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With employees and employers alike realizing the benefits of knowing how to code, bootcamp-style programs have increased in popularity over the last five years. Coding academies offer a solid alternative to learning to code in more “traditional” educational settings; students can enroll in condensed programs that fit their schedules, which is a bonus for full-time workers.


Why learn to code? At the base of it all, learning to code builds a foundation of critical thinking, curiosity and confidence. According to Tara Hurley, WunderLand’s Talent Engagement Director, workers who come from bootcamp-style programs typically have well-composed portfolios, a sense of their role on a team and some basic interview skills. “If they’re coming from a boot camp, they have those tactical skills right away that would make an employer more likely to take a chance on a person.”


Why enroll in a coding academy? We asked Neal Sales-Griffin of Fullstack Academy, one of the top coding academies in the U.S., to give us insight as to how Fullstack’s training programs are structured to give graduates the skills they need to land jobs at some of the nation’s top companies and growing startups. Fullstack recently joined forces with The Starter League, a pioneer coding bootcamp based in Chicago, to offer students a cutting-edge, dynamic curriculum. 



  1. How and why did Fullstack Academy get started?

Fullstack co-founders David Yang and Nimit Maru have always been believers in technology and innovation. As professional software engineers themselves, they realized the importance of web development to the future of every industry, and began teaching day-long seminars at top universities along the East Coast. Fullstack Academy was just a byproduct of their discovered passion for teaching, influencing students’ careers, and most importantly, building things with code. Cohorts, as Fullstack Academy, began officially in the summer of 2013.


  1. How did it get to where it is today?

Quite simply, Fullstack’s growth and success is due to the success of its students.  As more of our alumni enter the job market and receive rewarding programming jobs at big-name companies and innovative startups, the word spreads naturally. Our graduates are known in the NY tech industry as quality hires. That gives them professional freedom -- something very appealing to aspiring Fullstack candidates.


  1. How is Fullstack different than other academies out there?

We’re different in three ways: admissions, curriculum, and mentorship.

Our admissions process is selective not because we’re looking for a specific type or background in our students, but because we require candidates to pass a number of objective, fairly-advanced coding evaluations. This ensures that all accepted students have already taken the initiative to learn some coding on their own. We only accept students who are passionate about technology, building with code, and learning more in a collaborative environment. Our students are surrounded by equally motivated peers, and this is reflected in both the projects they create and their educational outcomes.


The curriculum is focused on iterative improvement. Most of the time we make only minor changes from cohort to cohort, but sometimes large changes in the technologies taught are necessary to reflect industry demands. We have an active alumni network, a large number of hiring partners, and other industry connections guiding what to include in our curriculum. We recently made a switch from MongoDB to SQL because of what we saw were lasting industry demands.


Furthermore, our teaching fellowship program offers students excellent mentorship and guidance throughout the program. One fellow is assigned to each team during the final project portion of the class, and we’ve really seen the quality of the code (and the end results) increase drastically.


  1. Fullstack offers an immersive and a non-immersive program. Please tell us about each and what a typical course schedule is like.

Fullstack’s Immersive Programs -- Part-Time, Full-Time, and Grace Hopper Academy, and Remote (still in beta) -- all involve the aforementioned, rigorous application process. These programs only accept the top applicants and prepare students to become professional software developers. Furthermore, our immersive program has direct access to our network of hiring partners, our hiring day event, and guidance provided by our career success team. Our immersive programs are our flagship course offerings.


JavaScript Jumpstart is a beginner course available both online and in person. This is class is designed to solidify the fundamentals of programming in JavaScript. Students have used this a precursor or study guide to our immersive program.


Bootcamp Prep has a curriculum built around helping motivated students gain admission to our immersive programs. This course has Jumpstart as a prerequisite, and will go into more intermediate-level concepts such as recursion, object-oriented programming, Callbacks and Asynchronous Functions, and more. By the end of this course, students should be able to aptly solve intermediate-level coding challenges like the ones seen on Fullstack’s assessment. There’s also a significant tuition rollover for any students that successfully make the jump from Bootcamp Prep to the immersive programs.


Intro to Front-End Development is another beginner-level course to help guide motivated students into the realm of website creation and programming. Ideal for marketers, designers, project managers, and bloggers, this course can also serve as a good pathway to our immersive programs.


Note: Only the full-time immersive cohort will be offered in Chicago this summer, but all programs will be implemented in the Midwest in due time!


  1. What types of skills do applicants need to have before applying to Fullstack Academy?

It’s hard to say exactly, as all applicants come from different backgrounds and starting-points, but accepted candidates must be intermediate-level, hobbyist programmers. You should be comfortable-enough in either JavaScript, Python, or Ruby to solve a series of 5 coding challenges of increasing difficulty in a 75 minute time-frame. A good way to judge your level of preparation is to use challenges. The levels (kyu) begin at eight and advance to one. If you can get to level 6 (or preferably 5) using this website, you’re likely in a good position to apply to Fullstack.


  1. What types of jobs do students get after completing the program? 

Students get jobs working all over the programming stack after graduation. We have alumni working as developers at name-recognized companies like Google, Dropbox, Venmo, American Express, and Goldman Sachs, as well as growing startups. Most graduates find work in the burgeoning NYC tech scene, but they’ve had good success in San Francisco and all over the country as well. No matter what size company, location, or position graduates are looking for, our career success team will work with them to improve interview strategies, learn salary negotiation skills, and practice technical interview questions. We want our developers to get the best jobs possible.


Note: After joining forces with The Starter League in Chicago, Fullstack will be offering immersive cohorts there as of July 25 and have a strong network in the Midwest as well.


WunderLand is a team of Talent Acquisition Experts who connect companies with in-demand digital, marketing and creative talent. The experience, insight and market knowledge we provide have earned us loyalty and a reputation for quality.


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