In this review, I take Back-to-Back SWE for the spin. Let’s see how well it lives up to its claim of being the only coding interview prep course you’ll ever need.
We are looking at an interview prep course created by an individual. The course creator is a self-developed (partly) software developer, and he has gotten a lot of positive attention online.
We will see if all that translates into an interview prep course that gives its students the depth of training and personal attention they need to iron out their weak points and ace any coding interview.
We will also see what category of people the course is meant for and how favorable the pricing is.
Stay with me.
Table of Contents
Overview of Back-to-Back SWE
BackToBack SWE is a prep platform for coding interview candidates. Benyam Ephrem is the creator and lead instructor, and several other instructors assist him.
The platform launched in 2018, but its beginning goes way back to when it was a small YouTube channel where you could go and watch videos on coding topics.
BackToBack SWE currently has a team of ten running its affairs; you can infer that it’s a small company, but it’s gotten a considerably large online presence.
If you check their YouTube channel, you’ll notice that they have over 206k subscribers. That figure surely includes those who have completed the training and those yet to do so.
No doubt, the mention of the YouTube channel has already given away the fact that Back-to-Back SWE uses explainer videos for its courses. That’s right, no text.
So what’s the course package all about? I’ll dive into the details later on in this review, but for a start, you’ll be treating about 15 topics in coding. In the videos, you’ll come across numerous code problems—and their solutions, including those featured by real tech companies.
There is an ITE (Integrated Testing Environment) for running code in real-time and much more.
The team behind Back-to-Back SWE asserts that they don’t just give you code problems and their solutions. They help you (I am still quoting them) gain an in-depth understanding of how to arrive at the answers and convince the interviewer that you know better than to simply cram and regurgitate code solutions.
I’ll put their claims to the test as we continue this review, although their catchphrases of practice and repetition are already getting me optimistic.
Here’s hoping they don’t disappoint. Anyways let’s move on. But hold on, the course instructors, who are they?
Course Instructors – Benyam Ephrem
Let’s talk about Benyam for now. He is of mixed origins, Ethiopian-American precisely. He is fluent in Amharic and English.
Benyam grew up in Maryland, USA studied computer engineering at the University of Maryland, and bagged a degree in that course at age 21.
In December 2018, Benyam founded Back-to-Back SWE. He coined the name from the goal of undergraduate students to land high-tier internships consecutively (or in back-to-back years)
But the company was acquired in 2020, and that’s a story for a whole other blog.
He is currently working on another coding interview platform called Interview Pen.
Benyam knows what it takes to be a great software engineer, and he is known for thoroughly explaining complex topics.
Besides, he taught himself many of the coding and programming skills he now has mastery of, so he can understand what challenges a beginner would face as they struggle to wrap their minds around a complex topic.
Logically, all that experience should translate to a great all-around course, right? Yeah, but I’m afraid that’s likely not the case. You see, Benyam isn’t the only instructor on the platform.
There are several other tutors on the platform, but one stands out, not in a good way. He takes up the explanations as you proceed on the platform. His manner of teaching is somewhat dry and unnatural as if he’s reading from a script.
I guess that’s our first bummer spotted—varying quality of courses.
What is inside the Back-to-Back SWE Program?
Now let’s dive deeper into Back-to-Back SWE course content. There’s a lot on the platter, and it comes in video explanations of code problems and solutions. And from time to time, you’ll treat interview questions by real companies.
There are up to 19 courses covering different coding topics. Let’s go through some of them.
Application To The Offer
This is the first introductory course on the platform. It will teach you how to present yourself well in any interview, starting from when and how you craft and submit your resume.
It’s common for people to get interviews as referrals rather than seeking out the company themselves. That gives you better chance of landing a job. The question is how to position yourself for others to want to refer you and this course promises to answer that question for you.
Time and Space
Software engineers need a thorough understanding of time and space concepts in coding to write complex and functional algorithms.
There is also a lot of mathematics involved in the topic. It can seem hard, but the module devotes about twelve lessons to treating such subtopics as asymptotic bounding, linear time, memoization, and logarithmic time to mention but a few.
Arrays are a crucial part of programming, and without them, software engineers would have trouble organizing information and building databases.
Someone learning arrays need to apply all kinds of reasoning techniques, like logical reasoning and deductive reasoning, to properly understand how the little details connect together.
That’s what the section on arrays is meant for. There are different things to learn about arrays, such as the next permutation, rotating a 2D matrix, et cetera.
No bonafide programmer should be lacking in his knowledge of dynamic programming.
True, the topic is very deep, and there is so much to learn in it. But this is one topic that Back-to-back SWE doesn’t skimp on.
Throughout this module, you’ll review different lessons that give in-depth but simple analyses of 19 subtopics under dynamic programming.
Max Contiguous Subarray Sum, Number of Ways To Traverse A Matrix, and Decompose String are just some of the applications of dynamic programming that can be confusing without the assistance of an experienced tutor.
We come across graphs in different subjects like mathematics, and they have plenty of applications in computer science
In the module on graphs, you will learn what makes up a proper graph and how it can be manipulated to represent different kinds of information in a digital setting.
You will come across such terms as Depth First Search and Breadth First Search, String Transformations, Topological Sorting, et cetera.
The module will also prepare you for interview cases where your recruiter would like to test your skill in conducting different operations on graphs.
Developers and programmers alike must be familiar with greedy algorithms as a way of solving problems in coding.
A programmer’s knowledge of different types of algorithms, such as greedy algorithms, shows how versatile he is in terms of coming up with the best possible solutions to problems.
Back-to-back SWE greedy algorithms courses will present different scenarios of the subject in action and how to apply the principles learned to build systems that meet real needs.
How Much Does It Cost?
Time to talk about pricing. Back-to-Back SWE comes in three pricing tiers. There’s a bi-annual plan, a yearly plan, and a lifetime plan.
The biannual plan comes in at $79, while the yearly plan is billed at $99. The lifetime plan will set you back by $119, but you pay it once.
Any Available Discounts?
Yes, I negotiated with BackToBack SWE to lock in a 10% discount for my audience. You can save an additional 10% discount using the coupon code “AKINDUYO”.
It’s easier to give a product or service a try when you know you’ll get your hard-earned cash back if you don’t like the experience.
Back-to-back SWE doesn’t give you a free trial instead they offer a 30-day money-back guarantee if you are not pleased with their service.
Who Is It For?
That’s the next question I’ll be answering. Basically, anyone who is into coding or is preparing for a coding tech interview can join Back-to-Back SWE.
Technical Interview Candidates
BackToBack SWE is a great resource for those preparing for a technical interview.
The platform offers tutorials and training in virtually every area of coding interviews. Technical interview candidates can rest assured that their requisite expertise will be found on the site.
Furthermore, training programs exist specifically to help candidates succeed in the coding interviews conducted by FAANG organizations.
That means you may get up to speed on the latest developments in your area of technical expertise while simultaneously learning to adapt to the standards of today’s hiring managers.
It helps to know that Benyam originally had undergrads in mind when he started the course.
So that’s the first category of people B2B SWE is targeted at.
Undergraduate students have much potential in their own right as they are still in school and full of energy and fresh ideas.
They can take the B2B SWE and enrich their knowledge of coding skills and then apply for internships to practice and refine what they have learned.
The more internships they take, the more experience they can gather and include in their resume. They will have also perfected the art of creating a good impression on interviewers, thereby increasing their chances of landing their dream jobs.
School Leavers; Beginners
But it’s not only undergrads that can use B2B SWE. You might have left school for a long time and even forgotten what coding is all about, or you might simply not have any background in tech.
B2B SWE is for you as well. You can access coding videos on YouTube or some other platform, but you won’t get a structured path for learning, and neither will you have the support of a community you can run to for assistance.
Besides, the quality of information you can get for free is limited. Sooner or later, you’ll have to invest in premium resources.
You Want to Be a Coach
Another category of people that can give B2B SWE at least a trial are those who want to become coaches.
This feature is coming soon. When it is fully implemented, anyone desiring to be a coach can enroll on the platform and go through an interview. If he passes, he gets to decide what type of students he wants to coach, and then he can be fully involved in their learning process down to (if they wish) their interview day.
You Need a Coach
If you are looking for a coach for personalized mentorship, you can lean on B2B SWE. My favorite part of this soon-to-be-released feature is that you can select coaches with experience with the tech companies you will be interviewing with.
So it’s not just some random guy that will be coaching you. You get to set your preferences for the right coach, and you can even switch coaches if you like.
Are students getting results?
Absolutely. Across Reddit and Facebook groups, you will find success stories of students who have gone through BackToBack SWE.
If you are considering whether it is worth it, then it is definitely worth the price.
Back to Back SWE – Youtube
All kinds of startups use social media platforms like YouTube to serve their customers, and Back-to-back SWE isn’t an exception.
Actually, B2B SWE started on YouTube as early as 2017. Right now, the platform has 87 videos on coding and a subscriber count of more than 200k.
All of the videos are free, and you can watch them first to get a feel of Benyam’s teaching style.
Do I recommend the Back to Back SWE program?
Back-to-Back SWE isn’t a perfect coding interview prep course by any means, and it certainly has its flaws.
That said, B2B SWE does deliver enough training on coding topics to help you approach any coding interview with ease.
I highly recommend the course platform for its upcoming coach finder feature. Very soon, students on the platform will be able to pick a coach who, among other things, is familiar with their tech company of choice.
All in all, the Back-to-Back SWE course is a legitimate platform and one that provides considerable learning resources for a reasonable price tag.