DBC launched an industry. Early students/staff went on to start Hack Reactor, App Academy, and Hackbright Academy. Early students/staff of Hack Reactor went on to found Zipfian Academy (acquired by Galvanize -- went on to lead Galvanize's education efforts), Codesmith, and a half-dozen other bootcamps. I'm sure AA and HB alums went on to pass the gift on in their own ways.
DBC also launched several thousand careers. I attended a coworker's birthday happy hour today, and I told a story of a former student that brought me to tears. DBC launched an industry where real lives get changed in real ways. Staff and alums alike participated in a very personal transformation.
DBC was a rock in a pond and its ripples will extend past where its story ends today. I can't speak for DBC, but they were probably struggling (like the rest of our sector) with growing past the bootcamp industry's early days, when starry-eyed optimism clashed with the operational realities of a highly-regulated industry. Kudos to everyone that tried, and there were many that poured their hearts and wallets out.
Staff/students/mgmt/etc -- reach out if I can help. email@example.com
For nostalgia's sake, here's the HN post where Shereef launched DBC: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3267133
I think the thing I learned from the most was the way that Shereef carried himself and ran the community. We all felt like we were building something bigger than ourselves. Shereef was a next level community manager and wasn't afraid to cajole people into the uncomfortable spots for them. I think literally everyone in my class cried at some point. DBC was more than just a technical education, it was an emotional education. I've tried to emulate and embody the emotional balance I learned while in DBC, especially as Shawn and I were creating HR. I think DBC's longest mark on the industry will be in the insertion of 'engineering empathy' into the curriculum.
Shawn, don't forget that the founder of Epicodus came out of that first class of DBC, as did the founder of Codeunion. And the Bloc folks were working out of DBC early on as well. DBC set in motion a whole industry.
As a member of the industry, a former student at DBC, and a former staff member at DBC, I feel for the people (staff, students, alums) affected by this event and am saddened by the void that it will leave for many. I still have my dog tags, and took them out tonight in reverence. Props to everyone on the team who no doubt fought this closure until there wasn't fight left.
Anyone have great DBC memories to share? My two favorites:
1. Speed chess that happened just about every lunch in the first class
2. White water rafting with DBC2 students and staff
The graduation of your cohort was pretty amazing, though I'll say you being a mixologist during the event would be a welcome improvement. :)
I'm still crying tony.
What kinds of challenges does the sector as a whole face? HackReactor?
I am curious because I may still apply to HR but I don't know if I can afford it. I am an Indian-American college dropout from Atlanta, I was below the poverty line last year. I don't know if the scholarship would be granted to me since I am not technically 'underrepresented' in the industry. I've gotten past the basics of front-end web development, I get stuck with algorithms. I've worked at Bluehost before getting laid off, so I've learned a lot about how DNS, back-end, and servers connect together.
Accelerated training isn't going away by any means, but I expect we'll see consolidation and more closings in the short term as the industry separates those with viable business models and outcomes from those that don't.
You said,"The main challenge I think in the sector is over-saturation."
The problem is indeed over-saturation of similar mistakes from everyone in the realm. After the pioneers' experiment, though, we need to learn and make adjustments that truly improve...not simply appear to improve through improved optics for the consumer. We are all so into Agile, one would think this would be obvious to us. I hope, if anyone in the industry is reading this, that my comments here will cause at least one founder to consider some of the choices they have made and are about to make, in the wake of Dev Bootcamp's unfortunate closing, because the bootcamp model could become great. Or: at least it hasn't given truly "great" a real shot at happening yet.
You also said, "...I expect we'll see consolidation and more closings in the short term as the industry separates those with viable business models and outcomes from those that don't."
As yet, I have not seen an honestly creative/innovative business model in the bunch in NYC, anyway. Yes, there are some slightly varied models- yes some online and blended affairs, yes some variations in offerings and lengths of study, and yes, some "we only accept the truly top whatever percent of students", and even yes, let's have some "verifiable" outcomes reports. But deferred tuition is really just kicking the proverbial can down the road in a way that is destructive to the student's future success. It's just another form of marketing,(you mentioned, "...and there's some pretty overhyped marketing out there."-- well, there is some of that right here) and is not structural change, which is really what's needed. I'm writing this, because a part of that structure is one that fears honest critique so much that it promotes and brutally enforces a culture of consensus and aggressive positivity from its staff, students, and faculty at all times. This kind of regime is at odds with promoting a culture of innovation. And yes, I'm speaking of several of the top coding schools here, from the inside. If you doubt, read their copy, for starters.
Speaking of structural change that is really needed, "Diversity" includes all forms of diversity-- age, race, income level, gender, coding ability at the start, orientation, aptitudes, views--- and diversity is not being served even by those who use it as a promo-platform to elevate their programs above the competition. I'll give you that it "appears to be all for diversity" but only from a distance. Where diversity is said to be valued, one understands that a monumental effort is made to pick up some of the slack that these diversity candidates can not afford to on their own, right? Just have a look at many of these schools' faculty and staff and think on this-- not from a distance, though, but really think on it critically, deeply, as though you were that desperate diversity candidate yourself. And when a master teacher is on staff, one with real experience, they are often tucked behind the scenes making materials, for instance. Diversity starts with the example you/we all set, and I think it's clear to all of us that tech needs to become a leader in it.
You also said, "The barrier to entry, especially for fly by night schools that skirt regulations is very low. It is difficult for the consumer to judge quality..."
Barriers should be low, if this is a true service for students, not just a revenue stream for investors. Bootcamps, and especially the "top tier" are supposed to help people change careers or find work in a reasonable time frame, or so everyone's copy states. Get honest about real time frame and competition level with your students, if you aren't. There is always room for improvement there. These "barriers" or "tests" for entering students--like huge hauls of pre-work and difficult coding challenges for entrance interviews-- are often merely tests of affluence, only just barely disguised as skill/commitment tests of tedium endurance (bland curricula) and self-teaching ability. Students must have the time (or prior experience) and money or parental or spousal support to take the time off to commit to such antics and hoops, just to "get in" to these bootcamps, and this process alone creates a kind of sunk-cost fallacy class-level abuse these students are already recovering from and still vulnerable to. We expect and still tolerate this sort of thing from the ivy league, but bootcamp is supposed to be an answer to the student debt-crisis and also to the problem of being "career ready" in a shorter time frame, because the rising cost of college is untenable at this point in time. And yet these bootcamps are still trading on the fumes of this status model borrowed from the ivy league. The thing is, those who can afford to do so tolerate this from the Harvards because it provides direct and forgiving (and many many) connections to its students even before graduation--- even the runts who arrive a bit slower than the rest. That's what you pay for, that's what you endure the hazing for. But you can't have it both ways. You can't pretend to be a practical solution to this nonsense for the common person and deliver its status model and a modified version of its financial model to boot. Many of those who clear this barrier at selective bootcamps are graduates of extremely selective colleges and in many cases even graduate schools in this crazy economy with no jobs (and they already have huge debt loads, as you know). If we could be true advocates for these students, it would go a long way to trust and credibility- much more than any outcomes report. This means inviting critique and accepting our share of the responsibility of getting them jobs and making them ready for these.
Low barrier: why, exactly? Anyone can "teach" someone who can already teach themselves to code out of sheer desperation. If we must borrow from the ivy league then we should borrow this: If many of these coding bootcamps would put the real force of their effort into learning how to identify (really, with perhaps a higher and more demonstrable barrier to entry on this score) , reward, value, promote, and inspire incredible teachers-as-visionaries in the pedagogy of this field (the individuals who really make a school what it is; those who help nurture an environment in which accelerated learning has the best possible chance)there would be a resounding ovation throughout the industry. There would be no need for organizations like CIRR.org in the same way that there is no need for these with respect to Harvard, Yale, MIT, and Stanford. CIRR.org, and other independently verified outcomes reports, while better than nothing, are misleading. One example of many, and we all know what we are hiding: They need to show prospective students what their budgets will be for the duration (pre-work, during, and post- while job seeking, and the real timelines of each individual student) Again, this appears to be brave on the part of these schools, but if these schools were truly transparent, they would offer (actually require!) a way for students and employees to give anonymous reviews without fear. They would also realize that the burden should be on the employer, not the student, if they are actually filling such a great need in the industry. Are they? Then, this should be a cinch to prove, but the fact is, it is tough to get these junior devs jobs, and that is why they have such punishing application and interview schedules. Where are the connections like the Harvards have, served up with comped dinners out? The student's job should be to learn, the schools' to teach, and the employers' to pay for truly excellent programmers. If a school aims to teach, they should be able to keep enrollemnt low, and they should be able to teach anyone from zero with an interest serious enough that they drop out of society to do it for several months of their life. Because employers would pay big money for that service, just like they do for Harvard. Instead, they seek those who could already do it without their help, and they seek payment from them too.
If one must go with the curriculum model of teaching: Most of these schools offer dry curricula that is delivered with very little creativity and inspiration and by teachers who are mostly graduates of their own programs. There isn't a single coding bootcamp that promotes itself on the reputation and the skill and the efficacy of its teachers. They should be famous like members of the NY Yankees- that is how good they need to be. They should deliver lessons that inspire - lessons that are legendary. This is not happening. All world class sports training programs do, all arts training programs do, all top tier colleges still do, and all great teaching hospitals do.
I hope with the sad closing of a great pioneer, we can all (especially the top tier coding bootcamps and programs) learn to invite aggressive, honest critique and an environment that promotes innovation- not shuts it down and drowns out any new ideas with consensus positivity. We need to be for the students, which is, as I also understand it, something many of us got into teaching to be. I think we need to get back into touch with that and hold ourselves to a much higher standard. The barrier to entry should be the highest for us.
It's sad to see the program come to an end and I'm still digesting it, but the community and personal transformations that came out of DBC aren’t going anywhere. And for that I am thankful.