By Sharyn Jackson
Star Tribune (Minneapolis).
When Victor Chege fell asleep behind the wheel after working 30 hours straight, he knew it was time for a change.
He’d just finished a shift as a nursing assistant, then went straight to his job cleaning houses without eating or sleeping. He’d often pulled all-nighters in an effort to pay his bills and send money to his family back home in Kenya, but this time was different.
Chege enrolled in IT-Ready, a fast-paced, boot camp-style program that coaches students to become certified for computer user support positions. These accelerated learning programs help put Minneapolis on the map as a TechHire city, a White House initiative launched last year. The goal of the initiative is to fill the mounting talent gap in the technology workforce by connecting new trainees — including women and minorities — with the employers who need them, and not just in traditional tech hubs like San Francisco and New York.
Within a few months of graduation, Chege, 33, started a full-time job with benefits as an IT service desk agent for the city of Minneapolis. Like one of the nearly 200 people in Minneapolis who attended a coding boot camp last year, he now has an in-demand skill set that landed him a good-paying job.
“I would say this is the best job I ever had,” he said, “I’m proud to tell people what I do.”
Entry-level salaries for students coming out of the local programs — including IT-Ready, Prime Digital Academy, the Software Guild and the Iron Yard — average around $46,000. Experienced software developers make a median annual wage of $98,000, according to government statistics. For students from non-computer backgrounds that means a major pay bump.