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From Wynwood to White House, message is clear: Coding is about passion

Turns out Miami tech was well represented at the White House recently. Thank you, Johanna Mikkola, for providing an inside report. Read on...


By Johanna Mikkola

JohannaCoding is about passion.

Earlier this month, as part of Vice President Biden’s “Ready to Work Initiative,” the White House invited the founders of coding boot camps, innovative lending platforms and employers to a brainstorming session focused on increasing access for all Americans to accelerated IT learning programs like my company, Wyncode Academy, and identifying pathways for graduates of these programs to tech jobs. The Obama Administration is focusing on this effort because according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there will be 1.4 million additional IT jobs by 2020 and only 400,000 computer science students to fill those jobs. That is a large gap to fill— and many believe that the pace of growth of these jobs is only increasing.

Throughout the day-long brainstorm, participants shared ideas with the newly appointed U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith (shown below) and Deputy Director of the National Economic Council, Byron Auguste.

CTOMeganSmithSpeaksWithGroupBrian Forde, Senior Advisor to the U.S. CTO, and Ryan Burke, Policy Advisor in the National Economy Council, helped moderate the discussion throughout the day. Brian noted, “Coding bootcamps have shown significant early success preparing students with the skills needed by employers, and the next challenge is to find ways to ensure everyone, especially those from underserved communities, have access to these training opportunities.”

At the conclusion of the day, the group agreed that to be successful as a developer, the primary ingredient needed is not an aptitude for math or calculus, but passion for the subjects.

As Adam Enbar, Co-Founder and CEO of The Flatiron School in New York City said, “It’s all about grit; passion and perseverance.” Flatiron is one of the leading code school institutions in the US and routinely receives thousands of applications for their limited available spots in their course.  

Given the demand for developers nationwide, having the passion to learn software development skills can open the doors of opportunity for a broad demographic of people from different backgrounds. Michael Rosenbaum, CEO of Catalyst IT Services, said “We have worked with major corporations and found zero correlation between college degrees and being a good software engineer.”

Becoming a developer requires hard work, passion, and a knack for problem solving. What is evident is that there could not be a better time to take the plunge and learn these skills. Employers are looking for more than just a technology expert; they are looking for a well-rounded applicant with both intellect and zeal.

“There are increasingly more roles in today’s world which can utilize developer skills,” says Tony Scott, CIO of VMware from Palo Alto, “For enterprise, the challenge is where do we find these people? Coding skills are not enough, business skills are also needed.”

Connecting employers and developers is an important link in this system. LaunchCode, an organiztion whose founder and now-resident of South Florida, Jim McKelvey,  wants to bring to Miami, was on hand to provide insight into this element of the pipeline. The LaunchCode team is working to build strong pathways to economic opportunity and upward mobility through apprenticeships and job placement in technology.

Given that motivation is the key element/factor to success in coding and that employers are ready to hire, the final area of discussion centered on the financial aspects. Quotanda, another Miami-based startup, was one of the companies that presented on this topic at the meetings. Headed by Grant Taylor, Quotanda seeks to broaden access to education by helping students connect with affordable financing.

Most states require code schools be licensed and operating for a period of multiple years before student financial aid and/or grant money applies. Wyncode Academy became the first coding bootcamp licensed by the Florida Department of Education’s Commission for Independent Education. It is an important step toward increasing access to this type of education for all students who have the grit to become tomorrow’s leading developers. 

An era where anything can be created, optimized or improved with code is just beginning. Technology is seen changing the way Americans live and conduct business every day. Flatiron’s Enbar sums up our current world when he said “if you know how to code, you have a super power!”

Find out more at www.wyncode.coWyncode Academy’s next Pitch Day event is Thursday, December 18th, 6pm at The LAB Miami. Come see what is possible after 9 weeks of coding education. Next cohort starts Jan 12, 2015, applications open now.

Johanna Mikkola  co-founded Wyncode Academy in Wynwood along with her husband, Juha. They both participated in the White House roundtable event.

Posted Oct. 25, 2014