My Experience at Flatiron School

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I, like many bootcamp applicants, come from a background that is completely outside the sphere of tech. I decided to make the transition from a decent paying office job into tech a little over a year ago, and after a few months of studying on my own, I worked up the courage to apply to Flatiron School.

I chose Flatiron for three main reasons. First, easy access. Flatiron’s main Manhattan campus is located at 11 Broadway in the Financial District, right across the street from the Charging Bull statue. I live in Harlem and was working in FiDi at the time, so I knew the area fairly well. Second, price. Flatiron (at the time) was offering the full immersive program for roughly $15,000. I managed to get $1000 knocked off via applying for a scholarship, but price-wise it landed somewhere in the middle for bootcamps available to me. Third, the reviews. I had read dozens of reviews prior to my applying, and the overwhelming positivity lead me to feel comfortable with my decision. I also have a friend who had attended and graduated from Flatiron not long before I applied, and he managed to find a great job right out of the gate.

The application process was very easy! After applying online, I set up a phone call with one of their TCFs (technical coaching fellows). It was more of a meet-and-greet, where they were checking to see if I was serious about attending. Afterwards, they set me up with a start date (I decided to defer my start date for the maximum of 8 weeks so I could collect a few more paychecks), and in the meantime I was required to complete all of the assigned pre-work prior to my official first day.

The pre-work was intimidating at first, but ultimately fairly simple. It’s far easier than any of the material you’ll cover in the actual program. It’s basically all the foundational stuff you’ll need to know in order to understand the material you’ll be learning.

I attended the Web Development Immersive 15-week Program. It’s split into five “mods”, with three weeks dedicated to a mod. Each mod covers a particular subject, and they operate on a crawl/walk/run cycle. The first week of every mod is the crawl week, where you’re learning the absolute basics of the material for that mod.

The second week is the walk week, where you’re learning how to apply what you learned in the past week in a realistic manner. The second week also contains the code challenge, where a passing grade is required to move on to the following mod. If you fail the first code challenge, you are permitted a retake the following week. If you fail a second time, you are required to take the mod over again. You are not charged for this, so some people willingly choose to repeat certain mods so they can get a better grasp of particular topics.

The third week is the run week, where you and a partner are working on a project using the technology you learned about during that mod. These are strong candidates for potential technical projects on your resume, so it’s very important that you work hard on these and make them nice and sleek.

The exception to this is mod five, where you spend the entire three weeks working on your final project. After which you graduate!

The five topics each mod covered, in order, were:

  1. Ruby (building projects in the terminal)
  2. Ruby on Rails (building projects in a browser)
  3. JavaScript
  4. React
  5. Redux/Final Project

Many more specific things are covered during each mod, but these are the technologies and frameworks you’re focusing on during those three weeks.

Days typically run from 9 AM to 6 PM, Monday through Friday (with exceptions for holidays). You’re welcome to take days off, but absenteeism and lateness, if it adds up, could mean removal from the program. A day will typically start with an hour or two of group exercises, which don’t typically include code. They’re more like facts, memorization, and understanding of engineering principles. Afterwards, you’ll typically have a lecture for an hour or more until lunch at 12 PM. The rest of the day is a mix of lectures, working through problems/homework, or paired programming.

The days are fairly varied. You’re almost never doing the same thing twice, and the TCFs and instructors are very good at creating impromptu lectures if the class feels like they’re struggling with a particular subject. Also, I might add, the TCFs and instructors are SUPER helpful. They are almost always available to answer questions via Slack, and have never turned me down or shied away from helping me with any issue.

The workload is intense, but not unreasonable. I would often spend seven days a week in the school (which is open 24/7) doing as much work as I could to make sure I didn’t fall behind. That being said, falling behind is almost inevitable. Sometimes life gets in the way, but the important part is that you do as much as possible and don’t shy away from topics you think are too complicated.

My favorite part of the experience at Flatiron was the community. I feel incredibly close to my mod. I have the rubber duck we all signed sitting on my shelf as I write this. It’s hard not develop a bond when you have a group of people you’re seeing five, six, or sometimes seven days a week.

Every three weeks the campus would have a mixer where there was alcohol, snacks, beer pong, and plenty of opportunities to mingle with the other mods. There were also special events, ice breaking exercises, and every Friday was “Feelings Friday”, where everyone in your mod sits in a circle and gets a chance to talk about anything that’s on their mind. It’s a nice way to unwind at the end of the week, and people can vent their frustrations or worries in a safe space. If you don’t want to speak, you’re free to pass. I cried during our last Feelings Friday, and I’m glad I did. To me it meant I felt so comfortable and safe with my mod that I was capable of being vulnerable around them.

Flatiron, above all else, really emphasizes community, environment, and teamwork. I could have probably learned everything on my own, but I wouldn’t have been able to learn it as well or as enthusiastically without being immersed in such an incredibly supportive environment, surrounded by equally supportive people.

I loved my experience at Flatiron School, and I’m glad I decided to take the risk.

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