Encouraging our New Tech Workforce

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For the past ten years, I’ve worked at the same tech company, and I joke that this might be some sort of record for a Millennial. In that time, I have watched Indiana’s tech landscape grow rapidly and become more robust. In fact, across our state, there are thousands of tech jobs available right now. Wouldn’t it be amazing, if the forty thousand students graduating from high school in the next month, were to stay in Indiana and fill these tech jobs?

Like many developers, I was self-taught. When I was a kid, I loved playing video games. When I became bored with the rules, I began making my own rules and would figure out how to modify and hack the code. While at Ben Davis High School, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to compete in a web application development competition held through Business Professionals of America. My sporting goods e-commerce platform captured second place at Nationals. It was through one of the instructors that I learned about Axia Technology Partners (AxitTP), and I started working with there when I was just 17 years old.

Working part-time at AxiaTP, while developing Kerauno (now a company, at the time Kerauno was a software platform) and taking college courses, I realized that I was learning more on the job than in class. Fortunately, my employer didn’t think it was necessary for me to have a college degree, which meant that I didn’t have to incur additional student loan debt. My personal experience is why I’m passionate about alternatives to college—especially in tech.

Kudos to our state for supporting opportunities for students interested in pursuing a career in tech that isn’t the traditional college pathway. Engagement with area employers, internship opportunities, and job shadowing are offered through many high schools now. Those interested in tech should be aware that becoming engaged in the tech landscape no longer requires a traditional college degree. Fortunately, many large technology companies across the country have eliminated their four-year degree requirement for hiring.

Faster pathways to a career in tech can happen right out of high school through Kenzie Academy or Eleven Fifty Academy.  If these schools were an option when I was in high school, I would have considered them heavily against a traditional college education. Three months spent learning a new coding language, which would bootstrap me to enter the workforce directly, is something that any recent high school graduate should consider.

In my opinion, colleges are ideal for professions with a knowledge base in areas that don’t change dramatically overnight. Tech, however, changes so rapidly that curriculum cannot possibly keep up, for the traditional college curriculum review process takes way too long. The boot camps, through their relationships with employers, understand precisely the type of expertise businesses need and what will get their graduates a job.

My career path was nontraditional, and hopefully, embracing such a way becomes another option for recent graduates trying to decide if college is really the right choice.

So much of what software developers need to know is learned on the job. Rapid training followed by getting into the trenches of the tech workforce is what is helping young developers produce incredible products and services that are changing the world for the better.

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