A friend recently remarked that she wished school, college in her case, had prepared her more for the tools that she used every day in her job. She was referring to skills like networking, negotiating salary, helping a team manage deadlines, and balancing client needs with employee production.
This is a common sentiment for those who graduate with a liberal arts degree, even if it’s in a scientific or business discipline. One of the many advantages of a bootcamp experience is that you will apply your skills immediately.
Rithm School has taken this a step further. In the final weeks of a semester at Rithm, students are assigned work on a company project. This is a real world project that students work on for three weeks. The work they produce will be used by the company to advance its mission.
Overview of Company Projects
For the purposes of this article, we’re zooming in on three weeks of a typical semester at Rithm: company projects. If you want to learn more about the Rithm experience overall, check out their website or our Deep Dive on Rithm School.
Company projects happen in the final weeks of the Rithm semester. At this point in the semester, students have mastered the coding languages the curriculum teaches. What they need next is practical application with some support, provided by company projects.
Rithm instructors and staff collaborate with local start-ups to source real projects these companies need to complete. Company projects go live at the end of the three weeks. This is a great opportunity for students to practice their skills and smaller start-ups to get projects completed quickly. Win-win!
Here’s what it looks like on a granular level. Because Rithm class sizes range from 8-16 students total, classes will work on 1 to 2 company projects max. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, company projects would take place in the classroom. Essentially, the students function as the project team, and the instructor functions as the project manager.
This is a real, on the job experience. While the instructor is more familiar with the workflow and coding challenges students may encounter, even they can’t predict them. Therefore, students get the opportunity to collaborate and problem solve in real time with guidance when necessary.
Goals and Benefits of Company Projects
Orchestrating company projects is a lot of work for the Rithm staff. They communicate and coordinate with the companies in advance to suss out the best projects for the time limit, the company’s needs, and the students’ abilities. Rithm is one of the few bootcamps that take the time to do this. Why? Because they believe the effort is worth the outcomes.
There are several goals the Rithm staff aims to accomplish with the company projects section of the semester. First, they want students to gain real world coding experience writing code under development. Additionally, students get to experience a higher volume of code writing. For example, a typical Rithm lab would have students writing 100 lines of code, whereas a company project will have students write 1,000 to 10,000 lines of code.
Secondly, students experience working in larger groups (6-8 people) rather than the common pair programming practiced in class. This is a very different experience than pair programming as there are more opinions and styles contributing to the project.
Finally, students are likely to encounter a technology or coding language they haven’t worked with in class yet. The bulk of the company project will be written in coding languages the students have learned at Rithm, but this scenario mimics the real work place. It’s a great opportunity for students to challenge themselves with the support of a familiar instructor.
Company Projects in Action
Rithm staff works hard to find companies with meaningful missions. We’ll look at two completed company projects that were both highly impactful for the clients and for the consumers using their products.
This past summer, students completed a company project for Livestack. Founded prior to the global onset of COVID-19, Livestock aimed to be a one stop platform for small business owners looking to educate their customers. Livestock can manage marketing, registration, payment, and streaming for online classes (such as yoga or cooking).
Students working on the Livestack project used their skills with React, Node.js, and Express. Despite working in the middle of the pandemic, students still met up regularly on Zoom to work through the challenges of their project. As one Rithm student working on the Livestack project said, “Working together has accelerated our pace of learning, and taught us to be better coders.”
In addition to a great learning experience, company projects help students connect their programming work to a larger purpose or mission. With Livestack, students got to see the program evolve to meet the evolving needs of our pandemic society. Students talked about their Livestack experience in depth here.
Company Projects- A Unique Opportunity
Rithm has put a lot of time and effort into creating the company project opportunity. In addition to gaining real time practical programming experience, Rithm values the “soft” skills students employ while working on company projects.
Company projects are designed for students to work on a larger project team (6-8 people). The larger group requires students to utilize excellent communication skills daily to update and progress toward their end result. Working in this larger group prepares students for working on larger teams effectively.
With daily stand up meetings, students aren’t just sharing with their team members. They are also responsible for reporting to their instructor who serves in the role of project manager. They have to set realistic and ambitious timelines for their work. This time management and accountability help students experience the pressures of the workplace.
Utilizing these soft skills in conjunction with programming skills provides an important glimpse into the day-to-day of a programmer. Rithm’s focus on daily classroom experiences, small class size, and a high instructor to student ratio make this possible. This is a unique opportunity for a bootcamp experience.
The company projects experience is more of an internship than a capstone project. Because of the dynamic three week work experience that is the company project, Rithm recommends the company project work appears as its own line item on students resume.
This is a unique experience that sets Rithm apart from other bootcamps. While Rithm might be more expensive than other bootcamps, it is because they prioritize experiences like company projects.
If this sounds like an experience that would maximize your education, perhaps Rithm school is right for you. You can begin your Rithm experience by filling out a short online application.
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