3 Tracks for Veterans and Military Spouses

Code Platoon Graduate Javier Revuelta:How a challenging experience became rewarding, and led to a dream job

Javier Revuelta: How a challenging experience became rewarding, and led to a dream job

Javier joined our very first cohort back in January 2016 and graduated in May 2016! We asked him to share a few answers with us over email about his experience with Code Platoon.

Javier Revuelta

Former title: Korean Cryptologic Linguist, United States Air Force
Current title: Ruby Developer Intern at PowerReviews

How did it feel when you transitioned out of the military? What would you say to others who are going through/will go through the same transition?

Transitioning out of the military was an interesting experience, because despite my eagerness to start a new phase, there was a long period of adjustment back to life beyond the uniform.  I went straight back to school to finish a Bachelor’s degree and, while certainly useful, at the end of the process I felt like I had just gone through the motions, somewhat.  Get out, go to school, get a degree, go find a job—that sort of thing.  Code platoon was frankly the turning point that made me feel like I was on a real career path, rather than simply having a decent job.

To anyone who is transitioning out of the military, I would simply suggest giving yourself the time to really consider where you want to be in a few years.  Ultimately, we are all looking to be happy and fulfilled in our lives, but that can take many forms and half the battle is being honest with yourself about what that means to YOU.  Whether your choice places you near or far from the skillset you developed in the military isn’t all that important.  Don’t be afraid of going way out of your element.  

What do you do on a typical day now in your civilian career? Is it different from your time in the military?

I am currently a software engineering intern at PowerReviews.  I support two Rails applications, and have had the opportunity to collaborate developing new features and seeing the entire process of bringing a new application to life.

A typical day starts around 8:00 or 9:00 am with arriving to work and checking for pull requests that have been submitted by the team.  I familiarize myself with the work that went on the previous day and ask any questions that might come up while I do code review before we merge the newest batch of changes.  I will then take a few minutes to prioritize the day in terms of outstanding tickets I might have, and will try to do some coding before our standup meeting at 10:30.

Once standup time arrives, the team gathers and explains the work each person has done since the previous day.  We are encouraged to bring up anything that could be blocking our progress so we can address that quickly.  I will generally give some idea of where I am with projected completion times for outstanding tickets, and mention whether any of my work is relevant or could impact any of the work that the others are doing.  Standup meetings tend to be fairly short, so I am usually back at my desk within 15 minutes.

Once standup is complete, I can get a good coding session in before lunch.  Work tends to have a wide range of flavors, but taking today as an example, I spent the morning writing some tests for Active Record models.  Lunch was going for a quick run to clear my mind, and then it was back to tackling a few bugs in the code for one of our apps, as well as re-visiting an API I had written to expand its features, since requirements for it had changed.

The work that I did in the military involved foreign languages, so there are certainly some parallels to be drawn.  The process of learning vocabulary and phrasing in Korean ties closely with working out the syntax of- and well as writing idiomatic Ruby, for example.    

Why did you join the military? What does the military instill in you?

I was unsure about what I wanted to do with my life, so I walked into a recruiter’s office almost as an afterthought.  As soon as I got the option to become a cryptologic linguist, I knew that I would be in for a very special experience and the rest was history.  The military will teach you many things, but the most important ones are leadership and teamwork, which go hand-in-hand.  Nobody is above the team, nobody is dead weight, and nobody gets left behind—lessons are taught quickly and effectively if you struggle with any of those concepts.  What comes from that is a strong sense of self and core values, along with a level of camaraderie with your peers that will, in all likelihood, never be matched in your civilian life.

Why did you decide to join Code Platoon?

Code Platoon opened a door that I had long ago considered to be closed.  Going back to the reasons I joined the military, one of the things that the recruiter asked me after I had completed all of my assessments was whether I had an interest in languages or programming.  Back then I said languages, but I spent the next ten years wondering what would have happened if I had answered differently.  Code Platoon gave me a chance to answer that question again and choose a new path.

One of the most important things that led to my decision to join Code Platoon was an early conversation I had with Rod while I was finishing up my application.  It was clear to me that the best intentions were in place with this program: non-profit, veteran focused, etc., but I knew that if the right person wasn’t at the helm this would be short-lived.  Rod instilled an immense amount of confidence in me, and his absolute frankness about the program, the challenges ahead, and his plans to really build something great made this an easy decision.

Take all of that and add a generous tuition-assistance program coupled with companies willing to grant internship slots to new graduates, and you have a package that is unmatched by any other boot camp.

What was your favorite and/or most memorable part of it?

I will always remember the camaraderie and dedication that everyone showed day in and day out.  Most of us have been out of the military for a while and were complete strangers when we first started the program, but I know that I have lifelong friendships here and that I could trust these guys with my life.

Memorable?  Many things stand out: hackathon night pairing with the guys at Enova, the surprise of getting our graduation coins after presenting our final projects, walks around the block to try to clear our minds and discuss a given project, or even the cheesy ‘Welcome Back’ CSS animations for the e-greeting card we built for Rod when he got back from a trip.  I’ll never forget having our instructor take on multiple accents/personas to play ‘client’ or ‘consultant extraordinaire’ when we were tackling our projects.  It’s the small things that made this whole experience amazing.  

How did you feel at the beginning of CP?

I was excited to take on this new challenge, proud of myself for making the leap of transitioning out of one career to pursue my real passion, and also slightly nervous about my ability to get through it all and succeed.  Would I be able to handle the curriculum? Could I really build a new career as a software developer?

I would eventually learn that the answer to both was a resounding yes, but those first days definitely put us all to the test.

What did you think of Code Platoon overall?

        Code platoon was an interesting experience; it was certainly rewarding but immensely challenging at the same time.  We were provided an incredibly capable instructor (rewarding!), but the teaching style – in having to compress so much information into such a small timeframe – was not for everyone (challenging!).  I don’t think I could have achieved what I did anywhere else, and in that I give full credit to Rod, Josh, and Brent for doing an outstanding job as we navigated this new process together.

        Ultimately, I think what brought Code Platoon to life was the camaraderie.  For all the happy years all of us have spent as civilians, there is something to be said for being in a group of people who have also served in the military.  There is no leaving anyone behind, or losing sight of the goal – and that is something that was proven time and time again as we struggled, came together, and overcame many of the challenges that we faced in those sixteen weeks.   

What advice would you give to people who want to get the most out of Code Platoon?

        The most important piece to getting the most out of Code Platoon actually needs to occur before ever stepping into the classroom: gaining a full understanding of what programs like these demand of you and arriving at the right mindset.  I can’t say that any of us can fully appreciate that until we are in the middle of it, but reflecting on and accepting the demands and stresses that this would place on my life certainly helped me when the pressure was on and everyone was starting to crack a bit.  This will be difficult.  This will demand more of you than any academic endeavor you’ve engaged in previously, and it will beat you into the ground if you’re not in 100%.

How has joining Code Platoon affected your life?

        It changed my perspective on learning and completely redefined what I now consider difficult or challenging.  From a confidence standpoint, I am fairly certain that – given enough time – I could learn just about anything, programming-related or not.

        I am currently finishing the second month of a six-month internship, and that is thanks to Rod’s efforts to get enough sponsor companies lined up for us.  So far, the support here has been outstanding, and I find myself at a company where people really  seem to enjoy their work.  You wouldn’t believe what a difference that makes every morning when I walk in!  

What do you want out of your career today?

I want the fulfillment of knowing that I am tackling and solving difficult and very different problems while working with a great group of people.  I know that my happiness is tied intrinsically to satisfying a high level of intellectual curiosity—so far the work that I am doing has delivered in spades.  

Why veterans are great in tech

Why veterans are great in tech

 

Discipline

One of the best skills that the military develops in all of its soldiers is discipline. During their tough years in the military, soldiers are forced to live very regimented lives that follow strict rules at all times. As pop culture and reality shows us, these rules are not always easy to follow (cough: 5am wake up time). Orders must be followed at all times, respect maintained, MREs eaten, and all without complaint or hesitation. True military discipline is an asset to any employee, and especially one working in the tech industry, which is known for being highly dynamic and fast-paced. Discipline is what gets you to work on time, all the time. Discipline is what forces you to tackle everything on the to-do list, without slacking. Discipline is what veterans have, and what every tech company needs in its employees to be successful.

 

Attention to Detail

Close attention to detail is another skill that is cultivated by military service. During deployments to dangerous countries where bombs and ambushes could be hidden at every turn, paying close attention to detail is key. As an air force engineer, any mistake you make could cause an aircraft to malfunction, so you always, always pay close attention to the details. Every veteran will be meticulous about their work thanks to the military, and that means they will only ever do and turn in top-notch work. Like this veteran-turned-iOS-developer states, “I learned quite a few things in the military that paid off in later years. The biggest was attention to detail. I worked in positions where a mistake could possibly cause an aircraft to go off course… So we checked and double-checked our work and then checked again, just for fun.” Meticulousness is required in technology, where even the smallest details can be paramount, so make sure your company has great employees who operate with military precision.

 

Perseverance

Few people outside the military are exposed to as many pressures as soldiers are, and even fewer would persevere through the pressures to accomplish mission objectives like soldiers always do. Veterans are clearly masters of perseverance because the military has taught them to never give up, regardless of how dangerous or unpleasant circumstances are. Since the tech industry is relatively new, it is facing new problems and challenges every day that no one necessarily knows how to solve. This makes perseverance key in any tech employee since most problems will therefore be challenging and difficult and only the truly persevering will manage to overcome frustration and continue giving their all.

 

Problem Solving

You can’t survive the military without becoming a problem solver. Throughout training, simulations, drills, and any kind of exercise, almost, the military challenges its recruits to be flexible and creative, and to solve problems in all kinds of situations. During deployments and time in hostile countries, soldiers similarly have to devise ways to make up for discrepancies between plan and reality so that the mission can still be fulfilled. If veterans have survived by solving problems and thinking creatively when bombs were raining down on them, they can probably solve most problems that face employees in the tech industry.

 


About Code Platoon:

Code Platoon is an immersive, beginner-friendly coding boot camp located in the heart of Chicago. Code Platoon offers to cover 80% of tuition costs if you are a veteran or a military spouse, so the total out-of-pocket cost is $2,500. Code Platoon provides instant leads internships, interview preparation, job counseling, employer matching. Join us today by signing up at codeplatoon.org/apply.

Easing your transition out of the military

Easing your transition out of the military

 

Here at Code Platoon we care about veterans and military spouses. A lot. That is why we took the time to comb the web and all of our resources to compile this guide for you. We pored over hundreds of guides and tips and only listed the best ones here. Are you ready to see what we found?

 

PREPARE EARLY

As early as possible is ideal, but at least one year in advance of leaving the military is a good idea. Don’t immediately start vacationing and taking time off. It might be tempting, especially after multiple deployments, but don’t do it. Strike while the iron is hot.

By preparing early we mean that you should be applying as early as possible to as many jobs as possible. This in turn means networking early, preparing for interviews early, cleaning up your resume early, and cleaning up all social media early, making sure you have a highly professional email address– i.e. first and last name, no nicknames – and no embarrassing photos on Facebook. Get your SMART transcript ready, too, especially if you want to go to college because it shows how many college credits you have already learned while in the military.

In terms of job interview preparation, try to hold practice interviews (out loud, with friends, with career advisors, etc.) and realize what your strengths and weaknesses are as well as what your time with the military gave you. Always ask yourself the hard questions, even if you’re not sure of the answers yet. Real job interviewers will not be easy on you so practice effectively and practice as soon as possible.

You should also take this preparation time to decide what kind of work you actually want to do. This will help you tailor your job seeking approach to getting the jobs you actually want.

Moreover, preparing early for the real world means civilianizing. You should try to civilianize all aspects of your life because that is how you will have to live the second you leave the military. Make sure you’re not using military lingo or that your resume has specific military acronyms on it because hiring managers will not take the time to find out what you mean.

Finally, and very importantly, save. Early. As much as possible. Even with all of your (hopefully) early preparation, the job markets these days are uncertain. You could be jobless for a while and you will need to rely on savings to support yourself and your family, if you have one. The military will no longer be there to pay for your food and housing, so make sure that you can. You should conservatively estimate how much money you should save up, but a safe bet is at least $3,000 to $5,000 per month that the military will no longer pay you for, depending on where you live, whether or not you have a family, and any other circumstances.

 

USE YOUR RESOURCES AND ANY OTHER RESOURCES YOU CAN FIND

The military doesn’t just throw you out without any help. Make sure you take advantage of all the free services that are available to you, like military placement firms, military job boards, military job fairs, TAP/ACAP, and those military networks like VFW, any former military members you know, and military associations like AUSA, MOAA, IAVA, Marine for Life, etc. etc. Your friends and peers are one of your best resources, and this way you can learn from buddies who are going through the same challenges as you.

You should also make sure to use your military move wisely. Don’t just immediately use it to go back to your home town. If you wait until you find a job, you can actually use your military move to pay for relocation to wherever that is. If the company you’re applying for is unwilling to pay for employee relocation, this will make you an extra favorable hire.

Your military-provided life insurance services stop when you leave, naturally, so be sure to convert your standard $400,000 Servicemembers Group Life Insurance policy to a term policy with Veterans Group Life Insurance, especially if you are a veteran with health issues. If you are in good health a more competitive commercial policy would be an option. As a military retiree, you will still remain eligible to use TRICARE health insurance, but ideally you will soon switch to a good, affordable plan that comes with a new employer or a spouse’s job.

To help decide where to move to, you can easily look up what the most affordable cities are (Rochester, MN, Provo, UT, and Huntsville, AL to name a few) or where the most military-friendly employers are based (hint: Texas). If you are buying a home, you are probably eligible for a VA home loan, which could help you buy a house without a large down payment.

Finally, consider the reserves. Joining the reserves can make the transition a lot easier since you can still get to wear that uniform every month. Joining the reserves can give you enough money to cover a job search for several months, but in return you must sign a contract to serve for several years. If you don’t accept a financial payment package in direct transition, you can transfer to the reserves without any kind of future-job harming commitment.

Here are some other helpful sites:

 

USE WHAT THE MILITARY TAUGHT YOU

This applies to pre-finding a job/college as well as post-finding a job/college. In fact, this should apply to the rest of your life. The military was probably one of the best things that happened to you and it will have instilled many valuable lessons in you.

First, know when to ask for help. At some point or another, you’re going to need someone to talk to. Whether it is about money, health, family, or your service, know it’s okay to open up. The network you have around you wants to help. Let them know when you need it. No one can help you if you don’t let them know you need it.

Be humble. As humble as you were to your superiors in the military, if not more. Unfortunately, many civilian employers do not appreciate the risk and commitment you undertook when you elected to serve. Do not expect job interviewers to be impressed by your time in the military, instead be polite and friendly and try to show them how that experience makes you the best, most qualified candidate for whatever position it is you are interviewing for.

Be a self-advocate. You need to realize that no one is going to do anything for you. Whether it is filing a claim for an injury at the VA or getting your Post-9/11 GI Bill® started, there are so many benefits that you can access as long as you put in the effort to attain them. The system for getting them isn’t always easy to navigate, and it can be frustrating and infuriating to wait for answers. Use the previous tip and ask for help, or just be patient, and turn in whatever paperwork you need to because hey, it’s for your own good.

The little things you learned in the military can also make you successful as a civilian. You can show up to class or work earlyStay after class or work to ask questions or do extra work. Ask lots of questions and be enthusiasticVolunteer for hard assignmentsSolve problems instead of giving excuses. These little things will set you apart, and also help dispel potentially negative stereotypes of veterans that exist in this country.

 

SAY ‘THANK YOU’

You should be thanking people throughout your journey to a successful military transition. Thank interviewers very soon after your interviews, thank those who offer you positions even if this is followed by a rejection rather than an acceptance, thank your friends and network who helped get you to where you are, thank your family, the list goes on.

 


About Code Platoon:

Code Platoon is an immersive, beginner-friendly coding boot camp located in the heart of Chicago. Code Platoon offers to cover 80% of tuition costs if you are a veteran or a military spouse, so the total out-of-pocket cost is $2,500. Code Platoon provides instant leads internships, interview preparation, job counseling, employer matching. Join us today by signing up at codeplatoon.org/apply.

Why you should hire veterans

Why you should hire veterans

 

A few years back IBM conducted interviews with 1,709 CEOs from all around the world and published the results in the paper “Leading Through Connections.” In one of the sections of this near-70-page long study, CEOs talk about the “future-proof employee,” which is the essentially the ideal employee CEOs want to hire.

According to the many CEOs interviewed, the ideal employees always tend to share the same handful of characteristics. As mentioned in the study, “across industries and geographies, CEOs consistently highlight four personal characteristics most critical for employees’ future success: being collaborative, communicative, creative and flexible.”

 

The interesting thing is that veterans possess all of these characteristics, but especially three out of the four. If you stop and think about what an important, difficult job they are tasked with, and what kinds of skills and traits they must develop in order to do that job, you realize that veterans inherently must possess these CEO-wanted characteristics.

 

1 Veterans are collaborative

If you’ve forgotten what “collaborative” means, Google will immediately tell you the definition is “produced or conducted by two or more parties working together.”

Veterans have to work with other people all of the time. The smallest military organization unit is a fireteam, which is composed of 3-4 people, while the largest military organization unit, a region, or theater, is composed of 640,000+ people. Naturally, therefore, veterans will most definitely have experience with working with others in order to accomplish objectives. Veterans rely on fellow service members for survival and spend years training with thousands of other recruits, so they have had ample time to develop a wealth of collaborative experience.

Rank, and knowing one’s rank, is also a fundamental part of the military and veterans will undoubtedly be respectful to company executives and higher-ups as well as fellow employees.

The U.S. military also conditions members of the military to be stellar team leaders as well as team players, so veterans are used to accomplishing tasks with minimal guidance or direction from others and showing initiative.

2 Veterans are communicative

Veterans have survived the heat, danger, and pressure of battle, and they would probably not have been able to do so if they were not proficient at quick, clear, and efficient communication. Veterans are also going to be trustworthy because of the “when you lie people die” ideology that has been instilled in them during their time with the military. In the military lying is a huge deal and recruits are taught from the beginning to take full responsibility for their actions. This leads to most veterans preferring to suffer the consequences of being wrong rather than the consequences of lying and getting caught. This is going to be an incredible asset in large corporations, where communication is already fraught with difficulties and the truth imperative for company leaders to know.

 

3 Veterans are flexible

Fighting in a war, flying out to foreign enemy territory, being away from your loved ones and what you know of society, these are probably some of the hardest situations life can throw at you and veterans experienced them all of the time while they were in the military. War is always unpredictable. Mission circumstances or objectives can change in a heartbeat and veterans are used to these challenges. In the military you have to solve problems every day. Veterans have honed their problem-solving skills and creative thinking so that they can come up with different ways of overcoming an obstacle.

Moreover, most military members move around very frequently – approximately once every 2-4 years, and they can be relocated all over the country, or even to different countries and continents. This experience exposes them to many diverse experiences and forces them to adapt, and become used to change.

Conclusion

Veterans are clearly the kinds of future-proof employees that CEOs desire and need. Who else has years of experience of effective collaboration, communication, and of being flexible? Regardless of what kind of job you are hiring for, veterans will be able to optimize your company’s path to reaching its goals in some way. In the military, the mission always, always comes first. If you hire a veteran, the success of your company will be their new mission, and their accumulated skill and experience will make whatever goals you set them a reality.

 

 


About Code Platoon:

Code Platoon is an immersive, beginner-friendly coding boot camp located in the heart of Chicago. Code Platoon offers to cover 80% of tuition costs if you are a veteran or a military spouse, so the total out-of-pocket cost is $2,500. Code Platoon provides instant leads internships, interview preparation, job counseling, employer matching. Join us today by signing up at codeplatoon.org/apply.

Application tips and how to make the most of your time when you’re at coding boot camp

Part II: You picked a school and decided to apply

Congratulations! Hopefully you’ve considered your answers to all of the questions in Part I carefully and are eyeing the school of your dreams (if you haven’t, here’s where you can read Part 1).
But don’t get too excited yet, you still need to get accepted into that dream school…

1 How do I get in?

Most coding boot camps have a fairly long application process. If there are short answer or essay questions be sure to answer all of them and try to reflect passion in your writing. If there is an interview or coding test, try to show your thought process and your amazing problem-solving skills rather than focusing on just getting the right answer. This gives boot camp recruiters a reason to accept you even if you’re answer was slightly off or if your code was a little buggy.

3

Recruiters will probably ask for a normal, paper resume as part of the application, but it would also be highly beneficial if you had a strong online presence. You can display any prior coding skills on GitHub, make a personal website, and perfect your LinkedIn page. These simple things will help you have a stronger personal brand and appear more professional when your application is being considered.

Code Platoon’s application process only requires the DD-214 and Statement of Service forms for eligibility, and then 60-100 hours of pre-work on computing basics, for example.

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2 What should I do to prepare myself for boot camp?

Frankly, a lot of things. And you thought applying was hard.

If the coding boot camp you want to attend doesn’t already stipulate a few tasks for you to do, to make that boot camp price tag pay off, you should first practice coding as much as possible, in whatever language it is that you will be learning. There are most definitely going to be online resources that you can use, such as the aforementioned Codecademy, Free Code Camp, and so many others that are accessible once you hit ‘enter’ on your favorite search engine. There’s also the all-around great resource Bento.io, which aggregates online resources that are available to learn coding.

3 What should I do while I’m at boot camp?

When you are in a coding boot camp, what ultimately matters is how hard you are willing to work. Perseverance and grit make the programmer, not how many languages they know. Working hard should be your number one priority if you want that ROI to be as high as possible. When you’re not in class, you should be studying or practicing what you covered in class. You need to put in all of your effort for those 10 or so weeks; again, the best boot camps tend to be immersive, which means plan on putting aside most of the rest of your life while you are going through the bootcamp.

Apart from working as hard as humanly possible, you should be asking questions. As many as you can. Try to answer your own questions first if possible, but don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your instructors are a great resource and your classmates will appreciate your engagement with the material.

Finally, network, network, network. Get to know your fellow developers-in-training. Talk with your instructors and attend events and career fairs. Connect with potential employers and companies that you would like to work for on social media by following them and replying to their posts.

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4 What do I do after boot camp?

If you’ve graduated from coding boot camp, you should now have the skills you need to land a job as a developer if you’re boot camp was worth its salt. So what are you waiting for? Research companies! Apply to jobs! Maintain and hone your new skills! Start that new career in tech that you have always wanted and have worked so hard for.

 


About Code Platoon:

Code Platoon is an immersive, beginner-friendly coding boot camp located in the heart of Chicago. Code Platoon offers to cover 80% of tuition costs if you are a veteran, so the total out-of-pocket cost is $2,500. Code Platoon provides instant leads internships, interview preparation, job counseling, employer matching. Join us today by signing up at here.

What to consider before applying to coding boot camps

What to consider before applying to coding boot camps

Part I: Before you decide to apply

The first ever coding boot camp popped up in late 2011, in the form of one person offering to teach six people how to code on Hacker News. At the end of 2015, there were sixty-seven full-time boot camps with a total gross revenue of $172m. Taking into account the hundreds of thousands of open tech jobs across the country, it is easy to see why the coding boot camp industry is booming.

According to a 2015 Coding Bootcamp Alumni Outcomes & Demographics Study, last year more than 16,000 students graduated from full-time immersive coding boot camps. Some stats:

  • the average boot camp was 10 weeks long
  • 66% of graduates were employed full-time in a job that required the skills they learned at boot camp
  • there was an average salary increase of 38% (which translates to an average salary lift of $18,000)
  • and the typical boot camper was 31 years-old and had never worked as a programmer before.

Before you head on over to your nearest boot camp and fork over the $11,852 average tuition, though, there are a few things that you should seriously consider…

1 Where should I go?

One of the first steps to becoming a successful boot camper is picking the right city. Where do you want to work after you graduate? Does the city you have in mind have a credible boot camp option? Do you want to work in the cities with the highest average salaries for coding boot camp grads (Palo Alto, San Francisco, and Chicago to name a few)? Or, even, do you not want to go anywhere at all? There are many online boot camp options that exist, which also tend to be cheaper than immersive boot camps.

Whatever the criterion is that is most important to you, make sure you do lots of research; thoroughly research different programs, their perks, and their promises. The best perks are instant leads to jobs or internships, interview preparation, job counseling, employer matching, or recruiting events like career fairs. You will want to dig deep into potential schools’ reputations. The best code camps will publish statistics about their graduates such as how many recent graduates are now working as developers? What percentage of graduates find a job right after graduating? Does everybody even graduate? You can look at student testimonials or ask people working in the area about the school to develop a good, hopefully accurate idea about what you’re getting into.

Also don’t forget that some coding boot camps require a certain level of prior programming experience. While most are beginner-friendly and don’t require any (like Code Platoon), you really want to be sure that the camp you choose matches your abilities.

2 How much am I willing to pay?

Coding boot camps are generally not so cheap.

With tuition ranging from a few thousand dollars to more than $20,000, it is probably important for you and your wallet to look at price. Are there other boot camps that are equally good options that are much cheaper? Does the boot camp you want to attend have scholarships that you qualify for? That you need to apply for? You should be researching the answers to these questions well in advance of applying.

If you are considering relocating for a boot camp, you also need to consider the added expenses of moving to a new place and the living expenses you will incur there. Will your housing be provided? If not, how much, and how easy to find, is housing in the area?

3 What language(s) should I learn?

Do you want to work on the web? Front-end development? Back-end development? Or do you prefer mobile instead? If the latter, then consider looking at iOS and Android. If the first two you should consider Python, Ruby on Rails, or Javascript as they are the most common teaching languages due to their popularity, powerful frameworks, and ease of learning. You can get the best of both worlds by going to a boot camp that turns you into a full-stack developer.

Even if you end up picking a school that teaches one language only to end up realizing you needed or wanted to learn another, luckily it’s not the end of the world. Once you learn one language it becomes easier to pick up others, as long as you work hard at boot camp and develop your coding fundamentals.

4 Will I make the most of my time there?

It depends on your priorities. A lot of people choose coding boot camps over a four-year degree because it can be a much faster and direct route to employment. However, the best coding bootcamps tend to be the most rigorous, often requiring 60 to 90 hours of work per week. You have to really be passionate about wanting to become a professional software developer if you plan to follow this route. You can easily find out if you like coding by looking at sites like Codecademy or Free Code Camp and working through a few courses. Finding out if you have enough passion is something you will need to decide on your own.
Considering the significant time and money that you will need to invest if you attend a coding boot camp, really ask yourself if this is a vital and ideal means of achieving your goals. This will be true if you want to become a developer, better understand code and programming, or need this knowledge so you can build your own company. Knowing your end goals and how coding boot camp helps to achieve them will help you when times are tough; reminding yourself of them will help you remain committed during the tough two or so months of hard-core coding.


About Code Platoon:

Code Platoon is an immersive, beginner-friendly coding boot camp located in the heart of Chicago. Code Platoon offers to cover 80% of tuition costs if you are a veteran or military spouse, so the total out-of-pocket cost is $2,500. Code Platoon provides instant leads internships, interview preparation, job counseling, employer matching. Join us today by signing up at codeplatoon.org/apply.

Why I Chose Fish Over Bash

Why I Chose Fish Over Bash

Why I chose Fish over Bash for students

I’m currently the lead instructor at Code Platoon and an instructor/developer at the Turing School of Software and Design.

I’ve been advocating the Fish shell and when the choice is up to me, I choose that for my students. Enough people ask about the decision, particularly in relation to the preinstalled Bash shell, that I figured it’s worth laying out my reasoning.

TL;DR

Fish addresses many of bash’s shortcomings and is much kinder to newcomers, with only 3 or 4 new things to learn for people coming from Bash.

The decision give students my defaults

I used to let students choose whatever shell/editor/etc they wanted. But most students are not in a position to understand the tradeoffs, and they fear making changes. This would often lead to situations where students would defer all choices and 6 months into the program wouldn’t have so much as a coloured prompt. Why does a coloured prompt matter? It means that every command they type, they have to scrutinize carefully to see what the command was and what the output was. Add that to all the other costs of being new, and it gets expensive quickly!

The problem with being a beginner is that you get a lot of practice in staying a beginner. What a beginning tennis player does most of the time is chase the ball. They get to be really good at chasing the ball, but all other forms of tennis involve hitting the ball.

— Tim Gallwey

I eventually decided that letting them choose had little value because it meant inconsistent environments, most in some state of brokeness. Students were mostly overwhelmed by all the decisions they had to make, and were too ill-informed to understand the tradeoffs anyway. It turns out that overchoice leads to dissatisfaction, regret, and paralysis. I know the tradeoffs, and what they struggle with, so I’ll make those choices for them.

So then, the question becomes “what environment should I give them?” I’ve tried 4 different editors now (Sublime, Atom, RubyMine, and Vim), and two different shells (bash, fish). In the end, I realized that most of the decisions I make for myself are better than the defaults, and due to my prioritization of feedback, my choices are generally good for learners. One of those decisions was the Fish shell, and this post is intended to explain why it is a better default than the Bash shell.

The case for Bash

Based on conversations I’ve had, there are 3 arguments for Bash:

  1. It is already installed.
  2. Most shell code is written for Bash.
  3. Most people that can help know Bash.

My perspective: We are installing many new things already, and don’t accept this as an argument that we should stick with many other defaults. Fish is mostly compatible with Bash. And there are only a small number of new things someone with Bash knowledge needs to learn in order to use Fish.

The case for Fish

Highlighting

Fish will highlight the command they are typing differently from the arguments they are giving, making it apparent that this first bit of text is different. If it is not made explicit like this, students can go months before they understand that the first thing they type is a program and the things after it are arguments.

highlighting args

If they type an incorrect command, it highlights this in red, so they immediately know, as opposed to knowing when they get an error message after running the completed command.

highlights incorrect commands

It highlights quoted args differently to let you know they are a single argument, and if you have incorrect syntax, it highlights this in red:

highlighting identifies command vs arg vs quoted arg vs incorrect quoting

Suggestions

Fish will suggest previously typed commands. What was that command to start postgresql? type pg and it will suggest whatever I put last time! This is even directory aware, so that suggestions will be be prioritized based on where I use them!

suggestions

It understands program options and lets you tab complete to see what the option is and a brief description of the option:

suggests option completion with summary

Highly compatible with bash

Syntax for common use cases is usually the same:

Wildcards are the same

wildcards are the same

Redirects are the same

redirects are the same

Pipes are the same

pipes are the same

Things Fish does much better than Bash

It correctly handles string escaping where bash completely falls down (Bash later added $'this kind of string' to compensate).

fish quotes correctly bash does not

It’s much easier to set up a prompt that changes based on the success of the previous command (bash can do this, too, it just took me several years to figure out the right way to do it — the PROMPT_COMMAND variable, if you’re curious)

success displays in the prompt

When you get to scripting it, the language syntax is dramatically more understandable. I tried to write a function just now, in bash it took me 2 tries, then I wrote it long-hand so I could press up to see how it translates to one line (5 tries in the recording because I messed up). Notice that even if the fish version wasn’t obvious, the autosuggestion from my previous success would let me know. And while defining it, I get syntax highlighting and proper indentation.

functions in bash vs fish

Fish handles string escaping and allows you to edit across lines. I’m not sure what library bash uses, but watch what happens when I try to go up to edit what I wrote (also notice I got the name wrong at first, but fish highlighted it in red, so I knew to go fix it). It’s good enough that I’ve written 30 line programs inside of strings in the shell!

editing in bash vs fish

Bash only recently got basic data structures like hashes and arrays, and the syntax to use them is both unintuitive, and forgiving of mistakes (meaning it is easy to do the wrong thing, and difficult to realize it). Here’s an example: setting arrays involves complex syntax, whereas in fish, it’s the same syntax you use for everything else (a command followed by args) and look how many ways there are to access it wrong in bash, many of which you wouldn’t realize you got wrong unless you knew to check it against an element with a space. And you have to opt into safe behaviour by quoting everything… I’m not even sure what the unquoted use case is!

arrays in bash vs fish

And here’s bash’s syntax for hashes: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/1494178/how-to-define-hash-tables-in-bash

Another thing about Bash

Also, the relationship between .bashrc, .bash_profile, and .profile is utterly confusing and leads to bugs when things get placed in the wrong file (I’m pretty sure this is because it’s inconsistent across operating systems). A very competent friend (maintainer of gems we all use, who prides himself in knowing everything) once confidently told me what they all did, and I tried it in front of them and it was incorrect.

Summary

So, Fish addresses many of bash’s shortcomings and is much kinder to newcomers, with only 3 or 4 new things to learn for people coming from bash. I documented most differences I could think of over here, and that document goes much further than even I actually need. In our material on the shell, there’s only one place we need to differentiate it from bash, which is in how environment variables get set (12). So the cost is low and the value is high.

Salutation

Hope that explains my motivations sufficiently

3 Paths to Great Civilian Jobs

3 Paths to Great Civilian Jobs

Are you a veteran transitioning out of the military or a military spouse, or looking to change careers? There are many resources available to help you quickly enter new fields. Below are some different types of career-development opportunities to prepare you for a successful career in a new field, as well as some valuable tools to help you enter those fields. This is hardly an exhaustive list, just an idea of organizations looking to help veterans and military spouses in the workplace.

Workforce Development

A traditional path to employment for many transitioning and career-changing veterans and military spouses is to learn the skills of a particular trade in manufacturing or construction.

Helmets to Hardhats focuses on providing veterans training and resources to prepare veterans to work in construction-related jobs. Their 14-week training program, for example, is designed to prepare veterans to work in the electrical industry.

Sometimes, employers will offer training programs to learn the skills you need to work in their industry.  Siemens, among others, offers free classes that teach specific skills to begin a career in manufacturing. The classes vary in length, and focus on Computer Aided Design and Computer Aided Manufacturing.

Technology Careers

If you want to learn to become a software developer, ranked as  #3 job overall by US News, and the #3 best job for Veterans by Forbes, one of the best ways to do it is at an in-person ‘bootcamp’.  Code Platoon is a veteran and military spouses only, non-profit bootcamp that teaches the fundamentals of programming over the course of 16 weeks and prepares you for a career in software development. Anyone who is smart, determined and deeply interested in software can succeed at a coding bootcamp, even if they have never previously written a line of code. Look for programs that will provide at least 1000 hours of combined instruction and coding time. Starting salaries out of similar programs range between $60,000 and $80,000.

Other programs, like Veterans Career Transition Program (Tech Track), run by The Institute for Military Families at Syracuse University (IVMF), teach industry related skills in information technology (IT), project management and human resources. Several of their courses lead to industry-wide accepted certifications, and classes are free.

Business Careers

For many veterans who are leaving the military, starting your own business is a great path. Likewise for veterans and military spouses who have been employed, but want to strike out on their own. These organizations help veterans  and military spouses prepare to start their own businesses, or directly enter the business world:

The Bunker is a program where early stage, veteran-led startups go to access great talent, an exclusive network of fellow entrepreneurs, mentorship and professional development, and capital. Most of the different chapters (5 currently) are located in startup friendly co-working spaces, like 1871 in Chicago. Around 30 companies participate in The Bunker, with anywhere from one to five employees.

Patriot Boot Camp (PBC) helps military veterans and military spouses build technology businesses. PBC runs intensive 3­-day training events to engage, inspire, and mentor veterans and military spouses to start, innovate, and scale the next generation of technology ­focused businesses.

The goal of Patriot Boot Camp events is to help participants learn the basics of tech entrepreneurship and grow their professional network. Patriot Boot Camp provides these early stage entrepreneurs with programming that is tailored to helping them build a network of contacts and take steps to bring their entrepreneurial dreams to market.

Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans (EBV) is a three-phase program (online phase, weeklong residency at partner university, then a yearlong support mentorship program) that combines classroom with experiential learning to give veterans the skills they need to start their own businesses.  Think of it as a mini MBA bootcamp, only it’s free.

GE offers a Junior Officer Leadership Program, which is a combination of formal classroom and on-the-job training. Selected candidates rotate through various departments in GE, and learn skills in management and finance, among others.

Transition Guidance

There are many organizations that provide support services to help veterans and military spouses, especially those transitioning out of the military. Personal branding and mentorship are two undervalued tools for anyone looking for a job.

National Able’s Veterans Forward program helps veterans and military spouses navigate the job search process in today’s employment marketplace.  They stress the importance of developing a personal brand, effective networking, and maximizing social media in the job search process.  Three-quarters of all hires go to “known candidates”.  They show their clients how to become part of that 75%.

American Corporate Partners pairs veterans and military spouses with Corporate Mentors. Mentors provide career advice, encouragement, and connections. Want a senior level mentor at Disney, Morgan Stanley or Lockheed Martin? These are just a few organizations that work with ACP.

Lastly, as a one-stop-shop for free online classes on many different topics, it’s hard to beat the Army’s e-learning platform, where classes are offered by Skillport. There are many classes focusing on leadership, management, business principles, IT, and project management. Some of the courses are designed specifically for acquiring certain certifications.