CoderGirl program offers training, new job opportunities in growing IT market

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ST. LOUIS – Tech is taking over and the job market shows it. There’s such a demand for people with IT skills that is changing the way some companies hire including right here in St. Louis.

Vidya Thandra Satyanarayana joined LaunchCode’s CoderGirl program. Her degree was in finance but she’s been a stay at home mom for the last decade. Now, she has a new job almost immediately upon graduation.

“It gives me the confidence that women can go ahead and face the world. Women can probably do everything,” she said. “You won’t be branded as a stay at home mom for, like, 10 years. You can come back, learn something new, and achieve what you want. Nothing is gonna stop you.”

Students range from age 14 to 60-plus. Some are making a career change and others are just looking to pick up new skills.

“It’s an opportunity that’s happening for free. We want as many people to be able to take advantage of it as possible. It’s free to apply. If you get in, it’s free to go through the program, there’s nothing to be lost,” said CoderGirl program manager Jessi Wilcox.

She said even though the program doesn’t earn students a certification or degree companies say they are needing more and more people with the skills.

“It’s the passion, the drive, the curiosity, the ability to learn. I think that is really more what we’re looking for in terms of what’s going to make a successful employee as opposed to what their background is,” said Chrystal Riley-Stark, MasterCard Senior VP
of Technology Account Management.

“We have an amazing company team that’s willing to go and pound the pavement and let these companies know if you want to change the dynamics of the workforce here you need to be willing to hire different. That’s us getting in their face come saying look at our talent but it’s also companies who we have established relationships with where they recognize the talent that people can get here,” Wilcox said.

Wilcox said about four out of five students that come through the LaunchCode land a job and the average starting salary is about $55,000.

“There’s definitely competition out there. There’s a lot of reputable organizations that are going to be looking at the same applicant look that we’re looking at which is why we want to be involved in partnering with LaunchCode to make sure that we can catch people at the beginning of that career decision,” Riley-Stark said.

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