SPN: Omaha Code School student starts blogging his experience for SPN

Omaha’s first code school launches next week and Silicon Prairie News would love to be at Omaha Code School every day from Day 1 on Feb. 24 to graduation May 16. But we can’t. Luckily, we’ve still got the inside story.

Andy von Dohren, one of the School’s 14 students, is blogging about his experience on his own site, Code School Adventures, and will be sharing some of his stories for SPN’s audience every other week. He isn’t a stranger to tech—he quit his job as an information security analyst for Mutual of Omaha to start Code School, but is new to coding. He won’t be going far, as Omaha Code School is down the block from Mutual of Omaha at Midtown Crossing. Here’s his first post.

Omaha Code School is the first course of its kind in Omaha.

There are lots of similar courses in larger cities across the nation, such as New York and San Francisco, where our instructor, Sumeet Jain, lived and taught a similar course.

After he moved to Omaha, he and his cousin saw an opportunity to do something similar here. They founded Omaha Code School last fall and began accepting applications. There were more than 70 applicants from the U.S. and across the world. Eventually the applicant pool was whittled down to 14—the inaugural class.

When I tell people I’m attending Omaha Code School, I get a lot of questions. So here’s an attempt to answer them. If you have others, let me know on Twitter @AndyvonDohren and I’ll try to answer them for you.

What is Omaha Code School?

Omaha Code School is an intensive 12-week program that intends to teach 14 willing students the technical skills needed to land a job in web development. Intensive is kind of an understatement in this case. The class is 7 days a week, for 8-10 hours a day. Boot camp style.

I haven’t actually started. It’s hard to answer what something is when you haven’t seen or experienced it for yourself.

What will you be learning?

We’ll learn plenty, but it all falls into two categories: soft skills and hard skills. Hard skills are the actual technologies—things like HTML5, Ruby on Rails, JavaScript, JQuery and many more. More important are the soft skills like test-driven development, GIT, version control and pair programming, among others. To sum up, we are going to learn more in 12 weeks than any other period of time in our lives.

What did you do before you signed up?

I was an information security analyst at Mutual of Omaha Insurance Company. The work was good and I felt like I made a difference. I worked with identity management systems to make sure everyone had access to what they needed, but nothing more. I worked there for almost six years.

Why now?

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Before you say otherwise, it is for me. I’m 29, married and own a home. The next logical life event is to have children. Once that happens, quitting your job and going 12 weeks without pay won’t be an option.

Do you know who you will be working with?

No. I have never met anyone involved with this program before. That’s part of why it’s awesome—I will get to grow my network. They even have a group of people put together to help mentor the students as they progress through the course. We may occasionally go on a “field trip” to meet with people in the industry and learn from their experience.

My first blog post was just three weeks ago. In that time, I have 22 new followers on Twitter, 1,074 blog views, an interview request and numerous retweets and shares. Most of these numbers represent people I have never met before. I’m not too worried about not knowing anybody. The people I have interacted with so far are awesome and I know it’s just going to get better.

What happens after the class is over?

That is the question. There is no job at the end of the horizon waiting for us, no interviews lined up and no idea of what is waiting for us. This is seriously scary. I don’t do things without knowing what’s next. I have planned out to this point in my life and I don’t have any regrets. All I know is that I couldn’t stop thinking that this is what I am supposed to do. Hopefully there will be an opportunity waiting for me on the other side.

What has surprised you so far?

The amount of support my classmates and I have received so far is surprising. Friends and family are on board. Omaha Code School has helped make connections for those of us who need help paying the tuition cost. They’re even trying to get us cheap MacBooks for class.

What still needs to be done?

We have homework already. There are various web tutorials and readings we need to complete before class begins. This way we can gloss over some of the basics and concentrate on learning new skills. We have already been working for a couple weeks, but will have spent approximately 55 hours to complete everything. Not a small task.

I’m excited to see what comes next. I guarantee it’s going to be an adventure.

Want to get in contact with Andy? Tweet at him at @andyvondohren.

Check out Omaha Code School’s space on Facebook.

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