"Uhh... Have you told your parents about this?"
We're sitting in a coffee shop in SOMA and she has that "I seriously overestimated your sanity" look in her eyes. We met up for lunch and a casual conversation since it had been awhile since we'd seen each other. She was curious about what we've been cooking at Viking, so I told her. Now I've got to explain to another person that I'm (mostly) sane and that what we're doing isn't just exciting, but completely necessary...
I've had a number of similar conversations during the past several months while we built out our process and curriculum with small groups of students to prepare for this moment. Finally, today, I can officially announce the end result of years of personal and team effort -- a way for anyone in the world to access a life-changing education in software engineering.
Starting on June 29th, 2015, Viking Code School will offer an intensive 14-week web development and job placement program. We've made it as low risk as possible for qualified students via a simple formula -- there's no tuition until you get a job. If you don't, it's free.
If it sounds crazy for an online program to do this, I argue that it's a completely logical and necessary step which should help drive sorely needed improvements in the way both online and offline education are administered and paid for.
It's All About Jobs
On March 9, 2015, President Obama announced the TechHire Initiative, a program designed to help meet the “urgent employer demand across the US” for high-end tech jobs through both traditional and non-traditional means. The initiative highlights the more-than-500k unfilled high-tech jobs right now, which is the largest occupational category in the market. The message is clear: employers need more highly talented engineers.
What options do aspiring engineers have to fill these jobs? Traditional 4-year degrees are time consuming, expensive, and often divorced from outcomes. The "Coding Bootcamps" have risen as a leaner and more market-responsive alternative but they are limited by geography and frequently by significant cost as well.
Online education, on the other hand, has typically been a domain that optimizes for either scale or certification to the detriment of student experience and outcomes. How much closer does a MOOC class or even a certification from an online university get you to a job? How accountable are they to their outcomes?
We all know someone with an advanced degree working a job that doesn't need one in the first place. Or the talented individual who had to make a sub-optimal decision about their education based purely on the availability of financial aid. Or the one who wants to leave an unfulfilling career but hasn't saved up $20k, $50k, or more to pay for the necessary training. There are few moments in a person's life more life-changing than when they begin a career they really enjoy but it often seems terribly far away. How do we bridge this gap?
We believe that everyone who is sufficiently motivated and capable should have access to a life-changing education. That's why we're bringing the rigor, quality, and outcome focus of an in-person bootcamp to a fully online program.
We also believe that educators should be willing to put themselves on the line and take a chance on their students rather than the other way around. That's why we're investing more than 1000 hours of our time -- plus significant resources -- into our students and then guaranteeing their placement in a job before we charge tuition. We've fully aligned our incentives with theirs.
This new program is just a single step forward in a long march towards making life-changing education widely accessible, but we believe it's an important one. By offering a world-class, job-focused technical education to a pool of prospective students no longer limited by geography or the burdens of loan debt, we're going to start tackling this problem head-on, one student at a time.
Will you join us?
You can learn more by visiting our website.