Microsoft MVP on Why He Supports Code Schools

September 16th, 2019

Lauren Mabra

Marketing Coordinator @ Suncoast Developers Guild

Code schools are shaking the tech industry. Microsoft MVP, John Callaway, has been working in technology for the past 20 years and shares with us why he supports Suncoast Developers Guild and how he thinks what we're doing has influenced the entire community.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?

I’m currently a Software Consultant in my 20th year. I specialize in Java, PHP, .Net, Angular, and React. I moved to the Tampa area three years ago from Louisville, Kentucky and got involved with The Iron Yard through its Meetups. Now, I host the St. Pete .Net Meetup because, at the time, there was no C# or .Net program.

How long have you been involved with SDG and how did you end up being an Advisory Committee member?

I got connected with The Iron Yard (TIY) and saw its success within the community and I didn’t want to see the education and Meetups come to an end. It was so valuable for those who wanted to get started in tech or further their learning. I really didn’t want to lose that. Even after TIY closed, I stayed in contact with the core team. Supporting the newly-established Suncoast Developers Guild was a no brainer for me. I continue to host the .Net Meetup and I'm also involved as an Advisory Committee member.

Why did you decide to support SDG and its mission?

I’m passionate about supporting Suncoast Developers Guild because they’re providing something in the community that wasn’t already here. Aside from that, I absolutely love getting to work with the smart, eager individuals who are going through the program or who have already graduated. It’s amazing to see such a low barrier to entry for these software developers because there’s such high demand from local companies. I support SDG because I want to make sure the people who are truly excited about learning and growing as developers are able to seize the opportunity.

What do you think makes Suncoast Developers Guild unique?

This code school is unique because they have more of a say in how they teach and grow individuals. This is a direct result of having a hiring network and working so closely with local employers. They discover companies’ needs and pain points when it comes to hiring new tech talent and is able to customize the curriculum to exactly what’s needed. Another alternative is providing companies with specialized private training. As a result, developers are taught the most up-to-date and in-demand skills which help companies who are in desperate need of talented developers. This also helps fill the gap of grads needing jobs as developers.

As a senior developer, is there anything you’d like to say about our curriculum?

It was really exciting for me to see that Suncoast Developers Guild’s curriculum is open source which means that anyone is able to contribute and collaborate with others over it. I currently see a growing need for Angular in the Tampa area so, in the future, I’d love to see this being added to the academy’s curriculum.

If an employer was looking to hire one of our graduates, what would you say to him or her?

I would, of course, suggest that they interview and get to know them first. The graduates are typically eager to learn and it’s obvious why; they've invested a great amount of money and time to be going through the program. It's clear that they’re dedicated and want to be successful.

There are people who are still skeptical about “non-traditional education” such as a trade school or a code bootcamp, what would you say to them?

Both a traditional four-year degree and non-traditional education have a place in society. I’ve noticed that lots of four-year programs teach computer science and theory, but lack teaching how to put that knowledge to use. If you’re someone who's looking to hit the ground running and start producing value as soon as possible, in my opinion, it’s easier to accomplish this from attending a code boot camp.

Do you think code schools are changing the tech industry? How so?

I do see that code schools are transforming the tech industry because they’ve been exceptional about adapting to the industry’s wants and needs. On the other hand, universities have boards and regulations that aren’t as flexible, so, for example, they may be teaching an old version of Java. It’s common for the curriculum of colleges and universities to be outdated.

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