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Jerome Hardaway for Vets Who Code

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New Vets Who Code Curriculum!

Finally excited to have completed the #VetsWhoCode updated curriculum! I built this coursework around five things:

Accessibility to the technologies
Ease of adoption
Market trends
Our production stack
Serverless Web Practices

It's taken me about 18 months of studying, mistakes and interviews to put this together with the focus on bleeding edge, still use stable technologies and focusing heavily on API's. The entire process was not only new but different for me. I focused on being modern not only in what we are teaching, but how as well. On top of that this will be the first class taught only by #VetsWhoCode alumni. That means the instructors have been where you have been and are at where you wanna be. Meaning, they get paid to write code DAILY by companies.

It's a complete 180 from our earlier years. In our earlier years we played defense, initially thinking like many of the for-profit code schools but after five years of helping veterans get jobs plus coming from the unique position as the only founder still actually in the industry, working at one of the largest media companies around, I am privileged to be around engineers all the time and able to interview them on where they see the industry headed.

We also focused on building relationships with other Educator/Developer types such as Zed A Shaw, Kyle Shevlin, and Brian Holt, picking their brains and then adding them to our board. We also added experts in cloud technologies from Google, and recruiting from Facebook to help us build our processes better. Included in this process was building relationships with Front End Masters to leverage them as a resource, as the goal for us isn't to be a code school for veterans but to be the premier place for tech education with a deep focus and specialization building from a high-level front end architectural standpoint that just happened to be exclusively for veterans.

Added to this with the rise of Node/ Express we were able to eliminate the number one weakness in most code schools IMHO, which is context switching, where they now have to push two languages and another stack but because all the cramming its essentially high level with leveraging frameworks to do the heavy lifting versus being able to get into deep foundational learning on things such as architecture, workflow, functional vs object oriented programming and accessibility.

The defining technical moment for us though came from our early adoption the serverless web and JAMstack a over a year ago. As the tools we use to build VWC and seeing the level that other companies were pushing it in the areas of e-commerce, blogging, government and education, we quickly came to realize that we could teach our troops this framework and have them do something that no other program does: allow their students push to their production code and work on things that have business implications, so you just don't have a portfolio but you also have tickets in production on an app that people are using and can speak on the business side. This allows us to leapfrog other places and actually have them solving problems and learning from devs who work in an working environment.

However the secret sauce of this will always be our veterans who contribute. This upcoming cohort will have instructors who were #VetsWhoCode alumni who gained the skills that pay their bills from Vets Who Code. So they know how it feels to be in the military, transition out, be told "Thank You For Your Service", but not get the job, how to train, how to prepare and how to get the job. Bottom line, they know how to accomplish the mission.

Doing this meant that there were some sacrifices. I had to add another week to the education, but I rather you learn this stuff and be prepared to do real work than not. Its really a labor of love. Check out the curriculum here and git commit or it didn't happen.

Discussion (6)

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern

It's taken me about 18 months of studying, mistakes and interviews to put this together with the focus on bleeding edge, still use stable technologies and focusing heavily on API's.

This sounds awesome. How has your approach to curriculum changed since you all started?

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Jerome Hardaway Author • Edited on

Oh, it's a complete 180. In our earlier years we played defense, initially thinking like many of the for-profit code schools but after five years of helping veterans get jobs plus coming from the unique position as the only founder still actually in the industry, working at one of the largest media companies around, I am privileged to be around engineers all the time and able to interview them on where they see the industry headed.

We also focused on building relationships with other Educator/Developer types such as Zed A Shaw, Kyle Shevlin, and Brian Holt, picking their brains and then adding them to our board. We also added experts in cloud technologies from Google, and recruiting from Facebook to help us build our processes better. Included in this process was building relationships with Front End Masters to leverage them as a resource, as the goal for us isn't to be a code school for veterans but to be the premier place for tech education with a deep focus and specialization building from a high-level front end architectural standpoint that just happened to be exclusively for veterans.

Added to this with the rise of Node/ Express we were able to eliminate the number one weakness in most code schools IMHO, which is context switching, where they now have to push two languages and another stack but because all the cramming its essentially high level with leveraging frameworks to do the heavy lifting versus being able to get into deep foundational learning on things such as architecture, workflow, functional vs object oriented programming and accessibility.

The defining technical moment for us though came from our early adoption the serverless web and JAMstack a over a year ago. As the tools we use to build VWC and seeing the level that other companies were pushing it in the areas of e-commerce, blogging, government and education, we quickly came to realize that we could teach our troops this framework and have them do something that no other program does: allow their students push to their production code and work on things that have business implications, so you just don't have a portfolio but you also have tickets in production on an app that people are using and can speak on the business side. This allows us to leapfrog other places and actually have them solving problems and learning from devs who work in an working environment.

However the secret sauce of this will always be our veterans who contribute. This upcoming cohort will be the first cohort where I will have zero input in and it will be taught solely by #VetsWhoCode alumni who gained the skills that pay their bills from Vets Who Code. So they know how it feels to be in the military, transition out, be told "Thank You For Your Service", but not get the job, how to train, how to prepare and how to get the job. Bottom line, they know how to accomplish the mission.

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Max Ong Zong Bao

I think it's really an awesome initiative.

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Mike • Edited on

How much in need of mentors are you? Are there lots of students without one, or are there generally far more mentors than mentees?

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Jerome Hardaway Author

Right now I think we are at a great balance of mentors to troops. We haven't assigned more than one troop to a mentor in about two years. I would apply either way to get in cue as we are expecting to be at capacity for the September cohort.

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Adam Crockett

This makes perfect sense, it takes discipline and tact. Love this idea!