Developer Boot Camp – Part 1: Why I chose to go to boot camp

// 05.28.2014 // Culture

Editor’s Note: In October 2013, Felix Thea had been working at MediaMath for 4.5 years and was ready for a career transition. He informed his manager that he was resigning from his position as Product Manager in order to attend App Academy, where he would train to become a developer. MediaMath wasn’t about to let Felix go without a fight Instead of an outright resignation, MediaMath and Felix agreed that upon successful completion of the course, Felix would interview for a role on the UI & Apps Team. On January 27, 2014, after 12 weeks of intensive study, Felix rejoined MediaMath’s ranks. This time as developer on the Apps Team. This blog post is about his experience in App Academy, a 12-week developer boot camp in New York City.

A version of this post originally appeared on Felix’s personal blog.

This “look inside” App Academy is written for someone like me, 6 months ago. I’ll talk about what the program was about, what the day to day was like, and what I thought after completing the program.

Prior to starting the boot camp, I spent four years at MediaMath, two of which as a product manager.  Experience in the tech industry is not required to succeed in a boot camp.  Most of my boot camp classmates came from other industries. 

WHY DID I APPLY TO A BOOT CAMP IN THE FIRST PLACE? 

My 5-year life-plan was to:

  1. Learn enough web development so that I could get and do a good job as a junior web developer.
  2. Get paid to learn.
  3. Develop web apps of my own to generate income so that I can eventually work for myself.

I’ve had numerous false starts when teaching myself to code. There is a ton of free education online, but that was my problem. There was just too much, and I always had a nagging feeling that I wasn’t spending my time wisely.

App Academy’s boot camp gave me exactly what I needed. It provided step-by-step guidance in the form of a curriculum, which gave me the confidence that I wasn’t studying something I didn’t need to. All I had to do was show up and do the work. 

BACKGROUND ON THE COURSE

App Academy’s program teaches students Ruby and Ruby on Rails. It also teaches all the front-end content (JavaScript, HTML, CSS) that all of the other boot camps have. Each class has about 20-25 students, is taught by a head instructor, and couple of teaching assistants.

I attended App Academy’s New York City program, but App Academy also has programs in San Francisco. 

GETTING INTO APP ACADEMY

The App Academy application process is pretty selective. I do think that if you’ve made an attempt to teach yourself how to code and made some progress, you should have a really good shot. App Academy looks for self-starters, because although it’s held in a classroom, the majority of the time spent will be independent or with one other classmate as your partner.

App Academy was my #1 choice, because their tuition model was the least financially risky for me. At App Academy, the student only needs to pay $3,000 upfront and nothing additional until the student actually gets a job. Once employed, he/she owes App Academy 18% of their first year base salary payable over 6 months (minus the $3,000 down payment).

[Full disclosure: MediaMath agreed to pay 100% of my tuition if I could get hired back as a developer.]

Check back in next week for Develop Boot Camp Part 2: What I learned and built at developer boot camp

A Picture of Felix Thea

FELIX THEA

Application Developer Felix Thea is an Application Developer at MediaMath building applications that solve clients' specific business needs. He’s held numerous roles at MediaMath including business development, partner operations, and product management. Before MediaMath, Felix worked in the music industry and has a Bachelors in Management Information Systems and Finance from Boston University. Outside of work, he likes building and marketing his own side projects.
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