DigitalCrafts has been teaching developers for years, and they opened their new Tampa campus in July. We caught up with Operations Manager Jake Stodgel to hear more about the learning experience. Jake shares what sets DigitalCrafts apart from other Tampa bootcamps, and how DigitalCrafts’ hybrid learning experience is flexible enough to meet the needs of all types of students. Plus, Jake shares why learning to code in Tampa is an excellent career move (hint: it’s Florida’s largest tech hub!).
As the Operations Manager, how do you work with students, Jake?
As Operations Manager, I collect student feedback and help students prepare for class, get them ready for their job search, connect them to the Tampa tech community, and keep them informed of Tampa events.
I was attracted to work with DigitalCrafts once I saw their mission statement and their core values. DigitalCrafts has a mission to launch the careers of 10,000 builders. Nearly every business decision is made with DigitalCrafts’ core values in mind: being customer-obsessed, delivering high-quality everything, and defaulting to transparency.
To be honest, when I interviewed to be the Operations Manager, I thought all the people I interviewed with were drinking the corporate Kool-Aid. Now that I am almost one year into working at DigitalCrafts, I can safely say that the culture is genuine, thoughtful, and transparent. In addition to the experienced instructors, what sets DigitalCrafts apart is that everyone on the team follows our mission and core values from top to bottom.
What makes Tampa a great place to learn to code?
Tampa is the heart of the Gulf Coast's growing tech scene, so it's a great choice as the location for DigitalCrafts’ third campus. Tampa Bay is already Florida’s largest tech hub, representing 25% of Florida’s tech jobs, and CBRE's annual tech talent report named Tampa the No. 1 small tech market in North America (29th overall). Tampa also ranks #30 in the country when it comes to tech salaries, so our grads have a great opportunity to graduate and move on to careers with good salaries that will support themselves and their families.
As Tampa's tech scene grows and new startups come to the area, the need for skilled developers only increases. Our goal at DigitalCrafts is to support students with the education they need to launch their careers in tech here in Tampa.
What is the Tampa DigitalCrafts campus like?
Our home in Tampa is at Embarc Collective, an innovation hub focused on technology, innovation and entrepreneurship. Like Atlanta Tech Village in Atlanta and The Cannon in Houston, where our other campuses are located, Embarc is home to a number of startups and a collective of mature businesses in the Tampa Bay area. This means that our students will be able to learn in a community that’s part of the thriving tech scene and will also benefit from networking events.
The Embarc Collective is in downtown Tampa and sits between the financial district and the Channelside district, affording members the ability to get around the city easily. All members have access to a coffee shop, private meeting spaces, collaboration stations, snacks, a library and more. Students who are members will have a dedicated workspace with an adjustable sit-stand desk and external monitor.
What sets the Tampa campus apart from other bootcamps in the city?
There are many ways that DigitalCrafts stands apart from other bootcamps!
Due to COVID-19, the Tampa campus now offers a hybrid learning experience. What does that actually look like?
We launched our hybrid approach in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Most DigitalCrafts students learn online at home, but we understand that not everyone has an ideal setup. For those students, we offer a hybrid approach that combines the flexibility of online instruction with on-site community and teaching assistants in the classrooms.
There are no requirements for students to be in-person, but if they choose to come in, then they will have a dedicated quiet workspace and an additional monitor. Each dedicated desk is socially distanced and all desks have hand sanitizer and cleaning materials. In order to enter the building, members and their guests wear a mask and have their temperature taken.
What are the benefits of hybrid learning for Tampa students?
The great thing about hybrid learning is that it affords students the opportunity to choose where to learn. A student is able to learn from the comfort and safety of their own homes and/or come to one of DigitalCrafts’ physical locations in Tampa, Houston, and Atlanta. Thanks to the hybrid approach, students from across the country are now able to attend DigitalCrafts classes rather than being restricted to our physical locations.
Regardless of where they choose to learn, students can work collaboratively with their classmates, pair program, take part in algorithm practice, and attend our exclusive electives, which are deep dives on technical skills or presentations from hiring managers and developers.
How do students interact with others in the hybrid learning model?
Students can use tools like Slack and Zoom to communicate during class, and they also collaborate on group projects and pair programming. We also hold algorithm practice where students work and learn together, and students can take advantage of office hours and ask our TAs questions about what they’ve learned in class. Teaching assistants are available on-site as well as being present online.
It’s not all serious, though! We reach out in a variety of ways to engage with our students. We host virtual events such as trivia nights, hold DigitalDrafts social hours, or use platforms like icebreaker.io so our students get chances to interact with peers and talk about hot topics outside of class. We engage with our students by using Slack and put out polls asking life’s toughest questions, like “Do you wet the toothbrush before or after applying the toothpaste?”
Are students still able to interact with the Embarc Collective tech community during the hybrid learning experience?
Absolutely yes! Students are able to engage in virtual Embarc events and attend any in-person functions that happen. Students are regularly connecting with other Embarc members when grabbing a coffee, eating lunch, or sitting in any of the open collaboration areas.
Is the curriculum different for the Tampa campus?
Our Tampa students learn from the same proven curriculum that all of our students do. We’ve continued to hone our curriculum to teach the skills that employers are looking for, and now with our hybrid approach, students in Tampa get to learn with students from across the country.
How many students do you usually have in a cohort in Tampa?
We provide a 1:8 instructor:student ratio, with an instructor and teaching assistants. Our TAs have graduated from our program, so they know the kinds of challenges that students face.
How many hours per week should students expect to dedicate to the bootcamp?
Students in our full-time Immersive Program can expect to spend 35 hours in class each week, with an additional 5-10 hours devoted to study outside the classroom.
Students in our part-time Flex Program spend 10 hours in class, with 10-15 additional hours of study each week.
Thanks to the hybrid approach, students can choose how often they’re on campus.
Where can Tampa bootcamp graduates expect to be hired?
Tampa currently leads Miami, Orlando, Jacksonville, and Tallahassee with more than 52,000 available tech jobs. We’re excited to help our grads launch their tech careers through the efforts of our Student Success team and by connecting students with our Employer Network and ever-growing group of 100+ partner companies who hire our grads.
What local meetups would you recommend for a complete beginner who is beginning their tech career journey in Tampa?
Jess is the Content Manager for Course Report as well as a writer and poet. As a lifelong learner, Jess is passionate about education, and loves learning and sharing content about tech bootcamps. Jess received a M.F.A. in Writing from the University of New Hampshire, and now lives in Brooklyn, NY.
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