“Hi-tech vo-tech.” (We may have just coined a new phrase, people!) What is a hi-tech vo-tech campus you ask? It’s a place where people – young, old, employed, unemployed, new grads, even retirees – are learning new languages…the languages that our ever-increasing digital world uses to communicate. And if you thought you couldn’t learn these languages and use them to make digital things work, called “coding”, than I, and more importantly, the expert I talked to are here to tell you that you’re wrong. Anybody can code...almost. If you have what Kevin Saito, VP of Marketing and Product Management with Coding Dojo refers to as passion and fit - meaning passion for coding and can fit well with the team with whom you’ll be working - then you can be a coder without any experience. Coding Dojo was founded in 2012 and is currently headquartered in Bellevue, WA. Their Dallas campus opened in March 2016. “We’ve done this long enough that we’ve seen people from all walks of life be successful. One of our clients was an Applebee’s front line cook when he applied for our boot camp. When he completed the program, he went to work for T Mobile as a website developer,” said Saito.
So after my lead in about going to coding boot camp instead of college at a fraction of the cost and time and then the story of the Applebee’s cook going on to fame and glory as a website developer, you’re obviously wondering about the numbers, right? A recent story on coding boot camps stated that typical programs take 12 to 15 weeks to complete. Graduates not only enjoy a 98 percent placement rate (that means 98 percent of them find jobs after graduation) but their average starting pay is $105,000. These are certainly headline grabbing numbers. When I asked Saito to confirm them, he said that Coding Dojo’s boot camp takes 14 weeks to complete, and that starting salaries average around $72,000. “Salaries vary on the market. Places such as California and New York will pay more than other markets,” Saito said. “Starting pay averages also depend on the students that are being accepted. Other companies may average higher starting pay rates because they only take the top 5 to 10 percent of applicants, while we accept 70 percent of all applicants.”
As far as placement goes, Coding Dojo has pretty impressive numbers. In 2015, 89 percent their job-seeking students received an IT job within 4 months of graduation and 97 percent of job-seeking students receive an IT job within 6 months. The 14-week on-site coding boot camp, which is their most popular program, typically runs around $13,500, but the Dallas campus offers it at $9,450. Scholarships up to $2,000 are also available for many students including military veterans, people changing careers and women in technology. The numbers are also notable when it comes to the company’s growth. “As a result of campus expansion and increased market demand, Coding Dojo has seen significant growth in student enrollment, which is 74 percent year over year,” Said Saito. “Specifically, from September 2014 to August 2015 492 students went through the program, and from September 2015 to July 2016 that number jumped to 854.”
The day to day
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So what does a coding boot camp student do in a typical day at Coding Dojo? Actually, it starts the night before class begins. “The night before, students have online access to watch lectures and read through materials so they can get prepared. The next morning, there’s a lecture on that material to reinforce it. Then the instructor will give assignments and students work in groups to enable them to learn from each other. They’ll work on algorithms in the afternoons with group work on projects. Then it starts all over again that night with preparing for the next day’s lesson,” said Saito.
If coding is something that you’re interested in doing for a living, there are a couple things to keep in mind in terms of picking the right program. “Find a program that teaches more than one language or stack,” Saito said. “Most companies have multiple stacks in play, or they may change languages at some point, but they still need everything to talk to each other. Other times, some technologies go out of favor, so you need to future proof yourself to learn more than one stack.” Because of the various industries at their various campuses around the country, Coding Dojo teaches different stacks in different regions depending upon what is being used at most companies in those regions. For example, at the Dallas campus, they teach three stacks - Python, Ruby on Rails, and MEAN stack.
But to go back to the initial question of should you forgo college to attend a coding boot camp, Saito said it depends upon the person. “If they know they want to be a software developer 100 percent, then a coding boot camp is a great way to go. But if you’re like a lot of young people that don’t know what they want to do just yet, the college is still viable option,” Saito said. “There’s no reason why you can’t do both.”