Makersquare Programming Bootcamp FAQ

Me, web development

I graduated from Makersquare's 3rd cohort. I really enjoyed the three months I spent in their immersive programming bootcamp and over the past several months, folks have come to me with questions about my experience. Here are some of the most frequent questions I've been asekd.

What was the interview process like?

I know that for Makersquare specifically, things have changed a lot since I went into the classroom for my first tour & interview over a year ago. Keep that in mind for everything below: the curriculum, interview process, cohort model, etc have all evolved over the course of the past year since I was a student.

First, I was asked questions about my background, basically prompted to tell my educational/career story and how I got to the point were I was willing to quit everything I was doing to work long hours and cram as much computer science and web development knowledge into my brain for the next 3 months. This line of conversation was meant to examine my passion, overall goals, and dedication to learning something challenging and new.

Two questions followed that were more analytic: 1) If you were mayor of the Austin and there was a bomb threat at the Capitol, what steps would you take to react to the crisis? 2) Explain in detail something that you are an expert in. Teach me something I don’t know. These questions were meant to probe at my problem solving techniques and to see if I would relish such thought experiments or crumble under the challenge to think on my feet.

Finally, I didn’t have this in my interview, but I would be able to discuss topics within the pre-work. Be able to describe why developers use like Git and how its related to Github. Know about CSS Floats, Ruby Classes, Javascript variables and string concatenation, etc. I am under the impression they are changing the curriculum to focus on Node.js instead of Rails as a backend. So I would research why the paradigm is shifting towards a full-stack javascript environment.

I have no previous coding experience (other than a bit of Did you have previous coding experience?

My coding experience was very limited before MKS. Because I played music in a couple bands and was involved with some campus organizations that needed a website, I had taught myself how to configuring themed sites with a CMS like Wordpress or Drupal, setting up my server and FTP connection with a hosting service, and coding a one or two pages of static code with HTML and CSS. Very basic content markup stuff. The best resource I can recommend for preparing for MKS is actually prework from another bootcamp called Flatiron. Flatiron open sourced their prework when MKS was still refining their curriculum in their early days. Starting with the Flatiron Prework gave me a headstart on the MKS prework and it prepared me for the first few weeks of MKS. I would also recommend going to any Meetups that MKS hosts before you start class.

How was the 100hrs of pre-class work structured? It’s broken down into 4 parts:

  1. Getting set up with Git & Command Line
  2. HTML & CSS
  3. Ruby
  4. Javascript

I don’t know if its really 100hrs of prework, but its definitely a good intro, especially paired with other beginning resources you may encounter. There is no lack of information available online through other platforms like Codecademy, Treehouse, Code Wars, Code School, etc

By the end of 12 weeks, where was your confidence level in terms of being an effective web developer?

I was confident that I could get either a front-end focused developer job, coding in HTML, CSS & Javascript/jQuery, a junior backend engineer job working with Ruby or a framework similar to Rails, or some combination of the two in a full-stack role. I also knew I could build a personal/prototype web app from idea to deployment and I had the software engineering foundations to teach myself just about any other technology I wanted to learn or that would help me land a job.

Did you experience any hesitation from prospective employers given your training? Did they even care HOW you learned to code?

Kinda, not really. Basically, there are a ton of opportunities to work in web development so you will be able to find work. Your experience with MKS will make you qualified to contribute to a team and most employers will realize that, but they may also just need someone with more experience. You should look for work at a place that understands your value and limitations as a junior developer and be willing to invest in your further development. You will have to understand that even as empowering and exciting as the coding bootcamp process is, you will still just be starting your journey once you finish the program. To thrive, you have to be willing to continue learning and start from the most junior positions within an engineering or development team and work your way up through experience and hard work.

After MKS, I applied for around 5 jobs, moved forward to interviews with 3, and had accepted an offer with the company I now work for within a week of finishing Makersquare. One of those 3 job interviews was the most humbling experience of my life. I crashed and burned hard trying to white board the solution to a technical code challenge, but I got through the whole process and landed at a that company I like to work for. Some of my classmates applied to more places and took longer finding the right fit for them. But as long as you have an eager attitude, you’ll land something.

If you have read this please let me know if I can clarify on any of these thoughts or if any of this inspires more questions.

© Mateo Salinas Clarke.RSS