Building a Farm Team

As some of you might know, I’m getting out of project and product management and becoming a developer. It’s a move that I’ve wanted to make for a long time. Now, a bunch of factors look like they’re lining up to make it possible.

A huge development just announced is that I’ve won Launch Academy’s scholarship competition for Spring 2016; the scholarship provides a full ride for their amazing 10-week program.

Below is the essay I submitted, my answer to the question, “How can we make Boston the national leader in coding education?”  Feel free to shred it in the comments!

If you’re interested in following me on my new journey, please do follow the blog and/or follow me on Twitter.  If you manage to track me down on GitHub, though, you’re going to need to wait a bit for anything meaningful there.

Boston has some experience being the underdog – just ask the Red Sox. To become the center of coding education in America, Boston must overtake the two big-money division leaders: New York and California. I propose we create a farm team using our great city’s high school students.

The bootcamps of Boston will start coding clubs for the area’s high school students. In this scenario, bootcamp employees take point setting up and running these clubs. Boston tech companies could be tapped to defray the bootcamps’ costs. Potential activities include entry-level education for kids just getting started, team projects, hackathons, and tours of local tech companies. Additionally, the bootcamps themselves could create new summer courses specifically tailored to high school and college students. This will have benefits for both the students and the greater Boston tech scene. The students are introduced early to a great possible career and encouraged to keep studying useful math and logic skills.

This opens up a “trade school” route into development for them – something especially useful to those unable to afford college. For the bootcamps, they get to grow an almost completely untapped market – most current bootcamp students are at least in their mid-20’s and have already been in the workforce. They also get to expand their curriculum with the new classes. Additionally, this approach leads to developers who are more likely to stick around in Boston. Unlike many of the students who come to Boston for college, these high-school students have family, friends, and roots in the area. Those connections make them more likely to stay past pennant season when our next record winter howls in.

As with baseball, the best and most enduring teams are the ones grown from the farm system – not the ones thrown together with splashy money. Investing in our young local talent will take time and effort, but that’s exactly what creating a world-class team takes. Starting up coding clubs for Boston’s youth is exactly the kind of smart, scrappy play that will work.

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