LC101: Q & A With Jesse

The LaunchCode Ed Team on LC101

Where did LC101 come from?

LC101 is the product of about a year’s worth of work to create the best coding class we can — one that provides a solid foundation in programming, and is also accessible and enjoyable to a broad audience. This year, we’ve run 9 classes testing out different curricula, with the end goal always being to consolidate the best pieces into a single class. LC101 is just that: it’s now LaunchCode's flagship course, aiming to help people start their journey to becoming a programmer.

What does LC101 teach students?

LC101 is organized into three units.

Unit 1 focuses on learning the fundamental concepts of coding — receiving, processing, and outputting data using typical syntax structures like variable declarations, functions, for loops, and while loops — and leads into some object-oriented programming at the end. While we use Python as the language for this unit, the concepts are common to pretty much every modern coding language.

Unit 2 teaches the basics of web programming and all the different technologies that come together to make websites function, like servers, clients, databases, back-end, front-end, HTML, and SQL. It also introduces Git, the version control system most professional programmers use. Then, students combine their skills from Units 1 and 2 to make a simple web application so they can explore how these fundamentals work in a real world context.

Unit 3 gives students the choice between two specialties designed to meet industry demand. Right now, the two ‘skill tracks’ will be front-end programming and back-end programming, though in the future we may add more tracks to suit specific cities. Those who focus on front-end will learn JavaScript and combine that with CSS to shape the style and responsiveness of a web page. Students who focus on back-end will learn Java and other object-oriented concepts in a framework called Spring MVC that allows them to build a full-featured web project.

If I take LC101, how long will it take to be ready for LaunchCode apprenticeship?

On average, it will likely take most students a little less than a year to go from the first day of class to the first day of an apprenticeship. This might seem like a long time now, but it’s worth it to find a new career that is both personally and financially rewarding. Learning the skills to make a major career change is a big undertaking, and a lot of it depends on the amount of time you dedicate to it. It’s definitely true that you get as much out of it as you put into it.

LC101 students should be ready to spend at least 20 hours per week coding, including class time, over the 6 months of class. After the class ends, students who want to apply for an apprenticeship will need to build an independent coding project, which typically takes about 2 to 4 months if you spend 20 hours per week on it. Some students may need a little longer to polish their technical and professional skills, and a few students who dedicate a lot of time to the process may move faster.

After passing our apprenticeship evaluation, candidates begin interviewing with companies who have openings for apprentices, and it generally takes a few weeks to a few months to find the right match. Of course, we can’t guarantee that a candidate will ultimately get an apprenticeship — it all depends on finding a company that is a good fit for their skills and wants to hire them on.

What does it take to succeed in LC101?

We’ve seen people from a wide variety of background succeed in our classes, and most of them have a few traits in common. Strong coders tend to think logically and have a knack for analytical problem solving. Of course, the best students are also hard workers who put in the time to learn and master new concepts. They come to almost every class and they spend a lot of nights and weekends working through new coding concepts at home. They are okay with learning through experimentation, and they don’t get too frustrated if they don’t figure something out on the first try. When they get stuck, they take the initiative to look in online forums, ask their classmates for help, or talk with a Teaching Fellow.


Happy Learning!

By Jesse Levine
Curriculum Development Associate at LaunchCode


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