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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Android Spotlight Alumni


Wayne Johnson, an Android Spotlight Alum5774941203659906842

Before Bloc, Wayne was a: pilot for United Airlines.

After Bloc Wayne is now: a Bloc Android developer.

Why did he enroll in Bloc? Considering Wayne flies so often, he hopes to make an on-the-fly translation device, to help him with currency conversions.

Wayne’s video on his app, moneyLENS:





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49ers’ Video Producer Founds Midnight Express in Less Than 10 Days

Meet Michael Horton, a UX Design Grad!bloc_pic.jpg

Before Bloc: Video Producer for the San Francisco 49ers

After Bloc: Entrepreneur

Michael came into Bloc as a video producer for the San Francisco 49ers with the goal to become a freelance designer. His interest in graphic design sparked when he helped his friend develop an app, but Michael realized that he needed more experience and confidence in the field in order for him to become a freelance designer. Before deciding on Bloc, Michael researched various options:; some certificate programs at universities, and others online – he finally found the right fit with Bloc. He appreciated the real-world projects that were offered, as well as havinga mentor by his side.

Michael’s Bloc experience was something he really enjoyed; the real-world projects, hypothetical client questions he and his mentor worked through, and getting all of his small questions answered by his mentor was really beneficial Michael considers his Mentor, Mike, a friend of his and has made plans to meet up again after graduation.

Since graduating, Michael’s startup, Midnight Express, has taken off. His company provides late-night bus service from San Francisco to the South Bay. It’s been featured in the Bold Italic, 7×7, Fox, Mission Local, and Metro Silicon Valley to name a few. When Michael posted Midnight Express to Dribbble, he received a tremendous amount of positive feedback. According to Joey Kirk, Bloc’s UX Design Course Director, “[Michael’s] debut is leading the top of popular shots right now, and I would say easily the best debut by one of our students ever on Dribbble.” (more…)

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English Professor Makes the Transition to Web Designer

Meet Abdullah Alger, a Frontend Grad!3a561cf.jpg

Before Bloc: English Professor and Module Leader

After Bloc: Freelance Web Designer/Developer

With a love and interest in technology, Abdullah finds excitement in the never-ending opportunities with the technical world today. As professor with a PhD in Old English poetry, and multiple degrees in English Renaissance literature and technical writing, Abdullah is particularly interested in technology that helps others with their academic work.

Abdullah currently lives in Cairo, Egypt, teaching English research writing at the British University in Cairo. He has lived all over the world – from the US (Seattle, San Francisco, Honolulu) to the UK, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and now Egypt.

Abdullah had some prior knowledge coming into Bloc – he’s dabbled in HTML since 1997, and has some experience in CSS. He joined Bloc for our mentorship-based-approach to education so he could learn  JavaScript.

After a stellar apprenticeship, Abdullah is now enrolled in our Job Prep Program preparing himself for the next step. (more…)

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Software Architect for Motorola Switches Careers to Entrepreneur

“Sameer was an exceptional student. He quit his high-paying job and basically worked on Bloc full time. He was well prepared and went above and beyond with the projects.”- Falko, Sameer’s mentor1319576.jpg

Meet Sameer Totey, an iOS Grad!

Before Bloc: Software Architect for Motorola/ Printrak

After Bloc: Entrepreneur

Fascinated by the mobile platform, Sameer came to Bloc with the desire to reboot his career and make the return to writing code.

With a Masters degree in Computer Science, Sameer is no stranger to software development – he has extensive experience and a firm understanding of multiple frameworks. Sameer researched Ruby on Rails, Backbone.js, and Angular.js when he discovered Bootstrap, and was blown away by its ability to transform the appearance of mobile devices.

After that, Sameer set out to enroll in an iOS development bootcamp – he came to Bloc with the goal to develop modern applications, and produce as many of them as possible. He and his friends devoted part of their time working on an app for potlucks – a simple user interface where people can see a list of items that others are bringing to the get-together.

As a graduate of Bloc, Sameer is still building apps on his own and will eventually pitch them to the app store. His long term goal is to become an entrepreneur, and land a job as an iOS developer. (more…)

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8 Steps to Get the Most out of Your Developer Bootcamp Experience

As told by Bloc Alumni, Mentors, and Program Coordinators

With different backgrounds, experiences, and jobs, 7 Alumni, 4 Mentors, and 2 of our Program Coordinators came together to share the best practices to ensure success.

Step 1: Make Sure Programming Is The Right Thing For You

We were surprised by how many students echoed this same advice: take the time to ensure you have a genuine interest in programming. One of the best ways to do this is to work through a free tutorial or the bootcamp’s prerequisites. Brittany speaks for the majority of our alums when she says:

IMG_3160.jpgProspective students should make sure that coding is something they genuinely enjoy, and that it’s not just an option in order to get a job. If you really want to do this, you have to make sure you’ve taken some time to figure out whether or not it’s a good fit for you.

Getting started with some free tutorials can ensure you get the most out your time in the program. Before enrolling, Jay  took this step and gained more confidence:

jay-ottenstein.jpgI did a couple online tutorials; this gave me enough of a foundation to really understand what I was getting into with Bloc, and to prevent any major surprises in the foundation stage of my apprenticeship.

Step 2: Leverage Your Program Coordinator

Not only will you have a Mentor by your side, but a Program Coordinator as well. Our Program Coordinators at Bloc serve as guidance counselors, and work with you to ensure a great experience.


The students who over-communicate their goals and when their struggling are consistently the most successful. Make sure me and your mentor know your goals for enrolling, and we will work with your Course Director and the mentor community to help make it happen.

photoIt can be scary when you’re investing a whole bunch of money and time in something. Definitely speak up- it’s super important to reach out to your Program Coordinator to make sure you are continually getting exactly what you expected.


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Frontend Grad Creates BodyByYou

“I think Nick was awesome and great – I love that guy.” -Irwin on his mentor, Nick. 1069341_10201760701602725_666526912_n.jpg

Meet Irwin Litvak, a Frontend Grad!

Before: Financial Data Associate

After: Frontend Angular Web Developer

After realizing that finance wasn’t the right fit for him, Irwin invested his time in work that not only he enjoyed, but benefited others, as well as being a part of a company where his ideas really mattered. After spending a copious amount of time researching bootcamps, he finally decided on Bloc after his friend, a frontend developer, recommended Bloc.

Having some experience with HTML and CSS, Irwin was ready to dive into Bloc’s curriculum- he had already completed the prep work, and felt confident coming in. After joining the Bloc Hacker Club, a community where Bloc students and mentors can work on projects, discuss opportunities and challenge each other to develop and maintain great habits. Irwin found help from other members in his same position, and eventually formed a team with two other Bloc students to compete in Hackathons with. With the goal to make a career change and become a web developer, Irwin completely invested himself in his studies and made it his job to reach this goal.


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Dental Worker Turned Web Developer Creates “The Fancy Pants Report”

Meet Tyler Ball, a Frontend Grad

13253_10102554510532247_151755134_nBefore Bloc: Employee in a dental office

After Bloc:Web Developer

Tyler joined Bloc ready to change his career and dive into the world of web development. Tyler studied  HTML, CSS, and some Javascript in his free time to fuel his interests. As a college graduate, Tyler had a fervor for dentistry, and worked in a dental office ever since. Yet, he found himself drawn to web development, and interested in technology. Even though he completed his undergrad with a  B.S. in Biology, Tyler decided to help his girlfriend build a website for her blog- The Fancy Pants Report. Ever since then, Tyler’s curiosity and interest in technology morphed into an obsession; one he was finally ready to pursue. Codecademy, Treehouse, and Code School allowed him to craft his skill set. With a full time job, he carved out free time to work through tutorials.

When Tyler stumbled across Bloc, and instantly felt exhilarated. Jumping right into the material, he was put at ease knowing he was getting help from someone fully engrossed in the tech scene. The fit was perfect.


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Ultimate Guide to Frontend Bootcamps


Frontend developers ensure web applications are well-designed, responsive, and friendly to touch on mobile devices. Thanks to frontend frameworks like AngularJS, frontend programming is becoming a more important part of the web development stack.  These new frontend frameworks allow developers to move programming logic and data that was once restricted to server-side development onto the frontend, which increases the speed and interactivity of user-facing functionality.

Meanwhile, the market demand for frontend developers continues to rise.  As a result of this market demand, and the increasing power of what can be accomplished on the frontend, a range of frontend bootcamps and courses have emerged. So we compiled the below list of top courses and programs. In this post, we’ll describe each course, and offer some opinions and recommendations. But first, let’s clarify a few things about frontend web development.


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Ultimate Guide to Ruby Bootcamps

Ruby Header Coding Bootcamps have erupted onto the scene just in the past three years and today there are *over fifty bootcamps* teaching Ruby on Rails alone. While some of these programs are well-oiled machines, others are just getting off the ground. So we decided to create a comprehensive guide — the kinda thing we wish someone had written for us.


Meet Ben – Web Dev Program Directorben-circle

Ben is Director of Full Stack Web Development at Bloc, where he takes a holistic view of the program, iterating on the curriculum and managing Bloc’s Mentor team. Before that, Ben spent two years as a Mentor and helped over 40 students become full stack developers.  Prior to that, Ben was a web developer at Uceem and A10 Networks.



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