Tech fields provide a never-ending learning experience, said Mohammad Rasoulipour, a creative technologist at VML.
With a background in design, Rasoulipour turned to LaunchCode to get a leg up in the web design world, try something new — and land a job a premier marketing and advertising firm like VML.
LaunchCode, a free tech training program, involves 20 weeks of intense curriculum and then an optional Liftoff and Playground program that teaches soft skills and an apprenticeship placement.
The program places students across Kansas City in businesses from startup to larger corporations, said Helena Boucard, LaunchCode’s relations manager, with an age range of 17 to 70 accepted after an extensive vetting process, she said.
“It was absolutely stunning. I gained so much confidence by learning something that I was intimidated by,” said Rasoulipour.
Rasoulipour began as a programming apprentice at VML after new chief technology officer David Mitchell wrote his name down on a napkin during his presentation at graduation, he said.
A year later, Rasoulipour filled one of VML’s new positions as a creative technologist for the team handling the firm’s Gatorade account.
The most rewarding aspect for Gloria Higley, another LaunchCode student-turned-VML employee, was the supportive class and instructors giving her the courage to do something that society tends to suggest is available only to exceptionally smart people and mostly men, she said.
“I’m in a more diverse group of people that are trying to learn this thing that everybody can learn if you remove barriers to education. It was so powerful,” Higley added.
Cost being an obstacle for most students, LaunchCode relies heavily on sponsors, partners and grants to maintain the no-cost benefit of the program, said Boucard.
“If we don’t have partners with companies like VML, it doesn’t make it a successful program,” she added. “The amount of hiring that they’ve done for us has helped us tremendously in our program.”
LaunchCode hopes to expand its curriculum to include other subjects, like data science, to help graduates expand on their previous work, said Boucard.
This year, ten LaunchCode grads are spread across VML’s operations, said Jamie Dierking, director of communications.
“It’s been great for us as well. I think we’re the largest [LaunchCode] employer in Kansas City, so it’s an incredible program and all the people that I’ve worked with — both Gloria and Muhammad … Every one of them is a spectacular,” said Dierking.