Why I Chose Turing

I’d been thinking about the whole code “boot camp” idea for a while. I don’t really care for the label of boot camp, because I went to real boot camp, and this is not that (I’m fairly sure). At any rate, Turing kind of eschews the boot camp label anyway. For those of you who don’t know, Turing is an intensive 7 month program that aims to take you from square one to hirable as a junior dev in that time period. That’s a lofty goal, and as such it is a rigorous program.

At the start, I did what many people do and started comparison shopping different programs. I live in Denver, so that’s not a small task. There are quite a few different coding programs here, and they range a great deal in length, price, philosophy, coding language, and even aesthetics (more on that later).

Fairly quickly, I was able to narrow down my criteria in a way that eliminated most of the programs here. I knew I wanted a program that was longer term (there are quite a few that are 9–12 weeks). I felt like 6 months was going to be about the shortest I would be comfortable with. I want to be *hirable* when I get done, not just sort of familiar with code. This basically left me with a choice between Galvanize or Turing.

Both Galvanize and Turing offer programs that have a lot in common. Galvanize is 6 months, compared to Turing’s 7, but that’s not too far off from one and other, and wasn’t a factor in my decision. I made plans to visit both schools and see first hand what each felt like.

Feel of the school:

I have a friend from back in the day who had just graduated from Galvanize, so I got on the Facebook and sent a message. He got back to me right away and invited me down to have a beer at the space. Galvanize is in a shiny new building right in the epicenter of Denver’s whiplash-fast identity shift. It’s a building that houses a hip restaurant (which may or may not have written its menu using the Hipster Ipsum generator), Galvanize, and a number of startups as well as Pivotal Labs. There’s a lot of stuff throughout the building that looks very startup-esque. There are whiteboards everywhere (including a ping-pong table made of the stuff), lots of glass, handmade looking art and furniture, nerd culture paraphernalia and a free beer keg. Basically, it looks like a well funded startup, and that’s what it is. Before I get into what that means to me, I’ll talk about Turing.

Turing is also in a high rent part of town, but it’s sequestered in a basement (they just moved, and I’ve not seen the new space…but I know it’s still a basement). It feels like a basement. There’s nothing shiny there, and it generally feels far more frantic. At Galvanize, there’s a great deal of space and it offers the ability to get away from the stress that permeates students with upcoming deadlines. That space does not live at Turing. It’s no frills, IKEA furniture, lo-fi memes printed and hung haphazard, monitors mounted all over the place, and movement. Lots of movement.

I think the aesthetic that feels better to you is just a matter of personal preference. Galvanize feels nice, there are lots of perks, and it seems very much like it lives the post-funding startup culture it aspires to place its many students into. Turing is more like a startup in its garage days, and what you get in the space is just what you need to do the job. That may be a negative for some, but for me, Turing wins in the aesthetics department. I feel a sense of a place that knows what it is, and knows just what it’s trying to accomplish. Something about all those perks on offer at Galvanize throws me off. It feels like it’s not sure enough of its core self to rely on that alone. All those frills are not free. I like the idea of my tuition going toward things that directly contribute to my education, and nothing else. That leads me into my next parameter:

Business model:

Galvanize is a investor backed startup, and as such it’s in the world to turn a profit. Turing is a 501(c)3 non-profit, which means it has a very different mission and value set. Because Turing is not beholden to outside investors, it is free to plot a course strictly and firmly based on what it deems best for its students. To be clear, I am 100% not saying that Galvanize does otherwise in practice, just that the forces of an investor with hooks into the company and a desire for a payday isn’t always the best bedfellow for a growing concern. Add to that my personal belief that education should never under any circumstances be a for profit enterprise and Turing wins this one for me as well.

Format:

Galvanize runs a full-stack program, whereas Truing has either a front-end or back-end program. This was a weighty part of my decision making process. In reality, 6 or 7 months is not a long time, and I’d much rather focus on one or the other in more of a deep dive. I’m far more interested in the back-end side of the works, and the option to spend the vast majority of my educational time on that solely was a huge selling point for me. Again, this is a matter of personal preference, and I’m sure some people feel that the full-stack route is more compelling.

Language:

I’m really just going to be talking back-end here, because that’s what I was looking at. Turing teaches its program in Ruby/Rails whereas Galvanize works (I’m fairly sure) with JS. Honestly, this wasn’t huge for me simply because I feel like I’m more looking for a program to teach me how to think like a programmer, and once that’s in the mix, the language landscape isn’t that difficult to traverse. That said, this one was a toss up. From the little I know, I like Ruby as a language quite a bit. It’s flexible, open to creativity, has a great community, etc. However, from a career perspective, it does not seem like a great path to go down. It seems like it’s on the decline as a language choice for companies, and as such may be hard to get paid to write. JS on the other hand seems to be flourishing commercially. I don’t know enough JS to really make any kind of assessment of how I like it, so I’ll reserve judgement.

Price/outcomes/etc:

Comparable. Both are a substantial investment, and it’s something to seriously put some thought into. Both offer a laptop as part of the tuition.

Outcomes are similar, so not a lot to weigh there.

The only other thing I can think of is is the general relationship with education as a discipline that each school has. Jeff Casimir runs Turing, and his background prior to tech is in education as a teacher (of tech at public schools). I think that’s an important factor, as being good at a thing absolutely does not mean you are good at teaching that thing. I really like the fact that Jeff and several others over at Turing come from the world of education and have training in education as a discipline. I don’t mean this section as a comparison with Galvanize, as I honestly don’t know what that looks like at Galvanize. Jeff Casimir helped to found gSchool (which is now Galvanize) prior to starting Turing, so maybe there’s some of the same ideas there.

Overall:

I think I hit on the big reasons Turing won out for me. Ultimately, it’s a big and expensive choice you have to make for yourself. I would highly recommend an in person visit to any school you’re thinking about attending. Talk to alum, current students, and faculty. Go to dev meetup groups in your area and talk to people there. Talk to anyone who will talk to you and might have a grounded idea about it.

Check out this post on my personal site :here:

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