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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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Startup seeks to streamline your software shopping search

(BUSINESS) This startup with a waitlist wants to help you shop for software without having to tear your hair out, become an expert, or hire a consultant.

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software shopping with testbox

Software shopping is, undoubtedly, one of the most crucial aspects of any successful business: Choose correctly, and you’ll find yourself seamlessly moving through daily operations, while a poor choice often results in a lack of efficiency. Unfortunately, the shopping aspect is anything but efficient, with demos and sales meetings lasting for unnecessarily long periods of time. That’s where TestBox comes into play.

TestBox is a tool born out of frustrated necessity. According to creator Sam Senior, “The inspiration for TestBox came from repeatedly hearing just how incredibly frustrating the software buying experience is…I heard similar stories where buyers felt that the process was all on the sales team’s terms, often taking many months, and without all the information and access they needed to be truly confident in their decision.”

It’s a tale as old as time: Sales teams effectively hold your time hostage, planning meetings and tech demos in controlled environments; you, in turn, receive a partial truth regarding the product you’re considering, and at the end of the process, you feel pressured into purchasing the product–if for no other reason than you’ve already dedicated a full workweek (or, heaven forbid, month) to it.

TestBox offers a simple, elegant solution to this problem: the ability to compare multiple tools that have been selected for your needs. One need only specify their software requirements in the TestBox menu to receive a list of software that fits those requirements, complete with “guided walkthroughs for each software and use case.”

There’s also a side-by-side comparison feature for different software types, allowing you to make a truly informed decision using your data and interfaces rather than relying on a scripted demo.

Finally, TestBox provides graphics to show pros and cons from an efficiency standpoint for each tool you test; once you make a decision, TestBox connects you with the software provider to complete your purchase.

It should be noted that TestBox is free to use. According to their website, their revenue comes via commission for facilitating a software purchase, and since that commission is fairly uniform rather than varying per tool, TestBox assures you that their presentation of each option is not swayed in the process.

TestBox also partners with ZenDesk, HubSpot, and FreshDesk, so make of that what you will.

Currently, TestBox has a waitlist for use. They plan on adding a variety of CRM and Customer Success options to their client list soon.

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Asking the wrong questions can ruin your job opportunity

(BUSINESS NEWS) An HR expert discusses the best (and worst) questions she’s experienced during candidate interviews. it’s best to learn from others mistakes.

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interview candidates answers

When talking to hiring managers outside of an interview setting, I always find myself asking about their horror stories as they’re usually good for a laugh (and a crash course in what not to do in an interview). A good friend of mine has worked in HR for the last decade and has sat in on her fair share of interviews, so naturally I asked her what some of her most notable experiences were with candidates – the good and the bad, in her own words…

“Let’s see, I think the worst questions I’ve ever had are typically related to benefits or vacation as it demonstrates that their priorities are not focused on the actual job they will be performing. I’ve had candidates ask how much vacation time they’ll receive during an initial phone screen (as their only question!). I’ve also had them ask about benefits and make comparisons to me over the phone about how our benefits compare to their current employer.

I once had a candidate ask me about the age demographics of our office, which was very uncomfortable and inappropriate! They were trying to determine if the attorneys at our law firm were older than the ones they were currently supporting. It was quite strange!

I also once had a candidate ask me about the work environment, which was fine, but they then launched into a story about how they are in a terrible environment and are planning on suing their company. While I understand that candidates may have faced challenges in their previous roles or worked for companies that had toxic working environments, it is important that you do not disparage them.

In all honesty, the worst is when they do not have any questions at all. In my opinion, it shows that they are not really invested in the position or have not put enough thought into their decision to change jobs. Moving to a new company is not a decision that should be made lightly and it’s important for me as an employer to make sure I am hiring employees who are genuinely interesting in the work they will be doing.

The best questions that I’ve been asked typically demonstrate that they’re interested in the position and have a strong understanding of the work they would be doing if they were hired. My personal favorite question that I’ve been asked is if there are any hesitations or concerns that I may have based on the information they’ve provided that they can address on the spot. To me, this demonstrates that they care about the impression that they’ve made. I’ve asked this question in interviews and been able to clarify information that I did not properly explain when answering a question. It was really important to me that I was able to correct the misinformation as it may have stopped me from moving forward in the process!

Also, questions that demonstrate their knowledge base about the role in which they’re applying for is always a good sign. I particularly like when candidates reference items that I’ve touched on and weave them into a question.

A few other good questions:
• Asking about what it takes to succeed in the position
• Asking about what areas or issues may need to be addressed when first joining the company
• Asking about challenges that may be faced if you were to be hired
• Asking the employer what they enjoy most about the company
• I am also self-centered, so I always like when candidates ask about my background and how my current company compares to previous employers that I’ve worked for. Bonus points if they’ve actually looked me up on LinkedIn and reference specifics :)”

Think about the best and worst experiences you’ve had during an interview – and talk to others about the same topic – and see how that can help you with future interviews.

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How to stop reeking of desperation when you job hunt

(CAREER) Hunting for a job can come with infinite pressures and rejection, sometimes you just want it to be over – here’s how to avoid reeking of desperation.

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desperation when job hunting

Whether you were one of the millions of people who quit their job this year in The Great Resignation or you’ve been unemployed since the pandemic began, when you’re looking for work, it can feel hopeless after a while. Just like that student in class who raises their hand at every question, you don’t want to come across as desperate, “pick me, pick me!” Money might be tight. You want to be eager, but you don’t want to be so anxious that you sabotage your job search.

Right now, job seekers have the upper hand, but you want to show off your skills and professionalism, not your neediness.

5 ways you come across as overly desperate for a job:

  1. Applying for multiple positions at the same company. Employers want you to be a fit for a particular job. Instead, tell the hiring manager that you’re open to other positions that might be a good fit.
  2. Checking in with the hiring manager too much. Follow up after an interview, but don’t keep checking in. If they have news, they’ll share it.
  3. Talking about how much you need a job. Don’t bring up your personal issues in an interview. Stay focused on why you are the best person for the job.
  4. Being willing to accept any offer. You should negotiate and go to bat for yourself when you get an offer. Explain why you’re worth more money because you probably are.
  5. Forgetting to ask questions about the bigger picture. You don’t want to be so eager to impress that you don’t think about the company culture and perks. You might be desperate, but getting into a job that doesn’t fit your needs and personality won’t help your situation.

Desperation can make you appear to be in the clearance bin at the store. Sure, you may get something for a great price, but will you actually be able to fully use it when you get it home? As a job seeker, you want to be the premium brand on the shelf. Maybe not every buyer (employer) can appreciate you or even afford you, but when the right one comes along, it’s a good fit.

Employers want team members who will be assets for their company. Your job search needs to start with a strong resume and impressive cover letter. Instead of going for quantity, choose job openings for quality, where you can bring something to the table for the company.

Ask a Manager’s Alison Green has some great resources for getting a job, including a free guide to preparing for interviews. Practice interviewing. Make a great first impression. Know that there is a job out there for you.

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