Wyncode Academy Blog Posts
Read about South Florida’s first development bootcamp
Wyncode Ft Lauderdale’s Campus Director Manny Pontos: “It’s Been A Tremendous Learning Experience”
Written by wyncode on 15th May 2015, 3:14 PM
Wyncode Ft Lauderdale is up and running full steam ahead! And Campus Director Manny Pontos is excited for its future. As the first state licensed brick and mortar coding academy in Florida, Wyncode is a historic venture.
Ponto’s background in e-commerce includes helping to scale a company to $100 million in yearly sales. He is highly attuned to the ways technology helps businesses grow, and how important skilled coders are to that equation.
Here’s what Manny has to say about Wyncode Ft Lauderdale’s campus at the Flagler Art and Technology village located at the General Provision co-working space. Manny also talks inspired learning, and why if you know how to code you can always get a job, or start your own company.
Hey Manny congrats on your new job!
Thank you. It’s an honor and a pleasure to work with Wyncode Ft Lauderdale.
Cool. So, what’s so great about Wyncode?
The beauty is that it’s about the effort that you put into it. Having a career in technology is just about knowledge. We teach our students the tools they need to get started as coders and web developers, and also how to continue learning in the future. Our course is the bedrock in the foundation of their knowledge.
There are advantages to this method versus say online learning: which are the live one on one attention we provide and the community we create.
We just celebrated Wyncode’s first year and we already have nearly 100 alumni. Having that network in Miami and South Florida is a huge benefit. We’re able to tap into that and bounce ideas off of each other, and we do that all the time.
We also conduct “Wynterviews” between students and hiring partners, and just being tapped into and plugged into the real tech market is something tremendous.
Nine weeks is a short period of time. So even if you absorb 100%, having the skillset to learn a new computer language is just as valuable. That’s something we focus on so we can help shape the skills for you to learn not just when you’re here, but far into the future.
We offer a tremendous value. We’re the only licensed Coding Bootcamp in the state. As a matter of fact we just went to pick up our picture frame to put up our certificate from the Florida Department of Education.
The real key to this is having the structure to continue learning and to build the foundation. That and creating the community. You’re not alone in your room. You’re not just online with no one to turn to. You can ask us questions. We’re with you each step of the way.
Our Head Instructor is Damon Davison. He is really into the tech community. He is part of the Ft Lauderdale Ruby Brigade, founder of one of the chapters of Women Who Code. He’s very active in civic hacking, and phenomenal background in education and technology and a lot of experience on top of that.
Awesome! So, what’s your background?
I’m coming from e-commerce and the world of technology and online businesses in Ft Lauderdale and Miami. Some of my experience in terms of growth and marketing and SEO is as Director of E-Commerce for 1Sale.com LLC and one of the biggest challenges was getting the right development teams in place and having a good teaching team in place. I became the COO for One Sale A Day and moved to South Florida in 2010 and set up offices for a handful of employees and we grew to 400, so we expanded quickly. We were able to scale to over $100 million in sales per year.
One of the things I learned from that experience was that finding the right talent and building the local tech community is more important than hiring outsiders or outsourcing. To me it’s important that’s something we really focus on.
Being able to give people the confidence and skills they need for careers in coding is something I’m very passionate about and that’s how this all came together for me.
What do you do at Wyncode Ft Lauderdale?
I’m the Campus Director. I’m involved with operational support for students to help them with whatever they need to properly utilize the course and give them the ability to succeed. I’m very much involved with the day to day student activities from standups and announcements to integrating feedback from the community, like our hiring partners, which is important to us. We’re an agile company.
What do you do to facilitate the students’ growth?
I create the schedule for the teaching assistants to have one on one time with our students. And as a Florida State accredited learning institution, we’re required to maintain and submit progress reports on each student. I gather that information. A lot of what I do is also centered on my ability to field questions and talk with students about anything blocking them. We’re here to help them succeed.
Any good field trips?
We took our students to the eMerge Conference where they got to see the Ed Toro, Wyncode Miami’s head instructor participate on a panel on disruptive education. Then we went to the conference job fair and made connections with several of the tech recruiting firms in South Florida. We also went on an awesome Bike Tour of Ft. Lauderdale last weekend to get to know our community better.
What’s special about the Wyncode Ft Lauderdale Campus?
What I like most is that it’s a very comfortable and relaxed environment. We’re in such a cool co-working space at General Provision and it’s a relaxed and tight knit community that is very supportive. We supply lots of individual attention to each person here.
What does the Ft Lauderdale tech community represent?
Ft Lauderdale represents a few really good things for technology. First of all the livability compared to other places is very comfortable. It’s a great life here. A great standard of living. And great weather. In terms of technology it’s a much smaller community than San Francisco but that just means you can have more impact here. And there are lots of tech companies based in South Florida. Our hiring partners and guest speakers are hungry for talent. Wyncode offers huge benefits here for both companies and students. And again, the local impact that the individual can have here compared to competing for jobs in other markets is an advantage.
How has the first cohort at the General Provision campus been so far?
It’s been going great! We’re now in week four and getting started on group projects. Next week is our friends and family night. This is my first coding bootcamp experience too and it’s been a tremendous learning experience. Just getting to know every student and seeing their growth from day to day has been incredible. Really incredible. People are now building their own portfolio sites to show off what they learn and it’s great to see that. It goes by really quickly. The students learn a lot in a very short period of time, and that momentum helps carry them into continually advancing very quickly at whatever they do.
How do you optimize for success?
We’re an agile company. We do daily standups to talk about what we’re working on, anything blocking us, and how to overcome obstacles. We also conduct a weekly retrospective to go over the progress for the week, figure out how to improve, and use that information to help all of our students. We also hold our students accountable. As a Florida learning institution we require a mandatory 80% fulfillment of homework and projects. We track all progress and use that as a way to make sure everybody is succeeding. I don’t know if any other program does that. It truly helps us carry them along and improve daily.
How do you help people get jobs or be successful?
Part of the bootcamp is giving a solid foundation and skill set in how to learn a programming language. Our students are actually learning several different languages from which they can apply the same principles to learn new languages on their own. We have a mix of students here. Some want to build their own apps, others want to be developers at a company, some are already managing other people and want to have a better understanding of how to do so. So it’s a mix. Some students already have a background in technology, but a limited skillset. We help everybody through education, networking, and finding the right partnership between them and a company, usually one of our over 100 hiring partners. We also have a 90% placement rate for all students within 3 months.
What about the speakers and lectures?
The speakers are incredible. These leaders of the local tech scene come in and have basically a one hour q&a with our students, talk about their experiences and contributions, and motivate the whole room. Richard from Thesis Ventures was just here, and he sees a lot of potential for the community and each individual student. It’s inspiring and a real benefit. We’ve had everything from companies who have hired several Wyncoders, to front end developers and women in technology speaking on being in senior positions in the development world.
What’s the best part of coding?
If you know how to code, you can get a job. As long as you’re able to program, it’s just a matter of looking for the company that’s a right fit for you, or starting your own. You will succeed.