The Firehose Project Review: Is It Better Than Other Online Options?

It’s been about seven months since I started the Firehose Project in April. When I started, I was a college student with virtually no coding skills and now I have a job working as a mobile engineer working at a startup and I’m loving it. In this Firehose Project review, I’ll tell you the all of the things I loved and a couple of the things I didn’t like about the Firehose Project.

Firehose Project Review

There are several metrics that any bootcamp should be measured by to determine if they’re worth the money: technology, staff, tuition, mentorship, community, projects, group projects, job preparation, convenience, and curriculum.

Technology

The Firehose Project is an online software engineer bootcamp (aka coding bootcamp). The technology stack that’s taught at the Firehose Project is Ruby on Rails, Twitter Bootstrap, JavaScript, PostgreSQL, jQuery, GitHub, Agile Methodologies, HTML/CSS, JSON, Linux, AWS S3, and more.

The Ruby language is where most of the emphasis is put when learning throughout the curriculum of the Firehose Project. Although, Ruby is not the most in-demand language, it is a beautiful language that is great for beginners and noobs to learn.

The syntax of Ruby is simple and almost English-like, which makes the learning curve that much easier for beginners and noobs to pick up important programming concepts (syntax, object-oriented design principles, etc.). Sometimes, language can be a hinderance on your ability to learn software development because software development isn’t only restricted to the language. Software development involves design principles, best practices, agile methodologies, and more.

Starting off with Ruby makes learning software development that much easier and I think for that reason, it’s a great choice for learning.

The only downfall to learning in Ruby is that even though there are an abundance of Ruby positions, there are more in other languages. However, if you can program well in Ruby, then you can probably transfer those skills over to any other programming language with relative ease.

At the Firehose Project, there’s also one track devoted to learning JavaScript but JavaScript isn’t the main emphasis for the entirety of the coding bootcamp. In addition, you learn many other technologies that are important for developing shippable web apps, which means you become a more well-rounded software developer overall.

Staff

I have never met a cluster of so many good-hearted people in one place. I love the staff at the Firehose Project; they’re great. They are genuinely supportive and they genuinely want you to succeed and grow.

This is important because there are lots of coding bootcamps out there that don’t give a rat’s ass about you and just want your money.

You won’t find that at the Firehose Project. Even though it’s a relatively small team, each staff member has a good heart and is honest. This is one of the biggest factors that led me to joining the Firehose Project seven months ago. After reading through their blog (great blog by the way), it was easy to tell that the Firehose Project was genuine and transparent.

Another factor that got me to join was that I couldn’t find one reasonably negative review. I searched online through and through and I couldn’t find anything. This stood out because many of the other coding bootcamps that I had researched had negative reviews so keep that in mind.

Rest assured, if you decide to join the Firehose Project, you’ll be in good and caring hands.

Tuition

Most coding bootcamps are going to cost you four to five figures. Anything less than that and you should probably save your money. Hack Reactor, for example, is $19,780 for onsite and $17,780 for the remote online option.

Firehose Project, on the other hand, is more affordable and won’t set you back nearly as much. At the time when I signed up, tuition was $4,500, but ever since then, the Firehose Project has added more and the price has moved up to a $6,500 for a 24 week plan and $8,500 for a 44 week slow-pace plan.

With everything you’re getting, you really can’t beat the price. If you’re considering  another coding bootcamp that is cheaper than that, do your research and make sure that it’s just as high quality.

Mentorship

One of the best parts about the Firehose Project that I took for granted at the time was the mentorship. At the beginning of the program, you’re connected to a mentor that mentors you once every week for one hour for the rest of the program.

I can’t speak on behalf of the other mentors, but my mentor was kind and supportive. The fact that you’re connected to a senior software engineer is a great way to set you down the right path.

Having a mentor with you is great because your mentor will help you establish good software development habits from the get-go. Also, if you have any bad practices, your mentor will let you know and set you right.

On top of that, your mentor will be there to support you when things get tough on your coding journey.

Having someone there to guide you is a huge help and will help guide you in the right direction from the beginning when your habits are beginning to form.

Job Placement

At the Firehose Project, the staff wants you to get a job and is proud of their student alumni. That’s the situation you want because the incentives are properly aligned in a way that works well for you.

After you finish the main curriculum, there’s a job track that has 36 lessons geared specifically towards getting a job. Each of the job lessons gave insight into important job preparation and interview concepts that any software developer should be aware of.

The lessons range from resume reviews to computer science principles that are brought up during interviews. Personally, I wish the computer science principles would have been taught throughout the course like with the algorithm challenges. Instead, you’re forced to cram all of the information at the end of the curriculum while you’re finishing your group project and you’re sending out resumes.

Another thing that I wish there would have been was a GitHub review. Not having a good-looking and well-fashioned GitHub portfolio can only hurt you. This small fix would have definitely helped but it didn’t stop me.

In addition, throughout the entirety of the main curriculum, there are also algorithm challenges which are also important for a lot of job interviews. I liked that the Firehose Project dispersed the algorithm challenges throughout the course instead of all at the end. This allows you, as a student, to gradually build up your algorithm skills as you grow your development skills.

Regardless of my gripes, I do think that overall, the Firehose Project gives you a blueprint for success (I’m living proof) that will help you land you a job any way. Alone, getting a job is tough, but with the Firehose Project, it’s a hell of a lot simpler.

 

Community

One of the best parts of the Firehose Project has to be the community. When you sign up for the Firehose Project, you’re given access to the Firehose Project Google Plus channel along with access to the Firehose Project Slack channel.

Over the course of your journey, you get acquainted not only with great mentors but also great peers. Posting is encouraged on the Google Plus channel and students are always sharing great stories on their journey.

Also, the Slack channel is a great place to go to if you need help or if you’re stuck on a challenge. With several mentors always browsing the Slack channel, you’re almost guaranteed to get help on problems that you need help with.

I used to message Ken Mazaika, the CTO of the Firehose Project, about challenges I was stuck on all the time (thanks for all the help Ken) and he would graciously help me. Honestly, this made me love the Firehose Project even more because he took the time out of his busy day to give me a helpful and descriptive responses.

Also, students are always posting on the #general channel where a lot of good posts are shared all of the time.

The community is also a great place to make friends and connect with other Firehosers. I’ve met a couple of other Firehosers in real life and still keep in touch with them. Overall, the community is very receptive to you and you almost always have people that are there to support you.

Support

The support at the Firehose Project is fantastic. Whenever you have a problem that you’re stuck on that’s giving you problems, you have a myriad of options at your disposal.

For instance, you have support from your mentors every week. If there’s a concept or problem that you need more help explaining, you can always take it to your mentor at the end of the week or you can reach your mentor via email.

You also can post any questions that you may have on the Firehose Project Slack channel that’s filled with other students that are working on the same curriculum as you are. On top of that, there are a handful of Firehose graduates that browse the Slack channel and offer help too.

One last form of support is reaching out to your mentors on Slack. Whenever I had a problem that I needed more explaining, most of the time I reached out to Ken Mazaika directly on Slack. Unfortunately, I don’t think this option is available anymore because Ken has a lot more on his plate but you always have the option of reaching out directly to your mentors.

Curriculum

the firehose project review

 

Projects, projects, projects. This is where most of your growth of a developer will happen. This is the 80/20 of your software development skill set.

I’ve tried options like Lynda where they teach you in a lecture-like style and that doesn’t cut it when it comes to learning software development. You need a real-world application of developing software, not just theory and lecture slides.

At the Firehose Project, most of the curriculum is project-based. This means that for each track in the curriculum, you are working on a project that you build yourself with guided assistance from the Firehose Project.

Of course, I wish that the Firehose Project didn’t do so much hand-holding all the time but getting it right is a difficult balancing act. There are other online resources like Udacity that take the opposite approach and they have hardly any hand holding at all. The bad thing about this is that sometimes you find yourself trying to make leaps that you’re not prepared for.

There are a total of seven project-based tracks and each incrementally introduces more complexity so that you grow along with the curriculum. The additional benefit is that as you progress through each track and project, you add more projects to your portfolio so it’s a win-win.

Group Project

This wouldn’t be a Firehose Project review if I didn’t cover the group project. The group project is, without a doubt, one of the best parts of the Firehose Project.

The group project happens towards the end of your online coding bootcamp journey and you’re paired with a group of other students that are at the same stage as you in your journey along with a group mentor. Usually the group mentors are software engineers that are already working at companies themselves.

Every week, there’s a standup where each of the group members of the project are assigned tasks in order to gradually build the grand finale chess app.

The chess app is fairly complex because you and your group mates are responsible for coding and designing all of the logic for the rules. This means you’re designing algorithms for the different chess pieces, the game rules, and more.

Working on the group project is also really fun too. Over the month period that you’re working on your chess app, you have the opportunity to make new friends and honestly I had a lot of fun working with my group mates.

Overall, the group project is meant to be a real-life simulation of what it’s like to be a software developer at a professional company. The group project teaches you about the importance of communication, pair-programming, code reviews, and using GitHub.

Convenience

When you’re shopping around for bootcamps it always comes down to online vs onsite. Onsite almost always costs more because you most likely won’t be able to work a job (opportunity cost) and onsite bootcamps cost more because of more onsite expenses on the bootcamp’s part (leases, staff, etc.).

At the Firehose Project, you can keep your job while working on the curriculum. Now, don’t think that just because you can do an online coding bootcamp on the side means you should half-ass it. You can technically half-ass it but if you do, you’ll just be wasting your money. You get out what you put in.

The biggest advantage that an onsite coding bootcamp has over an online coding bootcamp is social pressure. When you’re in house at an onsite coding bootcamp, you’re in an environment that’s more geared for learning since you’re surrounded by your peers that socially pressure you to work. You’re more unlikely to slack off at an onsite coding bootcamp than you are at an online bootcamp.

If you decide to go down the online path, be wary. You must be disciplined because there most likely won’t be anyone there to motivate you to work except yourself. I worked at least three hours everyday on the curriculum and I’ve met people that did even more than that. If you don’t think you have what it takes to succeed at an online bootcamp, then you may want to evaluate your options.

However, if you’re up for the challenge, then an online coding bootcamp is the better way to go.

Consensus on Firehose Project Review

It wouldn’t be a Firehose Project review if I didn’t tell you the overall consensus, would it?

With the Firehose Project, you’re getting a great community, great support, transparency, mentorship, good curriculum, career guidance, and honesty (don’t believe me? Read their blog).

Should you buy it? If you’re on a low budget, then most definitely. It’s a bargain. Buy now before the price goes up. Remember, I got in at $4,500 and now it’s gone up to $6,500.

The coding bootcamp industry is filled with scam artists and if you sign up for any program that’s cheaper, then you’re taking a risk. I once met a guy a meet up who spent almost three times as much money as me on a coding bootcamp and my coding bootcamp experience better prepared me for the job than his did even though he spent three times more than me.

Let that sink in. Just because a coding bootcamp has a hefty price tag doesn’t mean that it will be good. Unless you can fork over ~$17,780 for the big names like HackReactor, then you’re taking a risky bet.

The Firehose Project is the opposite of a risky bet. Sure, there are places that the program can improve, but the guys over at the Firehose Project are constantly improving and making the program better. For instance, midway during my coding bootcamp experience, they released an extra JavaScript track project and I got it for free.

Also, they give you a free two week intro course that gives you a taste of what the curriculum is like. Try it out, it’s free! And it’s not one of those free trials where they force you to input your credit card and hope you forget after two weeks. It’s non-obligatory. Worst case scenario, you learned how to code in Ruby. Best case, you fall in love with the program and you jumpstart your career as a software engineer like I did.

firehose project review

The Firehose Project is better than most other online options. If I had to do it again, I would choose the Firehose Project because it’s a great program at an affordable price and it gives a blueprint for success to aspiring software engineers.

Choose your coding bootcamp wisely. Good luck and keep hacking.

P.S. Any questions? Post in the comments below.

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