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New York's Unusual Flatiron School Catches Silicon Valley's eye

After the 12-week intensive coding program Flatiron graduates land jobs at places like Google and Kickstarter with average starting salaries of $74,447.
BY Uttara Choudhury |   17-08-2016

Rahul Sood from New Delhi was looking to gain in-demand web development skills in a competitive job market, but didn't want to spend the time and money required to earn a full graduate degree in computer science or information technology. Instead, he chose a coding boot camp in New York that teaches people how to code, no tech-specific experience required.

The Flatiron School in New York runs a 12-week intensive coding program that costs $15,000, but earns students no degree. But at the end of the program, graduates are full-fledged web developers with a sure shot path to well-paying jobs.

"The Flatiron School recently held a job fair and we showed off the projects we have been working on. It was so exciting," said Sood who landed a job with a Silicon Valley internet startup.

According to "The Wall Street Journal" nearly everyone graduates, and "more than nine in 10 land a job within six months" at places like Google and Kickstarter with average starting salaries of $74,447.

In New York, the Flatiron School has set a high bar for admission and is known as "the Harvard Business School of coding" because of its selective application process. Flatiron said it accepts only 6 percent of applicants, making it almost as selective as Harvard.

If a student accepts a position through Flatiron School's job placement program it will refund $4,000 of the tuition and there are also scholarships for women and minorities.

"At Flatiron, students spend 10 to 12 hours a day for 12 weeks on projects such as building a duplicate version of online-review site Yelp from scratch," reported "The Wall Street Journal," adding that the school’s staff call tech firms throughout the week, to promote their graduates’ abilities and to learn employers’ constantly shifting needs, including what software they use.

Adam Enbar, the co-founder of The Flatiron School (extreme right) with his team.

The Flatiron School was started in July 2012 by Avi Flombaum and Adam Enbar.

“I had always been interested in education — I taught first grade and later volunteered teaching at a prison. A couple of years after leaving Harvard Business School, I became interested in the idea of the ROI of higher ed; that a college degree used to be the best investment someone could make, and was quickly becoming one of the worst," said Flatiron co-founder Adam Enbar.

"I met Avi, who had taught himself how to code as a kid and had an amazing career without having graduated from college. At the time, he was teaching people web development for fun, and getting them amazing jobs and careers. I was blown away. That’s when the light bulb went off," said Enbar.

Since then, the Flatiron School which opened in 2012, has trained more than 700 people and maintained a 99 percent job placement rate and worked with big name Silicon valley hiring partners.

There's an easy explanation for the success of the Flatiron model with its short, and intensely focused curricula that is constantly retailored to meet company needs. For instance, in 2014 when Apple launched a new programming language for its products, Swift, Flatiron adjusted its curriculum within days. This is in sharp contrast to tradition colleges and universities where making the smallest tweaks to broad college courses can take years, given that it would likely need approval from college officials and accreditors.

Many who enroll in coding boot camps like Flatiron already have at least one degree, usually in an unrelated discipline, and don't want to pursue another.

Unlike degree programs, boot camps focus on developing job-specific skills, rather than exploring tech disciplines in their entirety over a few years. Each approach has its benefits.

"You have to ask yourself what am I going to learn? What are my odds of getting a job? What is it going to cost?" said Sood.

"I chose Flatiron because it provides interview training, networking opportunities and career coaching. Nothing says that you can do the job of a web developer more than a portfolio of projects you've built yourself," he added.


Uttara Choudhury is Editor, North America for TV 18’s Firstpost news site and writer for Forbes India. In 1997, she went on the British Chevening Scholarship to study Journalism in the University of Westminster, in London.



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