Announcing Career in Code’s Spring and Fall 2022 Cohorts

Hack Upstate
13 min readFeb 3, 2022

Careers in Code is a coding bootcamp that teaches computer programming to women and minorities to help combat poverty in Central NY. We provide students with the technical skills they need to obtain internships and entry level software development jobs with local employers after 24 weeks of instruction.

We are absolutely thrilled to announce that Hack Upstate will be launching two cohorts of Careers in Code in 2022!

Our third cohort will launch this Spring. This cohort is in partnership with Le Moyne College’s ERIE 21 initiative, CenterState CEO, the City of Syracuse, and the American Rescue Plan (ARPA) as part of the Syracuse Surge initiative. We are so excited to continue working with Le Moyne College and CenterState CEO with the mutual goal of helping students obtain jobs as software developers.

Our fourth cohort will launch this Fall. This cohort will be in partnership with the Alliance for Economic Inclusion and Onondaga County. We are extremely grateful for the opportunity to continue working with AEI and Onondaga County this year. We also plan to organize cohorts in 2023 and 2024.

We’re so incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to continue to work with our amazing partners in pursuit of training more software developers here in Central and Upstate NY.

The Problems

Hack Upstate’s Careers in Code aims to solve two problems.

First, poverty throughout Central New York is rising at an accelerated rate and stifling our region’s economic potential. Syracuse, NY is one of the most impoverished cities in the United States. In particular, there are few opportunities for women and minorities to advance in concentrated areas of extreme poverty. Equal access to educational and employment opportunities are simply not available to them.

Second, many Central New York employers are struggling to hire local software developers. Software developers are critical to their growth, but at this time our regional talent pool isn’t large enough to support their needs. Consequently, employers that want to hire locally are often left with no choice but to outsource their work to 3rd party consultants and contractors that operate outside of Central New York.

Additionally, COVID-19 continues to surge in Central and Upstate New York. Early data from the CDC, indicates that the pandemic continues to disproportionately affect communities of color in Syracuse and Onondaga county. According to a June report by PEACE inc., despite making up 9% of the New York state’s population outside New York City, Black residents accounted for 18% of new cases of the virus in the state.

Careers in Code

Hack Upstate’s Careers in Code will continue to teach computer programming to individuals to help fight poverty in Central New York. Our coding bootcamp will provide students with the technical skills they need to obtain internships and full-time software development jobs with local employers after 24 weeks of instruction. We help to create and provide access to opportunities for those in concentrated areas of extreme poverty, while providing local employers with a coding bootcamp service that will help them fill talent gaps and foster growth.

The number of coding bootcamp graduates has grown 10x since the first bootcamps launched in 2012. Today, coding bootcamps are a $350,000,000 industry and in 2020 will graduate approximately 25,000 developers. The coding bootcamp model has proven successful because bootcamps are a fraction of the price of a college degree and on average only take 14.3 weeks to complete. Most importantly, coding bootcamps have proven to be a pragmatic way to provide students with the software development skills they need to obtain programming jobs that satisfy current market demands.

Since 2019, we’ve successfully graduated 22 total individuals from our first and second cohorts.

According to the latest Coding Bootcamp Alumni Outcomes & Demographics Study, 79.3 percent of graduates were hired full-time in jobs that utilize the skills they acquired from their bootcamps. The graduates also reported an average salary increase of 49% or $21,000 compared to their salary before enrolling in their respective coding bootcamps. Low-income students from distressed communities in particular saw the largest increase in salary at an average rate of 128%.

According to a 2019 report from Hired.com, 57% of US tech hiring managers and recruiters said they would hire a coding bootcamp graduate for a tech role, only 7% said they would not. The biggest concern from employers regarding bootcamp participants is a lack of professional experience. However, for graduates of bootcamps with a focus on projects, combined with an interest in projects outside the bootcamp, this may not matter at all.

What We Offer

In order to minimize as many barriers as possible when it comes to fighting poverty, accepted students receive the following.

Full Tuition Scholarship

The average tuition per student for a coding bootcamp is $11,900. This does not include additional costs for equipment such as laptops or service fees like web hosting and 3rd party API usage. Those living at or below the poverty line are simply unable to take advantage of the opportunities a coding bootcamp provides given their expense. This is unfortunate given low-income students see the largest increase in salary upon graduating from a coding bootcamp.

We seek to offer scholarships to students who are admitted into both the Fall and Spring Careers in Code cohorts in 2022.

Loaner Laptops

We will provide loaner laptops for students if they require one. Students will return laptops upon the completion of the program. For our second cohort, we were fortunate enough to work with Working Solutions who helped to provide laptops for our graduates so they can continue their journey in software development. We intend to identify a partner who can pay for the cost of the laptops of the students for each cohort.

Spending Stipend

Students will have access to a spending stipend where they will be able to use funds to pay for anything they need to successfully complete the program. Each student will receive $1400 for their student stipend for our Spring cohort.

Student Success Representative

Our Student Success Representative supports the program by helping our students navigate and eliminate any potential barriers, challenges, hurdles, or problems they might have throughout the program. They’ve worked closely with our students to ensure their success and support them to the best of their ability. We’re determined to have every student that matriculates our program graduate in good standing.

Career Coach

Our Career Coaches help to support the program by ensuring that all of our students are prepared to enter their job search with confidence and competence. They’ll help students with everything involved in the job search process and prepare them to land an internship or entry-level software development position. This includes (but is certainly not limited to): LinkedIn consultations, building a personal brand, resumes, cover letters, job boards, interviews (behavioral and technical), mock interviews, and negotiating offers.

Community Involvement & Tech & Culture Network

Developing students’ skills outside of their technical abilities is an integral piece of Careers in Code. Students participated in networking events, local developer meetups, mock interviews, and were fortunate to be joined by 17 guest speakers. You can learn about our guest speakers here.

Tech and Culture is a CenterState CEO initiative, focused on the technology industry and is dedicated to community engagement efforts that promotes diversity and inclusion in tech. This initiative is funded by the JPMC AdvancingCities grant and aims to drive inclusion into the Syracuse Surge plan. Tech and Culture seeks to connect local and national professionals, entrepreneurs, and tech potential candidates to the work through innovative programming and events focused on diversity in the tech sectors. You can learn more on the Tech & Culture Facebook page and GoodLife CNY website.

Our Experience

Cohort 2 (2021)

Our second cohort of Careers in Code graduated on August 26, 2021. These determined students endured the pandemic to engage in our virtual classroom and ultimately graduate from Careers in Code. We’re so proud of our second cohort of students and are so pleased with their hard word throughout the duration of the program! So far, we’ve seen 4 out of 11 graduates of our second cohort gain employment with local employers like CenterState CEO, Kirkwork, the City of Syracuse, and Density.

Cohort 1 (2019)

In 2019, Hack Upstate launched Careers in Code in partnership with Onondaga County, the Alliance for Economic Inclusion (AEI), CenterState CEO, and The Technology Garden. The first cohort of Careers in Code has generated profoundly rich and life changing opportunities for eleven un- and underemployed women and minorities from our first cohort of students. Not only that, it has helped to offset the current talent shortage our region faces when it comes to hiring software developers and engineers.

Measuring Success and Outcomes

We will measure success based on the percentage of students who obtain software developer jobs with local employers following graduation and their corresponding increases in annual income. We have a system in place that we use to measure success. The most important metrics and objectives we are tracking include:

  • Metric #1: The percentage of students that complete the full 24 week coding bootcamp.
  • Metric #2: The percentage of students that obtain jobs and internships as software developers within 180 days of graduation.
  • Metric #3: The average compensation for students that receive jobs and internships as software developers within 180 days of graduation.
  • Metric #4: The average increase in annual salary for students who complete the full 24 week coding bootcamp within 180 days of graduation.

You can view the outcomes and success of our cohorts on our website here. We report data associated with placement, job creation, and wealth creation. Learning how to code can change your life. Hear from the graduates of Careers in Code on how it changed theirs.

Cohort 2 (2021)

For our second cohort, the percentage of students that have obtained jobs, internships, or consulting arrangements with local employers within 180 days of graduation is 4 out of 11 students with an overall salary increase of 82%. View our full outcomes report here.

You may also be interested in some of our student success stories:

Cohort 1 (2019)

For our first cohort, the percentage of students that have obtained jobs, internships, or consulting arrangements with local employers within 180 days of graduation is 8 out of 11 students with an overall salary increase of 104.10%. View our full outcomes report here.

You may also be interested in some of our student success stories:

CIRR Certification

CIRR (Council on Integrity in Results Reporting) is the industry standard for placement stats. We’re very proud to say that Careers in Code is a CIRR certified school. We offer fully transparent results and meet all of CIRR’s standards and are committed to publishing trustworthy graduate outcomes. You can learn more here and view our CIRR outcomes report from our first cohort here (our second cohort’s report is in progress).

Curriculum

We plan to continue to use our CNY-based custom, Careers in Code curriculum. To develop this curriculum we solicited feedback from local employers. Their feedback as well as their hiring needs were used to inform the curriculum’s content as well as its structure.

Our instructors first begin with content that introduces students to HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and then guide them through project assignments that are fueled by current market demands. We will continue to iterate upon and refine our curriculum each year and ensure it is tailored around the unique needs of our partners and local Central New York companies.

How it Will Work

We will provide up to 15 scholarships to students for our Spring cohort and up to 20 scholarships to students for our Fall cohort.

Our Spring cohort of Careers in Code will be a hybrid approach of both in-person and virtual instruction. Based on lessons learned from both fully in-person and fully virtual classes, we believe this will provide the best experience for the students. We plan to alternate in-person and virtual classes over the 24 weeks. We plan to have odd number weeks (1, 3, 5, 7…) be in-person, and even number weeks (2, 4, 8, 10…) operate in a virtual setting. We’re fortunate to partner with Commonspace to be able to provide venue space for our in-person classes.

Tools and Systems to Enable a Hybrid Cohort

There are a unique set of challenges operating in a hybrid setting that require tools and systems to operate in an effective manner.

Here are a couple tools and systems that we’re planning to implement for our hybrid cohort:

  • Zoom — Livestream all of our classes, which will then be published to YouTube (we also love what Around.co is doing in the virtual space).
  • Slack — Asynchronous text based communication between students, instructors, and staff. Slack also allows our students to communicate and collaborate with each other and instructors outside of the classroom.
  • Discord — Voice communication and breakout rooms.
  • Calendly — Facilitating 1–1 meeting times between students and instructors. Check out our mentors page!
  • Google Forms — Issue forms and surveys to instructors, students and teaching assistants

How to Apply

Applicant Criteria

Applicants for our Spring, 2022 cohort must meet the following criteria:

  • 18 years of age or older
  • Current resident of Syracuse
  • Be in a situation where the pandemic has affected your employment status

Applicants for our Fall, 2022 cohort must meet the following criteria:

  • 18 years of age or older
  • A minority and/or a woman
  • Living near or below the Census Bureau’s poverty line
  • Residing in Cayuga, Cortland, Madison, Oswego, or Onondaga County.

Admissions Process

You can review the admissions process that details how to apply and what to expect next. We will be actively reviewing applications submitted to us.

Click here to take the first step and submit your written application today for our Spring, 2022 cohort!

While we review applications, prospective students might find the following helpful:

We’d also encourage you to join the Hack Upstate slack and the Syracuse.io slack to connect with our awesome developer communities! Feel free to say hi when you join.

Get Involved

We’re seeking individuals to help support our Spring cohort!

Instructors

We’re seeking first-rate instructors to help support our Careers in Code bootcamp. They’ll help to teach our students the fundamental skills they’ll need to obtain internship and entry-level positions and be successful as a software developer.

For additional information on the role and how to apply, visit our website.

Teaching Assistants

We’re seeking motivated individuals (preferably with some teaching experience in the coding/computer science field) to assist with our Careers in Code coding bootcamp. Teaching assistants will help support our instructors, students, and the overall classroom.

For additional information on the role and how to apply, visit our website.

Employers and partners

Hiring capable software engineers that are local is really, really hard, but we’ve got you covered. We’re a tech talent pipeline for local organizations.

Here are some ways you get involved with us. We’d also really appreciate it if you’d submit our business partners survey for getting involved!

Guest speakers

Part of the Careers in Code initiative is not only to provide our students with the technical skills they need to become developers, but also to teach them the necessary soft skills needed in the professional world. We’ve found that the best way to expose them to such important topics is to bring in industry professionals who are passionate about sharing knowledge about their own experiences.

We are looking for folks to come talk to our students about important skills they should have upon graduation (soft and technical skills). These workshops include topics such as: interviewing (behavioral and technical), networking, social media, personal branding, people skills, getting involved in the tech community, open source, etc.

Sign up to speak to our students here! Once you sign up, we’ll be in touch in the coming weeks for you to schedule a slot to speak to our students.

Thank You

Since day one our mission has been to unite and facilitate collaboration among the greater Upstate New York technology community. To date, we’ve built a growing network of thousands of Upstate New York technologists and we have facilitated dozens of job placements. Launching Careers in Code in 2021 and 2019 has enabled us to take our efforts to the next level.

Careers in Code has generated profoundly rich and life changing opportunities for women and minorities from Central New York’s un- and underemployed. Not only that, it has helped to offset the current talent shortage our region faces when it comes to hiring software developers and engineers. We’re excited to train more software developers 2022.

We thank Syracuse Surge, Le Moyne College’s ERIE 21 Initiative, CenterStateCEO, the City of Syracuse, the Alliance for Economic Inclusion, Onondaga County, Commonspace, and the Hack Upstate community for this incredible opportunity. We’re confident Careers in Code will continue to move the needle when it comes to addressing poverty in our region.

We’d love to hear from our community to help inform the best virtual experience possible for our students. If you have any questions, thoughts, feedback, or ideas, please reach out to us at jesse@hackupstate.com.

What’s Next

  • We will to host an event with the community in the coming weeks to discuss feedback and lessons learned on the second cohort (i.e. successes and challenges) to inform the best hybrid cohort
  • Classes for the spring cohort will kick off in Mid-March (exact date TBD)
  • Classes for the Fall cohort is currently being determined

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