Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Coding Boot Camp Hopes VA Approval Will Lead to Growth

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Coding Boot Camp Hopes VA Approval Will Lead to Growth

Article excerpt

Meagan Klein needed help when her new job required computer programming skills. Kevin Thornton was looking for a career with more upside than his previous job on a computer help desk.

Both of them ended up at Claim Academy, a four-year-old St. Louis institution that's one of a growing number of coding boot camps offering short, intensive courses in software development.

Klein, a Navy veteran, completed Claim Academy's course last year and works for SAIC, a government contractor. Thornton has four weeks to go at Claim Academy but has already landed a job at Boeing.

"It's sort of like the military," says Thornton, 50, an Air Force veteran who moved here from Texas. "If you can make it through boot camp, you can make it anywhere. It shows you are dedicated and adaptable and willing to learn."

Ola Ayeni, Claim Academy's founder, says 93 percent of his 300-plus graduates have found programming jobs paying an average of $63,000. That's above the 80 percent placement rate that Course Report, a website that tracks the industry, estimates for 108 U.S. coding boot camps that graduated around 20,000 people last year.

Claim Academy's full-stack programming course lasts just 12 weeks, but it's not easy. Students spend nine hours a day, five days a week at the Downtown West school. Most students put in additional time; Thornton says it's a "Monday to Sunday experience" for him.

Liz Eggleston, a co-founder of Course Report, says institutions such as Claim Academy fill a need that's not met by traditional schools. "The beauty of the boot camp industry is they are teaching real-world, cutting-edge technologies," she said. "When something changes in tech, which it does every day, they can react quickly and add it to the curriculum."

Claim Academy's course costs $12,500, but some students, including Klein and Thornton, attend on scholarship. …

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