Who says you have to have a Silicon Valley-based company to hire the best coding talent?
Certainly not Erik Trautman, CEO of the new online-only coding bootcamp, Viking School. In fact, he started the school not only to make learning how to code more accessible to students nationwide — but also to help its graduates connect with companies with outside of major tech hubs.
There are plenty of opportunities for software engineer talent beyond those traditional borders, he said.
“We founded Viking School to help create a base of students capable of and willing to fill jobs in parts of the country that wouldn’t normally have that kind of access,” Trautman told CMSWire. “We’re interested in working with companies who wouldn’t necessarily have access to this level of talent otherwise.”
The Tech Talent Shortage
According to the TechHire Initiative, there are more than 500,000 open IT jobs across the United States, including coding. The statistics also show that these jobs pay more than one and a half times the salary of the average private-sector American job.
Trautman has seen the trend first-hand. “There’s no question that companies are hungry,” he said. “Technology is one of those few sectors growing rapidly right now. Despite the options out there, companies are ravenously scooping up engineers.”
He added that salaries for these positions reflect the demand. “People in San Francisco coming out of bootcamps are entering the job market with six figures. It’s definitely clear that the demand is there.”
Making Bootcamps More Accessible
Although have tried to fill the gap for coders, Trautman claims there was still something missing. “Traditional bootcamps are doing a really interesting thing,” he said. “They’re very effective in a lot of ways. But, they cost a lot, and many require people to move into another geography to take the courses.”
So, taking with him the experience of founding The Odin Project – an open source, free online site designed to help teach coding – he began working on a way to help deliver this kind of education to more people outside of the major technology hubs.
“There are diamonds across the country – people who have the skills, motivation and desire to learn,” he said. “We wanted to provide something more accessible.”
After beta testing their online-only curriculum, Trautman found that they could achieve the same level of results as face-to-face courses, including providing individual attention to students. So, he knew he had a quality program, but he didn’t stop there.
Throughout the 14-week program, in addition to learning how to code, students are given the skills they need to not only find a job, but to succeed in the workplace, said Trautman.
For example, students learn the basics such as how to market themselves to potential employers, and how to interview. But they also use real-world skills such as the ability to collaborate in small groups to complete projects, and pair programming.
And here’s the guarantee: Qualified students who don’t find a job within six months of graduating don’t pay tuition. For those who can’t pay up front and do find a job, once they’re employed, they have the option of paying a percentage of their first year’s salary to cover tuition.
“Viking School isn’t just more accessible because it’s online,” he said, “but because we have a tuition model on top of that which allows people who can’t pay to get a job.”
Trautman understands that this type of guarantee places a huge amount of risk on his company. “We don’t succeed if they don’t succeed,” he said. “We’ve forced ourselves into a position where we have to help students as much as possible.”
Trautman not only has a vested interest in ensuring that those who complete the program succeed, but he genuinely wants to help get people where they want to go with their careers.
"I’m in this for mission-driven reasons. I’m an idealist," he said. "It’s not about saying that by the end of this, you’ll feel good and be on your way. We’re going to get you to a very specific outcome, and we’ll do whatever the heck it takes to get you there.”