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Actualize Blog

You're excited about the prospects of becoming a software developer. You're aware that it can be a fun and lucrative career - a career that fulfills your potential.. You even have a plan for how you're going to learn to code.

But there's one niggling question that's holding you back. It's a question that everyone has.

How do I know that I'll actually ...

I just thought I might clear up the air in case there was any confusion.

There are various venues for learning to code, and they basically fall under one of two categories:

1. Live courses (either in-person or online).

2. Online platforms (i.e. websites with educational content on it).

The first category - live courses, are commonly referred to as coding...

We get this question a lot, so I figured I’d write up a blog post to answer it.

What to prepare for a coding bootcamp depends very much on the coding bootcamp you hope to attend. When choosing a coding bootcamp, it’s very important to understand the different types that exist so that you can choose the coding bootcamp that is right for you.

While there are many differ...

Welcome to our new Success Stories series, in which we interview Actualize grads who successfully made the leap and landed a job in tech.

In this first post, we interview Ian Matthews of San Francisco, who recently graduated from an Actualize Online Live cohort.

What were you doing before you joined Actualize?

My background is in accounting,...

Coding bootcamps, coding schools, dev bootcamps, code academies - they may go by different names, but they are all phrases that describe the same phenomenon.

What is a coding bootcamp?

A coding bootcamp is a vocational program that teaches its students the skills necessary to become a software developer. A software developer - sometimes called a computer programmer or...

When people picture technologists, such as software engineers and the like, their mind conjures up images of a twenty-year-old pimply guy wearing earbuds and a hoodie, with the hood pulled all the way up to his eyes. He is typing frenetically at his keyboard, and is in a very dark room, like a basement or a garage. He doesn’t stop typing, only taking his hands away from the keyboard to chug ...



How long does it take to learn to code?

Once you’ve decided that you’re interested in learning to code, one of the next natural questions to ask is: How long will it take me? What kind of time investment am I dealing with here?

Of course, it’s impossible to give an answer to this in terms of exact hours, as each person learns at different speeds and each per...


You’ve decided that you’d like to break into a career in technology. Technology is taking over the world. Robots are eating people’s jobs in every industry. You don’t want to be left behind, so you decide to jump on the bandwagon.

But you’re not 19 anymore. In fact, you have a career in something other than tech. You’re an accountant, a welder, a mechanic, or a lawyer -...

I recently received the following question via email:

"Hello! I'm a junior in high school and I've been looking into computer science programs for college and I was just wondering if a coding bootcamp is a substitute for a computer science degree. Would you recommend joining a coding bootcamp post-college or beforehand?"

These are fantastic questions, and I thought that m...

December 20, 2017

How Much Do Coders Make?

The salaries of software engineers depend primarily on two factors: Experience and location. Let’s explore experience first.

Let’s look at how experience determines salary in the city of Chicago. The following is typical, but your mileage may vary:

0 - 1 years experience: $50,000 - $65,000

1 - 2 years experience: $65,000 - $90,000...

December 20, 2017

Where Do Coders Work?

Coders work for companies of all sizes and in every industry. While it’s easy to understand why a developer might work at Microsoft - a company that develops software - it’s perhaps less intuitive why a developer might work for Home Depot.

The explanation, though, is simple. Every company relies on technology in some way. A hardware store may have a website and tens of software too...

We're so proud of the most recent Actualize Online Live cohort that graduated yesterday. Each Actualize grad presented their individual Capstone projects at our online Showcase to a panel developers while others watched on YouTube LiveStream. Even though the Showcase is over, you can watch the whole thing on YouTube below.

The Capstone project that each Actualize student builds is ...

SwitchUp conducted an interview with Leapfrog Online, a Chicago-based tech company who has hired five Actualize grads over the course of a few years. A special thanks to Kevin from Leapfrog Online and Mary from SwitchUp for doing this wonderful interview!

The interview covers many topics, including:

  • Why do you think Actualize grads are a good fit for your team?

We’re excited to announce that Actualize is launching an online bootcamp. Initially, the ability for students to access top education while keeping a day job was the motivation to make Actualize a part-time program, and now, giving students the ability t...

Three of my students taking the Actualize Bootcamp share their experiences and discuss the education differences between traditional education in Rwanda versus Actualize's educational model.


Left to Right: Obed Bigirimana, Salomon Beza, and Karoli Kolokonyi
...

There have been interesting discussions about what skills coding actually entails. Is learning a programming language like learning a new language - or is it more similar to learning math? There have even been studies that measure which parts of the brain are activated when coding.

The truth of the matt...

Once upon a time, the hunt for a dream job may have required first passing a difficult bar exam, or putting in intense residency hours. In recent years, however, careers in law or medicine have been pushed aside in favor of technologically advanced careers; namely, software development. Technology is on the rise, and software developers are rising with it.

...

February 21, 2017

What Do Coders Actually Do?

Coders go by many names. Software Engineers, Software Developers, and Computer Programmers are three of the most common terms used to describe professional coders, and all titles basically refer to the same position, as there’s no substantive difference between the three. The term programmer is slightly dated, so you’ll see more mention of software engineers and ...

February 17, 2017

Is Coding a Blue-Collar Job?

An article was posted in the online version of Wired Magazine recently that generated a lot of buzz. Entitled "The Next Big Blue-Collar Job is Coding", I didn't find the article interesting nor did I feel that it had a cogent point. However, numerous people emailed ...



I’m currently training a class of 19 future web developers in Kigali Rwanda. They’re working hard to become job-ready by the end of the bootcamp and apprenticeship.

But they don’t have it easy. Most of the computers they’re using are three to five years old, and most are barely powerful enough to run Linux. Occasionally we’ll have hard drive failures, or a complete o...

There are many reasons why people choose a career in web development: a well-paid job, a new challenge, ability to be creative, or greater job security. I've seen my students leave monotonous jobs or dead-end careers and enter an exciting new stage in their life. When that happens - when students get their first dev job after finishing the bootcamp - that's what g...

A fascinating study conducted by the tech recruiting firm Triplebyte was recently published on InfoWorld. Triplebyte gave the same technical interview to both coding school graduates and university trained co...

When someone first decides to dabble in coding and Googles, "learn to code," they are inundated with options for books, tutorials, and schools that all jockey for the person’s attention. As they comb through the various services, they begin to notice names of different programming languages: HTML, JavaScript, PHP, Ruby, C#, Java, Python - and the list goes on.

...

December 16, 2016

Actualize is Coming to Rwanda!

Our mission at Actualize is to empower people to live more rewarding lives through a career in technology. We work hard at this day in and day out, from advising applicants to whether Actualize is a good fit for them, to our meticulous curriculum and instruction, to running an apprenticeship designed to provide our students with real world experience, to coaching ...

December 15, 2016

What is Actualize?

Let me ask you the following question: If someone from a foreign country came to the US and began learning the English language, and asked you, “I saw the word ‘mentor’ on a sign. What does that word mean?” How would you respond? Take a minute to think about this.

You may find it difficult to encapsulate the definition of a mentor in one word. Is a mento...

The prospect of learning to code is quite daunting to most people. To someone who knows very little about it, the mind conjures up images of lots of green 0’s and 1’s upon a black background. With semicolons, angle brackets, and gobbledygook - software development seems to most as a skill that is some twisted hybrid of advanced calculus and dark magic. Only geniu...

December 13, 2016

Do Coding Schools Work?

In this post, I'd like to address a general but fundamental question: Do coding schools work? It’s a very legitimate question. After all, coding schools promise to provide their students with skills that will lead to an exciting career and significant jump in salary after just several months of training - and without any degree or certification. That’s quite a tal...

December 12, 2016

The Voice for Coding Schools

A lot has been written about coding schools in recent years, as over one hundred such programs have sprung up since 2012 throughout the US and abroad. The media in particular has been fascinated by this phenomenon, and rightfully so. The notion that it’s possible to attend a vocational school - and not receive a degree or any certification - and gain skills that ...

jQuery was released in 2006, and within several years it became the most popular JavaScript library in use on the web (used by 70% of the top 100,000 sites online). At the time, there were many libraries similar to jQuery competing for this developer mindshare (Prototype, MooTools, Dojo, etc.). But ...

Exciting news: Anyone Can Learn To Code has been refactored! We’ve got a new look and feel, as well as a new name for our part-time bootcamp and apprenticeship program: Actualize.

The brand-new Actualize logo!

Anyone Can Learn To Code will remain the name of our company (think

July 29, 2016

What Is Teachable Code?

Software developers strive to write code that is as readable as possible. But what does it mean for code to be readable? One definition that sums it up well is:

Readable code is code that clearly communicates its intention to the reader.

There’s an important point to emphasize in this definition - code readability depends on who’s reading it, which means...

Nothing captures the type of teacher you don’t want to have more than Ben Stein’s brief cameo in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off:


But anyone with classroom experience knows th...

Our education style, curriculum, and teaching staff are a source of pride for us here at ACLTC. Because of that, we decided to write a guest blot post on Switchup.org where we delve into why it's so important to us to bring on Lead Instructors who are both...

We can hardly believe our EIGHTH cohort of web developers has just graduated from Anyone Can Learn To Code! The Chicago Showcase took place on May 20th at 1871 Chicago and marked the end of our latest grads' 15 weeks of bootcamp. Next week, they'll begin their apprenticeships with The Difference Engine, where they'll work on pro...

What's it like to apprentice for Anyone Can Learn To Code's web agency The Difference Engine? Find out firsthand in a Q&A from Course Report with ACLTC alumnus Luke Evans, who graduated in January from our San Francisco bootcamp. Luke talks about his transition from chemical engineering to a career in web development, what the learning experience was like at ACLTC, and the projects he's work...

The amount of space you put in between lessons is often as important as the lessons themselves. This applies to both learning as well as teaching.

Let’s paint the following scenario:

You’d like to learn a new concept, but the concept actually consists of three different parts, which we’ll call A, B, and C. Let’s also assume that to understand concept C, you first...

We got the chance to write a guest blog post for Course Report this week, where we outlined the various teaching styles you'll encounter when learning to code and how to choose the right option for you. This guide will help you determine whether you should attend a bootcamp (and ...

February 19, 2016

Do not teach best practices

In her talk All The Little Things, Sandi Metz talks about teaching beginners about DRY:

The first rule we teach novices is don't repeat yourself - DRY. But have you ever thought about why we teach them that rule? It's because they can't understand anything else. They don't know anything, but by God, th...

We wrapped up the latest ACLTC Chicago cohort a couple weeks ago - our fifth one in the Windy City! The Showcase took place on a Friday over lunch at 1871, and we couldn’t be prouder of the talent, skill, and hard work that our developers demonstrated with their Capstone projects. If you attended the event in person, you’ll know exactly what we mean! For those who missed out, read on to get ...

Time sure does fly! We can’t believe we’ve already celebrated the graduation of our very first San Francisco cohort. The Showcase took place on a Thursday night at The Box in San Francisco, and everyone at ACLTC is so proud of all the hard work and accomplishments our developers demonstrated to the guests throughout the event.

To create their Capstone apps, the developers used ...

September 16, 2015

Alumni Feature: Khoa Le

Our alumni are pretty amazing individuals. While still working daytime jobs, they attended our 12-week part-time coding bootcamp on weeknights from M-Th and all day Sunday. Some were looking to make a career change, while others were looking to learn a new skill. We loved getting to know each and everyone of them, and feel like our readers should get to know them too.

This morning, we sat...

The popularity of coding bootcamps makes it increasingly important to ace your interview. Many competitive applicants come through the doors, but bootcamps will have limited availability. How can you stand out from the rest? Here are 4 tips to remember:

1. Professionalism – As with all interviews, have a professional appearance. Is this a business interview requiring formal...

Our alumni are pretty amazing individuals. While still working daytime jobs, they attended our 12-week part-time coding bootcamp on weeknights from M-Th and all day Sunday. Some were looking to make a career change, while others were looking to learn a new skill. We loved getting to know each and everyone of them, and feel like our readers should get to know them too.

This morning,...

We are extremely excited to announce the upcoming expansion of Anyone Can Learn to Code to all our West Coast friends! We will be offering our signature part-time coding bootcamp to interested applicants in the San Francisco area starting October 11, 2015. Our part-time bootcamp model allows students an opportunity to learn web development while still working a daytime job.

The pro...

This is an excellent question, and a common one as well. The first thing to note about learning how to program is that learning programming languages is very different than learning spoken languages. If you’ve learned Spanish and now you’d like to learn Japanese, you’ll have to start again from scratch. But with computer languages, you are not learning a particular language as much as you ar...

While losing weight, getting organized, and traveling to new places are all worthy New Year’s resolutions, gaining code literacy should be at the top of your list for 2016. Here’s why.

The world is rapidly becoming more tech oriented each and every day. We are now surrounded and dependent on internet and mobile technology like never before. Understanding how these technologies work...

September 4, 2015

Our Second Student Showcase

We had a really nice turnout for our second Student Showcase, which took place on December 18, 2014 in the 1871 Auditorium. Our six graduates had each of their Capstone Projects on display, and the attendees made their rounds, meeting each graduate and getting a personal walkthrough of each app.

In case you missed it, here is what each student built:

Mark created a survey...

September 4, 2015

Our First Student Showcase!

Each cohort of ACLTC culminates with our Student Showcase. Our Student Showcase is like a career fair turned on its head: Our students each have a “booth” where they display their projects as well as themselves, and representatives from various tech companies visit and make their way around to each student. Resumes and business cards are exchanged, and succulent refreshments are enjoyed! Our...

I’m really excited to announce a new meetup in Chicago for people who want to learn more about programming, but need a solid place to start. It’s called Anyone Can Learn To Code (of all things!), and it’s free, and anyone can join. The official Meetup.com link for the group is here. To repeat the official meetup group description, as I’ve posted there: “Have you ever thought about learning t...

September 4, 2015

Why a Code Bootcamp?

After conducting my web development mentoring service for over a year now, I’ve decided to transform it into a web development bootcamp – as I’m sure you’ve noticed on our home page! But why? For those of you who don’t know, the Anyone Can Learn To Code mentoring service was a one-on-one training program in which I taught Ruby on Rails to people from all backgrounds, including those who h...

Explaining how to do things is very hard. You already know how to do X. Bob has never done X before. He has never even seen X being done before. And you need to teach him how to do X. If X is hard, then explaining how to do X is even harder. Why? First off, communication is hard in general. But here it’s even worse. You need to essentially boil down X into spoken (or written) words, and then...

Continuing our series on teaching tech, I’d like to identify another key ingredient of good teaching. (My definition of good teaching is teaching so that the students successfully learn the material that is being taught.) And this ingredient is: It is critical to teach concepts in the proper order. Start with the basics, and build upon them with each subsequent lesson (or section of a lesson). ...

I think a lot about teaching. Which means that I think even more about how people learn. It may seem obvious that if one understands how people learn, then one can be a better teacher, but it seems that many teachers focus little on the human learning process, and just make sure that they’re delivering content. But this is a drastic mistake. One key to understanding how the human brain learn...

So you’ve just learned something new about programming: a new a concept, a new technique, or maybe a brand-new perspective on a problem you’ve never been able to solve.

Maybe you typically learn new things only once in a while, or maybe you’re an aggressive learner and voracious reader who is always seeking new things to cram into your cranium. Either way, how can you make sure you...

As more and more people realize the benefits that learning to code can provide (you know, like landing an awesome job or creating your own projects just how you want), everyone is looking for the best tips and tricks to get them up to speed quickly and climb the heights of programming prowess.

While I think people realize that no single ‘trick’ will magically stuff their heads with...

September 4, 2015

The Secret To Learning To Code

Learning to code is a serious endeavor and takes a tremendous amount of dedication and practice. Yet, anyone who is truly motivated can learn to program. So, what's the secret that people who learn to code know that people who fail to learn to code don’t know?

Photo by 1871.

Since the entire premise of my tech education company is that <...

Sometimes it can seem as though you have to learn computer programming while you're young to ever be successful at it - after all, they're teaching elementary-school children to code these days! It's easy to believe that there's a magical cutoff age after which it’s just plain too late to ever learn to code. Some people may place that age at 25, others at 20, and yet others at 12!

...

"Do I need a degree in computer science to become a web developer?" I often hear this question, and for good reason. Going to school is a massive investment of time and money, and if it’s not truly necessary, why should you devote a portion of your life and assets to it?

The truth is that you don't need a college degree to become a web developer - nor is it always that helpf...

There are many different methods of teaching. One common method of teaching is the simple conveying of lots of information. A teacher can recite many facts and figures, statistics and anecdotes, methods and techniques. Students can listen, take notes, and attempt to comprehend the information being thrown at them.

Or, a teacher can explain concepts to the students in a way that ena...

Do programmers need to know math? Yes, you do need to be an expert at math... if you're building an advanced calculator application or math education program! For anything else, you can become a professional programmer armed with the simple knowledge of grade-school math.

Photo by 1871.

If your addition, subtraction, multiplication, or d...