After graduating from Bennington College in 2014, Benjamin Boas packed up his room in Vermont and moved to New York City where he began his career as a User Experience Designer. Having majored in social science, Benjamin witnessed first-hand how difficult it was to escalate a new career that was foreign from his academic background. Now, having worked for a host of Fortune 500 clients at top-digital agencies across the city, Benjamin attributes his career success to his colleagues and mentors that were eager to see him succeed. According to Benjamin “I was lucky, and not everyone has these opportunities.”
Simply put, changing into a new career in tech is tough. Figuring out how to apply your skills in a growing market can be an uphill battle with a lot of trial and error. In Vermont, where tech jobs are growing seven times faster than the state’s total occupational growth, access to local educational resources that teach students skills necessary to enter these positions are limited and costly. For this reason, Benjamin partnered with his childhood friend and now co-founder, Alex Horner, to build Burlington Code Academy, Vermont’s first full-time on-site coding bootcamp.
Students with little-to-no prior experience can attend a 12-week, bootcamp-style program to become job-ready web developers upon graduation. For students, the appeal of the coding bootcamp model is that it offers an education alternative to traditional 4-year degrees that can effectively result in high-paying, in-demand jobs. For employers, it’s the funnel of talent coming from these programs that help fill positions and close the widening skills gap in the labor market.
As native Vermonters, Benjamin and Alex grew up as best friends and next-door neighbors in Proctor, and, while Benjamin was in New York City building his career, Alex was in upstate New York working with Rev: Ithaca Startup Works, a hardware accelerator associated with Cornell University and Ithaca College. While at Rev, Alex helped develop a chemical-free smoking cessation product that won multiple business competitions and funding awards. With his time at Ithaca coming to a close, Alex, like Benjamin asked himself, ‘How do we provide these opportunities for people to explore careers in tech in the state that we love the most?’
With their plan in place, Benjamin and Alex left New York and moved back to Vermont at the beginning of the summer to work together full-time on actualizing the foundation of Burlington Code Academy. Now, having partnered with Burlington’s prominent tech organizations (such as Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies, BTV Ignite, and AllYouCanTech), the momentum has been nothing short of inspiring.
Burlington Code Academy is now accepting applications for their first cohort set to launch in June, 2018. Interested applicants can apply here.