As the U.S. job market continues to grow, new college graduates may rejoice over employment opportunities in their chosen field. However, many entry-level positions are fraught with fierce competition and low wages.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, jobs in software/web development are expected to grow 27 percent through 2024, as compared to the job market average of 6.5 percent. Given these impressive statistics, learning how to code may be a viable option when contemplating a career boost.
WSU College of Engineering Professor Dan Ouellette says coding is required in a wide range of fields.
“A benefit of learning how to code is that there is a strong demand for it. As a coder or software engineer, you could work in virtually any industry,” he said.
This is good news for graduates who don’t want to give up their industry of choice. Rather than start down a new career path, they can retool their skill set to fit the growing demand for tech-skilled employees.
Ashley Slaughter, a graduate student at WSU, found herself in this position.
“I have a degree in Communication and was never able to make a great living. Once I learned to code I was able to start my career in technology. It’s really a much more achievable thing to start learning than most people think.”
Ashley, who now leads a technology team, attributes her success to the mix of communication and coding skills she developed prior to entering the field.
Learning how to code is very accessible. There are many free online resources, such as Codeacademy and freeCodeCamp, which offer on-demand coding tutorials in core languages including HTML, CSS and Python. Students can also get involved on campus by attending a HackWSU sponsored event.
Created by Innovation Warriors, HackWSU is a program aimed at helping people develop tech skills. The program hosts Detroit Hacker Nights, a 6-week long series of coding workshops which build upon one another, concluding with a demo night of participants’ work. These events are free, open to all levels and available to the public.
The pinnacle event of the year is the WSU Hack-a-thon, a 48-hour coding competition where participants form groups to develop and implement a tech-based project. The event culminates with group presentations to potential employers, who also serve as coaches throughout the Hacker Nights and Hack-a-thon event.
Another local resource is Grand Circus, which was founded in 2013 to bridge the gap between the burgeoning Detroit tech scene and lack of skilled employees. They offer tuition based coding bootcamps and workshops that may last up to 10 weeks. While the maximum cost of bootcamp is $8500, Grand Circus offers scholarships and financing opportunities to make coding education more accessible.
The organization boasts a network of 140 hiring partners, ranging from large corporations to smaller start-ups, who place graduates in a variety of entry-level roles upon graduation. Bootcamp graduates earn a median annual salary of $50,000, with some students earning $65,000 or more after graduating.
Despite common misconceptions, anybody can learn to code and become a developer. HackWSU Program Coordinator, Jason Beale, provides an example of a WSU Hack-a-thon winning team that included a homeschooled 14-year-old girl, a woman in her seventies, a high school male and a college student.
If someone has passion, ambition and ability to think logically, they can successfully learn how to code.
Grand Circus Senior Marketing Manager Jennifer Cline believes coding is a tool that can offer positive change.
“Learning to code is like learning another language, it makes you better able to connect with the world around you. It can change your socioeconomics, it can make the world more accessible to you, and it can introduce you to culture, products, and people you never would have known if you were not working in the field,” she said.
When asked if she has any advice for those interested in learning how to code, Cline replied, “if anybody has been thinking about a career in tech, or curious what it’s all about, give it a try. Developers are everybody.”