{ The Rithm Blog. }

Student Spotlight: Adele Landers

Adele Landers is a current student at Rithm School who worked as a pharmacist for the past 6 years. She graduated from the University of Missouri-Kansas City as a Doctor of Pharmacy. The first time she dabbled with coding in middle school, she built a website to showcase her pet chickens! Outside of her rigorous hours at Rithm, she enjoys skiing, camping and reading.

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October 17, 2017

Do Web Developers Need to be Good at Math?

People often ask me about how I transitioned into a career in technology. When they find out I’m a former academic who transitioned from a career as a mathematician, I’ll often get asked whether my background made the transition easier and to what extent I draw from my mathematical training when I’m coding. For any aspiring web developers out there, I’d like to answer this question in two parts.

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October 10, 2017

Top 4 JavaScript Mistakes That Beginners Make

When you first start learning JavaScript, it’s very easy to get overwhelmed by all of the concepts and terms thrown at you! In this post, we’ll be going over four common mistakes that beginners make when learning JavaScript.

1. Using the ‘return’ keyword too soon

Something we see many students doing quite frequently when getting started, is returning from a function too early. When you first learn about functions, you’ll learn that the return keyword is used to provide output from a function. However, when a function encounters the return keyword, that function will end. See if you can spot what’s wrong with this function:

function sumOddValues(arr) {
  var total = 0;
  for (var i = 0; i < arr.length; i++) {
    if (arr[i] % 2 !== 0) {
      total += arr[i];
    return total;

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September 27, 2017

Interview With An Alumni: Katie Krieger

Katie came to Rithm School with an impressive background in Environmental Engineering. While she loved the field, Katie felt limited by her skillset and wanted to focus more on her interest in technology. She began to consider software engineering as a career that could allow for more hands-on problem solving.

While researching bootcamp options, Katie was drawn to the environment at Rithm School, particularly the small class sizes and individual attention from instructors.

Katie talks more about her experience in an interview with SwitchUp. She also offers her advice for students, and explains how the skills she learned at Rithm School will be used in her new position as a Software Engineer at ClassPass.

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September 19, 2017

What Makes a Successful Student?

When prospective students come in for an interview at Rithm, I’m sometimes asked if I’ve noticed any qualities that distinguish particularly successful students. While our admissions process does a fairly good job of assessing students’ preparedness - both technically and behaviorally - there are certain qualities that are hard to suss out over a couple of relatively short interviews.

There are definitely a few common qualities that seem to be relatively common among successful students, in programming or any other technical discipline. Here are my top four.

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September 05, 2017

5 Topics To Master Before Learning React

Welcome! If you're reading this, you have probably been told that React is the best thing since the internet. Or maybe you're a little React curious: you're coming from another front-end framework like Ember, Backbone, or Angular and wondering if there may be a better way. Perhaps you have thousands of lines of messy code written in jQuery and you know that there must be a better way. Unfortunately, this article will not be making grand statements about how React is the answer to all of your problems. However, you will be getting some suggestions and resources that will help you to build a solid foundation before you dive into the world of React development.

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August 29, 2017

Soft Skills That Actually Matter In Tech

According to CareerBuilder, 77% of employers value soft skills just as much as hard skills. You can be writing some of the best code out there, but it will amount to little if you don’t work well with others. There are tons of people interviewing for boot camps and joining the masses in their post-graduation job search. Having strong communication and people skills are what’s going to reward you that winning competitive edge.

What soft skills can you improve on that actually matter?

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August 22, 2017

What I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before I Learned To Code

As a self-taught developer, I can easily remember feeling overwhelmed by how and where to begin learning how to code. Below are some lessons that I’ve taken away from my early days learning how to code and subsequent years teaching hundreds of students across SF.

Focus on quality, not quantity

When I first decided I wanted to learn how to code, I tried to tackle all languages and technologies at once. I knew that I needed to learn JavaScript, but I was also fascinated by mobile and backend development. I spent hours learning PHP and JavaScript, watching Objective C tutorials, and building small web and mobile applications.

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August 15, 2017

Rithm School Scholarship Winner Interview: Michelle Huynh

This past spring, Rithm School offered our first ever Diversity Scholarship to our community of aspiring web developers. We received many impressive applications, and after careful consideration, Michelle Huynh was awarded a full scholarship to our web development training program in San Francisco. Here, Michelle tells us more about her background and journey in web development, how she has set herself up for success in the field, and what she hopes to do next.

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August 08, 2017

A Bootcamp Bubble?

There's been a lot of buzz lately about the recent high-profile closing of two coding schools: Dev Bootcamp and The Iron Yard. Depending on where you get your news, the back-to-back shuttering of these schools is either an anomaly in an otherwise healthy industry, or it's the first indication that the industry Dev Bootcamp pioneered is now ending.

Neither of these extremes totally captures the reality; the truth is more complicated. While I was certainly surprised to hear about these schools winding down, the challenges they described in their public statements definitely resonated.

In this post, I'd like to dig into one of the biggest challenges I've seen discussed. It's tied to one of Silicon Valley's favorite buzzwords, but is also frequently at odds with high-quality education. That word is scale.

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August 01, 2017

Student Interview: Julia Hazer on Company Projects

At Rithm, we believe that one of the best ways to prepare students for jobs as web developers is by giving them opportunities to work on real-world projects. Working on personal projects can be fun, but working in a team or on an existing code base gives students insights into the day-to-day challenges of a developer that they might not otherwise learn. Towards the end of these projects, we spoke with student Julia Hazer to get her perspective on the experience.

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July 18, 2017

Five Tips to Get Into Rithm

It’s no secret that getting into a coding school is highly competitive. The most common question I receive from potential students is, "What can I do to stand out during the admissions process?" Here at Rithm, we have a particularly tailored admissions process to snag one of our coveted 15 seats, which can undoubtedly be nerve-wracking when applying.

Fortunately, we have all the resources you need to make it through our admissions process. I’ve seen over a thousand applications and have compiled these tips to get your foot in the proverbial coding door:

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July 11, 2017

Problem Solving Strategies: Look Back and Refactor

It can be tempting to think that your work is done after you've solved a problem, especially if the problem has been a difficult one. But as Polya writes in How To Solve It, reflection is an important part of effective problem solving:

Even fairly good students, when they have obtained the solution of the problem and written down neatly the argument, shut their books and look for something else. Doing so, they miss an important and instructive phase of the work. By looking back at the completed solution, by reconsidering and reexamining the result and the path that led to it, they could consolidate their knowledge and develop their ability to solve problems...There always remains something to do; with sufficient study and penetration, we could improve any solution, and, in any case, we can always improve our understanding of the solution.

In this final post, we'll take a look at this final strategy from the standpoint of programming.

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June 27, 2017

Student Interview: Shriya Nevatia

Shriya Nevatia is a current student at Rithm who previously worked at two small startups in Community & Operations. She has a Computer Science degree from Tufts and is very involved in women in tech communities, including the Spectra hackathon and Ladies Storm Hackathons Facebook group. In her spare time she enjoys dancing, reading, painting, and exploring San Francisco.

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June 19, 2017

Scholarships, Diversity and How Rithm Supports Your Coding Education

Here at Rithm School, we have seen value in providing scholarships to highly motivated web development students. The practice of offering scholarships is not only a way to support learners working with tight budgets, but also a method of engaging and motivating nontraditional students of all backgrounds and experience levels who are interested in breaking into tech.

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May 23, 2017

Demystifying Deep Learning

Self-driving cars, voice activated home automation, text translation, automated style transfer: Applications for deep learning seem to be everywhere nowadays. It has proven to be a powerful, effective tool for solving very difficult problems. And, in this humble author's opinion, we are just starting to scratch the surface of what we can do with the technology.

But wait a minute, what is deep learning? If you're new to programming, or even if you're an experienced programmer who is new to machine learning, you may be a little lost when it comes to deep learning. In fact, until recently, I felt a little lost myself.

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May 11, 2017

Staff Spotlight: Angelina Davis, Admissions Manager

Angelina Davis has recently joined the Rithm Team as our Admissions Manager, supporting students throughout the application and admissions process as they decide to take the leap into full-stack web development. Here we learn a little bit more about Angelina, her role on the team and the secret to her guacamole recipe.

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May 02, 2017

Student Interview: Torre Taylor on Company Projects

At Rithm, we believe that one of the best ways to prepare students for jobs as web developers is by giving them opportunities to work on real-world projects. Working on personal projects can be fun, but working in a team or on an existing codebase gives students insights into the day-to-day challenges of a developer that they might not otherwise learn.

Last month, our students spent several weeks working on two company projects: one in partnership with the BAND Lab at UCSF, and another with a venture capital firm in San Francisco. Towards the end of these projects, we spoke with student Torre Taylor to get his perspective on the experience.

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April 18, 2017

Becoming a Self-Reliant Developer

Part of being a strong developer means having the willingness and the drive to perpetually continue learning. In an ever-evolving industry where the rate of iteration and innovation is high, you will need the ability to teach yourself new conventions, design patterns, and technologies to stay relevant in a competitive marketplace.

Does this mean that as a newer coder you should opt for a self-directed program? Would a program with less oversight from instructors teach you to be a stronger and more self-reliant developer? My answer is: absolutely not.

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April 06, 2017

You Should Be Going To Tech Conferences

I have to be honest. In the past, I did not like going to conferences. I found them boring and not too productive. The main reason for all this dislike was the type of conference I used to go to. I started out my career in the academic world. I was in a computer science PhD program at Georgia Tech, and I can safely say that I did not find the conferences that I attended to be very helpful. I "dropped out" of grad school with a masters and then became a software engineer at Amazon. Amazon did not have a culture of sending developers to conferences, so again, I avoided them.

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March 30, 2017

Student Interview: Andrew Mundy

Andrew Mundy is a late twenty-something somehow living in beautiful San Francisco. He likes bikes, jazz, and his gin martini stirred, with a twist. You can catch him in the wild either basking in Dolores or frequenting local watering holes.

Andrew is also a student in Rithm School’s current full-time web development program. Here, Andrew talks about his experience thus far and what to expect from the bootcamp experience.

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March 23, 2017

She’s Been Persisting: 6 Women in Tech Organizations You Should Know About

So many amazing things happened on International Women’s Day that it was difficult to keep track, in a good way. For me, this about sums it up, but here’s a list of other awesome things we did across the country and the world.

To keep up the momentum of uplifting and empowering women in tech during Women’s History Month, I wanted to highlight a few organizations who have already made major moves to expand access, equality, and inclusion in the space. Read on to get inspired, motivated, and involved in your community.

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March 16, 2017

Bootcamp Curious? Perspective from a Recovering Academic

I’ve been a student for most of my life. By the time I completed my Ph.D. in 2012, I’d spent a decade as a student in higher education (four years as an undergraduate, and 6 years as a graduate student).

Now I teach at a program that trains people for web development careers in just a few months. While I’m no longer in academia, I’m also skeptical of claims that coding schools reduce the need for college graduates with computer science degrees. Both options have a lot to offer, but they’re fundamentally different and serve different needs. In this post, I’d like to share some of my own experiences teaching and learning in both environments.

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March 09, 2017

Problem Solving Strategies: Use Tools Strategically

The ecosystem around programming is filled with tools intended to make writing code easier. And indeed, developing a workflow that makes sense to you is essential to becoming a productive programmer and problem-solver.

Using the right tool for the job can help illuminate blocks when you're solving a problem, and suggest ways to a solution. But if you use the wrong tool, or don't know how to use the many tools available, your work can come grinding to a halt. This brings us to one of our most important strategies: using tools strategically.

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February 02, 2017

Problem Solving Strategies: Solve a Simpler Problem

We've talked about how to initially approach a problem by understanding what it's asking and exploring concrete examples. We've also discussed developing a plan to solve the problem, by breaking it down into smaller and more manageable pieces.

But planning is sometimes easier said than done. After you've broken a problem down, you may find that one of the components is quite difficult. For particularly challenging problems, you may not even know how to break down the problem at all. In these situations, it may help to turn to our next problem solving strategy: solve a simpler problem.

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January 19, 2017

Your Roadmap to Learning JavaScript

In this day and age, everyone is trying to learn how to code. Between a 27% increase in job outlook (through 2024) and everything becoming automated, having programming know-how has never been more valuable. From a professional standpoint, you increase your value by knowing how to program, as companies are realizing the benefits of having their employees know how to manipulate basic code. From a personal standpoint, you gain the ability to make side projects become a reality.

While there are plenty of benefits to learning how to code, we’ve noticed there isn’t a clear roadmap for getting there. The majority of what’s out there only covers the basics or requires payment.

Below we list what we believe to be the best bang-for-buck resources available.

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January 05, 2017

What A Small Class Size Meant to Me

As it turns out, not everyone who starts a boot camp will finish. Last year, I graduated from a six-month immersive program. My cohort began at eighteen students and dropped to eleven. By the last week, only five of us consistently showed up to class. That kind of attrition is unusual, but those unique circumstances really highlighted how much of an impact class size can have on student experience.

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December 19, 2016

Student Interview: Greg

Our first cohort is finishing up their projects at Rithm before they move on our program’s third stage: Outco. We’ve seen first-hand the work, time, and effort these guys have put into absorbing everything that’s been thrown at them. From learning theory to working on real-world projects, we’re extremely proud of everything they’ve accomplished thus far.

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December 19, 2016

How to Prepare for the Rithm Technical Interview

One of the most common questions we get from prospective students is, “how do I prepare for the technical interview?” In this post, we’ll outline what we look for and what you need know in order to be successful. But first, let’s make sure you understand how the interview works.

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December 08, 2016

Problem Solving Strategies: Break It Down

Once you have a clear understanding of the problem at hand and have convinced yourself of what the result should be in a few specific cases, it's time to think about a more general approach. Very often looking at specific examples is enough to generate a roadmap for a solution. But if you find yourself still struggling to come up with a solution, here's a strategy that can help.

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December 05, 2016

Problem Solving Strategies: Explore Concrete Examples

In How To Solve It, mathematician George Polya breaks the problem-solving process down into four pieces: understanding the problem, making a plan, executing the plan, and reflecting on the solution. We've already talked about understanding the problem, but the next parts of this process could benefit from a little unpacking.

Whether you're building a new feature for an application with millions of users, or in the middle of a whiteboard interview, it's essential that you have a plan before you start coding. But planning often requires forethought and insight that comes from experience. Because of this, beginners often feel trapped in a sort of catch-22: they need experience in order to formulate plans effectively, but they need to plan effectively in order to solve problems and gain experience!

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November 28, 2016

Problem Solving Strategies: Understand the Problem

One of the biggest challenges for the aspiring web developer has little to do with the details of programming. As an engineer, you'll be tasked with understanding and solving problems on a regular basis; regardless of the specific technologies you use, then, strong problem-solving ability is critical.

And while your problem-solving skills will certainly develop naturally as you write code, it's worth being a bit more intentional, and think about problem-solving strategies in general. In this series, we'll take a look at some common problem-solving strategies, and adapt them to the life of a web developer. (Note: many of these strategies are adapted from George Polya, whose book How To Solve It is a great resource for anyone who wants to become a better problem solver.)

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November 21, 2016

Why Do You Want To Code?

You’ve heard that we are currently in the midst of a coding “revolution.” You’ve seen the job market prediction for the next twenty years. You’re looking to grow yourself to develop a more valuable skill set.

And that has brought you here.

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November 15, 2016

Essential Tools for Web Development

Every developer's workflow is slightly different. And because people can have such strong opinions about the best text editor, web browser, and tooling, finding the workflow that works for you isn't always easy.

However, once you've found the tools that are right for you, and know how to use those tools successfully, the rate at which you can program can increase tremendously. And after working with a number of students, we've got our own opinions about tools a beginning developer should absolutely have. In this post, we'd like to offer up the technologies that we think are the most helpful, as well as instructions on how to install those tools (or access them, in the even that they're already installed). Please note: the installation process assumes that you are using a Mac with OSX.

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October 21, 2016

Five Reasons to Learn JavaScript

Over the past few years, JavaScript has exploded in popularity. According to StackOverflow's 2016 developer survey, JavaScript is the most popular technology for full-stack, front-end, and back-end developers, and isn't showing any signs of losing momentum. So how did we get here, and what does it mean for someone who wants to learn to code? In this article, we'll trace back some of the history, project a little bit into the future, and offer up some reasons why, if you're interested in programming, you should give JavaScript a shot.

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September 29, 2016

Free Course Prep

We've been talking to a number of potential students over the past few weeks, and have had some great conversations with students from a variety of backgrounds. As we've been having these conversations, though, a challenge has emerged. With so many resources available for people who want to learn on their own, and with the emergence of short courses like First Step Coding aimed at people who are on the fence about a career change into web development, people are coming to us from different backgrounds and with varying levels of experience. So how can we try to level that playing field, and assess who would be a good fit for our program as objectively as possible?

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September 20, 2016

Building Better Job Support

One of the nice things about working at a coding school compared to a more traditional educational environment is that we don't need to grapple with some of the headier philosophical questions surrounding the purpose of education. For us, the purpose is clear: get students job-ready in 17 weeks.

With that clarity of purpose also comes a straightforward metric to measure our own success: are students getting jobs? If students leave our program and can find and retain jobs as developers, that's a pretty clear signal that we're on the right track.

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September 14, 2016

Why Another Bootcamp?

Hi! Welcome to the Rithm blog. We're a team of passionate educators and developers who have decided to open a web development school in San Francisco.

To the casual observer, this may seem like a strange choice. After all, there are already plenty of options for the aspiring web developer. Do some quick research and you'll find all kinds of programs: 12-week programs, 24-week programs, 36-week programs, and more; full-time programs and part-time programs; online programs and in-person programs. The list goes on, and is particularly long in the Bay Area. So why throw our collective hats in the ring?

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September 06, 2016

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