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Retraining Utah — Apprenticeships, internships fill developer job gap

For the past year, Andrew Lewin worked on MX’s technical support team. But Lewin wanted more career opportunities, so he taught himself how to code via online training courses. To make the switch and gain on-the-job training, he gave up his full-time support job and joined MX’s first developer apprenticeship program.

The program, in its inaugural cohort, accepted four junior developers to work with seasoned MX employees to gain practical, real world experience in programming.

Lewin isn’t alone in his quest to switch careers and gain new skills in tech. In 2014, 24 million people took online coding courses through Codeacademy, just one of the many free online resources. Bootcamps, typically three-month in-person training courses, graduated 6,000 people in 2014, up three times from 2013 according to Venture Beat.

“I kept seeing people who were self taught or coming out of a bootcamp struggling to find a job,” said Michael Ries, a developer at MX and founder of their apprenticeship program. “It didn’t make sense to me because here are these people who are willing to take a risk in their own life to, in a lot of cases, switch careers. They are also willing to be self driven enough that they find out they want to be a developer on their own. To me that’s exactly the kind of person I want to have on my team.”

With over 15,000 open technology jobs in the state, companies have to capitalize on people interested in career changes in order to fill the gap. To do this, some companies, including MX and OC Tanner, are launching apprentice and internship programs.

Apprenticeship Program


In Utah, MX’s apprenticeship program is one of the first to embrace the idea of this type of retraining.

While bootcamps and online training sites are giving people the necessary skills, some companies are still reluctant to hire these junior developers. Senior developer talent is being fought over, but junior developers aren’t getting the mentorship they need, Ries said.

So, Ries created the apprenticeship program at MX. The three-month paid apprenticeship gives participants some curriculum while also letting them work on actual problems and enhancements at the company. Senior developers agreed to dedicate some of their time to mentoring and working with the apprentices.

Applicants needed to have enough programming experience that they could build a web-based CRUD app.

“I wanted to expand my knowledge by learning so I jumped ship from my old company to take the apprenticeship,” said Cameron Kidman, formerly a web developer at Crowd Engine. “I’ve been able to learn great patterns and practices and phenomenal technologies from all of the engineers. It’s been a really great environment to foster learning.

Repost from Silicon Slopes, Written by Tessa Curry

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