As the summer sessions of TechPointX’s Xtern Bootcamp come to an end, we asked Dana Palazzo, a developer with Fretless, to tell more about her company’s contributions to the Indianapolis tech community through this program. Fretless has helped hundreds of bootcamp participants improve their software development skills.

For three years now, Fretless has teamed up with TechPoint to deliver the Xtern Bootcamp to advance the next generation of software developers in Indiana. It’s been one of our favorite projects because of what it means for the developer community and Indiana as a whole. As consultants in the Indianapolis tech community, we’re lucky to have a unique perspective which allows us to see the demand for top-level talent at local companies. Indianapolis continues to strengthen its position on the national scene, and programs like the Xtern Bootcamp are backfilling the demand for the workforce that high-tech companies and startups in Indiana need.

In just three years, we’ve taught more than 300 students from across the state a crash-course in front-end development. This includes languages like JavaScript, frameworks like Angular, and libraries like React. Just as importantly, we’ve helped students learn to think like technologists, with an emphasis on breaking problems down and taking a structured approach to troubleshooting. The program has evolved over the years, both reacting to the needs of local employers and being proactive about including new technologies.

A big part of the program is to supply the students with real-world knowledge of what it’s like to be a developer in Indiana. By encouraging them to participate in the Indy tech community, we believe they can create relationships that give them strong ties to Indiana. Some of them even attended local meetups (like Indy.rb and React.Indy) during the program!

Some of the best feedback we get is when a student tells us how this program sets them ahead of their other classmates when they return to their respective universities. Fretless has worked with the TechPointX team to design a program that can be flexible and include new curricula as new technologies come out, which can be a challenge for large institutions that have processes and momentum that make it difficult to react to change quickly. Xtern Bootcampers are gaining experience building applications with tech that will add value to their résumés and give them projects they can continue to work on and talk about in future interviews.

But it’s not just the technology we are teaching. It’s our belief that developers learn by mentoring and teaching, and this is a big part of why our involvement in the Xtern program is important to the team at Fretless. We try to paint a broader picture of what it means to be a software developer. First, we highlight the importance of leadership. This includes helping others, producing solutions that others can learn from, and being an example of kindness and empathy to create a welcoming, diverse environment for anyone who wants to code. We also emphasize being a part of the greater developer community. This could mean attending code meetups, speaking on tech-related topics, keeping a blog, or contributing to open source projects. Finally, and most obviously, we explain how important it is to “practice, practice, practice,” which is necessary to be successful and gain skills in any profession.

The Xtern Bootcampers have been some of the most inquisitive, respectful, and motivated students we’ve had the privilege of working with. We can’t end this article without saying how much fun we’ve had, and how much we have learned from these last three years of teaching. It’s a privilege as much as a responsibility to prepare a new generation for careers in the field we’re so passionate about. A big thanks to TechPoint and the companies that fund programs like this in Indiana. We can’t wait for next year!

Discover more about TechPointX programs, including Xtern Bootcamp.