Reporter with Silicon Hills News

Photos courtesy of Codeup

Photos courtesy of Codeup and Geekdom

Nathaniel Medrano wrapped up a recent internship feeling that, while the experience gave him great exposure, the job’s DIY learning model-via telecommute no less-still had him looking for ingrained traction in the technology. His work setting up search engines for local directories at a telecommunications company had given him a taste for the role and its tasks, but now he wanted a bootcamp experience that would help him understand the “why.”

He chose Codeup, an immersive 12-week cohort program launched out of the Geekdom tech startup incubator in downtown San Antonio. “Iron sharpens iron…and Codeup gave me exactly what I was looking for,” Medrano said. He graduates in a few weeks. The program “strengthened what I did know, and filled in all the gaps.”

Citing a Bureau of Labor Statistics study that job growth for developers is expected to grow 30 percent between 2010 and 2020, Codeup bills itself as an “in-person bootcamp that takes you from non-techie to web programmer.” It targets would-be web developers who are early career or second career with an intensive program that combines instructor-led training and self-study. Graduates are guaranteed that if they don’t land a job within six months, half their tuition will be refunded.

Fresh off the glow of his team winning the 2014 InnoTech Beta Summit, CEO Michael Girdley talked about what differentiates Codeup from courses available in community colleges and other bootcamps. “All a computer science degree gives you is theory, and then someone has to pay you to learn what to do with it,” he said. The value that Codeup tries to provide graduates and employers is “we cut out those first three years” that newly-minted web developers normally spend cutting their teeth on applied learning, Girdley said. A list of 55 employers formally recruit from Codeup, ranging from other Geekdom startups to established firms such as Globalscape and Labatt Food Service.

Codeup3The typical student experience starts with a considerable amount of prep work even before the first class. “You’re coding within the first 45 minutes of Day One,” Girdley said. Subsequently, most days include six hours of classroom training, bookended by several hours of study hall where instructors are still available for assistance. Codeup punctuates the learning with lunchtime speakers, and recently held a hackathon competition. Throughout the 12-week course, students are continually assigned textbook reading. The emphasis is a hands-on learning of Lavarel, as PHP used in the creation of hundreds of millions of websites.

It’s an immersive, structured curriculum that Medrano was able to root in: “It filled that space between the ‘Pythagoras Theorem’ and ‘Here’s what to do,” Medrano said. He likens it to learning a new language, with the immediate focus on code that is immediately functional, “worrying about syntax later”. He particularly likes that the learning is iterative: material covered in the first week is used as a core that is continually revisited and built up from.

The next cohort of 30 students starts May 6th and is already half full, with 15 applications accepted out of 70 submitted, Girdley said. The review process involves a round of interviews with Codeup instructors. “What we ask ourselves during the interview process is ‘Can we help?’ and ‘What is their learn rate?” Girdley said. “I also want people I’m willing to be locked up with in a room all day,” he added with a good-natured laugh.

Prospective students can watch the current class via livestream or in-person, as well as read the team’s bios. The Codeup team includes four Instructors and three Lab Associates. “You’ve got a very experienced team here,” said Girdley, who has written four textbooks.