High-tech software and services employment grew 18 percent in Indianapolis from 2012 to 2014 according to CBRE Research. Recently, Salesforce announced that it will add 800 jobs to the market by 2021. On top of that, in the last 90 days alone, 165 junior-level developer positions have opened in Indianapolis.
The good news is that Indianapolis has once again proven that it is a tech hub to be reckoned with — even Forbes has taken the hint. But, as the city continues to grow and companies continue to invest and expand their presence, the demand for tech workers will also continue to outpace supply. Our city is challenged with building up a strong local tech workforce — fast.
Immersive code school boot camps are a solution that can make a real impact in Indianapolis by producing skilled, high-potential tech talent at an accelerated pace — a win-win for a market that needs to quickly hire junior-level developers. In the tech world, non-traditional education programs like boot camps are increasing in popularity. Not only do these schools offer intensive training that equips graduates with the skills to work as junior-level developers, they do so in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost of traditional four-year universities.
At The Iron Yard, one of two in-person code school operations in Indianapolis, students learn the technical skills they need to be employable as junior-level developers in a three month immersive program and build a foundation they can use to launch lifelong careers in technology.
In addition to their technical skill set and practical coding experience, boot camp grads also bring a fresh perspective to the table. In my experience as campus director, I’ve found that most students attending an immersive boot camp are early career changers, and have past professional and academic experiences that can round out a development team and provide different approaches to problem-solving. Take, for example, a former student who worked as a machine operator in a plastics recycling company and is now building an application to move the company’s project tracking from paper to the web.
Boot camp students also tend to be exceptionally hardworking and motivated. Many of my students have put their lives on hold for several months to immerse themselves in programming and follow their passion toward a new career. This combination of technical mastery, soft skills and diverse backgrounds make boot camp graduates strong, well-rounded hires.
RocketBuild is just one local example of a company that has benefited by hiring boot camp grads, finding that immersive code schools focus on teaching good software architecture practices, and thinking critically about how software is built — not just the syntax of code or a theoretical understanding of programming. This model has produced some of the best junior-level developers the company says it has hired.
“The Iron Yard was a huge challenge because it was so intensive and a total shift for me as my degree is in an unrelated field and I was working at Starbucks before I started at The Iron Yard, but the staff was incredibly supportive and did everything they could to help me succeed. When I finished the program I knew I was prepared to start as a junior developer and continue learning, which is exactly what I’m doing now at RocketBuild and I love it. And as you know, they’ve been intentional about getting involved in the Indy tech community too, which is great because that helped me meet a lot of people in the community (including my current coworkers, who are awesome) and helped me understand what my career here in Indy could look like,” said Angie Martaus, a 2016 Iron Yard graduate.
“The magic of The Iron Yard and their ability to catalyze the learning process so you can see real progress in a short time. The key to this is finding motivated students and top-tier staff. Learning from an instructor that knows how to explain things clearly and provides the right amount of challenge on top of it is critical. Working alongside other dedicated students is both inspiring and helpful, especially when everyone works together to learn the material. The Iron Yard consistently nails both of those points,” said Caleb Francis, who graduated from the very first Indianapolis cohort in September 2015.
As Indianapolis continues to rise in the ranks of tech cities, growth cannot be maintained without the support of a robust tech workforce and the junior-level talent that will mature with the market. Code schools and the graduates they produce have an integral role to play in the city’s tech ecosystem and companies of all sizes — from startup to Fortune 500 — stand to gain from hiring boot camp graduates.