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New York Code + Design Academy in Austin: Not just for millennial dudes

(AUSTIN TECH) More coding programs are popping up in Austin, the newest is New York Code + Design Academy. What makes them different?

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Coding programs in Austin

We’ve long discussed the advantages and disadvantages of higher education for technologists in an era where the tech world is offering unique educational opportunities through different coding programs that churn out high quality talent in a fraction of the time (at a fraction of the cost).

Austin (where we are headquartered) is home to a burgeoning coding program scene, from Galvanize to courses at The Coding Bootcamp at UT, Iron Yard, MakerSquare, Austin Coding Academy, Dev Bootcamp, General Assembly, and now New York Code + Design Academy (NYCDA).

We chatted with NYCDA’s Austin lead, Kevin Newsum about the goings on, what makes them different, who typically enrolls, and why they’re up north.

You just had an open house, how’d that go?

We were amped to host a terrific crowd at our recent open house: they sat in on a workshop canvassing ‘The Building Blocks of the Web’ where we learned about how different programming languages and techniques help make the web happen. We also learned that Ryan Lochte has entirely too many Twitter followers (what’s that about?), and shared our philosophy about teaching people how to code and design.

There’s another open house soon, right?

There is, actually. Our next Open House is scheduled for Tuesday October 4th, and features a new workshop on getting to know Javascript. There will be pizza, libations, we may give away a robot, and shenanigans. Perhaps ballyhoo.

When do courses start? Can you talk about costs?

The Web Development Intensive (WDI) course launches October 17th… this is our Full Stack, Junior Developer level track. It’s immersive and designed to teach students real skills they can immediately begin to apply in a junior level developer position. We’ve also seen lots of interest in our WD100 offering (which begins October 24th), both from students with no coding experience who want to get a handle on web fundamentals, and also from professionals who work with developers who want to be able to communicate more effectively in their day gig.

The WDI course runs an even $10k, and the WD100 course is $3850. We also do something that I think is pretty neat: if someone takes the WD100 class and is interested in moving forward into the WDI class afterward, we’ll apply the cost of WD100 toward their WDI tuition, meaning that they can take the immersive class for just over six grand (a significant discount).

How is NYCDA different? How will this program differentiate itself in Austin?

The community aspect of what we do is super important to us: we believe that learning code or design is not only personally empowering, but also can be a force for positive change in the lives of our students in Austin. We encourage students to tap into what’s important to them and their communities to encourage positive impact.

Occasionally these are reflected in the projects we see come out of cohorts: one student had an aunt who was studying for her US naturalization exam, and stressing out about all she had to learn. So he created an app that would text her questions she needed to learn a couple of times a day, so she could absorb the material passively. Not only did that help his aunt become an American citizen, but it’s also something that can continue to help others in a similar situation. Good vibes.

Why is the campus up north instead of downtown?

While I’d admit the appeal of perpetual circling and squinting at parking meters sounds delightful, we had campus space available in north central Austin, which has been appealing to some who’d just as soon skip the downtown bustle.

Who typically takes courses at NYCDA?

All sorts of people, actually: many who enroll already have traditional degrees and are looking for opportunities to augment their skillset and grow into high demand careers. Others are shifting focus in their career, starting new life chapters.

While many are in their twenties and thirties, it’s not unusual at all to see students of all ages take a course. And we’ve designed custom courses for companies too (like the one we’re currently working on with Disney) that happen off-campus at their location.

What attracted NYCDA to Austin?

Obviously Austin’s vibrant tech sector (and the metro’s expansion in general) has been well documented. This city continues see explosive growth, and the tech industry in particular remains a focus.

There was also an interesting tech study commissioned by the Austin Tech Council last year that suggested a range of 2,500-3,500 tech sector job openings annually over the next ten years. Even when conversations about tech’s role in Austin get vigorous (as they occasionally do), the industry here casts a sizable shadow.

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Business News

This web platform for cannabis is blowing up online distribution

(BUSINESS NEWS) Dutchie, a website platform for cannabis companies, just octupled in value. Here’s what that means for the online growth of cannabis distribution.

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A small jar of cannabis on a desk with notebooks, sold online in a nicely made jar.

The cannabis industry has, for the most part, blossomed in the past few years, managing to hit only a few major snags along the way. One of those snags is the issue of payment processing, an issue compounded by predominantly cash-only transactions. Dutchie, a Bend, Oregon company, has helped mitigate that issue—and it just raised a ton of money.

Technically, Dutchie is a jack-of-all-trades service that creates and hosts websites for dispensaries, tracks product, processes orders, keeps stock of revenue, and so much more. While it was valued at around $200 million as recently as summer of 2020, a round of series C funding currently puts the company at around $1.7 billion—approximately 8 times its worth a mere 8 months ago.

There are a few reasons behind Dutchie’s newfound momentum. For starters, the pandemic made cannabis products a lot more accessible—and desirable—in states in which the sale of cannabis is legal. The ensuing surge of customers and demand certainly didn’t hurt the platform, especially given that Dutchie is largely responsible for keeping things on track during some of the more chaotic months for dispensaries.

Several states in which the sale of cannabis was illegal also voted to legalize recreational use, giving Dutchie even more stomping ground than they had prior to the lockdown.

Dutchie also recently took on 2 separate companies and their associated employees, effectively doubling their current staff. The companies are Greenbits—a resource planning group—and Leaflogix, which is a point-of-sale platform. With these two additions to their compendium, Dutchie can operate as even more of an all-in-one suite, which absolutely contributes to its value as a company.

Ross Lipson, who is Dutchie’s co-founder and current CEO, is fairly dismissive of investment opportunities for the public at the moment, saying he instead prefers to stay “focused with what’s on our plate” for the time being. However, he also appears open to the possibility of going public via an acquisition company.

“We look at how this decision brings value to the dispensary and the customer,” says Lipson. “If it brings value, we’d embark on that decision.”

For now, Dutchie remains the ipso facto king of cannabis distribution and sales—and they don’t show any plans to slow down any time soon.

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Ford adopts flexible working from home schedule for over 30k employees

(BUSINESS NEWS) Ford Motor Co. is allowing employees to continue working from home even after the pandemic winds down. Is this the beginning of a trend for auto companies?

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Woman in car working on engineering now allowed a flexible schedule for working from home.

The pandemic has greatly transformed our lives. For the most part, learning is being conducted online. At one point, interacting with others was pretty much non-existent. Working in the office shifted significantly to working remotely, and it seems like working from home might not go away anytime soon.

As things slowly get back to a new “normal”, will things change again? Well, one thing is sure. Working from home will be a permanent thing for some people as more companies opt to continue letting people work remotely.

And, the most recent company on the list to do this is Ford Motor Co. Even after the pandemic winds down, Ford will allow more than 30,000 employees already working from home to continue doing so.

Last week, the automaker giant announced its “flexible hybrid model” schedule to its staff. The new schedule is set to start in the summer, and employees can choose to work remotely and come into the office for tasks that require face-to-face collaborations, such as meetings and group projects.

How much time an employee spends in the office will depend on their responsibilities, and flexible remote hours will need to be approved by an employee’s manager.

“The nature of work drives whether or not you can adopt this model. There are certain jobs that are place-dependent — you need to be in the physical space to do the job,” David Dubensky, chairman and chief executive of Ford Land, told the Washington Post. “Having the flexibility to choose how you work is pretty powerful. … It’s up to the employee to have dialogue and discussion with their people leader to determine what works best.”

Ford’s decision to implement a remote-office work model has to do in part with an employee survey conducted in June 2020. Results from the survey showed that 95% of employees wanted a hybrid schedule. Some employees even reported feeling more productive when working from home.

Ford is the first auto company to allow employees to work from home indefinitely, but it might not be the only one. According to the Post, Toyota and General Motors are looking at flexible options of their own.

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Unify your remote team with these important conversations

(BUSINESS NEWS) More than a happy hour, consider having these poignant conversations to bring your remote team together like never before.

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Woman working in office with remote team

Cultivating a team dynamic is difficult enough without everyone’s Zoom feed freezing halfway through “happy” hour. You may not be able to bond over margaritas these days, but there are a few conversations you can have to make your team feel more supported—and more comfortable with communicating.

According to Forbes, the first conversation to have pertains to individual productivity. Ask your employees, quite simply, what their productivity indicators are. Since you can’t rely on popping into the office to see who is working on a project and who is beating their Snake score, knowing how your employees quantify productivity is the next-best thing. This may lead to a conversation about what you want to see in return, which is always helpful for your employees to know.

Another thing to discuss with your employees regards communication. Determining which avenues of communication are appropriate, which ones should be reserved for emergencies, and which ones are completely off the table is key. For example, you might find that most employees are comfortable texting each other while you prefer Slack or email updates. Setting that boundary ahead of time and making it “office” policy will help prevent strain down the road.

Finally, checking in with your employees about their expectations is also important. If you can discuss the sticky issue of who deals with what, whose job responsibilities overlap, and what each person is predominantly responsible for, you’ll negate a lot of stress later. Knowing exactly which of your employees specialize in specific areas is good for you, and it’s good for the team as a whole.

With these 3 discussions out of the way, you can turn your focus to more nebulous concepts, the first of which pertains to hiring. Loop your employees in and ask them how they would hire new talent during this time; what aspects would they look for, and how would they discern between candidates without being able to meet in-person? It may seem like a trivial conversation, but having it will serve to unify further your team—so it’s worth your time.

The last crucial conversation, per Forbes, is simple: Ask your employees what they would prioritize if they became CEOs tomorrow. There’s a lot of latitude for goofy responses here, but you’ll hear some really valuable—and potentially gut-wrenching—feedback you wouldn’t usually receive. It never hurts to know what your staff prioritize as idealists.

Unifying your staff can be difficult, but if you start with these conversations, you’ll be well on your way to a strong team during these trying times.

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