General Assembly Singapore Review — Web Development Immersive

  • What is WDI? What kinds of people typically enrol?
  • Other courses available at General Assembly Singapore
  • Day-to-day life as a WDI student
  • Concluding thoughts — Is it worth the money? How to decide?

Before I joined General Assembly

I believe every review is biased, and one of the most effective ways to neutralise biases I know is a general serving of Context. So here’s mine. Feel free to skip to the next section if you just want the juice.

Trouble with being non-technical

As someone with zero coding skills, I could either accept interns and let them do their thing while I accepted whatever they produced (I’d have no idea whether any of it is good or bad because I just won’t be able to tell), or I could pick up programming myself and come back later to the idea.

General Assembly Singapore

my classmates at general assembly
Me and my fun-loving classmates on the way to refuel our brains with food.

Who signs up for the Web Development Immersive here?

As formally alluded to on their global website, the goal of the Web Development Immersive is to help people enter the tech industry. Specifically, it is a 12 weeks full-time programme designed to teach and guide you to become a web developer.

  1. Entrepreneurs with a desire to Become Technical™

What web developers do

Just in case you’re not sure what a “web developer” does, here is a general definition:

Technologies and Concepts I learned during the course

I hear many friends making passing remarks about wanting to learn to code, and I always encourage them to give it a shot. But I’d always highlight the difference between wanting to be code literate and wanting to write code to be used in an actual product — the former is possible in a matter of weeks, and the latter is a never-ending quest, as it is with any craft, and is impossible without consistent practice.

High level things

  • how to read code, including that of others
  • understand how the internet works at a fundamental level
  • how to write code for the browser (HTML, CSS, JavaScript)
  • how to write code for the server (nowadays JavaScript with NodeJS or Ruby on Rails)
  • how to design and implement a SQL/NoSQL database
  • how to control the flow of a programme
  • how to go about debugging code that doesn’t work
  • how to collaborate with other developers (Git, GitHub)
  • how to deploy code to production

Languages, frameworks, libraries, technologies

  • HTML and CSS
  • JavaScript, jQuery
  • Ruby
  • Postgres SQL (structured database querying language)
  • MongoDB NoSQL (non-structured database querying language)
  • Git (code versioning software, also used for collaborating with other developers)
  • Bootstrap, Semantic UI, etc. (libraries that make CSS more manageable)
  • Node and Express (server side framework using JavaScript)
  • Ruby on Rails (server side framework using Ruby)
  • Web sockets (socket.io and Rails ActionCable)
  • AJAX, APIs
  • ReactJS / VueJS / Angular 2 (front-end frameworks, game changers!)
  • Many, many open source packages/gems

What it’s like being a WDI student

collage of student experiences at general assembly singapore
Super smart WDI batch 7, with whom I had the good fortune of being a teaching assistant.

1. Everyone in your class is self-selected

This is the first in the list for a reason. In my opinion, the fact that every person in your class has chosen to be enrolled in the course makes a world of difference. Unlike our poly/JC/university days, almost every person who has decided that $12,000 (more on that later) is a good investment in their own learning is at least interested in giving programming a serious shot.

2. An experienced and knowledgeable Instructional Team

My instructor was Jeremiah Alexander, who in my honest opinion is one of the best coding instructors you can ever ask for. He is methodical in his teaching, takes time to provide thoughtful answers to any question, and a really interesting person (he ran his own game production studio for almost a decade!).

3. Support outside of class hours

Many students stay back after class until we are told to go home. General Assembly welcomes you to do that.

4. Lectures, labs, projects

Lecture, lab, lecture, lab, mini project, lecture, lab, … project. Repeat.

5. You have a dedicated career coach

Bryant Tang is the dedicated career coach at General Assembly when I was there as a student and teaching assistant. He does a good job preparing students to be employable first-time web developers, and he does it well because he genuinely cares.

6. You will graduate with a group of technical friends

Here’s something that might not occur to you until you’re graduating — when you finish the course, you will have known 15–20 like-minded technical friends. I only really noticed it when I would bump into several classmates at the few tech events that I go to. Why is this great? I don’t know, but it sure is nice to see familiar faces everywhere you go.

Is it worth the money?

Time for some real talk. If you’ve read this far, you would probably have a rough idea of what the Web Development Immersive course is about, and you may be wondering whether it’s worth the $12,000 price tag.

IMDA’s TIPP subsidy programme

At the time of writing, Singaporeans get a heavy subsidy from the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) when enrolling in the Web Development Immersive, purportedly to encourage more people to take the leap into the technology industry. From their website:

Cost vs Benefits of investing in WDI

While Singaporeans have it shiok, I’d recommend foreign friends to still consider the course. One of the biggest pull factors for me to decide on WDI was my friend Rebecca’s recommendation. She’s Singaporean but attended school in New York. She enrolled in GA New York and paid full price, and one day when I asked her about her experience, she ended up strongly recommending me to give it a shot despite not knowing about the local subsidy. That gave me a confidence to take the leap. Consider me encouraging you to do the same.

  • Are you, by any stretch, someone who romanticises programming?
  • Hint: most of us don’t work remotely by the beach, because sand and Wi-Fi
  • Does seeing/writing code intrigue or scare you?
  • Do you think you will derive joy from making a working programme?
  • Do you enjoy or dislike constant brain work?
  • Can you afford the time and money in your current situation?
  • 3 months of learning by applying, practically every single day (including weekends)
  • $12k or $5k (depending on nationality), and having no income for the duration

Concluding thoughts

I’m going to share briefly a few other things that might help you decide.

Ping me if you need help/answers

I hope this was helpful for you. If you have any questions that was not covered here, or thoughts you’d like to express, feel free to leave a comment or message me on LinkedIn or tweet me.

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