Tuesday, April 1, 2014

As Employers Search for Tech Talent, a New Code School in Durham Offers a Solution

Smashing Boxes partners with The Iron Yard to launch an immersive code school that will meet the Triangle region’s growing demand for a skilled workforce. 

Like the majority of college graduates, Alison Miller and Lindsay Nauman didn’t major in computer science. In fact the year they graduated, graduates of their major, communications and journalism, outnumbered computer science majors two to one. As technology continues to grow exponentially worldwide, and demand for developers and engineers hastens, employers are finding themselves in a bind. Computer and mathematical occupations in the U.S. are expected to grow by almost 800,000 jobs by 2018, and it doesn’t take an engineer to recognize that universities are not keeping up with demand.

Enter code school: one solution to help close the employment gap and bring motivated individuals an opportunity for career growth. Offering crash courses in high-demand software languages, code schools give non-developers an opportunity to secure a better job with their new programming skills.

The Iron Yard Academy powered by Smashing Boxes
, launching in June of this year, will be Durham, NC’s first code school. The Academy will offer a variety of intensive programming courses in high-demand software languages with the goal of providing non-developers the skills to acquire jobs in a thriving field with a need for talent.

The school is made possible by a partnership between The Iron Yard, a nationally respected code school based out of Greenville, S.C., and Smashing Boxes, an enterprising web and mobile technology shop and CED member. “The partnership marries credibility and experience with a strong understanding of the local technology landscape,” says Nick Jordan, Smashing Boxes’ CEO.
The need for technical talent is even more concentrated in high-tech regions such as the Triangle. “We’re hoping the school will solidify Durham as a training ground for skilled programmers and continue to attract high-tech businesses,” says Jordan. “Creating opportunity in the market for up-and-coming technologists is an essential part of continuing to build our thriving economy.” Nauman and Miller are both graduates of code schools, and found that the experience transformed their lives.

Miller, a 2009 graduate of Arizona State University, had only dabbled with HTML and CSS in her job as a digital content editor. “I’d have to say my coding skills were pretty limited,” she recalls.

Nauman also had limited coding experience. After graduating from Temple University in 2009, she sent out demo reels to news stations across the country with no luck. While continuing to look for jobs in her field, she made money by bartending and taking on side jobs such as selling real estate, none of which made use of her degree. “A lot of the jobs I was applying for required skills I didn’t have so I took a web design certification program to acquire them. I fell head over heels in love with technology,” says Nauman. She thought she might be able to teach herself to code, but knew it would take considerable time and would be hard to learn that way. “I wanted to be immersed.”

“Successful schools center their curriculum around practical application. Immersion in a real-time technical environment will be a focal point of our Durham school,” says Eric Dodds of The Iron Yard Academy. The Academy’s courses will be held in the American Underground, in close proximity to some of the Triangle's most promising tech startups.

Students will also benefit from an applied-learning relationship with Smashing Boxes, having access to real-time culture and collaboration in an entrepreneurial and technical environment. “The Academy is unique among code schools. Thanks to our partnership with Smashing Boxes and the school’s location in the Underground, students will rub shoulders with real businesses and programming teams from day one.”
After completing intensive three month courses, neither graduate had trouble finding a programming job. “There were a lot of opportunities for junior software developers,” says Nauman. “I had a ton of interviews, and second interviews. Once you have the skills, the hard part isn’t getting the interviews, it’s making sure you find a company that is a good cultural fit for you. One that encourages continual learning.” She now works as a back-end developer for Smashing Boxes. Upon graduating, Miller had many interviews as well and was able to secure a job as an Interaction Engineer at Benefitfocus by showcasing her portfolio on GitHub.

Both Miller and Nauman have seen their salaries double since graduating from the program and accredit their success to code school. They didn’t know what to expect when they enrolled, but the experience paid off, giving them an abundance of opportunities and a bright outlook for the future.

Stay in the loop with The Iron Yard Academy code schoolers at www.smashingboxes.com/blog.

Smashing Boxes
Smashing Boxes is a nimble team of innovators and technologists creating beautiful applications for forward-thinking organizations. We transform ideas into inspired and unabbreviated web and mobile applications. Whatever our clients imagine, we bring to life an amplified version of it.

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