BendyConf: Tech Education for the Rest of Us

BendyConf 2014: "Tech Education for the Rest of Us" by Betsy Lorton from Bendyworks on Vimeo.

Dev Bootcamp is one of many programs to crop up  in the last few years offering an intense, immersive educational setting where those with or without experience can break into software development. Betsy, a Bendyworks developer, attended Dev Bootcamp in 2013 and she spoke about her experience at BendyConf.

Dev Bootcamp is a full-time, nine-week, tuition-based beginning web development course with locations in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. In addition to technical skills, Betsy found that Dev Bootcamp teaches and encourages qualities not advertised on their website, including empathy, enthusiasm, community, and auto-didacticism—all important skills in tech.

Betsy also found that Dev Bootcamp provides a support network for its students and extracurriculars played an important role in her experience. Outside the daily 9 to 5 attendance, Dev Bootcamp finds ways to get students involved in the local tech community through programs like Pairing is Caring where students are introduced to mentors, who are developers in the community. Weekend hackathons provide an outlet for web-based problem solving, and weekly guest speakers broaden students’ horizons on industry topics.

Betsy built both hard and soft skills during the course. She gained experience with important technical tools in web development, and she also got to practice technical communication, iterating on ideas, and giving and receiving feedback. “Employer Day” at the end of the course, where students present projects to employers looking to hire talent, was a great opportunity for her and her classmates to show off those skills.

Before the program, Betsy knew she wanted to become a developer, but she didn’t have the tools to make the transition. When she completed the program, she came out with a portfolio of work, development experience, contacts in the community, supportive and inspiring peers, and a sense of comfort in the industry. She knew industry standards and vocabulary and understood better what foundation to build in order to succeed. If she didn’t already know an answer about a technical topic, her experience in the program taught her where to look for answers—knowledge that empowered her to continue learning after Dev Bootcamp ended.

Though it’s not wise to assume one can learn everything there is to know about being a developer in a nine-week immersive learning environment, as Betsy says, you can become a “world-class beginner.” And programs like Dev Bootcamp are doing a lot to add new perspectives and people to the tech industry with each new cohort of students that graduates.

Category: Community
Tags: Growth