(Photo by Flickr user WOCinTech Chat, used under a Creative Commons license)
I logged into Zoom, then joined a meeting, then another meeting, then another meeting.
I guess I could be describing any sort of company or personal gathering these days, but last Friday, I logged on to watch the first students from Tech Elevator’s Philadelphia campus graduate and present their projects during a virtual demo day.
I first covered the coding bootcamp’s expansion to Philly last year, and I’ve been to my fair share of tech demos and bootcamp graduations in the last year I’ve worked at Technical.ly. But this was the first where you could wander from “room” to “room,” virtually, watching the 14 graduating students explain different projects to their instructors, peers and anyone else who wanted to sit in, like me.
At 4 p.m., I started out in the first room, where instructors gave us the lowdown about what we could expect, then I joined the second room to see the first project of the day. A handful of students and other attendees and I waited for an apparent all-clear to start the presentation. It didn’t come, so after a few minutes, I decided to hop to another room.
There, I joined some folks who were watching a project called “City of Brewtherly Love,” a brewery and beer logging site created by five members of the inaugural class of Philly students. This presentation was going a little smoother, but it still had a few moments where students talked over each other or someone who needed to talk was accidentally still muted — you know, your usual fun Zoom challenges.
Still, I enjoyed the fun Zoom backgrounds, nod to Philly’s beer scene and interactive website. The students answered questions about how the site functions, its backend and its review function. The students explained that it was made of a combination of Spring framework in Java and Vue.JS. They also used Trello to organize the project.
The students learned four modules within Java, Caitie Zajko, Tech Elevator’s Pathway Program director, told me: object-oriented programming, relational databases, web-application programming and frontend technologies. Their final two weeks of the program consist of combing all of their skills to make a web application that they can speak to in interviews.
Normally, the bootcamp consists of 14-week, in-person coursework, but the coronavirus pandemic forced instruction online.
“The students were able to pivot, adjust and complete the remaining seven weeks virtually via Zoom in our live classroom,” Zajko said.
The 14 students are the Philadelphia campus’ first graduating cohort, and a summer class will begin on May 11.
As of the May 1 graduation, the inaugural class is now out job-hunting. The final projects are meant to be able to showcase what they’ve learned in the last three months, and it’s already earned a handful of students job offers at JPMorgan Chase, Zajko told me. Others are moving through interview processes, and job hunting in general is going “fairly well considering the economy currently,” she said.
While the cohort is graduating into uncertain economic times, a recent Economy League of Greater Philadelphia report shows that Philly’s tech sector is among the strongest during the pandemic, and is likely to grow as more companies adapt to remote work and increased technical and cybersecurity needs.
“I continue to tell my students that they’ve chosen the right industry to work in, because technology is keeping all of us connected, and companies will continue to need developers and technical roles,” Zajko said. “There are definitely less jobs out there right now, but I’m confident that we’ll start to see more openings over the next few months.”
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