Kevin Harris is familiar with bootcamps – military bootcamps. He joined the US Navy aged 18, and 26 years later he’s created his own bootcamp. Unlike a military bootcamp, this one doesn’t require boots or a camouflage uniform. Instead Kevin is launching mobile development bootcamp Guild of Software Architects, an intense 12-week long course in Frisco, TX, with a focus on veterans.
It isn’t always easy for veterans to transition into civilian life. Even though many veterans are employed in technical jobs in the military, those highly specialized skills don’t necessarily translate into lucrative jobs in the civilian world. For many, a coding bootcamp can be the much-needed conduit that opens doors for the men and women who have served our country.
Here’s why veterans make good coders:
1. Veterans are familiar with training and discipline - When you have a short period of time to learn new operational systems and process a lot of information, training and discipline are an absolute requirement. When veterans first enter the military they are thrown into basic training, have to learn quickly and maintain serious discipline as they build a foundation of knowledge. Learning to program is similar as students are learning new computer languages in a fast-paced, intense environment.
2. Veterans are used to working and training under stressful conditions - Most coding bootcamp instructors won’t be screaming in a recruit’s face, as we’ve often seen in movies but coding bootcamps can still be intense. Like basic training, a coding bootcamp requires intense focus for hours a day in a highly structured environment. This prepares students for the extensive work they’ll be doing once they graduate.
3. Veterans know how to work in teams where there is a hierarchy of command - There is a clear distinction of rank in the military, and bootcamp is where it’s learned. When veterans enter the job market in the civilian world, they’ll know how to work with project managers, designers, content strategists, and all the people usually involved in a project.
4. Veterans have been trained to be self-starters and know how to learn on their own - There is no hand holding in the military. The most successful soldiers who move up in the ranks are those who take it upon themselves to study for promotions and make things happen. Those skills, to learn and study on your own easily translate to code bootcamps where mental toughness and focus is almost a requirement.
5. Veterans are used to hands-on learning - In the military, recruits learn as they go by doing what they are learning. That same principle is used in coding bootcamps and allows students to utilize the skills they are learning and consequently build a portfolio that can later be shown to prospective employers.
6. Veterans are detail oriented - A mistake in the military world can put lives in danger. Attention to detail is an absolute must and veterans know there could be severe consequences. While it might not be that dire in the programming world, one wrong step can render a program unusable.
7. Veterans might be better fit for coding bootcamps than a traditional four-year college program - Many veterans decided to join the military in lieu of going to college in the first place. A coding bootcamp offers a relatively short, intense course that teaches relevant skills for in-demand positions in software and mobile development in an eighth of the time for a third of the price. One way to think about the differences between a new graduate with a Computer Science degree and a software apprentice working on real projects, is to consider the the differences between an automotive engineer and a mechanic. While it would be nice if every mechanic hired by a car dealership was also an automotive engineer, this is hardly necessary. Even the most highly skilled mechanics at a dealership such as Porsche or Ferrari, do not have degrees in automotive engineering.
Post 9/11 veterans have unemployment rates that are consistently higher than the national average and higher than those of non-veterans, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Unfortunately, for many veterans it’s a common problem. The most recent statistics released by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics shows the unemployment rate for veterans has increased from 4.2 percent in November 2015 to 5.7 percent in December 2015.
And with high demand for software and mobile developers, traditional colleges and universities cannot keep up. Training veterans at coding bootcamps would solve both these problems - they can embark on well-paying, in-demand careers, and fill those much-needed roles.
With the help of NTEC, a business accelerator in Frisco, Kevin launched Guild of Software Architects, where he offers core code fundamentals, night classes, general mentorships, and a 12-week full-time mobile development coding bootcamp. Following the program graduates are qualified to work as a junior developers in the workforce. The Guild of Software Architects offers scholarships for veterans and their spouses to get 50% off tuition for the coding bootcamp.
Kevin hopes he can help veterans make the most of their leadership skills, determination and resilience, by teaching them a new skill that is in high demand. Bootcamp graduates leave the program with a portfolio to show prospective employers.
The armed forces teaches soldiers to, “Leave no man behind,” and with Guild/SA’s bootcamp, Kevin is certainly doing his part.
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