Transformative Experience with the Capstone Mentoring Program

After being out in the community and speaking with several similarly-situated folks I can confidently say that this program is at the very top of the list. Make no mistake about it, this is where it’s at.

Note: Perry participated in the Capstone Program, and he wrote mostly about his experience with that program.

I participated in the Capstone Mentoring Program from January to April of 2016. It was a completely transformative experience and proved absolutely invaluable in my transition to a software engineer at a reputable and successful company in NYC. The fact of the matter is that I simply would not have been provided the top quality job opportunity that I ultimately accepted if it wasn't for the process that we followed and the mentoring that we were given.

If you are thinking about whether this program is right for you, the most appropriate advice that I could provide is this: be absolutely certain that you are willing to be unconditionally dedicated to this process. Kevin and Chris are not lying when they tell you that it will be hard work and that you will have to make a significant sacrifice in order to be successful in this program. You are going to work very, very hard. You should be prepared to allocate at least 60 hours of your time per week to the program. Expect to have daily meetings with your capstone peer and mentor and to fully immerse yourself. You will come out of it a changed person.

The program begins with a review and strengthening of your fundamentals - programming, problem solving, databases, algorithms, and general web development concepts. All of which is supplemented by an ongoing bookclub where you will have daily reading assignments and discuss/present your opinions on the assigned chapters each day. The books will introduce you to new concepts and importantly provide you with an opportunity to work on discussing your opinions across a range of material; excellent preparation for the interview process.

Quickly, you will move into daily pair programming with a capstone peer where you will review and dissect major open source applications together. You will also take ownership of reviewing discrete pieces of those applications and present your work during your daily meetings. Throughout this entire process, your mentor will be giving you constant realtime feedback and insight, helping solidify concepts and pushing you in the appropriate direction to accelerate your development.

Before you know it, you will be brainstorming with your peer and mentor regarding your capstone project. The process of coming up with ideas, settling on one, and then actually building something could be the whole program in-and-of-itself. You will pair program, work closely with your mentor, and put absolutely everything you have into it. You will live it and breathe it for several weeks. When it is ready, you will show it off. And it will blow people away. I cannot say enough about how well our capstone project was received by the community. It impressed even the most senior developers because it went so far beyond the typical “Yelp clone” project that would be expected of a bootcamp graduate and because it presented significant challenges at both the engineering and product management levels. It was our capstone project and presenting it at a meet up in NYC that raised the eyebrows of a senior developer at the company where I ultimately accepted a position.

With your capstone project completed you will move into the final phase of the program - interview prep and interviewing. In addition to pursuing any opportunities arising from your capstone project, you will select the companies you want to apply to and work with your mentor to strategize on how best to apply and who to apply to first. In parallel, you will drill hard in preparation for your technical interviews. Mock interviews and whiteboard sessions, code challenges, anything that may present itself during your technical interviews will be discussed and drilled on a daily basis so that you can go into those interviews confident and ready to further impress. At the end of the program your mentor will help you negotiate salary/compensation and weigh the pros and cons of any competing offers.

Throughout the process I attended several meet ups in the NYC area and had a chance to chat with several other students who were either currently taking courses with, or recent graduates of, other bootcamps. When I described LaunchSchool's curriculum and its Capstone Mentoring Program to them, the response was unanimous. They simply could not believe how much more in depth we go at every level. After being out in the community and speaking with several similarly-situated folks I can confidently say that this program is at the very top of the list. Make no mistake about it, this is where it’s at.

Your mentor is with you the entire way, from program kickoff to the signed offer. It will be bittersweet when you sign off of that last google hangouts session — but everyone signs off with a big smile and a feeling of true accomplishment. If you are serious about your engineering career, willing and able to put everything you have into the process and setting yourself up for success at the onset, I cannot recommend this process any more highly. What happens is nothing short of amazing.