⬇️ You can read Colt Steel’s interview below ⬇️

 

Damian Vananos

So, let’s start by introducing myself. My name is Damian Vavanos. I’m the co-founder and I’m currently the general manager of Social Hackers Academy. A coding boot camp, a nonprofit coding boot camp for refugees, migrants and youth who are unemployed. We have been running coding classes for [crosstalk 0:26] We have been running coding classes for the past three years. And I’m very excited to be here with Abed, our head of education and our awesome speaker Colt Steele, but I’m going to give space to Abed to introduce himself and Colt. Thank you very much for joining us today. I’m going to facilitate the hand raises, the chat, the Q&A and all that. So, you will all get the chance to speak and ask any questions you might have a too Colt or too Abed. Thank you all very much for joining us, Abed.

 

Abed Hamami

All right, thank you Damian, a lot for taking this off and during the quick intro. Everyone, thanks for joining. Today is super special, at least for me. We’re having a special really, really special guest that has inspired a lot of you. And at a personal level, being a person that has been learning online for so long. I really find someone’s ability to take something that’s like complex a topic or a subject that’s really complicated and turning it into something that’s interesting something that’s entertaining something that’s exciting. And I think Colt Steele has done that like fantastically well, right. Through his courses on Udemy, through his courses on Udacity. And now recently with springboard with over like 800,000 students in Udemy alone, and many of them many of you here. I’m also taking some of his courses on the side with our boot camp. So, it’s, I’m pretty sure it’s going to be like a great inspiration, and also a great, great talk for everyone. So, thank you, Colt for joining us and I’d like everyone to open cameras if you guys can. And please, I encourage everyone to welcome Colt with me.

 

Colt Steele

Thank you for the introduction.

 

Abed Hamami

Yeah, sure. 

 

Colt Steele

Appreciate it. 

 

Abed Hamami

I’d like to start with asking you to give us a little bit of like the background of how you started everything and what was the reason behind getting into teaching web development as in versus teaching something else, because I know you’ve shared before, that you wanted to be a teacher as a kid and just ended up teaching development versus something else.

 

Colt Steele

Yeah, exactly. Can you hear me okay? 

 

Abed Hamami

Yeah, we can. Yeah. 

 

Colt Steele

Okay. So, yeah, as a kid I knew I wanted, I actually wanted to be a science teacher. Originally, I had a really cool science teacher who did like, you know, experiments and explosions and lots of stuff with fire and very exciting. Just every day, there’s some new experiment. I wanted to do that. Unfortunately, in the US, at least, I don’t know how it is for other countries. But in the US, teachers, like high school, middle school teachers are just not paid well at all. And often you end up having to live really far away from where you work, and you work really tough hours. So, my parents gently tried to get me to do something else. Maybe first or- They. It’s funny actually all my two sisters wanted to go into teaching too. And both of them are teachers teaching different things. So, if something runs in the family, I guess. And I had that in the back of my mind for a long time I wanted to be a teacher.

 

I did a lot of tutoring after school to make money on the side. On weekends, I would- and then in the US, we have SATs and ACTs standardized tests, and I would help tutor people to prepare for those tests. So that wasn’t really teaching in an official capacity, but it was teaching just one on one with somebody. So, after that, I went to college and slowly started to do some more tutoring around computer science and programming. And I took a couple classes there. I had done some coding as a kid but not really in a professional way at all. My dad got me this tiny little Lego thing where you could, you know, I don’t know if you’ve seen it before, but you can write very basic programming instructions and sort of uploaded onto this Lego. So, I had done some programming, but it was not at all what I thought I wanted to do with my life. And then fast forward a couple of years, I ended up in San Francisco, and I was looking for work. And I found a part-time opening teaching the very basics like HTML and CSS and early JavaScript. It was basically like; it wasn’t a boot camp. It was like an intro course, for people who wanted to take boot camp. And it was after work, it was late at night. And I also ended up doing it on Saturdays as well. Just a part-time thing.

 

And I started, I was a TA, so I wasn’t even really teaching and then slowly started to work my way up, and I realized I really enjoyed it. And that it actually is, it’s not the same as science where you’ve got these crazy experiments and fire and explosions, but it still is very, it can be engaging, and it has some of the same problems. So, you’re trying to explain something that’s complicated. There are just lots of pieces that fit together. You have to do it in a way that hopefully can grab student’s attention. Because programming can be very boring. Just like you know, physics or chemistry could be very boring. But it also can be really exciting. Especially once you start making things. So that’s kind of what I’ve been doing since. Honestly, I every time I get asked this question, I think, like, I don’t know how, really, you know, this, none of this was deliberate. And it sort of just, at least in my life, so far, I just kind of followed what I enjoyed doing at the time. I mean, you know, people say, follow your passion and all that, if that was truly the case, and I would be probably taking care of my chickens full time and growing vegetables. But I do think there’s something to be said for, yeah, I had this grand plan and this vision of what I want to do, and it just ended up being very different than what I ended up doing, but I still enjoy it a lot. And I think for me just comes down to teaching, what I enjoy, and teaching is something with there’s just so much creativity involved in how you actually break down a topic and how you structure your lessons. And every time I teach things, even the same topic, there’s so many different ways to do it. So that’s what I enjoy. And that’s kind of a long way of saying that I had no plan. I just stumbled my way into what I do.

 

Abed Hamami

And as a follow up to that, as you said, it can be really boring, but you can make it interesting, what were like some of the ways that you found yourself-, what inspired you to make these lectures interesting or lessons interesting.

 

Colt Steele

Well, I think for me that there is two things. One is that I want to make sure students enjoy it or get something out of it and stay engaged. And especially when I’m teaching in person, I can literally see people’s eyes and faces and you can tell very quickly when it’s not interesting and when students are losing interest or when they’re bored. But then also, for me, the challenge and the creative fun part is trying to come up with new ways to teach something. Because if I just have notes like if somebody handed me, here’s like a script and a plan for you to teach this lesson, and I just recited that every time, it gets very boring quickly, if you’re just doing the same thing, but what I actually enjoy the most is the day or the week before trying to plan it out and figure out, okay, here’s what I did last time, how can I make this more exciting or more interesting? or how can I fix that? Because that’s a challenge. So, it’s kind of a selfish thing. On one hand, it’s more interesting and exciting to me, but it’s also just better for every student info to have a better experience.

 

Abed Hamami

Well, great, and what are some of the projects we’re working on currently? what’s coming up next? We all know all the great courses on Udemy but is there anything you’ve been working on?

 

Colt Steele

There’s a couple of things. I mean, I did just launch this thing with springboard, which is an online boot camp. It’s a bit- it’s very different than anything I’ve done online so far. It’s just a lot more similar to what I do in person where we have, you know, like a mentor and get one on one coaching and sort of the stuff that is very difficult to do online, like on a Udemy course, it’s Udemy’s great. And it’s a great way to provide content to students, but there’s not a lot of, there’s not a lot of other stuff that can go along with the course in terms of reviewing student’s code and collaborating between students and having mentorship and you know, coaching and career interview, mock interviews and all that stuff. Now, I know it’s not something I can really do on my own.

 

Like I always wanted to bring some of that online. And so, in the end, I ended up partnering with this company springboard, which does that. So that’s one thing I’ve been up to, is working very hard on that and, you know, we launched that in January, mid-January, and since then, it’s just been a lot of tweaking and fixing things and you know, there’s a lot of content. It’s the most content I’ve ever made for something. And then at the same time, I have been working actually in updating some of my Udemy content. My main course the web developer boot camp on Udemy is currently in like maybe two-thirds of the way through just updating the videos and sort of overhauling it up. It’s been a couple of years. And over the years, I’ve updated individual pieces and sections. But as you guys probably know, with web development and programming in general, things move pretty quickly. And code from five years ago, compared to the same code today. It looks pretty different. So instead of just trying to piece like fix one tiny piece at a time, I’m trying now to just go through and sort of start to finish figure out what needs to change. And so that’s one thing I’ve been doing. Those are really two big projects I’ve been working on so far this year.

 

Abed Hamami

That’s great. Yeah, always it’s rapidly changing industry is like, brings us basically to our next question because we had some of the students wondering how can someone not be afraid or stop being intimidated by like, the overwhelming amount of new content that’s out there. That you need to keep up to it at the same time, but then there’s like, so many things that you can do everything basically together. And the question here would be, what are some sort of realizations you found from both teaching in-person and online as some like sort of objective facts or something that probably beginners or people that are just entering the industry would not know? That would, you know, calm them down in terms of like, and not being so afraid of like the tones of information out there?

 

Colt Steele

I think the first thing but by the way, can you hear the squeaking sound, there’s. Can you hear that my chair is? And we got this new chair. I put it together this morning. I’m realizing it’s squeaking a lot. So, I’m sorry about that.

 

Abed Hamami

Well, now that you’ve brought it up, we just realized that before. 

 

Colt Steele

I’m trying not to move. 

 

Abed Hamami

You can move freely. It’s all right. 

 

Colt Steele

So I think what you’re describing the concern or the anxiety for people are starting out about just how fast- it seems like a skill set is how many different tools you have to know how many languages and you could learn that all today. And then a year from now or two years from now, it might all change. So that is very intimidating, but I think it helps. And I’ve seen a lot of students who slowly realize it takes a while to slowly realize that nobody really on earth actually knows all of that, let alone even half of that stuff. It’s very, you know, if we take one piece like JavaScript, there’s these different, you know, frameworks like react and view and angular. I see students who feel like they have to learn all of them, and that they’re not going to be a developer until they actually have mastered every single one of them. But in the real world, you’re only going to be using at most one of those at a time.

 

And it takes at least six months to a year to really master one of those on a production environment. And it’s very rare to find a developer who is up to date on two of them, let alone three or four. So that’s the first thing. I think students have this – maybe it’s from other disciplines, like if you’re learning math, or you’re learning science or history or something where you’re expected to just learn it all and memories things and you’re tested on it and you have to recite facts and you have to basically just learn everything that exists on that subject, everything in your textbook or whatever it is, at least when I had a history class, a lot of it I was making like flashcards just to memories dates and things like that. It seems silly, but it’s a very different type of knowledge. So, when you get to programming and web development, a lot of students think, and they approach it in the same way. Where they think like, okay, I can’t remember exactly how to do this, I need to memories this. And then after that I definitely have to go and you know, learn react and then redux and then view and all these different things where, in reality, you don’t need to memories any of that. You don’t really need to be comfortable with anything except the basics and you need to be comfortable being uncomfortable if that makes sense.

 

You need to be okay having to learn something new or having to go and when react updates, so you get the newest version of react, you have to be comfortable looking at the docs and understanding how it works and making that transition. So I think at some point, what I noticed in students is about halfway through maybe for some students, it’s a little later, through an in-person boot camp, they start to realize they have a little bit more confidence in their ability to learn something new. So, it’s not that they’ve suddenly learned enough that they’re just a developer overnight. It’s more that their mind has changed better, their confidence is there where they can learn whatever they need to. Because that’s really what it is like they might have students who learn react with me in a course. But then they might actually end up getting a job where they’re expected to know angular. And it takes work, it doesn’t sound easy, but they should be comfortable learning angular on their own. So that’s the main piece of advice I have is you’re never going to be able to know it all. And you’re not expected to know it all. It’s different than most disciplines where you are expected to know things.

 

And there’s just there’s a set of things you have to know if you’re doing front end, you have to know, you know, the syntax of JavaScript and HTML and CSS. You have to know, you know, how to start up a server and whatever the basic knowledge is, that is required. But then all this other stuff is really it changes from one job to the next or one year to the next. And it’s more about being comfortable figuring it out. And for me, the biggest thing for students to get them comfortable with that is to force them to do it. So I like to try and like halfway through a course, if we’ve been doing JavaScript the whole time, I like to have a day where we do something entirely different to catch students off guard, like, force them to learn Python or Python in a day or force them to use a library that they’ve never used like to make, to do video tracking or to do- like to make sound audio synthesis or to make games or physics or whatever it is something that I know none of them have done before. And I only give them a couple of hours.

 

And the point is for them to read the documentation to watch videos online to read blog posts to really figure it out. And usually, that actually helps them feel better after the first, everyone panics. And then at the end of the day, everybody shows what they’ve made and everybody’s like, oh, actually, we managed to learn it. We’re not experts, but we managed to get through it. And you do that a couple of times. And that’s really all it is, as a developer. I mean, if you talk to a developer every day, they’re googling something. They’re learning something. I mean, I have a YouTube video I put out where I, I tracked how many times a senior developer, Google thinks in a day or two days, I don’t remember how long it was, but it was dozens and dozens of times each day. It was something like, you know, I want to say over 10 times an hour of googling things. So that’s sort of, like I tell students that and they kind of say like, okay, sure, you’re just saying that. But I think once you actually start to work, and you realize that it’s true. It makes a big difference, like, understand that, it’s just part of the job. Your job is not to know it all. Your job is to be able to find what you need. So those are the things that are hard to explain to a beginner, but I think they are really important to try and explain and at some point, they click. There’s just no way to know it all. And if you accept that from the beginning, I think it can help a little bit with anxiety and with the stress of feeling like you. I mean, kids, if you honestly thought you had to know it all and you look at how wide- just how many things there are that you would have to know, it’s very intimidating. And, you know, if I look at what I know, compared to how many things that I could know, I mean, I know maybe 10% or something. So, I think hearing that hopefully is a little bit reassuring for some beginners.

 

Abed Hamami

Okay, yeah. And I also think. Oh, you’re gonna go for a question Damian. 

 

Damian Vavanos

Sorry, I’m jumping. I found an amazing comment from one of our alumni that said that Colt your dog kept him excited to complete the whole Udemy course.

 

Colt Steele

No, my dad is here. Unfortunately, he’s not around anymore for my new course. So now I have to have, I have to have my cats instead.

 

Damian Vavanos

Yeah. And the next question is Colt, are you a cat person now?

 

Colt Steele

I would say that’s a very good question. A very important one. That I still prefer dogs. But cats certainly are a little bit easier sometimes. And you know, my cats are, they’re not the same as having a dog. I miss my dog Rusty, but they’re also, they’re different. They entertain me a lot. They’re just silly. And they have very different- it’s just a different personality. I’ve never really had a cat from a dog. But I do miss having dogs where, you know if I like just call the dog he’ll just come right when I want it. They’ll like sit on my lap or something. If I tried it with my cat, they just look at me. And I can like pick them up, but I can’t get them to just do exactly what I want it They don’t act like they actually liked me most of the time. I was still a dog person, except where I live having the dogs are sometimes a little bit crazy with. I have a lot of wildlife around here and my neighbors have dogs and they’re constantly chasing the deer, or they come after my chickens. So, I get a very well-trained dog.

 

Damian Vavanos

I see. And I have a personal question. You mentioned that you always wanted to be a science teacher and then you somehow came to tech. Have you studied pedagogy at all? Like is it something you studied? Or is it something that comes from within their way to explain things or to communicate with different modalities? How does it look for you?

 

Colt Steele

I think it’s both. I don’t know if it comes from within for me, but part of it is just, I learned it when I was young. My dad, he wasn’t a teacher, like a traditional teacher, he was a consultant. But his job was actually to train new hires at a big company. He was sort of the orientation guy who had to do a whole bunch of training. And so, he was always working on like lectures and slide decks and presentations, and he would practice them in front of me sometimes. And then he would also I remember, like if he ever wanted me, like, I didn’t have an allowance as a kid or anything, you know, like spending money. But I really wanted to learn guitar, for example, when I was eight years old, and he was like, okay, if you want to learn guitar, and you need me to buy a guitar, you know, like find a teacher or something I need you to make me a PowerPoint presentation. I need to explain in 15 minutes, why guitar and why not something else and why is going to be worth it and how much a guitar is going to cost. And you know how much time we’re going to put into this, and I need a plan. And so, he wanted me to do a whole presentation on this. And I remember doing it, I spent weeks making a nice-, like a whole, I was eight years old, I had to learn PowerPoint, I had to learn all these things. And it’s kind of ridiculous, but at the same time, that’s the sort of- he was always trying to get us to, I don’t know. It was partially teaching, it was partially presenting and just talking publicly, I guess, you know, I had to do in front of my whole family. And so there’s little things like that, where I was already sort of trained a little bit by the time I was in high school or college, but then once it started actually working in teaching programming, in particular, that I worked at a boot camp called Galvanise. And at Galvanise they actually had, I can’t remember the exact name of this guy. Evan. I don’t know his role, his title, but he was basically head of instruction design or sort of like teacher coaching. And he would give you advice. He would give you all sorts of stuff to read like homework about teaching, and pedagogical practices and different strategies. So, all of that slowly built up over like two years when I was there. So, it’s really a combination. I do think there’s a lot that you can learn naturally just by doing it, by figuring out basically what doesn’t work and what does work. But then also, there’s a lot to be said, for continuing to learn on your own and seeking it out. Whether you’re reading books about teaching, you’re attending conferences or lectures, or you’re just getting feedback from somebody. I’d say both are equally important. I see some people who think you can do everything just by like the book and trying to understand from a theoretical perspective, how teaching should work and you know, very conceptually, just understanding that from books and podcasts, generally, I think that actually end up kind of boring if they haven’t if you don’t mix it with some practical experience and on the other hand, people who forego all training around teaching, sometimes it works out. But I do think there’s something to be said for mixing them together. Right. And that’s kind of what happened. It’s probably if I ever had children, I think it was a good idea on my dad’s part because there’s a lot of teaching-oriented stuff we do day to day, even if you’re not actually teaching, there’s so many times you have to explain something or you’re, I mean, even just being on the phone, I think a lot of it actually is more just about having empathy. And trying to be able to put yourself in somebody’s shoes when they’re learning something. But that also applies if I’m trying to talk to somebody and there’s a language barrier, or there’s a bad phone, you know, connection just happened to me this morning. And it’s simple, but I can I try and imagine, okay, what’s going on? Like, how can I actually explain this in a way that’s gonna make sense, but without trying to, you know, sound like I’m talking down to somebody? How can I? There’s just these different situations where it comes up where it’s not even just teaching programming. So, I think those are things you pick up over multiple years of practice.

 

Damian Vavanos

I see. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. It sounds exciting creating this PowerPoint presentation. Anyways, back to Abed. Sorry to jump in. 

 

Abed Hamami 

I think a lot of our students that have taken your courses are now grateful to your dad that had issues back then because I’m pretty sure a lot of things that they were probably struggling with understanding were pretty clear once they took your courses. I want to take it back to what you said about getting used to different disciplines and how, you know, people would like think that you need to memorize things wherein programming isn’t quite the same. I think generally getting used to doing something a certain way it’s not really practical. It’s really dangerous and it kind of takes us to what we call here, probably In Europe, I don’t know if that’s also the term in the US we call tutorial land or tutorial hell, where people get used to like doing things only by following guided tutorials or guided videos and then when it comes to like just working on something that they have as an idea, it becomes really, really difficult. What do you think is a way to escape that land, somehow?

 

Colt Steele

I think that’s something I deal with personally when I’m trying to learn something new. Still, there’s something comforting and easy about just following along. And making sure you’re doing the same thing your teacher is or, you know, I’ll watch a video. I’m trying to learn, you know, the latest version of react or view or whatever it is. It’s much easier and frankly, a more pleasant experience. At the moment, if I can just have a video up and just copy what they’re doing and it’s satisfying when it works and you feel like you know, it’s kind of like a cooking show or something where you follow along. And if everything goes well, you’ve made a nice dish at the end. But that does not mean that you’re, you know, a chef. And that you can make other dishes, it just means that you can copy somebody. I do think that’s important first step, and I don’t, I’m not somebody who advocates against tutorials or against following along with somebody. Where I think it’s problematic is when people just rely way too much on it. And it is comfortable. It’s easy to feel like okay, I just did this. Now I need to do another tutorial on the same topic, let’s build a different app a different demo. And you’re not really building any new skills there. So, at some point, you have to just say, alright, I’m going to try building something on my own. That’s the only real way to get that experience. So, in person when I’m teaching, we force people to do that. So, we will do code launch, we do little demos, but then we give them an exercise completely different. I want you to build this app who makes this thing work. Then you have an hour, two hours and you know we’re not going to show you any of it. So, we need you to do that on your own. And then we’ll come back and talk. And those are when students definitely get the most frustrated, and grumpy sometimes, but it’s also when they learn the most. And after the fact, they always will admit that. It’s more painful, and it’s sometimes unpleasant. I mean, it’s not bad, but it’s not as smooth as just following something. So, you have to force yourself to do that. And online if you’re learning. If I’m teaching online, I have no mechanism to really force that first of all, which is always difficult. I try and say that I try to make it clear, you know, please do this exercise, you’ll learn the most, you’ll get the most out of it if you actually do this and attempt to and take the time to follow the instructions and you don’t just skip it. Don’t just move on to the next thing where you can follow me, because this isn’t supposed to be one massive tutorial. It’s supposed to be lots of small tutorials mixed in with lots of you actually building things and you teaching yourself as needed. So online, that’s harder. And some students are able to stick it out and just kind of do it as I intend. Other students, I know go through the courses quickly just trying to get through making something and following me and then some of them might just stop there. But I know some of them will come back down and try and build their own things. So, what matters most is that at some point, you force yourself to get out of that tutorial help and actually start building things on your own. Even if it’s not impressive, or it’s not uniform or anything, you just have to do something. And I prefer, when I’m teaching, to teach something small and then have students use that on their own, and then teach something small again and have them use it on their own. So instead of doing just a massive tutorial, and then setting students free, I think it’s better to sort of as you go, do your own small demonstrations. Try and recreate something from scratch, like if you’re following the tutorial, pause it and try and just do everything again without the tutorial. And, you know, it’s not a test of your memorization, you should still be able to Google you should still be able to look things up. But see if conceptually things are fitting into place. But it’s a good question. It’s a hard one to- it’s uncomfortable to have to escape that. It’s way easier and more pleasant if you just follow along.

 

Abed Hamami

Yeah, yeah. And it’s fine. Like to begin with, right, it’s fine, you get content. Well, to start off, but yeah, at some point, just get really comfortable and nobody wants to leave that place and it can get continued long term. Now. Following up to that, and someone’s ability to break down concepts out of their own, not necessarily following something. Do you think that CS skills or CS fundamental knowledge is sort of missing and underrated? For anyone that’s like not, hasn’t necessarily followed a traditional university computer science course, but probably self-taught or going through boot camp. Do you think that there’s little focus on basic concepts of computer science? And how important is that for like long term success and short term as well?

 

Colt Steele

So, this is an interesting topic, and it definitely varies. I guess in the US at least we’re talking about how relevant it is to jobs. That’s, I guess, a separate question. But there’s really two reasons I guess, in computer science could be considered important. And the first is, you might end up in a role where the actual content is useful and important you might be it might give you a leg up in your job if you actually know how to do certain things that you would learn in a computer science course. But I think the far more important part is if you are enrolled in a computer science degree and you graduate. It is not easy. And its proof that you can get through these pretty challenging. I mean, some of the computer science courses I took, were very difficult and honestly, not very fun. Lots of difficult homework assignments, things that are not even at all practical have very little relevance to the real world working as a developer and engineer. But that wasn’t even the point it was more, here’s just a hard thing around coding that we want you to do. And here’s a problem to solve. And it would take days and I would, you know, stay up late with lots of coffee, it was very anxiety-inducing. And it wasn’t, it was not really a fun experience a lot of the time, but going through that at the end, you kind of realized, alright, whatever sort of challenge I would have to get through or technical, difficult sort of algorithms. I feel comfortable enough I’ll be able to do it. I probably forgot everything I actually learned the actual concepts, the actual code, I couldn’t remember it you know at all. But I do feel like having that experience makes you stronger. So, I think computer science for people who don’t go through a typical programme through computer science degree or grad school or something, I think people put a lot of weight on it because they feel like they’re missing out. They’re under-qualified or they’re less than other people who actually do have a degree. And for some employers, I can’t speak to employers around the world, or even around the entire US just in the Bay Area, it really attempts to not matter, most entry-level roles. It definitely matters if you’re trying to do something like machine learning or artificial intelligence or you know, data science, where having not necessarily computer science degree but having a degree and often a master’s degree or PhD that will help you make more money or help you get a better job. But for entry-level engineering and web developer roles around here, at least, it doesn’t seem to be as important anymore, but it certainly is not a bad thing. And for some employers, it really does prove, okay, this person can get through something challenging and they have the ability to do these just difficult things. I mean, I talked to an engineer at Amazon recently, for he’s actually one of the mentors at the new springboard course that I launched, I did an interview with him. And I asked him because he has a computer science degree, and he was hired straight from his grad school or from undergrad straight to Amazon. And I asked him, you know, how often are you using any of that stuff? Day to day at work? And he was pretty much never I could maybe tell you one or two times in five years, where any of this was relevant, but I love it.

 

Abed Hamami

Just like in the courses.

 

Colt Steele

My goodness, okay, can you still hear me? She stepped on something. 

 

Abed Hamami

Yeah, we can hear you. Yeah.

 

Colt Steele

Okay. So, he was like, yeah, he was like there’s maybe one or two times I could remember where I actually use something I directly learned in school. But he said that there’s a lot of times where he had that same feeling that he had when he was in school or he got stuck, he got frustrated, he got, you know, nervous or something, it was too difficult. And he was able to get through it. So, for him, it was more just computer science was like an obstacle course he made it through. It was something that gave him confidence. And it acts as- it does the same thing for employers, where it can kind of indicate that this person knows what they’re doing, or they’re capable of making it through a hard programme. So, for people who don’t have a computer science degree, I wouldn’t stress too much about trying to recreate it, every single concept or every single lesson. It’s more so about can you prove that you’re qualified in another way. With a project or your portfolio? Can you demonstrate that you know these skills because I could hire somebody out of a computer science programme, and they might not have good projects? But I know if you know if they got good grades and they finished the programme, I know that they can write code and that they’re competent, and they can learn things. But if you’re somebody who is a complete beginner, and you don’t have that degree, you don’t have that little stamp of sort of approval, then you have to demonstrate your skills otherwise. And that comes down to the project, at least one very competent, polished project is what I would say. Because once you’re in the door, and once you have that job, you’re probably not going to notice any, you’re not gonna be missing anything, really, in terms of not having that degree. Again, I can’t say that for every, you know, every country around the world. I’m not sure what the hiring markets are like and how much emphasis people place on those degrees in Europe, but in the US, it definitely seems to be on the decline.

 

Abed Hamami

Yeah, I’d say pretty much here too slowly, slowly. It’s been skills base versus like having a degree. But given that, is it’s getting harder for people to find entry-level positions.

 

Colt Steele

I do think I mean, since the proliferation of all these boot camps, maybe five, six years ago, or even more, maybe like, seven, eight years ago, there are a lot of available jobs now with then with fewer students competing for them. And I think that the market has changed a little bit. But I still see, you know, every student in person, at least in San Francisco in the boot camp, where some of my friends actually run it and coworkers it’s called rhythm schools, the in-person programme. Anyway, they still have 100% placement rate for their recent classes. So, it’s still absolutely possible. I do know that it just takes more work these days. It’s not enough to just show like look, I know the basics of HTML, CSS, JavaScript, hire me. It’s a lot more about how do you demonstrate your skills and sell yourself as a developer and as a candidate? It’s not enough to know the basics of the bare minimum. Now.

 

Abed Hamami

A lot of emphasis on soft skills as well lately.

 

Colt Steele

Absolutely. Right. Yeah. And also, I think the markets are changing other places, though, in the different direction, which is, there are more opportunities and jobs opening up in other countries, and even just other markets in the US, where tech, obviously, it’s been centralized for a long time in the Bay Area, or New York and you know, maybe LA more recently, but lots of these other cities in the Midwest, in the Rocky Mountains, basically, just in the middle of the country are having a lot more opportunities for developers and the cost of living is a lot lower. So, there’s a lot to like about that. And she’s eating my plants. Hey. So yeah, I think things continue to change. Actually, with the virus situation, there’s a lot more jobs that are remote. And I guess that goes without saying, but it will be interesting to see how long that lasts and what kind of permanent repercussions that has. And if some companies like in San Francisco, where rent is so crazy for an office, some places are just shutting down their office, and they’re hiring people just wherever they live. So that will also offer more, I think, more opportunities to people who might be international or might be in the middle of the US or you know, not in New York or California.

 

Abed Hamami

Right, right. That’s on an international level as well. We’ve seen a lot of people. Our team is completely kind of remote for the past few months. Now I want to take some time to allow the students as well to openly ask questions, and I’ll ask for a final advice for our students that are finished in the boot camp and they’re doing a final project. What would be, what would you say for them for their long-term career?

 

Colt Steele

Okay the first, like concrete piece of advice I have is just make sure that you are happy with some sort of project or you feel good about something that you’ve made that you can show people that’s like that, that concrete thing I would say. In terms of code, having a project that you know, if you don’t feel great about it at this point, I would just continue to work on it. And not stop even if you graduate even if you feel like you’ve already done what you’re supposed to do. And then the real advice I have after that is just to try and remember that those things- I’ve seen a lot of people who graduate who are competent during the boot camp and who are aware like googling is fine, it’s part of the job and you’re not expected to know everything and they kind of build all that like soft skill mindset stuff in the boot camp. And then they graduate. And it all goes away because all of a sudden, now they’re comparing themselves to other developers or to other candidates. So, my main advice is just, the real world is really not that much different. And it feels scarier when you’re trying to get a job. And you’re probably getting, you know, you’re probably going to be rejected from somewhere at some point, everybody is. And don’t let that get you down more than it should, right. That should be you can learn from those experiences if something goes wrong, or if it’s clear that you’re missing some skill or some, you know, you did something that you can improve upon, you should learn from that. But don’t dwell on it too much. You’re going to have good and bad experiences. And just don’t put too much pressure on yourself immediately to just be the perfect developer that you’re imagining. A lot of students leave a boot camp and they expect like, okay, now I’m a developer. Really, it’s just a constant process of learning. Whether you’ve been doing it for six months or a year or 10 years. You’re still going be learning things every day. And so just keep that in mind. That’d be my main advice is just don’t be too hard on yourself. And hopefully you can keep that excitement alive, where you want to keep learning things. And don’t view it as a negative thing that you’re, you know, inadequate or that you don’t know enough. Because if that’s how people actually felt, you would have senior developers who would be panicking, you know, people at Google working on crazy high level, you know, making a million dollars a year who still feel like they’re inadequate, because they will, you know, they know 10% of what the person next to them knows that person knows something entirely different and just everybody has these different skill sets and there’s some overlap, but it’s really about being able to learn new things and competently or confidently gaining those new skills. So that would be the main piece of advice I have is just keep that as your goal. Obviously, you want to get a job quickly. And for some of you that probably will happen quicker than others. And that’s always the case and it’s easy to compare yourself and to worry about you know, okay, why did they get one and I didn’t or what did I do wrong? My advice, though, is just stay calm and focus on the just, you know, keep your eye on the five years from now, and continuing to build your skills as a developer and proving that you’re qualified. And the job will come eventually. Which I know is hard to hear when you’re desperate to get a job right now, but it’s just part of the process. Unfortunately, I’ve seen amazingly talented people, where it takes them six months, and somebody else who I was I thought would take six months they get a job and like the first week, and sometimes it’s just you can’t predict it.

 

Damian Vavanos

Yeah, thank you very much. All your advice Colt has been amazing. Thank you very much for sharing it. I now get what all our students are thanking you in terms of the way you handle yourself. And the way you speak. It’s captivating. Yeah, but okay. So, we only have 30 minutes, unfortunately for our students, so let’s go quickly. What I’m going to do is allow our students to speak. So, I’m going to ask Aliki to ask your question. Yeah, Aliki if you want to unmute yourself. [crosstalk 44:39]

 

Aliki

Hi, good afternoon. Hi, thank you for the good talk. Amazing stuff, real stuff. It’s amazing. I’m a junior developer. So, I’m just, for the past six months, I went to a boot camp. So, I know that learning new stuff is always very important. So, I was always amazed by you know, some teachers know how to pass the knowledge and they see that the online courses are being more and more developed. So, I wanted to ask as a creator, do you like direct what you’re going to show? How you’re going to say it? Do you like, write like scripts like you know, like an actual movie that’s what I’m thinking, you know, because some, videos are like really helpful some are not you know, you pick and choose like what goes with your learning experience and what you like, but at the end of the day seems like the best ones that I like it’s like very concise and very to the point and some others which are very popular not in my style, you understand that it’s like a style that you develop, that you see from other co-workers like people who do the same thing. Yeah, that’s it. Thank you.

 

Colt Steele

Yeah, I think this is a good question. For me. Personally, I don’t write out every word that I say. Although I have done that in the past. More what I do is spend a lot of time planning out the overall structure of the course and then the different sections, and then the videos within that. And then how do you, you know, what order do you teach things in and I always try and keep videos. It is hard, but I try to keep things definitely under like seven to eight minutes for each video, which I often break that rule, but I have things like that where I try at least, to because it’s easy, the easiest thing to do is just start recording and just ramble for 20 minutes, and then just stop and then do another 20 minutes and just sort of go just like you’re just talking and you have no plan, you have no structure. That’s the easiest way to do it in my opinion. That’s sometimes tempting, but what I try and do is try and be very direct and have specific goals for each video what am I trying to teach and what am I going to set up for in the next video and try and transition them and have them all connected if that makes sense. And then in terms of recording I usually record I’d say, for everyone minute that you see, probably three minutes, maybe four minutes, that is the original recording, and then I just cut a lot out. Or sometimes I’ll just record a whole video once and then delete it. And immediately after recorded again, just because I can tell, as I’m talking about something, I can think to myself, others, you know, next time, there’s a better way to explain that. Or there’s a better way to structure this, I should have started with this topic. And then you just kind of figure it out as you go. And I’d say yeah, the biggest thing for me is just planning it out. A lot of people ignore that a lot of people just think, okay, I’m just gonna, you know, I’m just gonna teach. It’s not hard, like, I’m just gonna do it. But you’ve got to at least think a little bit ahead of time about how you want to structure things and it’s like writing a book. I guess some people could sit down write a book just from just immediately with no, you know, practice and no thought about it ahead of time. But most people start, they write, you know their outline of what happens when they make their little note cards for each scene and character in each chapter. And that’s kind of how I approach it.

 

Damian Vavanos

All right, thank you. Thank you for the question. Aliki off to Blondell. Blondell, 

 

Abed Hamami

You’ll need to unmute, Blondell.

 

Blondell

Yeah. Hi. Yeah, this is Blondell. So, I was here in social [inaudible 48:41]. Hi Damien. Hi Abed. So, that’s my equation. I was asking about how to do in order to improve our skill and to get the job and I will first thank you for what you said to spend your time in order to help us to give us some, what can I say, how to think, how to structure things and to be a good developer? So, thanks for that. And for the [inaudible 49:24] I was asking, how can we plan I mean, how can we plan in order to be a good developer? In order to face job tomorrow, and you already given answer you say we should be at first passionate on it? Yeah. It’s what you say.

 

Colt Steele

Is that your question? About passion? Is that important?

 

Blondell

Yes, you were talking about, we should be passionate about it. And if we are passionate, we can do it each day in order to be good on it. So, my question was about how to plan, how to take things in order to be good. So, I just get my answer and I think.

 

Colt Steele

Well, I think when I say first, I would find passion because I know that not everybody is- their true love is programming or it’s you know, it’s not everybody’s calling in life. It’s for a lot of people it is interesting and exciting, but it’s not you know, their true passion right and that’s not there’s nothing wrong with that. I think all that matters is that if you find it interesting enough to spend your time doing it, and you enjoy it That’s great. I mean, I know some people who spend all of their time reading about programming and coding, and it’s truly their only passion in life. And that’s great for them. But that’s actually not me. I mean, I like programming. But, you know, I like lots of other things, too. And so, I don’t, I don’t want anybody to feel like, you know, you have to fall in love with coding to pursue it. But you definitely need to. I mean, you need to have proven to yourself, you enjoy it. Because there is a difference. There’s a lot of people I see who just want to do it because it seems like a good way to make money. And then they don’t actually think through it if they started and they realized I don’t actually like this is not for me. But I think in general, something like what you’re asking is around how can you improve day to day or how can you continue to learn and sort of grow your skills, and the main thing I always tell students to do is to build something on your own even if nobody ever says sees it. So, a project is always important when you’re trying to get a job, like a nice project to show somebody, but also important are just the projects you make just when you’re learning for yourself. And they might never see the light of day, nobody needs to know how bad they are, how good they are, it’s really more about you just building something. So, if you have something you can get excited about. I don’t know you know what your hobbies are, but I really like soccer or football. And so when I’m learning something new, I always like to do something related to that with programming, so I’ll make you know, a fantasy football game or I’ll make, you know, sometimes like a Champions League Draw app like, you know, where it’s just as a random drawing for the group stages and it seats people and, and that’s just something you know, I’ve never showed anybody I don’t post online, but it’s just how I like to learn something new is to have a combination of what I care about with programming and try and make something just to learn. So, I would continue to make little projects on your own. It doesn’t have to be impressive. No one has to know about them. They don’t have to look good, but it’s just a way to keep that excitement for yourself. So that’s really the main thing I’d advise just always build something.

 

Damian Vavanos

All right, thank you. Thank you, Colt and Blondell. Next up is Marios Papadopoulos. But Marios, please, we only have like three minutes left, I saw that you asked two questions, so please just ask one of them.

 

Marios 

Okay, hello, my name is Marios. I finished your web developer boot camp last year on Udemy. Right now, I have opened my own office. And I cannot decide to- and I’m developing my office website and I haven’t decided if I should focus more on styles, effects or free content like free guides for clients, things like that.

 

Colt Steele

What is the goal of this website? Are you trying to find clients? And clients for what like for web development? Or what is your company or your office going to do?

 

Marios

Right now, offering both web design and web development, for example, WordPress websites, opening e-commerce solutions, and static web pages. And I found out that most of my clients also need something like a guide for adding products to the websites.

 

Colt Steele 

I see. Okay, well, I think I would personally start with I mean; it depends on what your website looks like right now. But I think it’s always important to have something that looks nice. And I don’t know if you enjoy web design or not say I’m terrible at it, but there are lots of templates and things online, you know, you can copy something. But basically, I would make something look good first, especially if you’re trying to get clients and get work through it. Anything. This is and it might sound harsh, but anything that looks like just a slightest bit amateur or not professional. It’s just that’s all that it takes for a client or potential client to go somewhere else. So, I would spend time making it look good first. It doesn’t have to be the most amazing website ever. But this is like your proof to somebody that you know what you’re doing. And so that’s where I would start and then the content, I think can come afterwards because if you have a nice looking website that matters if you have good content, but you don’t have a nice looking website, you’re probably not going to have many people who want to read it in the first place or they might not trust it. It’s unfortunate, right? Like it seems stupid to have to have a beautiful website or a nice looking website, but if you do have good content and you’re missing that style, I think for a lot of people, they just aren’t going to be interested or they won’t trust it. So I would start there, make something that looks good and that you feel, you know, share it with people and see what they get feedback from other students or from friends and family and just take their advice and, you know, improve the site until it feels like it’s polished.

 

Damian Vavanos

Alright. Unfortunately, we have a couple some more questions, but we don’t, we have to end this really, for me inspiring. Asked me anything with Colt Steele. Before closing down I want to acknowledge Roger Pank, who is the person which connected us with Colt and I want to thank you, Roger, for this connection but also for the support you’re offering and the mentoring you’re offering to our team to Social Hackers Academy. And, this has already been really good for us. And Colt you, I got to know your name as Colt Steele/superstar. And I just want to acknowledge you. And thank you very much for everything that you’ve done for our students, for all the students around the world that want to find a way through web development. Just thank you very much for your time. And for all the positive energy that you’re bringing to the world. Thank you very much.

 

Colt Steele

That’s, wow, that’s. Thank you. That’s very nice. Well, I hope everyone’s you know, staying safe and healthy. And I wish everyone the best of luck. And maybe we can set up something like this again in the future.

 

Abed Hamami 

Yeah, I’d be excited. I’d be totally, for sure.

 

Colt Steele

All right, well, have a nice day everybody or I guess what time is night? They’re like night, right. All right.

 

Damian Vavanos

Thank you so much for your time.

 

Abed Hamami

Have a good day. 

 

Colt Steele

You too.