Professional Development
Education / universi / workforce development

WilmU and Code Differently partner to make tech careers accessible

School or a workforce development program? Why not both?

A Code Differently class led by Anthony Mays. (Technical.ly/Holly Quinn)
Those aiming for a tech career can consider two pathways: college or workforce development programs like coding bootcamps. But developing technologists don’t have to choose one or the other.

Certainly, some choose one or the other track with success, but it’s not all that binary. Workforce development programs, which have proven highly valuable for learning software coding, are partnering with colleges in Delaware for more of a hybrid option.

The latest of such combinations is a new partnership between Wilmington University (WilmU) and Code Differently. With this collaboration, participants of Code Differently’s recently revamped, 20-week tech education program earn up to 18 credits toward WilmU undergraduate degrees in concentrations like computer science, cybersecurity and data analysis, and they have their application fees waived, too.

A career ecosystem

While students can use Code Differently as a direct stepping stone toward a college degree, the partnership is most effective when local hiring companies are involved, creating a holistic career landscape.

The workforce development program provides entry-level education while working with employers, who provide starter jobs to at least some of the students. In many cases, employers offer employees free tuition or tuition reimbursement, so the now-employed entry-level technologists can go to the college and apply their credits toward a degree paid for by the employer. The worker can then move up to a higher level in the company and earn a higher income without college debt.

And this isn’t only for program graduates who land tech jobs right away. If a Code Differently grad gets a job at Target, Kohl’s, Chipotle or any company that offers tuition reimbursement, they can continue their education and apply their Code Differently credits.

As time goes on, the employee can continue their education in the same manner as tech evolves.

“We have something similar with Zip Code Wilmington,” Lindsay Rice, WilmU’s senior director of academic partnerships, told Technical.ly.

Other partners include Futures First Gaming for esports and game design degrees and  Polytech Adult Education’s apprenticeships, which are aligned with WilmU’s cybersecurity programs. The university also partners with Delaware Technical and Community College, which offers free tuition to high school graduates through the SEED program; students complete an associate’s degree and then continue their education at WilmU.

The best of both worlds

Combining workforce programs with college gives developing technologists the best of both worlds.

“The workforce provider partners are really hyper-focused on very specific pathways, where Wilmington University has the ability to provide students with different options through an apparatus we have in our institution called ‘Guided Pathways for Success,’” Rice said.

Guided Pathways for Success, or GPS (because it helps students go in the right direction) shows pupils, through career services and faculty support, all of the bachelor’s degree avenues they can choose from. So, for example, someone with an associate’s degree in digital media could choose from game design, graphic design, web design, video and communications. The goal is to match students with the careers they want, without some of the stresses that come with a competitive admissions process.

WilmU is known as especially accommodating to working students, with nearly ¾ of its student body attending part-time and a large offering of online and evening classes.

“We are a proudly open admissions institution,” Rice said. “We take great pride in who we accept, not who we reject.”

Companies: Code Differently / Wilmington University
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