We are thrilled by the success we and our graduates have experienced in our inaugural year at Interface Web School and excited by the passion and support we’ve felt from the business, technology and non-profit communities. This year we’ve seen valuable partnerships blossom and our graduates thrive in ways we could only imagine at this time last year.
Our Students (now graduates!)
Though our third session with two classes running simultaneously wrapped up just two weeks ago as of the date of this post, it is exciting for us to share that graduates have found fulfilling roles with firms including First National Bank, West Corporation, Sogeti and others. In fact, Sogeti hired one of our graduates who had no prior tech experience before Interface. He’s now an Account Executive for application development and software support related project contracts.
Several graduates from our fall session, including one stay-at-home mom, were offered positions with local firms before the course ended.
Our students come from a wide range of backgrounds. They came to us as artists, marketers, from other STEM fields, and as recent high school graduates looking to supplement their college educations. They were moms and dads looking to re-enter the workforce and professionals wanting to find a new direction. You can read their stories here.
What we accomplished
We held three sessions (4 classes) of the 10 Week Web Developer Course and each class brought us new successes and learning experiences. Throughout the year we graduated a total of 30 students from our web development program. First National Bank committed to an investment of more than $100,000 in growing local tech talent by sponsoring the program with not only scholarship money, but also full-time stipends. The students received pay similar to that of a paid internship during the program. This arrangement allowed for our students to earn money while studying.
Our first session in the spring was made up entirely of men, but by the fall, our enrollment surged to 60% women. Given the 10 to 15 percent enrollment rates for women in traditional computer science programs (depending on the school) we were excited by this number. By closing the gender gap in tech we believe we can also help close the talent gap.
We also offered workshops in Project Management, Responsive Web Design, Angular JS, Lean Product Design, and we partnered with Omaha Public Library, Avenue Scholars, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Midlands and Heartland Workforce Solutions to bring a free workshop led by Interface Web School’s managing director Shonna Dorsey (with the support of Interface staff and grads), Introduction to HTML and CSS.
Another important achievement this year was our partnership with several area non-profits. Nonprofits often lack the resources to pay for top-notch web development. Our students can provide the digital presence that these great organizations deserve while gaining real world coding experience. Thank you to Greater Omaha Sweethearts (American Heart Association), Delivering Infinite Bookshelves (DIBS), Startup Genome, AIM, Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce and SAVE Omaha for partnering with Interface as nonprofit project partners this year.
Key to our great first year was our amazing staff. Kat Slump is an IT and business student at UNO who is passionate about STEM and entrepreneurship for women. Our business development manager, Michelle Vankat is was also a student in our 10 week web developer program. These two amazing women
are integral to our continued success.
Omaha Coffee and Code is a Meetup group formed as a partnership between Interface co-founder, Shonna Dorsey and Aromas co-founder, Autumn Pruitt. This group has nearly 200 members and meets on the first Tuesday of each month at 8 a.m at Aromas in Benson. Each session is a casual gathering where coders and people interested in coding can learn about new tools, tips and techniques. We have had the president of AIGA as a speaker and visitors from IBM’s Des Moines office. On January 6th the topic will be Comprehenisve Frontend Testing with Nick Nisi. We have great speakers lined up for February – June including members of the Des Moines based IBM team returning to demonstrate Internet of Things (IoT) applications, Grant Stanley presenting a new application he’s working on, Hudl and a professor from UNO sharing an app he created to train kids to code using functional programming. Click here to RSVP for these events.
Lessons we learned
We’re here to serve the needs of the Omaha economy by nurturing new talent and providing professional development. We learned to listen to the market, understand it’s ever-changing demands and respond to those demands in ways that make sense for applicants and employers. We learned that we want to continue and deepen our relationships with community nonprofits. Not only is giving back important, but we get more done together; our students learn as we contribute to the community. Some of those nonprofits may be nurturing Omaha’s future talent. We also will be working to strengthen our relationships with employers locally and within the region.
What’s Next for 2015
We are looking forward the spring development session. For the first time we’re offering a Hybrid Design + Development Track. Design and Development can be taken together for an 11 week course or separately. This is a new program and we’re excited to see it in action.
During summer 2015, we’re partnering with Boys & Girls Clubs of The Midlands on a new pilot program called the Midwest STEM Academy. We want to captivate our future tech workers at a young age and help them realize that STEM careers are a worthwhile and realistic goal. During this program, students will not only learn how to code, but will deliver production ready interactive websites to small business clients in their local community. Interested in participating? We’re seeking mentors from the tech community to work with the students who are between the ages of 14 and 18. You can apply here.
We’ll also be continuing with our free HTML/CSS workshops at various Omaha Public Library and other locations. We are adding a free Intro to Civic Hacking Workshop in conjunction with CodeAcross 2015 (a Code for America event) and in partnership with Open Nebraska.