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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

Everyone should have an interview escape plan

(BUSINESS NEWS) A job interview should be a place to ask about qualifications but it seems more people are asked about their personal life. How do you escape this problem?

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interview from hell

“So, why did you move from Utah to Austin?” the interviewer asked over the phone.

The question felt a little out of place in the job interview, but I gave my standard answer about wanting a fresh scene. I’d just graduated college and was looking to break into the Austin market. But the interviewer wasn’t done.

“But why Austin?” he insisted, “There can’t be that many Mormons here.”

My stomach curled. This was a job interview – I’d expected to discuss my qualifications for the position and express my interest in the company. Instead, I began to answer more and more invasive questions about my personal life and religion. The whole ordeal left me very uncomfortable, but because I was young and desperate, I put up with it. In fact, I even went back for a second interview!

At the time, I thought I had to put up with that sort of treatment. Only recently have I realized that the interview was extremely unprofessional and it wasn’t something I should have felt obligated to endure.

And I’m not the only one with a bad interview story. Slate ran an article sharing others’ terrible experiences, which ranged from having their purse inspected to being trapped in a 45 minute presentation! No doubt, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to mistreatment by potential employers.

So, why do we put up with it?

Well, sometimes people just don’t know better. Maybe, like I was, they’re young or inexperienced. In these cases, these sorts of situations seem like they could just be the norm. There’s also the obvious power dynamic: you might need a job, but the potential employers probably don’t need you.

While there might be times you have to grit your teeth and bear it, it’s also worth remembering that a bad interview scenario often means bad working conditions later on down the line. After all, if your employers don’t respect you during the interview stage, it’s likely the disrespect will continue when you’re hired.

Once you’ve identified an interview is bad news, though, how do you walk out? Politely. As tempting as it is to make a scene, you probably don’t want to go burning bridges. Instead, excuse yourself by thanking your interviewers, wishing them well and asserting that you have realized the business wouldn’t be a good fit.

Your time, as well as your comfort, are important! If your gut is telling you something is wrong, it probably is. It isn’t easy, but if a job interview is crossing the line, you’re well within your rights to leave. Better to cut your losses early.

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Business News

Walmart delays the launch of its Amazon Prime competing service

(BUSINESS NEWS) Walmart+ is being delayed once again, but the service has yet to be cancelled. Will it be another flop?

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Walmart+ Amazon

Walmart+, the supposed Amazon Prime alternative of the century, has been delayed from launching until further notice. This marks the second delay of the year.

Vox reports that the Amazon Prime competitor was initially supposed to launch in the first quarter of 2020, but Walmart pushed the release back to July due to Coronavirus concerns. Now, Walmart+ doesn’t have a definitive launch date–indecision that’s easy to chalk up to both the ongoing pandemic and trepidation regarding profitability in an Amazon-dominated world.

Amazon Prime, a service which runs customers $119 per year, has well over 100 million members in the United States; that works out to at least one member in a little over 80 percent of households here. Between its ubiquitous nature and the fact that Amazon Prime members are more inclined to use Amazon frequently than non-Prime members, it isn’t hard to see why a premium Walmart subscription seems a little redundant.

But Walmart doesn’t see it that way. “Walmart executives have hoped the program would strike a balance of being valuable enough that customers will pay for it, while boasting different enough perks from Amazon Prime so that there aren’t perk-by-perk comparisons,” Vox posits. At $98 per year, Walmart+ would include things like same-day delivery, gas discounts, line-skipping, a dedicated credit card, and potentially even a video streaming service.

While there are some clear parallels between Amazon Prime and Walmart+, one can attribute those to convenience rather than imitation. People seem to enjoy having extra streaming options as a perk of Prime, so for Walmart+ to include something similar wouldn’t exactly be inappropriate.

The largest obstacle to Walmart+’s success in a post-Coronavirus world probably won’t have much to do with brand loyalty, but the fact remains that Amazon’s value is so far above and beyond Walmart’s that people who regularly use Amazon Prime aren’t likely to make the switch–and, as mentioned previously, the sheer number of people who have a Prime membership is high enough to be concerning to Walmart executives.

However, for customers who frequently shop at Walmart or live in relatively rural areas, Walmart+ doesn’t seem like a bad gig. It isn’t Amazon Prime, to be sure–but that’s the point.

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Business News

What COVID-19 measures do workplaces have to take to reopen?

(BUSINESS NEWS) Employers can’t usually do medical screenings – but it’s a little different during a pandemic.

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COVID-19 temp gun

Employers bringing personnel back to work are faced with the challenge of protecting their workforce from COVID-19. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) have issued guidelines on how to do so safely and legally.

Employee health and examinations are usually a matter of personal privacy by design through the American’s with Disabilities Act. However, after the World Health Organization declaration of the coronavirus as a pandemic in March, the U.S. EEOC revised its guidance to allow employers to screen for possible infections in order to protect employees.

Employers are now allowed to conduct temperature screenings and check for symptoms of the coronavirus. They can also exclude from the workplace those they suspect of having symptoms. The recommendations from the CDC also include mandatory masks, distant desks, and closing common areas. As the pandemic and US response evolves, it is important for employers to continue to monitor any changes in guidance from these agencies.

Employers are encouraged to have consistent thresholds for symptoms and temperature requirements and communicate those with transparency. Though guidance suggests that COVID-19 screenings at work are allowed by law, employers should be mindful of the way they are conducted and the impact it may have on employer-employee relations.

Stanford Health Care is taking a bold approach by performing COVID-19 testing on each of its 14,000 employees that have any patient contact. They implemented temperature scanning stations at each entrance, operated by nurses and clinicians. The President and CEO of Sanford Health Care said, “For our patients to trust the clinical procedures and trials, it was important for them to know that we were safe.”

Technology is adapting to meet the needs of employers and identify symptoms of COVID-19. Contactless thermometers that can check the temperature of up to 1,500 people per hour using thermal imaging technology are now on the market; they show an error margin of less than one-tenth of a degree Fahrenheit. COVID-19 screening is being integrated into some company time-clocks used by employees at the start and end of each shift. The clocks are being equipped with a way to record employee temperatures and answers to a health questionnaire. Apple and Google even collaborated to bring contact tracing to smart phones which could help contain potential outbreaks.

Fever, coughing, and difficulty breathing are the three most common symptoms of COVID-19. Transmission is still possible from a person who is asymptomatic, but taking the precautions to identify these symptoms can help minimize workplace spread. This guidance may change in the future as the pandemic evolves, but for now, temperature checks are a part of back to work for many.

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