  • 11:25 Bekah

    Oh, thank you!

  • 11:25 Joshua

    Not just your community.

  • 11:25 Avi

    Yeah, Bekah's amazing. So first I guess, the first thing about, requirements in a job posting, because I think there are probably a few different kinds of them. One would be like the laundry list of technical skills, you know, 15 years react experience. That's, you know, that old David Heinemeier Hansson from Ruby on Rails and Basecamp had that awesome job post. I think it was a few years after the iPhone came out where he found a job posting that said like 10 years iOS development experience and was like, this, this has only been out for three years. How, how in the world who do find someone with that?

  • 12:25 Avi

    I think that when people... One, a lot of job postings are written by, HR, and they're sort of just copying things they found. So, in general, they're not necessarily as precise as they should be, but then even when they're written by hiring managers or engineers, I think that what, like when I write a job description and I have that laundry list of requirements, you know, react, Ruby, javascript, html, SaaS, SQL or whatever. What I'm basically looking for, I never intend for people to read that. I don't think most job posters are intending people to read that as all of these are required. I think they're more describing this is our stack. And you know, we would love candidates with as much experience in these technologies as possible. We would love candidates that are interested in these technologies.

  • 13:25 Avi

    We would love candidates that can prepare something in these technologies to wow us. But, you know, I think most job postings are written looking for a unicorn, but no one intends to hire a unicorn. So you shouldn't be intimidated. Like, you know, I mean, even I tell students all the time, if they're looking at a job posting at a company that they really care about, that they're interested in, you know, and you know, we teach Ruby and Javascript and the job posting says, you know, Python and Django and Flask apply anyway. Like show them that you can learn those things.

  • 13:25 Joshua

    Yeah

  • 13:25 Avi

    You know, don't ever... I always try to tell students to never disqualify themselves, to let themselves be disqualified. By not applying because you don't think you qualify. You're basically doing the job of HR or an engineering manager or hiring manager. You should apply anyway. It's free. It costs you nothing besides time. And, you just never know what's gonna happen. But if you don't apply, you definitely know what's going to happen, which is nothing.

  • 14:25 Avi

    So in terms of the technical requirements, I would just say look at them not as requirements, but rather as hints, as clues. Like, these are the things that you should go in prepared to talk about and you don't necessarily need to even be ready to talk about them. In terms of, like technical competency, but rather I think, you know, even asking questions like, when did you start using React or how did you choose between React or Vue or Ember, you know, things like that I think are interesting to discuss.

  • 14:25 Avi

    I remember, um, at early on in Foursquare, which was another New York City Company, they made the choice to build in Scala, which is a pretty niche language. I mean it's not super niche, but it's definitely not a common choice. And one of the reasons why was because they wanted all the engineers to have to learn the language when they came in in the sense that they wanted to groom the style of the code. And by you know, using a really popular language, they knew that they were going to be fighting against people's, you know, style, biases or experience. And by saying, look, all engineers that come in are going to have to learn Scala. We're going to be able to make sure that we're all writing code following the same patterns. So you know, when they put up a job posting, I think that they were pretty lax about, you don't need to know Scala to come work here, but you should know that we are going to Scala should you come work here.

  • 15:25 Avi

    And then you know, the other requirements I think that people sort of look at in the job posting are college degree required, three years experience and just ignore all that. Like no one is asking for your diploma. No one is asking like, I don't think.. It's just standard like lorem ipsum on a job posting. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

  • 16:25 Joshua

    I tell people all the time, the moment you see that, just take your pen and cross out the word required and if you've got 80% of what they list in that you're overqualified.

  • 16:25 Avi

    Yeah, exactly. When you said 80%, I was like, wait, 80% is giant! Yeah, exactly. Over qualified with 80%. If you have 50%, I think you are very, you know, viable.

  • 16:25 Joshua

    You're a good candidate. Exactly. And to be honest, when I'm hiring, in fact, I usually try to leave the word required out of everything, unless I absolutely know that if they don't have that I am can't cope without it. Yeah, and that's very rare because the reality is it's software development, the languages and the frameworks and libraries and everything else change every couple of years anyway. So what most hiring managers are looking for are people who can learn.

  • 16:25 Avi

    Right.

  • 16:25 Joshua

    So as a junior they're looking for a drastic increase from where you started to where you are now as a more experienced developer, they're looking for the fact that you're not only picked up your first language, but you've picked up two or three more. As a senior developer, I think I've got about 30 now written on my CV. It's getting ridiculous. I've had to start knocking them off because nobody cares about Cobol anymore. But it's not that full list. You're not looking for that for less. You'll just looking for trends is what it really comes down to. And the fact that they put the word required on that really doesn't mean that much, but it does scare away a lot of people.

  • 17:25 Avi

    Yep. Yeah. I mean I think that, you know, just not being intimidated by, the, the job posting and by those supposed requirements is kind of step one. And I think you're right about, it's really, I think for especially for more entry level, less experienced jobs, what you're looking for people that can learn. And you know, the thing we always try to tell students is to really go in and talk about what, what you've learned and how you've learned that and you know, seeing that, that, that flexibility, you know, seeing, seeing someone that can grow is sort of an amazing thing in the sense that when I hire you, I know that in the year you're going to be way more valuable than you were when I hire you. I'm so really being ready to show, you know, kind of, this is how I learned React or this is how I learned Redux and integrated it.

  • 18:25 Avi

    This is how I built a Node and you know, Mongo back end as opposed to Ruby. Right? Like that's kind of what I'd be looking for if I was, you know, when I'm interviewing juniors is really, and I hate the word junior by the way, so I'm sorry I just said that. But when I'm looking at more entry level developers, what I, what I really want to hear about is their learning process and how passionate they are about technologies and are they intimidated or are they willing to learn, are they willing to take feedback? You know, those are the kinds of, I think attributes that I think are more valuable than like the laundry list of requirements.

  • 18:25 Joshua

    Yeah. And that's actually one of the things that I really love about the bootcamp framework because when entry level developers are coming to me and I'm looking through what they've done, particularly people who are coming from a CS background, what I see there is a lot of very official sounding titles and things that actually don't mean anything to me. But when I see a bootcamper come out, they're showing me projects that they worked on. I started out with this project that was putting a button on a page and now I'm building this wonderful thing that's animated and flowing and amazing and you can see that learning journey. And in a lot of them, I've seen... A lot of what Bekah writes as well is about that journey. And that's actually really incredible to me. Being able to see how they learn, what their thought processes were while they were learning. That has a lot more value to me than a lot of the other things that I've seen in the past because I start to understand how they learn and how quickly they learn as well, which is much more important to me than what they know today. Because the reality is nobody's going to walk in knowing everything I want them to know. I'm going to have to teach them something. How quickly can they learn that?

  • 19:25 Avi

    Yeah, absolutely. You know, I think, the funny thing about actually like joining an engineering team is that you're not, I mean, you're not really a developer. You're more a maintainer and that you're jumping into a massive amount of code and you are going to maintain it and, and add to it. And you know, when I think about, you know, if I was in Bekah's situation or if I was a recent bootcamp grad, I see a lot of people kind of trying to create like 30 different projects to demonstrate each of their, you know, competencies or what they've learnt. And I think that's one strategy. Another thing though that I think if you could figure out a way to package and talk about that would be super valuable is your ability to maintain software.

  • 20:25 Avi

    In the sense that, you know, if you think about having one project and having, you know, CircleCI integration on Github and you know, RuboCop or a linter like, you know, when, when I look at, when you look at an open source project that's well maintained, you know, the read me has all the instructions, there's good documentation. Um, they're using modern tooling, there are pull requests that have been merged. There's issues. you know, that that is so amazing. And so, you know, as we started this conversation, you know, you mentioned all the other skills required, by you know, being a developer, being a programmer and maintenance is just, I mean that's the job we are maintaining the mess we've made and trying to improve it slowly.

  • 21:25 Avi

    Absolutely.

  • 21:25 Joshua

    And if you can figure out a way as a entry level, or as a new developer to show your ability to maintain software, I think that would be like the no brainer hire. So whether it's contributing to open source, like I know a lot of entry level developers that try to create open source software, which is, you know, as easy as throwing up a license and a repo on GitHub. Um, but I think, you know, being able to actually help someone maintain their software, whether that's vetting issues, you know, doing code reviews on PRs, running tests, but like, you know what, we're really hiring for people that can help us maintain the junk we've built. So if you could figure out a way to, you know, maintain and help someone else maintain their mess, I think that would be a remarkable thing to be able to demonstrate.

  • 22:25 Joshua

    I really like that because a lot of juniors have been asking you about their GitHub repos and I keep telling them, you know, as a hiring manager, I probably won't even look at most of the stuff you've got on there because a lot of it actually kind of looks the same. It's a lot of boiler plate stuff. I can do this, I can do this, I can do that. It's not actually proving to me that you can work on a project from start to finish and build something really useful or as you say, maintain something that already exists. Because, in our case we do a lot of consulting, so some of it is Greenfield, but a lot of it is, as you say, just coming in and taking some of those, not necessarily the cleanest thing ever. And maintaining it and seeing them contribute to other people's projects is much more valuable to me and seeing how they contributed and what they're doing to keep track of that. Those sorts of things are the things that I'm really looking for, not necessarily 50 different mini projects of them. Demonstrating little pieces of knowledge.

  • 22:25 Avi

    Yeah, absolutely. I mean I think that, you know, having one or two really nice looking projects that display functionality is great. But after that I would say that, you know, figuring out a way to join a community of open source contributors I think would be... It sounds intimidating and really hard. But I remember we had a college intern one year and um, he joined the Rails team as, as just like an issue vetter. So all he was basically doing was, you know, as a new issue on the Rails code base was coming in. He was just basically helping the Rails maintainers, basically route them saying this issue's a duplicate, this issue's not valid. This issue is real. I ran, I wrote a failing test for it, you know, and like again, that that is a huge part of the job. Like, you know, if I look at cycle times on my team, there's a good amount, like 20, 25% of the time as a developer on our team is reviewing issues and pull requests that come in on our repos.

  • 23:25 Avi

    So understanding how to kind of do that and you know, that's also something that you can do, you know, remotely from anywhere with an hour of a day. And ultimately it's also going to aid you in networking because when someone raises an issue on Rails and you respond saying, Hey, I've written a failing test to prove that this is an issue, you've just made a friend, whoever raised that issue is now a friend of yours. And whoever you route that to on the Rails core team is going to be super happy that you've basically packaged up everything super nicely to make their job easier. They will probably even let you pair with them as they try to fix that bug or add that future or whatever. but you know, there is such a, there's such a tremendous amount of work on open source projects as big as Rails, you know, javascript packages that is about organization and preparation and not like, oh, I need to understand how to, you know, reduce the, you know, efficiency or something that I think is an easy thing to be a part of and the community would tremendously value. And not only does it demonstrate that you can maintain software, you can add value, but you're also just going to meet a ton of people. So I think that would probably be an amazing thing to figure out how to sort of, this is the way to go about doing that.

  • 25:25 Joshua

    Yeah, absolutely. Out of curiosity, Bekah, how much of that are you doing? How many open source projects are you contributing to and how are you finding them and how do you participate in them?

  • 25:25 Bekah

    Well, apparently I need to be doing it more! I'm making notes here. Like, okay, today this is what I'm going to do. Um, I haven't done very much, but I know that I have a document somewhere that has written, I'm very accessible points for new developers to come in and to work on this open source stuff. So, maybe if you have notes in the podcast, I can get that to you because...

  • 25:25 Joshua

    We do.

  • 25:25 Bekah

    Great. Then then that would allow other people who are in my position to say like, okay, this is a little bit more friendly. At least I know that there are, you know, simple things like just editing the readme or okay this is for someone who, who is new to Rails but might be able to work on this. There's some really great project breakdown, but I just can't think of the name of the sites that are doing those right now.

  • 26:25 Joshua

    Okay. We can add those into the transcripts because I think resources like those are really important. Open source is huge and I know a lot of newer developers struggle with this concept of jumping into something so big. It's scary. Even as an experienced developer picking up on some of the projects is really scary cause there's just so much stuff there.

  • 26:25 Avi

    Right. And I think that's actually an important distinction, which is I think contributing writing code on an open source project, especially a big one is tremendously difficult. And that's not necessarily your goal. There are like, you know, between like coding conventions and writing tests, it's just very difficult. Like, I mean, just like you were saying, I have submitted pull requests to projects with tests that have been rejected because of style... To the point where I'm like, okay, look, you guys don't want it. I'm not rewriting this. Someone else can rewrite it. But, you know, there are other ways to contribute besides code, like, you know, helping vet issues. And so when I say contributing to open source, I don't mean you need to be ready to, you know, clone down a full project add tests, you know, merge/squash commits, things like that.

  • 27:25 Avi

    No, you just need to find that like the community and figure out like I love documentation. I love, you know, vetting issues, things like that. There's a website called First Timers Only and I think there are a few others (Up For Grabs, Code Triage) that basically, a lot of projects try to tag some issues, as like Your First PR, I can't remember what the exact tag on GitHub is that basically says this issue is basically all set for a first contribution. So finding those would be great. But you know, I think like finding a product you really care about like you know, I dunno... Sonic Pi, is a music library in Ruby and saying, okay, I might not be able to write code for this but I'm going to help maintain the issues or merge pull requests or you know, run test suites and things like that. I think that that's another way to contribute.

  • 28:25 Joshua

    Yeah. Which are all real things that you probably will do in some of your early roles as a new developer and that proves that you can do those to anybody who's looking at it. The other side is it doesn't have to be a big project. Some of them are going to be smaller projects and not all development tasks are really complex. Some of them are just tedious. And if a newer developer can come in and pick up some of those tedious tasks so that the more experienced developers have more time to work on the more complex things, they're going to love you for it.

  • 28:25 Avi

    Absolutely.

  • 28:25 Joshua

    And again, it comes back to networking. You're making friends with these people because suddenly they've got more free time to go work on the things that they're really interested in and you're getting experience working with them. And that's fantastic.

  • 28:25 Bekah

    I have a question that I thought might be helpful for someone who's interested in entering a bootcamp. This may be kind of a two part question. So first of all, like what would be the target audience? I think maybe an 18 year old is not the target audience but someone older.. So, if you could talk about that, but also talk about the difference between choosing between the bootcamp route versus the university CS degree.

  • 29:25 Avi

    Yeah, so I guess, I don't think bootcamps are right for 18 year olds. unless you're like a really special 18 year old. I think that even if, you know, I mean, we've let it in a, you know, I dunno a handful of 18 year olds in at Flatiron school, but basically someone at the company needs to agree to mentor that student because we can teach them how to code and get them a job, but we can't teach them how to like, do laundry, like be a real person, get health insurance and things like that. And you know, so, life comes at you pretty fast. And, so, our general demographic are really career changers or people that, that need tremendous amount of upskilling.

  • 30:25 Avi

    So, you know, I've been, you know, to Joshua's reference to Cobol... the New York Times had a lot of infrastructure in Cobol and they had a team of Cobol developers that they had to have for a long time to maintain some of their old legacy infrastructure. But as they moved away from that, someone needed to teach those people, you know, modern tooling and modern languages. So I think whether you're... that is, you know, going from, I've been a Cobol programmer 20 years, now I want to learn javascript and web development. I think that that is a serious upskilling leap. And then you have career changers, you know, people that were writers, accountants, lawyers, bankers, you know, circus contortionists what have you. They are really looking to just pivot careers. That's generally the demographic. I think the average age ends up being like 27 and you know, I think that that's pretty consistent around I think across most bootcamps.

  • 30:25 Avi

    You know, I do think a lot about the fact that this industry or the bootcamp industry exists to me suggests like a endemic problem in higher education, which is like you shouldn't need to take 15 weeks off your life and enroll in Flatiron school, had you been properly educated and by, I guess that's a loaded word properly. Had there been, you shouldn't have to... That is a giant sacrifice to make. And you know, I think one of the issues with our higher education system is just we front load it, like telling people to learn for four years and do nothing in a world where like.. That is moving as fast as today. It's just insane. Like the opportunity cost you get from sitting in a classroom in college for four years and I mean four years, that's kind six years. Because you know, of those that graduate, the average is going to be of six years and half of people that go to college won't even graduate in six years. So, that opportunity cost is just tremendous. And especially if you're trying to learn something, you know, like, you know, communications or design or software engineering or science, you're going to find that things you learned six years ago or less and less relevant.

  • 32:25 Joshua

    Yeah, absolutely. I know, certainly when I started my career, I had several friends who decided to go the university route instead. Four years later they were graduating. They're all happy until they realized they were four years behind me and half of what they learned was no longer in use.

  • 32:25 Bekah

    Yeah, I would say too, from my experience, the community, the community at least at Flatiron school at has been amazing to just really help to advance your goals and education. And I taught in higher ed for 10 years and I didn't see that same type of educational community and excitement. And I think when you're, you're, focused enough on those goals that it's, it's great to be able to lift up the people around you too.

  • 32:25 Joshua

    We must be on the same wavelength here. I was going to mention exactly that because that is another aspect that I've been wondering about. I don't actually have any evidence of it, but I have seen some tangential evidence that the bootcamps really do encourage communities around it. They're doing a lot more pair coding. They are having a lot more sessions afterward and doing projects together in a team environment that naturally builds up a community around them. And I certainly feel that that's a much better way to learn than here's your book, here's your test, get on with it. And certainly what I've seen on the other end, the hiring end of the things is when they do come out of the bootcamps, they know other developers, they can say, yeah, I'll ask my buddy about that. They know how to work with a team. And that sort of thing feels to me like it's very beneficial. Have you seen a lot of evidence of that on your end as you're right there in front of it?

  • 33:25 Avi

    Yeah, I mean, for a lot of reasons, in the design of Flatiron school, community was just, it was sort of the first thing we cared about making. I just think that you end up learning more from each other than you do from a teacher. Like education is inherently a social endeavor. Like even if you're reading, you know, you're learning alone and you're reading, you know, a book, like, I remember growing up when I was reading programming books, like I felt a connection to the author. And that's social, right? That's, that's, you know, Jeffrey Zeldman when he writes Designing With Web Standards. And 14 year old or 15 year old Avi's reading that I was like, oh my God, there are people are like artists about web development and care about this craft so much.

  • 34:25 Avi

    And I felt like Jeff was sitting there talking to me. I mean he was transcribing his feelings about web standards into a book that I was reading and that doesn't, you don't necessarily think of that as a social experience, but it is. The only way to learn something is, you know, to have someone tell you it. I'm like, no one incepts new knowledge. So the community around flat iron was just something that we really cared about. Because I think it's the stuff, the heart of how people learn. And the other thing too is that it's just more fun. Like, you know, it's just hard like learning things, being self motivated. Like again, I think a lot about the things I hated about my journey was just that feeling of being alone. It's just not fun. I'm like, everything is more fun when you do together.

  • 35:25 Avi

    And, um, you know, in terms of just motivation, support, connections, learning how to communicate, learning how to collaborate, learning how to stay motivated. Like the ability to create a community around yourself, of people that are dedicated to the same goals as you and share your values I think is such a huge part of growth. You know, whether it's joining a running club or, you know, a Meetup or anything like that. I think that it's just that community is just so important. It's one of also the things that really drew us to WeWork was that, that, that real belief that like we are all better together and that needs to be an intentional effort. People don't just find other people that like can support them and help them get to where they want to go. You need to craft that community. You need to curate it.

  • 36:25 Avi

    You need to instill it with values. You need to, you know, ensure that it is the place that you intended. And we just take so much effort making sure that the Flatiron community is that. And then, yeah, sure, then it also helps you pair program and all those other things. But you know, it's just at the heart of what we do is really building that, you know, even even the word University, comes from a Latin word that means the whole, like it is a university, like, you know, in the traditional sense, it's really just a community of teachers and scholars. Like that's it.

  • 36:25 Bekah

    I'm going to say too, I was thinking about like my last year and my coding journey with Flatiron school and there have been three women from Flatiron who have really affected my journey and, and help to make it successful. And so, you know, you have the community of coders who are really supporting each other and cheering each other on. But then there's these awesome builtin mentors. My educational coach, I, honestly, changed my entire life, because of her support and her willingness to help me not only navigate through Flatiron school, but other issues that I was dealing with that she had also dealt with. And then, one of, the instructors became my mentor and the, my cohort leader really taught me how to push myself in ways that I did not think were possible as a mom of four kids, I thought, there's no way I can do what you're asking me to do, but her positivity and her belief in me really showed me like, okay, I can do this. It might be hard, but I know that I can continue learning. So not just the community of students, but having really good people who are teaching and who are passionate about it makes a huge difference in the response of the student as well.

  • 38:25 Joshua

    Yeah, I think the community aspect is something that has changed, in fact, it's been a driving force behind the podcast because when Kel and I first started doing this, we started to look at the different communities that existed and realized that there were lots of them out there and... we were much like you when we started learning, we went out, you went either to the library or the store and you bought the C++ book and you started to read it. And we were lucky enough that we actually had each other. So we did do some social learning there. He would learn one thing, I would learn another one, but we were just lucky in that way. A lot of people weren't. But now there are so many different communities built around that and people supporting each other in so many different ways through their development journey that it's absolutely amazing. I might be a little bit late discovering this, but it was one of those things that I immediately sat back and it just kinda clicked for me. Wow, that is absolutely incredible. And all these different resources, like the bootcamps are supporting that and encouraging that. And I think that's a really great move for the entire industry.

  • 39:25 Avi

    Yeah. I mean, you know, I remember growing up like IRC and Efnet and what I would describe as less supportive communities, but communities nonetheless.

  • 39:25 Joshua

    Yeah.

  • 39:25 Avi

    You know, like even just the, you know the acronym RTFM but, you know, I guess like on one level, I mean would get, you know, flamed a ton in IRC when I was a kid and, but it just, I don't know, like I just didn't care. Like to me they were all fake people anyway it's just like, okay, you know, these people think I'm stupid, I'm never going to meet them. That's okay. But you know, if one of them helps me, I was like, thanks, that was helpful. I'll take a lot of pain in order to try to get help. But, um, you know, today, yeah, like between, you know, Code Newbies, but with Girl Develop It and I'm like, there's so many great communities. And that's, I mean, yeah, it's, it's a huge part of it.

  • 40:25 Joshua

    Yeah, I think it's absolutely a game changer for, again, back to what we started at the beginning, making development more accessible to people, not just the people who can afford to go to university, who can afford to spend four years learning it and who, or are like us and just are willing to sit and dedicate years of our lives to reading these books, learning these topics on our own in relative isolation. It's now a very different thing. It makes it much easier for a larger variety of people to begin to learn coding journey as developers.

  • 40:25 Avi

    Yeah, I mean it's you know, I think that I always feel like just really lucky to have this job and to have had this career. Like, I really also do just feel like a tremendous sense of duty, to actually like teach people because I got lucky. Like I was 11, I was in the right place at the right time the internet was coming out. There was a Barnes and Nobles, you know, on my way to school. I could read these books, I could teach myself, but, yeah, it's a privilege really to be able to help people change their lives for the better through the skills that I've learned and that I love and I'm passionate about. That's a pretty good job.

  • 41:25 Joshua

    I'm absolutely going to steal that. Somebody asked me the other day, why do this and why I'm putting back into the community and the way I phrased it was nowhere near as elegant, but it basically comes down to the same thing. There were other people, authors and friends and random people on IRC channels who supported me and helped me get to where I am. And this is kind of my way of returning that favor to the new batch of developers. You phrased it much better than I did, so I'm going to borrow that.

  • 41:25 Avi

    Yeah. No one, I mean, I think that it's important. No one does this alone. Even, you know, for all the, you know, quintessential or less than quintessential, but, you know, mythical, I started programming when I was an infant and, you know, I've taught myself everything. It's just not the case. You didn't teach yourself everything you learned.... You used languages and frameworks that were written by other people that you've never met. You've read blog posts and tutorials written by other people that you've never met, that you didn't pay for. Like you've gotten help. You have.. No one does this alone. And you know, without the, you need the self awareness to be able to recognize that like, however difficult it was for you and however much you might've felt alone, you did this with other people and like, that is a debt you owe. So...

  • 42:25 Joshua

    Yeah, equally, on the other side, if you are finding it difficult that's because you can't do it alone, it is hard and you do need to learn from other people. So don't be discouraged. Find other people, find communities.

  • 43:25 Avi

    Right. And everyone does.. Like, right. Everyone. I mean, you know, it's always, that one of the, I guess the stigmas is this idea of like, I thought I was supposed to know this. I didn't ask. And you know, like, like Bekah, I saw it, I think it was you that tweeted recently that like the, the dollar sign for command line, right? So like in, in documentation, you know, if you're as a writer or a documentation writer, we tend to try to preface like, if this is meant to be executed in the command line for some reason we use the dollar sign to indicate that this is your prompt. Right? The dollar sign is the command line prompt. And yeah, I can, I'm sure I've done it. I'm sure a thousand people have done it, which is, you know, you copy the entire line and then you're putting a dollar sign in your terminal prompt and it's like I don't know what you're talking about.

  • 43:25 Avi

    You know, you're not, it's... like, it's totally okay to just be like, hey guys, what the hell is up with this dollar sign every single time I'm reading anything with a dollar sign, as long as I copy everything besides the dollar sign it works. And Yeah, a bunch of people are going to be like, you know, n00b! Dollar sign means your terminal prompt! Blah, blah, blah. And you know, who cares? Again, like it's the Internet. These are fake people. But there will be one person that's like, oh yeah, I guess for some reason we use the dollar sign to connotate a command line prompt. And I'm sure, you know, 50 years ago the character for the command line prompt it was a dollar sign, but it's not anymore. But guess what? We still use it.

  • 44:25 Joshua

    It still is on some!

  • 44:25 Avi

    So yeah, so I just think like, knowing like that it's okay to ask and like, I don't know. I mean, I remember, I think I was giving a talk at a meetup once and like, NGINX had just come out and it was, you know, like a pretty, exciting like proxy and load balancer. Yeah. And I was talking about, and this is like early in the Rails community cause I had gotten like NGINX and I think Thin had also just come out and everyone was using Mongrel and Apache. And I'd gotten my application working behind NGINX and Thin and I was giving a media presentation about it. And I pronounced NGINX N-JINX because like, I mean for the majority of this stuff, you literally will, might never ever say it out loud. Yeah. Right. Like I'm reading all of the, NGINX documentation and it's the word N G I N X and like 'engine x' didn't like occur to me, but the word jinx did and N Jinx.

  • 45:25 Joshua

    You're not alone on that one. It took me a long time to realize that. And it was one of those, I sat down and I said it out loud. Oh yeah, I get it now.

  • 45:25 Avi

    Right! I gave the whole talk saying N Jinx and like someone was like, listen, great talk, what is N Jinx? And I was like, you know, N Jinx and they're like, it's 'engine x'. I was like, right, of course. 'engine x!' Sure!

  • 46:25 Joshua

    Yeah. It happens to everybody. But yeah, you're absolutely right though. We don't say most of these things out loud. And sometimes I found that interesting about talking to more people, particularly training new developers. I find that as I'm talking to them, I have to figure out how you say something out loud, because I've typed it a thousand times before. But how do you actually say that?

  • 46:25 Avi

    Oh yeah. I mean, I, I mean, I remember, I think I am still actually unsure the correct pronunciation, but I know I've said the word boo-lee-an and boo-lean and I don't know which one is right, but no one's ever not known what I was talking about.

  • 46:25 Joshua

    Yeah. To be honest, I'm not certain either. I've always gone with boo-lean, but I'm not completely certain about that either.

  • 46:25 Avi

    Yeah.

  • 46:25 Bekah

    I've never thought about it before.

  • 46:25 Avi

    Yeah.

  • 46:25 Joshua

    All these things you type a million times... yeah..

  • 46:25 Bekah

    Well I think that's really great advice too, because you do start off and especially if you're a career changer, you kind of start off feeling that you're a step behind so many people already. So you know that to get that confidence to break in and say, I, you know what, I don't really know what this means. Can someone explain it to me? Or why do we do things this way? Once you learn that you can ask those questions, it makes it so much easier. And it's like you give, give yourself permission to fully learn what you're learning. Once you, once you start to ask those questions.

  • 47:25 Joshua

    Absolutely.

  • 47:25 Avi

    Yeah. I mean I always tell students that the quickest way to learn something that is confusing you is to ask. Like, demand it, like demand whoever wrote the documentation, you don't understand. Or whoever wrote the curriculum, you don't understand. Or whoever's teaching a lecture, demand they explain to you what you don't understand. Like be selfish about your learning. I mean, the worst is you sound... I mean, it's just, it's this insecurity. Like we're just worried about sounding stupid and if you just forego the fact and say you know what, I am stupid, I am stupid I'm a the beginner and if that gives me permission to ask everyone everything, I'm cool with it. But I will get answers.

  • 48:25 Joshua

    Absolutely. Particularly in a field like this where we live inside of acronym hell, everything has an acronym. We shorten everything. We have so many buzzwords about different things and 12 of them mean the same thing and nobody understands any of them.

  • 48:25 Avi

    Yup.

  • 48:25 Joshua

    Absolutely. You have to ask these questions and if you're not, you're just making it so much harder on yourself and it really doesn't need to be... Nobody minds you asking questions. They might and mind if you ask the same question 12 times. But in general, nobody cares if you ask a question, even if it's an easy one for them.

  • 48:25 Avi

    Yeah.

  • 48:25 Joshua

    It's not necessarily easy for everybody.

  • 48:25 Avi

    Yep.

  • 48:25 Joshua

    Alright, well thank you very much for the time you've given us. We really do appreciate it and it's been great to have you on the show.

  • 48:25 Avi

    No problem. No, this is great. Thank you so much for having me. It was really great conversation, Bekah. Nice chatting with you and have a great day everyone. But yeah, this was really fun. Thank you.

  • 49:25 Joshua

    Alright!

  • 49:25 Bekah

    Thanks Avi!

  • 49:25 Joshua

    So, Bekah, how did you find being a cohost this time around and not the guest at this time?

  • 49:25 Bekah

    Oh, it was, it was so much easier because I didn't do any of the work. You did all of the work and I didn't have to be nervous that I was going to be asked a question that I didn't know how to answer. So, so this was pretty fun. I enjoyed it.

  • 49:25 Joshua

    I have to apologize. I did actually ask you one question in there somewhere.

  • 49:25 Bekah

    Yeah, the question about open source software. So, definitely something I'm going to work on this week.

  • 49:25 Joshua

    It was very good answer though. I'll put those resources up in the transcripts that way other new developers will have those available to them because I still think that's a really great idea. It is good to have that sort of experience, but it's very difficult to get into. So, any resources we can provide are excellent.

  • 49:25 Bekah

    Yeah and I just recently had been doing research on to how to get into newbie friendly resources, open source software projects. So it'd be great to share those with other people because I think that that, those are things that you think in your mind that you should be doing, but you just don't even know where to start.

  • 50:25 Joshua

    Yeah, absolutely and it is daunting. There's just so many options and different ways you can do everything. So having some resources that get you a kind of a starters guide to getting involved is a really great way to do it.

  • 50:25 Joshua

    Alright, well I will put some transcripts up at gettingappsdone.com. Please be sure to check out my website joshuagraham.info and I will post a link to Bekah's website as well. Make sure you check her out because she's doing some really great things throughout the development community. Also check out the Flatiron School because they are doing incredible things and we'll have a link for those in the transcript.

  • 50:25 Joshua

    If you are getting ready to join a bootcamp or have any questions about a bootcamp, please let us know. We would be happy to answer any questions we can and if we can't answer them, we'll find somebody who can, just to help you get started on your development journey.

  • 51:25 Joshua

    So thank you again, Becca for joining us and acting as part-time cohost here while Kel was out teaching at a boot camp, actually. So, we're bootcamps all over!

  • 51:25 Bekah

    Yeah. Thank you so much for having me!

  • 51:25 Joshua

    Alright. I will let you get on with your day then.

  • 51:25 Bekah

    Alright. Have a good one.