Want To Work In Tech? St. Louis-Based LaunchCode Helps Make That Happen In 6 Months

By January 14, 2014


“If you’re reading Techli, you probably get it already,” said Jim McKelvey, co-founder of LaunchCode and Square.  “But if you want to write code, make six figures, and you know, set your own hours, dress like a bum, and still get treated with respect, there is a path that does not cost a penny, and it gets you very quickly into that position.”

lc-class-wideSounds good, right?  Over 1,000 students think so, too, by taking advantage of the free training course through LaunchCode and edX (the not-for-profit online learning enterprise founded by MIT and Harvard University).  The course is CS50X, an introduction to computer science, which kicked off last night in St. Louis at the Peabody Opera House.

While you can take this specific course, designed by David M. Malan, online at anytime, students in St. Louis have an additional incentive to take it now.  Students who complete the course will receive a job placement through LaunchCode, which currently has 500 spots available.

“The course is the most concentrated and quickest way to go from zero knowledge to employably skilled as we can,” explained McKelvey on why this course was selected.  “No [other course] will take somebody with zero programming knowledge [to employed programmer] as fast as this course.”

By offering this free online course in person, LaunchCode is hoping to lessen St. Louis’ IT talent gap and possibly even be a way to address the problem of underemployment.  To give you an idea, every year, 150,000 new programming jobs become available in the U.S., but there are fewer than 40,000 new computer science graduates.

“I think St. Louis is a typical city in that it has a serious IT shortage.  What is atypical is we have gotten 100 St. Louis companies to agree to suspend their traditional hiring practices when it comes to IT hires,” said McKelvey.  “They are sort of broadening their definition of who can be a good employee, and they’re making St. Louis into a fertile training ground for talent.”

McKelvey went on to explain the whole idea behind Launchcode, stating, “We’re not just trying to hire more people or get people to move to our city.  What we’re saying is that given a focused course of study a person, with some natural ability, can be professionally employed very quickly.  And by very quickly, I mean less than six months.”

Essentially, if you’re stuck in a job that you hate, within six months you can be out of your job and be into the hottest job on the planet right now.  Does that sound like anyone you know?  “Find two students, get them in the class, and you can change this whole city,” said McKelvey.  “So go do it.”

LaunchCode has already placed 42 people in jobs in just three months.  It’s really a pretty good deal.  Through pair programming, a system used in Silicon Valley involving two programmers, two keyboards and one monitor, a new coder can receive training and experience until he or she is ready for a full-time job.  The process typically lasts around three months, and you’ll make $15 an hour while training with great St. Louis companies.  (And all 42 have retained their position to-date with their company.)

Who are these companies?  To name a few of the 100+, LaunchCode might place a new developer with MasterCard, Enterprise, Peabody Energy, or even great startup companies like Lockerdome, Pushup Social and TrakBill.  Tell your friends about Launchcodestl.com, and you can change their world along with the city of St. Louis.