Employers looking to coding bootcamps for junior developers

Some Wisconsin employers are looking outside of traditional higher education to find job-ready software developers.

That’s according to Paul Jirovetz, director of operations for DevCodeCamp, a coding bootcamp with headquarters in Milwaukee. The program also recently opened a location in Madison.

“We’re just happy that we can find people who want to up-skill, who want to get into tech, and then we can marry them with a company that has these major needs,” Jirovetz (pictured here) told WisBusiness.com.

That starts a relationship in which employers can return to DevCodeCamp whenever they need more junior developers. He says Northwestern Mutual alone has hired 10 graduates, and others like Penta Technologies, Baird, Rockwell Automation, Milwaukee Tool, U.S. Bank and the Milwaukee Brewers have also hired out of the program.

“People have to remember that this is a bootcamp — this is not school,” Jirovetz said.

Over the 12- to 24-week program, he says participants and instructors spend as much as 500 hours together.

“All we do is immerse ourselves in code, which means that when they leave here, they are day one ready; they are a hireable junior developer,” he said.

He says hiring partners such as Northwestern Mutual keep coming back because the ramp-up time for graduates of the program is “very minimal,” compared with what they’ve previously seen.

“That’s because they’ve been living the life of a coder here,” he said. “We tell people before they come in: `Look, you’re going to work here. We’re not going to be reading out of books all day — we don’t have books. We’re going to make things.’”

To solve the state’s often-discussed workforce shortage, Jirovetz admits traditional education will have to play a role alongside quicker programs like DevCodeCamp.

“But I think that we don’t need talent five years from now; we need it today,” he said.

He points out that his program can take someone who’s never coded before and land them a solid job right out of the program. He says the median starting salary for a junior developer is around $50,000 per year.

Michael Terrill, director of instruction for DevCodeCamp, emphasizes the productive nature of the program.

“Every single day, from day one to the last day and beyond, you’re building projects,” Terrill said. “It’s in our firm belief that it doesn’t matter the profession — developer, non-developer — everyone needs to know how to do this.”

Jirovetz says as long as technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning keep progressing, jobs will continue to evolve and change.

“You have a choice to make,” he said. “You can fall on this side of the fence where you up-skill, and be part of the technology movement… or you can fall to that side of the fence and wait to have that job replaced.”

And for those who think they could never become a developer, Jirovetz has just a few simple questions.

“Do you like puzzles? Do you like problem solving? Do you like creating things? If you do, you’d probably make a hell of a good one,” he said.

Listen to a recent podcast with Jirovetz and Terrill: http://wisbusiness.com/index.iml?Article=392872

–By Alex Moe