Announcing Careers in Code’s Second Cohort in Partnership With Le Moyne College’s ERIE 21 and CenterState CEO

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 wanted to take a moment to share an exciting update regarding Careers in Code.

In February 2020, we were awarded an additional three years of funding from Onondaga County and the Alliance for Economic Inclusion. However, due to COVID-19, our funding from New York State and the AEI has been put on hold.

That being said, we’ve been able to identify a funding mechanism for our second cohort.

We’re excited to announce we’re moving forward with a virtual cohort of Careers in Code in partnership with Le Moyne’s ERIE 21 initiative and CenterState CEO! We look forward to training more software engineers in an effort to combat poverty in CNY.

The Problem

Poverty throughout Central New York is rising at an accelerated rate and stifling our region’s economic potential. In 2018, Syracuse NY was named one of the top ten most impoverished cities across all of the U.S. 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.

At the same time, 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.

Careers in Code

Careers in Code provides students fighting poverty with the technical skills they need to obtain internships and entry level software development jobs with local and remote employers after 24 weeks of instruction. At the same time, we help grow the regional software engineering talent pool.

The number of coding bootcamp graduates has grown 10x since the first bootcamps launched in 2012. Today, coding bootcamps are a $240,000,000 industry and in 2018 they graduated approximately 20,000 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. We saw this first hand with the first 11 students that graduated from the Careers in Code bootcamp in 2019.

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%.

What We Offer to Students To Decrease Barriers to Entry

In order to minimize as many barriers as possible when it comes to fighting poverty, accepted students received full tuition scholarships, laptops, coworking space memberships, student stipends, and we were fortunate to hire a student success representative to help students navigate barriers and hurdles they faced during the program. You can learn more about how we decrease the barriers to education here.

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 up to 20 students who are admitted into the Careers in Code program in 2021.

Macbook Laptop

The women and minority applicants accepted into the first cohort were issued personal laptops free of charge that were purchased as a part of our grant funding. These consisted of brand new 2017 MacBook Pros that were given to students during the kickoff ceremony. As long as the individual successfully completed the program and satisfied curriculum criteria, they were able to keep their laptops moving forward.

Syracuse CoWorks Membership

Careers in Code purchased standard, 24/7 coworking memberships for each student. This provided students with a friendly work environment with Internet access, electricity, snacks, and most importantly, opportunities to network with other software developers and employers who are members. Additionally, one in every four homes in Syracuse do not have internet access (syracuse.com). We’re fortunate to have Syracuse CoWorks as an amazing partner in helping to provide space for our students.

Spending Stipend

Each student was given a spending stipend that could be used throughout the program.

Non Professional Development

Developing students’ skills outside of their technical abilities was 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 more here.

Experience with Our First Cohort

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 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 first cohort here:

  • A two pager outcomes report.
  • Our full Student Outcomes Report. We reported data associated with placement, job creation, and wealth creation. We’re proud to report that the percentage of students that have obtained jobs, internships, or consulting arrangements with local employers within 180 days of graduation is 7 out of 11 students with an overall salary increase of 55%.
  • Transparency Report. Information and reflection on our objectives, successes, lessons learned, and shortcomings based on the feedback we’ve received
  • Graduate success stories
  • Learning how to code can change your life. Hear from the graduates of Careers in Code on how it changed theirs.

CIRR Certification

Over the past few months, we have been exploring a partnership with CIRR. 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 here.

Curriculum

For our first cohort, we created a custom curriculum by soliciting feedback from local employers and instructors. 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 introduced students to HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and then guided 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

In partnership with CenterState CEO and Le Moyne College’s ERIE 21 initiative, Hack Upstate will continue to move forward with our Careers in Code bootcamp in a virtual setting.

We will provide scholarships to up to 20 women and minorities residing in Central New York who are living near or below the Census Bureau’s poverty line, so they can matriculate the bootcamp at a fraction of the cost. 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.

Careers in Code will continue to create career pathways in software development for women and minorities from distressed communities by providing them with real world technical skills required by local employers. We will 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.

According to a 2017 report from Indeed, 80% of US tech hiring managers and recruiters said they have hired a coding bootcamp graduate for a tech role — and 99.8% said they would do so again. Of the 1,000 people surveyed, 72% said they consider bootcamp graduates to be just as prepared and likely to perform at as high a level as computer science graduates. 12% said they think bootcamp graduates are more prepared and more likely to succeed.

Virtual Cohort — Same Training, New Format

Due to COVID-19 and the safety of our community as our top priority, we’re excited to announce that our second cohort of Careers in Code will operate in a remote-first, virtual format. We will focus on delivering the same quality of education from our first-rate instructors in a new format to accommodate these ever changing times.

First Cohort Remote Experience

https://twitter.com/hackupstate/status/1122992973279526912

During our first cohort, we had one of our instructors join us from New York City, Jake Beard. The intention was for him to come to Syracuse to teach classes, but unfortunately he was unable to make the trip. We wanted to do whatever we could to get him on board. So, we tested our first remote week.

Not only did this allow us to test the remote capability of our program, but it also provided students with a look at what a fully-distributed bootcamp might look like. The feedback we received was quite positive:

“It’s cool that we’re doing class remotely. As an ‘in-person’ kind of person, it works really well, almost like the teacher is in the room with us.”

“It went well. Jake is very receptive to comments about how to make his lectures more accessible, and I got a lot out of the exercises we worked through together.”

The instructor, Jake Beard, said, “The technology worked pretty much perfectly. There was a lot of discussion, very good questions, useful feedback, and interaction on the group exercises.”

Following our remote week, our students would sometimes join classes remotely using Zoom if they were unable to attend in person. This proved to be a successful model as students had additional flexibility of their learning.

You can read the full blog post to learn more about our remote week here.

Tools and Systems to Enable a Remote Cohort

We recognize there are a unique set of challenges operating in a virtual 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 Virtual cohort:

  • Zoom — Livestream all of our classes, which will then be published to YouTube.
  • 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.
  • Repl.it — Real-time collaborative programming and code editing.
  • Visual Studio Code Live Share — A code editor that enables real-time collaborative development.
  • Calendly — Facilitating 1–1 meeting times between students and instructors.
  • Google Forms — Issue forms and surveys to instructors, students and teaching assistants
  • Careers in Code Portal — A link directory that provides information and resources to students, instructors, and teaching assistants involved in Careers in Code.

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 comprised of thousands of Upstate New York technologists and we have facilitated dozens of job placements. Launching Careers in Code in the spring of 2019 has enabled us to take our efforts to the next level.

Careers in Code has already 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 up to 20 individuals in 2021.

We thank Le Moyne College’s ERIE 21 Initiative, CenterStateCEO, our partners, 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

Advancing Upstate New York's tech community through events and education. http://hackupstate.com/ && https://careersincode.org/