General Assembly teaches technology, business, data, and design in cities across the U.S. and abroad. Their newly-announced, fifteenth (15!) campus will open in the LoDo neighborhood of Denver, Colorado. We caught up with Anna Lindow, the GM of Campus Education, to hear all about GA’s expansion to the Mile High City and what will set them apart in the growing Colorado tech hub.
This is General Assembly’s fifteenth campus! What was the motivation to open a campus in Denver?
Denver has been on our list of potential cities for quite a while. We felt that the demographics, the growth of the tech scene and the expansion of the business community make now the perfect time to launch in Denver.
The Denver community has parallels to other markets where we’ve seen success. So we feel like all the indicators are there in terms of companies that are hiring, real estate development, business expansion etc.
We also saw demand from students and were getting asked, “When will you open in Denver?”
There are actually quite a few coding bootcamps in Denver- what will make General Assembly stand out in that landscape?
We’re proud of the GA approach, and we’ll take the same approach in Denver to really try to understand the needs of the community as we develop. That means everything from using feedback from hiring partners to help build our curriculum, to offering programs that really meet the needs of the Denver community, which we expect to grow and change and evolve over time. We have the benefit of having a broad suite of courses and products that we can leverage depending on what the needs of our market are.
We’re so thrilled to be creating a presence in Denver but we also believe that it’s important and valuable to our students, instructors and our team that we have a global presence and that people can take a course in one market and then seek employment in another. In fact, our first team members on the ground in Denver will be transferring from other GA campuses; there was a ton of excitement to move to the Denver campus.
Our passion for the Denver market is really there on all levels, but it’s exciting to be part of a global network and we’re pleased to be able to bring that to Denver.
What types of companies are hiring in Denver right now? Are they enterprise-level companies or a lot of startups?
Whenever we look at a large market, we first look at the number of large companies because those are really the types of employers that hire entry-level employees. Obviously, Denver is a hotbed for startups so it’s a super interesting mix. I believe there are 20 Fortune 1000 companies in Colorado. Those are companies that are definitely going to be growing their talent force on an ongoing basis. As the tech scene continues to grow, that’s where GA is going to really support it on a talent side as well.
In any market, we’re having ongoing conversations with the community- large companies, small companies, hiring/outsourcing firms- to fully understand supply and demand dynamics.
We don’t follow the model of being paid by companies that hire our graduates. What we really like to focus on is what’s right for a student’s career. We do see students choose to go the Fortune 1000 route (we’ve had students at TD Ameritrade and Facebook), but students also choose small to midsize companies as well. That’s what is so exciting about the growing startup scene in Denver and in the larger Colorado region.
This campus is opening in WeWork Denver. Have you housed other campuses in WeWorks?
We have! In Boston, Austin and in Seattle.
Why work with WeWork in Denver? What are the perks of being in a WeWork environment?
Opening a classroom in WeWork allows us to provide a more holistic ecosystem for students as they’re getting started. If you open one classroom, you might not necessarily have large event spaces or as many built-in amenities, so it’s really fantastic to be able to offer the We Work amenities.
Perhaps more importantly, it allows our students to be plugged into that community right away. We’re so thrilled to be launching in LoDo. It’s a fantastic neighborhood and we’re thrilled to be launching with WeWork in Denver because it’ll allow us to combine forces and be even stronger in hitting the market and supporting our students.
When do the first GA Denver courses start?
Workshops like Getting Started With WordPress and Introduction to Google Analytics start February, then our longform courses, starting with part-time courses like Front-End Web Development in May and then our full-time Web Development Immersive starts in June.
How did you decide which classes would get to launch first when you open in Denver?
There’s some variability market to market, but Front-End Web Development, UX Design and Web Development are bread and butter courses for us, given the global demand for these skills. We’re pleased to be able to launch stand-bys that we know all of our students are looking for. As we learn more about the market and get more information about where the demand is, we’ll be able to respond to that and decide what to go with next.
The Web Development Immersive is very popular and it’s extremely relevant but we definitely have seen consistently increasing demand for UX Design Immersive. Our first two Android Immersive courses are sold out as well.
Who will be leading the Denver GA campus and who will be teaching those courses?
The campus will be led by Brooke Smith, one of our extremely talented internal leaders who was most recently running our programs in New York. We’re super thrilled that she’s made the move to Denver.
Brooke will be spending a lot of time helping people understand the opportunities that teaching provides and starting to build that network of instructors. We use a philosophy and strategy where we work with practitioners to become teachers. It’s our job to empower them to become great educators. That’s what we will continue to do and the approach that we will take in Denver. We’re really excited to get to meet the leaders of the community and help turn them into great teachers.
What types of time and resources go into training instructors?
Great instruction is just like any skill set that takes time to develop. We often give the analogy of riding a bike where you really have to learn it by doing it. It’s actually really analogous in a lot of ways to the journeys that our students go on when they’re learning skills through doing them.
We really focus on finding people who have the orientation to give back to the community, who have the desire to help others, who have that coaching and development mentality, and then we help empower them with the skills to be great in the classroom. That definitely involves coaching, an observation and feedback-driven approach.
Do you try to have one head instructor and TAs in the classroom?
We do like to keep our ratios of instructional team to students in the 6-8:1 range, depending on the course. Also, depending on the subject matter, we like to experiment with different ways that will help us to serve students best. That could be co-instruction and we certainly do employ the concept of TAs.
We’ll look forward to meeting the first GA Denver graduates soon! Anything else you’d like to share?
Just that we’re excited to bring what we do globally to Denver!