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Katie Bouwkamp, Director of Communications and Partnerships at Coding Dojo, discusses their new campus in Dallas and why it’s a great place for a bootcamp. Named one of the Best Cities for Jobs by Forbes in 2015, Dallas is in dire need of tech talent. Coding Dojo hopes to prepare a new wave of developers for the growing Dallas tech scene.

 

The most obvious question- why did you choose to expand to Dallas? 

Dallas’ start-up and tech ecosystem are bursting at the seams. There’s been a steady rise in the number of startups, co-working spaces and meet-ups in Dallas, along with a tight-knit network of entrepreneurs. With that said, as the city evolves, so do its needs. Companies are ready to take off, but there’s a shortage of tech talent to fuel that growth. The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas recently released a survey, which found that the majority of companies in Dallas were having trouble finding qualified talent, and the main reason is a lack of technical skills. There aren’t a lot of Dallas coding bootcamps, so we definitely saw an opportunity to jump in and help fill this gap.

When we think of "cool," tech-oriented cities in Texas, I think of Austin- why is Dallas a great place for future developers to live and work?

There’s no doubt about it – Austin is definitely Dallas’ “edgier” younger sister. However, there’s lots of reasons to love Dallas and it’s already established as a force to be reckoned with. Most people don’t realize that Dallas is home to the third-largest concentration of Fortune 500 companies, and leads the nation with the largest year-over-year increase in employment. In fact, in 2013 Dallas officially because the fourth largest employment center in the U.S. behind NYC, LA and Chicago. At the end of the day, Dallas is a good place to be if you want to launch your career. As I already mentioned, there’s a great startup network in place, so if you’re an aspiring entrepreneur you’ll find an incredible support system, and tons of resources, to build and grow your vision.

What's the Dallas job market like?

The hardest positions for most Dallas companies to fill right now are software developer roles. And, there’s been an uptick in companies moving or starting up in Dallas, so you have big, established companies like Southwest Airlines and IBM competing with start-ups for talent. This is a good thing for developers since it really puts the power in their hands. It also means that developer roles are really going to vary – so lots of opportunities to blaze your own path based on your preference for industry/technologies.

What are a few of your favorite Dallas tech meetups? 

The next Dallas New Tech meetup, hosted by Launch DFW each month, is coming up on November 3rd. It’s a great event to attend since you get to learn about new and exciting companies and technologies, and also network with local tech companies. Launch DFW also hosts a rotating Happy Hour in Dallas, where you can stop by, have a drink and meet other people in the tech/startup community. There’s also more niche technology meetups in Dallas, ranging from Women Who Code to GeekMeet Dallas, which puts on happy hours and speaker events. Lots to choose from!

What type of background do the Dallas instructors have?

We’re currently interviewing potential Dallas instructors, so stay tuned!

Has the expansion to Dallas been different than, say, opening a campus in Seattle or LA?

In general, there have been a lot of “best practices” that we’ve learned from the openings of our previous campuses, so we know what to expect when expanding to Dallas.

Has Coding Dojo gone through accreditation in Texas?

We’re currently working with the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) as we prepare to open our Dallas location. We will continue to be in close contact with the TWC throughout the licensing application and review period, to ensure our new location is fully vetted and prepared to best serve the interests of our future Dallas students!

Have you noticed differences in the people who are applying for the Dallas campus?

Since we just opened the application process last week, it’s a bit too early to tell. I wouldn’t say that anyone would be over or under-qualified, however. It really comes down to why they choose to go through the program, rather than their skill level. As with all of our locations, including our Dallas coding bootcamp, we accept students from all different levels of experience, but you need to show a passion for coding and learning – and the ability to hunker down and work hard!

Who are your competitors in Dallas and Texas in general and how does Coding Dojo differentiate and stand out?

From what I can tell, there are three coding bootcamps in Dallas, and none of them offer a curriculum that matches what we teach in 14 weeks. For instance, Tech Talent South’s Code Immersion program focuses on Ruby on Rails, and DevMountain’s Web Dev track teaches JavaScript. Our biggest differentiator in the bootcamp industry, including Dallas, is that we teach three full stacks, since we firmly believe the best chance of getting a job (and having a successful, long-term career) is having a versatile tool belt of languages that you can pull from.

Interested in being in Coding Dojo Dallas’ first cohort? Sign up by 2/15 to receive their Early Bird Discount.

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