The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee has formed a partnership with New York-based coding school Thinkful in an effort to produce more tech talent in the region.
Thinkful offers a six-month online program designed to take students from “beginner to job-ready” as web developers and software engineers.
Through the new partnership with UWM’s School of Continuing Education, participating students will receive a university-issued certificate and will be eligible for Thinkful’s job guarantee, which promises a full tuition refund if students are not offered a qualifying position within six months of graduation.
“The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s School of Continuing Education is pleased to be partnering with Thinkful and its Coding Boot Camp,” Nancy Nelson, provost’s deputy for continuing education at UWM. ”This partnership is well-suited with the school’s goal of meeting regional workforce needs. This course provides participants with the skills necessary for high-growth careers in web development while also meeting the rapidly changing technology needs of industry.”
It is Thinkful’s first-ever partnership with a university, said Darrell Silver, chief executive officer. The boot camp, which is based in New York City and has students located across the country, launched in 2012.
Silver was invited to attend Northwestern Mutual's Technology Summit in 2017, during which he “fell in love with Milwaukee” and began exploring options for expanding Thinkful’s presence here.
“We at Thinkful have communities in a lot cities around the U.S., cities like Atlanta or Denver or Chicago, but what we’ve realized is it’s harder to reach students in smaller cities,” Silver said. “So I was visiting and I loved Milwaukee, I loved the architecture … but I realized we couldn’t open a community there; the same dynamic didn’t really work.”
Silver said the opportunity to partner with an established institution like UWM made sense for the coding school.
“It was obvious for us,” he said. “It has a great established reputation throughout all of Wisconsin and the rest of the country.”
Milwaukee’s growing tech scene has caused a shortage of software developers in the region, Silvers said.
"Tech is growing faster in small cities in the U.S. than it is in San Francisco," Silver said. "The need for skilled labor is just incredibly high."
The part-time Thinkful course teaches students web development fundamentals including HTML, CSS, APIs, GitHub, Node.js, React, data structures and algorithms.
Silver said students who participate in Thinkful’s program through UWM will benefit from having access to the resources of both institutions.
“Our community will get to participate in both the UWM community; we’ll host community events on campus … and they will get to participate in the Thinkful community, which is nationwide, 1,500 students and 600 educators,” Silver said.
According to Thinkful reports, 83.5 percent of its students are hired within six months of graduating.