Showcasing New Programmers at CodeUp’s Demo Day

By LAURA LOREK
Founder of Silicon Hills News

Greg McCabe, Michael Jaime and Caitlin Daily, creators of Pro-Sifter at CodeUp Demo Day

Greg McCabe, Michael Jaime and Caitlin Daily, creators of Pro-Sifter at CodeUp Demo Day

Michael Jaime sold his car and bought a bike so he could pay his tuition and participate in CodeUp, a 12-week bootcamp that teaches non-programmers how to code.

Each day Jaime would bike three miles to Geekdom at the Weston Centre in downtown San Antonio to learn a hodgepodge of programming languages including JavaScript, SQL, HTML and PHP.

On Wednesday, Jaime and his team showed off their newly acquired skills during a presentation of their capstone project, Pro-Sifter, a web app that allows users to find professional hairstylists, makeup artists and more and to rate and review them.

“I’ve always wanted to do this,” Jaime said. “I’ve always been interested in web development.”

Jaime was one of 23 students in the latest CodeUp program. They graduated on Wednesday and presented their projects at the Pearl Studio to a standing-room only crowd of more than 70 potential employers.

This is the second CodeUp class to graduate. The first class graduated in April. Out of that class, 25 of the 27 students have found employment or have made money as programmers, said Michael Girdley, co-founder of CodeUp. They’ve gotten jobs with Labatt Foods, Parlevel, Heavy-Heavy and various web development shops, he said.

Passion and determination are the qualities that make good CodeUp students, he said.

“These people have all had to make life sacrifices to be here,” he said. “They self-select. Those are the traits of being a good employee. They are the type of people you want to hire.”

IMG_3537CodeUp costs $9,875 for a 12-week program. Some of the students use a Crowdfunding portal to raise the money for tuition. CodeUp refunds half of the tuition if a student is able to find a job within six months.

“It’s a way to get behind someone when they’re changing their life,” Girdley said.

Kyle Cornelius, co-founder of Storific, a mobile application for ordering food from restaurants, attended the CodeUp Demo Day to scope out the talent.

“Codeup is a terrific bootcamp because they come in prepared and ready,” he said. “The skills that they learned are all things we use.“

Storific is looking to hire two backend developers, Cornelius said.

“Most of the people here do fit the bill,” he said. “We’re just trying to find people who share the same passion with us.”

Chad Keck, CEO and founder of Promoter.io, a company feedback system based on the Net Promoter Score, planned to interview some of the jobs candidates in the next few days. He’s hiring a full stack engineer, a front-end engineer and a junior developer.

Andre Dempsey, Nicole Sumrall and Andrew Samaniego with Tweets for Charity project at CodeUp Demo Day.

Andre Dempsey, Nicole Sumrall and Andrew Samaniego with Tweets for Charity project at CodeUp Demo Day.

Nicole Sumrall worked on the Tweets for Charity program, a Web application that allows Twitter users to donate to selected charities by tracking the number of tweets they post in a month and a per-tweet donation tied to that number.

She joined CodeUp to change the direction of her life. She previously worked at Best Buy in the cell phone department while pursuing her graduate degree. She has a B.S. from UTSA and a M.S. in English literature from Texas A&M in San Antonio.

“When I realized I wasn’t going to be able to get into a Ph.D. program, technology was the next best thing.,” Sumrall said. “ I really enjoy creating things. It gives me a creative outlet in programming. I learned about CodeUp from a friend and then I applied.”

And she’s glad she did. The program opened her up to new ideas. And now she’s eager to pursue a job as a web developer.

One of Cole Reveal’s roommates had previously enrolled in the last CodeUp class.

“I saw the culture that was at Geekdom and it just blew my mind. It was something I had to gear my life toward,” Reveal said.

His team’s capstone project was Diversity Thread, a “resource for potential employees looking to get noticed specifically designed for minorities and women.”

Reveal has a math degree but he was working at a New Balance store, selling shoes. He wanted a more challenging career.

“This gave me new skills,” Reveal said. The program helped Reveal sharpen his problem solving skills and broadened his ability to acquire information, he said.

“CodeUp has opened our eyes,” he said. “The instruction here is unmatched.”

Justin Mason also worked on the Diversity Thread project also, which he calls a “diversity” LinkedIn.

“For the past few three years I ran a tech company without any technical skills myself. I paid a lot of contractors,” Mason said.

He worked on his startup, Vela, out of Geekdom for the past year and half. He started it in Southern California.

The CodeUp program gave him the skills he needed to program his own site. He no longer needs to hire programmers. He’s now looking for a job as a web developer.

“This was empowering,” Mason said.

Caitlin Daily earned a degree in nuclear medicine from Incarnate Word, but she couldn’t find a job. She decided to enroll in CodeUp and she found her passion.

“I wanted to stay in San Antonio,” Daily said. “I needed something quick to get me into new fields. “

She worked on the Pro-Sifter project. Now she’s looking for a job as a web developer specializing in back end development. She feels like CodeUp prepared her for a career in coding.

“I have no fear going into any interview,” she said.

Frank Pigeon retired from the military in 2003 as a computer operator and analyst and works at Fort Sam Houston as a civilian project engineer. But he always wanted to learn how to code.

“I came to the last Demo day and I was blown away by the projects I saw and I said I’ve got to do this,” Pigeon said.

So he enrolled in CodeUp. His team’s capstone project, Community-Helpers, is “a web application that connects seniors with odd-jobs done around their house to the youth in their community who are ready to earn some money.”

“A few months ago I would never have the tools to accomplish this,” he said.

Ashley Webb, Greg Vallejo and Daniel Jimenez, with the ChartBabe team at CodeUp Demo Day

Ashley Webb, Greg Vallejo and Daniel Jimenez, with the ChartBabe team at CodeUp Demo Day

Ashley Webb got introduced to coding through her WordPress blog, LeonaLovely.

At CodeUp, she worked on a capstone project, ChartBabe, a way for new moms to track all of their babies’ activities electronically including feedings, diaper changes and naps.

Webb plans to continue working on the project and adding new features, including creating a mobile phone app. Webb’s son, Jasper, is 18 months old. Her second child is due in November. Coding provides her with flexibility.

“It seemed like a big price tag at first,” she said. “I don’t even have a job yet and I already know it was worth it. I can’t believe the knowledge I’ve gained in 12 weeks.”

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