Latest Bristol & SW tech news, updates and training dates for your diary.
Why a Coding Bootcamp in Bristol?
How, and why, we started Develop Me is something we talk about often with prospective students and people interested in our business, but it’s never been put down in black and white. So for the record, here it is.
Develop Me has a founding team of three –
Prior to starting the company we all worked in the digital, tech and creative industries in various guises. Oli was a long time Developer and Tech Director, Al owned and managed Creative and Digital agencies, and I worked in Tech Recruitment (bad rep I know, but I did things the right way).
I met Oli in 2012 when helping him to make a move in his career into a new Tech Director role at an advertising agency. We hit it off, became friends and over time I helped him to build his team at that agency. Finding and hiring Developers at that time was becoming increasingly difficult, the growing skills gap was having a noticeable impact – and recruitment had become a game of moving the same pool of people from one company to another. Something needed to be done and it seemed obvious to me that this needed to be tackled from the ground up.
All great ideas start in the pub
Oli and I were at the pub talking about the issues facing the industry from a recruitment perspective. I’d stumbled across the Coding Bootcamp model that was gaining traction in the US and said to Oli: “This is an interesting model, would be great if something like this existed over here.”
His response… “We could do that.”
A few months later, we caught wind of someone else (unbeknownst to us, our future partner Al) making tracks down the same path. On many occasions we seemed to be meeting with the same people, often on the same day, talking about the same idea of setting up a Coding Bootcamp in Bristol. Eventually, our paths crossed with Al – a twitter message, led to a meeting and an almost identical business plan for a Coding Bootcamp.
A coding course leading to a job in tech
It made perfect sense to join forces – Oli had the technical expertise and could develop and deliver the curriculum, Al had business experience and a keen interest in progressive and innovative business models, and I had insight into what the industry needed and could line-up job opportunities for our bootcamp graduates.
We very nearly didn’t make it, encouraging people to part with the best part of £8,000 on an unproven programme is, unsurprisingly, difficult. However, we were confident we could teach people everything they needed to know to land a job as a Junior Developer in 12 weeks. It took a lot of faith from that first cohort to make the leap and invest in both their, and our, future. We ended up running that first cohort short on students and making a financial loss, however, the decision to go ahead rather than jack it all in, has thankfully proved to be an excellent one.
5 years later – thriving Bristol Coding Bootcamp!
So here we are 5 years after that night in the pub with 13 runs of our Coding Bootcamp complete, tons of happy graduates transitioned into tech, an employment rate of 98%, and a growing network of hiring partners that keep coming back to us for more Developers.
Learning about teaching people to code
We have learnt a lot; about ourselves, about each other, about teaching people to code, about business, about risk, about people, about the importance of collaboration, about complacency and about never standing still.
When we started out we were the first Coding Bootcamp in the South West and only the second in the UK. There are a few more around these days, some right on our doorstep. We haven’t stopped moving since the day it all started and can’t see a time when we will. This industry progresses so quickly – we embrace that pace of change and relish the opportunity we have been given to help people looking to accelerate their careers in tech and help companies to keep pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with technology.
Our door is always open
4 places available on our P/T Courses thanks to our amazing Opportunity Fund
We are really keen to ensure that all talented individuals are given an equal opportunity to pursue a career in Tech. To facilitate this we have made available two places on our part-time Front End Course and 2 places on our part time User Experience Course at a reduced rate thanks to our Opportunity Fund.
- Front-End Web Development 7th September – 15th October (x 2 places at a reduced rate of £1000 / usual cost £1500)
- Part Time UX-Design Course 5th September – 7th November (x 2 places at a reduced rate of £1950 / usual cost £2450)
The course is delivered in a flexible schedule to fit around job and child care restrictions.
These subsidised places are being offered to two groups which are heavily under-represented in tech: Women and those who identify as black, Asian and minority ethnic.
The four places on our current scheme has been made possible through our hiring partners Swoop Patagonia and Goram and Vincent who have kindly contributed to this Opportunity Fund, after hiring some graduates from our flagship Coding Bootcamp.
Opportunity Fund for Front End Development and UX Design
The Develop Me ‘Opportunity Fund’ is specifically designed for students who are otherwise unable to afford to pay full price for training. With the UK’s digital sector creating jobs twice as fast as the wider economy, developing digital skills has never been more important. We hope to address the lack of diversity in the tech industry and actively support students who are underrepresented in the tech community, including, but not limited to gender, race, ethnicity, educational background or employment history.
“As the digital revolution increasingly touches every aspect of our lives, the UK needs a technology workforce that reflects the full diversity of the people who use that technology.”
If you are interested in applying for these subsidised places please email email@example.com and outline a bit about your background, current situation and why you would like to attend the course – we look forward to hearing from you.
Deadlines for applications:
— 15th August 2019.
Develop Me offer a comprehensive full-time 12-week coding bootcamp (the 5-star rated Coding Fellowship), a 10-week part-time User Experience Design, a 2 day UX Fundamentals Course & a 6-week part-time Front-End Web Development course.
Live Client Project
As part of the student learning experience on our part time 10 week UX Design course at Develop Me, we work on live projects and we are very proud to have given two Bristol charities a complete UX Design overhaul of their websites. This collaboration has resulted in each organisation receiving highly valuable consultancy services; resulting in several clickable wireframe solutions free of charge which they can implement immediately into their website.
Benefits to the Client
Whichever design they choose will:
– Improve the experience for their website visitors
– Increase the ‘desired actions’ executed on the website
– Improve profits
The students on our course benefit from working alongside a real client from day one by being exposed to real life research, client communication and learning to collaborate and design as part of a team delivering user-centred solutions.
New Client needed!
We are now looking for another local charity to offer this service to and are welcoming applications to be part of this exciting jointly beneficial venture.
Essentially our students, with the involvement and guidance of our outstanding will run a full UX process with you, on your project.
– Unpacking your challenges and what you want to achieve with your website/app
– Defining your audience and their needs
– Audience research
– Website usability testing
– Information architecture (site map)
– User stories and user journey mapping
– Interactive prototypes of new features for your new website
– Final presentation and handover
Past UX Clients
To date we have collaborated with Penny Brohn and The Matthew, both Bristol charities. They have been overwhelmed by the variety of insights, research and applied wireframes they were presented; many already developed and ready to be implemented into their website structure.
‘It really felt like a gift being offered this level of quality work free of charge as we would never have been able to afford to pay for this ourselves’ (Penny Brohn)
Both clients would be happy to discuss with any organisation considering applying for the September project, how they found the process and give advice on how to prepare for the process.
To apply please have this set up, just contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Requirements for a great UX Design Project Client
You would need to attend 3-4 sessions on a Thursday night, between mid September and November:
1. Discovery workshop
2. Audience research
3. Information architecture workshop
4. Project presentation
We discuss with you how the research will be conducted – this would really best suit a website with a fairly complex structure and/or one that serves multiple audiences. Or a site that has been around for a while and needs to be evolved to keep up with the expectations of today’s website visitors.
Register your interest
The best thing to do is let us know if you are interested and we can discuss this further. You are also welcome you to pop down to our campus at Develop Me to meet the team!
Our part-time User Experience Design (UXD) course teaches all the key skills required to research, define, design and develop digital services based upon user-centred design principles. It has been developed to help anyone looking to up-skill or change career and move into the ever increasing number of roles in UX Design.
For more information please register your interest here.
Hannah Smith is one of our newest instructors at Develop Me. She is an agile technical project manager, WordPress developer and leads Bristol WordPress People. Hannah teaches the WordPress unit of the Develop Me Coding Fellowship, when she’s not snowboarding…
Here’s her story of a life in code.
I’ve been programming since about the age of 15, circa 1998. When I look back I find it hard to recall exactly what attracted me in the first place. It definitely wasn’t one thing that lured me in, but a combination of things. I won’t bore you to death with an analysis of those things but there are definitely two major influences:
Dial-up internet arrived a year or so before. My parents ran a business from home and realised that they were missing out by not having emails so we got connected. At the time I was really into tropical fish — I loved the way they swam around in shoals being all sparkly and pretty. I wanted a way to share that passion with others, and knew that building a website would be a great way to do that. As a teenager with £3 a week pocket money I knew this meant learning to build it myself.
I would wait until my parents had finished working in the office for the evening and would sneak in to code my site with the lights off, hoping the dial-up noises didn’t alert them to the fact that I was yet again running up the bills. I found myself getting a kick from mastering HTML and being able to present my information as I wanted.
Making websites and digital art opened up an entirely new way of being creative to me.
To my amazement, all that work paid off and people actually visited my site and chatted in my forums. I still put that down to my awesome animated gifs!
Another huge influence was The Matrix, which came out in 1999 and totally blew my mind. I saw that the world of computers had almost limitless potential if you could just imagine what to do with them and knew how to use them. Neo and Trinity were so blistering cool.
Suddenly being a geek meant you could actually save the world.
Roll on a few years and at age 18 I went to university to study Computer Science. You might expect me to say I’ve never looked back and I skipped off into coding nirvana….
It didn’t quite go like that.
I loved my degree but I didn’t finish it. I signed up for a 4 year MEng but dropped out a little way into the fourth year. The tutoring and 1:1 help wasn’t great and when I got stuck I didn’t really feel that I had anyone to turn to. It was a case of re-reading the same instructions in my notes or text-book and trial and error until finally something ran. Stack Exchange wasn’t on the scene back then — oh how I love it these days!
My experiences of being left to get on with it during my uni years is one of the reasons I enjoy teaching so much these days. Being able to help and support others as they start their coding journey and retrain their brains to think in the right way is a real privilege.
I always felt very different from most of my class mates. Out of one hundred, five of us were girls, and one of the girls only lasted a term. Most of the fellas seemed scared to talk to me because… well I never really got it, but I suppose it was because I had boobs and the fact I had other interests outside of coding. The whole gender diversity thing is a topic for another blog… but I am immensely chuffed to see how things are changing and how much support there is for women in tech now. Nice one ladies! Anyway, I digress…
I was so saddened by my decision to quit.
I have never quit at anything in my life. Part of me felt like I’d failed, but part of me knew that it was ultimately the right thing to do. Thankfully that feeling of failure didn’t last long as I walked away with a BSc and three weeks after quitting I got my first techy job. I worked at a small digital agency who made websites, games, animations, films and software. Yes all those things. It was mental but I loved it! I worked hard and learned a lot about coding in the real world. It ended up being a brilliant move. I felt like I had finally arrived.
You might be expecting me to say that I’ve been working in tech or coding ever since, but no.
My passion had always been for the environment so after three years I went off to the Environment Agency to do good. I took an eight year detour away from coding and focused all my career energy on getting good at management: people management, programme management, portfolio management, systems management and strategic business change. Decision making, basically.
You might think that knowing how to code had nothing to do with that career sidestep into management, but far from it.
Learning to code trained me to problem solve, think critically and make decisions and those skills were invaluable in my management career.
After the Environment Agency, I felt burnt out by trying to save the planet, especially when we got hit by the government’s austerity programme, so I went travelling for a year with my other half. We went to New Zealand, bought a van and lived like hobos for a while. We did a heck of a lot of surfing, biking and snowboarding out there. It was cool! It gave me space and time to think about what to do next and what my life priorities needed to be.
I spent a lot of time thinking about how I could get my work life balance to a better place.
I noticed a curious thing start to happen. If it came up in conversation with people we met that I knew a bit of coding and how websites worked, invariably the next part of the conversation would go, “I’ve got a website, can you help me?”. Literally every time. I got offered so much paid work it was crazy, even though my skills were pretty rusty. It even paid for a ten day stay in the Maldives on the way home.
On our return home, I realised just how much I loved coding and that I’d missed it a lot. It was such a refreshing contrast to working in management and business change, where it could take two years or more to see the fruits of your labour. Coding is very instant and those receiving your finished work get the benefits of what you have done almost straight away. I decided to set myself up as a freelance web developer. I used to know a lot and be good at it, how hard could it be?
Answer: much harder than I thought.
The learning curve was immense and whilst I still knew how coding worked and how to think in the right way, my knowledge was seriously archaic. I do love learning, and that’s part of why working in this industry thrills me so much. Every day is a school day. Nonetheless, I got sick of never having heard of all these different tools and feeling like I knew nothing. What the hell was Gulp, Grunt and WebPack? Didn’t they all do the same thing? Why were there so many solutions that solved the same problems? Or did they do the same thing? Argh!
If I was to make that switch again, I would definitely book onto an intensive bootcamp or training course like the Coding Fellowship that DevelopMe offer. Having more guidance from trusted developers to find my way through the possibilities would have accelerated my transition a whole lot. Instead I felt like I was back at uni — billy no mates who learned through getting it wrong a thousand times before figuring it out.
The good news is after about a year, I found myself evening out a bit. I was starting to actually know what these different tools were and how to use them effectively. I also became involved in several tech meet-ups in Bristol which helped enormously. The big moment came for me when rather than saying yes to a project and figuring out how to do it later, I would actually have done it or something like it before. Such a weight lifted off my shoulders. I felt I could look people in the eye and say “I am a web developer, not a fraud”.
The best bit about coming back to coding? The freedom.
The remote working opportunities are amazing. Right now I’m away in the Italian Dolomites for three months soaking up some of that work life balance I mentioned a while back. Every morning I have breakfast and then head out into the mountains to snowboard, toboggan or just hike. Then I settle down in the afternoon and write some code. Magic really.
I’m sure my journey won’t end here. But one thing that is constant in my story is just how good a decision learning to code has been for me. Whether or not I’ve had jobs as a programmer, the training I got to think critically, break problems down into bite-sized chunks and view feedback as a gift have been skills that have been the backbone of my career to date.
As we conduct more and more of our daily personal and business lives online, it’s never been more critical for digital services to create seamless interactions and user experiences that are both intuitive and effective.
As a result, businesses are recruiting talent to help design interactive services that bridge the gap between people and technology – this is the role of the UX Designer.
In direct response to this demand we’ve created the User Experience (UX) Design Bootcamp – a part-time 10 week, project driven, intensive course developed and delivered by industry experts.
This new course – aimed at beginners with no previous design or technical experience – will teach all the skills required to research, define, design and develop digital services and products – based upon user-centred design principles.
The first Bristol intake starts in September 2018 – applications are open now – please apply here.
If you would like to find out more about the application process please contact us.
I studied Jewellery Design at University and went on to work for a jewellery company in London as their website manager. This involved uploading photos, producing newsletters, helping redesign their eCommerce website and going through a branding change.
Why are you attending the Coding Fellowship?
2 years ago I decided I wanted to change career and started running my own jewellery business. I wanted to learn to code to add more strings to my bow to help my business.
When I worked for the jewellery company our website was built by Meanbee. From my experience of working with them I thought their job sounded really interesting. I’m looking forward to being on the other side of the fence soon!
What role are you looking for after the Coding Fellowship?
I want to work within the Bristol tech scene, and the Coding Fellowship is a great route into that.
I like the creative aspect of web development, and would be very happy working for a company on in-house projects, or working for an agency in a client-facing role.
What was your coding experience before the Coding Fellowship?
I had used Codecademy’s online resources a little, mostly just learning some HTML and CSS is as far as I’d got.
How have you found the Fellowship so far?
Really good! Learning is always satisfying, especially when you’re studying something that a few weeks ago seemed like gobbledegook: incomprehensible, impenetrable & possibly, actually, maybe just magic?
Now I get to revel in being on the opposite side of that equation – I’m really relishing the feeling of ultimate power you get when something starts working correctly!
All the other members of the cohort are sound as a pound, as are the tutors. The workspace is brilliant (especially the pingpong table ) & I’m now completely addicted to caffeine, which I feel can only be a good thing.
What have you enjoyed most?
What have you found hardest?
Interested in becoming a web developer?
Attend a Coding Fellowship Introduction Evening taster workshop.
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OUR FIRST STUDENTS HAVE JUST EMBARKED ON THEIR JOURNEY TO BECOMING WEB DEVELOPERS
The Spring Cohort of the Coding Fellowship began on May 9th, based down at Bristol’s Paintworks the fellowship is the South West’s first coding bootcamp. The programme includes a 12 week intensive taught element – teaching the fundamentals of web development – a paid industry work placement and help finding employment as a web developer upon graduation.
The Bristol and Bath region has recently been recognised as the largest regional digital hub in the UK and with predictions that the digital industries will grow faster than any other in the coming decade, it’s a great time to be learning to code and joining the thriving tech sector. You can read more about this in the recent Tech Nation Report.