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Ask HN: Any “bootcamps” or courses for intermediate/advanced people?
153 points by peruvian on July 14, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 93 comments
Yesterday, I saw a HN job ad for One Month - a company that offers a 30-day "bootcamp". I looked at their courses[1] and noticed they're all aimed at beginners.

I'm past the stage where I need a course on Python syntax or HTML. Like many of you, I could teach myself these things. However, I would definitely pay $300 (the cost of the courses mentioned) for good hands-on intermediate or advanced coursework in both software engineering and computer science. Unfortunately I can't come up with any ideas at the moment, sorry :-)

[1] https://onemonth.com/#premium-course-schedule

Hi! I'm one of the instructors at Bradfield: https://bradfieldcs.com . We teach computer science to strong programmers, typically those who were self taught, attended bootcamps or weren't quite satisfied with their conventional CS experience.

We teach in small classes, strictly in person in SF. I know this sucks for folk (like OP) who are outside SF, but honestly you can't teach this stuff to a high enough standard remotely. We do get plenty of interstate and international students who visit for a course or two.

We also maintain a self-teaching guide https://teachyourselfcs.com for those who don't need the full classroom experience.

Happy to answer any questions in person: oz@bradfieldcs.com

I did https://bradfieldcs.com after working as a IC for awhile and found it hugely valuable. I didn't have a CS undergrad and worked in Node, so skipped the majority the deeper fundamental studies around databases, networking, and computer architecture since I was abstracted from them in day-to-day work (or at least thought I was...:)).

I took a 10wk leave from work to go full-time through Bradfield and would recommend it to anyone that's spent time working as an engineer and is interested in leveling up generally or refining a specific skill set.

The stuff I learned there has ended up showing up almost daily for me at work and I've since been promoted to technical lead.

>"I took a 10wk leave from work to go full-time through Bradfield and would recommend it to anyone that's spent time working as an engineer and is interested in leveling up generally or refining a specific skill set."

Can you elaborate on the "full-time" part. In looking at the site it looks like the independent course modules are each 4 weeks with two 3 hour sessions a week for $1800 each. Were you somehow able to take multiple modules per week for each of the 10 weeks? If so how many did you do? Thanks,

Yeah i did it last November when the courses were structured to be done as a full-time program. They've restructured to make it compatible with having a full-time job simultaneously. I think they've still had students take all courses concurrently though, even with the new model. Worth sending @oz a note!

Was there any type of discount for taking multiple classes? I looked on the site and didn't see any mention but at $1800 each module it sounds very pricey to take them simultaneously.

The price structure was slightly different then since he was all bought as one package, but still about the same cost overall. It is pricey, but a great ROI from both a base salary standpoint (you can pretty reasonably ask for a raise once you're back) and a deep gratification of being more skilled in your craft than you were 3months ago :)

Current student here - I went through a bootcamp and have been autodidacting ever since. I've gone through coursera, udacity, edx, MIT OCW, Stanford Lagunitas, OSS's computer science program, and finally Bradfield. Bradfield was by far and large the best experience I've had learning advanced material. Oz (commenting above), is the most talented and natural pedagogue I've met.

The best thing about Bradfield though is that it has the feel of a lifestyle business run by people whose call to arms in life is learning and teaching computer science. This isn't an interview skills factory - the focus is on learning and loving an important and fascinating branch of science, mathematics, and thinking. Personally, I think that difference ultimately makes you a better interviewer and engineer in practice, but again, that's not the point.

Still one of the best decisions I've made yet.

Current student who would also highly recommend Bradfield.

If you're a mostly self-taught engineer lacking foundational CS knowledge (I personally have a minor in CS; most of my colleagues at Bradfield went through a bootcamp) you will very quickly discover and confront the gaps in your knowledge.

Regardless of your title at work (maybe level II engineer, tech lead, whatever), you will be made to feel like a beginner in short order when they ask you to write programs that manipulate bytes, that deal with concurrency, or do anything more nitty gritty than manipulate JSON in your high-level language of choice...while disorienting initially, I personally have found Bradfield to be one of the most illuminating and rewarding educational experiences of my career.

I highly recommend teachyourselfcs.com. It is by far the best self-taught cs resource online!

It's probably one of the only useful lists for CS autodidacts looking for resources to build a foundation of (practical programming-oriented) CS knowledge comparable to any decent CS undergrad program.

The suggestions are of high quality and can be worked through by spending a reasonable amount of one's free time.

Know of any good alternatives for people outside of CA?

Recurse Center: https://www.recurse.com/. Anecdotally, not so easy to get in.

OP here. I'm an alum! Fall 1 2016. It's not quite the same thing - RC is self-directed. You do what you want instead of following a course or teacher.

Summer '13 saying hi from across the batches. Self-directed, but plenty of experienced folks to rub off on you, in my experience. The diversity of experience at RC was incredible when I was there. Definitely fantasize about going back for another batch sometimes -- I know so much more now and I'd get so much out of doing it a second time.

This looks neat. If I had a 6-month sabbatical from work I'd apply, but unfortunately I don't know when I'll ever have the opportunity to do something like this.

They just started doing half batches recently, which are only 6 weeks. Some employers are actually OK with this, given the assumption that you come back as a stronger (and maybe even nicer) programmer.

I can't believe there's still not an equivalent in the Bay Area

Is this online as well?

[Disclaimer: Shameless self-promotion]

We run something called Interview Kickstart: http://Interviewkickstart.com .

It's a part-time bootcamp focused on preparing for technical interviews at (so-called) top-tier places i.e. places which interview heavily in DS/Algos and Large Scale Design for their core engineering roles, and also make staggeringly high offers. Think G/F/A/Netflix/Amazon/MS etc.

It is intense and also taught by Sr. Engineers working in core systems at these places. There is a rigorous academic take to it, with homework, tests, mock interviews etc.

A little known fact, is that many people come to the program with no intent to look for a job. They are already at good places, paid well, and just want to get better as an engineer, which I think is what you're looking for.

Many have figured out, that the structure and the forcing function challenges them to be better. Most of your peers will have backgrounds in CS/CS, and you'll also see people coming FROM some of the same companies others are aspiring to go to (e.g. Amazon, Microsoft etC).

We start an online cohort every month, where people join from all over US and Canada (and sometimes even other countries).

Feel free to check it out.

Just a suggestion for possible improvements... Looking at the sight I really just wanted two questions answered. How much time? How much money?

The first took a while to find: Two 4 to 6-hour sessions per week, for 8 weeks. 200+ hours of work.

The second looks sketchy: Tuition: Not cheap

Thanks! Will consider. With that comment on pricing, we just want to deter people who think this can be done cheaply.

Isn't it possible that someone considers whatever your price is to be 'cheap'? Why not just list the price, and deter whoever's deterred?

Definitions of cheap vary greatly amongst possible clients. Better just give a price and let the client decide if it's acceptable or not.

>> "... and also make staggeringly high offer"

How high are we talking about? Let's say around ~5 yrs exp dev who would otherwise be considered intermediate level elsewhere spends the equivalent of 3-6 months of full time effort in preparation: what comp can such a candidate expect to negotiate in the big4/5?

For that level of experience, and a great interview performance, big-5 easily cross $225k/yr in total comp. Often much more.

$225k?? For 5 years experience? Not a chance.

You might get somewhere around $100k though which is still a very nice salary in most places. Up to $150k in major hubs.

225k total comp (salary + bonus + equity) for Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Apple sounds about right. I've personally gotten offers from those companies only slightly less than that with only 2 years of experience under my belt.

If you're curious, hop onto Glassdoor. It's really accurate for the tech giants because of how many datapoints have been submitted.

There are no "most places" for the companies mentioned above, and certainly no places that aren't major hubs.

That sounds like something that I am looking for. I'm interested in a "CS fundamentals" bootcamp. I have years of web development experience and while I could take a React bootcamp that would make me more marketable for that particular area, I'd like to increase my scope beyond web dev or mobile dev. Work on massive systems, and places where they need smart ways to move mountains of data.

In college I graduated in a digital media like program, and took a "super minor" in Computer Science- one Data Structures and Discrete Math class, and two courses on OOP software design. I have familiarity with some structures, understand the general concept of Big O but I'd like to fill in some gaps.

As far as getting better as an engineer in some domain-- how does a program like this compare to hacking on and contributing to a FLOSS project in that same domain for a similar total number of hours?

Probably better to hack/FLOSS. But there is a severe lack of structure there. Very easy to get started and get distracted, work on suboptimal projects and in general, never get validation on what you worked on.

wow you dont accept bootcamp grads? we're precisely the kind of people that need you. do you have any interview prep peers you would recommend that are slightly lower tier than you? or do you have a detailed syllabus anywhere?

I think it makes sense to not accept brand-new bootcamp grads. That subset of people should already be able to at least get on a junior web or QA engineer position and will be better served by actually getting out there and doing it. Going straight into one of these programs would be the equivalent of getting a Master's just because you don't know what to do after getting your Bachelor's.

> Going straight into one of these programs would be the equivalent of getting a Master's just because you don't know what to do after getting your Bachelor's.

In all fairness, isn't this exactly the situation for most of the people pursuing their Master's?

Most CS students should get at least an internship before grad school. If nothing else there is a summer between your CS degree and the start of a masters program. 'Bootcamps' are very short term and don't really allow for that kind training.

No, at least not in CS at "good universities". Jobs are too easy to come by for this pattern (which is more common for humanities majors I think).

In CS It's a combo of people playing the immigration game and people looking to one up their credentials and/or network. Which is different from "don't know what I want to do".

Advanced folks will have very specific needs that are hard to meet for any course with a pre-determined curriculum.

Perhaps a better approach would be to hire an expert from a consultancy, negotiate a detailed custom curriculum together and go from there? It would certainly be expensive but perhaps within reach for a small group or for heavily motivated individuals?

Exactly this. Any self-taught intermediate person will have learned some things, missed others, and the pattern of what is missed varies widely by person. Therefore it isn't, "Oh, you're intermediate, this is what you need." Instead it is, "Here are the basic things that you happened to miss."

So it may be valid to swallow your pride and do the basic course, most of which you know, to find what you don't.

Or to trust that you can fill in holes yourself on demand. (People's belief about how well they can do this tends to exceed their actual ability...)

Or to have someone evaluate you to find those blind spots.

I have had the same thought about college-courses. Why have 100+ people paying 2k+ for a course being taught by a grad student.

If you could cut out the middlemen (schools), we could probably get better "professors" (i.e. one of the best people in the field - im sure people in industry would love to pick up an extra 10-20k to teach 1 class a year) for cheaper and in smaller class room settings.

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.........Just gotta figure out how to do the signaling properly so businesses will look at the classes you took and think 'I want to hire that person.'

That's what you get for going to a research school: grad students teaching classes. I went to a non research school (a CSU) back in the early 2000s, and all classes were taught by real professors, but it isn't as prestigious as a Stanford or Berkeley. Beyond that, the teachers for night classes were all from industry. I took a graphics class taught by someone who previously worked on OpenGL at SGI, a database class taught by someone who was at the time working on DB2 at IBM, and a j2ee class taught by someone who at the time was working at Sun Microsystems.

How about moocs? Am algorithms class will level you up for sure.

https://www.coursera.org/specializations/algorithms comes to mind.

Lambda Academy of Computer Science - a six month, full-time deep dive into software engineering and computer science. Closer to a CS degree than a one-month bootcamp. You need to know basic programming before enrolling.

It's free up-front and takes a percentage of income after you get a job, or you can pay up-front.


(I'm a co-founder, happy to answer any questions)

I'm a currently-employed web developer (bootcamp grad) and I'd love to see a part-time (nights and/or weekends), cash up front offering to deepen my CS knowledge. Just throwing that out there in case part-time something you guys have thought about. I'm sure I'm not the only bootcamp grad that could use an in-depth CS program.

Yeah, we think about it a lot. We want to be very careful about scaling into something like that because the part-time dynamic is very different than full-time, and the most important thing to us is our student experience.

It would also be long, if we used the current curriculum. Like... a year long. We're not sure if that's too much of a commitment for most folks, so we're asking.

I'm in a similar boat to the person above (bootcamp grad working as software developer). I have been trying to do a comp-sci degree but that cost, degree requirements (classes unrelated to my major) and actually going to school after work is a major pain. I would definitely pay for a year long (or more) part time CS course if it was intense and online. I'm doing that already, but it would save me a lot of time/money of not having to actually commute to school.

Cool. Mind if I email you to ask a few questions?

that sounds great!

Hey there! We've been doing this at Bradfield for a couple of years, and do get quite a few bootcamp grads (maybe 100 to date) typically 1-3 years into their careers. Which bootcamp did you attend? Ask around there and I'm sure somebody has good things to say about us :)

Big Nerd's Ranch (https://www.bignerdranch.com/) especialy for mobile app development. Their bootcamp is called "retreat", and they also work as developers and publish books.

disclaimer: I am an instructor for Big Nerd Ranch, teaching our various iOS courses. That said, I came to BNR after being blown away by the quality of their Mac programming book, years ago. I believe deeply in what we do.

tl;dr: Big Nerd Ranch offers short retreats for intermediate and advanced instructors. They are not cheap but they are thorough and powerful, as long as you're willing to put in the work.

Details: We have short (typically 5 day), intensive courses. The instructor leads the class through a series of lectures and intense labs, building out real applications throughout the week. The instructor works with each student to help them maximize what they can learn and achieve during the week.

There is no magic for scaling across different ability levels, but there are ways to do this better or worse. Our courses target intermediate to advanced level learners. We intentionally build our chapters, demonstrations, and lectures to be very dense with material. For the advanced students, they're able to glean API gotchas and sharp corners, as well as real world tips (pretty much all our instructors are also active consulting developers), and lots of looks at different working practices. Seeing another developer work is a great way to learn new techniques.

For intermediate or closer to beginner students, they won't that level of detail as much, as they're still absorbing all the new APIs, design patterns, and details necessary to just get apps building and shipping.

Our courses allow you to get out what you put in. In other words, there's not any particular magic to leveling up. You have to put in the hard work yourself. But I believe our retreat-style approach - where we remove or take care of all possible distractions, and provide expert aid at your call - gives you the best chance to maximize how much you can learn in a week. Food and lodging is included. You'll spend the week learning, programming, and going for hikes every day. It's sort of my ideal world. :D

We don't call them bootcamps half-heartedly. You'll be exhausted by Friday. But if we've done our job right, you'll feel like you've just shortcut several months of work in leveling up as a developer.

>"That said, I came to BNR after being blown away by the quality of their Mac programming book, years ago. I believe deeply in what we do"

So can the same level proficiency be gained by either the book or the retreat? Is there parity there then?

I have done CodePath twice and highly recommend for iOS and android bootcamps. https://codepath.com/

The site states:

>"Students must pass a rigorous selection process to be admitted to any of our programs."

Would you be able to share what that selection process entails exactly?

From my experience, selection process was submitting your resume, going through a short phone screen (15-20 minutes, mostly just chatting about why you're interested and your background) and completing a intro project (it took me around 8-10 hours)

Agreed. I learned a lot there.

At this level you should probably just take a Masters. I did mine part time over 2 years while working full time. Many if not most good colleges will offer some sort of programme.

I highly recommend Frontend Masters: https://frontendmasters.com/courses/.

Lots of different courses taught by the likes of Douglas Crockford, Kyle Simpson, Ryan Chenkie, and Kent C Dodds. It's not just front end stuff--they cover data structures and algorithms, building REST apis, Electron and React Native, testing and debugging, functional programming, prototyping, and even SEO.

I have been working on this idea for a little bit. Started putting together a list of intermediate projects for people that finished a bootcamp. It is still in its infancy. I ran a programming bootcamp for a year and a half and think there is a need for this, but still figuring out the right way.


This is heavy ruby/rails focused but has other content as well. Tagline is "Get the junior out of your title"


I've been advocating Upcase to Junior Rails devs for a couple years now. Has a lot of great content around improving your testing skills, refactoring, and best practices for object oriented design.

although most of the content is ruby/rails based, the concepts are widely applicable to improving your skills as a software engineer.

Profuse apologies in that this is not a so-called boot camp type avenue, but if you're really interested in some computer science concepts, UMass Dartmouth offers a computer science certificate.


And.. what I forgot to add was that you really don't need to take the certificate. Look at a few of the 'foundation' courses they offer online for people without a CS undergrad, most notably:

CIS 322 Data Structures and Fundamental Algorithms CIS 323 Fundamentals of Computer Systems

I'm working with Hyperion Development[0] which has a wide variety of online bootcamps with 1:1 mentor support. We have courses targeting beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Currently we are just about to deploy a big update but have a look and you might find what you are looking for.

[0] https://hyperiondev.com

Asking people for all of their contact details in order to simply read course descriptions seems pretty lame. I also can't imagine that's doing the business any favors.

I'll submit this as feedback to our team :)

If you're in SF: https://bradfieldcs.com/

This looks like what I am looking for, but I'm in the other side of the country. Thanks though, will keep it in mind.

Would be nice if they had something like this in DC

has anyone had experience with this? I'd love to get some actual reviews of this place?

Hi! I'm one of the instructors, if you ping me at oz@bradfieldcs.com I can connect you with past students or answer any questions you have :)

Udacity Nanodegrees are geared toward "post-beginners looking to specialize" (my words, not theirs).


For example, the Android nanodegree assumes you're already familiar with Java and OOP, but not with Android.

The "Full Stack Web Developer Nanodegree" suggests you have "Beginner-level experience in Python." (direct quote) https://www.udacity.com/course/full-stack-web-developer-nano...

These courses are not cheap, they take a lot of time, but if you have the time and money, they are absolutely worth it IMO.

If you are at intermediate level, you can always just follow video lectures/assignments for free and try to improve on your own. That's what i do.

I'm the founder of Dataquest (https://www.dataquest.io) -- we teach data science online from the basics, and have a comprehensive curriculum that includes machine learning, spark, and data visualization. You can skip the Python basics and start with more intermediate/advanced material (and build your own projects!).

We also have a data engineering path that teaches more CS fundamentals, and may be a good fit (this is still being developed, but has a few courses).

Shameless self-promotion:

If you are interested in front-end and/or node.js courses (javascript, react, webpack, all that kind of stuff) - I've been doing a free open source course called "Building products with javascript" [1] that is aimed at intermediate/advanced developers who want to learn javascript more in-depth.

[1] https://github.com/yamalight/building-products-with-js

Correct me if I'm wrong but aren't most bootcamps geared toward preparing people for jobs? I feel like in this current market having to attend a bootcamp as a experienced developer would send off negative signals about one's ability to stay up on current tech/trends.

Highly recommend 'Design of Computer Programs' on Udacity. Its a 300 level class taught by Peter Norvig, and while the quizzes and homework's aren't terribly challenging, its a great way to learn how to break down problems for an intermediate developer.

I've been teaching classes on machine learning for engineers (shameless self promotion: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/technical-introduction-to-ai-ma...)

One of the coolest parts of teaching these classes is how awesome the people are that show up. The engineers that want to learn new things mid career are exactly the kind of people I want to work with and hang out with. I think there's a real opportunity for more classes like this.

I've actually been thinking about starting a Sales bootcamp aimed at teaching technical founders, or people with no background in sales.

Not sure if there would be any interest though.

That would be VERY USEFUL. Speaking as a tech founder who had to learn and appreciate sales after launch.

Mind if I email you with some more questions?

This is not exactly what you're looking for, but it's somewhat similar and may be of interest to some readers of this thread.

The Google Brain team accepts residents:


It's similar to a one-year research-focused advanced degree in machine learning (with the focus being, of course, entirely on deep learning).

MIT's OpenCourseWare [1] has a lot of great material that's as rigorous and in-depth as anywhere you'll ever find. I've been using it to supplement and extend areas where my alma mater's curriculum has fallen a bit short, or where I just want to focus.

[1] https://ocw.mit.edu/index.htm

Not a bootcamp, but egghead.io is a fantastic resource, and udemy can be an awesome resource for specific classes (but there is a lot of junk to wade through)

Want to learn SQL Server from the best? Check out SQL Skills: https://www.sqlskills.com/sql-server-training/immersion-even... They are the best and most comprehensive. Not associated with them, but a long time, satisfied customer.

Does anyone have experience with https://www.udemy.com/intermediate-advanced-java-programming...? I've been eyeballing it for a while, $10 is cheap but I'm afraid that's also indicative of the quality.

Although, part of the program is an intro to python development (which you can easily skip) https://www.dataquest.io/ is a set of guided lessons that teach you data analysis/science/engineering .

I am building out an advanced-beginner course at http://testdriven.io/. It details how to set up a set of microservices with Flask and Docker. Let me know your thoughts. Cheers!

I'm surprised that Coursera and Udacity don't figure higher in the responses. There are a tonne of advanced algorithms, machine learning, data science, and domain specific stuff on there like computational biology and computational neuroscience.

For data science: http://insightdatascience.com/ only accepts those who have completed a PhD

That has to be one of the weirdest things I've ever heard in my life. You don't need a PhD to do data science. Hell, most companies would be taking a huge step forward if they got somebody who knows how to do linear regression.

There's a great option here in SF called BradfieldCS.

> I'm past the stage where I need a course on Python syntax or HTML.

It's hard to guess what stage you are at.

What have you built so far in Python?

this is more of an AI bent to it but I have heard good things about the following in NY that comes with a job placement:


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