Day 1 was on a Monday (3.6.17) but the preceding Friday a mixer was held for anyone who wanted to show up and get to know each other before starting classes on Monday. I would say maybe half of the class showed up to the mixer. All of us were, in varying degrees, equal parts excited and anxious. It was a nice way for all of us to break the ice a little bit before taking the official plunge on Monday.
- The Cohort:
Each graduating ‘class‘ is referred to as a ‘cohort‘. The first cohort for Launch was somewhere around 15 students, my cohort has 40 – that will give you an idea about the level of growth Launch Academy is experiencing. As far as backgrounds go, it’s pretty diverse. You have people from the financial industry, educators, tech people and service industry to name a few. I will say that it is more of the norm for Launch Academy students to already have degrees, whether Bachelor’s or Master’s. It made me feel a little out of place having only an AS in Liberal Arts (my charmin toilet paper is worth more) but that quickly subsided for the following reason.
I noticed right away that everyone there shared a singular purpose. We were (are) looking for a changing in our lives and we have decided that Web Development will end up playing a large role in that change. It is so nice to be surrounded by people who are equally as motivated and inspired as yourself – it offers you so much motivation in your times of need.
The support base here is nothing short of phenomenal, I really mean that. Of course there are people in the class who digest the material quicker than others but I have not seen a single bit of self-serving competition since I showed up – not even on Slack during Ignition, now that I think about it. Everyone here is literally rooting for one another, we all want to see each other succeed.
It is common practice thus far to ask the person sitting next to you for a little clarification on what you are working on. In response, people will drop what they are doing and walk you through it and it is reciprocal, nobody has proprietary knowledge here, we all share our ideas with one another.
- The Staff:
Honestly, I was somewhat preparing myself for the possibility that the curriculum and/or staff would be somewhat disorganized and slack on their approach to teaching us all this material but all of that was dispensed with by Day 2. I say Day 2 because on Day 1, things were so hectic, we were jumping up and down, doing weird greetings with one another (you’ll actually love it – lots of fun) and just getting to know each other that I couldn’t really tell how serious they were.
Here’s the deal. A majority of the staff at Launch Academy are former graduates of Launch Academy. Ok. Hold up. I know what you’re thinking, this is no bueno. You’re thinking that Launch is only hiring them to boost their employment numbers but this is not true.
The staff at Launch is 100% committed to your success and they all love teaching you material. My mentor, Nick Alberts is nothing short of amazing. I have been, in a way, testing the staff members by just paying attention to how they respond to questions, especially during a Q&A session as opposed to more structured questions pertaining to a specific reading assignment. Now, not just my mentor Nick but every one of the EE’s (Experience Engineer’s) has come across as very knowledgeable and authoritative. These people really know what they are talking about, they get it and that gives me a lot of confidence.
I will breakdown in another article the actual structure of the day, but a brief overview is that each day the mornings are spent with your mentor (there are 4 mentor groups each consisting of something like 7 or 8 students each) going over the night’s homework followed by an afternoon ‘facilitation’ where a lecture is given by a rotating cast of Staff members on material you just covered the night before once again and then that is followed by an optional ‘clinic’ where a staff member (again, rotating list) live codes for the class and we are all able to interact to get an even more solid foundation.
Here’s the thing, through all of that, these people are just consistently on point. It’s very impressive to me that they can do this, the true test would be, I suppose, can it be sustained for the duration of the cohort? I want to say yes but we will see.
- Career Service:
There is a really great team at Launch made up of 3 people whose job it is to do nothing but get you a job. We were able to me with 2/3 of the career services department, the third being a remote worker who just so happens to be extremely pregnant at the moment. All of them come from backgrounds in Advertising, Marketing and Journalism. I was really happy to hear this because if I want anyone ‘selling’ me to potential employers, I want it to be someone who knows how to sell stuff, period.
Their approach to landing you a job is very rigorous too. They stress the importance of networking, polishing your social media profiles as well as overall presence on the web etc. It is strange in a way though because it’s both frustrating that there is so much to be done on the career services side of things while I am still just trying to stay afloat on the Academic side of things. I think it will play out for the better in the long run though.
Everyday at Launch is jam-packed with new material, guest speakers, clinics, events etc. Each day is something new, exciting and fresh but also stressful due to time constraints. That being said, this entire program would be absolute hell if it weren’t for the fact that Launch Academy is, I would say almost neurotically, structured and organized.
They are, in all honesty, a well running and efficient machine.
Every single day is planned out on our Google calendar, this way you know exactly every commitment you have for the day as well as everything you will be learning. I would be completely lost if it weren’t for this, really I would be. Dani, the career services director, will remind you of any obligations you have as they come up and staff will be regularly reminding you of your commitments and assignments for each night and the week – to this end, you can devote more brain power to the actual material and less to the ins and outs of attending a Bootcamp.
In short, I have complete confidence that the staff will be able to take us from a bunch of know-nothing programmers to full on Web Developers in just a few short months. We have 1 week down and now only 9 more to go. I can’t wait to see what the future looks like 9 weeks from now!