Ambitious techies in the Kansas City area might soon have an opportunity to realize their aspirations with a course coming soon from the nonprofit LaunchCode.
Based in St. Louis but with an office in Kansas City, LaunchCode aims to grow the tech workforce of select communities by offering programs to educate those eyeing a career jump into coding. The nonprofit expanded to Kansas City about 18 months ago thanks in part to a $250,000 investment by the Missouri Technology Corporation.
LaunchCode partners with a variety of Kansas City companies — including EyeVerify, UMB, Blooom and Venture360 — and connects them with the developers they train. Founded in 2013, the organization is led by Jim McKelvey, who was a co-founder of the financial tech firm Square.
Applications close Aug. 17. The course begins in September. To learn more about the course, click here.
Further fueling Kansas City’s tech industry is an exciting prospect, Roby, who also is a web application developer at Kansas City-based Pinsight Media, said. We spoke with him to learn about LaunchCode and opportunities for aspiring local techies.
Why’d you become an instructor with LaunchCode?
To help people find a rewarding career. Some people are in jobs that don’t pay well, are repetitive or boring or that they just do not enjoy. Programming is one of the higher-paying professions, with work that is evolving and constantly engaging, and opportunities in just about any industry. I am excited to play a part in helping people change their lives for the better.
How’s the local job market look for techies?
There are so many job opportunities available in Kansas City. Companies are realizing no matter what industry they are in, they need to become technology companies to stay ahead. Even if you find programming isn’t your favorite thing, the skills you gain in this class are directly applicable to other jobs as well.
Why is LaunchCode’s mission important?
Software is eating the world. Companies rely on software more every year to help them meet their growth and profitability goals. In many cases, software is even being used to replace the lower-skilled, repetitive tasks organizations depend on and workers often hate, such as moving boxes or completing stacks of forms. LaunchCode is building a growing workforce of people able to rise to these challenges.
Aside from tech skills, what do you want participants to walk away with?
Many non-programming concepts will be continually improved throughout this program. You will hit concepts that aren’t fully understood that same afternoon – students will need perseverance to keep going until it clicks. While doing the homework and in-class studios, students will develop an ability to break down problems into multiple smaller pieces, instead of being overwhelmed by one big problem. Time management will be important to their success as the next concept builds on top of the previous concepts.
As a tech pro, what advice do you have for these new techies?
Don’t feel like you need to know everything all at once. A lot of students feel they aren’t job-ready at the end of this program, commenting “A real job has to be so much harder than this. Will someone pay me with what I know now?” This isn’t like some careers where you learn everything you’ll ever need to know on the job in a five-hour orientation or one-day of shadowing. You will start off as a junior developer, and over the years you will keep learning more. With time you will learn how to do things faster, with less code and start making suggestions on solutions. Football teams recruit rookies who don’t perform as well as star players. With time and good coaching, they can eventually become just as good or even better. We all start somewhere.
What kind of person will be successful in this class?
There certainly is an aptitude that is best for programming. It’s not for everyone. However, if a person loves to solve problems, is really curious about how things work, is naturally curious, and is able to stick with things, even when they are difficult – this really can be a rewarding option for them. That ability to sit with what feels like failure is a really important thing – in this class, there will be many times where a student will feel like they’re the only person not getting it. That’s always untrue, and if they do not give up, if they keep at it, ask for help as needed, and decide that they will persevere, it will eventually click.