Heya everyone! The Jump Start program officially ended on Thursday(8/11). As usual, I’ll give a brief summary of what happened on the last two days of the program(8/10, 8/11). After that, I’ll give my own review of the Jump Start program.
For lecture, Ryan(our instructor) did a code demo a difficult problem from a pracice assessment test. I can’t discuss what problem it was, but I can outline some of the things he did.
He broke down the complicated problem by drawing out the problem on the whiteboard. A visual representation of the problem can help free us of some of the cognitive load(keeping all of the details of a problem in our head) and help us think of how to approach the problem.
I personally need to do this(drawing out the problem) more, since it’s difficult keep all of the details straight in my own head. I often do something similar though, which is write commented pseudo-code and brainstorm the general outline of a problem.
After drawing out the problem, we thought up of helper methods to define, created and tested our helper methods, and then solved the problem. The demo was amazing, because I know I probably couldn’t have explained the problem as well as our instructor did.
Something that concerned me was that the problem took about an hour to solve(I’m guessing it’d take ~20-30 minutes to solve if one didn’t have to draw & explain for a class). Our assessments are only one hour long. So, we’d be in trouble if a problem like that occurred on an assessment test.
There’s a command in irb/pry(ruby REPLs) callled
load 'filename.rb', which allows you to load all content from one ruby file.
This means you can load methods and variables into the REPL, and test them quickly. I prefer to copy and paste my methods into the irb, but this command will definitely come in handy in the future.
After lecture, the day resumed as usual. We did our pair programming warm-up assignment and then went to work on grinding out the algorithm sets.
Day 8 – Final Assessment
Day 8 is the most important day of Jump Start, since it is the day that we take our last assessment test. If we pass the assessment test, our chances of getting into App Academy significantly increases. However, if we don’t pass, we can still apply to App Academy through the regular admissions process.
We had a shortened lecture because it was assessment day. Ryan(our instructor) answered one student’s question and then ended lecture early so we could have more time to study for the assessment.
I can’t give much details about the assessment tests, but I can say that I personally felt that this test was nearly as difficult as the first assessment test. I finished the assessment test with literally two minutes remaining before the time limit.
My biggest tip for preparing for the assessment tests is to overstudy. Run through the practice assessments and time yourself. In addition, try to get exposure to as many algorithm problems as possible.
Just to reiterate, if you pass the test, you have an increased chance of getting into App Academy. You are not guaranteed admission into App Academy. The next step differs for each candidate, but you’ll most likely have to pass a combination of technical and regular interviews.
If you don’t pass, there are no negative consequences. You can still apply to App Academy through the general admissions process.
My Review of Jump Start
Overall, I think that App Academy’s Jump Start program is fantastic. It’s a free 2-week course that prepares and evaluates if an applicant is ready to apply for App Academy.
I also took it to be a mini-preview of what life would be like studying at App Academy. You’ll be working on difficult problems, be surrounded by many competent and motivated individuals, and basically be grinding day in and day out.
In addition, the knowledge and experience you gain from this two-week program provides you with insight on whether you really want to study at an intensive coding bootcamp or not.
Perhaps, the one thing I didn’t like about the program is that it invites coders of all levels and has the same standard(assessment test) for everyone. So, imagine that your are a beginner with no prior coding experience, going up against people who have 1+ years(maybe even just 6+ months) of coding experience.
I’m not saying it’s impossible for a beginner to pass the assessment tests. It is possible. A beginner would most likely have to study ~4-6 hours before class and also need a few mentors to ask questions to when they can’t find the answer out themselves.
Yes, App Academy did explicitly state their intent on the first day of the program. For intermediate programmers, they want to streamline the application process and try to filter in those who are ready for App Academy. For beginners, they want to help them get further along on their journey towards becoming a developer.
Just a thought here, perhaps we could get this message before coming out to to San Francisco. Some applicants flew in from other states, probably with greater expactations.
Don’t get me wrong though, I still recommend this program to both intermediate programmers AND beginners.
- You learn a coding language(ruby) rapidly. Of course, you don’t learn the entire language, but you learn enough to complete a multitude of algorithms.
- You learn how to systematically approach problems.
- You learn how to debug problems.
- You begin to craft a developer’s mindset(getting used to failure/becoming resiliant+persistent, understanding that you need to be constantly learning, learning how to say “I don’t know” and asking for help)
If I was a beginner, these components are reason enough for me to go. I believe that some of these concepts are difficult to learn on one’s own.
For intermediate programmers:
- You significantly increase your odds of getting into one of the most reputable coding bootcamps.
- You will be constantly challenged to improve your problem-solving skills. Also, being around other competent programmers will also push you to step up your game.
- You get an opportunity to work on your soft skills and communication skills.(Pair Programming)
Advice for those interested in the Jump Start program
- Learn the basics of Ruby. Codecademy is a great start.
- Do a ton of ruby algorithms problems. Use websites like Codewars. In addition, you could try searching for App Academy prep problems. I belive they have a problem set with ~21 problems available to the public.
- Apply to App Academy. I got my invitation to the Jump start program because I started the application process for App Academy, one year ago. They say I was a “promising” candidate, but I’m not actually sure what “promising” meant since my application last year probably didn’t really contain any programmer-vetting material. So regardless of whether you feel ready or not, you should still apply.
- If you’ve got a decent handle on Ruby and have started your application process to App Academy: try emailing or even better, calling them, to ask about getting into the Jump Start program.
Instructors and Group/Pod Leaders
Our instructor, Ryan, was an awesome instructor. He’s very enthusiastic and is great at explaining both simple and complex problems to a large audience. I also like the fact that he is open to taking questions during the lecture, as opposed to asking people to hold onto their questions until the end.
The group leaders were pretty cool too. You primarily only interact with your group leader.
I could be wrong, but it appeared that all of the group leaders have already completed the bootcamp portion of App Academy and were actively seeking jobs. At any time during the warm-up or individual study time, you could ask your group leader questions. In addition, group leaders routinely ask if you need any assistance with an algorithm.
My group was awesome. Our group leader was Charlie. He is very helpful and has a great sense of humor as well. In addition, my group members were dope! Everyone was nice and I felt like the entire group had pretty good vibes since the first day. We were all very open to helping each other and I had no issues with anyone during the pair programming warm-ups. I’m grateful to have been a part of Team Charlie, aha.
As I stated previously, students came from varying levels of coding experience. Some were new to programming, some had CS degrees, and some have dabbled in programming and were quick to adapt. Overall, everyone was very kind and open to helping you if you had questions.
Conclusion (aka tl;dr)
App Academy’s Jump Start program is amazing. I definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to try to get into App Academy.
Thank you for taking the time to read this! I had a lot of things I wanted to include in this review, but I chose to leave them out for time’s sake. If you have any questions/comments, please leave them down below!
Catch you later,