When did the campus open and how’s it going so far?
We officially opened on November 21st. It’s really great, we’ve got students enrolled in the courses and having a good time.
What’s your background and how did you get involved with the bootcamp? What drew you to want to work with Coder Camps?
I’ve been in IT for about 20 years. I’ve worked for companies like AT&T, Apple, and HP. More recently I was the lead software developer at Godaddy.com. After that I joined a local marketing company and became the CTO there. Then I got a job with AAA, the automobile company. I contracted there for a while, and when that ended I was trying to figure out what my next move would be. I really enjoyed the coaching and mentoring part of being a manager. I had lunch with a friend and I was telling her that my ideal job is teaching people what I know. I’ve been doing this so long, and I’m at a point where I want to pass on my knowledge. I didn’t think a job existed that would do this. Then a recruiter reached out to me and told me about this Coder Camps role, and asked if I was interested.
Did you move to Phoenix for this role?
No, I moved to Phoenix for a previous role. I’ve worked in Silicon Valley, Sacramento, and Portland, Oregon.
What’s your role at Coder Camps?
I’m the Director of Education. I’m in charge of the teachers, the TAs, and the curriculum, for all campuses. All of our curriculum is identical for each campus. Depending on the industry we may change specific details of the curriculum.
What is the Coder Camps Phoenix campus like?
We have a couple of classrooms. We have a room which is really big, and broken up into different parts. When students do their group projects, they have whiteboards and tables in an open work environment so they can collaborate, work together, and get the feeling of working in an office environment. So many IT companies have an open floor plan, with lower cubicles or just tables people are sitting at. So our layout is designed to help them get adjusted to that sort of environment early on. We might be working, and someone might be playing ping pong down the hall.
We have a really nice facility. Of all the bootcamps I’ve been to, this is by far the nicest. We have some great tables and setups, we’ve got a pool table, and Xbox. We have a common room where students hang out at lunch and talk to each other. Even after hours students are in there talking. We have all the amenities an office would have.
What neighborhood is it in?
It’s in Scottsdale. It’s northeast Phoenix, and it’s a very nice neighborhood. You can safely walk around near the campus.
How many students can you accommodate? How many students do have in a cohort?
Currently we have 24 students, but we can accommodate 60 students, and we are expanding.
What tracks or languages are you teaching at the campus? Why did you choose those and are they particularly popular or relevant in the city?
Java and .NET are the two primary technologies across states. In Silicon valley you’ll get a lot more newer tech like Golang or Ruby on Rails, in the startup culture. That’s true in many cities, because startups favor the open source technologies, but if you look at enterprise companies they are all using either .NET or Java.
What kind of differences or changes did you need to make to the curriculum to accommodate the Phoenix market?
How many instructors and/or mentors do you have in Phoenix?
What kind of hours do students put in?
The class day is eight hours a day, but there is homework and projects students have to work on. A lot of times students will stay here late, and put in more hours. Then there are other days when students may not have so much to do. Occasionally students come in on Saturdays as well. It’s very immersive, very deep, and very much simulates what an office would be like.
How is the Phoenix campus similar or different to the other Coder Camps campuses in Seattle and Houston?
Part of our philosophy is that all of them are the same, I don’t want a student in Houston to say “I didn’t get the same experience as a student in Phoenix.” All of them have the same amount of classrooms, the same number of instructors, the same curriculum, and we want to foster that idea as we go forward, that everyone has the same experience.
Why is Phoenix a great place for a coding bootcamp?
Phoenix is one of the big tech communities in the nation right now. We have electric cars being built here, and a lot of Silicon Valley-based companies starting to build here in Phoenix. We have better tax rates here, so a lot of companies have an incentive for moving here instead of being in California. I think Phoenix has a 2% unemployment rate for developers. There are more developer jobs than there are developers to fill them.
There are a couple of other coding bootcamps in Phoenix. What will make your bootcamp stand out amongst the competition?
Part of our program includes a six-week group project. There is project management, where each student takes a role, and they have to be able to explain the project at the end. Those are pretty complicated projects with everything from authentication to file uploads. So students who have really great projects when they graduate, can show them off to companies as they apply for jobs. Programmers at their core solve problems and that’s the hardest thing to teach. How do you teach someone to solve a problem, and then use a tool? If I know how to drill a hole, or hammer a nail, it doesn’t matter what brand of hammer or drill, I will know how to use it. We teach students how to drill a hole, regardless of the technology.
What sort of jobs are you expecting graduates to get in Phoenix?
We’re starting to work with some companies here. In our other cities students have been hired at Fortune 500 companies, universities, hospitals, and in pretty much every industry that is hiring developers. We’re going to continue that here. There are a lot of job openings here, and we help with placement. We have recruiters on staff who actually work with companies to get our students hired. We have a lot of big companies here who are always looking for people.
What sort of companies are hiring in Phoenix?
Every major insurance agency is here in the valley, and all of them are hiring. They look at recent grads, mid-level, junior, and senior. We have Tuft & Needle, an online mattress company here. Plus a lot of e-commerce companies that hire junior developers.
Since the job market is so customer service-based in Phoenix, would students be applying for jobs in support engineer-type roles?
Godaddy has three call service agent centers here, and tiers of that. Some of those centers are hosting support, some of them are WordPress support – jobs where programming skills will definitely be useful, yes.
Do you have hiring partners in Phoenix?
We’re working on that now. The plan is if we partner with a Fortune 500 company, and we say, “what do you specifically want our candidates to have,” we can try to work out a customized program. We can put students through a specific curriculum to address the needs of that specific company, and they can then go straight into a junior role at that company.
Will it mainly be junior developer roles that your grads will be applying for, or are there other roles they would be qualified for?
Right now we’re focusing on the junior developer type role. It’s really hard to get into mid- or senior-level roles after a bootcamp. There are other roles for different tiers of technical support, and roles within marketing organizations, which use a lot of programmers. You may go in and not be considered a junior developer, but a developer.
We are looking at expanding our curriculum to cover other industries as well. Programming is our primary. There are definitely opportunities for things like DevOps and so on. A lot of companies have taken on continuous integration and have a DevOps-type feel. They hire devs to code those tools out, and the deployment process becomes a lot easier.
What Phoenix meetups would you recommend for a complete beginner who wants to learn about Coder Camps or coding in general?
If you’re interested you can come check out our campus Monday through Friday 8am to 5pm. We have campus advisors who can help prospective students out, give us a call, or check out our website.