code camp alumni video 2019

Celebrate Code Platoon 2019 guests show generous support for the mission

Celebrate Code Platoon 2019 was held on November 14 from 6:00-10:00pm in Chicago. We were graciously hosted by Nacional 27. With over 170 friends of Code Platoon in attendance, we celebrated our fourth year of serving veterans and military spouses and helping them find careers as software development professionals. 

Executive Director, Rodrigo Levy, hosted the program portion of the evening, where he reminded our guests that 36 veterans and military spouses will graduate Code Platoon in 2019, bringing our total alumni base to 85. We are particularly proud that we helped those veterans and spouses who need help the most: 85% of our graduates were enlisted, which means they don’t necessarily have a college degree or any college at all. We have helped address veteran unemployment, and not to put too fine a point on it, veteran underemployment. The median income of our graduates when they enter Code Platoon is $33,000; when they leave it’s $65,000 and on their way to much more. And they get to enter a career that won’t disappear in 5 or 10 years, and has virtually no limits.

DRW, Partner of the Year, 2019

Brig. General (Ret.) Stephen Curda, PhD, Executive Director of Illinois Joining Forces, gave the keynote address, highlighting the unique position Code Platoon has in helping our nation’s heroes find full time careers in the growing technology field. Our 2019 Partner of the Year, DRW, is an exemplary company, who is answering the call to help our veterans and military spouses by providing paid internships upon graduation. We proudly shared this video with our guests to highlight DRW’s commitment to Code Platoon. 

Code Platoon Alumni, 2019

The program ended with our second annual alumni video, featuring recent graduates and their experience with Code Platoon. Our alumni then came to life, hosting our first annual paddle raise, where guests could pledge their support for Code Platoon by raising their paddle and contributing funding directly to our students! We are proud to say that we were able to raise over $45,000 through the paddle raise. Thank you to our Friends of Code Platoon!

Celebrate Code Platoon 2019 was a success, in large part, thanks to our event sponsors including DRW, G2, Motorola Solutions, Hyde Park Venture Partners, SEI, OCA Ventures, Jill and David Greer, and David and Peggy Rogers. These sponsors, along with our guests, helped to raise over $93,000 for our program! These contributions will be 100% invested into our program, helping more veterans and military spouses find our program and start a new career in software development. 

For those that couldn’t join us at Celebrate Code Platoon 2019, it’s not too late to support our 2020 classes of veterans and military spouses. Please visit our donations page to donate today! 

We are humbled by the generosity of our supporters and excited for our 2020 classes!

DRW Video Transcript

Hank Moon:                  My name is Hank Moon and I graduated from India Platoon.

Holly Burd:                   I’m Holly Burd and I was in India Platoon.

Seth Thompson:            My name is Seth Thompson. I’m the CIO at DRW. I was one of the early adopters of code platoons program. The whole cause jelled well with our firm and what we believe in and with what I believe in around educating the underserved, and we continued to try interns and work with the program and mentor. And I’ve hired at least five of six of the interns so far. It’s just been a blessing all the way around.

Holly Burd:                   Now that I’m an alumni of Code Platoon, I am working at DRW. I also get to work with a handful of other Code Platoon graduates. It’s great because knowing where they come from and where they are now, seeing that roadmap is something I could kind of emulate and look forward to myself.

Hank Moon:                  I am currently a software engineer intern at DRW. It’s still very surreal to me that I get to work at such amazing company. When I left the military I was currently working with a very tight knit team, we were almost like family, and I get that sense of family at DRW

Seth Thompson:            For DRW we’re very strong believers in supporting the armed forces and in supporting our veterans. It’s just great. I mean, we’re putting people to work in an underserved community. In a job market that needs more candidates.

Seth Thompson:            One of the reasons why hiring out a Code Platoon makes a lot of sense, is you’re finding mature engineers who are junior, who are wanting to grow in many different directions, and you can then help steer them in those directions, and have them grow inside your firm. You’re going to get people with loyalty, with discipline, and with the ability to learn.

Code Platoon Alumni 2019 Video Transcript

Anthony E.:                   I was a cryptologic linguist in the Army. I was an Arabic linguist.

Christian Baker:            I was in the Navy as a nuclear reactor operator.

Hank Moon:                  In the Air Force I was doing inflight refueling.

Katherine R.:                 Started exploring the military option, and the one that I stumbled upon that I felt most comfortable with was a linguist job. So cryptologic linguist.

Holly Burd:                   So I joined the Marine Corps when I was 19 I became an Arabic linguist and deployed to Iraq. Then when I came back, I learned Pashto. And I went and translated in Afghanistan as well.

Anthony E.:                   So Code Platoon, I was actually in the first cohort that accepted the GI Bill. So the timing was just like, if it were any earlier, it wouldn’t have worked. If it were later, it wouldn’t have worked. It just, it was pretty much perfect.

Hank Moon:                  I became frustrated going through the normal path and not studying constantly what I wanted to do. I felt like I was wasting my time at that point. When I came to Code Platoon, I was right in it. I was doing what I loved every single day for three months. And it was fantastic.

Christian Baker:            I was very sure that I wanted to go to a coding boot camp. I didn’t know about Code Platoon at the time. But then on Course Report I found Code Platoon. I started reading reviews and they were all very positive. And what I liked is that not only did everyone enjoy the program itself, but they had really good results with placement. That was kind of the end goal, is to to learn as much as you could in three months but also get a job. There’s no better place to do that than Code Platoon.

Anthony E.:                   One of the things that I liked the most about Code Platoon was being in a classroom full of veterans. There were so many like long days where I was just coding from like sunup to sundown. And I just don’t know how sustainable that is if you’re doing it in a vacuum. But having colleagues, who became friends, in that same environment, embracing the suck together, that really makes it not just bearable but fun. And I think that I really appreciated that.

Katherine R.:                 I don’t think I would’ve gotten through a program like this without going through it with veterans. We didn’t leave anybody behind. That we all had strengths in certain categories, and people stepped up to the plate, when they excelled in something, to help pull the other members of their cohort along.

Hank Moon:                  As much as I love coding, my favorite part of Code Platoon was the Beyond Tech talks that we would do with John. He was really able to shed light on the process of landing a job, negotiating once you have an offer. It was just really important that we got that information. And I didn’t realize how important that was going into Code Platoon.

Christian Baker:            My favorite part of Code Platoon was the individual and group projects. Because we finally were able to apply what we had been learning throughout the whole program to make some sort of product that we thought of. You really finally get to see the benefit of everything that you learned.

Holly Burd:                   Definitely my favorite part of the program is the instructors. The curriculum is designed to really push you and test you every day. So you never feel like you’re wasting a moment. You just keep learning and learning and learning. It’s super powerful.

Hank Moon:                  The curriculum for Code Platoon was structured in a way that transitioning into a job was very easy.

Anthony E.:                   The apprenticeship program, for sure, it was like the best value add that Code Platoon had. Where I just felt like so many of those barriers to entry were smoothed out by the apprenticeship program. And it’s been, I think that was a great experience and obviously it’s made a lot of really cool things possible for me now.

Christian Baker:            Everyone from our cohort has a job and is successful and it’s only been two months. There’s no other program out there that exists that is specifically aimed at helping veterans get into this industry.

Holly Burd:                   Now that I’m an alumni of Code Platoon, I am working at DRW. I also get to work with a handful of other Code Platoon graduates. It’s great because knowing where they come from and where they are now, seeing that roadmap is something I could kind of emulate and look forward to myself. I’m so grateful. Everything that Rod and John and you do, super life changing but you know that.

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