With a number of great posts on learning programming online, as of late, I thought it might be cool to take a look at two of the startups having success offline — The Starter League and Catalyst.
In this post, we’ll look at each of their course offerings, we’ll talk about the teachers and entrepreneurs in the drivers’ seats, and, lastly, we’ll discuss what each company is doing to help its just-taught programmers get real world jobs. Let’s start with the companies and course offerings.
Companies & Course Offerings
Both of these startups are unique, no doubt, but their mission is a common one.
The Starter League
The Starter League (thestarterleague.com) is based in Chicago, IL, where students work out of Chicago’s snazzy new startup space, 1871. Students have 24/7 access to two classrooms, conference rooms, and co-working space. Events are also held at the office of 37signals – The Starter League’s partner in this endeavor.
Course offerings include Web Development (with a focus on the Ruby on Rails framework), User Experience Design, Beginner and Advanced HTML and CSS, and Visual Design. Classes are offered quarterly, with the next quarter set to begin on January 15th, 2013.
Teachers & Entrepreneurs
Some brilliant and experienced developers and entrepreneurs are behind each of the two programs.
The Starter League
The Starter League’s leadership is four-strong, with three co-founders — Neal Sales-Griffin, Mike McGee, and Jason Fried — and David Heinemeier Hansson, partner at 37signals and affectionately known as DHH. Its teachers include Jeff Cohen, Raghu Betina, Brian Eng, Mig Reyes, Carolyn Chandler, and Shay Howe, all experienced practitioners of their respective trades.
Catalyst’s team is made up of four self-starters, all of whom have held or do hold design/development positions at top companies. Anthony Phillips (Dev Bootcamp), Shawn Drost (OKCupid Labs), Marcus Phillips (Twitter), and Cameron Boehmer (Google) make up a passionate group of teachers who are ready to inspire the next generation of programmers.
Helping Students Get Jobs
Each of these startups offers its students the opportunity not only to learn to code, but also to connect with tens of students, teachers, and mentors who share a similar passion. The end result can often be a new job opportunity.
The Starter League
In partnering with 37signals, The Starter League exposes its students to a network of mentors with connections in the design/development world. Apart from the opportunities that arise from connections developed with fellow students, teachers, and mentors, at least one student each quarter has the opportunity to work as an intern for 37signals. Ultimately, each student leaves The Starter League better prepared for their desired career and more attractive to potential employers.
“Learn to code. Get a job.” That’s the first thing we see on Catalyst’s website, and it’s a mantra that’s duly represented in the company’s curriculum. Near the conclusion of the 12-week program, Catalyst sponsors a hiring day, where students are introduced to more than 20 potential employers in a speed dating sort of way. These are real interviews with real employers. Catalyst helps prepare students with practice interviews earlier in the program.
Just as the various online “learn to code” platforms are incredibly valuable for aspiring developers and designers, hands-on, in-person-instruction programs, like The Starter League and Catalyst, can be life-changing. The chance to interact with experienced practitioners and network with fellow students and mentors is a great one. Here’s to the success of all past, present, and future students.