TechTalk: Advice on Learning Web Development

Here at Bloc, we spend a lot of time talking to “advanced beginners” – folks who have been trying to learn to code for a while, but who have struggled to find the right path. Recently, we hosted a free, online tech talk on full stack web development. In this tech talk, we sat down with Mike Jewett, the head of Bloc’s Full Stack Web Development apprenticeship program, and Chris Beck, VP of Engineering at Privia Health, a Washington D.C healthcare startup. As head of Bloc’s most successful apprenticeship, Mike works every day to recruit and train our mentors, to write and constantly evolve our full stack curriculum, and to improve every aspect of the Full Stack apprenticeship with a focus on one thing – better outcomes for our students. As the VP of Engineering at Privia Health, and a 20 year veteran software development, Chris has a lot to share on what does it take to be a great web developer. He has hired and managed people with computer science degrees from top  universities, as well as developers with no formal education. Chris has also mentored over 20 Bloc students, which gives him a unique perspective on the best way for you to learn.

In this Tech Talk, Mike and Chris share

  • The lay of the land
  • What is a Framework?
  • Why Ruby on Rails?
  • What does it take to be a successful web developer?
  • A quick overview of how Bloc works
  • Q&A

What is a Framework?

  • Frameworks make building applications more efficient, by providing organization and conventions.
  • Provide libraries so that you don’t have to code everything from scratch
  • Most are open-source, supported by a large community of talented developers
  • Provide a lingua franca to make collaboration easier for web developers

Why Ruby on Rails?

  • Best-practices are implied in the framework. i.e. Learning RoR means learning to be a good web developer
  • Popular in the startup world
  • Most active and vibrant technical community
  • Beginner-friendly – rapid results due to the efficiency of it’s framework
  • Used by folks including: Funny or Die, Slideshare, Airbnb, Bleacher Report,, Scribd, Groupon, Kickstarter, Sendgrid, Soundcloud, Square, Yammer, CrunchBase, Shopify.

Advice on Learning Web Development – What does it take to be successful?

  • Be a self-starter – embrace frustration
  • Don’t let anyone fool you, programming and web development in general are hard. That’s why there’s a huge employment demand, and that’s why developers are well compensated
  • Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and make mistakes – that’s the best way to learn
  • To truly learn web development, you have to build and ship things. You can’t learn by only using tutorials and exercises. You have to build apps in the wild
  • Be disciplined. The only way to learn to code is to write and read lots of it, on a regular basis
  • Don’t worry about keeping your idea secret. Get it out there. Prototype it and show it to everyone.


Watch the recording of the TechTalk

Learn more about Bloc’s Full Stack Developer apprenticeship

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