Many students lend their new skills to open source projects, which is an important part of the modern programmer's résumé.But Free Code Camp offers an intriguing new way to give students more hands-on experience.
But just because it's free doesn't mean Free Code Camp is easy.
It doesn't just throw its students straight into working for a non-profit.
By building apps for non-profits, students learn about planning a project and how to work with a team.
What's more, Free Code Camp, as they name suggests, is free.
Dozens of companies have emerged in recent years aiming to train the masses to fill the estimated thousands of available programming jobs in the US.
So-called "code bootcamps," which aim to teach students the basics in only a few weeks, are one popular choice.
Getting good enough to code in the real world takes time.
The site features a sequence of online tutorials to help the absolute beginner learn become a web developer, starting with building a simple webpage.
Once you've completed the full curriculum, an estimated 800 hours of work, you can sign up to volunteer to work for a non-profit—another 800 hours of work.
Since the site launched in October 2014, only a few of its more than 30,000 students have completed the full 1,600 hours yet, says Free Code Camp co-founder Quincy Larson.
He read about Free Code Camp on Twitter soon after the site launched in October.