Since launching as a coding bootcamp in 2014, and winning local awards, the team at Wyncode in Miami has grown their offerings and now teaches 4 different courses – Web Development, Front-End Web Development, UX/UI Design Fundamentals, and Digital Marketing. But who is teaching these Miami technology courses, and how much will you be able to learn from them? We asked 5 Wyncode instructors to tell us about their varied backgrounds, experience, and teaching styles. Plus they share their top tips for anyone embarking on a technology bootcamp!
Ed Toro, Web Development Instructor
My Background: I’ve been coding since middle school when I took some classes in the BASIC language on an Apple II. Then I went to MIT and coded a bunch more. I’ve been working as a developer since I graduated in 2003 and I’ve worked at too many companies to remember. The closest thing to teaching experience I had before Wyncode is public speaking training as a high school debater.
Why I joined Wyncode: Wyncode was the first coding bootcamp in Miami. I was the first full-time employee here in 2014. I wanted to support them because I kept hearing local tech companies complaining about a lack of talent. I helped build the curriculum, I taught the first course, and I’m still here four years later! I enjoy helping people and building the local tech ecosystem.
My teaching style: A combination of Rachel Maddow and Neil deGrasse Tyson. I like to tell a story about the history or context of a topic, then get to the facts. My goal is for the storytelling to act as glue to hold the facts in student’s heads. For example, I might say, “Remember that story about the poop emoji? That’s what we’ve got here.” I like talking about why things work the way they do, not just how they work.
To me, student success means... hearing about people who were homeless or down-on-their-luck who turned their lives around, people with young children at home suddenly finding themselves better able to support their families, and people with low self-esteem who are surprised to learn that they now have a skill that puts them in-demand.
Future goals for coding bootcamps: I’d like to see bootcamps become part of a non-profit/taxpayer-supported job training program to help people displaced by automation. And to be part of an education pipeline which includes bootcamp-style learning, colleges, apprenticeships, and ends at full-time job placement.
My advice to students: You don’t need to memorize everything to be a good coder. You just need to know where to find the information you need, and how to use it when you find it. You also need to know more than your boss or client.
Gessica Tortolano, UX/UI Instructor
My Background: I began my career in UX when the discipline first began, in the late 90s. I’ve worked in advertising and at digital product agencies with clients such as Google, the NBA, Carnival Cruise Lines and more. While living and working in Miami, I was involved in community initiatives that included two coding summer camps at the University of Miami. That is when I knew I enjoyed teaching people how UX design is something they could make a career out of.
Why I joined Wyncode: My goal is to not just teach students, but to truly immerse them, create real-world problem solvers and world-class designers right here in Miami. This hands-on approach fits well with the values of Wyncode.
My teaching style: I enjoy when the students are feeling their best, when they are engaged, challenged and interested. I myself enjoy the creation process, so I want my students to feel the adrenaline of solving problems and creating beautiful and delightful interfaces.
To me, student success means: On the fifth day of cohort 1, one student said, “I think I'm really going to like this job”. This was a tremendous moment, I felt a great sense of accomplishment, not for myself, but for the student. I’ve introduced many to the world of UX who have found great satisfaction in their job. It’s an amazing feeling when students now have a role they are passionate about. It’s important to love what you do, I really love what I do so I want that for others.
My advice to students: Act as if this is your dream job, and you will do fine.
Auston Bunsen, Web Development Instructor
My Background: I’m self-taught, with no formal education. Before Wyncode, I worked as a Developer, Senior Developer, founder, and CTO for some years. As a developer, I learned the practical skills necessary on the job, and tripped over my own feet as I went along. When I came into more senior and executive positions, I had the opportunity to develop new talent by coaching and teaching them languages they didn’t quite know when I hired them.
Why I joined Wyncode: I thought that it would be an enriching experience to help people learning how to code get their first job. Wyncode was the first coding bootcamp in Miami, so I felt they probably had the most knowledge about running a bootcamp. Second, I knew that they had hired Ed Toro, who I think is one of the smartest people working in Miami!
My teaching style: I’d describe my teaching style as “interrogative.” I constantly probe my students for understanding and ask questions to make sure they are comprehending the content. Lecturing is fine, but I prefer the scheduled slots of time we have for hackathons – sessions where we challenge the students to use what they learned and build something in a one to two-hour span.
Future goals for coding bootcamps: I’m a huge fan of the work being done by organizations like CIRR in releasing job outcomes data, so I applaud their efforts. Also, I think there is probably a wave of blockchain and/or cryptocurrency bootcamps in the works!
My advice to students: Spend 1 to 2 months coding on your own, even if it's just 5 hours a week before attending ANY bootcamp. It will give you the opportunity to ask much more informed questions in class, stay ahead of the curve, and improve your knowledge faster than your peers. All of my best students have paid lots of attention in class, worked hard and learned from their mistakes.
Chet Bortz, Front End Development Instructor
My Background: I’m self-taught. I began to tinker with HTML and Flash at age 12, took courses on BASIC, C++, and Java, and taught myself Perl and PHP in high school. I studied graphic design and front-end implementation in college and have a degree in Digital Media. I’ve been a Ruby engineer for 8 years, I briefly worked with Python, and have written more PHP than I can remember. I have worked as a consultant, a CTO, and VP of Engineering, and currently work as a software engineer for a healthcare startup named Healthify.
Why I joined Wyncode: I’ve always loved helping others, especially with learning new things and accomplishing what was once considered impossible. I believe everyone can write software, and that everyone already understands the basics. I chose Wyncode because the team puts emphasis on people more than numbers. Auston Bunsen and I grew up together, and have worked together many times. His involvement with Wyncode piqued my interest.
My teaching style: In my experience, mastery was only ever achieved through lab and practice. I like to have my students at their keyboards solving problems, early and often. Having them working on projects in class also allows me more 1-on-1 time with each student. When a student is stuck on a problem, I never provide the solution outright. I want to unblock them to enable them to figure it out. This is usually in the form of Socratic questioning about the problem, the logical flow of the attempted solution, or an encountered error message.
To me, student success means: The greatest success is that my students gain the confidence to continue on their new journey, realize they’re not alone, feel comfortable reaching out, can formulate opinions about technology and think of ways to improve it. It makes me so happy to witness a student have an “Aha!” moment in class, realizing they can apply what they just learned to an existing problem.
Future goals for the coding bootcamp model: I want to see more programs for youth in small towns, and I’m happy to help!
My advice to students: This isn’t a game of memorization. Ask questions early. Ask questions often. Focus on the concepts over the syntax, and you’ll set yourself up for success far beyond my class.
Mike Schott, Digital Marketing Instructor
My Background: I learned my digital marketing skills through reading, mentorship, being hands-on, asking questions and saying yes to everything thrown at me in my career. I’ve been doing digital marketing for 15 years in all types of environments ranging from corporate America, agency, and start-ups. I’ve worked with monthly budgets ranging from $500 to $1 million per month and have covered a wide range of strategies including direct response and branding.
Why I joined Wyncode: I love people and adding value to others. Giving back and impacting people’s lives is my “why.” The main reason I love teaching at Wyncode is because of the people it attracts. The culture that co-founders Juha and Jo have created for the employees and students is amazing and aligns with my own.
My teaching style: I’m an experiential teacher. I pair lectures with hands-on, step-by-step demonstrations. As part of my classes, I have the students craft their strategies and implement in a live environment. During the lecture I encourage students to stop me and ask questions, I hate rambling on without keeping the class interactive.
To me, student success means: Many students have had different types of success during and after my courses. Some have started their own marketing businesses, some increased their leads and revenue to the point they’ve fired their agency, and others have found jobs. One of my best cases were two students from the same cohort who started their own ad agency!
Future goals for the bootcamp model: I would like to see the bootcamp model grow in the subjects that are offered. I believe there is still a huge gap in the market for this type of education with other subjects. Where else can you learn coding, digital marketing, UX/UI in just a few weeks? The fact is that if you go to a regular university you would have to wait four years to test your skills in the market.
My advice to students: Get your hands dirty! My most successful students are the ones who, immediately after a lecture, implement the strategies and tactics and then come back with hundreds of questions. I love it when they ask questions non-stop!