Code Platoon’s Partnership with Repl.it

Since 2016, Code Platoon has trained four cohorts of career-changing veterans and military spouses to enter the technology sector. More than 80% of our students have found employment as full-time junior developers with an average starting salary of $65,000. As we planned for 2018, we asked ourselves, “How do we scale our product to reach and train as many veterans and military spouses as possible?” While our in-person immersive bootcamp in Chicago was a success, the need for veterans or military spouses to relocate to Chicago was a limiting growth factor. After mulling over potential solutions, we decided to create a remote program that would run alongside our in-person program.

The feedback was incredible – applications were flying in. In our current cohort, Echo Platoon, 50% of our students are remote, calling in from Ohio to Italy! While we were thrilled to get this influx of students, a new challenge arose: grading. Instructors were completely overwhelmed with the sheer volume of pull requests from students and spent more time grading than with students.

It was at that time that we discovered Repl.it classroom. Repl.it classroom gives our instructors the ability to create digital classrooms of students, assign classwork/homework, automatically grade that work through unit tests, and keep track of outstanding assignments. In addition, since Repl.it is an entirely browser-based IDE, it is OS agnostic, allowing students with Macs or PCs to write code with minimal setup. The ability to save and send code between students and instructors is also invaluable.

We’re proud to call Repl.it a sponsor of Code Platoon. Through their platform, we will be able to quickly and effectively scale our program to reach veterans and military spouses around the globe!

Denver Startup Week: An Ambassador’s Experience

I had the distinct privilege of being part of the inaugural Ambassadors class for Denver Startup Week (DSW). The DSW Ambassadors program was a 3-day all-expenses-paid trip where out-of-town entrepreneurs, business leaders, and technical folks got the opportunity to visit Denver and experience their startup ecosystem. Having never been to Denver, I knew this was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up and thankfully, I was selected to experience this vibrant city firsthand.

Stereotypically, when outsiders think of Denver, we think of ski resorts, a vibrant outdoor lifestyle, and of course, marijuana; Denver traditionally does not hold a reputation of being a technology hub like San Francisco or Chicago but in recent years, there have been rumors of it starting to establish itself as a real technology player. I am happy to report that these rumors are true: Denver is certainly establishing itself as a prime technology hub ripe with top talent.

As an Ambassador, I got the opportunity to visit 6 Denver companies that helped sponsor my class and talked with their business leaders. I learned the history of each company’s inception, their growing pains, and what they were excited about looking into the future. A number of themes/lessons persisted:

  1. As a business leader, exemplify your company’s values. If you set an unlimited vacation policy in hopes reduce employee burnout/turnover but never go on vacation, neither will your employees. Be the example for your company
  2. Taking a longer time to hire the right employee is a better return on investment than rushing to hire someone to fill a role. The amount of damage that a poor hire can wreak on your company can be immeasurable.
  3. Your company’s success will likely depend on how well your team members can work with each other and communicate effectively. High emotional IQ is often a greater indicator of future successes than a high amount of technical talent.

Personally, the most welcome surprise of attending DSW was finding out how warm Denverites were and and how they truly wanted outsiders to join their community. While many people and cities pay lip service to welcoming others to their hometowns, I actually received personal phone numbers from folks who told me to call them if I needed help moving. The entire city was a warm and inviting place with a high emphasis on helping their fellow community member – fellowship takes precedence over the bottom line. I would highly recommend Denver as a city to start any company – the top technical talent, beauty of the landscape, and community-driven people make it second to none.

Deja Baker’s Coding Journey Leads the Way for Women and Veterans Alike

Despite the fact that the tech community is growing faster than ever, there are still two demographics that are often overlooked – women and veterans. However, the dearth of representation from both communities is quickly changing, especially when you have individuals like Deja Baker spearheading the effort. Baker, who enlisted in the Navy as an Analyst, eventually pursued her interest in technology as a Computer Science major at the Naval Academy.

Seeking to further her education in the coding industry, Baker applied for and received Code Platoon’s Women In Technology Scholarship, which fully covers her tuition, and is scheduled to attend the all-veteran coding bootcamp this fall. While there were a number of other bootcamps to choose from, Code Platoon was always the first choice for Baker.

“One reason why I chose to apply for Code Platoon is because its exclusively for veterans,” Baker said. “I feel that being around people from a similar background, who are working towards the same goals, will prove more beneficial to the process.”

In addition to providing a sense of community, Baker believes that an all-veteran bootcamp will likely be composed of the most highly motivated and disciplined students in the coding industry.

“Veterans have worked in a variety of different roles all over the world, and because of that, veterans have a wide array of experiences that allow them to adapt quickly when engaging in new projects,” Baker said. “I feel that a lot of veterans have the drive and the aptitude to work towards a role in tech.”

Although many of today’s veterans often have skillsets that translate well to coding and programming few choose to pursue a career path in the tech industry. Baker says that veterans who have given thought to a career in coding should, at the very least, give it a try.

“I know a lot of people that are interested in coding who are too worried to see what it’s all about, but there are abundant resources online to just dabble in it and see if coding is for you.”

It’s a sentiment that’s shared by leading tech giants such as Google, IBM, and Intel, all of whom have taken measures to help veterans gain a footing in the tech sector. And because there are plenty of opportunities waiting for veterans with strong programming skills, Baker says she’s eager to begin her first day at Code Platoon.

“I’m excited to have this opportunity to study and work towards becoming a developer; I’m looking forward to working in teams in a highly collaborative environment and to be challenged while solving difficult problems.”