CEO Kristin Smith described the eight-week, full-time Development Accelerator program as a sort of “finishing school” for somewhat experienced developers. Tuition costs $10,000 and includes full access to 1871, where Code Fellows will rent a dedicated classroom for the duration of the session. Applications will be accepted until early May.
The size and variety of Chicago’s technology market — companies of all sizes and stages — indicates a growing demand for a certain level of skilled technology workers, which is what drew Code Fellows here, Smith said.Smith said Code Fellows students who are not hired as software developers within nine months of graduating from the certificate program receive a full refund. The school launched in Seattle in 2013 and expanded to Portland, Ore., in late 2014. Chicago will be its third market.
Code Fellows’ Development Accelerator teaches students the “full-stack,” which includes front-end and back-end skills, Smith said. She said the program does not target career-switchers but that individuals from other industries who have already started learning programming could benefit from it. Many students have worked as freelancers or completed side projects and have about two years’ experience, she said.
Code Fellows will not be the only coding program at 1871, where The Starter League has had a classroom since the hub’s 2012 launch. Starter League co-founder Mike McGee said Code Fellows will fill a gap for coders who need accelerated learning and understanding of what it takes to work as a professional developer. He referred to Code Fellows co-founder Will Little as a friend and said he did not see the program as a competitor to his own.
“This has been a crowded space for the last at least 18 months,” McGee said of coding bootcamps at 1871. “This isn’t anything that’s groundbreaking or earth shattering. They’re welcome to the community."
Nick Moran, managing director of Chicago-based venture firm Moran Capital Partners, will work with Code Fellows as Launch Director as the company sets up here. He said he will help Code Fellows make connections in Chicago, where talent is plentiful but may require additional development.
“There’s plenty of academies and plenty of development programs that cater to people looking to a job transition,” Moran said. He said Code Fellows has a slightly different focus. “It’s trying to take the developers that already exist, the people who have made a commitment to be a developer as a career and accelerate them to qualify them to be the top level.”
Moran said he has met with several technology companies in Chicago, including loyalty rewards app Belly, that have indicated an interest in hiring and mentoring Code Fellows students.
Smith said Code Fellows hiring partners do not pay recruiting fees to the program but that some preferred partners in Seattle pay fees to get early access to students, whom they may wish to hire. Smith said she does not yet know whether the company will replicate that in Chicago.
“We’ll really let Chicago tell us what the right model is there,” she said.