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Lambda School isn't about education.

Just as a primer, here are my previous posts about my time in Lambda School:

Also of note: I didn't put #beginner tag on this post.

So here's the hot take:

Lambda School isn't about education.

First off, I need to say out loud a couple things that you already know, just to set the perspective.

  1. Facebook isn't a social network, it's data science.
  2. Google isn't about search, it's about advertising.

There's other examples that could arguably go on this list, but the point is that much of business today is about something deeper than meets the eye.

Therefore, Lambda School isn't about education, it is a social network.

In 16 weeks, I have had meaningful conversation with no more than eight salaried staff members: 4 instructors, 3 trainers in Student Success (basically HR), and the instructor's boss (I don't know the title, but that's what he was).

Of the hundreds of conversations I’ve had, the vast majority were either directly with a student, or a student in a paid mentorship position. All teams were lead by a student mentor, the Team Lead. All assignments, tests and Build Week projects were graded by the TL. Organizational issues were dealt with by their paid student mentors, the Section Lead. The percent-chance that any problem (technical or organizational) would be addressed by salaried staff is far smaller than a margin of error; closer to that of a statistical anomaly.

As far as I'm concerned, that is not a problem.

In my first build week (week 4 of instruction), I was using Bootstrap. I had a problem where one of my definitions wasn't showing. After some basic troubleshooting, I went to the help video channel.

I know this person, a common helper TL. "I've got a quickie", I say and I explain the problem. He goes "you know... bootstrap uses a lot of !important tags..."

OH! Yeah it does! I added !important, and done. Grand total time from first problem to solution: 15m.

I'd been 5+ years trying to self teach in earnest, nevermind the secondary attempts for years before that. That bootstrap problem would have resulted in posts to Stack Exchange and Reddit. Getting an answer could have taken half a day, if ever. I'd say that about half the time I did this, I wound up either working around it or just doing something else entirely.

Connection of people, and timeliness of response, is Lambda's value.

In my cohort of ~150, I have met, exchanged help with, laughed and complained with, and grown direct relationships with, dozens of people, from 23 yr old former burger flippers to 30 something mothers of 3 to 50 somethings like myself. And while there are still names where I'm like "who the hell is that?" there is a far longer list of names that I would quite enjoy sharing a cubicle farm with.

I was originally placed in a team with 6 others. It included 2 young folks that I kinda gelled with. They were well within the peer group of my 20-somethings kids, not me. About a month later, we 3 picked up another. The 4 of us are relationships that I guarantee will follow us all well into our professional lives. Another team in the cohort that has 6 people that have been together since day one and they have seriously discussed starting a development house.

The Relationships

Next week, 13 January 2020, I progress into "Lambda Labs" where I will be assigned a team and will work on an 8 week project. With a very short list of exceptions, I am unconcerned about who I wind up getting teamed with. I'd like to keep the 4 amigos together, but everyone else I've seen, with very few exceptions, has been professional and helpful through every interaction I've had with them.

It took me a while to realize it, but the relationships are the true value of Lambda School. The education is good, and I have learned a lot, no question. But it is simply the means by which relationships are built. I could leave the school right now, and by playing up my life/past experience along with the education, I could land something decent as a front-end developer. But, long term, I would be worse off for it for having a smaller pool of "who you know".

When I've completed Lambda, I'll be paying for the contacts and relationships that I have cultivated along the way.

I'm ok with that.

As of today, it has been 4 months. I am now capable of doing things in JS/React/Node that I started out wanting to do, but I had no idea what it would feel like when I completed it. It just never even occurred to me.

The way Lambda School works is like this

  • 4 days of instruction then the Friday "Sprint" (weekly test).
  • 3 weeks of instruction, plus a "Build Week", is a Unit. Build Week is a project with people from across the 4 units of instruction.
  • Web Dev track starts with 4 Units and goes for 4 months.
  • After Build Week, students are assigned a team for an 8 week “Labs” project.

Thanks to Thanksgiving, and then Xmas/New Years breaks, the schedule was kinda weird. In December, we had 3 weeks of instruction, 2 weeks off to forget everything, then the Build Week right after. But I lived.

This last Build Week was for Unit 4: Back End. NodeJS, sql database, routing, testing. I'd done some self-study on Node, so it wasn't entirely unfamiliar. All that fore-knowledge was completely surpassed on day 2 of the Unit.

Due to having postponed my Unit 2 (React Intro) Build Week so that I could take Team Lead training, I had to do 2 build weeks at once. I can't imagine trying to do that without the extra 2 weeks (the holiday break) that I had in the middle.

I completed both projects with marks of “Exceeds Expectations”.

I started a little project in 2018. I worked on for probably 80 hours. Today, I’m certain that I could complete and surpass the original project if I gave it 20 solid hours.

In the immediate and short term, Lambda School has been worth it. And I can see where it is stacking up to be worth it in the long term.

If you call me a shill, I'll call you a moron . . . both of which are baseless labels. I'm a Lambda School student in cohort Web24. If you believe, evidence free, that someone paid me in some way to make this post, I'll choose to believe, evidence free, that you like to kick small dogs and take candy from babies.

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