As The Tech Academy prepares to open a new campus in Austin, Texas, we sat down founders Jack & Erik to get the specifics. Read on to learn about the blended online coding bootcamp, why they’re excited to teach students in Austin, what companies are hiring developers in Austin, and what will stand out about the Austin Tech Academy campus in this rising tech hub.
As the co-founders of The Tech Academy, tell us what inspired you to start a coding bootcamp.
Jack: Erik and I had been friends for nearly a decade before the idea of forming a school came up. During that time, we had successfully completed several projects with each other. We spent a lot of time volunteering together to help the community and even did some fundraising for nonprofits. We noticed that every time we teamed up on a project, it went smoothly. We really complement each other – we both have backgrounds in teaching. I additionally brought years of experience in curriculum development and the myriad of skills it takes in running a business to the table. When Erik brought up the idea of starting a school, I was drawn to the idea of really being able to help others improve their lives.
Erik: The technical part of my life started young, when my dad brought home one of the early personal computers, opened it up and taught me all about how it worked. I was fascinated. All through high school I learned to program computers. Then, in the Navy, I learned even more - as a Nuclear Reactor Operator, I was responsible for the maintenance and repair of complex electronic equipment, including computers. I was also lucky enough to be selected as an instructor at a training facility, and I found out that I was good at it and I loved it. Later, during my career in technology after leaving the service, I found myself mentoring others and teaching whenever I could. So when I heard about this new breed of training called “coding bootcamps”, I knew I’d found my calling. Since I know my limitations, I turned to Jack for his expertise in establishing and growing businesses. We both shared the purpose of breaking down the barriers between people and technology, and we have found that the bootcamps are a great way to do that while giving people a lucrative and rewarding career.
Why is The Tech Academy choosing to expand in 2019 to cities like Austin?
We want to ensure that there are coding bootcamps available for everyone across the United States. We’re opening in cities like Austin, which have a strong tech demand/growth, yet aren’t already saturated with code schools.
We want to open as many new Tech Academies as possible to enable students across America to experience studying our programs in-person. While it’s true that our programs can be taken online in full from anywhere in the world, we’ve found that over half of students prefer to attend at a campus. We strive to provide the same quality of service to students regardless of how they choose to study.
Why is Austin a great city for a coding bootcamp?
We love the culture of the city. We both live in Portland and Austin is a “sister city” for us. One of the city mottos of Austin is “Keep Austin Weird.” If you’ve ever been to Portland, you’ve undoubtedly seen the occasional “Keep Portland Weird” bumper sticker or poster.
Austin is named as one of the top tech cities in the US on several “best tech city” lists. There is a strong demand for technology workers here and we want to help fulfill it. There are also branches of major tech companies here, including Facebook, Google, HP, and eBay. It’s an artistic city, with a strong tech presence and affordable cost of living – the perfect place for a new Tech Academy.
There are already a few coding schools in Austin. What will make your bootcamp stand out amongst the competition?
True, but compared to some major cities, there’s not much competition in Austin. The Tech Academy exists as an option for people who can’t commit to rigid study schedules. Our programs are scheduled around your life. Additionally, our curriculum is meant to open the door for the total beginner. That means that you don’t need to pass a coding exam or have past technical experience to enroll. Our flexibility and bottom-up approach sets us apart.
What is the Austin Tech Academy classroom like?
Our Austin campus opens January 7, 2019. It is 3,000 square feet, has plenty of classroom space, free parking and everything students need to get through their program.
We attempt to provide students with a distraction-free study environment. Therefore, our schools are not “shared spaces.” The classrooms are only used by Tech Academy students. We typically provide an eating area and other basic amenities. Plus, there’s always free coffee waiting for you at every campus.
What tracks or languages are you teaching at the Austin campus?
We are offering all of our boot camps at our Austin campus.
How many instructors and/or mentors do you have in Austin?
The student:instructor ratio works out to about ten students per instructor. We have two excellent Instructors for The Tech Academy Austin. One of them worked at The Tech Academy headquarters in Portland for over a year, so she knows our standards and how we operate. The other Instructor is currently training in Portland in preparation for the grand opening. Both are graduates of our Software Developer Boot Camp.
How many students can you teach at the Austin campus?
In the beginning, we will accommodate around 30. But in the near future, we hope to see 50 students attending.
Will the hours at the Austin campus be similar to other campuses?
Austin will be open weekdays in the beginning. We intend on being open evenings and weekends as well, soon after the grand opening. We allow students to choose their own study schedule. They purchase a certain amount of weeks of access to their bootcamp and we allow them to study whenever they want during that time.
How is the Austin campus similar or different to the other Tech Academy campuses?
We will attempt to decorate the campus to reflect Austin’s style but we maintain a consistency with all campuses. What this means is that Austin students will have the same quality of campus as all other Tech Academy students.
What types of companies are looking for junior developers in Austin?
There is a wide range of available tech jobs in Austin. A lot of the major tech companies hire talent through a staffing firm but there are openings at IBM, Facebook, Cisco Systems, even Walmart is hiring developers. On top of that, there are many small businesses and startups.
Graduates of The Tech Academy Austin can expect jobs as entry-level software developers. Most of our graduates stay in their city but our job placement staff will assist students in finding jobs wherever they choose.
What Austin meetups/resources would you recommend for a complete beginner who wants to learn about coding bootcamps?
Course Report is a great resource. Meetups.com is a great resource for locating meetups in Austin.
We are very excited to bring our latest Tech Academy to Austin. It’s a beautiful city with great people in it and we’re looking forward to helping fill the tech demand!