This article was written by Dave Paola, Bloc’s Founder, and Courtland Alves, the Part-Time Web Developer Track Program Director.
For decades universities have been the go-to place for hiring managers to recruit engineers to fill entry level positions. Today, the skills gap is widening. Universities aren’t graduating enough students to fill the demand and only up to 25% of their curricula are relevant to contemporary job requirements. It’s clear why hiring managers today don’t care about degrees. They just care about skills.
This is great news for people looking to change their careers and become developers. It’s why bootcamps exist. And it’s why Bloc was founded and is growing today.
While developing our curriculum we spoke with engineers at the foremost tech companies. In particular, we spoke to people from Google, Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Nest, and more, in order to align our program with what hiring managers are looking for. Then, we spoke to people looking to enter the job market as developers and designed a program around our students: We made sure the program is flexible enough for busy people by making it available part-time and online, while offering the structure you need to stay on track by employing mastery learning and the best mentors available.
One of the core learning concepts essential to Bloc is mastery learning, meaning a student must attain a certain level of knowledge for a topic before they can move forward in their lesson. Although extremely difficult to implement, mastery learning is the gold standard of education. Using mastery learning has been shown to increase motivation, decrease time needed to learn complex concepts, increase confidence and interest in the material, and decrease frustration and despair.
Mastery Learning is almost impossible to do in a classroom setting, but it’s one of the most amazing opportunities of Bloc’s mentorship model. Mastery Learning is why Bloc’s students end up being more motivated and learn more in the same amount of time than they would elsewhere.
Both Bloc’s Part-Time Web Developer and Software Developer Tracks incorporate many aspects of mastery learning by using quizzes and assessments. These assessments not only ensure that students have mastered the consumed material but also provide valuable interview practice for students. They also serve a third, very important purpose: Above all else, Bloc puts students first. Sometimes, while students are in the program they realize that coding is not for them. It’s in the best interest of the students to withdraw from the program at this point. Assessments ensure that if coding isn’t a good fit for a student, they don’t spend more time or money than they should be pursuing it.
We hear from students time and time again that the best part of the Bloc program are our mentors. It’s why we have the highest bar in the market when hiring mentors, and take a different approach to our mentor philosophy: Our mentors are employees of the company who are constantly evolving not just as developers, but also into better educators.
Because of the importance of our mentors, we also take the definition of a good mentor very seriously. Bloc mentors must be:
- Deep subject matter experts so that they can set proper expectations and deliver best practices.
- Supportive, empathetic, and able to employ radical candor.
- Able to hold students accountable, and be accountable to their students in turn.
Genuine Student Advocacy
There are a lot of great things about working at Bloc. There’s the free snacks, the accomplished team members, and the ability to enroll for free in Bloc’s programs. But undoubtedly the best thing about working at Bloc is our core values. Those who visit our website will be familiar with our mission: Help everyone pursue their craft and improve their lives. However, outside of Bloc team members, few know the company values we base all of our decisions upon, the foremost being Genuine Student Advocacy.
It’s easy for companies to claim they put their customers first, but very few actually translate that to action. At Bloc, this value permeates our culture. Here are some tangible examples:
- Tuition-Reimbursement Guarantee – We guarantee that you will get a job within 180 days of completing your program or we will give you a complete refund. This ensures that our interests are fully aligned with the interests of our students.
- Mentors – Because they are employees (not contractors), we’re able to continually train mentors to become better educators and receive their invaluable feedback on the efficacy of our programs. Their incentives are directly aligned with our students’ experiences and ability to achieve their desired outcomes.
- Student Success – Success for this team is not measured by dollars but by student happiness and successful outcomes.
Part-Time Web Developer Track vs. Software Developer Track
Another way we practice Genuine Student Advocacy is to ensure our students are enrolling in the right program. We purposefully have two different programming tracks at Bloc: one that will get you a job as a web developer, and another that will get you a job as a software developer.
The goal of the Part-Time Web Developer Track is to be able to get students a job as a web developer as quickly and effectively as possible. It is designed to eliminate the risk of switching careers while also minimizing the cost to students and the inherent doubt that comes with switching careers.
The Software Developer Track is much more than a developer bootcamp. The program is built for people who want to become software engineers and want to get a job, but who also want to understand why things work. If you have a hankering to design software systems, this is the program for you.
We’d love to talk to you about where you are in your coding journey. Join us at an online info session hosted by Dave, or schedule a call with one of our Student Advisors.