I’ll be honest, when it comes to coding I’m just about the last person anyone would consider asking advice from. Don’t get me wrong, I find what programmers do to be both extremely interesting, and (of course) integral to our continued push for innovation in a digitized world, but studying the developers at my day job is like monitoring a team of archaeologists making sense out of hieroglyphics.
There are countless people who feel the same way, which is unfortunate since development is a potentially rewarding career path, and one that’s constantly expanding. One of the stumbling blocks, as mentioned above is the fact that programming generally isn’t seen as a field one can easily get into. Individuals invest a substantial amount of time and money into mastering coding, so for someone who already has spent an equal amount of both getting a degree, or working in an unrelated field, the potential for a career shift is limited.
That might not have to be the case though. DevMountain, a ‘coding bootcamp’ operating primarily out of Provo, Utah is looking to serve as a platform for educating new waves of coders, stemming from other industries.
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The firm is still a startup, established just over a year ago in a city gaining a reputation for amassing tech firms, and offers intensive courses over a 12 week period to take beginners in coding, and work with them to the point where they can take on jobs in the field.
In terms of the types of courses offered, DevMountain issues two main directions, one for web development, and another for iOS development. Given that the students are adults who are in most cases combining the course with a job, or college, besides the full time program, after-hours classes are also provided.
At this point, the main question is “does it work?” Like I mentioned above, it’s helpful to develop a better understanding of coding, but graduates would be competing with people who have spent years studying the same thing. According to the company’s site though, its graduates have gone on to get engineering jobs with a number of prominent employers, ranging from Zendesk to Reddit.
Nice To Meet You
To learn more about DevMountain, and what the team there is looking to achieve through this venture, I interviewed co-founder Tyler Richards. He was nice enough to provide some more information about the startup, and what’s going on behind closed doors at its Provo base:
- How did the idea for DevMountain come about initially? Was the inspiration based more on what you found to be a hole in the adult education market at the time, or something else?
The inspiration for DevMountain came from the lack of capable developers for Utah’s growing tech scene. So many companies, Adobe, Vivint, Pluralsight, Qualtrics and others, are finding their home in Utah. These companies and startups alike are in desperate need of developers all the time. We also found that many people wanted to get out of their current job and get into a development career. As developers ourselves, our co-founding team were constantly being asked “how can I get into development”. We just saw these needs and tried to fill them by offering a class to teach web development. Our co-founding team did just that, and two years ago we put up a website. A couple weeks later we had 60 applicants for a 20 person class and that was when we knew we had something.
- To an outsider like myself, coding looks very challenging, from the material I’ve seen though, you guys feel it’s something that can be learned.
Yes 100% we feel that anyone can learn to code. DevMountain has provided means for people with absolutely no background in coding to being able land a junior development job at a high-tech company both in-state and out-of-state. Coding is a difficult skill to master, but DevMountain provides them with a way to lower the learning curve. Learning with the help of mentors and teachers, and in a project-based learning atmosphere, our students are able to grasp concepts easier and faster. DevMountain is like opening a firehose of coding knowledge on our students, but if they truly apply themselves and dedicate themselves within the 12 weeks of our classes, then they absolutely are able to learn the skill set.
- Provo, UT is home to a growing number of startups, has the fact that the company is based in such a quickly developing tech hub led it becoming sort of a “feeder” in terms of trained developers for new businesses in the area?
Yes we have found that we have been very fortunate to have the support of growing tech companies here in Utah. DevMountain works very closely with amazing hiring partners to develop the next wave of capable engineers. It is a win-win situation for both sides, tech companies want the talent, and our students want better jobs. DevMountain has been placed in a unique location with 80,000 college students in a 10 mile radius, coupled by the fact that this city is so startup-friendly with the mayor himself sending his own son to DevMountain.
- From what I’ve read, you aren’t just looking to provide students a basic understanding of the subject matter either, this seems to be offering a potentially new career path, is that right?
Yes we have mainly two different types of students here at DevMountain. About 60% of our students are career driven and focused meaning that they would like, at the end of the course, have a career in development. The other 40% of our students are more entrepreneurial minded and are looking to build the ideas in their head and launch their own tech startup. DevMountain caters to the needs of both types of students. If a student wants a job in the development industry, we will do all we can to make that happen. With our 90%+ placement rate we have had a lot of success in the past.
- Compared to other programs for aspiring developers, what sets DevMountain apart? Why do students tend to choose you?
The main difference between DevMountain and other competitors are the sheer results of our program. As mentioned before we experience a very high placement rate. Success is quantifiable and our students are testimonies to that. Online we have received raving reviews from our Alumni. That paired with our inexpensive price point gives us the edge over other coding schools around the country. Because we are located in Utah, and not New York or San Francisco, allows us to keep our costs down and therefore give an amazing education for half the price. Also, our CEO and founding team are the ones in the trenches actually teaching the development classes on a daily basis. DevMountain was founded by coders and they love to share their craft to raise the next wave of talented engineers.
- You’ve been around for just over a year now, how would you rate the overall reception so far? Did you expect it to catch on so quickly?
Over the last year and a half we have seen a great response to DevMountain. KSL.com recently published an article saying mountain was the beehive steeds leading code school/Boot Camp. The reason for that is because we are graduating more students than anyone else at a higher level and a better education.
- The need for ‘coding bootcamps’ is bound to continue growing, and given the demand that already exists in some of the major tech hubs around the country, how do you see DevMountain developing down the road?
One of the best things about DevMountain is it that our expert faculty hold current jobs in the technology industry. They literally teach what they practice, which allows them to continually adjust the curriculum to match what leading tech companies / start-ups want. DevMountain already has two existing locations which combined graduate 80-100 students every 12 weeks. In the near future, DevMountain will add more locations which will offer an even wider variety of classes, content, and curriculum.
- Any last words for us? New developments regarding DevMountain we should keep an eye out for in the future?
DevMountain just announced it’s newest class offering, a full-time immersive iOS course in downtown Salt Lake City. Previously our iOS curriculum was only available in a part-time format. We are excited to announce the intensive full-time 12 week iOS option. We also have our eye out for new locations. Wherever the need is, we will be. Check our website and social media pages for updates and announcements. We always have lots of free content and networking events on our campuses to stay plugged into the local tech scenes.
I can’t stress how important I think professional flexibility is. Opening up to new industries, and sectors of work when the opportunity presents itself is vital for anyone to be able to keep their head up in the job market, and challenge for a higher salary when they do manage to get employed.
DevMountain is a tool for doing just that. Combining a less time consuming alternative to going back to school in order to study a new subject, with expanding someone’s employment potential to one of the most in-demand industries out there is a strong idea. Implementing the concept in one of the country’s up and coming tech hub’s, where demand for skilled engineers is bound to be on the rise, adds a significant amount of economic viability to the plan. We’ll see how this, and other coding bootcamps do in the future.