Two of the 20 new alumni of The Iron Yard’s Code School powered by Smashing Boxes had already secured and accepted job offers from Durham companies prior to Friday’s “Demo Day.” They also partnered on a project during “school.”
Andrew Hooge accepted an offer from The Iron Yard’s Durham-based partner, Smashing Boxes, and Josh Langholtz signed on with Durham-based Validic, which recently closed $5 million in financing.
Hooge and Langholtz participated in The Iron Yard’s Ruby on Rails course, a 12-week intensive “code-immersion” program, and opted to work together on their final project, “Pladel.”
To round out the project team, Hooge recruited Tyler Berry, a member of The Iron Yard’s Front-End Engineering course, to join the project.
In three weeks, the trio built a mobile health application that integrates exercise and sleep data from wearable devices and a simple user interface that tracks and documents a user’s nutritional habits.
“Given three more weeks to complete the project,” said Langholtz, “we probably would have built it differently.”
The project – live at www.playdel.io – wss one of 100 presented at Friday’s Demo Day event, which brought together nearly 100 employers and supporters at the Full Frame Theater in the American Tobacco historic district.
“I am absolutely blown away with the quality of the work presented today,” said Wade Minter, CTO of TeamSnap. “The amount of design and product sense was beyond what I’ve seen a lot of startups do.”
Minter, who works out of HQ Raleigh, was meeting the students for the first time. “I would not be surprised if we hire one or two from this group,” said Minter.
The cohort – The Iron Yard’s first alumni from Durham – included 20 students and the TA for the Ruby on Rails course. The participants ranged from 13 to 55, the most age-diverse campus supported by The Iron Yard.
The academy virtually guarantees participants job offers within six months after completing the 12-week program.
“Typically, within three months, our alumni have secured jobs,” said Jessica Mitsch, Durham Campus Director for The Iron Yard, “I’m not sure we’ve ever had two students with job offers before the completion of the course.”
It speaks volumes about the demand for talent within the local tech economy, said Mitsch.
“The technology community in the Triangle is incredible,” she explained. “Having a code school in the area provides fresh talent.”
Mitsch has played a key role in developing an ecosystem in which code school participants can succeed, hiring two full-time instructors, Clinton Dreisbach and Julia Elman (Elman also runs the Triangle chapter of Girl Develop It).
Additionally, Mitsch recruited 13 local employers to sit on The Iron Yard’s employer advisory board, which includes Bandwidth, Bronto, Red Hat, Spoonflower and Validic.
The employer advisory board meets roughly once per month, said Drew Schiller, co-founder of Validic. It’s been an incredibly value experience for the young company, said Schiller, and not solely because they’ve secured another team member from the graduating class.
“We help ensure that the students in the classes are learning technology that local companies will use,” said Schiller, who also gave an hour-long presentation to the classes early in the program.
Validic is expanding quickly, having now hired nine people in the past six weeks. Noted Schiller: “And it’s quite possible we’ll hire more Iron Yard alumni.”
Schiller and Validic will remain involved in The Iron Yard as they launch their second set of classes on Sept. 15. The company is one of at least two local companies that plan to sponsor a student to complete the program, which costs up to $10,000.
“It’s incredible how dedicated the students are,” said Schiller, “to take 12 full weeks in the middle of their careers to learn to code.”
The next classes are starting Sept 15 and are still Ruby on Rails and Front End Engineering. (Students will be off the week of Thanksgiving). Registration for that program is open, said Mitsch, and the code school continues to look for sponsors to help defray the cost of the program for individual students.
A course in Python will be added in January.