Maybe you majored in English. Or fine arts. Even history. And now you’re cursing the fact that your parents were right because you’ve had a series of jobs that are…lackluster. Maybe you don’t feel like you’re doing anything meaningful. Or perhaps it’s that you feel like a cog in a machine, doing the same thing day after day. There’s nothing stimulating, no dynamic problem-solving.
But considering the sunk cost on most people’s initial degree, if you need to go back to school, you’ve got to make it count. A coding bootcamp is a strong option for changing your career path.
If you choose a bootcamp, you’ll have to decide on your priorities. A strong curriculum, a supportive community while you learn, and guidance to find a great job when you finish your bootcamp. That’s what Rithm School believes in as well.
Rithm was founded by professionals with backgrounds in both teaching and web development. They understand and believe in the importance of quality instruction and developing well-rounded employees for tech companies. With that in mind, the team at Rithm created a school that focuses on small instruction size, building a competitive portfolio for students, and helping them find great jobs after the course is completed.
What You Learn: The Curriculum
Because Rithm was founded by people with a foot in education and web development, the course curriculum is robust and detailed. It begins with pre-work, which is more than just installing some apps on your computer. The pre-work section is approximately 60-80 hours of self-guided learning.
When you think about that, the pre-work takes essentially two weeks of full time workdays (40 hours a week). This is a great time to begin the transition to a full day of learning and practice, which you will be doing as you move through your Rithm course. The purpose of pre-work is to ensure that all students begin with a similar foundation when they enter the Rithm classroom. It allows you to tackle the basics on your own, leaving more complex and nuanced challenges to the guidance of your instructor.
The First 12 Weeks
After the prework section it’s time for classroom learning. Rithm creates small class sizes, capping them at 18 students per class. With this low instructor to student ratio of 6:1, students can receive more individualized attention from their instructor and build stronger relationships with their cohort. This is an advantage for effective instruction and learning as well as a great way to begin building your network in the field.
Rithm further divides your learning experience into three learning modules. Weeks 1-3 cover Intermediate Front End Development. You’ll be learning how to make websites much more interactive and problem solve some common problems. This portion utilizes tools you gained in the pre-work and deepens your understanding of Java.
Weeks 4-6 get into Full Stack Development. During this module, classes will focus on learning Python, SQL, and Flask. You’ll continue to build on the skills you learned in previous classes and begin to dig into web security.
In your final module (weeks 7-11), you’ll learn about current design patterns and frameworks. Strong knowledge of current standards and trends in the field will make you more competitive when you begin your job search in a few more weeks. Programs covered in this module include Node and Express as well as React.js and Redux.
For the first twelve weeks, you’re basically at Rithm for a full workday. Instruction and classroom time runs from 9am to 6pm daily. There is a combination of lecture, paired work, and individual study. You get an hour break for lunch and it’s recommended you truly take a break.
After 6pm you’re welcome to stay and do some additional work or review materials. But Rithm instructors encourage students to take a real break every night. The course is intense and you need time to recharge.
Many of us have experienced a moment on the job when you say, “I know I learned this…” but find yourself drawing a complete blank as to how to approach the problem at hand. Rithm built a solution to this into their curriculum from the start by creating company projects.
For weeks 12-14 of your program, you will be assigned to a Bay Area company for three weeks. And no, this is not an internship where you shadow someone around and get coffee for the people doing the real work. You will work on at least two projects during your time with the company. It may be working on a larger database or creating external facing websites, but either way, your work will support the mission of the company.
In addition to applying the skills you’ve just learned in a real world setting, you’ll get your first taste of working in the development field. The companies you are paired with vary from the UCSF Band Lab to Everyteam to The Relish.
While you certainly get to solidify your knowledge during your company project, the learning will continue. When talking about their company projects, one Rithm student said she learned more about her own strengths while working with one co-worker but picked up more design ideas while working with someone else. Your time working with a company will allow you to contribute while you continue to build on your education.
Interview Prep & Job Search
In the final weeks of your Rithm course, you’ll be preparing to apply and interview for jobs in the field. This time begins with a review of the fundamentals. The Rithm team knows you just learned a lot of new info and they want to make sure you retain it. This time allows you to review the basics and prepare for technical interviews that will come up in your job search process.
If you’re changing careers you probably have a resume already. That’s wonderful. But every field has a different standard resume or expectation. In education, it might be common to have a two page or more resume, while in other fields having more than one page will get your resume tossed in the “no” stack. Your instructor will work with your class to develop a strong industry standard resume that speaks to your experience before Rithm and your qualifications now.
In addition to time spent reviewing concepts and preparing for technical interviews, you’ll also get 1:1 time with your instructor. This time can be used for individual support on concepts that challenge you as well as preparing for your job search.
Once you’re ready to apply to jobs, you’ll have access to Rithm’s network within the field. Of course, your job search belongs to you, so you’ll need to log some hours searching and applying for jobs.
Now that you have an understanding of Rithm and what their program looks like, let’s check out out the next steps. Below you’ll find a brief outline of the admissions process, so you know what to expect and how long it might take.
Generally, Rithm recommends you begin the application process at least 2-3 months before you would like to attend. However, that’s not an absolute timeline. Depending on your existing skills, (Do you know HTML already? CSS?) you might need less time or you might need more. Either way, the team at Rithm recommends that you start reviewing and studying daily for several weeks before you apply.
The first step will be to fill out a brief online application. From there, you’ll schedule a time to talk with the Director of Admissions, Angelina Davis, and discuss the next steps. Angelina approaches each conversation on an individual basis, looking to find a mutually beneficial fit.
After that, you’ll hear about what to do next. There are one of two options:
- Option one: you’ll be admitted and receive more information about a timeline for enrollment.
- Option two: you’ll be asked to continue your studies and re-interview in the future.
Depending on the timing and your skill level the entire interview process could take a few weeks up to six months. Play it safe and start studying sooner rather than later so you can apply!
Rithm’s response to COVID-19
COVID-19 has changed all our lives and Rithm is no exception. When we’re not required to be socially distant, Rithm has a vibrant campus in the Bay Area. In March 2020, Rithm made the decision to protect its staff and students by closing the campus and have successfully moved online.
Admissions are still working full time with an entirely virtual process. You will receive more information about what to expect when you start your application. At this time, all interviews are virtual, so you can expect a Zoom or similar technical interview at this time.
As for classes, Rithm is still following its ambitious daily routine, but it’s all virtual. You’ll have a morning lecture and then time for partner work as well. While the virtual classroom is a change from Rithm’s normal instruction model, it’s one most of us have gotten used to over the last six months of the global pandemic. Rithm’s experienced instruction staff have worked hard to transition the benefits of the small classroom to the virtual classroom as well.
Rithm has created a strong and intensive course for folks with some coding experience. Their website is a great resource with free courses, a curriculum outline, an admissions outline, and a blog featuring Rithm graduates. If you’re looking to prepare for a major career shift, Rithm school could be a great place to begin the change.