I Spent a Night at Gainesville Dev Academy, and It Totally Surprised Me
The clock hit 7 on a Thursday night at Infinity Hall and instead of packing up my laptop and heading home, I wandered by the futuristic classroom-style space on the first floor.
For months I had walked by that room and peered through the glass windows wondering what was going on inside. Without fail, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. every weeknight, the room was filled with a group of people scribbling code on the whiteboard walls, laughing and collaborating.
My curiosity got the best of me, so I snuck into the class and slipped into a swivel chair at the back.
I came to find out that the class was Gainesville Dev Academy, a local program that teaches ambitious locals how to develop web, mobile and desktop applications. Each semester, a new batch of people enters the classroom for a 12 week accelerated bootcamp of coding magic.
The group was filled with people of all different ages and all different experience levels. Some had previously held jobs in the IT realm, but others had never coded a day in their lives.
“I didn’t really have a lot of experience coming into it and things moved really quickly, but being able to work on something with your hands and see it come to fruition is incomparable,” said Chad McGinnis, a 34-year-old Gainesville Dev Academy student.
Instructor Justin Dennison turns the intimidating world of coding into a laid-back learning lab where everyone is welcome. He might be one of the warmest, most genuinely helpful instructors I’ve ever seen.
Without a trace of know-it-all attitude, he patiently helps every person and keeps the room brimming with positivity. Instead of just doling out answers, he actively helps students figure out how to find solutions themselves, a skill that’s often forgotten in the traditional classroom setting.
“You don’t have to be a genius to do this,” Dennison said. “It’s accessible to everybody.”
Intellectual prowess aside, programming can be intense, as it’s chock full of long hours and intense concentration. Dennison knows that the rush of satisfaction when a coder makes a breakthrough or overcomes an issue is the victorious fuel that makes the frustrating moments worth it.
Instead of just a group of a strangers coming together to learn a skill, Gainesville Dev Academy felt like a room full of old friends. They crack jokes at each other, help each other problem solve and encourage each other to enjoy the process.
“I didn’t know what to expect going in, but I’m definitely excited to be joining this new community,” said Alex Tyler, a 23-year-old Gainesville Dev Academy student.
Upon “graduation” from the course, Gainesville Dev Academy helps individuals land interviews for high-paying programming jobs, turning the traditional college degree on its head.
“We really care about each one of these people,” Duncan Kabinu, the founder of Gainesville Dev Academy said. “We get to know them and are able to match them up to amazing local opportunities.”
As I walked out of the classroom that night, Duncan’s words stuck with me. The tech world often seems like a scary place, a little cold and distant. Sometimes we need a place to get ourselves comfortable with the future and Gainesville Dev Academy has proven to be that place.
To learn more about Gainesville Dev Academy and apply for one of their awesome spring semester courses, click here.