Former English Teacher Changes Careers and Lands Remote Developer Job

Meet Kristin Gonzalez, a Bloc Full Stack Web Development Grad

Before Bloc: English Teacher Abroad

After Bloc: Remote Software Engineer at SyncTree

 

Kristin is a global traveler and for the past five years she has lived in quite a few places, including Hong Kong, Thailand, Vietnam, and Chile, teaching English and conducting corporate training. Completely new to programming, Kristin jumped into her Bloc Web Development Course with her mentor, Elad Meidar. Looking to completely shift her career without sacrificing her wanderlust, her goal is to land a remote development position to realize her dream of total location independence. Kristin was able to balance an internship while enrolled in her Full Stack course and landed a remote development position at SyncTree upon graduation!

Here’s what Kristin said about her Bloc experience:

What did you work on for your capstone project?

Kristin built a job board for developer positions specifically geared towards non-profit organizations called Conscious Coding.

How was your mentor experience?

When Kristin started out, “everything was so foreign. Sometimes reading documentation would leave my head spinning and I couldn’t grasp how to use it. [My mentor] Elad Meidar was then able to explain it. He knows so much!”

What was the best part of the Bloc experience?

“Those small moments of ‘getting it.’ I feel that now I can say I’m a developer.” Kristin recently went to a code conference and feels like she can, “talk about web development concepts” where maybe a year ago she wouldn’t have understood any of it. She says “that transition is great, so is getting faster at everything, and the way I approach things is different now. I’m better at gleaning information from resources.”

Advice for anyone who wants to learn to code, or who has just enrolled in a Bloc course?

Kristin advises new learners to start with the basics, and “figure out if it’s something that you really like. It’s something that is going to give you torment and lack of sleep and great highs, so it’s something that you have to enjoy. If you didn’t like building and creating things, the obstacles will make you want to quit.” She stresses that learning to program takes time and good developers have often been working on their craft for years. “You wouldn’t want to hire a dentist who only studied for 3 months.”  Keep practicing, “if you don’t use it you lose it!”

How likely are you to recommend us to a friend?

Kristin says, “definitely I would recommend it…people learn in different ways, and Bloc is for people who are very disciplined and who can focus and be accountable.”

 

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What Should a Full Stack Developer Know in 2015?

Background and qualifications: I am Bloc’s Web Development Curriculum Director where I shape the curriculum for Bloc’s online mentor-led web development courses.

Being a full stack developer in 2015 (and beyond) is less about specific languages, and more about areas of competence. To start you’ll need to be comfortable with server-side development (the backend) and client-side development (the front end). In addition, you’ll need to be proficient with the command-line, version control, HTTP, and interacting with third-party APIs.

Backend

  • Server-side Scripting: Server-side scripting is using programs on a web server to provide dynamic responses to client requests. Basically, it’s what makes it possible for Facebook to look different when I log into it versus when you log into it. There are an incredible number of server-side languages available to learn. Picking a specific language is less important than learning the concepts and design patterns that underlay all Server-side Scripting. Personally, I think Rails (built with Ruby) is a fantastic framework for learning about Server-side scripting. Ruby is a beginner friendly language with a focus on simplicity, productivity, and readability. Rails is a well-documented framework with a supportive and active community full of beginner friendly resources. Rails promotes an iterative workflow, allowing you to go from nothing to a working web app, and then quickly add new functionality as you develop requirements.

  • Databases: Dynamic web applications are backed by databases which allows users to create, read, update, and delete persistent data. Understanding how to configure and use a database is an essential part of full stack development. There are a variety of database systems which differ in many specific details, but are united by their general approach to data storage. For beginners it’s best to start with an established and well-documented database. Rails primarily uses SQLite or PostgreSQL for its database storage, but abstracts many of the database specifics, allowing beginners to ease themselves into using and understanding databases. (more…)

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Announcing Bloc’s New Designer Track

Today we are thrilled to announce our new Designer Track. This new mentor-led track ties together UX/UI and frontend curriculum so you can design stunning web sites and assets, and implement them with your frontend programming skills.

Designed to equip you with the professional-grade skills to begin a career in design, it’s a holistic, mentor-led program that offers job preparation and career placement support. With full-time and part-time options, the Designer Track is also more flexible and affordable than any in-person bootcamp.

In the final phase, you’ll spend dedicated time preparing your portfolio, practicing technical interviews, and connecting to our placement network for introductions to potential employers.

 

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10 Tips for Being Productive When Working Remotely

Remote Work, Part II

I’ve been working from home for nearly half a decade now, and it’s awesome — at times. Reducing my commute from 35 miles to 35 paces from my bedroom has helped me regain my sanity, but it’s caused issues elsewhere in my daily routine — and life for that matter.

Here’s 10 tips I’ve tried to learn and enforce to remaining productive on a daily basis as I work out of a spare bedroom in my home:

1. Wear pants — at least underwear

Every morning, get out of bed, shower, and get ready like you’re going into an office. Don’t get into a rut where you shower at noon, or better yet, forget to shower and go three days without bathing yourself. Your significant other, pet, or roommates will appreciate it if you take the time to not smell.

Once you dress yourself, put on a pair of pants. Most webcams only show from the waist up when sitting. However, even if you aren’t on a conference call, at least put on underwear — but I’d recommend actual pants. I like to act as if my camera is always running, and personally, I’d prefer no one see me pants-less.

2. Don’t become a hermit

I’ve always been in the middle of being both slightly introverted and extroverted. However, working from home has made me incredibly awkward, socially. When you lack interaction with things other than tiny children or your pets, you forget how to talk to grownups.

Try setting a day or two aside for working at a coffee shop. Find a co-working space near you so you can find friends, interact with actual real-life people, and potentially have a reason to shower on those days. (more…)

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9 Tips for Preparing to Work Remotely

Remote Work, Part I

As technology becomes more sophisticated and Internet access more ubiquitous, some companies are changing their stance on remote opportunities. FlexJobs reported a 27 percent increase in remote job listings in the past year.

Trading a life at the office for one working at home is a major life change, and the first step to completing it is finding your ideal job. We’ll review a few key tips to finding a “work from home” position, and then tell you a few things to remember as you start your new, flexible job.

Looking for remote jobs …

1. Where to look

The first step to finding a remote opportunity is finding your ideal job. Many sites exist dedicated to remote jobs, and you can begin searching at the following ones:

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Which is Better for Beginners: Full Stack Rails or Full Stack JavaScript?

Learning a programming language is a necessary step in becoming a web developer. There is no definitive choice for the best language to learn first, but Ruby and JavaScript are both great options due to their active community, resources, and job prospects. So which language is better for beginners to start with?

Readability

Rails uses the Ruby programming language, which focuses on simplicity and productivity. The creator of Ruby, Matz, designed it to have an elegant syntax that is natural to read and easy to write. Creating a loop that counts to 5 is as easy as:

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By contrast, the JavaScript equivalent is:

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JavaScript lacks Ruby’s simple elegance and focus on human readability. Ruby often looks and reads like plain English, making it easier for new developers to understand the code they are reading and writing.

Advantage: Rails (more…)

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Girl Develop It Launches Coding Bootcamp Scholarship for Women

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Today we are excited to announce that we have partnered with Girl Develop It to launch the Girl Develop It Scholarship — a scholarship promoting diversity in software development and design.

According to Corinne Warnshuis, the Executive Director of GDI, “Girl Develop It exists to provide affordable, judgment-free programs for women from diverse backgrounds to learn web and software development. We’re excited to work with Bloc as they are committing $60,000 in online skills training through their program to offer even more opportunities to our students.”

With the hope of  helping empower women around the globe to pursue their passion in web development, we are working with GDI to encourage more women to sign up and learn. Bloc is pledging $60,000 in scholarships to enable 12 GDI members to attend Bloc tuition-free.

Brittany Martin, a Bloc grad, shares that Bloc is a great place for women to learn software development, “Bloc gave me a comfortable setting for me to learn in; I was able to choose a Mentor that shared my values.”

Girl Develop It is a nonprofit organization that provides affordable and accessible programs to women who want to learn web and software development through mentorship and hands-on instruction.

Talk to one of our Student Advisors and apply here.

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Announcing Bloc’s New Full Stack Web Developer Track

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Today we are excited to announce our new Full Stack Web Developer Track. Designed to equip you with the professional-grade skills to begin a career in web development, it’s a holistic, mentor-led program that offers job preparation and career placement support. With full-time and part-time options, the Web Developer Track is also more flexible and affordable than any in-person bootcamp.

With our new Web Developer Track, you’ll begin by learning the fundamentals of backend web development before transitioning to frontend web development. In the projects phase, you’ll build 6-10 live web apps with your Mentor by your side.  After completing both the frontend and backend courses, you’ll move onto Job Prep where you’ll complete practice technical interviews before getting introduced to our Employer Network.

To learn more about our Web Developer Bootcamp, sign up for an info session!

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Beginner Builds Company’s First iOS App

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“Having a mentor really made it clear that I needed to do something. It elevates your study beyond just a hobby”

Meet Jon Jungemann, an iOS Grad

Before Bloc: Project Development, Allen Credit and Debt Counseling Agency

After Bloc: iOS Developer

Coming into Bloc, Jon wasn’t interest in a career change — he found iOS development fun, and had the idea to do freelance after he graduated.

Jon is currently working in IT, where he manages administrative work. His company offers credit counseling over the internet, and Jon enrolled in Bloc with the goal of building a free iOS budgeting tool to help clients after bankruptcy.

Jon took the opportunity to make his company’s iOS app the Capstone Project for his Bloc apprenticeship, and  he’s interested in working on his own apps down the road.

Jon’s Bloc Experience:

Experience learning with a mentor?

It was awesome experience for Jon. “You feel like you don’t know anything at the beginning and at the end, but when I’m looking back at my first couple of messages – that stuff that confused me then is now a breeze. What was hard 6 months ago isn’t necessarily what will be hard 6 months from now.”

Goals before starting Bloc?

Jon says, “I really like developing, and I want to make it a full time job.”

Best part of the Bloc experience?

For Jon, it was the mentorship – having that dedicated person to work with you by your side. He says, “learning this entirely new language can be defeating at first, but the mentor has your back. Having them by your side is hard to beat.” Considering Jon doesn’t have any peers in development who live nearby and who would be easy to get help from, his Bloc mentor was key to his learning process.

Advice for anyone who wants to learn to code, or who has just enrolled in a Bloc course?

According to Jon, “Make sure you realize the time commitment. Bloc points it out, but it’s hard to realize. It catches up with you if you bite off too much. If you’re working a full time job [on top of your Bloc work] then go slow.

“I’d recommend Bloc to anybody. If someone’s really set on being a developer, put your money into a mentorship. Most companies don’t care that you have a college degree – they want to see that you can produce. $5k is a lot cheaper than a lot of college programs.” Networking was also a huge bonus for Jon— he says he wouldn’t have met all the people he has without Bloc.

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Cask Data Engineer Shares His Bloc and Thinkful Experience

 

403280_10150471195416158_152122492_nEdwin Elia, a graduate of Bloc’s Frontend Web Development course, recently accepted a role as a Frontend Engineer at Cask Data, a Palo Alto based firm that provides a platform for developers to manage and deploy data applications. As someone who went through first Thinkful and then Bloc before landing his position as an engineer, we wanted to hear about his experience as a bootcamp grad searching for a job. He even wrote two blog posts about his bootcamp decision process, and his overall experience with Bloc and Thinkful.

On Switching Careers after Bloc

Congrats on your new job at Cask Data. Tell me about your role.

Thanks. I’m a frontend developer at Cask Data, developing Angular apps mainly. I’m currently focusing on data analytics.

Was it difficult to transition from a Business Systems Analyst to a Frontend Developer? How did you manage it?

It was actually — the data analyst job I had prior was not a coding job, so I had to build up my portfolio again. Essentially I had to relearn all programming – it took me all of 2014 to get ready.

I started with Thinkful’s frontend course, I learned HTML, JavaScript, and  jQuery. After I finished, I started applying for jobs, but found that my jQuery knowledge was not sufficient. It was hard to find companies to interview me at that stage. So, after I finished that I started going through Tealeaf academy doing their Ruby on Rails course – it gave me a great overview of an app’s architecture, but after that I still needed to develop my portfolio and algorithms skills, so I was doing a lot of practicing everyday – programing and problem solving skills. (more…)

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