TECHNOLOGY

Can You Learn Programming in a Coding Bootcamp?

All signs point to “Yes”

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BY Ezra Ferraz - 16 May 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

While there are countless resources available online to learn programming, some people still prefer face-to-face interaction with a teacher in a classroom. One of these variations is the bootcamp, which condenses training in programming into an intense curriculum.

Arguing that acquiring coding knowledge can be squeezed into a shorter amount of time, the bootcamp method of learning—particularly that endorsed by Australian Raman Nambiar, the managing director of Coder Factory Academy—serves as the inspiration for the upcoming Vivixx Coding Bootcamp in Baguio, Philippines. Ace Estrada II, president of Vivixx Academy, was among “the delegates of ICT Councils from all over the Philippines and Asia” who had listened in on Nambiar’s talk.

“His twin messages to the delegation was, first, that anyone can learn to code, and that a six-month coding Bootcamp is equivalent to a four-year IT education,” says Estrada, who reached out to Nambiar during the break-out session, leading to a partnership between the two organizations. “Vivixx Academy and Coder Factory Australia are now partners for the exclusive delivery of the coding bootcamp model in the Philippines,” he announces.

Coding par excellence

Vivixx tailors its curriculum to what is in demand among tech companies and start-ups. “There is currently high demand for Ruby on Rails and Java MEAN Stack, so we make sure we focus on teaching these languages at the bootcamp [to make] our graduates [more] hirable. These requirements may change in the future as industries and markets shift, and we are quite prepared to change with it,” says Estrada.

Of course, having the most ambitious and dynamic curriculum would not mean anything if the instructors were not exceptional. To this end, software architect and course director Trent Shields plans to put Vivixx’s teachers through their own bootcamp for teachers.

Vivixx Academy also borrows best practices from around the world. Taking a page out of Google’s book, Estrada believes students and teachers are more effective when learning and engaging in a beautiful, perhaps unconventional, ambiance. Vivixx Academy will thus take place in Calle Uno, a co-working space in Baguio and its sister company.

“We schedule hackathons every couple of months to keep our students sharp, complete with free-flowing soda, pizza, and beer—yes, you need beer! Students compete against each other for small prizes, mainly stickers and swag,” says Estrada. “We also take our students out on excursions to the beach or trail to give them the chance to bond, and discuss coding outside in different environments.”

Marketing serendipity

Estrada says that the biggest challenge of preparing the first incarnation of the Vivixx Coding Bootcamp was getting the word out. For all their work, the company was blessed with some serendipity here.

A cab driver had made headlines in national and international media when he returned the belongings left in his cab by course director Trent Shields. In gratitude, Shields offered the man a scholarship to Vivixx.

“When the story broke over TFC (The Filipino Channel) and was picked up by major news agencies, we received inquiries from people from such countries as Italy, UAE, Australia, the U.S. and even Africa,” says Estrada, adding that four of their students hail from abroad while the rest come from all over the Philippines. “Such was the reach and inspiration of that story!”

Currently, Vivixx Academy guarantees either remote internship with an Australian company or an on-site internship with a Philippine-based company following the conclusion of the program. Ultimately, full-time employment is something the students must secure on their own, but Estrada believes Vivixx graduates will easily get jobs.

“The truth is, anyone who makes it in a course as intensive as a coding bootcamp will easily find employment in this talent-hungry industry—with or without our assistance. Our experience in Australia has been nine out of 10 graduates from our bootcamps eventually find placement within three or four months of graduation. If you count as employment the remaining 10 percent that went into business for themselves, that's a pretty impressive feat,” he shares.

Still, coding bootcamps may not be for everyone. For people unable to dedicate themselves to intense study in a formal program, Estrada recommends joining a co-working space. “I've been witness to amazing success at Calle Uno Co-working Space, where members with no previous coding knowledge have been enjoined to code, and in some rare circumstances become quite proficient at it,” he says. “True, it did not happen overnight, and the skill levels attained are irregular, but it seems to me that prolonged interaction with fellow coders helps you become better at your coding game.”