Melanie Augustin recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of her promotion from Director of Corporate Partnerships to Head of School at Zip Code Wilmington.
She has been with the coding school since October 2015, and assumed the top spot when Anthony Pisapia went on to become Chief Innovation and Information Officer at Tower Hill School.
We checked in with Augustin to learn about her first year on the job.
Technical.ly Delaware: How has the role been different from what you expected?
Melanie Augustin: I didn’t fully anticipate how exciting and rewarding it would be to be involved in every aspect of the school — from marketing and business development, to strategic planning and building community partnerships.
Unfortunately, the demands of the position have prevented me from spending as much one-on-one time with the students as I used to in my prior role. But, we’ve hired several new staff members in the past few months, and I’m hoping that will free up more time for me to work with the students.
TD: What do you think your biggest accomplishment has been thus far?
MA: Zip Code Wilmington has had a number of great accomplishments. We graduated over 100 students, with 93 percent of them placed in paid roles within three months of graduating. The number of companies hiring our graduates has quadrupled since our first class. Our placed graduates have increased their annual earnings, on average, from less than $30,000 to over $63,000. Also, we increased the diversity of our student body by 15 percent. We also have some exciting plans we’ve been hard at work on for later this year. Zip Code is a team, and we only achieved these accomplishments due to the dedication, passion and talent of the entire staff.
As far as accomplishments that I can take sole credit for, Zip Code’s Director of Education, Tariq Hook, recently admitted after a disagreement that I was right. That may be my biggest accomplishment thus far.
TD: You previously stated that you would like to get your students more exposure and create more ways for them to showcase their skills outside of interviews. What steps have you taken to accomplish this?
MA: I strive to bring in hiring partners as many times as possible during the 12-week program so that our students have the chance to get to know the hiring managers before their interviews. Two mornings every week, we bring in area technologists to give tech talks and network with our students. For our current cohort, we’re hosting a breakfast social for area employers to meet our students and see the apps they’re developing. We also do multiple site visits, where our students go on site to our hiring partners’ locations to see the workspace, meet the teams, and get a sense of what life as a developer is like at those companies.
TD: Zip Code is big on student success stories? How do you think these stories benefit current and prospective students?
MA: Convincing people that passion, drive and raw talent can lead even those without a tech background to a successful career as a software developer can be challenging. Many of our students struggle with imposter syndrome — believing they’re not intelligent or capable enough to succeed as a software developer. Our students have incredibly diverse professional backgrounds — from truck drivers and teachers to scientists and chefs. Our graduates’ success stories prove that, with a lot of hard work and dedication, you can successfully transition into a software developer regardless of your past experience.
TD: What’s in store for Zip Code Wilmington?