CEDAR RAPIDS — A new, local code school has hit two milestones having graduated its first class and with all three members finding full-time jobs within two months.
DeltaV Code School, a program by the New Bohemian Innovation Collaborative, started to help ramp up the number of Iowans who can fill thousands of open computer science jobs in the state. Instead of students going through a two- or four-year college program, DeltaV puts them through an intense 20-week series of courses.
“We’re only churning out a few hundred graduates every year out of our colleges and universities across the state. (We’re) helping to fill that need so that local companies can keep their development local rather than sending the jobs to another state where there’s the talent to fill that,” DeltaV instructor Jess Bertling said.
Keith Dahlby, also an instructor, said DeltaV wants to attract Iowans who want to change careers, but want to jump into the game now rather than wait a few years.
“They just want to get in, get some skills, and get out. One of our tagines is getting retrained in months, not years,” Dahlby said. “Five months from no coding experience to having a job is hard to beat in the two- to four-year market.”
DeltaV focuses its coursework on tools currently being used in companies, rather than overall theory, to help graduates match immediate employer needs, Bertling and Dahlby said.
“We can fill that need to get people job-ready, hop in, and contributing as opposed to having to go and relearn some of these tools that are in high demand,” Bertling said.
While only three graduates went through the full 20-week program, Dahlby and Bertling said the fact they all landed jobs — paying on average more than $58,000 a year — gives DeltaV good examples that it can make a dent.
One of those graduates was Jason Logan. United Fire Group hired Logan as an application developer trainee.
At 31, Logan said he wanted a career change into web development but needed something that would get him up to speed quickly.
“I needed something that I could get done and then get out in the career field as soon as possible. It’s really hard, once you hit 30 years old, to quit your job and take four years of college,” he said.
DeltaV was a “full-time job,” Logan said, but it let him work on projects that he could immediately see the result of, such as the Attackerator, a web application to roll dice and create character sheets used in the board game Dungeons & Dragons.
And, while the Attackerator is used for fun, Logan said the lessons learned building it translate into his current work at UFG.
“It doesn’t matter if I’m building an application to pay your insurance bill or roll a D & D dice, you have to be able to present the information in a way that the user can read,” Logan said. “You have to be able to have your inputs or buttons present in a way that a user can understand what they do.”
Moving forward, NewBoCo plans to expand DeltaV’s code school into other markets, such as Des Moines or rural communities.
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“I just hope we can crack the nut on how to convince people you should bet on yourself and see if this is right for you,” Dahlby said. “There are lots of great companies that need more software people, there are lots of great ideas that just need someone to take a chance and build them out. Software is a great way to do that.”
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