Table XI Blog

Dev Bootcamp

February 21, 2014No Comments

My Biggest Mistake

Event poster for "Biggest Mistake Night” by Table XIFollowing up on last fall’s successful Chicago Ideas Week session, “My Worst Idea Ever,” we’ve partnered with developer-training organization Dev Bootcamp to host a quarterly “Biggest Mistake Night”—aka, “Mrs. O’Leary Night,” in honor of the woman whose cow mythically started the Great Chicago Fire—in which smart people talk about the bad ideas they’ve had and what they’ve learned from them.

There is importance in failure—not only does it give you nuts-and-bolts experience that you can draw from later, but it also teaches you how to deal with making mistakes and, best yet, how to rebound from them. It’s empowering—especially for those just starting their careers—to hear experienced professionals openly and honestly discuss their mistakes. It reminds us that nobody’s perfect, that even the best minds need to ask for help sometimes, and that failing isn’t shameful.

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November 7, 2013No Comments

Tech Tip: Codecademy

The Codecademy logoWant to learn some code basics? It’s as easy as opening your web browser.

Confession: I am not a developer. Over time I’ve learned some cursory HTML, but the rest of the coding languages are Greek to me. As a writer among the programmers here at Table XI, I’ve felt a bit guilty about that. I’ve always wanted to get more familiar with code, partly to be able to understand developers better, and partly because it’s time to join the 21st century.

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June 19, 2013No Comments

Why It’s Awesome to Be a Dev Bootcamp Mentor

Before heading off to Hacker School for the summer, I mentored at Dev Bootcamp in Chicago. In light of our June Table Talks on Developer Education, I encourage any devs out there to consider mentoring, and to get in touch with Dev Bootcamp if you are interested. Here is why it is an awesome experience:

1. They target students who actually want to do technical work for a living.

Other programs I have seen target more business-oriented folk who think they might want to do technical work if they end up liking it. While this kind of vagueness may not seem noteworthy, the end result is striking. Most Dev Bootcamp students do not come in with unwarranted dreams of being CEOs, but instead with a simple determination to learn, make it through the course, and be accepted in an unfamiliar industry (or unfamiliar for most).

2. The students come to Dev Bootcamp knowing what they are in for.

They have over two weeks of work assigned to them before even arriving to class. By the time they get there, they are familiar with the assignment app (called Socrates) and the kind of workload to expect weekly (over 40 hours; closer to 60 for most of them). I know at least one person who only decided to attempt DevBootcamp after spending close to a year learning programming on her own (she completed multiple open source courses and tons of tutorials).

3. The program is immersive.

There are a few things that contribute to creating an immersive experience. First of all, Dev Bootcamp has their own space. This makes it feel like a full-time job, and your fellow students feel like true peers instead of people you just see during class. Next, the workload forces the students to interact for most of their week (they are required to pair for some of the time), and they work together to solve problems as effectively as possible. Finally, the long hours spent together engenders friendly competition and motivates students to reach beyond their usual potential.

4. The curriculum.

The program spends a reasonable amount of time covering important concepts such as knowledge of Ruby, basic SQL, basic JS/Jquery/HTML, and HTTP/Sinatra before jumping into Rails. In fact, at week 5 there is no sign of Rails yet! This makes me ecstatic. (I would be even happier if they did not cover Rails at all, and spent more time learning the fundamentals.)

5. My students.

Both of them (Lora and Yannick) have been exemplary in their ability to grasp new concepts and apply them. I may be biased since they are so awesome, but I am much more impressed with what they have learned compared to counterparts in other programs. The fact that they were able to write sudoku solvers and solve other fairly complex search problems in their first three weeks blew my mind. I would easily hire both of them if I were looking for junior devs.

Sharing knowledge and helping the next generation of devs get started are core practices of our community, and mentorship is a completely worthwhile experience. I loved my time at Dev Bootcamp (visit their site to learn more about mentoring or other ways to participate), but there are other great programs out there, too. If you have mentored elsewhere, how did it go? What other teaching organizations would you recommend? I am interested in hearing your story.

Ed. note: Our Director of Client Services, Greg Baugues, will be speaking at Dev Bootcamp on Thursday, June 20, at 5:30 pm. Learn more and RSVP here.

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June 6, 2013No Comments

Developer Education: June Table Talks

Software development is one of the fastest growing industries in the country, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting a 30% increase in jobs by 2020, more than double the average growth rate for all occupations. We’ve certainly seen a rebirth in Chicago’s tech scene over the past several years, as companies like Groupon, Career Builder, and Braintree have settled here.

Hand in hand with this explosion in the tech sector goes the issue of education. Who is going to train this next wave of developers, and what are the best teaching tools? How can we use mentorship to promote continued learning and improvement internally, and ensure current devs stay on top of the latest technologies and innovations? How will we reach groups typically under-represented in the dev world, like lower income individuals, certain ethnic minorities, and women?

At Table XI we’ve been thinking a lot about the role of education and mentorship in this community, and several of our team members are involved with organizations like Dev Bootcamp, Girl Develop It, I.C. Stars, and The Starter League, all of which are dedicated to teaching tech’s next crop of talent. For our June Table Talks: Developer Education, we’ll be hearing PechaKucha-style presentations from some of Chicago’s best: Ray Hightower, organizer of ChicagoRuby and WindyCityRails; Paul Pagel, CEO and Co-founder of 8th Light; Vince Cabansag, Director of Operations at The Starter League; Michael D. Hall, Founder of UGtastic; Mike Busch, Instructor at Dev Bootcamp; and Isaac Sanders, our very own summer development intern and mentor at Dev Bootcamp.

What: June Table Talks | Developer Education
When: Thurs, June 13 | 12 – 1:30 pm
Where: Table XI | 328 S Jefferson St | Suite 670

Interested in joining Table Talks as a guest? Request an invitation through our website, or keep up at #tabletalks. For past presentations, including May’s Data by Design, please visit the Table XI PechaKucha channel.

Poster for Table XI's June Table Talks: Developer Education

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May 16, 2013No Comments

Women Learn to Code: Girl Develop It

Women working on their laptops at the local chapter of Girl Develop.Technology is cool. Creating websites is fun. Building an app is the modern day equivalent of being in a band. Oh, and there's the added benefit of exciting, well-paying jobs, too.

The number of people who build software is growing, thanks in part to educational alternatives that have emerged over the last few years—from online offerings like Code Academy and Code School to intensive immersion programs like Dev Bootcamp and Starter League. Free online courses and local meetup groups are helping make coding more accessible, and it's exciting to see the diversity of the technical community expand.

Here in Chicago, we've recently launched a local chapter of Girl Develop It, an international organization "that exists to provide affordable and accessible programs to women who want to learn software development through mentorship and hands-on instruction." It's all about creating a non-threatening environment where people can learn, practice their skills, and network.

We recently wrapped up our first class, an Introduction to HTML/CSS that ran for two hours, one night a week for four weeks, and included nineteen women and two men. Many of the participants work with developers on a regular basis—as project managers, account managers, social media specialists, marketing managers, or graphic designers. Some are interested in making a permanent career change and becoming developers, while others want to get better at their current jobs and improve their communication with the coders on their teams. It was fun to watch their excitement, confidence, and curiosity grow as their web pages came to life, and they were able to control things they once considered magic.

Some of these women may now go off and practice on their own, explore online courses, sign up for the next Girl Develop It class, or even make the leap to a bootcamp program. Building software is fun and rewarding! It's so great to see people who had never considered it a possibility have a chance to launch a new career in coding.

This Saturday, May 18, at 10am we'll be hosting a Meetup: PairUp! Practice Your Coding Skills (Give Forward, 1564 N Damen Ave, Suite 303), so stop by to pair with another person at your skill level and hack on a project for a couple hours. Whether you're just getting started with HTML or looking to strengthen your Javascript skills, all levels are welcome.

And if you know any women who are interested in coding, please tell them about Girl Develop It!

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