The New Hot Source for Techies: Coding Schools

The New Hot Source for Techies: Coding Schools

It’s official: when The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, LinkedIn, and Lifehacker/Australia are all extolling the virtues of Code-School Boot Camps, there’s got to be something to it. In Monday’s Journal, Christopher Mims introduced us to TD’s recent boot camp hire, Heron Ziegel. Digging deeper on LinkedIn, Heron had already displayed a number of “go-getter” traits: completing her last two years of high school while enrolled in community college, being a junior at Virginia Commonwealth University, and a freelance graphic designer for five years – all by age 23. But it wasn’t enough; that’s when she enrolled in Zip Code Wilmington, where she learned JavaScript, Java, Git, HTML and CSS, and “how to problem solve in test-based coding, and team-based development.” Combining her new-found skills with her already proven chutzpah, 24-year-old Heron is now an AVP/IT Data Analyst at TD Bank. As she shared with Mims, “I can honestly say that six months ago I had no idea I would be in this industry.” But, it’s a safe bet she knew she didn’t want to continue being a struggling artist. Heron isn’t unique among the nearly 18,000 students who graduated last year from 91 full-time boot camps, now in 71 cities throughout the U.S. According to Fortune, women make up an average 40% of graduates.

Another boot camp grad is Siena Aguayo, who graduated from Oberlin College with a Bachelor’s in East Asian Studies and English, in 2010, and from the all-women Hackbright Academy in 2013. (San Francisco-based Hackbright runs a “10-week accelerated software development program designed to help women become awesome programmers.”) Siena was quoted in Lifehacker/Australia’s feature on code schools, saying: “Once I started working [at Indiegogo], I was put on our iOS team, which was a stack I had no experience with (iOS is programmed in Objective-C and Hackbright had taught me Python, and programming mobile apps has a different set of challenges than programming for the web). But, I had proved that I could learn a ton in 10 weeks and was prepared to do it again – I was part of the team that shipped our first iOS app in July . . . and then dove right in to do it again for Android, which shipped in December. I’m now working on our web site, writing mostly Angular and Rails, so I’ve basically completely changed my tech stack every six months. There’s only so much you can learn in a 10-week boot camp, but the important thing is that you prove you can pick up new technologies quickly, which is an essential skill for a software engineer, since the landscape changes all the time.”


Some boot camps are as tough to get into as a top-tier college. For example, Zip Code Wilmington, from which Heron graduated, has a 12% acceptance rate – but charges about 5% of a name-brand university’s tuition (at around $11,450). For tech employers bemoaning the current dearth of motivated millennials available to fill their vacancies, code school alumni placement offices may be a great place to start trolling for aspiring programmers who’ve already proven that they’re motivated, adaptive, and self-starters.