Is Miami the next big tech hub? Huge employers like Citrix, Chewy, and Spotify (which all have South Florida offices) seem to think so. And so does the GM of BrainStation Miami, Johanna Mikkola! Between the workforce development funding available to Miami residents and the support from Mayor Suarez, there are plenty of opportunities for future technologists in Florida. Johanna shares her tips to stand out in the Miami job market and what a bootcamp grad can expect from the Miami job search.
Have you seen the Miami tech job market change over the last 10 years?
Absolutely. Technology jobs in Miami-Dade have increased by 40% over the last 10 years, and we currently have some of the highest startup density in the nation – and it’s growing fast. The greater Miami area saw nearly $2 billion in funding for companies in the area in 2020, and 2021 is expected to break this record. In the last five years, we’ve seen a number of incubators and accelerators spring up, including LAB Ventures, TheVentureCity, and Social Venture Partners Miami. Now a number of top venture capitalists (VCs) from outside of Miami are taking notice and moving here, including Founders Fund, Atomic VC, and many others.
A study by LinkedIn showed that the Miami area had the largest inflow of tech workers of any market during the COVID time period – a trend that we see accelerating daily. Wynwood, where the BrainStation Miami campus is based, is where a lot of the companies that are moving here are based.
It helps to have support from the local government. Our mayor Francis Suarez is getting national praise for his focus on ‘future proofing’ the city and he’s really having an impact. He’s rightfully highlighting how Miami is the “capital of capital,” meaning we are poised for even more tech job market growth.
In addition to this, the community connection and growth - which is being fostered and developed by key organizations, like eMerge Americas, Knight Foundation, Endeavor, Center for Black Innovation, Aire Ventures, Tech Hub South Florida, and Refresh Miami (to name a few) are playing an important role in Miami’s growth.
Why do you think Miami is the next big tech hub in the US?
Miami has a number of advantages, starting with a large, diverse population, representing more than 100 countries and languages. In many ways, Miami today looks like how the rest of the US will look in 20 years – very multicultural, and it’s a huge asset to the city.
But on top of that, we also have a very solid talent pipeline, with two research universities and over 250 thousand college students. And we’re already a global business hub – we have the second most international banks and foreign consulates, and more than 1,000 multinational companies. Part of that is due to our diversity and openness, but it’s also because we have an extremely business-friendly culture in Miami, with no personal income tax and a low corporate tax.
We also can’t overlook our quality of life. Miami has great weather, beaches, over 800 parks, 50+ museums, four pro sports teams...It’s really a great place to live.
Is there an ideal type of person who would love the Miami tech scene?
Miami is a very dynamic city that's constantly changing and growing. It’s also a “work hard, play hard” place, and because of that, it tends to attract ambitious people with an entrepreneurial streak.
It’s no surprise to me that it’s become a startup hub, and I think if you have big dreams and the desire to put yourself to the test, you will love the Miami tech scene.
What types of tech companies call Miami home?
Traditionally, Miami has been very strong in finance, with one of the largest concentrations of international banks in the US. In fact, we’re often called the “Gateway to the Americas,” which speaks to our connection to Latin America. Because of that, Miami is the most important city in the country for Spanish-language media, and the city’s port and airport are tremendous sources of international trade.
Of course, tourism in Miami is a huge industry. Tourists flock to our city all year long, and this is set to rebound in a big way once COVID-restrictions are eased around the world.
Apart from these strongholds, South Florida has seen many successes in tech, especially areas like healthcare software and ecommerce. Citrix, for example, is a local software company that has over 10,000 employees around the world. Chewy is also based in South Florida, which before going public had the largest ecommerce exit in history.
Recently, we have welcomed some incredible companies to the 305. Blackstone, Globant, and Spotify have all opened Miami offices and are hiring technology workers in the hundreds. We’re thrilled to work with them among many companies here in South Florida. It is also exciting to see new entrants like Founders Fund, Atomic VC, and SoftBank’s $100 Million Miami Start-Up Fund all opening up in Miami.
What types of tech jobs and salaries can a bootcamp grad expect to land in Miami?
Much like the rest of the country, Web Developers and UX Designers are two of the most in-demand tech jobs in South Florida right now. And because of that, salaries are very competitive.
According to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average wage of a Miami-Dade software developer is more than $87,000 and according to Glassdoor, the average salary for a UX Designer in Miami is $79,415.
Do bootcamp students have access to workforce development dollars in Florida?
There are a number of government organizations getting involved in the tech space that are creating opportunities for students and organizations. For example, Career Source South Florida and Palm Beach County provide workforce development dollars to future coders. Organizations like the Beacon Council, and the Miami Downtown Development Authority help companies move to the region. In the past, we have also partnered with the Knight Foundation to offer the Future Leaders of Tech Scholarship. We expect more to develop as the tech space grows in the city and region, especially thanks to the work being done by Mayor Suarez.
BrainStation now has a campus in Miami (formerly Wyncode)! What kinds of connections does BrainStation have with the local tech community?
BrainStation Miami is building upon the foundation that Wyncode Academy created. We started Wyncode in 2014, and over the years established ourselves as the premier provider of digital skills training in the state, graduating nearly 1,000 Web Developers and UX/UI Designers working at over 500 companies. We are the first coding bootcamp to be licensed by the Florida Department of Education’s Commission for Independent Education and have won numerous awards.
Wyncode worked with organizations like the Knight Foundation and Microsoft to boost diversity in the Miami tech sector, forging pathways for countless underrepresented professionals into the digital economy. It’s awesome to see these students now leading technology teams and hiring more of our grads to join them!
How is BrainStation preparing bootcamp students for the job hunt in Miami? Who are the hiring partners?
The BrainStation Career Accelerator Program is a major component of all BrainStation bootcamps, providing ongoing career development and support, including resume writing, mock interviews, personal branding, and more. With this program, over 90% of BrainStation graduates find work within 6 months.
Part of this success is due to an industry-leading hiring network, which was bolstered by Wyncode’s established network in Miami. The talent network now has over 4,000 hiring partners, including Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, Square, Shopify, Paypal, Priceline, Asana, and Nike.
BrainStation bootcamps also provide numerous opportunities for students to interact with Miami employers, including guest lectures featuring leaders and executives from the most innovative companies, exclusive access to monthly thought leadership panels with experts at leading brands, and access to a global network and community (which now counts 100,000 professionals in over 90 countries around the world).
What is your advice for new bootcamp grads looking to stand out in the Miami hiring pool?
When applying for jobs, it’s important to showcase your skills, which is why our bootcamps are focused on giving students hands-on experience and the opportunity to create a portfolio of completed, real-world projects.
I would add that new bootcamp grads should also focus on personal branding – do you have a LinkedIn profile? An online portfolio? How are you presenting yourself in resumes and job applications?
And finally, you have to put yourself out there. Networking and connecting with people in the industry will open doors and help you stand out.
Networking is so essential in the job hunt! What in-person/online groups or meetups do you recommend for anyone trying to build their network in Miami?
I would suggest attending one of BrainStation’s industry-leading events, which include panel discussions and career sessions. The panel discussions, in particular, are great opportunities to connect with industry leaders and subject matter experts in data science, user experience design, digital marketing, and more.
What are your predictions for Miami’s tech scene in 2022?
It’s going to be another year of growth for the Miami tech scene, with increased startup funding and development. I also expect Miami to continue to attract attention from large national companies – in tech, finance and beyond – and to continue to lure the most talented professionals from around the world.
It’s an incredibly exciting time for the Miami tech scene and the sky is truly the limit. We have a lot going for us, plus the will and the talent to become a truly global tech hub. Come join us in the 305!
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