Jason Sewell is a Cofounder of Dev League, a coding bootcamp based in Honolulu, Hawaii. With personal experience running a bootcamp in a small tech market, Jason has great insight into the challenges and strengths in the industry. He and other bootcamp owners prove that students don't have to move to San Francisco or New York to get a solid education!
It’s no secret at this point that coding bootcamps work. All across the US, schools are popping up and successfully placing qualified graduates into the software development industry in a short amount of time. Obviously, this is a direct reflection of just how high demand for software developers are nation-wide. For many of the schools in major markets such as San Francisco, Chicago, New York and others, hiring companies are just a few foot steps away in a thriving tech economy.
Here in Hawaii, it’s a little bit of a different story. While the general perception of glorious weather and beautiful ocean views are accurate, and what we know and love in the place we call home, it’s also part of our economic struggle. It’s no secret that we are largely dependent on tourism, and global economic trends affect our quality of life in magnitudes. Industries that rely heavily on imported goods and materials also feel the burden to be price competitive when dealing with higher than average costs of doing business.
Many of our major industry verticals leave much to be desired in terms of salary ceilings and we also have one of the highest cost of living in the nation. It doesn’t take much to see the value and necessity of having a vibrant tech community here that minimizes some of these dependencies as well as entertaining higher paying industry and a highly skilled workforce of the future.
It’s not that establishing tech in Hawaii is a new trend necessarily but maybe a different approach. Many have tried to bring in talent from the mainland that just never commit long term to a place they don’t call home. Local institutions graduate a relatively small number of computer science and engineering students that generally lack the skillset for modern internet companies. We also face what’s commonly known as the “brain drain” where our best and brightest leave for the mainland for higher pay, often longing for the opportunity to come home later in life to take care of their parents and raise a family in the place they call home.
With demand for software developers the highest we’ve seen in many years we need to act now to create home grown talent in mass. To establish ourselves with a talent pool, we can feed the local startup community as it grows, and at the pace it demands. With the virtual workforce growing we now also have the ability to work in larger distributed teams across the globe.
At Dev League, we are trying to bridge this gap as quickly as possible. Our goal is to provide local workers and our youth with challenging opportunities to participate and compete for higher paying careers and rewarding opportunities here at home. If we are successful, this will contribute to an ecosystem to bring our local talent back home, and to take the next economic step into the sustainable future of our islands by teaching the language of the 21st century.