An Interview with Jack Stanley, Co-Founder of The Tech Academy

Learn to code in Portland Oregon, or Online


Can you tell me about your background, and how you first became involved in Technology?

Erik Gross, my business partner and Co-Founder of The Tech Academy, has been programming computers since the 1980s. He worked in the Navy as a nuclear reactor operator, and taught classes there in computer science. He has been developing for decades and out of the two of us, is the more experienced developer.

I’ve always been interested in technology and dabbled in various things over the years but I come from more of a background in management and education. I worked as an educator and I had over 10 years experience as an executive; Erik had the technical skill and ability, I excelled in running companies. Erik and I have been friends for over ten years, and he approached me to partner with him on launching The Tech Academy. We co-wrote a curriculum and have been training students ever since.

What lead you to start Tech Academy Portland?

Erik and I recognized the benefits of working in software development (creative work environment, good pay, etc.) and wanted to assist others in entering this field. Also, we noted a lack of entry-level software developers and decided to do something about it. It really came down to helping people.

How does The Tech Academy differ from other coding bootcamps?

The Tech Academy is very different from other bootcamps and training programs you may see. Some examples are:

You've been around the programming bootcamp scene since its inception. Can you tell me about how you've seen this industry change?

There have been few ways that the industry has changed. For one thing, it’s more accepting. In the beginning, some bootcamps made it very difficult to get in. There are also many more training options now.

Another major change is that the industry has broken out of a rigid, high-pressure, intensive scheduled, in-person training approach to a more flexible approach, with many companies now offering part-time schedules and online training.

How do you foresee the programming bootcamps scene changing in the future? How do you plan to adapt to these changes?

There are estimates out there stating that by 2020 America will be over 1,000,000 people short in filling software development positions. Meaning, we are not developing enough talent. Even with all of the colleges operating at maximum capacity, we will fall short. I see bootcamps as a solution to help fill in the gap

Your focus is on .NET, JavaScript, C#, Python, HTML/CSS, SQL, Version Control, and you have years of experience in these technologies. Why do you think students should learn .NET, and do you foresee any changes to your curriculum in the near future?

The main reasons we teach the .NET framework are:

  1. Erik is well-trained and experienced in the area – it is his technology of choice.
  2. There aren’t that many bootcamps training in it. Whereas a lot of Ruby and JavaScript resources exist, few are covering C# and .NET.

Right now, a student graduating our program has several choices. They could work a dev job as a Python developer. Or they could take the web development route, applying their front and back-end web development skills. Or they could work in the enterprise environment as a .NET Developer. We cover a broad range of technologies so our students are prepared for diverse situations. In the future, we will add Java.

The Tech Academy Portland has online and in-person courses. How does mentoring play a role in your programming bootcamp?

Mentoring is absolutely essential to The Tech Academy's teaching model. We have Instructors on the floor to help in-person students through. The same care is taken for our online students. We have a fully dedicated team of staff to service remote students.

At the end of the day, students are our customers. And we work hard at keeping our clients happy. Instructors help students through the program by grading essays, answering questions, assisting to debug code, etc.

How do you think online programming bootcamps compare with in-person programming bootcamps?

For our program, we attempt to emulate our in-person camp. Meaning, our online option is as close as one is going to get to an in-person bootcamp. You have the same courses, you have Instructors to help, and you get to do a real-life project.

What one misses out on with online training is in-person interaction with other developers. If a student lived in Portland, I would encourage them to take our in-person classes. If they live out of state, online is still a phenomenal option.

How would you compare a programming bootcamp to a college education?

I would say there are pros and cons to both. Ideally, a bootcamp grad will be up-to-date in recent technologies and ready to actually write code for a company. Bootcamps are for people with less time and money. College takes 2-4 years and often only results in more knowledge...a boot camp usually takes 2-6 months.

The Tech Academy Portland has a 100% hiring rate, which is astounding! Are your employers mainly in Portland?

We work hard at maintaining 100% placement of our graduates. We achieve that because we have two Job Placement Directors fully dedicated to getting graduates hired. Also, one of our courses is the Job Placement Course, wherein Erik and I tell students how to get jobs. From resume prep to mock interviews, we work with students to get hired.

Students who live in Portland tend to get jobs in Portland. Out of state students get jobs near home. We’ve had students get jobs in Texas, Washington DC, etc.

How long do you think that the job market will hold this many programming positions with the currently high pay levels?

I personally think forever. In my life, technology has only become more prevalent. Our phones are computers, there’s a computer in our cars, etc. With the shortage of trained talent and ever-increasing demand for better technology, I think this will only continue on. The Bureau of Labor Statistics tends to agree.

For more information about The Tech Academy, please visit www.learncodinganywhere.com