JJ Ashcraft

@jjashcraft

Learning Web Development in 2019? Go with Lambda School.

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

If you started as a self-taught developer 5+ years ago, you might think that just reading articles, watching youtube videos and building projects is all you need to get started.

That might have been true before…but with the number of technology choices available today, many new self-taught developers are having the same problem:

Analysis Paralysis.

As new developers, we don’t know where to start…so we keep trying to find a way to put our own curriculum together. Every article catering to us pushes a different tech stack to learn first, and there is too much competing information.

Too Much.

Your video instructed us to learn Ruby/Rails first because it’s easier. Later on, we read an article about how there are not many jobs using this tech anymore.

Next, we are told that Python might be a better option to learn first because it is easier to read and understand as a new developer.

We then find yet another video that says to focus on Javascript…and that is before we go down the front-end framework rabbit hole.

We are not looking for the easy way, we are looking for the logical way.

We are looking for structure; a way to measure our progress.

And finally, we are looking for expertise.

This is why we are choosing to go to bootcamps.

More specifically, this is why I chose to attend Lambda School, which is more than the standard flavor of 12-week bootcamp (dare I even call it a bootcamp, considering how different this 30-week academy is from the rest). Lambda School is more computer science academy than bootcamp. Austen Allred and his colleagues are disrupting and revolutionizing a part of bootcamps that needed it the most. The upfront cost. It’s no secret that many people turn away from the higher end bootcamps because they can’t afford thousands of dollars up front, or aren’t willing to risk more loans.

Our education system is broken. ISA’s are the way to fix it.

Lambda School is designed around an income-share agreement to eliminate upfront cost.

Image Credit: Lambda School

This means that if you don’t succeed (make money), then neither do they. What does this mean for someone choosing a bootcamp? Accountability!

Lambda School also figured out why some tech companies aren’t a fan of bootcamps and started to address those specific issues. The curriculum includes a large portion of algorithms and computer science theories (of which many programs lack all together), on top of learning a full stack. Again, it is the structure and content of the program that makes it worth the money over other programs. The truth is, software development isn’t easy. Many self-taught developers quit when they get to the hard stuff, which is when the structure and support of a school becomes super important.

Is Lambda School expensive? Not if you look at the value of being in the job market faster. Could you pay up to $30,000 for your tuition? Yes, you can, if you land a high salary job after completion of the program. If you are ready even six months faster than a self-taught developer, that is six months of extra income. Lambda School grads are told specifically not to sell themselves as a junior developer, which means higher starting salaries:

I’m an advocate of Lambda School because I have worked in this industry before online learning became the status quo, and I see how they are changing the standards.

I am not entering with minimal knowledge. I know what it used to be like to work on basic websites. As a graphic/web designer re-entering the field from over a decade ago, I still have nightmares of building entire sites from HTML tables. I used the earliest versions of Photoshop to optimize images and learned to build sites before Wordpress existed. Anyone remember Angelfire or Geocities?

The web is a different place now. My previous knowledge was a good base, but still wasn’t enough to prepare me for the tech used today. In January, I decided to build a few websites and follow some tutorials to get up to speed…but quickly realized I was in over my head. I struggled through learning Bootstrap 4 on my own, relearned the little CSS I had been exposed to in the past and got to work. I was fortunate enough to have a small grasp on Git, but I wasn’t confident in my abilities. For two months, I banged my head against the wall while trying to learn the basics of Javascript on my own. I went through half of FreeCodeCamp. At this point, I decided I was done trying to figure out a curriculum for myself, and applied to Lambda School.

I took the Lambda Challenge…and passed it.

After being accepted into their CS11 Cohort, I immediately went back to do the free Intro to Web Development Precourse that Lambda School offers. At first, I thought it might be too basic…after doing some research, I realized it was a free sample of how Lambda actually works.

Who doesn’t like free samples?

After flying through the precourse, I went through Gordon Zhu’s Watch and Code course(also known as Practical Javascript). If you are planning to attend Lambda School, I highly recommend this course before you start.

Image Credit: Practical Javascript FTW!

It really helped prepare me for the first week of code challenges. Gordon does a fantastic job of explaining the basics of Javascript in his video series and has office hours available to ask questions. Best Part? It’s free!

Last week, I started Lambda School’s Full-Time Immersive Web Development Program.

Since I am on Eastern Time, my class runs from 11 am to 8 pm, Monday through Friday. However, that is not the only time I spend learning. My girlfriend gets up at 5am for work, so I make the decision to get up early with her…after she leaves, I work on Harvard’s CS50 course until around 9am.

That’s all for today…sign up below for some killer tips on nailing your job search. What to do, what NOT to do…the best info is in there.

When you are ready: Follow me on Twitter, and read more of my stories on Medium here.

JJ Ashcraft is a graduate of Lambda School’s Immersive Web Development program. He spends his free time skydiving, writing articles and traveling the world. JJ is a Software Engineer at Echobind, a full-service agency bringing together the best web and mobile experts to work on your project. Feel free to check out the playbook and the team’s fact sheet to get more info on what Echobind can do for you.

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