On Tuesday, Anitra and I attended the graduation ceremony for the latest LaunchCode CodeCamp cohort, a class made up entirely of women. It was an immersive “coding boot camp”-style course that they attended for 14 weeks, Monday to Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., where they learned programming in Java and Python. With the effort and time required, it’s a commitment that the students couldn’t take lightly. We’ve met a good number of the women in the class, and we were happy to attend the ceremony!
The goal of the 14-week program is to teach its students how to code, but more importantly, how to think like a computer programmer. The curriculum comprises these four phases:
- Programming fundamentals: An introduction to the concepts of programming, using Python (a good choice, in my opinion). The idea is to set up the students with the building blocks that every programmer needs.
- Universal web: A look at the foundations of a modern web application, as well as languages, frameworks, and other tools used in web development.
- Java deep dive: Hibernate and Spring MVC. The fact that they were made to use frameworks that I wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole and a hazmat suit speaks volumes about the dedication and capabilities of these women.
- Portfolio project: After all of the above, they spent the last few weeks of the program working on a project to showcase what they’ve learned and what they can do.
Here‘s local news coverage of the event:
LaunchCode is an unusual coding school: It’s a non-profit that provides its courses free of charge. Their goal is to help people enter the field of technology by providing them with what they need to do so: accessible training and job placements in paid apprenticeships.
LaunchCode was founded by Jim McKelvey, the co-founder of the payment processing company Square. Square started in McKelvey’s hometown of St. Louis, but he moved it to Silicon Valley when he couldn’t find enough talent at home. LaunchCode started as his to help people from his hometown find work in technology. It has expanded from St. Louis to four other U.S. metros, including Tampa Bay.
Here are the photos I took at the event:
Jill St. Thomas, Executive Director of Tech Tampa Bay, gave an inspirational commencement address. She reminded us that women make up slightly more than half of the workforce, yet are underrepresented in many areas that define modern life and society, including technology and leadership. Rather than emulate men, she said that women should embrace that they are different from men and play to those strengths.
The students were given an opportunity to speak for a couple of minutes to talk about their experiences during the 14 weeks. They told stories that will be familiar to you when you think of the first time you encountered programming, look back on your first serious project, or if you’ve ever been in a group with a strong sense of camaraderie.
Congratulations to the graduating class!