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An online coding bootcamp that promises jobs for its graduates is expanding into Chattanooga with a first-of-its kind partnership with the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's Center for Professional Education.
Thinkful, a New York-based software and coding training program started in 2012, doesn't offer degrees.
"We get you a job," said Darrell Silver, a software engineer who started what he expects will be a dominant type of education in the future for skill-specific training. "Let the other guys get you a degree."
Thinkful currently has about 1,600 student enrolled in different programs from across the country. Over the past seven years, the school has graduated thousands of students and placed more than 85% in jobs related to their training.
"We're fully online as a school, but in some communities like Chattanooga we like to partner with a school that is well known in the community and has a lot of connections to provide our programs in partnership with that institution," Silver said.
For UTC's Center for Professional Development, the partnership with Thinkful offers part of the life-long learning and skill development the center is focused upon for its students, graduates and employer supporters.
"This is our first partnership with a coding bootcamp," said John Freeze, director of UTC's Center for Professional Education. "We're excited to provide a locally-sourced talent pipeline as the Chattanooga tech scene continues to grow."
The first course offered will be Full Stack Flex, with Data Science Flex courses likely being added at a later date. Silver said in just six months, the online programs take students from technical beginners to job-ready professionals – while the Flex format allows them to keep their existing jobs and maintain a steady income.
"With a revitalized Innovation District, the Gig City is quickly developing as a go-to place to work and live for the tech-inclined," he said.
Thinkful's career provided both training and access to its extensive hiring network. After completing the program, students are issued a certificate from the UTC's Center for Professional Education and are eligible for the Thinkful job guarantee — 100 percent tuition refund if students are not offered a qualifying position within six months of graduation.
Students enrolled in Thinkful programs typically pay $9,000 to $15,000 for six-month courses that teach development fundamentals including HTML, CSS, APIs, GitHub, Node.js, React, data structures and algorithms. Thinkful doesn't offer traditional government-backed student loans or assistance, but beause of its job guarantee for those who graduate, students are able to repay their tuition quickly with job placements that average $65,000 a year in pay.
"We make the promise that if you go through our program and do the work of six months of our program and up to six months of job support we'll get you that job you are looking for in Chattanooga," Silver said. "We teach you the skills you need to get a job."
Students began enrolling through the UTC center this week.
"Our vision is that the way we teach is the way that most everybody should be learning," Silver said. "There are ways of doing what we are doing in a lot more topics than we are now teaching and in lot more areas of the economy and parts of the U.S."
"Fundamentally, every measurable skill, I beieve, should be taught in the way that we are doing it," he said.
Contact Dave Flessner at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 757-6340.