Coding Boot Camps

Boot camps like Next Academy allow student programmers to learn their trade in an informal and relaxed atmosphere
Boot camps like Next Academy allow student programmers to learn their trade in an informal and relaxed atmosphere

Boot camps like Next Academy allow student programmers to learn their trade in an informal and relaxed atmosphere

The search for qualified and skilled web developers is sweeping across ASEAN, with courses specifically aimed at bringing the geek out in you. By Jeannette Goon

While every startup ecosystem might have a different vibe to it, all of them – no matter which part of the world they may be in – have one thing in common, the need for developers.

Silicon Valley has met that demand by conducting coding boot camps where individuals who may have zero programing knowledge learn to code within nine to 12 weeks, graduating from the programme as Junior Developers.

In Southeast Asia, the startup ecosystem is just starting to develop, and mid last year, venture capitalist Justin Hall estimated that there would be nearly a billion dollars of venture capital investment in companies across Southeast Asia. And that estimate doesn’t even include angel investors or private equity.

With the support of government agencies such as the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity (MaGIC) Centre in Malaysia, as well as accelerators, angel investors, venture firms and educational institutions in the region, the startup community in Southeast Asia is all geared for expansion.

However, there is now a similar demand for developers as was previously experienced in Silicon Valley.

“There are way more employers than employees,” NEXT Academy founder Josh

Teng says of those looking to hire developers. “ There is a challenge because there are so few good ones. So I would say that there is definitely more demand than quality supply.”

In a world that is increasingly dependent on technology, this demand for “techies” (or coders) will only escalate, and NEXT Academy is one of several companies in the ASEAN region looking to meet that need.

Founded last year in Malaysia, the academy conducts a nine-week Full Stack Coding Boot camp, where developers learn to code for both the front – the parts of an application that people see – and the back ends – the part that communicates with the computer – of a website. Participants who complete the boot camp are able to build their own web applications by the end of the course.

“In just nine weeks, our graduates are able to build apps like AirBnB, Shopify, Twitter, Instagram and more,” says Teng.

Boot camp classes are held in Cyberjaya, Selangor, with senior mentors on hand to guide participants as they learn to build apps. Participants learn Ruby, HTML, CSS, Java Script, jQuery and Rails, but Teng emphasises that more than just learning languages or frameworks, participants learn the logic and mindset behind programming. This allows them to pursue their own learning after the programme ends.

As NEXT Academy was initially founded to feed developers into the Malaysian and ASEAN startup community, the majority of its boot camp participants are Malaysian, although students have come from other parts of the world, including the US and the UK.

Ruby on the Beach (ROTB) offers a similar bootcamp in Ubud, Bali. From teaching and writing curriculum for other boot camps, ROTB founder Dan Donaldson realised that the environment in which learning is conducted can have either a beneficial or negative impact on the process.

“There are many, many studies that show that learning and effective work are strongly affected by levels of stress, by the amount of time off , by the ability to stay fit, eat well, get enough sleep,” he says. “So setting things up as we did supports that in a way that is unlike any other bootcamp.”

Because of its location, besides learning coding, participants are also able to spend time at the beach, hike, do yoga, as well as explore the surrounding area.

Like the NEXT Academy boot camp, ROTB is a nine-week programme. However, the nine weeks are split into modules so that participants can do the first half and then continue with the rest at a later date.

In the first four weeks, participants in the Ruby Newbie module are introduced to key programming skills. It is designed to be a general introduction that can be applied to many types of development, but with an emphasis on Ruby and Ruby on Rails.

After the Ruby Newbie module, participants can choose between moving on to the Casually Impressive course, which introduces more advanced development techniques while still focusing on Ruby on Rails, or to the Client Master module, which is more focused on JavaScript and front-end development.

For those preferring part-time study, General Assembly (GA) in Singapore offers separate courses in front-end and back-end development.

Like the other two coding boot camps, GA’s back-end web development course focuses on Ruby and Ruby on Rails, while the front-end course teaches students to use HTML, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, GitHub and Sublime.

However, because the courses are held on a part-time basis, they take 10 weeks each to complete.

GA’s Singapore director Aziza Sheerin says that their students come from all walks of life. “Some are professionals who would like to upskill to enhance their role in their current company,” she says. “Some are looking to change careers and some hope to start their own ventures.”

Tech Talk
Ruby a programming language designed and developed by Yukihiro Matsumoto in the mid-1990s.
Ruby on Rails a framework for developing web applications using the Ruby language.
CSS (Cascading style sheets) are used to design the look and feel of a website.
Javascript another programming language that was first created in May 1995.
JQuery one of the most popular Javascript libraries; a library has pre-written script that allows for easier and more efficient development processes.
Github is a web-based Git repository hosting service; git is a system used for software development that allows a developer to know what changes have been made to the software they are developing.
Sublime Text is a source code editor, which is a basically a text editor that is designed specifically for editing source code.