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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Bloc and SportsData: Like Chips & Dip on Gameday


Today, Bloc announces a brand new partnership with SportsData, LLC. SportsData is one of the world’s leading providers of sports stats. They offer scores, play-by-plays, player statistics, and much more for a broad range of organizations including the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, and the NCAA. Their clients include IBM, NBC Sports, and even Google.

SportsData has generously committed to providing Bloc students extended trial access to their incredible platform. As our partnership grows, Bloc will release projects that build applications to replicate features found in the ESPN, 365Scores, and Yahoo Sports apps. However, students interested in using the API right away may do so in their capstone projects. (more…)

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Codecademy Learner uses Bloc to Dive Back into the Tech World

Everything has been great, everyone here is nice. You guys are doing something right.” – J. Terrell 0b664f6.jpg

Meet J. Terrell Allen, a UX/UI Design Grad

Before Bloc: Instructional Designer, Clearwire

After Bloc: Design & User Experience Director, Player’s Health

Before coming to Bloc, J. Terrell had numerous jobs and wore multiple hats.  He was once a pastry chef, photographer, designer and then an author. He picked up and moved from Atlanta to Chicago, where he continued to write and ease his way back into the tech world. He started off by teaching himself design through books, Codecademy, Code School, and Treehouse, but felt like he was alone – he spent countless hours digging through these many resources and needed someone to fill in the blanks and point him in the right direction.

But then he found Bloc, and decided to enroll. J. Terrell ended up spending 30-40 hours a week going through the program, and egging Joey, his mentor, and Bloc’s UX Design Curriculum Developer, to keep on creating new content as he was completing the program. For J. Terrell, it was great to see the curriculum change based on his feedback. Overall, he had a lot of fun completing the projects and learning the intricacies of UX Design. (more…)

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UI Designer Transforms into iOS Developer as an Employer-Sponsored Apprentice

“[My mentor] was able to bring up new things that piqued my interest and got me learning something new. He also helped me figure out how this applies to my real-world job.”avatar-new.jpg

Meet Chris Slowik, an iOS Development Grad

Before Bloc: UI Designer at CreativeDash

After Bloc: iOS Developer at CreativeDash

Chris’ interest in graphic design and development started from a young age, and continues to grow – he now works on UI design and interaction concepts in his current role.  He came to Bloc as an employer-sponsored student – his company hopes to start working on the projects they design in house, and managing their dashboard,  instead of passing on their ideas to a third party developer. He wants to shift from design to backend mobile development for his company. His company only has a couple web developers in-house, with him as the only  iOS developer.

When Chris started Bloc, he was most excited about our 1-on-1 mentorship, and liked that our curriculum fit his learning style – he prefers to learn by following a lesson plan, and gaining skills through building projects.  Chris came in hoping to create a framework for his clients and their designers to publish their own projects himself. Chris wanted to evolve more in his current role. (more…)

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Thinkful Grad Pursues UX Design Career With Bloc

“Bloc has helped me, and I already recommend it to people. When you just like something you just talk about it a lot. I show off my roadmap and tell them what they can do, too”

Meet Jeya Karthika, a UX/UI Design Grad

Before Bloc: SharePoint System Engineer, Dimension Data

After Bloc: Transitioned teams at her company, applying her UX/UI skills to new projects

Jeya is a System Engineer with a passion for design and coding websites. Her current job involves creating intra/extra-net sharepoint sites, and doing custom branding with HTML, CSS, and JS. Before coming to Bloc, Jeya picked up basic knowledge of frontend development from Thinkful, but wanted to dive deeper into user experience, and to apply user experience skills for when she prototypes ideas or creates websites.

Her Bloc and Thinkful Experiences:

Before coming to Bloc, Jeya took a  Frontend course with Thinkful, and originally thought she would expand on what she learned there with Bloc’s Design course. She’s happy with both, but now that she’s compared experiences, she’s found a few key differences.While both programs  provide a mentor to work with, Thinkful’s workload was really light, definitely for beginners, and not very challenging in Jeya’s opinion. (which you can read more about here.)

Bloc is more intensive and comprehensive, and Jeya found that she needed to put in the hours, but had more mentor sessions. Thinkful gives you 1 mentor session per week, and does not have a well-rounded education in terms of frontend – the syllabus only gets you started. She also found that with Bloc, she was able to get into the dribbble community, land a job, and have access to other really cool groups. (more…)

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Institute of Design Lecturer Builds Design Portfolio With Bloc

Meet Valeria Montrucchio, a UX Design Gradvaleria_profile_image.jpg

Before Bloc: UX Design Consultant, Program Coordinator for Product Design, Web and Graphic Lecturer at Dublin Institute of Design.

After Bloc: Interviewing

With a PhD in Design, Valeria works as a Web and Graphic Lecturer at the Dublin Institute of Design – she has international academic experience as a researcher and lecturer. Valeria came to Bloc with the goal to get a more in-depth sense of UX – she believes that everything starts with the users and wants to be a part of the building process. She is also a freelance UI and Product Design Consultant for startups and corporations.

Valeria constantly keeps up to date on the latest marketing trends and understandings – she read an article about Bloc on  TechCrunch, and even spoke with a friend who works at Google about Bloc before deciding to enroll. Wanting to move towards UX Design to cater to the user’s needs, Valeria’s interest in Bloc’s UX Design course stemmed from her desire to build a portfolio and switch careers from graphic into UX Design.

Valeria continues to lecture, and uses some of the material she picked up from Bloc’s course to shape her own teaching. She recently finished Bloc’s Job Prep program, and looks forward to interviewing for new jobs. (more…)

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Job Trends Report: The Job Market for UX Designers

Why is UX Design in high demand? What salary can a junior designer can expect to make? What are the skills employers are most interested in? We’ve compiled answers to these questions and more, with data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Design Management Institute, Unicorn Institute, MacWorld, and others.

What’s the Difference Between Web Design, UX, and UI?

Design roles come in many shapes and sizes and it’s important you understand the differences. According to Joe Baz, the CEO of  above the fold, “A UX designer is responsible for understanding both customer problems and business goals, crafting testable hypotheses, designing the solution and then vetting the solution with customers.” The UX Designer must wear multiple hats; empathizing with users, understanding the system they are working with, and solving problems.

UX and UI  are two areas within Web Design, which focuses on how visual components affect brand identity and content accessibility for the user.

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Should I learn Swift or Objective-C for iOS development?

One of the most common questions we get asked is whether students should learn Swift or Objective-C. Aaron Brager, Bloc’s iOS Course Director, shared his opinion on the subject.

Beginner students will be better served by initially learning Objective-C. Here’s why:

  • Companies aren’t hiring Swift developers yet

  • iOS Developers still need to know Objective-C

  • Swift is harder to learn

  • Swift is constantly changing

  • Swift is still buggy

Swift is good for existing developers who already know Mac or iOS development and want to learn – and help shape – a new language. Beginner developers who just want to experiment, don’t want to get an iOS developer job, and don’t mind dealing with extra bugs while they’re learning, may be interested in learning it as well.

Students need to be prepared to use Swift as these problems get resolved in the future, so at Bloc, we teach some Swift along with Objective-C.

Companies aren’t hiring Swift developers yet

Bloc is a results-driven company, and one of our most important results is that students who are desirous of a new job get one.

The App Store contains about 1.2 million apps, mostly written in Objective-C. Nearly all of the thousands and thousands of iOS developer job openings today require Objective-C knowledge. Most of the job listings that mention Swift want senior developers with Swift and Objective-C chops.

Colin Eberhardt put together some informal Swift adoption statistics in August 2014. He concludes that “iOS development activity is still predominantly Objective-C, with roughly 3x more activity vs. Swift”. He also notices spikes in Objective-C activity on weekdays, possibly indicating that Swift is currently more of a hobby. (more…)

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Should beginners learn Adobe Photoshop or Sketch?

You want to be a designer? You want to know what tools you’ll need to learn to get a job? We’re here to help.


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Adobe Photoshop

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Mac/PC Supported

*Mac Only



Extracting Assets

Reusable Elements

Built-in Grids


Adobe Photoshop has long been the tool of choice for creating mockups for web and mobile experiences. Photoshop was originally built for photographers to edit images, however, its powerful features made it easy to design beautiful, elegant, and useful websites.


A few years ago, a new tool emerged built specifically for user interface designers called Sketch, by Bohemian Coding. Since its release, some designers have adjusted their workflow to make Sketch their tool of choice. They’ve opted to ditch the robust, feature-rich Adobe software for Sketch’s simplified, extremely focused interface. Both Photoshop and Sketch have pros and cons, and we’ll share our opinion on why beginners need to learn both.


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Strong as Steel – Bloc Students Form Hackathon Team


Iron Squad – A Bloc Hacker Team

Three of our Frontend Web Development students came together to compete in Koding‘s online hackathon. Their team, Iron Squad, consisted of 5 developers. “One living in Colorado, two in New York, one in India, and I live in California,” says Jennifer. Like many of Bloc Hacker Teams, “most of us have never met in person,” Jennifer adds. But they keep in touch via Basecamp, Google Hangouts, and email.

Irwin was new to programming, whereas Jennifer had a background in developing software in a variety of languages, and Cameron had dipped his toes into coding.

Their goal was to create a more accurate translation application.  Ultimately, their team placed in the top 100 apps submitted to the Hackathon. They continue to update their translation app, and plan on entering into more online hackathons together. (more…)

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