Participants in the computer-coding boot camp known as Zip Code Wilmington don’t quite work all day and all night for 12 weeks. The norm is more like 80 to 100 hours, says Melanie Augustin, head of the two-year-old school that recently moved into The Mill, a co-working space in the Nemours Building downtown.
Classes run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but there’s lots of project work on top of that, she says. However, the payoff is well worth the time invested — and the $3,000 cost (scholarship aid is available). Most students had been in jobs paying less than $30,000 a year; however, when they graduate from Zip Code Wilmington, they’re ready to step into coding jobs that pay about $62,000 a year at companies like JPMorgan Chase, Barclays, Capital One, Chatham Financial and CSC.
That makes Zip Code Wilmington a great attraction for the waiters, bartenders, artists, truck drivers and the pro soccer player who have all signed up, Augustin says, not to mention the laid-off scientist hoping to launch a new career.
Robert Kelley, 28, of Newark, Del., had bounced around warehousing jobs for years before enrolling in Zip Code Wilmington in January 2016. Three months later, he went to work with Capital One. He’s now working on coding to make Capital One’s website more user-friendly across multiple platforms and says he’s earning “two and a half to three times more” than in his previous jobs.
“Zip Code was great. I learned more about coding there than I was able to teach myself in 10 years,” he says.
Zip Code Wilmington’s “computer coding and programming classes are fast-tracking a talent pipeline of developer coders to help turn Delaware into the technology hub that it has the potential to become,” says Joe Westcott, Capital One’s Delaware market president. Not only are graduates highly qualified for entry-level coding, “they have passion for the work and are great teammates,” he says.
Coding boot camps aren’t a replacement for a bachelor’s degree in computer technology, Augustin says. They don’t provide the theoretical background included in a college curriculum, but they deliver far more practical, hands-on experience, she says.
Zip Code Wilmington works with its corporate partners to ensure that its curriculum matches the needs of the businesses, Augustin says. In fact, its next addition is to begin teaching the Python coding language, along with Java. In return, the corporate partners are picking up about three-quarters of the school’s $12,000-per-student cost.
Zip Code offers three classes per year, each one enrolling 25 to 30 students, and has an 89 percent graduation rate.
“Our staff is passionate. The students are passionate. A lot of magic comes out of here,” Augustin says.
This article appeared in the premiere issue of Delaware Innovation Magazine, an overview of the state’s cutting edge industries and the people leading them. See the whole issue here.