The Intentional Design Behind Bloc’s Unique Programs

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.

Mastery learning

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.
Student Slack message

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.

Register for the Part-Time Web Developer Track Info Session →

Register for the Software Developer Track Info Session →

Schedule a call with a Student Advisor →


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Student Spotlight: Anthony, JC, and Tina

Bloc’s mission is to help everyone pursue their craft and improve their lives. Our best tradition at Bloc is to celebrate the amazing students that complete their program and go on to get a job every week. This helps us put our work into perspective, and allows our mentors to introduce their truly inspiring students to the rest of our team. Anthony Pennacchio, JC Dela Cuesta, and Tina Liu are just three examples of the thousands of the go-getters in our programs.

Anthony Pennacchio

Company: GiveBackTime in Arlington, MA

Bloc Program: Part-Time Web Developer Program

Tell me: what were you doing before Bloc?

I was a Sous Chef working in an Italian Restaurant.

Why did you end up taking Bloc?

I wanted to learn a new skill in an exciting field. Bloc presented me with that opportunity with the Part-Time Web Development track.

How did taking Bloc change your life?

Bloc changed my life for the better. I am now employed as a web developer, where I can do what I love to do as a job. In the future, I hope to make a positive impact on the world through web development.

What advice would you give to other Bloc students that are currently looking for a job?

Don’t get discouraged: keep looking, keep applying, and put yourself out there. Practice interviewing with yourself, your family, and don’t be afraid to go for an opportunity that may be out of your comfort zone. Any experience in the application process is good experience.

Which project (portfolio, capstone, etc.) are you most proud of?

JC Dela Cuesta

Company: IDM Brand in Santa Monica, CA

Bloc Program: Designer Track

What is the title of your new position?

Jr. UX Designer

Tell me: what were you doing before Bloc?

I was working as a contract photographer and graphic designer for an automotive digital marketing agency.

Why did you end up taking Bloc?

I was always interested in art and design growing up, but I never realized my potential until I took some foundational classes in college and completed a few internships. After this, I got more interested in UX/UI design and researched remote programs that I could enroll in while working full-time. I was fortunate enough to receive the Diversity Scholarship that Bloc offers and the rest was history.

Above all else, though, I wanted to sharpen my problem solving skills and approach to design. I knew my visual design skills were solid, but I really wanted to learn more about the process of solving experience design problems. Along with having a professional UX mentor, Bloc provided me with the necessary foundation and roadmap to successfully land a job within a few weeks of launching my portfolio. Bloc’s Student Success team also did an incredible job in helping me throughout the job search process. The network and resources are definitely there for you, it’s just a matter of how well you utilize them.

How did taking Bloc change your life?

Bloc pushed me to go after what I wanted after spending a good amount of time working in other fields. The program itself is really structured and you get a lot of value by being motivated and by engaging with the community. Also, the transition to a new career was seamless and now I have a clearer vision of where I want to be 5-10 years from now. A few of my aspirations like getting into art direction and building my coding skills are now possible thanks to the awesome team at Bloc.

What advice would you give to other Bloc students that are currently looking for a job?

Be persistent and trust the process. Nothing happens overnight, but being disciplined in your job search and working on your craft every day does pay off. I focused on how I presented my design process in my portfolio and how I communicated with Recruiters and HR Managers. I also think personalizing your approach for each company you’re interested in gives you a greater chance of getting a response. Ultimately though, being confident in yourself and having the desire to continue learning will keep you motivated throughout the job process. Doing your research, directly reaching out to people within the company, and showcasing your ability to solve problems are all really important as well.

Which project (portfolio, capstone, etc.) are you most proud of?

Tina Liu

Company: LifeTales in Toronto, Canada

Bloc Program: Designer Track

What’s the title of your new position?

UX Designer

Why did you end up taking Bloc?

Wanted to get into more UX position, do more problem solving and strategy, less pixel pushing.

How did taking Bloc change your life?

My mentor gave me lots of encouragement and gave me the confidence to call myself a designer. Also the feedback and critique I receive from the community is invaluable. I learned to talk about design and give other people feedback by providing feedback on their work.

What advice would you give to other Bloc students that are currently looking for a job?

Network; focus on one company and application at a time, send out one amazing application instead of 10 ok applications.

Which project (portfolio, capstone, etc.) are you most proud of?

We’re incredibly proud of Anthony, JC, Tina, and all the students who have gone through our programs and gotten jobs. Want to see if Bloc can help you change your career?
Schedule a call with a Student Advisor today.


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The Job Application Process Survival Guide: Part III

Mastering the art of applications is no easy task. That’s why we’ve created this third part of our Job Application Process Survival Guide. In Part II of this series, we provided tips from over 50 people from our alumni network. This week, we’ve distilled insights from some interesting stories from our team at HQ to provide creative ways to get your foot in the door.

Find a Problem and Solve It
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever gotten was to find a problem and come prepared to my interview with a solution. For example, if you are applying for a UX/UI design job, take a web page or email of the company you are applying to and revamp the design yourself. Whether or not they choose to adopt your work, you can guarantee employers will be impressed with your interest in understanding the company’s issues and your solution-oriented approach to solving them.

Do Your Research
In our last blog post, we talked about quality over quantity as a key differentiator for Bloc’s curriculums. We lend this principle to our students in their job searches, too. Rather than leaving applications to a “numbers game”, we tell students to do their research and develop quality outreach. Most applicants “click to apply”. Our most effective students seek out recruiters and hiring managers at their target companies and find second or third degree connections to introduce them. If they don’t have a relevant connection, they’ll research the hiring managers and send a personalized cold email.

For example, if you are emailing a Sr. Technical Recruiter at Yelp, get to know them. Read anything they have ever publicly written (whether it be on the company blog or their own Medium account), or look into interviews they’ve done and cite them in your email. Show your comprehensive understanding of the material and tell them what you admire about their stance on a certain position. This will set you apart from the other applicants and allow you to build an instant connection with your future boss.

B-E Aggressive
Often times, the hardest part of the application process is putting yourself out there. You know people in the field, but you’re not that close with them and maybe don’t feel comfortable asking for an introduction or recommendation. Maybe you’ve found the person who would be your manager in the position you are applying for but don’t know what to say. Will they take your cold email as a nuisance and automatically toss your resume from the pile?

We suggest you forget all of that. While it goes against our nature to ask for help from those we don’t know too well, in the job application world this is exactly what you must do. You must be bold in order to stand out. Remember: You are an asset that will add value and by framing your emails as such you forego the feeling that you’re “begging for a favor”. Being placed in a role you are fit for benefits you, the hiring manager, and the friend recommending you. It’s a win-win-win. To your insecurities, we say hack them. Be confident and know that you and your portfolio are highly valued.

Among the many things you can do to stand out, finding a problem and solving it, doing your research and being aggressive are some of your most high leverage actions. These tips along with interview preparation and portfolio building are key assets to Bloc’s career success strategy. Our Career Service and Student Success teams work one-on-one with students to tackle these steps in their job search and prepare them for the journey ahead.

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How Bloc Prepares Job-Ready Developers and Designers

Are you still searching for an online coding bootcamp to join? Let us help you out. Whether you have a technical background or not, we know it can be hard to navigate which program or curriculum is best suited for your goals.

Quality > Quantity
Hiring managers are looking for candidates that are well-versed in programming fundamentals and have the ability to learn quickly and adapt to new concepts. For this reason, our curriculum isn’t inundated with a distracting quantity of frameworks, languages, and tools. Rather, Bloc’s programs are highly focused on quality and depth of knowledge in foundational languages (HTML/CSS and Javascript across all programs, Ruby for Web Developer and Software Developer Track students, and Adobe Creative Suite for Designer Track students). As our curriculum developers say, “If you’re going to do something, do it well.”

We Teach Self-Starters 
Aside from diving deep into core languages, Bloc also equips its students for job readiness by teaching them to be true self-starters. We believe that there is a distinct difference between mentorship and hand-holding. Our programs have been highly-vetted and built to help make students self-sufficient in their ability to code or design. When you step into work on the first day at your new job, you’ll be off making an impact, not waiting for your manager to walk you through it.

Our mentors, boasting an average of nine years of experience in the field, know exactly what it takes to make our students efficient and independent performers. That’s why we’ve developed a project-based learning model that provides real-world experience for students to practice coding or design, just as they would in the workplace.

We Create Problem Solvers
Although Bloc’s main goal in its teaching style is to make our students “job ready”, the journey doesn’t end there. What we focus on in each of our career tracks is programming fluency. Often times, your first job as a developer or designer will include working with a language that you don’t know. This is why Bloc challenges students to learn in new ways so that they can master different languages quickly. We want to prepare you with these skills so that you can continue to grow after you’ve graduated from Bloc.

Still stuck on choosing a bootcamp? Schedule a call with one of our Student Advisors and let them tell you why Bloc is the best decision for any prospective student who is serious about changing their career. They’ll be happy to answer any questions you have or connect you with our alumni network to hear for yourself how Bloc does education better.

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5 Tips to Maximize your Negotiating Power

Entering a new field can be intimidating. You’re confident in your abilities, but do you feel confident in negotiating your new salary? We want Bloc students to know their worth. Below are five tips to help you maximize your negotiating power and make the most of your new role.

Do Your Research
To make any valid argument, you must know the facts. When applying for a job, look into the average salary for that position in the area. This number varies across cities due to the difference in cost of living and demand for that particular industry. Thankfully, web design and development are continuously growing industries and therefore are in high demand in large U.S. cities. These two professions are also among some of the highest paying.

Remember: You are Valuable
Even though you may feel apprehensive about your lack of professional work experience in this field, you are valuable. Aside from the fact that you are in the process of finishing up a rigorous online bootcamp, your previous work experience is not wasted. If you worked as a salesperson in the past, for example, you have the unique abilities to pitch your ideas and effectively communicate their long-term benefits that some other web developers/designers haven’t been taught. Additionally, working in related fields helps tenfold. If you have had a background in education and work as a developer for an edtech startup, your applied experience can help you make more informed decisions about the product and increase your value at the company.

Don’t Lead with a Number
During the interview process, many applicants fall into the trap of stating a number. Unless you have done ample research not only about the average salary in the area but at that company specifically, you could end up selling yourself short. If an interviewer prompts you to state a number and you are not prepared, ask what the starting salary is for the position or tell them you will follow up with an answer after comparing competing offers.

Know Your Strengths and Sell Them
While it is important to know your value, you must be able to communicate this to your interviewer. Leverage your experience through Bloc’s program and your previous work experience to showcase your unique abilities. While you may think your background in tutoring isn’t relevant, it speaks volumes about your skills in the workplace. Tutoring requires patience, discipline, and excellent communication skills. These are highly valued attributes in any office. When going through your work history, sell every single part of who you are and do so boldly.

This is Not your Last Job Offer
Though the team here at Bloc couldn’t be any prouder that you have landed a job, we don’t want you to accept a job that pays lower than it should just because this is your first offer. This certainly won’t be your last, and leveraging this ability to negotiate and sometimes say no will make sure of that. While we don’t encourage settling, it is important to realize that your first job out of our bootcamp may not be your dream job. The most important thing for our graduates is that they get a role that not only has monetary value but long-term returns for learning and advancing your skills.

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How Bloc Designs Designers

chris-2xThis week our team is excited to share a Tech Talk given by our Designer Track Program Director, Chris Courtney (known at Bloc as C2). In this powerful talk, Chris discusses the common patterns in our most successful students, what the industry defines as a great designer, and how Bloc is building them.

Below we’ve distilled some of Chris’s key takeaways.

Hard Work > Talent
Chris leads his talk with a quote from Tim Notke, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” Many students who join Bloc are brand new to coding and design concepts and aren’t inherently “talented” in these fields. According to Chris, these students who emerge from the program are often more successful than those with a coding or design background when they work hard. So what does hard work look like at Bloc?

Hard working students show keen interest and participation in the design process. They don’t only want to learn how to design, they want to know how to think like a designer. They apply thoughtfulness to understanding how problems are solved and are constantly iterating to improve their thought process to be a better designer. Another component of this is engagement with the Bloc community. As a recurring theme in his presentation, Chris underscores that the early indicator of a student’s success is reflected in their participation in the student Slack channel.

Experience is Shown Through Action
To demonstrate the weight of the word “experience,” Chris shares the story of Bloc alumni, Meredith, and her desire to fix her local library’s computer system. Rather than approaching management with a solution, she met with the webmasters and admins from the library’s computer system to discuss its limitations and to see where there were opportunities. She then spent time in the library interviewing its members who used the computers every day. Without a portfolio, she was able to leverage this case study and research to land a remote job at her very first interview.

Chris explains that Meredith’s story is remarkable not only because of the change she was able to make in her local library but because of her ability to gain experience in real time.

Focus on Growth, Not Graduation
“Growth is perpetual. It is always occurring,” Chris says. Our most successful students embody this principle and know that their design journey doesn’t end at graduation. Similarly to embracing the design process, successful students are actively cultivating their design skills by continuing to create new projects after their mentor time is complete.

Be a Problem Solver
At Bloc, we build problem solvers – not designers. One of the worst industry standards, according to Chris, are the developers and designers that identify themselves by languages. “My name is Sally and I’m a JavaScript expert with a passion for UX design,” is an example of something top hiring managers don’t want to hear. What they really want to know is if you are interested in solving their company’s problems. Anyone can become proficient in a programming language, but it takes a uniquely curious individual to seek out opportunities and propose a solution for them. Companies are looking for the individual that is hungry for a challenge, and if one isn’t presented, they will go and find it.

The common theme throughout these key indicators of success is passion. Any student who is passionate about changing their life and loving the work they are doing will be successful in their design journey. If this sounds like you, join one of our programs, get involved in your student Slack community. Engage with your colleagues in these vibrant fields and seek out questions and answers. Embrace not only the design process but the learning process and don’t regard it as a means to an end. Look for problems in design and your daily life and hack them. Continue growing and work hard – the satisfaction of loving what you do will be well worth it.

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The Job Application Process Survival Guide: Part II

Feel like job hunting isn’t getting you anywhere?

For the second part of our Job Application Process Survival Guide, Bloc reached out to 50 of its alumni to ask, “What was your secret to finding a job?”

We’ve looked for patterns in our alumni feedback and distilled them down to these five core ideas.


1. It’s going to be tough – don’t give up and keep improving.

Of our 50 alumni surveyed, almost all of them expressed persistence as the main contributor to their success. From tailoring resumes, getting used to being passed on, and continuing to work on projects, setting expectations for failure will help you maintain focus and keep improving.

“I know it’s hard if you don’t have a job. But just focus on getting better and knowing the ins and outs of development and keep plugging away. Also, there are many ways to get into tech. You have QA Automation Specialists, Support Engineers/Prod Support, DevOps, Sysadmins, and much more! Coming out of a program like Bloc you will have a tremendous upside if you continue to put in the work and if you are sincere about working in tech.”

“Don’t give up. I was passed on by lots of big guys, and the Apple position [I got] was just meant to be. I had an offer within 2 weeks. I had tailored my resume to show off some of my creative abilities and that is what Apple noticed.”

2. Always be networking.

The most common theme throughout alumni feedback was the value of networking.  Many students told stories of unexpected job opportunities that came as a result of networking, while others championed ways for introverts to overcome their fears and get out there. No matter the circumstance, our alumni agree that networking is a vital component to an effective job search.

“Work your contacts and be patient. Cultivate genuine networking relationships through or coffee dates with other developers and designers. I became a member of Women Who Code very early on and the group has been enormously supportive and helped me through many moments of doubt.”

“Networking, networking, networking. It can be a hassle if you’re a quieter person or you live a bit away from where you’re looking to work, but it’s always what led me to get a foot in the door. Talk to your mentors about companies in your or their area they like and see if they’re hiring. If you have friends in the field, see if their place is hiring. Go to meetups, or start your own. LinkedIn really only goes as far as sending someone a notification to click and read so try more ways to introduce yourself without being too invasive.”

3. Keep building.

Completing your mentorship program is not just the end of a process, but the beginning of a new challenge. As our alumni can attest, once you learn to code or design, your journey is just getting started. The key to success is to keep learning by building more.

“Do as many projects as you can, look up everything you run across that you wonder about, network as much as you can, and apply to every job that remotely looks interesting. Practice, Practice, Practice. And then practice more.”

“Build a huge number of projects—large projects, small projects and everywhere in between. Take advantage of your mentor. It’s an asset most other people don’t have and is certainly one of your biggest advantages against other software developers (everyone has access to Google and Stack Overflow). Also, build a project in conjunction with a partner or team. Building tools that need to communicate with something your partner built (and vice-versa) is a highly valuable skill.”

4. Trust the process.

Entering a new field can be incredibly challenging. Before starting our programs prospective students often express a fear of the unknown. Not knowing if they could go from being an absolute beginner to an employable developer or designer, what an actual job in the field would be like or if they’d be able to continue without mentorship upon graduation, are among some of their biggest concerns. Our alumni’s advice? Trust the process. Bloc and its mentors are here to be your advocates and will make sure you are successful.

“Trust the Bloc system, be patient, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and listen to other programmers. I’ve picked up a lot of great knowledge by just listening to other programmers talk about issues that they have encountered and how they worked through those issues.”

“Be organized. Bloc provides an excellent job applications spreadsheet. Scrupulously keep it updated.”

5. Confidence is key.

Through it all, believe in yourself. Starting out, even top executives suffer from a bit of “impostor syndrome”. The trick is to maintain confidence in your abilities and know the value of your skill set. It is said that we are our own worst enemies, but when we have faith in ourselves, we can also be our greatest strength.

“Be confident and learn how to sell yourself. You don’t always need to have the exact skills required by the job for which you’re applying – you need to demonstrate your fundamentals and problem-solving abilities. Being a good listener and showing that you can work well on a team are two of the biggest factors as well.”

Thank you for your feedback
Bloc would like to say thank you to the entire alumni community for their thoughtful feedback. For this article, we’d like to extend an extra thank you for the feedback featured from Jeredine Williams, Souma Mondal, Ross Waguespack, Dan Loman, Casey Bennington, Tyler Schmidt, Kyle Kwon, Ryan Walker and Michael Roberts.

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How I Discovered My Desire to Learn to Code

Authored by Brian Douglas  (aka BDougie)


In the fall of 2013, I found myself in the hospital for 10 weeks due to the premature birth of my son, who came 11 weeks early. It was tough for my wife and me. We essentially lived in our small hospital room for 12 weeks, only going home to change clothes.

Prior to that, I had a great job selling IT equipment as a consultant at a large distributor. I enjoyed the job very much because of my interest in technology. Since I was young I’d had the desire to build websites and mobile applications, but never felt equipped to learn how. I had built an Android app using a tutorial on YouTube and bought a book on Java, but I was also getting promoted in my sales job and found it hard to deviate from that career path.

After my son was born I realized that I wanted to follow my dream to work more closely with technology. I aimed to become an expert and be a father my son could be proud of. So I made it my mission to succeed, despite how busy I was. Once my son came home from the hospital and things settled down, I began spending my mornings and nights learning.

I discovered Rails from many recommendations on Reddit and YouTube but specifically found this video that convinced me Rails was the way to go. I even flew through the OneMonthRails (OMR) tutorial, which I highly recommend for anyone just as determined as myself.

I also read No Degree, No Problem by Joshua Kemp, who went from being a blacksmith to a coder with no degree. It inspired me; if he could accomplish this goal, so could I.

While researching Ruby I found out about Dev Bootcamp, an in-person coding bootcamp, and instantly became excited. I could quit my job, move to Chicago or San Francisco and become a programmer, all in less than 6 months! When I explained my dream out loud to my wife, reality hit.


My son was barely four months old at the time, and I had no way of paying the remainder of the hospital bills for a newborn, taking care of him and my wife, and our daily expenses without an income. With great disappointment, I gave up that plan and moved on, learning exclusively with tools like Udemy and Codecademy. I was progressing but all I had to show for it was my OMR site.

Eventually, I discovered a new bootcamp called Bloc, which turned out to be an online apprenticeship. I signed up for Bloc after reading every article I could and even interviewing a student who completed the program. I found nothing else that compared to having an actual mentor work one-on-one with me through the program. I learned the basics of Ruby that I struggled with only weeks before and built a working web app in less than two weeks.

My code wasn’t amazing but I knew how it worked and could reproduce other apps. I was gaining experience and even began to work on an app that I thought of called Chuych.

While I was in my Bloc program, I was promoted twice at my sales job and was earning as much as a junior developer. I considered putting my journey toward development on hold to focus on my growing sales career.

Then I thought back to the original reason why I wanted to learn how to program. I knew that despite how much money I made in corporate sales, it wasn’t worth more than obtaining the dream of being truly happy with my work and building applications.

I always admired my grandpa who spent time serving in the Navy during the Cuban Missile Crisis. After his years of service, he became a cop in Washington D.C. and then decided to pick up masonry trade skills to lay bricks in California.

He chose to follow his dream out to California and work on projects that would outlive his lifetime. Similarly, I wanted my son to be able to look back at my work and say, “My dad built this.”

I now work as a programmer and enjoy every minute of it. Not only do I get more time to spend with my family, but I also get to work on interesting projects with great people.

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The Architect and the Builder: Web Designers vs Web Developers

When researching a new career, it’s important to know the duties of the role you’re looking into. Companies occasionally use the job titles “Web Developer” and “Web Designer” interchangeably when seeking out their services. Although the two do work symbiotically, their functions are very different.

As an analogy, let’s compare the two to the roles of an architect and a builder in the process of constructing a building. The web designer, in this case, is the architect, and the web developer is the builder.

The Architect
A web designer is responsible for defining the problem a particular web project will solve and then providing a functional solution for further testing. They are tasked with determining the best way to solve a problem and then using their research to craft a solution that is both visually appealing and functional. The designer’s objective is to test the accuracy of the guidance given by a client against the scrutiny of potential customers. Like designers in any other field, web designers must have a proper balance between what the user needs, what the clients want and what the industry calls for.

Web designers are expected to be familiar with the entire design process such as user experience (UX), research skills (administering user surveys, doing data analysis, creating user personas), crafting user flows and wireframing. They are also responsible for knowing basic design concepts (contrast, consistency, balance, etc.), content management systems, the Adobe Creative Suite software (Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator), and fundamental programming languages (HTML and CSS).

A career as a web designer is one of the most highly sought after in the job market. According to ThoughtCo, the web designer job market is expected to grow 20% between 2012 and 2022 (faster than the average for all other occupations). Where there is a business, there is a digital product to be created. A career as a web designer will continue to be one of the leading professions in the future because it values both creativity and technical ability.

Wonder what the payout is for this exciting career? According to’s study last month, the median pay for a full-time web designer in the United States is $72,140.


The Builder
If the web designer is the architect, the web developer is the builder. The web developer takes the design and wireframe and brings it all to life. Using several complex languages, the web developer, or programmer, takes a plan for how the site should look and behave (often called a “mock-up”) and creates the infrastructure that allows the user to interact with the site. A carpenter or builder needs knowledge of how to organize raw materials in a way that keeps the building structurally sound. Similarly, the web developer must understand how different languages, systems, and interfaces work together to provide the user with a predictable, reliable application.

As the builder, the web developer is typically allotted more time to get their job done. The job of the web developer is riddled with different instances of problem solving, self-motivation, and trial and error.

The web developer must be fluent in a company’s preferred languages, be constantly working to fulfill the software development lifecycle, proficient in creating and executing test procedures, and a great team player.

Ranked #4 by U.S. News and World Report for Best Careers in Tech, a career in web development is one of the most rapidly growing careers in the country. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a continued rise of 27% in demand for web developers to 2024. As the e-commerce world is rapidly moving into mobile, companies are increasingly looking for web developers to make sure their websites translate well across devices.

How much will you be making as a junior web developer? According to Glassdoor, the national average is $66,250, peaking at $90,000 in cities such as Boston or San Francisco.

Although the two differ in day-to-day duties, the web developer and web designer work closely together to accomplish one singular goal – to create stellar websites. Both of these careers are equally challenging and thrilling, no matter if you identify as “left or right brained”. Bloc believes in the potential of every individual to learn a new skill and become an expert problem solver. So what are you waiting for? Enroll in Bloc’s Designer or Part-Time Web Developer Track to be a part of two of the top careers in the job market.

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Education: No Longer a One-Size-Fits-All Model at Bloc

The top companies of our time are ones that looked at current systems and decided this isn’t enough. These companies didn’t alter the framework or add new features–they changed the rules of the game. In a world where we glorify this kind of innovation, one might wonder how we are stuck with the century-old lecture model at most U.S. universities?


Out with the Old
There is a growing concern that the traditional education model is losing its practical application. Students earn their degrees to fill, what they feel is, a necessary space on their resume in order to get a decent job. Often times this means spending four years (and an exorbitant amount of money) to be left underprepared for the job market. A study done by McGraw Hill Education concluded that only 40 percent of college seniors feel their experience has been very helpful in preparing them for a career.   

Millennials are amongst the loudest voices calling out higher education and the government for refusing to reinvent the outdated system. Today’s students look up to contemporary icons like Mark Zuckerberg or Evan Spiegel, yearning to think outside of the box, all the while learning at the pace of the slowest person in their class.

This is why Bloc chose to drive forward the evolution of online education. As such an essential part of personal and professional growth, we believe students should feel empowered by their learning experiences.

Refusing to Settle
Bloc is the result of our CTO and co-founder Dave Paola’s deep dissatisfaction with the current K-12 and higher education institutions. Starting at a young age, Dave’s intrinsic curiosity ignited a lifelong exploration into the world of technology and innovation. Through learning independently, he found himself mastering computer systems by high school. Yet in this time and throughout college, Dave’s individual endeavors were stifled by the traditional classroom setting. While his peers were being taught to chase grades rather than an understanding, Dave found a deeper, much more effective setting, in working with experienced individuals in an informal, quasi-mentorship environment. Since finding this empowered learning space, Dave has made it his mission to make this teaching structure accessible to all willing to put in the hard work.

This frustration was also the starting point for another company, acquired by Bloc, called DevBridge. Its founder, now a current Bloc team member, Courtland Alves has a similar story behind what inspired his business. While pursuing a degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at UC Berkeley, Courtland was researching the skills necessary to work in the field as a software engineer. He then realized that the work he was doing in the classroom was not properly equipping him for this role. He started questioning the process that the school system was taking him through and decided to start seeking out the skills he would need on his own. From there he made it his mission to properly train students for the careers that would await them after college and as a result he made a business designed around outcomes. Through building DevBridge, Courtland focused his efforts on student advocacy by properly preparing them for a career in web or software development.

Our Leadership Team knows firsthand what it’s like to be treated as a number and crunched into an average rather than being empowered to be autonomous. Their lifelong dissatisfaction of the lack of inventiveness in the education system has been the driving force for the success of Bloc.

Welcome to the New School
In today’s skills-based economy, your portfolio is far more valuable than a piece of paper and a tassel. This is why Bloc focuses on real-world experience and project-based learning as integral parts of our curriculum. Bloc’s programs are not designed to help you get your feet wet, but to have you dive into the deep end and come out a high-performer and a self starter. We know that with the right amount of grit and determination, our students will be successful in discovering their inner designer or developer.

Our one-on-one mentorship structure defies any one-size-fits-all standard, and turns learning into an experience. Working closely with experts in the field has helped students learn the material deeper and at a faster rate.

Schooling (especially higher education) has often been looked at as something students undergo just because they feel they have to. This time, do it for you. Join a program at Bloc and experience comprehensive learning and understanding from people who believe in your potential and are invested in your individual success.

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