116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — When Melissa Silver applied to work at DeltaV Code School, there was something that stood out on her resume.
She had no previous experience with coding. She thought that might be a liability.
It wasn’t. it was an asset.
Silver joined DeltaV in April as the school’s new director of Student Services. Her role is to manage the complete student experience, from the moment they apply to the moment they graduate.
She’s there to answer questions, to help prepare them for job searches and interviews, and to make them feel supported.
It’s the kind of role for which Silver is suited. She may not have written code before, but she spent years helping people get connected with new job opportunities through Goodwill of the Heartland.
“When it comes to making a career change and doing something you hadn't thought you could ever do before — I knew that I could speak to potential students first hand about that. I get to be the bridge that links students to a whole new life,” she said.
NewBoCo Executive Director Aaron Horn says that as DeltaV officials stepped back and evaluated what was needed for the school’s future, Silver’s new role was something that quickly came up.
“Having somebody like Melissa, who can be committed to students throughout the process, really allows the instructors to focus on what happens in the classroom, while ensuring that the whole student experience is still being tended to,” Horn said. “This role has helped our students be ready on Day One.”
Forced to innovate
Silver’s arrival is just one example of the new face of DeltaV in 2022. Over the past year, the school has made new hires, launched new courses and even changed its way of handling classes day to day.
The coding school was founded in 2017, aiming to help solve Iowa’s severe technical workforce crisis. On average, there are 6,400 open programming jobs a month in Iowa, but state universities graduate only approximately 775 computer science majors a year.
DeltaV offers an intensive full-time coding curriculum that promises to turn inexperienced students into full-stack developers in just five months.
The program is aimed at both younger students seeking to launch their careers and older students who are looking for a fresh start.
“The pandemic gave us an opportunity to rethink things, and we’ve embraced that,” said Craig Barkley, code instructor for DeltaV.
“We have worked hard to be adaptable — not just when the pandemic forces us to be, but when it’s truly helpful for our students.”
Dan Tuuri, lead I.T. instructor, was brought on board in late 2020, when DeltaV saw a need to add to its course offerings beyond just coding.
Tuuri’s first course, a help desk curriculum, began shortly after. Unlike the Coding Bootcamp, the Help Desk curriculum — which trains students on computer repair and troubleshooting — offered programs that were as short as five weeks.
“Finding an opportunity to get people trained in just five weeks to start a career is something that really inspires me,” Tuuri says. “Some people need to get to work, and they need to get to work now. And that’s why the five-week curriculum for Help Desk made a lot of sense.”
In April, DeltaV added a cybersecurity curriculum. The first class, which is underway, is preparing students to help organizations prevent, detect and respond to cyberattacks and threats.
Both the Help Desk and cybersecurity curriculums bring guest speakers and corporate partners into the classroom to give students a real-world sense of what the job involves. DeltaV also has worked with local businesses such as Involta and ProCircular to give students early work experience and guidance.
“When students are hearing current info from our community partners, it carries a different weight than what they hear in the classroom,” Tuuri said. “When you have an employer sitting across from you in a classroom, telling you what the number one thing is that they look for in an employee, that really makes an impact.”
Changing class setup
Before the pandemic, all DeltaV classes met in person at 415 12th Ave SE in Cedar Rapids. Then the COVID-19 outbreak forced classes to go online through Zoom.
The change revealed some opportunities to the DeltaV team. Virtual classes meant students didn’t have to physically be in Cedar Rapids to take part, drastically increasing the school’s reach for potential recruits.
It also meant classes could be recorded and saved, so students could revisit a lecture or catch up on something they missed. One-on-one instruction and coaching also was possible in a virtual space.
Going forward, DeltaV now offers a hybrid setup of in-person instruction, but with the option to take part virtually.
“Iowa is our passion, and it doesn't have to just be the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City area,” Horn said. “I think this approach really allows us to grow and expand to other communities.”
Horn added the school aims to launch community partnership pilots in Mount Pleasant, Mason City and the Quad Cities.
Tuuri said he’s more interested in expanding reach rather than simply growing student numbers.
“I don’t think we need to be in a place where we’re delivering 600 students a year,” he said. “I think we have something special, where we get to know our students well, and having a small class size gives us an advantage.”
“I’m very careful to be clear to students that it's going to be challenging, and it's going to be something that pushes you,” Silver said.
“But you're also going to be able to, in less than six months, have a new career on the horizon. And that's pretty compelling.”
To learn more about DeltaV, go to deltavcodeschool.com.