After two successful years in Rotterdam, Coders Academy is now opening a second location in Groningen. The initiative provides project based internships for IT students on the one hand, and gives startups access to affordable coding and developing talent on the other. To help guide those students, Coders Academy is also looking for a Lead Developer/Coach in Groningen.
Before launching the initiative in the summer of 2015, the three founders of Coders Academy were involved in the Rotterdam Internet Valley incubator program. Working intensively with local startups for four years, they noticed a number of problems; schools and colleges have a hard time keeping up with the technological needs of companies, and startups have an equally difficult time finding the right talent.
“For startups, having interns can be difficult”, Geerten Eijkelenboom, one of the founders explains. “You need to get students up to speed in order to do relevant work that has value for both student and startup. A lot of bigger companies usually have someone to guide interns, but startups work in small teams, which means it’s difficult to find the time to coach and guide your interns.”
Bridging the gaps
An alternative for startups who can’t find the right developer or don’t have the time and manpower to work with interns, is hiring an agency or company to do the developing for them. “But that’s basically outsourcing the heart of your own startup”, Geerten continues. “It’s expensive, and when you’re still working out the kinks, finding out what works and what doesn’t, it’s a long and very costly process of developing and redeveloping. Startups in their early stages don’t have that kind of money.”
Coders Academy wants to bridge all those gaps. “You could say our core business is internships”, Geerten says. “We teach IT students the relevant skills they don’t learn in school, guide and coach them, and have them work on real projects for startups in small teams. At the same time, we’re offering startups very affordable access to coders and developers, to help them build an MVP or technological proof of concept.”
“But we’re not a cheap alternative in the sense that we’re directly competing with agencies and developer companies, we’re more of a stepping stone. We just help with the basics and a solid foundation and help startups get to the point where they can hire developers or agencies and don’t need us anymore. We spoke to a lot of those companies and they’re really happy with the quality of our work.”
Deep dive with extra care
In the past two years, Coders Academy has trained about a 125 students of MBO and HBO level education, with project based internships ranging from 3 to 6 months. To make sure the quality of the work is up to par, the Lead Developer checks every line of code “For every round, we have 20 students working in teams of 3 to 4 people. It’s diving off the deep end for them and working on real projects is a lot of responsibility, but they get all the guidance and training they need. They actually really like that kind of responsibility and a lot of students tell us that they’ve learned so much, their final year of studying was really easy.”
“What’s also really great is that a lot of the students initially want to work at the really big companies, but after their internships, they would love to work for a startup instead.” Another thing Geerten feels particularly proud of, is the extra care and attention. “We had a student with autism here. He was really good at coding, but had some trouble fitting in at school and working with others. But with some extra attention and by working in a small team, you could really see him blossom and excel, which is really great to see.”
Coming to Groningen
After two successful years in Rotterdam, Coders Academy wants to open a second office in Groningen. “Eventually, we want to have around 10 to 15 locations throughout the country, but Groningen is a great place to start.”
Coders Academy Groningen will open start in September, but there’s still a lot to be done this summer. “We’re talking to the Hanze University and Alfa-college, to name just a few, and of course busy finding and talking to startups and startup incubators. But, more importantly, we’re also looking for a Lead Developer/Coach to help us out.
Interested? Check out the job opening at the Coders Academy website.