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It’s no secret that the job market for software developers is booming, but learning to code is a great investment even if you’re not interested in a pure programming position.
If you’re a marketer, salesperson, designer or customer service rep, building up your development skills can help you catapult your career toward hybrid roles that will make you an invaluable addition to any team.
A new crop of what we’re calling “/Developers” is emerging: bright, tech-literate professionals who use their coding skills to augment other critical business roles and responsibilities.
We’re highlighting some of these talented men and women to learn more about how their development skills have boosted their career trajectory. First up in this series: Jae Han Kim, an Integration Engineer at Olapic—an Operations pro who splits his time between client services and front-end dev work.
Growing up, Jae always found himself tinkering with technology and troubleshooting computer problems for his non-technical friends. He decided to study IT in college at Florida State University, but spent a lot of time teaching himself to build sites and applications through online resources. He started freelancing as a web designer while still in school, building a lot of Wordpress and Drupal-based CMS systems and themed sites.
Here’s a new post from one of our current students—Bill Babeaux—an entrepreneur and former Fulbright scholar who’s eager to expand his front-end skills and product knowledge.
Read more below for Bill’s take on Thinkful and a bit about his experience in the course so far:
One of my all-time favorite movie scenes is in the original Matrix. After discovering that reality is a hoax crafted by machines, the protagonist Neo also learns that he can directly upload information to his brain. When he tries this new method for the first time, he gasps in disbelief, “I know jujitsu!” His mentor replies: “Show me.”
The process of learning through Thinkful isn’t as quick as a direct upload to the cerebral cortex. Nevertheless, I have often felt like Neo, only I am saying, “I know jQuery!” Since Thinkful also provides a mentor who replies, “Show me,” my learning of front-end web development has greatly accelerated.
In this installment of Thinkful’s “Dev Toolkit”—a detailed look under the hood at Amicus, a NYC-based startup that helps nonprofits raise more money and boost awareness for their causes by turning their supporters into fundraisers and advocates.
We chatted with CTO Topper Bowers about the tools that power Amicus’ stack, the major tech challenges they’re facing and some exciting in-house tools that the team is open-sourcing in the near future.
Thanks for chatting, Topper. Tell us a little about Amicus’ mission.
Amicus empowers nonprofits to raise more money, attract more members, and win more votes. We offer a simple fundraising and outreach platform that allow non-profits, political campaigns, and educational institutions to reach the people who are most likely to support their cause in the most effective way possible — through their friends. We graduated from Y Combinator in the Spring of 2012.
What tools and services are most crucial to keeping Amicus up and running?
Our DevOps is all Chef-solo based and it keeps us moving. I can’t imagine spinning up a box by hand anymore. We have a setup that looks at the tags on EC2 and decides what role a box should be (webapps, services, mongo, etc). Chef also manages all our deployments (along with some custom scripts).
We’ve seen over and over that personal attention and technology drive our students’ success. Thinkful has more students than ever and we believe there are enormous opportunities to grow and improve the education we provide for them. In short, the time has come to expand our education team!
When Dan and I started interviewing for this role we knew we needed someone who understood how to learn online, someone who could empathize with our students, someone who could measure and experiment with our hybrid education, and someone who could build the infrastructure to get all these things done quickly. Most of all, we knew that Dan’s voice and vision for online education would have to be the starting point for all the innovations we have yet to think up. The only thing we didn’t know was if such a person could exist.
Unsurprisingly, it took us awhile. After two months and over a hundred hours spent interviewing thirty five truly exceptional candidates, we finally found him: Today we welcome Ben White to Thinkful, and we’re beyond excited for him to get started.
Ben spent the last two years as a statistician, writer and researcher, while working nights, weekends and on the job to teach himself how to code. He exemplifies the very best of our students, and he did it the hard way – on his own. He holds two masters degrees, one each in anthropology and sociology from the University of Chicago and Central European University in Budapest. He initially caught mine and Ani’s attention when we saw the code he’s written. His work displayed a trait I came to value when hiring for Perpetually, and one I’ve seen time and time again in successful engineers: the ability to attack and solve challenging technology problems without realizing how advanced or difficult they are. Ben knows how to drive our student’s learning, can analyze our education, and can build what we need to grow Thinkful.
Background: Computer Technician
Location: East Tennessee
Goal: Transition to full-time web development work in 1-2 years
Why did you decide to learn to code?
I really like instant gratification. With coding, you can see a problem, go into it, type a few lines, pull it up, and see the solution. Then you can refine it. Each time you go back, you get a little shot of encouragement that signals you’re moving in the right direction.
Whether you’re just starting out as a developer or managing the tech stack for a rapidly-scaling startup, it can be hard to decide which tools, services and technologies are right for the job.
Thinkful is chatting with some of the brightest developers in the tech industry to learn about their favorite tools and how they keep their projects running smoothly.
First up: Benny Wong, Founder and CTO of Timehop:
Hi, Benny—tell us a little about Timehop.
Timehop is your personal time capsule—as an app. We take your tweets, Facebook posts, photos, check-ins and other social info and deliver you a daily reminder of what you posted on this day in history. Think of it as a Mario Kart ghost for the real world.
Mentors are a crucial part of the Thinkful team, guiding our students to the best resources and helping correct them whenever they get stuck.
We’ll be featuring our mentors on the blog over the coming weeks to share their perspectives and dig into what led them down the path to code.
Why do you think mentorship is important?
Whether it’s documentation or a tutorial, most educational content assumes that you have at least some knowledge about the subject at hand. If you don’t happen to have that knowledge, you can’t take advantage of the other information in the tutorial. It’s a terrible feeling to be stuck but have no one to answer the basic questions you need to dive into new material. Having a mentor can help you figure out the problem or cognitive gap that you need to fill so that you can keep churning along.
Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal published a piece about the growing number of financial professionals making the jump to the tech community.
Thinkful’s co-founder, Darrell Silver, is featured prominently in the article. Check out the section on Thinkful below:
Beyond the obvious inducements of wearing jeans to work and playing the occasional game of foosball, former finance professionals said they wanted an environment in which decisions could be made without vetting by several layers of bureaucracy.
“Technology is collaborative. In finance, it’s the opposite,” said Darrell Silver, who worked for a hedge fund before starting Perpetually LLC, a web-archiving company in 2008 that he later sold to Smarsh Inc.
Mr. Silver’s latest venture, an online-education company called Thinkful that he co-founded in 2012, is taking advantage of the employee bloodletting in finance. Several Thinkful classes are geared toward helping Wall Streeters find new technology careers, such as one advertised shortly after Citigroup Inc. C +0.15% announced plans to lay off thousands of employees late last year.
“Your new CEO recently laid off 11,000 of your peers, and shareholders are happy about it,” read the ad for the 12-week course in Web development. Mr. Silver said he received 100 applications, with a large chunk coming from employees of big banks.
Tripti Singh, one of the students who enrolled in the class, said she chose finance for the job stability. “But every six months I’ve seen job cuts,” Ms. Singh said. “I felt like I might be the one to go next time.”
Click here to read the full article.
Today, The Chronicle of Higher Education named Thinkful one of its five “Companies to Watch” in the world of MOOCs (Massively Online Open Courses).
Check out the piece here for more info, including an awesome infographic highlighting major trends and influencers in online higher education.
Today, Thinkful’s co-founder Darrell Silver published a guest-post on PandoDaily about the evolving engineering job market. Here’s the full-text of the post:
For the first time, people learning to code can actually do it efficiently part-time. And I don’t mean high-school students with no social life and fewer responsibilities who teach themselves, though that does describe my teenage years. I mean adults with full-time jobs. I mean people whose schedules are full and who can’t afford to quit and pay college tuition at a traditional University.
While much of the marketing around much of the “learn to code” movement focuses on short-term goals, aspiring coders see themselves on a much longer path. To teach themselves, these early adopters are using different education programs at different stages of their development.
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