In response to growing demand from employers, San Antonio-based Codeup is launching a new program aimed at preparing people for careers in data science.
Students will spend 18 weeks learning programming language Python, statistics, different types of machine learning, SQL and other skills. They'll master what Codeup's leaders call the data science process: getting, cleaning and parsing data, looking for patterns, building models and communicating their findings. They will also participate in mock interviews, receive business cards and headshots and work with staff on their resumes and social media presence. The Bootcamp costs $22,500.
The inaugural cohort of 25 will start Feb. 4 and a second is planned for July. Classes take place at 600 Navarro Street, and people can apply online through Codeup's website.
"The discipline has grown significantly across the country, and we talked to employers and there isn't enough supply to fill these positions," said Dimitri Antoniou, Codeup's director of business development. "We want to help bridge the gap between companies and people wanting to enter the field."
The new course harkens back to Codeup's roots: several members of the downtown co-working space Geekdom launched the company in 2013 to address a dearth of web developers and training in San Antonio. More than 400 people have graduated from the full-stack web development boot camp, Codeup's first program, to date.
Codeup leaders started talking to companies and discussing launching a data science boot camp about a year ago, said vice president of operations, Phillip Hernandez. As the web development course, the data science boot camp is immersive and project-based, with the goal of teaching students skills they can transfer across companies, industries and technologies.
Senior data scientist Maggie Giust handles the curriculum and instruction for the new program and said demand for data scientists locally is rising.
"The number of data-focused startups is only growing in (San Antonio), including both those that enable data science/machine learning and those that provide value to non-data professionals," she said in a provided statement. "Larger companies like H-E-B, Rackspace and USAA are growing their data science capabilities across all areas of their business."
"We want to enable all of those companies to reach their potential, and not have to relocate to do so," Giust added.
Businesses in San Antonio are indeed looking for people with these skills, said Michael DeFelice, data science lead at San Antonio-based cyber security company Jungle Disk. Data science isn't a field many people go to college to study, he said - DeFelice got his bachelor's degree in computer science and had to teach himself Python and other skills - and businesses are just starting to hire people for these positions.
"There's a small circle of people with the skills to make sense of business data," he said. "We need more of them."
DeFelice is in the process of building a cyber insurance company called CyberFortress that will cater to small businesses.
"We definitely plan on hiring a bunch of data scientists," he said.
People come to Codeup from a variety of backgrounds. There are military veterans, people who have only worked part-time, employees of local companies trying to learn new skills, college graduates, people on their second career and those just starting out. There are people of all ages and stages in life.
The common denominator? "They're all in transition," Hernandez said. "They're all looking for a path to their next chapter."
Scholarships for both programs are available to women, minorities, veterans, members of the LGBTQIA community, first responders and people relocating to San Antonio for Codeup's programs. Roughly 68 percent of Codeup's students are from an underrepresented group within the tech sector, and about a quarter is veterans, Antoniou said.
The most attractive feature to prospective students is the likelihood of securing a job, Hernandez said. About 80 percent of Codeup graduates have found relevant employment within six months, and the company will refund half of the tuition cost for those who don't find a job within that period. Graduates have gone on to work for companies like USAA, Accenture, H-E-B, Oracle and Brokerage Engine.
"We sell jobs, not education," Hernandez said.
It can still be a barrier, but tech companies are becoming more familiar with and accepting of non-traditional education pathways, he said. They are "willing to have a conversation" about it, a discussion that was nonexistent when Hernandez joined Codeup two and a half years ago, he said.
When interviewing prospective employees, DeFelice said he looks for "demonstrated grit." Codeup tends to select students who are driven and motivated to learn, and they are affected by their students' success, he said.
"What I like at them specifically is that they have skin in the game," DeFelice said.
Employers on Codeup's board weigh in on the curriculum and the organization continues to talk to companies about what their needs are, Hernandez said. His hope is that Codeup will continue adding more programs accordingly.
"We're hopeful that our data scientists are going to be consumed just as quick or quicker than our developers," he said. "If that's the case, we'll start iterating our next offering."