Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics: Coding Bootcamps and the Authenticity of Placement Rates

by Roshan Choxi, Co-Founder and CEO


We’ve never formalized our core values at Bloc, but if you surveyed our employees you would probably see authenticity in the top three most cited responses — followed closely by swag and batman. We’ll focus on authenticity today.

Authenticity is a word that we use very specifically, and we don’t use it to mean the same thing as honesty or transparency. The easiest way I’ve found to articulate the difference is to explain it in the context of someone asking a question:

Honesty is truthfully answering the question someone asked.

Authenticity is truthfully answering the question someone intended to ask.

Transparency is a bulk CSV export of your data.

Here’s an example: when we raised our Series A investment last year, a few of my friends asked me if I was now a millionaire.

An honest answer would be yes. On paper, if we had hypothetically raised a round with a post-money valuation over $5M and I owned at least 20% of the company I would have 20% x $5M = $1M ownership in a privately valued company and could technically be considered a millionaire.

The authentic answer would be no, not even close. The question my friends intended to ask was “do you have a million dollars of liquid cash that you can spend to buy me a Tesla Model S?” And the answer to that question is decidedly “no”,  unless Elon would accept Bloc equity as cash.


The developer bootcamp industry has an obsession with something called “the placement rate number.” It’s meant to measure a program’s efficacy by quantifying the percentage of graduates who successfully start careers as developers.

Bloc is one of few programs that has never advertised a placement rate. Prospective students are eager to ask us for this statistic, and I don’t necessarily blame them given how appealing it is to use a simple benchmark to compare programs.  We don’t publish a placement rate though, as we believe it would potentially conflict with our commitment to authenticity, not because we lack confidence in the efficacy of our program.

When a prospective student asks us “what is your placement rate?” we could honestly say anywhere between 0-100% depending on how we qualify our answer.  We could, today, say that 99% of our students find jobs after they graduate from Bloc in a way that is both technically honest and legally defensible, but not authentic or ethical. It’s not very difficult to game that statistic.

Screen Shot 2015-11-20 at 11.07.56 AM

99% of our “splorkdents” find “globs” within 90 days of “schmanuating”.

Credit: SMBC Comics.

The truly authentic answer has nothing to do with statistics though. The question our students intend to ask is closer to “Does your program work?” or more specifically “Will your program work for me?” We’ve found a better way to answer that question: our Software Engineering Track comes with a tuition reimbursement policy for students who are unable to find new careers in software development after graduating, and now our students don’t have to worry about landing on the wrong side of a program’s 90% placement rate.

When there are programs with less than 20 grads touting a 100% placement rate and dozens of hidden qualifications, that number devolves from a transparent industry benchmark to a disingenuous marketing prop. While we look for authentic and quantifiable ways to evaluate program quality, I’ll encourage students to dig deeper: ask about the curriculum, background and experience of instructors, tuition and opportunity costs, and the hidden qualifications of these placement rate numbers.

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Introducing the Software Engineering Track, Our CS Degree Killer

by Roshan Choxi, Co-Founder & CEO

A Brief History of Bootcamps

The last five years have been host to exciting innovations at the cross section of technology and education. Codecademy’s Code Year launched in January 2012 under the banner of “coding is the new literacy” where we witnessed the unlikely celebrities of Mayor Bloomberg and Will.I.Am championing the democratization of technical skills. Udacity and Coursera brought lecture material from Ivy League universities to the masses. Pluralsight, Lynda, and Udemy built libraries of video lessons, and the fledgling bootcamp industry emerged.

At Bloc, we remember the origins of this industry well, as we first began mentoring students from our home/office over Google Hangout sessions and Shereef Bishay taught the first Dev Bootcamp cohort over on Market Street in San Francisco. Founders of several other bootcamps –Hack Reactor, App Academy, and Hackbright – would emerge from the first Dev Bootcamp cohort. General Assembly shifted from a Manhattan co-working space into vocational technology classrooms. Traditional technology education was stale, expensive, and disconnected from its goal of creating job-ready graduates. Bootcamps offered a better way for students to start careers in technology by focusing entirely on pragmatic training in web development. In an 8-week program,* students learned enough to land a career at tech companies whose need for developers and designers was not met by traditional education.

Employer-Driven Education

Bootcamps emerged from challenging an assumption of higher education and asking the question: what skills do employers really want? And do those skills require 4 years, $80,000 and an “accredited” degree to learn? Coding bootcamps improved education for aspiring developers by starting from the skills employers want and working backward from there. Bootcamps range from 10-24 weeks, cost $10-21K, and often provide better outcomes than most colleges. Today, there are over 100 bootcamps with a combined estimated market of $180M, up from $0 in 2011.**

After initial skepticism, engineering leaders and hiring managers have been pleasantly surprised by how much bootcamp graduates learn in a short period of time. Bootcamp grads focus 100% on pragmatic developer training and they are capable of producing their first day on the job. They’ve built applications in modern web stacks, have experience working collaboratively using Git and GitHub, and understand how to ship features from idea to deployment.

However, if traditional computer science education had become too divorced from pragmatic developer training, bootcamps may have swung the pendulum too far in the opposite direction and lack some of the foundational principles of software engineering.

Here’s what employers are saying:

“Students leave knowing how to build a web app and write basic JS but there is NO instinct for when to use it or why they are using a tool.That was a huge part of undergrad that I’m uncovering only because I’m seeing this other side.” — Engineer, Nest/Google

“[Bootcamp grads] can often code regular problems but don’t understand what goes on under the covers. Since much of my experience is with mobile devices, understanding what happens underneath a call to an algorithm or the use of a data structure can be critical to get desired performance.” — Adam Fineman, Director of Platform Architecture at Amazon

“[Bootcamp grads often lack] computational understanding of what will cause problems with scale [and understanding the] nuances of different languages and what they are good for and why as opposed to just how to use them.” — Matthew Mengerink, VP of Engineering at YouTube

“The hiring market is saturated with people coming out of bootcamps – we can hire a few but don’t want to hire too many. The other thing we really like to see is someone who graduated from a bootcamp, then did something “real” – a job elsewhere, or an apprenticeship, or created a startup. Then we consider them on par with someone with a CS degree.” — Ross Bell, Engineering Manager at Trunk Club

The majority of the employers we spoke with have hired bootcamp graduates and are happy with those hires. Employers are generally impressed with how much a bootcamp grad can learn in such a short period of time, but concede that — despite its flaws — computer science universities are teaching their students for four years and it’s difficult for any bootcamp to compete with that. Bootcamps are a breakthrough over traditional education, but there are opportunities for improvement by preserving some of the fundamentals of a computer science degree.

The Software Engineering Track

Using feedback from the most highly regarded engineering teams at companies like Google, Facebook, and Twitter, today we’re launching Bloc’s Software Engineering Track. We’re taking the pragmatic training of a bootcamp and combining it with the foundational principles of software engineering to create a program that is a cut above every other bootcamp and computer science university.

Programming Learning Curve


The program will be 48-week full-time or 72-week part-time, online, and cost $24,000. It will be broken up into four phases:

  • Backend Web Development
  • Frontend Web Development
  • Software Engineering Principles
  • Open Source Apprenticeship or Paid Internship

The first half of the program covers the curriculum of most bootcamps as students learn full stack web development. The second half incorporates feedback from employers to teach the principles of software engineering: data structures, algorithms, relational databases, and framework design. In the final phase, students work on creating and contributing to open source projects, while some eligible students may apply for a paid internship at Bloc (and eventually other employer partners).

To demonstrate our confidence in this program, we’re offering full tuition reimbursement if students are unable to find a new career within 120 days of graduating.***

The Future of Technology Education

With our new program that combines the best elements of traditional computer science education and vocational developer bootcamps, we will produce software engineers that are ounce for ounce as good as those from MIT, Stanford, and even our own alma mater the University of Illinois. Computer science education is evolving, and we are preparing students to excel in an economy where every company is a technology company.

Learn more about Bloc’s Software Engineering Track.


* The first DevBootcamp and Bloc programs were 8 weeks long

** From Course Report’s 2015 Bootcamp Market Size Study:

*** Including other restrictions

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Veterans Thrive in Coding Bootcamps

When considering a new career after military service, a different type of bootcamp is allowing veterans to excel in today’s tech economy.

The transition from military to civilian life can be an agonizing process for many veterans. Members of the military spend years cloistered in a separate world, building hyper-specialized skills and networks that do not easily translate to lucrative opportunities in the civilian job market. The good news is that coding bootcamps may just be the ticket to affordable and rapid career advancement for service men and women.

Coding bootcamps are accelerated programs that teach software development skills to folks who want to switch careers or shore-up their coding skills. Coding bootcamps can be online or in-person, full-time or part-time, and can span anywhere from 12-72 weeks, depending on weekly time commitment.

Bootcamps, whether of the military or coding variety, are intense. Like basic training, coding bootcamps are highly structured and require extraordinary focus for hours everyday. The attributes that make a good soldier – mental toughness, discipline, focus, and attention to detail – closely align with the attributes that make a good developer, as learning to code isn’t a walk in the park. At Bloc, we’ve seen veterans excel in our program and go on to promising new careers in software development, one of the fastest growing (and highest paying) job markets.


Transitioning To Civilian Life is Hard

After leaving the military, many veterans struggle to figure out how to fit into the civilian workforce. Though the military has some resources to help, many veterans don’t take advantage of them because they don’t know what’s available or give up trying to navigate the highly bureaucratic benefits system. Johnathan Smith, an administrative specialist in the Marine Corps from 2005-2009 and a recent Bloc grad, explained, “Getting out of the military is actually quite awful. It’s not a smooth transition process at all.”

Johnathan Smith

Johnathan Smith – Veteran and Recent Coding Bootcamp Grad

One of the biggest problems facing vets upon leaving active duty, is that many don’t have the skills necessary to launch careers in the fast-growing technology industry. Instead many take manual labor jobs after they leave the military because without a college degree and relevant work experience, employers don’t give them a second look.

Recognizing that many veterans and their spouses face these challenges, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden launched Joining Forces, a nationwide initiative focused on expanding employment and career development opportunities for veterans, in April, 2011.

Even though some vets are eligible for paid tuition under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, many choose not to go to college, as it is often ill-suited for them. They are older, get married younger, have been put in highly strenuous situations and generally grow up much faster than the typical college student. Balancing academic pursuits with family and financial obligations is a constant struggle for vets that often forces them to drop out of school.

The Facts For Features: Veterans Day 2014 report released by the U.S. Census Bureau, says that in 2013 only 26.8% of veterans 25 years and older had a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 29.9% of non-veterans. While the Million Records Project, a study spearheaded to analyze the efficacy of the GI Bill, found that 52% of the sampled veteran students earned a college degree or certificate, compared to 54% of non-veteran students.


Coding Bootcamps Are Working For Vets

Robert Cox, one of our recent grads and a member of the Marine Corps Reserves, had taken a few computer science courses at the University of Alabama, but dropped out due to family struggles. That brief exposure to technology stuck with him, and he dabbled with basic online coding resources such as Treehouse to get his feet wet with programming concepts. When he got serious about pursuing a career in software development, he enrolled in Bloc, where he received a veterans scholarship. He received a loan from Navy Federal to pay for the remainder.

For Cox and other veteran students, a coding bootcamp is a better fit than pursuing a four year computer science degree. Coding bootcamps are, at the very least, a third of the price, require an eighth of the time, and teach more directly relevant skills for in-demand positions in software development.

The biggest value veterans get out of their coding bootcamp training is hands-on experience from the project work included in the curriculum. For example, through his capstone project, Cox built a website for his sister’s monogramming business, a project that otherwise likely would have cost her thousands but allowed Cox to demonstrate his coding skills.

Robert Cox Smaller

Robert Cox – At His First Software Apprentice Job Post Bloc

Upon graduation, not only did Cox have a solid portfolio of real applications, but he also had a strong recommendation from his mentor. These accomplishments helped him secure a Software Developer Apprenticeship role at a startup in North Carolina, where he works for and learns from experienced web developers. Of his military friends, Robert said, “They have no idea the startup scene that I’m working in now even exists. People from the military would thrive in the startup industry because they were trained to work under extreme pressure.”

It’s no accident that we are seeing veterans flourish in our programs, as the characteristics required to excel at the craft of software development, especially in high-paced startup environments, are so closely aligned with the qualities that servicemen and women develop in the military.

Coding bootcamps solve problems that have haunted veterans for decades in a unique way, despite no federal funding. For veterans a coding bootcamp is a no brainer as the practical skills can translate quickly into increased income potential and career momentum.

In 2014 we launched the Bloc Veterans Program which offers veterans $500 off any of Bloc’s programs. In honor of veterans day we are upping the ante on our Veterans Program to $2000 off our Full Stack Developer Track for the month of November. Veterans looking to kickstart their future in software development can apply here.

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Ruby on Rails Job Trends Report

Are you thinking about switching careers and becoming a web developer?

We researched the job market for developers to create this single Ruby on Rails job trends report, which brings together data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics,, PayScale, O’Reilly Radar, and more.

1 Million More Jobs Than Students

According to the  Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2010 there were over 900,000 software developer jobs posted, with an expected increase of 30% by 2020. There’s also the often-cited analysis from that underscored the widening gap between supply and demand (the yellow wedge below).

Screen Shot 2014-11-19 at 4.24.56 PM



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How a Top Programming Bootcamp Can Get You Ready for a Job as a Software Developer

Today’s modern programming bootcamps promise job readiness upon graduation, and in this post we’ll discuss how they deliver on that pledge. While Bloc wrote this for Bloc, this content applies to most well-known programming bootcamps (e.g. Hack Reactor, MakerSquare, Dev Bootcamp). We’ll explore three features that bootcamps provide to help students prepare for their new careers.



First and foremost, a programming bootcamp imbues students with the necessary skills required for their new career. For Bloc’s Full Stack Developer Track, that means Ruby on Rails, Ruby, Javascript, the command line, Git, GitHub, and many more technologies. Though similar, each bootcamp instructs a slightly different set of skills. The industry finds most (if not all) of these skills relevant and highly sought-after. Regardless where a student studies or the tech stack they master, it is a good bet that career opportunities await on the other side.

More importantly, the software industry is one where within a year’s time or less, an up-and-coming tech stack can overthrow the standard – the industry changes all the time. Bootcamps employ working professionals who incorporate the latest technologies into the curriculum to combat the sector’s ever-changing landscape. These individuals filter the noise to discover the technological shifts critical to their student’s education and success.

Bootcamps also have students engage and master soft skills, such as Agile and Test-Driven development (TDD). Agile is a project management paradigm that is prevalent among many startups and established companies. Similarly, many organizations follow TDD practices that require developers to write tests before writing the code that runs the application. Bootcamps that employ these soft skills better prepare their students for their future work environments.

For a complete list of technical topics covered in Bloc’s Full Stack Developer Track, refer to our Rails and Frontend technology resources.



Every developer should have a portfolio. For seasoned developers, it is a combination of projects worked on in corporate, contract, open source, and personal environments. For bootcamp graduates, the stakes are not quite as high. However, a bootcamp helps students build a modest portfolio of two to four fully functional, well-designed applications.

A portfolio reflects upon a student’s ability to apply their new skills and create something of their own. During an interview, students not only have applications to talk about, but may open up a laptop and show their interviewer said applications, what they do, and how they work. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a working application is worth 10,000 lines of code (or something like that).

At Bloc, we require students to complete three projects before they graduate, and many often build more than that. We help students along the way, guiding them with mentorship and high-level architecture concepts. Students may also choose to develop a capstone project, one that is entirely of their own design. Students often graduate Bloc with an excellent showcase project or even a full portfolio of apps.

Job Preparation


A skilled student with an excellent portfolio of applications is ready for one last thing: the job hunt. Bootcamps that aim to find gainful employment for their students will prepare them for the arduous task of looking for career opportunities. This begins with the fundamentals: resumes, online profiles (LinkedIn, GitHub, StackOverflow) and cover letters.

Most bootcamps go much further, often requiring the student to participate in mock phone screens and in-person interviews. This includes practicing interview questions, both technical and otherwise.

Once a student is adequately prepared for an actual job search, the bootcamp and its partners work together to find employment opportunities for them. Bootcamps have extensive networks of mentors, recruiters, and corporate partners that want to snatch up talent before losing it to the competition.

Established companies such as Autodesk, Starbucks, and Groupon have hired our graduates. Bloc’s mentors, and even Bloc itself, have hired graduates in the past, a practice that has resulted in great outcomes on both sides.

If a bootcamp can endow a student with fundamental skills, a stunning portfolio of applications, and the tools required to begin a job hunt, it prepares that student for a career as a software developer.


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How to Become a Web Developer with GDI and Bloc: Ashton Levier’s Story

Ashton Levier is a teacher turned web developer who’s proof that anyone can change careers and become a web developer. 


Originally from Louisiana, Ashton moved to Salt Lake City, Utah in search of snowboarding powder and more tech career opportunities. Her friend introduced her to Girl Develop It (GDI), a non-profit organization that provides accessible programs to women who want to learn software development.

Once Ashton got her feet wet with programming, she applied to GDI’s Scholarship In Web Development and became the 1st ever scholarship winner! The scholarship allowed her to enroll in Bloc and accelerate her web development learning with a world-class curriculum and  one-on-one mentorship.

Before even finishing her program, Ashton received three job offers, and has been able to fulfill her childhood dream of becoming a web developer.

Looking for a bit of advice on how to become a web developer? Check out Ashton’s Q and A below. Not a Girl Develop It Member? That’s okay. You may be eligible for Bloc’s Diversity and Veterans scholarship!


Q: Where are you working now and what do you do?

I’m a Web Developer at SCHAWEL+COLES, an e-commerce optimization dev shop where I help build e-commerce sites for clients. There are eight developers in the office and four who work remotely. I get to learn a lot from them by talking to clients and sitting in on meetings.

I’m doing mostly front-end development, which means working with html, css, jquery, and php on the back-end.


Q: What were you doing before you became a Web Developer?

I originally started my career in education after graduating from McNeese State University in 2010. Growing up, I always had an interest in tinkering with computers and code, but was never given the opportunity to consider web development as a career path.

I moved to Utah because it offered me a place to be surrounded by peers in the tech industry as well as fulfill my passion for the outdoors. Where else can you snowboard, float a river, and go hiking in the same day?!


Q: What is Girl Develop it? Why did you get involved?

Girl Develop It is an organization that provides programs to women who want to learn software development. Their hack nights are great for anyone interested in playing with code in a female friendly environment. They’ve got chapters in over 50 cities, so there may be one near you!

I joined GDI in 2012 when a friend of mine introduced me to the organization. Getting involved in GDI gave me the confidence to realize I could have a really great career that I loved.  It was tons of fun and really helpful. It was nice to be a part of a community and be able to ask people questions.

At subsequent hack nights, I got to build on my skills, learned other languages, and realize that web development was what I wanted to do for a career.


Q: How did you hear about Bloc?

GDI helped me learn the basics of programming, but I a more thorough education would be crucial to get me job-ready.

Through my Salt Lake City GDI Chapter, I heard about Bloc through their Scholarship in Web Development. It’s a scholarship that GDI and Bloc have partnered on to promote women in tech. If you’re not a GDI member though, Bloc also has a Coding Bootcamp Diversity Scholarship that any women or minority can apply for as well.


Q: How did Bloc help prepare you for this role?

Bloc taught me all aspects of development needed if I were to get hired and gave me a personal mentor, which was unbelievably helpful. Understanding git, learning about the back-end, how to write clean code, etc. All of these things I learned with their curriculum and mentorship program.

My mentor Adam Louise was the best! It’s so much easier to have your questions answered 1-on-1. He hit a lot on philosophical points, like best practices that you wouldn’t necessarily know about, and was really good about explaining why things are done and why you should do them a certain way, instead of just how they are done which is really important.

When you’re lost or confused, it’s tough to ask questions among 30 other students. Any opportunity to have a more intimate learning environment with an open-door 1-on-1 policy is much better. I always felt comfortable to ask questions and felt like I had a real support system from my mentor who knew my learning pace and abilities.


Q: How was the job hunt?

Not easy! I sweat through a lot of interviews, but I finally hit my stride and had three job offers and a plethora of opportunities!

There’s no way I would have been doing what I’m doing, or be as confident, if it wasn’t for GDI and Bloc.

My boss at SCHAWEL+COLES told me that they were looking for a full-stack dev, so for me to now have those skills was a huge factor in me getting hired. They really liked how they could pay me a front-end salary, yet I could still learn the back-end. I was an investment and as I learn and gain more skills my position and responsibilities will grow and evolve.


Q: How’s the tech scene in Salt Lake City, Utah?

I think in the last 5 years, Adobe, HP, Ebay, overstock, and Discover have all moved here. If you look at job boards in Utah, most jobs are in technology. There are so many opportunities!

I’m originally from Lake Charles, Louisiana, and the only way you can get a job in tech in that area is if you went to New Orleans or Houston and even then the opportunities and salaries aren’t so great.


Q: Do you have any advice for other women and minorities?

It’s really important to be confident in yourself and your abilities. As long as you put the time in, you can do it. You shouldn’t give yourself any excuse not to become a developer. If you are looking for a job while taking a bootcamp, be upfront about where you are with your course. Let them know what you have already learned and what you will learn.

If you want to become a developer, you don’t need to spend $40k at university to do it. There are plenty of opportunities to learn to code without studying it in college. Bloc is one of them.


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Bloc Curriculum Developers Share Their Favorite 10 Pre-Bootcamp Tutorials

Bootcamps are designed to prepare you for a new job as a developer, but admission into many bootcamps, and success during their programs, can depend heavily on how much you’ve learned before applying.

With many code schools and dev bootcamps like Hack Reactor and Flatiron School boasting acceptance rates as low as 3%, learning on your own has become crucial to gaining admission. For students who want to start learning on their own, but aren’t sure how to get started, we asked a few of our Course Directors (who manage our online developer and design bootcamp programs), to review the admissions criteria and pre-work required at a sampling of bootcamps, and pick the 10 best tutorials to prepare you.

This list has been divided up based on what program you’re looking at, Ruby on Rails, JavaScript, or iOS. Each tutorial has been carefully critiqued by the directors here at Bloc. We understand that no tutorial is perfect, which is why the directors have provided honest assessments.

If you are still on the fence about enrolling in a bootcamp, this list will help you too! These tutorials will give you a taste of what programming is like and allow you to work at your own pace.


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Are You Job Ready? Tidy up These Public Profiles

If you’ve graduated from a coding bootcamp and you’re ready for that amazing new career opportunity, double check your internet profiles before sending off your résumé. Recruiters look at your social standing and public contributions in addition to your résumé and achievements.

Do not give them a reason to turn you down! When in doubt, go through this list and clean up any issues you may have with your public profiles.


It is likely that your bootcamp program required you to create a GitHub account. Your actual work speaks louder than your credentials. Employers will look at your GitHub account to discover your level of activity in the community and the quality of your code. Follow these steps to make sure your GitHub profile stands out:

  • Use the same, professional headshot that you included with your LinkedIn profile for your GitHub avatar
  • Synchronize all of your projects with GitHub to show off as much of your quality work as possible
  • For each project, provide an immaculate README file that includes the description, a how-to, purpose, screenshots, and link to a live demo (if applicable)
  • Clean up your code by searching for any TODOs or inappropriate code comments, e.g. `// Seriously, how the f@*% does this even work?`
  • Contribute to your projects as often as you have time to do so, this will help fill in your activity histogram


If you don’t have a LinkedIn account just yet, we highly encourage you to create one. LinkedIn is a great way to connect professionally and provides an interactive, social-proofed résumé alternative that shines a bit brighter than your typical black and white PDF. Make sure your profile has these valuable elements:

  • A professional, well-lit head and shoulders portrait of you as your profile picture
  • A summary that explains your transformative career journey and the goals you wish to achieve
  • Past work experiences that show off your leadership, teamwork, and perseverance
  • Recommendations from former co-workers (don’t be afraid to ask for them)
  • A list of skills that includes the valuable trade craft you learned during your bootcamp (languages, frameworks, tools, etc.)
  • Your bootcamp experience listed under your education with a detailed description of what you learned
  • Links to portfolio projects (GitHub repositories) that you have completed

This list is not entirely conclusive, but it’s a great start. The more detail, recommendations, connections, awards, and skills you can list, the better. A full LinkedIn résumé looks impressive and shows your dedication.

Stack Overflow

Every day, hundreds of thousands of developers descend upon Stack Overflow to do their jobs look for answers to their code-related questions. Most questions on SO are answered by senior developers, which puts beginners at a disadvantage. However, there’s still plenty you can do to improve your reputation on SO:

  • Again, use a professional photograph for your avatar – are we beating a dead horse?
  • Search through newly posted, unanswered questions routinely until you see something that sparks your interest; do your best to solve the problem and provide an answer, even if it’s not perfect
  • If you find questions without verified answers and you think you might know the solution, take a shot at it
  • When you search for answers yourself, remember to upvote the solutions that worked for you
  • When you fail to find the question you’re looking for on SO, ask it yourself and encourage responses by commenting on the answers and thanking those who did

Personal Portfolio

Not every developer has one and it is certainly not required, but at Bloc we promote the creation of your own portfolio website. You can create one for free with GitHub’s pages. In your portfolio, you should have the following elements:

  • A unique style that represents you professionally and aesthetically
  • Links to your other online profiles: GitHub, LinkedIn, Stack Overflow, etc.
  • A screenshot and link to every project on GitHub
  • A downloadable copy of your résumé
  • An About page that resembles your LinkedIn summary (who, what, why?)
  • A blog that features your bootcamp exploits and other programming-related content (challenges you overcame, projects you are interested in working on, etc.)
  • And did you think we’d let you off the hook without a PROFESSIONAL HEADSHOT?

Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and More

These social networks are not critical to your success, but you wouldn’t want a recruiter stumbling across something they may misinterpret or find grossly offensive. Personally, we love grotesque and inappropriate humor at Bloc, but that’s not everybody’s deal. If you think your potential employers would find it in poor taste, consider the following:

  • Purge your social networks of questionable content, if you have any doubt about a post, just delete it
  • Filter the posts by privacy level to ensure that any public content is seemingly innocent and innocuous
  • If you belong to groups of questionable moral character (for the lols, of course), rescind your membership for the time being

And that’s it! If you followed all of these tips, your online presence is now shinier than an olympic gold medal and every bit as valuable (okay not really, but whatever, DAD).

Are you still looking into bootcamps and have interest in a new career? Check out Bloc’s Full Stack Web Developer Career Track.

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Three Truths About Coding Bootcamp Job Placement Rates

If you’re interested in placement rates, you’re likely considering in-person coding bootcamps and are willing to commit the time required to be successful. That mindset is a great signal — and it’s essential to succeeding in the crafts of software development and design.

Many coding bootcamps advertise incredibly high job placement rates. For example:

  • Hack Reactor says 99% of their graduates “receive at least one full-time job offer within 3 months of graduating.”
  • General Assembly claims a “99% placement rate in [your] field of study.”
  • App Academy maintains “98% of our graduates have offers or are working in tech jobs. In 2014, SF graduates received an average salary of $105,000; in 2014, NY graduates received an average salary of $89,000.”

This type of placement rate is sometimes marketing masquerading as a statistic. Here are three things you should know about placement rates:


1. There’s No Industry Standard

Unlike many other similar-sounding statistics, like the national employment rate, college job placement rates, and mean annual wages by position, the phrase “job placement rate” when applied to a coding bootcamp doesn’t mean anything specific. The data represented may be meaningful, but since there’s no standard, it doesn’t make sense to compare rates from different bootcamps to each other.

Here are a few unanswered questions:

  • What time periods are being compared?
  • If a student finds employment a year or more after their graduation date, is it considered a placement?
  • Should we count jobs unrelated to the studied field?
  • Are freelancers employed?
  • Should we count part-time roles?
  • How do we account for entrepreneurs and others who don’t intend to find a new job?
  • In which cities are graduates getting jobs? How do “average” salaries skew by location?

Unlike many other marketing claims, no government agency regulates coding bootcamp placement rates.

Bloc doesn’t believe in stating a strong opinion about something that is poorly defined, so we don’t publish a placement rate. (We do have over one hundred alumni success stories though.)


2. It’s Easy to Game

Placement rates don’t indicate a sample size or define who’s included in the sample. This lack of clarity makes this metric easy to game. Any bootcamp that wants to spin data can “achieve” >90% placement.

Here are just a few ways bootcamps could make their placement rates look higher:

  • Don’t include students who dropped out or were kicked out
  • Include students who got a non-technical job at a technical company
  • Include students who only got an internship or part-time job
  • Include students who started their own company

Most bootcamps don’t show how they calculated their placement figure, so it’s impossible to determine what these numbers mean. As this InfoWorld article on the topic says, “many coding academies boast of near 100 percent placement rates, but behind the sales pitches lie cautionary qualifiers.”

One notable exception: The Flatiron School hired an independent accounting firm to audit their 7-page jobs report, which goes into extensive detail about these questions.


3. A High “Placement Rate” Means Stringent Admissions

Bloc doesn’t have an application process because we think anyone can learn to develop or design software if they are willing to make the commitment. Some in-person bootcamps — especially those that that advertise a placement rate — will not accept students unless they demonstrate they are placeable. These bootcamps have time-intensive self-study prerequisites, and reserve the right to kick you out if they believe you will negatively affect their placement rate. If they do not maintain these stringent policies, then you won’t find a placement rate quoted on their website.

Just like these other bootcamps, at Bloc, if you want to develop the skills, you’ll have to do the work. While not all students mind a stringent admissions process, many see it as an unnecessary obstacle on an already difficult path.


It’s Not About the Placement Rate

Many bootcamp shoppers look to placement rates as an indication of which bootcamp will bring them the most success. But the truth is, the major bootcamps are excellent. We all have genuine, knowledgeable, caring staff who are eager to teach students more about software engineering than they could possibly learn in a short time. We are all passionate about teaching new skills, helping people find better careers, and shaping the next generation of junior programmers.

More than anything else, the best indicator of a student’s success is the amount of time spent studying, practicing, and writing code. Bloc has some advantages over in-person, full-time bootcamps. If you’re interested in a remote bootcamp (that you don’t have to quit your job to enroll in) check out Bloc’s Full Stack Web Development Track.

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Top 3 Coding Bootcamps in Los Angeles for Career Changers

Not all coding bootcamps are alike. People looking to switch careers need schools that prepare them to do their job and help establish themselves professionally. These bootcamps should not require a significant amount of previous experience. Coding bootcamps for career changers must welcome everyone from working professionals to complete novices. Here’s a list of 3 bootcamps that meet and exceed these requirements in Los Angeles.


Tuition: $17,200

Duration: 12 weeks, 6 days per week

Teaches: Full Stack JavaScript (Node.js + React.js)

Bonus: Daily free breakfast and an on-site recruitment day with employers at the end of the program

Codesmith is a rigorous program that puts students through their paces. Its focus on computer science fundamentals in addition to modern software techniques sets it apart from those that often neglect the former.

Another interesting aspect of Codesmith’s curriculum is its focus on mobile development. Students build native iOS apps using technologies taught throughout the program (JavaScript, React.js) by incorporating React Native.

This is unique because in the past, building mobile applications with web technologies like JavaScript required building a website made to look like a mobile app, but now developers can build true iOS apps using the web tools they’re already familiar with.


Tuition: $22,450

Duration: 9 months, 5 days per week

Teaches: Frontend JavaScript (Angular), Backend (PHP, Python, Ruby, or .NET)

Bonus: Professional mentorship lasts 5 years after graduation

While its price and time commitment may seem daunting to most, CodeClub’s commitment to the success of its students is incomparable. What truly sets them apart is the amount of time they dedicate to each aspect of the process.

For example, they devote four weeks to career preparation, which includes mock interviews as well as job finding assistance – that’s unheard of. They also instruct in the soft skills often overlooked by other bootcamps such as scrum, project management, product development, and more.

The kicker is that CodeClub offers five years of mentorship post-graduation at no additional cost. Their mentors help you beyond the program with career challenges and more. If you have the time, resources, and are looking for a near-guarantee of success, CodeClub is your best bet.


Tuition: $9,500

Duration: 24 / 36 / 72 weeks, on your own schedule

Teaches: Full Stack (JavaScript + Ruby on Rails)

Bonus: One-to-one mentorship and the flexibility of online learning

Bloc does not have its classroom in the heart of Los Angeles, or anywhere for that matter. That makes it the perfect option for people who cannot make a full-time commitment. Bloc goes wherever students go: they access their curriculum, their mentor, and their peers from the comfort of their home, coffee shop, or office.

Bloc’s program allows students to choose their mentor (a senior developer) and when the two will meet. This flexibility permits students to keep their full-time job while simultaneously learning a new trade.

Those that intend to switch careers often have a career to switch from. Bloc provides the ideal way to transfer from one line of work to another: gradually. Students do not have to quit their job to get the most out of Bloc’s curriculum, mentors, or job preparation.

The bottom line is that if you live in Los Angeles and wish to become part of the booming tech industry, you have several great options to choose from! Interested in Bloc? Check out Bloc’s Full Stack Web Developer Career Track.

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