Coder Foundry is a training program that teaches three-month courses to a variety of skill levels and assists with finding students their dream tech jobs. We talk to Bobby & Lawrence about their background in technology, the difference between their Apprentice Class and Master Class, and why they choose to teach .NET to their cohorts of aspiring software developers.
What is your background in technology?
Bobby: I own a software development consulting firm, and part of the impetus for Coder Foundry was that we couldn’t find talent with the skills we were looking for. Lawrence runs a software company and had the same problem. Lawrence and I decided that if we couldn’t find them, we should start building them. That was the genesis: it was born out of our software development shops. We have a lot of experience building all these web-based applications, and now we want to train and place our own talent.
How did you get into software development?
Bobby: I’ve been in this industry for 20 years. Core Techs, is one of the software company behind Coder Foundry, has been in business since ’02. I came up in the 80’s, learning Cobalt. So everything I know today is self-taught, because they just weren’t teaching it in the 80’s, and they’re really still not teaching it in college.
How many cohorts have you done?
Bobby: We started this year. We have a Masters Class for people with amateur or professional level coding skills. That’s made up of CS degree graduates and experienced professionals who want to refresh their toolset. We also have a Beginners Class for people with little to no background in coding. For both of these classes, we have a full-time job services placement director that is lining up jobs for the graduates.
When does the next cohort start?
Bobby: September 29th, immediately after this class graduates.
How many students are in this first cohort?
Bobby: We have a total of 15 in this cohort. We already have people signed up for the next course.
Why do you teach .NET and think it’s the most important language to learn?
Bobby: When we looked at the skillsets we needed, it was C# or .NET development. When you look at the companies in corporate America, those are still the predominant languages. We’re teaching the language that we can place people into jobs with.
Do you have any students in your class who have indicated they would want to work at a startup?
Bobby: The great thing about languages is that once you’ve learned one, you can learn others. If you only know Ruby, your options are more limited. If you know C#, you can work for a startup or a corporate company.
We love seeing bootcamps pop up in smaller markets. Why did you choose North Carolina?
Bobby: We chose this location because this is where our technology based business are and we are part of this tech community. We’re placing students into Charlotte, a huge Financial Services market. A lot of those banks use .NET. We’re also central to Greensboro and Raleigh, where there are hundreds of organizations using and hiring .NET developers.
Are you seeing students come to Coder Foundry mainly from North Carolina?
Lawrence: It’s been a mix. Most have been from North Carolina in this first cohort, but we’ve also had students from Boston and California already. Our curriculum is unique and our guaranteed job placement makes sense to students that are looking to invest 3 months and need to know it is going to payoff for them.
Your school offers a job guarantee?
Lawrence: True. We offer guarantee for our master class. You get a job or your money back. Here’s how: The master class starts with students that have some experience and we are able to fast track them with our curriculum in 12 weeks to a place where we can place them in a dev position. The reason we can do this is we have a solid curriculum based on Microsoft centric skills. One of the most sought after skill sets in our region right now. We have an instructor that is a professional teacher from the university level, he has a passion for teaching and is excellent. And we have a full time job placement director that personally puts our graduates into positions that are the best fit for employee and employer. Right now on our job placement side we have jobs available. The demand is the current state of the industry, but we have built a method for delivering and developing qualified dev talent into the marketplace.
What does a typical day look like at Coder Foundry?
Bobby: The Master class is intense. It’s 8:30-5:30 every day. Our apprentice class is at night, from 6-9pm. In the Master class, we have short lectures in the morning (about 1.5 hours), and then TAs monitor and help the students write code. They have a lecture in the afternoon, and then finish the day coding. We have a staff of developers TA-ing and monitoring the class to help the teacher. At any time, they can talk to a ten-year veteran to help them get through something they’re not understanding.
How many of those mentors do you have in a master class?
Bobby: Up to 6. This current class we have is exceptionally smart.
In the apprentice class, who are the instructors there?
Bobby: Andrew Jensen is our college level professor. He has been teaching Computer Science at the state university level. Andrew and I both teach that class. We will have mentors come in for particular topics as well.
Are you both doing admissions work?
Bobby: Absolutely. We’re meeting with applicants in person or via skype, understanding the students and where they are and what they want to accomplish. That’s the way we’re set up. Our placement director starts working with students right away, so we can get them lined up for success at the end of the twelve weeks.
Is the interview technical?
Bobby: For the Masters class, yes, it’s technical. We don’t give them a coding challenge per se, but we’re asking questions about their background, what they know about databases and coding languages.
Do you expect that there will be attrition? Or is your goal to graduate everyone in the class?
Bobby: We have not had attrition yet. I think it’s fair to say there will be some attrition, after all that is part of life. But we expect everyone to graduate and we have invested in the teacher, process and curriculum so that every student is set up for the best outcome. We did a great job of interviewing the Masters coming in, because we had to make sure they were employable and could make it through the program.
Do you expect that someone who completes the Apprentice course will be ready for a technical job?
Bobby: We’re very clear upfront that if you take the Apprentice course, it’s going to depend on the student themselves. They have to put in a ton of time outside of class. If they do that, we can get them into a Junior Developer job.
What are you doing to help students prepare for job placement?
Lawrence: All of our classes, both Apprentice and Master, are based on projects. We run the classes like you were a developer- you have deadlines that you have to meet by each Monday. Every Monday, the students meet with me and go through their progress. It’s time-consuming but it allows them to practice interview skills and pitch their software. On top of that, we’re rewriting their resumes, updating their LinkedIn profiles, and giving them a place to post their published work after Coder Foundry.
Will you have a Hiring Day at the end of the course?
Lawrence: We’re taking it one step further and actually lining up interviews for our students with companies that are current hiring and have open positions looking to grow their IT shops. We are working with about 100 companies in North Carolina- I know North Carolina is not the biggest market, but right now, there are 1700 open .NET positions that can’t be filled on job sites in NC. We already have companies calling in asking for our students looking for .Net developers.
What’s next? Any plans to expand to new locations or languages?
Lawrence: It is affordable for students to take temporary housing for 12 weeks to take our class here, we have students from outside NC now that are attracted to the .Net curriculum. We do think .NET is the right platform for job placement. We have the ability to react and put new programs in place, but we like .NET because of the market demand.. I’ve been running a national software company for the last 7 years and we use .NET in every install. We have a huge need for .NET developers.