Road To Turing

I first stumbled upon the Turing School during my first semester pursuing a degree in engineering. It was August 2014. I had moved to Denver not too long ago and was really looking for a career with problem solving at it’s core. I already had a degree and some experience in Finance but I felt like Engineering would stimulate me much more. A few weeks into the semester I started to recollect everything that was horrendously wrong with the formal education system! The list is obvious, long, and I’ll set it aside for another post. I will say this, you want to become a professional in any field? 95% of institutions will not fulfill you’re expectations, they will only set you back financially and intellectually.

Sitting in class being bombarded with theory based bull shit, I started surfing the web looking for some glitter of hope that would get me out of my potential 3+ year commitment to an uncertain future. I’ll never forget my first search query: ‘why college is bull shit?’ A few articles later I stumbled upon gSchool. 6-months of training to become a programmer and a guaranteed job making over $65K or your money back. The cost is roughly $19k. Excuse me? An absurdly high percentage of 4-year college graduates can’t even get hired for $40k! They graduate with a mortgage(college loan) on their heads. Thankfully my first degree in Finance was from a City College and cost me nearly nothing because I was a resident. I was stunned and didn’t really believe programs like this exist.

After diligent investigation I found another school called Turing. The founder of Turing was a guy named Jeff Casimir. Jeff is basically one of the godfathers of what today is deemed ‘code bootcamps.’ He worked for Teach For America, founded Hunger Academy and Jumpstart Labs, and organized the first gSchool program. He’s well respected not only as a great educator but a very good programmer.

So these were the two top schools in Denver that develop programmers. I continued my due diligence. Both programs had similar curriculums. gSchool: 6-months non-stop intensive program for ~$20k with job guarantee or money back. Turing: 7-months broken down into four 6-week modules with one week break in between modules for ~17k with job guarantee or money back. Both programs had reputable instructors and positive reviews. The difference is Turing is a non-profit organization and doesn’t have investors to answer to. But more importantly Turing has Jeff Casimir anyone interested should due some due diligence on this charismatic code buddha. The culture he’s created at Turing is wonderful, and the staff he’s assembled reflect Jeff’s lifetime of teaching experience.

The application process for both schools is fairly rigorous. I didn’t bother applying to gSchool because I set my sights on Turing and focused all my energy. Turing requires a 5-min video submission along with a technical writing sample and an online logic quiz. If they like what you’ve submitted you receive an invite to interview. At the interview they’ll ask some basic culture fit questions to gauge wether you’re going to play nice in groups, programming is super collaborative and these days you’re rarely going to be working solo on a project. After 15-min of chit-chat you’ll be asked to complete a logic game and encouraged to think out loud, they want to hear how you think and communicate your thoughts.

I can’t stress how important it is to be well prepared for the logic side of things. If there’s one metric that can potentially gauge wether someone can become a decent programmer it is logic puzzles. Turing uses LSAT logic games to determine eligibility. Before applying I spent roughly 2-3 hours a day practicing timed problems on Varsity Tutors. Don’t be discouraged if you suck in the beginning. I sucked royally! Initially I was struggling to correctly solve 50% of the yellow(easiest) sample tests within an hour!! The average person supposedly solved more right in 30-min…. I thought I was might potentially be brain dead. but It wasn’t because I was dumb, I just never had to think that way. I never encountered such brain sorcery! Initially I felt like maybe I wasn’t cut out to program, maybe my brain wasn’t wired that way, maybe my innate skill sets are more artsy. But something kept pulling me in that direction and I improved my scores dramatically every few days until the point I felt like I was ready to submit the online application. Thankfully Turing looks at aptitude and the ability the learn, not wether you have any programming experience. My going from barely solving half of the easiest 2-sets of 5-problem logic games tests in an hour to correctly solving 100% of the intermediate-advanced in 35-min was enough proof that I could be taught to program.

I submitted my application on Sunday, heard back the following day, and was asked to come in for the face to face. Of course  I was nervous but I felt like my preparation was adequate and my intention was genuine. I spent the last 7-weeks practicing logic games on a daily basis and learning HTML and CSS. I even built a static web-site while still attending engineering classes and taking exams. I knew that I belonged at Turing and every week leading up to applying my conviction became more solid. I even had a back-up plan if not accepted. I would show up every-day and try to persuade the staff in any way I could, even if my persistence became annoying. My attitude was that I belonged at Turing they just didn’t know it yet. Thankfully I didn’t have to stalk anyone. I aced the logic game at the interview and was accepted on the spot. If i could only convey in words what I felt for the rest of that day! And what I still feel 4-months since :~)

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